Saturday, August 15, 2009

Lance Wins Leadville 100

Today was the second Summer Streets of the year, and though I was going to talk about that, let’s face it, about a million New Yorkers were there, and there’s even video documentation, so I’ll get on to more exciting--if somewhat predictable--news.

In his first race since the Tour de France, Lance Armstrong won the Leadville 100 today, setting a new course record. For those of you who don't know, Leadville is a little mining town in Colorado which hosts an epic mountain bike race and ultra-marathon each year, each of which covers--as the name suggests--100 miles. Last year, Lance got "off the couch" and onto a bike to race competitively for the first time in years. He came in second to David Wiens, a "retired" mountain bike racer who's something of a local hero.

Today, Lance returned after a couple of "training camps" in France and Italy. He rolled into the win with a flat back tire thirty-minutes ahead of Wiens, beating the Coloradan's 2008 record by 17 minutes.

Now, given the fact that Lance spent three weeks in July riding a bike for five hours a day, this isn't too shocking, but I've been frustrated by people's responses to Lance's win. First, people have been suggesting that it was inappropriate of him to enter a race that's largely dominated by armatures. To those, I'd like to point out that when Lance entered the race last year, he hadn't been racing for four years. He practically was, as Weins went on to suggest, "right off the couch," and he didn't really even train for it. Considering that Floyd Landis had been there the year before, it seemed like fair game. It's only natural that he'd want to take a second stab at it--particularly since he's in better shape--this year.

Second, people seem to think that Armstrong's victory detracts from Wiens' accomplishments, or from Leadville. To the second part, I disagree: it's good that Lance and other celebrities are going to Leadville. As race organizers are quick to point out, the whole point of the Leadville 100 was to bring money into the town after it was hit hard by the mining depression in the eighties. Having big riders in Leadville brings a lot of publicity, increasing tourism and race and town sponsership. To the first part (about Wiens' legacy), I'd argue that Wiens' status as a baller is pretty indisputable. He's won six times, for God's sakes, and rode better today than anyone but Lance. At forty-four--seven years over the ancient Armstrong--I'd say he's doing pretty well.

In the women's division, endurance athlete Rebecca Rusch rolled in at a very impressive 8 hours and 15 minutes, eighteen minutes ahead of second-placer Amanda Carey.

On a less cheerful note, it seems that Fatty--the whole reason I started following Leadville in the first place--took a bad spill and didn't finish. It's really too bad, particularly given the month he's had, but at least he wasn't injured worse.

Anyways, I'm pretty beat and am going to head to bed. Maybe I'll edit the ending of this post tomorrow so it isn't quite so lame. Or maybe not.

Friday, August 14, 2009

I’m not a pro, but I am a…girl?

Let me start off by asserting my sheer and utter lack of expertise when it comes to serious cycling. I mean, I own a semi-decent road bike (carbon fork and seat stays!), have watched enough Tours to do a solid Phil Ligget impersonation, and, because I live in New York City, I’ve developed a healthy dose of elitism about my brakes, derailleurs, and the length of my handlebars.

That said, I’ve only recently gotten into what you’d call cycling. I’m fairly athletic, have run for ages, played assorted team sports, and have owned and enjoyed riding a (mountain) bike forever, but didn’t get serious until I got a road bike. In the roadie department, I’m a total newbie. I faced epic challenges installing clipless pedals into my bike (I actually managed to break my old pedal while attempting to get it off), and wanted to cry when I found out that Harlem Hill (on which runners and the occasional snail have been known to pass me) only averaged a 4.4% grade.

But I’m trying to better myself. I’ve been watching you tube how-to videos. I’ve been reading Fatty and the Snob (and doesn’t that sound like a fantastic kids book?) One of these days, I might even buy a jersey. (I do own two pairs of cycling shorts, thank you very much.)

The more serious I’ve gotten, however, the more frustrated I’ve become with how male-centric the whole cycling world is. Sure, us ladies get to vote now, and our salaries may even be approaching those of the external genetalia-ed, but take a look at the evidence of our inequality in the cycling world:

1. “Women’s Tour de France” (La Grande Boucle, if you’re keeping track): 4 stages versus 21 (count em’) for the riders with junk in the trunk. ‘nough said.

2. Women’s Cycling Forums vastly underused: the “women’s cycling” thread at has only had one post in the last week. The aforementioned post reads, “we havnt heard from you for a while. women cyclists of the world; we need women in our lives......” Many of the other posts on the "women's" thread were posted by men on behalf of their wives.

3. Sheer numbers: next time your on your bike, count the number of ladies you see out there compared to the men.

4. The fact that first domain I tried for--has nothing but a title posted.

So anyways, here's my minute and insignificant attempt to even the scales. Feel free to drop in and read/comment about my trials and tribulations if you are:

1. New to cycling, and want to learn from someone else’s mistakes rather than your own

2. An experienced cyclist (male or female) who wants to impart your wisdom on us mere mortals

3. A woman (or girl) who cycles seriously/bikes casually/aspires to do either

4. Bored at work

5. Lance Amstrong (because it’d be cool to have a celebrity read my blog)

6. A Schleck Brother (because I think they’re cute and have a 6th grade-style crush on Frank)

7. None of the above (i.e., anybody else.)

And, because no blog entry is really complete without a picture, I'll leave you with one of Frank Schleck, who makes me happy to be a female cyclist, despite our under-representation.

Eye Candy