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2019 Tour de France; Let’s Get Ready To Market Expensive Bike Stuff!!! (Oh, there’s also a bike race happening.)

July 3, 2019

So … the time is upon us for yet another 3 weeks of velocipede exercising around the country of France, with a brief foray into Belgium at the beginning of the lengthy gran fondo. Once again, the vast majority of the cycling world and the cycling press and the non-cycling press and non-cycling enthusiasts with mild curiosity about skinny dudes in lycra riding skinny tires across France in the peak of a heat wave will be focused on the next 3 weeks. Thankfully, we’ll also get to be unendingly marinated in #MarketingMasturbation too! Did you know that Cannondale, Specialized, and Name-A-Fucking-Brand have just released/ are about to release new products? Well, if you didn’t know that the Tour de France is the biggest showcase of cycling in the world, you might’ve missed that it’s also the biggest #Marketing for the industry as well. You would be forgiven for not knowing there’s a bike race to watch, but there actually IS a bike race to watch!

And this year, it might just be a good one!

As is always the case, there are legitimate contenders, way more pretenders, and lots of hopefuls. The thing about le Tour, for better or worse (worse), it is the most important race in the world. Entire teams and careers are built on just the 3 weeks in July every year. A rider’s career can be defined by a single performance at the Tour- whether it be wearing yellow, polka dots, green, or winning a stage, the Tour carries significant value in a rider’s career. ASO, the organizer of the race, is more than happy to remind the world of this fact, and giddily makes or destroys entire fortunes with the race. ASO is practically the mafia of bike races, with the UCI basically a pistol-less cop with no more power than the words, “please stop being a bully.”

And yet … we watch. We can’t help it. The Tour, with all its warts and blemishes, is still The Tour. For 3 weeks every July, it’s the most wonderful showcase of cycling. It’s become pedantic and boring due to its excessive importance- nobody is willing to take too big a risk, teams are built to dominate and keep things predictable and safe, and the “business” of the race is rarely allowed to veer off script. And yet … we watch.

So let’s take a look at the teams and see what their chances are for victory or glory … or lots of road rash.

Ag2r La Mondiale
BARDET Romain
NAESEN Oliver
GALLOPIN Tony
CHEREL Mickaël
VUILLERMOZ Alexis
FRANK Mathias
GOUGEARD Alexis
COSNEFROY Benoît

Ag2r is the Frenchiest of the French teams, in terms of their history. With only one Swiss and one Belgian rider on the roster, the only team more French is Arkea-Samsic with 7 of 8 riders being French. Romain Bardet has been “the next French hope” nearly his entire pro career. I meet him during a product launch in France years ago, when he was just beginning to make headlines with Ag2r, and he’s a good kid. Can he win? Maybe? He can’t time trial at all, but there’s barely any TT miles in this year’s race. He can climb really, really well, and has proven to be smarter than a few of his rivals. The team is banking heavily on him, but also has some stage chances with a number of their riders. Unlike many of the French teams, Ag2r likes to race aggressively, and might see an opportunity this year with an-ever-so-slightly-less-dominant Team Ineos (formerly SKY). Can they win? Lots of champagne and brie is sitting on tables waiting to celebrate if they do.

Arkéa-Samsic
GREIPEL André
BARGUIL Warren
BOUET Maxime
DELAPLACE Anthony
GESBERT Élie
LEDANOIS Kévin
MOINARD Amaël
VACHON Florian

This team is one of the small wildcard invites, and only because of Warren Barguil and André Greipel. Barguil has won stages and has the French fans in a lather, while Greipel has won numerous sprint stages during his lengthy career. Barguil was once heralded as a contender- he’s not- and Greipel once dominated sprints, but has aged a little. Don’t get me wrong, I like Barguil’s aggressive style, but he’s far from a surprise when he rolls up the road. He’ll have a hard time sneaking away anymore. Greipel has had a very quiet start to the year and is old enough to be call an “aging veteran.” That said, on the right day, if the other speedsters are napping, he’s still got a remarkable kick. Can either rider snag a win … possibly. They have a plucky band of riders, so they can’t be ignored. Week three will be a challenge for them, given the mountains and the lack of racing the team has had in bigger events.

Astana
SÁNCHEZ Luis León
BILBAO Pello
IZAGIRRE Gorka
FUGLSANG Jakob
LUTSENKO Alexey
CORT Magnus
FRAILE Omar
HOULE Hugo

Mostly, for GC purposes, the team is built around Jakob Fuglsang. The team is strong, and with the experienced (and tainted) hand of Alexander Vinokourov pulling the strings, they know how to ride for 3 weeks. Fuglsang recently won the shorter Dauphiné and has been touted as a contender before, but he’s yet to have a “breakout” Tour. This year could be different, maybe, since he’s obviously got great form currently. Is he overcooked or primed for a result? No way to know until things get really hot. He’ll have a great support cast, including Canadian rider Hugo Houle. I worked with Hugo when he rode for Ag2R and I was with FOCUS. He’s a good kid with goo TT chops and a long burning fuse. He’ll be important on flatter stages and early slopes of climbs. Luis León Sánchez will be critical too, and the Spaniard can’t be ruled out for stage win either. He’s still plenty quick, and smart enough to be in a good spot when it counts. Astana has a great team here, but the GC is likely a big reach for them, though they’ll still try.

