Archive for the ‘cycling’ Category

Also present at this weekend’s National Cycling Championships were a few of my favorite bloggers:

Below, Greenville’s very own James T:

And Andy Woolard at the Hincapie Sportswear party and fashion show (left of frame just a few feet behind George, probably posting to Twitter):

I’ll even throw in H3O – even though they aren’t bloggers. They are, however, a sports marketing/branding firm, so I guess they’re relevant here. AND they were EVERYWHERE filming my every move!!! (Or maybe I just got in their way a lot. Whatever floats my boat.):

And last but not least: BikeHugger‘s crew… which I didn’t shoot photos of because by the time I ran into them, a) the Canon was safely retired for the evening and b) my camera hand was busy holding a chilled glass of delicious yet suspiciously tangy… lemonade. Very cool group of folks. ūüôā

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Sorry about the delay in posting the Road Race shots, but the Hincapie party/fashion show ran late into the evening Sunday, and I went on an epic 5 hour country ride Monday. Ergo: Taking my sweet old time with the images. Sorry about that.

The bad: Hometown favorites George Hincapie and Craig Lewis didn’t win.

The good: Tyler Hamilton (who’s a VERY nice guy) made a hell of a comeback at 37 years old to win the National Champion jersey by a hair. Pretty impressive given the immensely talented field of world class professionals and the fact that many pros are retired by the time they’re 37.

Pretty exciting race, especially the last few laps. It’s always a blast to go back to my roots once or twice a year and put on my photographer hat at events like this.

And as a bonus, the word is that the National Championships will come back to Greenville for another year!!! Very cool.

Go check out the slide show here.

(If you don’t like slide shows, check out the photostream here.

I promise I’ll be back to posting marketing/branding stuff before you know it. (I just have to get the national championships out of my system first.) It’s always exciting to be part of something this big.

For other photographers’ images of the races, check out James’ links here:

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Year 3 of the annual photographic pilgrimage that is the USA Cycling Pro Championship. (One of the many benefits of living in Greenville, SC.) Earlier today was the Time Trial (won by David Zabriskie – again) on a new course that featured two of Greenville’s unique features: #1: The new ICAR campus (which was allegedly described to the field of pro athletes as “flat” – Ha!) and #2: The crushing humidity that comes after four days of thunderstorms.

Some of my favorite little happenings during the race today:

1. Running into James T. and Andy Woolard.

2. Shooting with Roby again.

3. Running into so many of my cycling and triathlon friends along the course.

4. The mysterious blood-like stains on my “borrowed” photographer’s vest that make me look like a crazed axe murderer.

5. Watching Dave Zabriskie win again.

6. Watching the champagne-spraying shenanigans.

7. The completely instinctive and collective backwards leap taken by the press photographers when the champagne bottles came uncorked.

8. Not getting pancaked by the ginormous pickup truck that almost backed over me while I was shooting Zabriskie go by. (Thanks to the quick reflexes of a course marshal.)

9. The sweet smell of chain lube in the morning.

10. Sunny, sunny, sunny skies.

Tomorrow, the Road Race.

Check out the slide show here.

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Even if you don’t¬†care for¬†cycling, even if you think that watching cycling on TV (or in real life) is as boring as watching the grass grow – only with more lycra and crazy looking sunglasses, you might still want to head over to VS. tonight (yes, the TV network) and watch today’s Tour De France coverage.

Judging from the RSS feed of today’s stage,¬†Stage 17¬†sounds epic. No… not epic. EPIC:¬†Not one, not two, but THREE major (HC) mountain climbs (the crushing Col du Galibier, the leg-shredding Col de la Croix de Fer, and the Holy Grail of cycling: Alpe D’Huez), the best riders in the world struggling to stay in the race, crashes galore,¬†cyclists¬†misjudging turns¬†in 70mph descents¬†and¬†flying off mountainsides… It is absolutely insane.

