Entries by Frank Steele

One is not like the other

Superstar as sore thumb

Ken Conley is getting ready for the 2009 Tour of California (and yes, I’m bursting with jealousy), and posted a couple of shots in preparation. Above is a beautiful shot of the Astana team training along the coast. It’s a cycling photography staple, but one thing immediately caught my eye: There’s one guy who, visually, doesn’t belong.

I’m talking, of course, about 7-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, who is riding here in his Livestrong kit (possibly on his Livestrong Madone), while everybody else flies the Astana flag of the team sponsor.

Reuters | More than half of U.S. cyclists forgo helmets: report

Whenever we post anything at all about helmets, it tends to descend into a “You’re nuts!”/”No, you’re nuts!” kind of a thing.

However you feel about helmet use, we’re passing along the linked study by the Consumer Reports National Research Center, which found that 58 percent of Americans don’t wear helmets while cycling, and that 92 percent of riders killed while cycling in 2007 were not helmeted.

The study looked to quantify how often Americans “engage in risky behavior,” but only of the Consumer Reports-safe varieties, including driving 10 mph over the speed limit, leaving items on the home stairs, and talking or texting on a cell phone while driving.

Along with helmet use, the study also tracked things people don’t do, like wearing sunscreen or using ear protection when using heavy equipment. It appears in the February ‘09 issue of Consumer Reports, with some details available online.

In other news, I’m not alone in never unplugging my toaster – about half of Americans do likewise.

Beta testers sought

If you’re a Garmin GPS user with a Mac, and you’re not happy with your existing software choices, there’s a new option coming soon.

The developers of Rubitrack are looking for beta testers of their app, which brings a polished Mac interface to tracking GPS and heart rate data collected through a variety of Garmin (and other USB-based) devices. You can check out screen shots and their frequently asked questions to see if it’s something that might work for you.

The beta offers a free unrestricted version of the software, which will expire November 1. Licenses are set to be 29 euros, or about $42.

USA Cycling Kids Race

Kids' race participantsOne of the spectator highlights of the Greenville championships is the Kids Race, where kids from 6-12 get a chance to race the final 200 meters of the pro course.

They come on Big Wheels, BMX bikes, brand-new Treks, and steel frames with a sheen of rust. Everybody wears race bib number 1, and everybody takes home a medal. The cardinal rule is œdon’t run into any of the other riders.

It’s a terrific way to introduce the sport to youngsters – where else would they get the chance to compete in front of thousands of spectators lining the race’s start-finish area?

Here’s a photoset with some of the participants.

Hugging the Tour, 2008 style

I’ll admit to sharing some of Byron’s disappointment in this year’s Tour de France.

Organizers have disinvited last year’s winner, Alberto Contador, and his entire Astana team, barring U.S. podium finisher Levi Leipheimer and former T-Mobile rider Andreas Klöden, as well as perennial Tour scrapper Chris Horner (who I hope winds up a race commentator based on his consistently excellent interviews). Also disinvited? QuickStep’s Tom Boonen, the defending green (sprinter’s) jersey champion, who tested positive for cocaine in an out-of-competition test in late May. Slipstream-Chipotle’s David Zabriskie (back injury) and Tom Danielson (fitness) won’t get a chance to show off the team’s new sponsor and name, Garmin-Chipotle.

And, since it’s apparently impossible to announce a cycling doping verdict during the 50 weeks of the year that don’t precede the Tour, we’ve got a final (maybe) Floyd Landis verdict arising from the ‘06 Tour and a Michael Rasmussen decision arising from the ‘07 Tour. This doesn’t smell like the recipe for a great Tour.

Photo of the day

Documenting the pelostache

Getting maybe more attention than it deserved at the Tour de Georgia was Dave Zabriskie’s Snidely Whiplash mustache:

Dave Z's magic mustache

Here’s Dave’s blog post on the mustache, which I think debuted at the Tour of California.

Byron and I started chatting about the œpelostache. The prototypical pelostache belongs to noted bicycle innovator Tom Ritchey, of course.

My favorite recent example is Alex Candelario, who a few years ago looked like he came straight to the race from a porn shoot.

Looking through Flickr, I discovered dozens of mustache groups. There’s King size flavour savours, Hot Girl Mustache, even cats with mustaches. But nothing for cyclists with ‘staches.

So, since Bike Hugger is all about documenting bike culture, we’ve created a new group on Flickr called Pelostaches. I’ve added pictures I have of Zabriskie and Alex Candelario, invited a couple of others, and am still searching for images of Deadly Nedly Overend before he got the Remington sponsorship (pointers welcome). We welcome contributions from anybody with pictures to share. Bonus points for handlebar mustaches.

Update: Posted this and then found the cycling mustache had been exhaustively cataloged at œHow to Avoid the Bummer Life.

A little Friday afternoon bike music

I noticed a couple of bike-related tracks in the music blogosphere this week.

First, among the 763 South by Southwest sampler tracks was Be Your Own Pet’s Bicycle Bicycle You Are My Bicycle (Video - œTheir bloodlust knew no equal!). Stereogum made it a featured download on Wednesday. My take: Imagine Lisa Loeb singing lead for White Stripes. The refrain (œWe’re on two wheels baby…) rocks. Paul Ford at The Morning News reviewed all 763 tracks in 6 words: His take on BBYAMB: œPunky ladies sing goofy bicycle ditty.

Speaking of ditties, former band on the roll the Ditty Bops, were Thursday’s Top Tune at Santa Monica’s KCRW with the title song from their album Summer Rains (Video). This one feels like it came straight off a 78-rpm wax cylinder – very laidback.

Gizmodo | Trek Madone: The Bike That Owned the Tour De France

Great Tour for Discovery Channel, taking 1st overall, 3rd overall, the team competition, the white jersey, and two stage wins.

But it was an even better Tour for US frame manufacturers, who swept the jerseys and two of three podium places.

Discovery Channel was responsible for much of that success on Trek’s Madone and Equinox TTX frames, with Contador in yellow and white, Leipheimer in 3rd with a win in Stage 19’s time trial, and Yaroslav Popovych in 8th on the overall classification.

Just another reason to ride

Splash News Online | Angelina Jolie and the Hitcher

So James Ambler has been following Angelina Jolie around New York on a Trek mountain bike, taking her picture as she makes appearances to promote her new movie A Mighty Heart. He’s become such a fixture that Jolie and her kids have nicknamed him “Lance.”

On Thursday, Ambler hit a nail and flatted. Rather than leave him behind, Jolie gave the punctured papparazzo a lift to their next destination in her SUV.

I know some of you are saying he should have turned it down, rather than riding in a gas-guzzling SUV, but Ambler happily accepted a hitch from one of the world’s most beautiful women, and spent about 30 minutes in her company. Ambler said Jolie was “really down to earth, really lovely.” Splash News has photos and video of Ambler describing the encounter.

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