Bahrain-Merida
CARUSO Damiano
COLBRELLI Sonny
GARCÍA CORTINA Iván
DENNIS Rohan
MOHORIČ Matej
NIBALI Vincenzo
TEUNS Dylan
TRATNIK Jan

Like him or not (or not much), Nibali can’t be looked over as a contender. He’s won the Tour before, along with the Giro and Vuelta. He shines in grand tours, can still out climb most riders, and is a ridonculous descender. He’s always aggressive, and also slightly bitchy when people don’t play his game. But … dude can ride a bike for 3 weeks. He’ll be supported well, and can be expected to attack a lot. He’s got less pressure on him, but he’s also savvy enough to know he’s got a legitimate shot at the win without Froome in the race and hardly any TT miles to get in his way. Barring a mishap, I’d be surprised to see him finish out of the top five … and maybe even take the win. It’s possible. He’s got plenty of guys on the team who can win stages too, so the day-to-day pressure will be managed for him.

Bora-Hansgrohe
BUCHMANN Emanuel
KONRAD Patrick
SAGAN Peter
OSS Daniel
MÜHLBERGER Gregor
PÖSTLBERGER Lukas
BURGHARDT Marcus
SCHACHMANN Maximilian

Peter Sagan. Enough said.

Ok, fine … there are other guys on the team too, and they’ll work their asses off for Sagan to get another Green/Points jersey by Paris. He’s the most likely guy to win it- again- because he’s simply that consistent. He’s had a quiet-for-Sagan early season, but the Tour is where he almost always dominates. He’s got an excellent team with him, and he’ll be HEAVILY marketed by Specialized and 100%. Trust me, by the end of the Tour, you’ll be tired of his name … but not the way he rides a bike.

CCC Team
VAN AVERMAET Greg
BEVIN Patrick
DE MARCHI Alessandro
GESCHKE Simon
PAUWELS Serge
ROSSKOPF Joey
SCHÄR Michael
WIŚNIOWSKI Łukasz

Well, they won’t win the Tour and they’re not there to try. Greg Van Avermaet is gonna win a stage or more, and will be Sagan’s likely biggest threat for Green. He’s good. And he’s got a good team with him. American Joey Rosskopf is strong as an ox and an ride a TT bike really freakin’ fast. The entire team can win stages, and you can expect to see the very bright orange kits going for stage wins often. They’re gonna take home some prize money when the race is over, that much is certain.

Cofidis
HERRADA Jesús
BERHANE Natnael
EDET Nicolas
LAPORTE Christophe
PEREZ Anthony
PÉRICHON Pierre-Luc
ROSSETTO Stéphane
SIMON Julien

“The old gray mare, she ain’t what she used to be,
Ain’t what she used to be, ain’t what she used to be …”

There was a time when Cofidis was one of the best teams in cycling, and the best team in France. That’s changed. A lot. Over the years, Cofidis has bounced in and out of relevance. Currently, they’re usually more known for their mercurial (and idiotic) sprinter Nacer Bouhanni … who again, will not be at the Tour. This gives the team a legitimate chance to win a stage, without catering to Bouhanni’s inability to factor in the race. Though a few of the riders are “older”, the full team can be expected to try a little something, most likely in the mountains and daylong suicide breaks for tv time. They’ll likely target the Polka Dot/Climber’s jersey and stage wins, so look for them to light up the first climbs that offer points. After that, they’ll fade into protecting the jersey, if they get it early. Otherwise … long days in the breaks for tv viewers.

EF Education First
URÁN Rigoberto
VAN GARDEREN Tejay
CRADDOCK Lawson
PHINNEY Taylor
BETTIOL Alberto
WOODS Michael

Rigoberto Urán is the man at EF for the Tour. He’s a GC threat when healthy, and hopefully he is now. After some early season injuries, he looks to be coming alive now. If he’s got the climbing legs and TT chops of years past, he’ll be considered a real threat. He’ll be backed by a strong team. Team owner Jonathan Vaughters is pretty good at piecing teams and riders together, and he’s got a mix of youth and experience. Americans Lawson Craddock, Taylor Phinney, and Tejay Van Garderen will all be chuffed to get things going. No longer carrying the GC pressure, Tejay might finally refund the legs that made him a contender. Phinney is a monster when healthy, and can maybe even win a stage early. And then there’s the Canadian flavor sensation Michael Woods. He’s an unknown of sorts in the Tour- he’s yet to reach his full potential, but he can ride with the best of them, and has shown a knack for attacking. I’m watching Woods with a curious eye …

Deceuninck-Quick-Step
ALAPHILIPPE Julian
ASGREEN Kasper
DEVENYNS Dries
MAS Enric
LAMPAERT Yves
MØRKØV Michael
RICHEZE Maximiliano
VIVIANI Elia

How many stages can DQS win? Most of them. For serious … they can win a lot of stages. Julian Alaphilippe has been on fire. He seems to win any time he tries. He can climb, sprint, or get away early. And then Elia Viviani is among the very best sprinters in the world too. He’s won a bunch of sprints this year already, too. The team won more races than anybody last season, and is on top of the board again this year. They aren’t hunting the GC, and team director Patrick Lefevre rarely does, so stage wins and the endless press attention is the goal. Oh, and they also ride Specialized bikes … who has a new bike out now … so … #Marketing!