Sure, I miss the early days of Lance Armstrong’s dominance – when the show was all about his crushing superiority on the climbs and in the time-trial, but this is spectacle. Pure, raw warfare on wheels. No engines. No time-outs. No half-times. No substitutions. Just sweat, blood and grit against some of the most spectacular vistas in the world. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know one rider from the next. This kind of stage is so intense, so pure, that you will find yourself rooting and cheering for the guy with the most heart. The most huevos. The guy who wants the stage win the most. You will find yourself cheering for a guy whose name you can’t even pronounce and whom you have never heard of before. That dude in green, or that dude in white or orange or blue. Who knows.

Whether you’re into cycling or not, this is truly sport at its best. Skip the sitcom re-runs tonight and tune in to VS.¬†for a¬†couple of¬†hours. If the climbing portions bore you, stick around for the descents. (Between the full speed motorbike cameras and the sweeping helicopter shots, you¬†are sure to¬†gain a whole new appreciation for what is without a doubt one of the toughest and most dangerous¬†sports in the world.)

Seriously. Wow.

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You were driving a white Chevy sedan. I’m not sure what model, but I know it was a Chevy because the logo came pretty damn close to leaving a permanent imprint in my left calf muscle when you almost mowed me down in downtown Greenville this afternoon (see scenario #1 above) at Pendleton & Washington.

Here are a few driving tips for you:

1. Get your eyes checked. If you are required to wear prescription glasses while driving, WEAR them!
2. When making a left turn at an intersection with no “left turn” arrow, YIELD to oncoming traffic! That means cars, motorcycles, moped, and yes, bicycles. It’s Saturday afternoon, you’re old, and you have no reason to be in a hurry. OBEY THE LAW and wait until oncoming traffic has passed before making a left turn. Why do I have to tell you this?
3. Just because the car in front of you decided to try and turn before I was completely through the intersection doesn’t mean you should follow its stupid ass. I can avoid getting hit by one dumbass motorist, but usually not two in a row.
4. I average 25mph when riding downtown. Trust me, you don’t have time to turn when I am already engaged through an intersection. Don’t I look fast with my racing getup? Come on. You know I do.
5. The part about yielding to oncoming traffic: LEARN IT.
6. When you see that I am two feet in front of you and you are about to hit me with your car, apply the breaks. Slow down or stop. Shit. Whatever. Do SOMETHING to try and avoid killing me. Please.
7. Making horrified faces at me as you’re about to hit me doesn’t help unless you put your fucking foot on the brake pedal and push down.
8. The accelerator pedal is not the brake pedal. Please consult your car’s user manual for details.
9. Just because I have a) mad skills, b) nine lives, c) cycling superpowers, and d) half a dozen guardian angels looking over me at all times doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at least TRY to not kill me with your car. Believe it or not, I am not looking for an extra survival challenge when I clip-in on the weekends.
10. After coming microns from hitting and killing me, don’t just drive off as if nothing happened. You almost just caused a major traffic accident that could have resulted in vehicular homicide. At least stop to apologize or see if I’m okay. Hell, you scared the living bejeesus out of a bunch of people in the car behind you who witnessed the whole scene and thought I was toast. (They really were in total freaking horrified shock. Hands over their faces, eyes like saucers and mouths open so wide you could fit a grapefruit in there.) I swear they were seconds from throwing up all over their dashboard. You should at least have stopped to apologize to them.

This woman, I swear to god, didn’t just almost T-bone me at an intersection where I had the right of way, but even upon seeing me in front of her grill didn’t attempt to slow down, swerve or stop. Hell, she continued to accelerate through her turn even as she had eyes on me. I can’t believe I got through without getting hit. I really can’t. A Hollywood stuntman couldn’t ave come closer to that fender without being taken out. The worst part about it is that if she had hit me, I doubt that she would have stopped. So if the impact didn’t injure me too terribly bad, getting dragged under her car for a few miles probably would have mangled me into a steaming pile of red brandbuilder goo.

I’ll say it again: She never slowed down. She never stopped.

