Go Dad Go!

A self-important blog about riding bikes, raising kids and the all-too-rare nexus of these two pursuits.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Stage 8 Update -- from July 9

Karen and I saw An Inconvenient Truth last night, and I'm tempted to use this forum to do some proselytizing -- to rant and rave and tell you all the things we all should do to stop global warming. But that's not what this blog is about, so I'll keep it to one simple recommendation: Go see this movie -- soon.

Actually, I'll add another recommendation: Ride your bike. It's such a great thing to do for the environment. Hybrids are an exciting innovation and hopefully a lasting trend, but even they kick out some emissions. Yes, I love the simple act of riding a bike, but when I can indulge in it instead of driving a car, I get to know I'm doing something good for the earth and for myself. Those of you who have at any time considered commuting to work by bike, take a quick look below at the column I wrote for my team's newsletter ("Pneusletter," actually); maybe it will help convince you to give it a shot.

The Tour, of course, is an environmental nightmare: dozens upon dozens of cars, buses, huge vans, RVs and even floats starting their engines, idling for hours and driving throughout France for 21 days. Then again, if the Tour can inspire just a few people to start riding bikes, like the guy I met at Peet's the other day, who started riding when he watched Lance, and now "rides everywhere," and is considering giving up his car...maybe it's all worth it. Environmentally, that is; everyone on this list knows that otherwise, the Tour is well worth any sacrifice.
France nearly hit the sporting world's trifecta this weekend, as it scored a rare stage win with Sylvain Calzati's audacious solo ride through Brittany today, just a day after Amelie Mauresmo got it into her head to get her head out of her game and thus won the Wimbledon women's crown. Alas, the three-fer wasn't to be had, and as much as I'd like to think they're holding their heads high on the Champs-Elysees tonight on the strength of their big cycling and tennis wins, I'm guessing they're instead cursing the name David Trezeguet -- though I hope it's actually "Zinedine Zidane" on their lips, as it's he who decided to, er, lose his head at the very worst time, and whose presence certainly could have helped in those final minutes, and in the shootout itself.

Like I know from soccer.

What I do know is that I really liked Calzati's win today, certainly for its audacity -- and for the fact that he started celebrating 3 kilometers before the line -- but also because no one ended up with him in the random draw, and today's tallies thus took me very little time. Kjell Carlström and Patrice Halgand earned their owners 3 and 1 point, respectively, but in all, today's stage had very little impact on our standings.

Enjoy the rest day, everyone. Maybe use the break to get out and ride your bike?

I’ve paid my annual dues and ordered a present-generation kit. I closed the season by driving Paul Cook to the Mt. Tam HC, after twelve consecutive leeched rides to the hinterlands of NorCal racing. I intend to show up for next month’s meeting, and now, in my final act to close out my campaign to be the Worst BBC Member Ever, I’m contributing a few thoughts to the Pneusletter.

Jim Rusk has agreed to let me do penance by sharing my thoughts each month on training as a full-time everything-else – boss, dad, lawnmower, weed-puller and laundry-folder, which taken together, and adding in beer-drinker on Friday evenings, pretty much describes my existence.

“So,” you scoff, “the guy wins one race and he thinks he has something to teach us.” Not at all; for while my reaction to winning the Coral Hollow thirty-five-and-over-cat-four-“b”-race-with-a-ton-of-team-support was about what you’d expect from a Grand Tour stage solo win, I’m keeping my expectations very low: we’re really just looking to fill column-inches here. If anyone actually laughs at or heeds my thoughts, that’s gravy.

You’ll note that my plans don’t always fit the Wenzel mode. While I did consider titling these submissions “The Wenzel Weasel” or “Training Advice from Not-Saifer,” I in no way would disparage Scott, Rene, Kendra or their approach to training; they definitely know their stuff. In fact, I consulted with Scott last winter and ended up with my strongest season in years. It’s just that when it comes to all that winter base training, those miles upon absolutely vital miles that shore up your aerobic fitness…I just can’t always swing it.

In my effort to build that base, though, I manage to ride every weekday by way of commuting to work. And that’s my first suggestion on training with chock-full plate: commute, dammit.

You’ve read countless articles on why you should commute and how best to do so. I’ll offer a few thoughts that you might not have seen before:

1. If you have kids, a significant other, any other hobbies to which you would like to commit more time, a fondness for sleep or a job that takes more than six hours of your time each weekday, then commute, dammit.

2. No excuses that your commute is too long. I recently ran into Webcor rider John Kelley (while commuting, in fact). He told me that his only means of training mid-week is commuting from his house in Glenview to his job in (wait for it…) Martinez. It evidently works for him, having stepped onto the pro podium numerous times in the last couple of years.

3. No excuses that your commute is too short. That’s easy: leave a little earlier, find a nearby hill, and route your commute over it.

4. Screw the shower. Everyone wonders about offending coworkers, having worked up a froth of perspiration on the ride in. To which I respond: we’re in Northern California. We get about four days a year when the morning temps are above 70. Unless you’re riding to Martinez, you just don’t sweat that bad – and if you are, just tell them you’re a badass pro rider, and that sweat is part of your other job.

5. Get a cheap commuting bike. If you’re riding a slicked-up mountain or ‘cross bike, or even a straight-bar hybrid, you won’t worry about riding it in the rain or through the potholed urban jungle. One less excuse.

6. On that note, treat yourself with the money you save. I figure I save $100/month just in gas money by not driving to work, so I have no problem spending a little extra to set myself up. I now have a huge Timbuk2 bag, lights, waterproof clothes, fenders and t-shirts that say things like “One Less Car” and “Anti-Terrorist Vehicle.”

7. If you cross the Bay Bridge to work, take the Bike Shuttle, a classic Bay Area institution. It’s a 15-passenger van pulling a 14-bike trailer, filled with every ilk of cyclist, including a heavy, er, “dose” of messengerhood. It costs a buck and gets you across the bridge in record time, owing to the drivers’ willingness to drive on shoulders and sometimes sidewalks. You’ll arrive at work feeling invigorated, in that gritty, urban sense.

I’m sure I have more ideas on why we should all commute, dammit. But that’s more than enough column-inches.


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