Dimension Data
KREUZIGER Roman
BOASSON HAGEN Edvald
BAK Lars
CUMMINGS Steve
KING Ben
JANSE VAN RENSBURG Reinardt
VALGREN Michael
NIZZOLO Giacomo

No Cavendish this year. They’ve left the Manxman off of the team roster this year. #Controversy

I like American Ben King. He’s a good rider, classy guy, and can actually mix it up for a stage win. They don’t have a GC rider, so Ben and Edvald Boasson Hagen are among their stage hunters. EBH is another Green contender, and can get into the break and ruin the day for his companions with lesser sprint legs. EBH, Van Avermaet, and Sagan in a three-man break would be The BOMB! (But it won’t happen.) Steve Cummings has won before and is a good chap, so keep an eye on him too.

Groupama-FDJ
PINOT Thibaut
BONNET William
ROUX Anthony
REICHENBACH Sébastien
MOLARD Rudy
GAUDU David
KÜNG Stefan
LADAGNOUS Matthieu

Man, if Thibaut Pinot ever lives up to his potential and the hype surrounding him every year, he’ll win the Tour by an hour or two. Well … maybe by a few seconds at least. Built around Pinot, for better or worse, FDJ is always a fan favorite, and team manager Marc Madiot is a little bit of a magician. They have to be taken seriously … until Pinot’s almost-guaranteed implosion occurs. Mostly, they’re looking for stage wins or the Polka Dot jersey with Pinot. But … if the stars align and the prayers of French fans are answered, Pinot could do something special. (But likely won’t.)

Jumbo-Visma
GROENEWEGEN Dylan
KRUIJSWIJK Steven
VAN AERT Wout
MARTIN Tony
BENNETT George
JANSEN Amund Grøndahl
DE PLUS Laurens
TEUNISSEN Mike

SO MUCH TALENT on this team! No real GC threat, but bejesus do they have stage winners! Groenewegen- Groaning Wagon- can smash the pedals SO hard in a sprint. I bet they have to give that boy a new frame after every sprint stage. Wout Van Aert is a CX World Champion- thrice- and now the Belgian TT champ. He’s kinda got skills … to pay some bills, as it were. And Tony Martin … yeah, he’s still quick. These guys will win something. Maybe a few somethings. But for certain, they will crank out wattage numbers that make their power meters ask “WTF, brah?”

Katusha-Alpecin
ZAKARIN Ilnur
DOWSETT Alex
DEBUSSCHERE Jens
GONÇALVES José
HALLER Marco
POLITT Nils
WÜRTZ SCHMIDT Mads
ZABEL Rick

Caffeine shampoo isn’t gonna be enough to help them win the Tour. They’ve got a lot of talent, and a fragile GC contender with Ilnur Zakarin, but little hope of more than a few stage wins. A lot of teams would be happy with that prospect, but they’ve got a big enough budget that they need better results. So … they’re gonna be hungry to keep the paychecks coming in. SRAM’s new APX components will be front and center for 3 weeks … #Marketing … so expect to see a lot of SRAM and Zipp advertising!

Lotto-Soudal
DE GENDT Thomas
BENOOT Tiesj
KLUGE Roger
MONFORT Maxime
EWAN Caleb
WELLENS Tim
DE BUYST Jasper
KEUKELEIRE Jens

Stacked with talent, Lotto-Soudal is bringing another strong team to the start line. With young sprinter Caleb Ewan making his Tour debut, they’re gonna be hunting stages, as always. Thomas De Gendt and Tim Wellens are both hyper-experienced stage hunters, and they’ll be doing exactly that. Tiesj Benoot is another Belgian young star with tons of talent, so he’ll likely be given a few chances to shine along the way. Like a few of the other teams, they have a deep talent pool of riders on the roster who will certainly keep things interesting.

Mitchelton-Scott
YATES Adam
YATES Simon
DURBRIDGE Luke
HAIG Jack
HEPBURN Michael
JUUL-JENSEN Christopher
IMPEY Daryl
TRENTIN Matteo

I really hope the Yates twins switch bib numbers and screw with the rest of the peloton a few times. I’ll be pissed if they don’t try at least once.

The Australian team comes equipped for a GC fight and they’re bringing sharp knives for it. Yates will have plenty of help from his brother, as well as the rest of the team. And don’t ask me if the GC Yates is Adam or Simon because I never know! The team is deep in talent and they can not be ruled out, especially in the third week. They’ve got the motors, they’ve got the climbers, and they know how to ride the Stage 2 Team Time Trial. They’ll be in it to win it.

Movistar
QUINTANA Nairo
LANDA Mikel
VALVERDE Alejandro
SOLER Marc
ERVITI Imanol
VERONA Carlos
OLIVEIRA Nelson
AMADOR Andrey

Oh, hey, Movistar is bringing 3 GC contenders again. It’s worked for them perfectly every time before … oh, wait, not it hasn’t. So Quintana, Valverde, and Landa will again line up as team co-co-co-leaders. It’s a shitty move again, but it seems that Movistar loves to lose the Tour. It’s almost as if they come to France each year with the objective of not-winning. That said, they won’t win it. You can quote me. But, hey, at least they’ll get a lot of press for how strong the team is “on paper”, and how surprising it is that the three-pronged approach has yet again failed them.