I should have chased her down and smashed her driver-side window in a fit of rage, but… she didn’t do it on purpose, so no. I wasn’t all that angry, really. I got through, yelled at her as she drove away, shook my head at her senile ass – politely nodded and smiled at the people in the car behind her (I should have stopped to give them a hug or something). I lived to ride another day, and she’ll eventually just go on to drive her car into a house or something.

Here is a pretty scary (but eye-opening) article on elderly drivers and their chronic inability to handle left-hand turns at intersections.

Also: Great website from the city of Toronto about how to avoid hitting cyclists. (It isn’t rocket science, but hey, not everyone behind the wheel is driving with a full set of brain cells, evidently.)

This has nothing to do with branding (again) but whatever. It’s the weekend. Nobody reads this blog on the weekend. ;D

Update: 8 June 2008. Almost the exact same thing happened to me again today on Augusta Rd. at the Faris Rd intersection. This old lady driving a navy sedan tried to make a left hand turn at the intersection while I was riding through it. She saw me and slammed on her brakes, which is better than yesterday’s episode. But going through this Still though. I wear loud cycling clothes. I ride in broad daylight. What’s the problem here? Twice in two days? What the hell?! Old people need to stop trying to make left-hand turns at intersections that don’t have left-turn traffic signals to help them get through.

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This is a cyclist’s worst nightmare. The rogue drunk driver. The teenage girl texting from behind the wheel of her SUV. The angry guy behind the wheel of his pickup. The confused ninety-year-old.

The math is pretty simple: Bike and rider (180lbs) + Car and driver (1,000lbs) = roadkill. That tiny little foam helmet won’t protect us against a 60mph impact with the grill of a Ford F150.

From CNN.com:

MONTERREY, Mexico (AP) — A car plowed into a weekend bike race along a highway near the U.S.-Mexico border, killing one and injuring 10 others, police said.

The 28-year-old driver was apparently drunk and fell asleep when he crashed into the race, said police investigator Jose Alfredo Rodriguez.

A photograph taken by a city official showed bicyclists and equipment being hurled high into the air by the collision.

Rodriguez said Juan Campos was charged with killing Alejandro Alvarez, 37, of Monterrey.

Authorities said the wreck happened 15 minutes into the 34-kilometer (21 mile) race Sunday along a highway between Playa Bagdad and Matamoros, across from Brownsville, Texas.

Campos said he is an American citizen living in Brownsville. The U.S. Consulate could not immediately confirm that.

Please be courteous and careful out there. Cyclists don’t mean to be slower than cars. They don’t mean to be in the way either. We just don’t have anywhere else to ride but in the same roads as cars. Nobody needs to get injured or killed just because you’re in a hurry.

And please don’t let anyone you know ever drive drunk. Or tired. Or angry.


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Some jackass tried to take out a group of 50 cyclists with his car today – and pretty much succeeded.

From the Sunday Morning Herald:

Witnesses to the crash have told smh.com.au the group of about up to 60 professional cyclists were riding south on Southern Cross Drive, just south of Dacey Avenue, Mascot about 6.30am when a driver, agitated with being held up, accelerated in front of the pack and then slammed on his brakes.

One of the group said the motorists was “worrying” the rear of the pack, then overtook, pulled in front and slammed on his brakes, giving the riders no time to stop.

The resulting smash forced a semitrailer to lock up, jackknife and screech to a halt behind the cyclists while cars had to swerve to avoid them.

“Everyone’s slammed into each other … there were broken bikes – wheels busted and wheels snapped – and people lying on the road.”

“Three female cyclists took the brunt of the accident, careering into the back of the braking vehicle, several of them being thrown into the air landing on the boot and roof of the car.”

The best part:

It is understood (the authorities) know who the driver of the car is, and are attempting to contact him now.

It is expected he will be charged, including with failing to stop at the scene of an accident and negligent or dangerous driving.

There was no doubt the driver of the dark blue Ford Falcon – described by other witnesses as in his 30s with a female passenger – had done it deliberately, she said.

