Maintaining The Fix
For any cyclist, Fall is a transition period and one that comes with much trepidation. Whereas in the Spring, 40-degree days are met with joy and excitement, those same temperatures in the Fall are looked at with disdain and despair.
Minnesotans are rather finicky with the weather. A sunny, 45 degree day in March can result in breaking out t-shirts and shorts, while the snowpiles barely begin to melt. That same 45 degree day in October yields woolen hats, gloves, and heavy coats to avoid the “chill in the air”. Of course, the “chill” isn’t the actual temperature – but manifests itself from the foreboding of weather soon to come.
Thus, riding outside this time of year is tough. I have all the necessary equipment to shield my body from the cooler temps, but it is hard to find the will inside me to want to brave the conditions. A 40 degree ride in October is COLDER than a 40 degree ride in March.
Thus, I move indoors and suffer through the next 5 months of mostly indoor riding.
To prevent feeling the withdrawal affects from what can only be called “cycling addiction”, I look to the following resources to maintain my “fix”.
These sites are the staple for most US-based cyclists when wanting to understand the workings of professional cycling teams in the US and abroad. They provide all the basics regarding rider moves, race analysis, technology reviews, etc. that keep every rider informed. Unfortunately, with He Who Shall Not Be Named‘s return to cycling, they also provide far too much coverage to inner workings of one team and one rider. These sites will be quick to report if Lance decides to move to white socks from black – but, if you can ignore these uninteresting trifles, you can find quality information.
If you have been reading this blog, you will likely notice a orange/black cycling jersey that I often wear. This is in support of Elden Nelson and his highly entertaining blog called FatCyclist.com. Fatty (as he identifies himself) lives in Utah and has access to some of the mostly highly desirable riding terrain in the entire US. He rides both road and mountain bikes (like me) and regularly reports on his adventures. This past year’s focus was also on his wife and her battle with cancer (which, unfortunately, ended sadly a few month’s ago). He is a funny rider and an inspiring individual who has raised more money for cancer support than most large organization do. He also lives the cycling culture with a similar attitude as me – so I have a particular connection to his writing.
BSNYC is a true cycling satirist. He is the modern day Mark Twain for the two-wheel world and makes me smile with each well-constructed sentence. As a commuting cyclist living in New York City, he has daily access to topics that both highlight and ridicule all the silly things cyclists do to set themselves apart in society. He has a specific interest in pointing out the fixed gear culture and its often failed efforts to be unique while fitting into intricately detailed stereotypes. Plus, he gave me a specific shout-out on his blog after I provided some content for a post about knuckle tattoos. His writings always remind myself to not take things so seriously, especially when it comes to riding a bicycle. Plus, the comments to each post (of which there are several hundred regular posters) can be just a funny as he.
Primarily a podcast, but also a cycling blog, the Two Johns are the “color commentary” to the serious cycling news found in velonews.com. Their podcast recordings – often two hours at length – provide a host of professional cycling news coverage, local race coverage (but only in those they personally participate), and listener feedback. They have a perfect balance of seriousness and silliness when discussing any cycling topic and are quick to offer advice to anyone seeking their input.
For all the celebrities and glitterati that you normally find on Twitter, the cycling community has jumped on this technology and put it to tremendous use. I am following a host of pro cyclists and supporting staff and catch wonderful, small glimmers into their daily lives. Lance, for sure, makes big announcements via Twitter such that many of them become the news source for major publication. But others give insight into daily training regimes, activities away from the bike, and other details that humanize these dedicated professionals. My favorites include:
- Lance Armstrong
- Chris Horner
- David Zabriskie
- Floyd Landis
- Mick Rogers
- Tom Danielson
- Levi Leiphiemer
- Bob Roll
- Robbie Ventura
My favorite tweets (do you hate that term as much as me?) involve training schedules and details about the large number of hours that professionals spend on the bike. There is a little bit of envy in me when I read that some rider is off to spend the next 5 hours in the mountains. Their scenic pictures of mountain passes via TwitPic only add to this envy.
I also use the search feature in Twitter and a Twitter client (Tweetdeck) to watch for any posts regarding my New Steed™ (searching for “Specialized” and “Tarmac” together). This keeps me informed on the latest evolutions of my equipment and lets me hear others comment on their experiences with the bike.
Every serious biker is a gearhead. Instead of wrenching on hotrods in the garage, we are forever tweaking the components on several bikes in the basement. Thus, bike catalogs bring a tremendous level of excitement to me when they arrive in the mailbox. Performance Bike, Nashbar, Colorado Cyclist – it doesn’t matter where they come from (since they all carry the same stuff for nearly the same price), they are the 1970′s Sears Christmas Catalog of the cyclist.
With all of the options, I keep satiated with all things “bike” and hopefully make my way into Spring with mental capacity in-tact.