Sunweb
KELDERMAN Wilco
MATTHEWS Michael
KRAGH ANDERSEN Søren
ARNDT Nikias
BOL Cees
HAGA Chad
KÄMNA Lennard
ROCHE Nicolas

With Tom Dumoulin out, due to lingering injuries from his crash at the Giro, Sunweb is hunting stages. That said, they ain’t in a shortage position for talent in that regard. Michael Matthews is a legitimate threat for Sagan’s Green jersey, with the ability to sprint well and climb well enough to finish in select groups. Chad Haga is an outstanding fella, and another of the emotional favorites among American fans. The team is prepared to ride 3 weeks, and would be set to deliver Dumoulin to the GC podium, but now have to switch into stage mode. I’d be shocked if they didn’t make good on that talent pool.

Team Ineos
THOMAS Geraint
BERNAL Egan
CASTROVIEJO Jonathan
KWIATKOWSKI Michał
MOSCON Gianni
POELS Wout
ROWE Luke
VAN BAARLE Dylan

No Froome.

That makes Geraint Thomas’s job as defending champion a little less complicated. Having Froome on the team would help Thomas, since he’s won 4 Tours and would be the co-favorite to win, but at least the internal dynamics of the team are slightly cleaner. There is that Egan Bernal kid who has shown that he’s ready to win a big race too … but Brailsford has shown an ability to squash internal skirmishes … usually. Make zero mistake, Ineos is still SKY, just in uglier kits. Without a doubt, Thomas can be expected to put up one helluva fight to defend his win from last year. Ineos has deep talent and they’ll put all of it to the task of winning again. And they can. The entire roster is strong, no weak links. If they can keep Gianni Moscon from getting into a fight, or getting expelled from the race for being a racist prick, they’ll even contend for the team title too. It’s their race to lose, and the entire peloton will be looking to them to lead. Whether or not they can defend will depend on how well they keep themselves cohesive- and so far, they’ve proven regularly that they can.

Total Direct Energie
CALMEJANE Lilian
TERPSTRA Niki
TURGIS Anthony
SICARD Romain
TAARAMÄE Rein
OURSELIN Paul
GRELLIER Fabien
BONIFAZIO Niccolò

Another of the French wildcard teams. but less of a “wildcard” since they are always there. They’ve been around for years, in various forms, and have been the home of much-loved riders like Voeckler, Chavanel, and others. Now the team is built around the stage hunting goals of Nikki Terpstra. The team has plenty of talent, even if they lack any meaningful results this season. The Tour roster is a mix of riders capable of winning different stage types, and with NO threat to the GC on the roster, they’ll be given plenty of opportunities in breakaways.

Trek-Segafredo
PORTE Richie
MOLLEMA Bauke
BERNARD Julien
CICCONE Giulio
DE KORT Koen
FELLINE Fabio
SKUJIŅŠ Toms
STUYVEN Jasper

I’m sorry, Australia, Richie Porte is not going to become the second Aussie to win the Tour, this year. He isn’t. He’ll probably ride into the top ten again, though, so there’s that. There’s a chance he’ll take a stage win, or that one of the other Trek-Seafood guys will. I mean, there’s no shortage of talent. Even young gun Toms Skujins (impossible to pronounce while sober), can win a stage and his attacking style is fun to watch. Not sure yet if Trek in unveiling a new bike at this year’s race … but with Specialized unleashing their #Marketing machine on the race, it would make sense that they’ll offer up something to combat the noise coming from California.

UAE-Team Emirates
ARU Fabio
BYSTRØM Sven Erik
COSTA Rui
HENAO Sergio
KRISTOFF Alexander
LAENGEN Vegard Stake
MARTIN Dan
PHILIPSEN Jasper

Fabio Aru is back to regale us all with his impressive pain faces, and slobber suffering. But he’s not gonna be a GC contender. The kid has been able to get out of his own way for the past few seasons, and is fragile- physically and between the ears. Rui Costa can win a stage still, but has been quiet lately. Kristoff can vie for the Green jersey. And Dan Martin rode a great race last year, and hopefully will again this year. The team has the ability to take a few stages, but the GC is way out of reach of Aru again. He shines in Italy and wilts in France. Henao has some good legs and can threaten in the mountains too, but GC is not his game. But, damn, they ride some pretty Colnago bikes!

Wanty-Groupe Gobert
DE GENDT Aimé
EIKING Odd Christian
MARTIN Guillaume
MEURISSE Xandro
PASQUALON Andrea
BACKAERT Frederik
VAN MELSEN Kevin
OFFREDO Yoann

Wanty is an emotional favorite of the wildcard teams. They’re in the race to hunt stages and get tv air time. They’re in over their heads against the bigger teams, but they always seem to punch above their weight regardless. They’ll feature in nearly every doomed break over the next 3 weeks, along with the Arkéa and Direct Energie teams. Of the three, I’d put my money on Wanty for a stage win … just because. I like their Cube bikes and their kits. So yeah, I want them to win because they’re pretty.