That’s right. The dude sped off and left the scene of the accident.

Read all about it here.

I hope to god that son of a bitch gets charged with 50 counts of attempted murder, not just negligent driving. I can understand road rage, but this is just insane.

I’m sure that if some nutcase decided to mow down a crowd of pedestrians for the same reason (they were in his way and he was in a hurry), the authorities would be just a tad more outraged.

Negligent driving. Give me a break.

Hat tip to Gavin Heaton.

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If you want to see me get heated, ask me about doping and sports. Hopefully, you aren’t a football fan (American rules) or a baseball fan – as my opinion of steroid use is pretty cut and dry. You see, I’m a purist when it comes to athletic performance. Any athlete who uses a drug or other substance to enhance their performance, strength, endurance, recovery, etc. is a cheater. Period.

I understand the need for bigger and bigger hits in football, I understand the need for baseball players to be able to hit the ball out of the park with one arm, time and time again, and yes, I understand the need for track athletes to break speed records in the 100, 200, 400 and 800.

More to the point, I completely understand the temptation to dope in the world of grand tour cycling – especially when I am sprinting up a steep hill, my heart beating so hard I can taste blood in the back of my throat, and I still get dropped by guys more talented and better trained than me. If only I could take a pill or drink some kind of special shake that made me just 5% faster. 5% stronger. Gave me 5% more endurance. Yeah, on the verge of puking my guts out at the top of a climb, I often wish Accelerade or GU came up with a little magic pill that would make climbing a wee bit easier.

And as competitive as I may be, I am just a recreational athlete.

Imagine if I were a pro, and my paycheck depended on my getting to the top of a mountain in first place as opposed to… fifth or sixth or seventh place.

Imagine if the difference between success and failure depended on just 5% more output from my body.

Imagine if the majority of the athletes I competed against were doping up, and the only way for me to even-up the scales were to shoot up?

What if I lived and worked in an environment, a culture, an industry that not only encouraged me to cheat, but also made it easy for me to do so? What if every single day of working in this environment, everything led me to rationalize that… well, if everyone else is cheating, it isn’t cheating since all I am really doing is evening the playing field?

It would be difficult. I can sit here on my high horse and pretend that the choice not to dope is easy, but it isn’t. It can’t be. Not when the culture of your sport and the incredibly high stakes make doping the solution of choice when it comes to not getting churned out like a chump.

The problem with professional cycling is that blood doping has been at the core of the Grand Tour culture for quite some time, and it is nigh impossible to change that kind of behavior overnight. But some athletes, teams and directeurs sportifs are trying. They really are. The problem is that we still can’t tell for sure who’s cheating and who isn’t, because doping science is always just a step ahead of testing science.

If you were to ask me if doping scandals have turned me off from the Tour, my answer would be yes and no. No, I will never be completely turned off by the Tour De France because it is such an awesome event to watch and be a part of. It is inspiring. It is exciting. You can’t be a cyclist and not watch at least the mountain stages of the Tour… or the TT, or maybe the first week’s sprint finishes. But yes, I am a bit turned off because every seemingly superhuman performance raises a little red flag in the back of my head: Is this guy really that much of a badass, or is he on a very expensive cocktail of hemoglobin and top secret meds?

That’s the part that sucks: Not knowing. Doubting that the performance is genuine. As much as I enjoy watching an athlete crush his competitors the way Lance Armstrong did a few years ago, not being able to buy into his victory 100% affects the value of the experience. It also affects the relevance of the event, and of the sport in general. And that sucks.

Today, there still is no definitive way to absolutely 100% identify cyclists on the juice from those not on the juice… and until that changes, the Tour De France will be only half the race it could be.

