Sunday, March 9

Spring Forward

This week finally had a nice-enough day to go on my first serious ride of the year. I was just going to go for a ten-mile toss-off loop around Kittery, but when I got there, I kept going, and when I got to York Beach, I kept going, until I got to Mount Agamenticus. It's not much of a mountain, but it's definitely a hassle to get up on a bike, and anything I can do to help me be stronger on the hills is good. I did it without going down to my granny gear; that is something I couldn't do (or never attempted) last year. Maybe it's just because my bike's front dérailleur is so dirty that it won't shift anyway... note to self: do something about that. I was not showing any PRO style at all on my way up, very obviously suffering, trying to minimize weaving, and completely unable to make any kind of acceleration.
I took a minute at the top to rest momentarily, the sun was starting to get low was about a sunset away from home, so I couldn't stop for long. While I was there, I noticed a nice chainring tattoo that my bike had given me on the way up:


The way down the mountain was as fun as the way up was hard, diving down at about 45mph or so. Nothing really beats the feeling of that kind of speed, and it's not that easy either, you really, really have to keep your eyes on the road, watch the corners, and know your bike. For instance, I know that my Fuji comes with weak ProMax brakes and Shimano Sora levers that really leave a lot to be desired in slowing power, so it's impossible to take the best lines in the descent; I have to jam the brakes hard, sit up, take the corners wide.

So, I'll just show you this video, which starts off with some good descent technique from the 2005 Tour de France. There are a couple other interesting things going on here: First, the rider in light blue is Alexander Vinokourov, riding for Team Astana. It was his positive blood-doping test in the 2007 Tour de France that got his team banned, and is preventing the current, new (sans Vinokourov) Astana Team from racing in several major European races this year, including the major spring stage race, the Paris-Nice which is going on this week. Vino rode for T-Mobile in 2005, the reason he is wearing blue-and-yellow is because he is wearing the wearing the jersey of the Kazakh national champion. Also look for Phil Ligett's flamboyant commentary, "majored in newspaper technology;" that guy is great.

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