It’s up to Ineos to defend, and everybody else to attack the juggernaut. In recent years, Ineos (as SKY), has proven to be nearly flawless and utterly robotic in their domination. Few teams have challenged them. But maybe, just maybe, this year will be different. In theory, this year’s race is a little more open. Without any real TT miles, the climbers have a better chance- which helps the French. The winner is unlikely to be a surprise, but might not be the odds-on favorite.

I like Geraint Thomas and wouldn’t be bummed to see him repeat. I’d be happier to see Uran get the win, or even Bardet. Until we get into the mountains, it’s hard to say who has the best chance. Needless to say, I look forward to seeing which team has the best #Marketing campaigns built around them by their sponsors. That should decide the winner! (Or not.)

Here’s to the race finishing without controversy or major injuries. Rubber side down, boys!

Allez, Allez, ALLEZ! (Not the Specialized® Allez© … don’t sue me!)

*featured image by Chungkong Art

#SkinnyTimIsDead #LongLiveSkinnyTim

June 5, 2019

Since I was a kid, I’ve struggled with weight and body image. Over the years, that struggle has taken on numerous forms. When I was in school, I was painfully thin, and during my youth in Alabama I was picked on and bullied pretty heavily. It taught me to run fast and how to fight when cornered.

I wasn’t garden variety skinny; I was 6′ tall before I was 100lbs. In a state like Alabama, where football is a religion, you can guess the level of popularity I enjoyed with either the girls or the boys my age. As my dad joked, and he grew up the same kind of skinny, “boy, if you were to turn sideways and stick out your tongue, you’d look just like a zipper.”

I can’t even begin to count the number of times I was called string bean, bean pole, chicken legs, or worse. Mostly, I was happy to be ignored. I was very shy- nobody believes me when I say I still am quite shy- and so I was happiest when I flew under the radar.

Photo; Mom

It wasn’t until I discovered cycling in 1982 that I found a home for my skinny body, and a way to excel at something. Being so skinny, I was able to go up hill faster than anybody I knew- even the adults who rode bikes. I couldn’t sprint to save my life, but I could ride ALL DAY and I could out climb anybody who rode with me at the time in Alabama. It was my first taste of being good at something … anything. The bike was freedom to roam, and finally an opportunity to NOT hate my body.

My hummingbird metabolism meant I couldn’t gain weight no matter what I did. I’d ride for hours and hours, every single chance I got, and then would eat anything that wasn’t nailed down or rotting. My appetite was ravenous, and I still feel bad for the way I destroyed the groceries my mother would buy.

But I was still freakishly skinny.

Photo; Chris Wimpey

Since those days of being a skinny and awkward kid, and into “adulthood”, I’ve continued to struggle with how I feel about my body- weight, composition, body fat versus muscle mass, all of it. I have a much better handle on things now, but I’m still me … and “still batshit crazy.”

Once I discovered track cycling, I really found my home, and then suddenly in 1993 as I got good at track racing, my metabolism began to change and I finally began to add muscle to my frame. By 1996, I was up to a whopping 185lbs (!) with a 29″ waist and 30″ quads. As a dear friend still refers to them- “the freak legs.” But at the time, I was an emerging Match Sprint racer here in SoCal, and was racing against guys who were the best of the best in the US and abroad. Guys who went on to World and Olympic medals. And I was still “too skinny” to be a proper sprinter, as the other top guys were well over 200lbs. So I was still ashamed of my body.

After injuries ended my pursuit of an elite career, I kept gaining weight. It really didn’t seem to matter how many miles I put in, I kept gaining weight … and now I began to feel too fat. Mind you, I didn’t do anything with my diet to fix the problem I felt I had. I still ate like I had the skinny metabolism, if not the skinny body. I was neurotic, but also lazy!

Photo; Nils Nilsen

In time, more than one period, I got up to an uncomfortable-to-me 225+lbs. I felt horrible. I was powerful. I was fast enough in sprints. I was winning races. But I felt disgusted with myself. I was pudgy, for me, and hated to see the roundness of my face. I felt fat. Regular old fat.

Photo; Steve Driscoll

But then, after the realization that my drinking had gotten out of control, I gave up alcohol completely. In sobriety, in only a few months, I dropped below 200lbs again. I got a little neurotic about riding and my weight again, and found myself at 165lbs … which was a little too light for me. But man, I was climbing again! That said, I saw that I was too skinny and let some weight back on. By January of 2016, I was in the best shape I’d been in for at least 20yrs. Not quite as good as those 1996 legs, but damn close.

And then I had a huge crash, thanks to the driver of a large pickup truck, while descending a local hill. Multiple bone fractures and a wrist surgery put weight back on me again, and killed that fitness I was building for Masters Track Worlds. So my dream of racing Worlds in Los Angeles died. But I didn’t.

And now, after getting reasonably fit and not feeling overly grossed out about my bodyweight and composition, I find myself recovering from the fateful fall down my father’s basement stairs on March 23rd. After again breaking a handful of bones, I am back on the bike and trying to lose weight and regain fitness over fatness.

And that’s where the neurotic brain comes back into play. I’m currently bouncing back and forth between upper 180’s and mid 190’s. Which, for a 49yr old dude with a list of injuries longer than a RiteAid receipt, isn’t bad.

But my lifelong athlete and cyclist brain keeps whispering, “you need to be lighter.”

The funny thing is, I’d be happy at 225lbs, if I was also less than 10% body fat too … but that’s not happening any time soon … because I’m practical enough to know that I’m too lazy to change my eating habits (I love food), or do the extra miles or exercises to get “skinny” again.