In light of this, here is an email I received over the weekend:

On February 13th, the Amaury Sports Organization (ASO) barred Team Astana from competing in any race or event organized by the ASO in 2008. The ASO owns premiere cycling events like Paris-Nice, Paris-Roubaix, Paris-Tours, and the famed Tour de France.
To justify its decision, the ASO has cited the doping scandals of last year’s Tour de France.There can be no comparison between the Astana team of 2007 and the new Astana. The entire organizational structure has been rebuilt under the direction of the team’s new General Manager, Johan Bruyneel, who has thoroughly cleaned house. What’s more, Astana has adopted the rigorous doping controls developed by anti-doping expert Dr. Rasmus Damsgaard, and Astana now spends more money on anti-doping controls than any other team in the pro peloton.
“That the happenings of last year…prompted the Tour organizers to leave Astana out of the season’s most important race sounds understandable,” notes Bruyneel. “However, Astana Cycling Team 2008 has nothing to do with the team of last year. We have done everything to change the dynamics of the team. New management, new riders, new philosophy. Only the name of the sponsor remained.”
The ASO has turned a blind eye to Johan’s efforts. By barring the entire team from competing in ASO events, outstanding athletes like Levi Leipheimer, who was not a member of last year’s Astana team and who has never been implicated in any doping affair, are forced to sit on the sidelines while their life’s work passes them by.
“When I saw the Tour de France on TV when I was young,” laments Leipheimer, “I knew that someday I wanted to do that race. I sacrificed my life to participate. After finishing on the podium last year I want to do even better. Now I’m a victim of an illogical decision and have been excluded from the race.”

I don’t claim to know the exact chemistry of Levi’s blood, but I’ll say this: Give the guy and his team a chance to race. Punishing a team for past misdeeds when its membership, management and anti-doping measures have all been overhauled is moronic. Sure, the team’s ownership may be rightly punished (something hefty fines would do just as well), but in the end, it is the riders and the public who suffer – and unjustly at that.

Whether in the world of sport or the world of business, when an organization completely rebuilds itself in the wake of a scandal and commits to rebuilding its reputation, why punish them? Why not embrace their effort and their spirit? Why not make them the poster child for the kind of change you want to see? Test them to death, scrutinize their every move, but let them prove themselves. Give them the opportunity to fail.

What could be worse than not punishing athletes and teams when they cheat?
Punishing the wrong people.

Though I am not a huge fan of Levi’s riding, I admire the way he is fighting for his right to race in this year’s Tour. His fight isn’t about winning – it’s about wanting to race, which is at the core of cycling (and sport’s) very spirit. That is sonething I can both relate to and stand behind. So Levi, you have my vote.

To voice your opinion, click here.

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As promised, F360’s photo coverage of the USA Cycling Pro Championships can be browsed here.

(Yay to Flickr.)

Congratulations to Team CSC’s David Zabriskie, who defended his Time Trial National Champion title today. (That’s two in a row. Not bad.)

We will be updating the gallery over the next few days, so don’t hesitate to come back to it often.

Have a great Labor Day weekend, everyone.

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So, what does a French Brand Strategist living in the deep South do on his day off?

Brush teeth. Get dressed. Walk dogs. Clean kitchen. Do dishes. Clean bathroom. Put away laundry. Finally get around to fixing the garbage disposal unit (or rather diagnose the problem through trial-and-error, then perform surgery on a defective power switch in the wall). Go buy new swimsuit to replace the one with the see-through behind I was forced to wear yesterday. Drop in at Orange Coat just to say hi… and check out the new wii. Drive to gym and change into Lycra monkeysuit. Ride bicycle up and down mountains for three hours. Get out of wet, freezing clothes. Head back out and run for 45 minutes to make sure that my legs are shredded all the way. Swim for 30 minutes to stretch out and relax a bit. Shower. Drive home. Eat vasts amounts of food. Check email. Check messages. Check blog posts. Have lunch. (Kidding. Lunch happened before the bike ride.) Work on some sweet graphics concepts for a client’s website. Help kids with homework. Ponder my weekly 24 vs. Heroes scheduling dilemma. Get stuff ready for next day. Pass out.

This is how I clear my head sometimes. Today was a good day. ūüôā

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