We humans, and especially us cyclists, are funny beings. I recognize that I’m not overweight. I know I’m not fat. But my brain says different.

All of this rambling is to say that I understand the battles so many people go through with body image issues, of all types and varieties. I know what it’s like to want to be “other”, different from what you are. I know what it’s like to be targeted for what you are, at least at a very superficial level.

Be kind to yourself. Love you for you. Be who you are and shine. I hate lots of things about myself, and have since I was a child. I’m slowly, very slowly, learning to like a few things too. I’m almost 50 and just getting to that point. But it can be done. I promise you, it can.

Tim

It Only Hurts When I Smile

May 30, 2019

I’ve now ridden six times since May 24th, with one day off after the second ride, so that means I’ve been riding for seven days with one rest day. That almost sounds like a regular week of training! Were it not for the fact that the rides are all short and slow, with zero focus or intensity other than simply pedaling my bike, it really would be like a regular week of training.

At the moment, the only thing I’m trying to do is simply get things moving again, and begin to rebuild something that resembles enough fitness to hopefully return to do a few races at the track this year. Obviously, after just six rides in one week, I’m nowhere near ready to pin a number on and roll up to a start line … but, damn, that itch is already returning.

The right elbow is still far from straightening fully, but I’m heading back for more physical therapy soon to help with that- hopefully. The right wrist, the one that had a plate and five screws put in it after the 2016 crash, has been achy and sore, but does not appear to have new injuries … I think. Under the category of #cyclistproblems, one of the biggest issues I’m currently dealing with is noodle arms and fatigued triceps. After the two full months off the bike, with as little use of arms as possible, they both wear out within about 20 miles. The right arm is weak from being in the cast and immobile, while the left arm burns up quickly from compensating for the deficiency in the right. The right arm is effectively shorter than the left now, so my right shoulder tends to drop, which leads to additional overcompensations and imbalances. Thankfully, my legs don’t actually feel all that bad! Maybe there’s something to be said for the countless base miles and muscle memory of 37yrs of competitive cycling?

Second ride, and first #TimJacksonOverheadSelfie®.

Overall, the right arm is dysfunctionally functional, and I keep getting on my bike. I tried the fixie on my third ride back on the bike … and it wasn’t my smartest idea. But nobody has accused me of being terribly smart. Ever. Taking my patented #TimJacksonOverheadSelfie® is a bit awkward now, as I’m having to learn how to be consistent with my left arm. Ive also noticed an unwelcome feeling of greater vulnerability on the bike- a bit more anxiously watching each and every driver and car, looking for signs of their intentions or distractions, desperately hoping not to have to take extra evasive actions … or worse. If my elbow and wrist weren’t in their current condition, I’d simply head for the dirt/gravel to rebuild fitness- but it’s currently not physically an option.

But … BUT … each time I get on my bike, I remember that I’m grateful to be alive and not more badly broken. “It coulda been worse.” It really coulda. It hurts. I’m really impatient. I want to get back to where I was on March 23rd … today. I’m unhappy about this massive setback, and fear for the overall recovery of range of motion. But, again, it coulda been worse- and I’m on my bike trying to make it less bad. I love to ride my bike. I yearn to get back to racing. I wanna be “the fast old guy” again. It’s gonna take more time than I want it to, and I have to force myself to go slow(er).

Eddy Merckx is famously credited for saying that, “cycling is 20% physical and 80% mental.” Lord knows I’m plenty mental, so I hope it pays off.

Tim

(still) Not Dead (yet)

May 23, 2019
David Brinton via VeloNews 2008

Late evening, on March 23rd, my first night back in Alabama to visit my dad and stepmother with my daughters, I stepped literally into the dark void and fell down a flight of stairs into the basement of my father’s home. I’d only ever been to my father’s home twice before, with the last time being nearly 17yrs prior, so I mistook the door to the basement as the door to the room my daughters were sleeping in … which was an unpleasant mistake to make.

That trip down the stairs gave me a broken right elbow (radius) and six non-displaced rib fractures. Needless to say, the rest of the visit did not go as planned … and was a lot more painful. My daughters and I still managed to enjoy the time there, but the dynamics were clearly very different and we didn’t get to go visit the small town I grew up in, 6hrs south of where we were staying … it was decided that the drive would be far too painful for me to make. That said, the time that we spent at my father’s home was a quieter and more casual visit, allowing us to simply spend time talking and slowing down from our usual lives.

The immediate downside, is the obvious injury recovery … something I am no stranger to; 2016 crash involving large pickup truck and surgery to repair broken wrist, along with three pelvic fractures, 2015 hit by car and was gifted a posterior separation of left shoulder, and of course the 2008 biggie that came far too close to killing me. Those are just the most recent ones, sadly.

Similar to the 2008 and 2016 crashes, I’m left recovering and rebuilding as the cycling season speeds along without me. Racing at the velodrome is underway, and even with our wetter than normal weather, I’m itching to get back on the bike … again. Luckily, a few days ago, I was able to get on my road bike and pedal up and down the street without too much difficulty- aside from being way out of shape. The elbow on right arm is still the issue, and I am still unable to straighten my arm, but thankfully the current range of motion feels adequate to allow me to pedal slowly and rebuild.

I’m fond of the expression “broken not buried“, and it has applied to me in many ways over the years- some physical, and some very deeply and personally emotional ways. Though I’m inching along with recovery again, the process is painful and tedious … and if I’m honest, it has gotten harder as I’ve gotten older … both physically and emotionally. But alas, I’m still here somehow.

In recent years, due to work, life, children, and massive personal upheavals, my ability and desire to return to “blogging” and long form writing has taken a huge hit. What was once incredibly easy and vital, has become harder and harder to maintain- or even begin. But, like injury recovery or my commitment to sobriety, I find myself often returning to make another effort. And here I am now, once more trying to break through the mental blockage and noise in my head to tap on the keys enough to create a few coherent sentences that hopefully don’t read entirely like gibberish.

As much as my bike means to me, words mean even more- especially as I’ve gotten older. I still have dreams of race victories, but I still also have a tiny space in my soul dedicated to the dream that one day a poem of mine will grace the pages of The New Yorker. The race win is way more likely to happen long before I even get the courage to submit a poem to The New Yorker … but that tiny little dream, as big and absurd as it is, is still given the space to breathe inside me.

Hopefully, unlike all the other proclamations over the years that “I’m resurrecting my blog”, I’ll actually make some headway into semi-resurrecting the focus to let some of the words out of my head more frequently. There’s too many of them in there, along with the voices, so it’s time I put some of them to work.

… my apologies in advance …

Tim

#SugarKits Special Edition

March 14, 2018

Wow, things have been quiet around here for a pretty damned long time. Life, as they say, is what happens while you’re busy making other plans. And, luckily, I have great clients who happen to keep me busy enough that I’ve become really, really bad at the whole blogging thing … or updating my business website … and lots of other non-work-related things.

But life happens. And it happens fast. Sometimes, not at all in the ways we would like it to. And, furthermore, in ways we would never want to experience.

Back on January 3rd, my buddy Stevil of All Hail The Black Market fame/infamy and I had a meaningful conversation that centered around the topic of suicide. He’d just lost a friend to suicide, and he and I shared a virtual hug between each other. From that brief exchange sprouted something that is a humble gesture to make sure that nobody ever succumbs to the darkness and sadness that is depression or anxiety, or any other emotional/ mental boogeyman in their hearts or minds. Depression is a subtle foe, and one that I have personally dealt with since my early teens. I’ve even struggled with suicidal ideation, and thoughts that I really hope nobody else has … but I know that many do. And many give in to those voices that say “there’s no other way to make it stop.” Believe me, I know it way too well.

Some have noticed and noted, or reached out, that I’ve personally been a bit quiet until very recently. I won’t get into too many details, in order to protect the privacy of those involved, but depression and its dark voices came calling a little too close to home, and I don’t know that things will ever be quite the same.

In the aftermath, I wanted to turn the experience into something potentially positive. Something that could ease the pain, and give it a different ending and greater purpose.

It’s a tiny thing, really, but it’s the only thing I could think of right away.

I’m re-releasing the most recent Castellicustom kit preorder, and have changed the usual “sugar” themed hashtag to the #NonSuicidePact that Stevil and I came up with back in January. All proceeds from the sale of the clothing with be donated to the AFSP (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention). The AFSP “raises awareness, funds scientific research and provides resources and aid to those affected by suicide.” AFSP is the largest suicide prevention organization in the US, so its work is felt nationally and across a broad spectrum of people. I know many folks have special favorite orgs that are also very worthy, but my hope is to be able to provide the AFSP with some small token of support (though a large one would be great too). With that in mind, ALL profits from the sale of these kits and accessories will be given directly to AFSP.

The last time around with these designs, we didn’t meet the minimum quantities to be able to get the order into production, and refunds had to be issued. I deeply regret that I did such a poor job of communicating that as the deadlines kept rolling by. It is, however, my sincere hope that we can meet the very generously low minimums Castelli is giving us to get this order into production and perhaps send AFSP a check for a few bucks. Maybe it really is only a couple bucks- if so, I’ll add a few more of my own- but at least the kits will be out in the wild with the hashtag providing a sincere reminder that nobody has to be truly alone in the darkness, and that suicide genuinely is “a permanent solution to a temporary problem.”

In order to help make this more affordable, I’ve reduced the prices of the items offered to about 10% below MSRP across the board on all items. Because as much as I want to send AFSP a little money, I know lots of folks who might be interested in buying these kits are not made of money … I’m certainly not. So when you visit the Servizio Corse store for the pre-order, you’ll see pricing that reflects the discount already. Also of note, international shipping will once again be provided (flat rate of $30), so folks outside of the US will be able to ride in style (even if AFSP isn’t working directly in other countries).

The little image gallery above only shows a few of the items offered, but several more items will be offered;

  • Podio Jersey- men/women- $80 (both blue and hi-viz yellow designs)
  • Team Bibshort- men/women with Kiss Pad- $100 (both blue and hi-viz yellow designs)
  • LS Speedsuit- $200 (hi-viz yellow)
  • Team Mesh Sleeveless Baselayer- $45
  • Head Thingy” (neck gaiter)- $25
  • Aero Sock- $30
  • Thermo Arm Warmer- $35
  • Thermo Knee Warmer- $37.50
  • Thermo Leg Warmer- $40

So, as you can see … there’s a little something for everybody. And the two color options are intended to mix-and-match well, in case you already have one of the blue kits from last year.

And by all means, please, please, PLEASE feel free to share this with all your cycling friends. Maybe the colors or design don’t work for you (that’s cool, man), but maybe you know somebody else who might like the color, design, or just the cause.

The order window is only 15 days- this will provide an estimated ship date of May 14th. 

Let’s make this happen; let’s put a few bucks into the hands of the AFSP, and hope in the heart of darkness that sits like a ton of lead on somebody you, I, all of us love. The things that lead to suicide or attempted suicide are widely varied, but one thing remains universal- it’s never the right answer, and it always leaves behind people wondering what they could’ve done to stop it from happening. Let’s really keep the #NonSuicidePact alive, as well as each other.

Tim
aka Sugar

The FINAL PUSH! #sugarkits

September 26, 2017

The final push is on to meet the minimums and close the order for the #sugarhigh re-order and hi-viz second color option. I don’t like to beg, but I’m not afraid to … so #pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease place an order (or finalize your order) on the Castelli custom website. You and I both know you want to look beautiful this fall/winter in the most amazing kit of the year! Everybody loves puppies, kitties, rainbows, and unicorns … but they don’t make you eleventeen percent faster, or able to corner telepathically, or climb like your ass is on fire, or sprint like 7 Peter Sagans shot out of a cannon! Neither will my #sugarkits, but you’ll LOOK amazing riding however you like to ride.

I’m not a particularly smart man, or even very attractive, but I’m pretty sure I look smarter and more less-ugly when I saddle up wearing one of the Castelli-made #sugarkits designs. So don’t be a Debbie Downer, a Negative Nancy, or a Gassy Gustavo. Head over to the Team Store and buy some really radical stretchy clothing and help me, help you, help yourself to a whole new world of amazeballs-ness.

Sugar aka Tim

UPDATED; Sugar Kits Getting Even SWEETER!

September 5, 2017

HEY LADIES!
In the first release of the store opening on Friday last week, the women’s version of the hi-viz yellow kit was not shown … but it is there now! So, if you’re looking for lady kit for lady bits … they’re looking for you too. 

 

Holy Howdy Doody!

As if it were even possible, #sugarkits are about to get even sweeter!

Say hello to your new favorite clothing for fall/winter 2017/2018!

Apparently, if you haven’t heard the rumors, #crossiscoming and so is #cxiscoming and so is #ridingbikesisawesome.

With that in mind, I’ve added a second hi-viz color option to mix-n-match with the most recent #sugarhigh kits. Thanks to the reception of the original blue #sugarhigh kits, I’m reopening the order today, until September 15th, which means shipment by November 3rd … in time for the heat of CX season.

And, since we’re heading into the cooler months … not that you can tell that from the heatwave here in San Diego … I’m also adding more cool weather goodies and new items just released from Castelli.

Who says you hafta hate winter?!

Ain’t it pretty!

On the bib shorts; I’ve changed the chamois to my personal favorite from Castelli, which happens to also be less expensive- the KISS Air Pad. It’s a lower bulk, less dense, single piece chamois that I personally prefer, especially for longer rides. And, conveniently, it brings the cost of the bibs down to just $99!

New for this year from Castelli, is a new vest that uses Windstopper fabrics, and has three rear pockets. I am *super* stoked to be able to offer this item. On longer cold rides, I hate having to fish under the vest to get to my jersey pockets, so I prefer to have pockets on the vest itself.

Sugar_Threads_18.1_FLUO_OUTERWEAR copy

Also for winter and CX, I’m proudly offering up the 3/4 sleeve CX Suit. Designed for cross and changing weather conditions … and mud … it’s perfect for everything from dry SoCal CX to wet and sloppy New England doom cross.

img_3342

Because it gets cold in winter … eventually even in SoCal … also offering up arm warmers, knee warmers (no leg warmers), and a totally kick ass base layer … as well as an all-new “Head Thingy” aka “neck buff”.

Sugar Threads 18.1 FLUO WARMERS v2

And, furthermore, expanding and deepening the awesometasticness … brand new tall aero socks!

img_3341

Not to brag, but holy shit! One sock is blue, one sock is yellow. Mix-n-match like a total #kitninja! The Aero Sock uses an aerodynammically textured lycra upper that is fully sublimateable, paired with Castelli’s most popular footbed, with a 19cm cuff length. You all know what a total sock junky I am, so this is gonna be stupendous.

Even I’m screaming at myself “JUST TAKE MY MONEY ALREADY” as I type all of this. So, if you’re feeling the same way, let’s make some magic happen.

Go to the Castelli Team Order store, create an account if you don’t already have one, and then order away! All items are subject to meeting minimums, so spread the word. I’ll post updates along the way so that we can hopefully hit all the minimums for each item. Go to the store for all the details, pricing, etc. Images and product features are all there as well.

I’m extremely stoked to be working Castelli on these kits again, and very thankful for their patience and design help. Mike Heenan is a design demigod! Mike Clodfelter, a long time friend and fellow track racer, is the new custom sales manager for the territory, and has been an awesome help too. I feel pretty lucky.

Sugar

(aka Tim)