I have been ragging a bit as of late on Fixie Fever. To be honest, as long as you have a working front brake on your fixie and use it, I guess I can't get too negative. Riding a bike of any variety is way better than trying to wipe out your enemy on Halo 3.
This past weekend I did observe one notable benefit to Fixie Fever. It occurred on a bike ride in the San Francisco Bay Area. Compared to the rest of the country we have really mild weather in Northern California. You can pretty much cycle here year round which is why a lot of pros live and train here. But, every once and a while the weather does turn cold. Those of you living in the northeast, don't get out your violins just yet, if the weather is in the 40'sF we consider it downright frigid.
So, my friend Lindsay and I were headed out for a longer ride (90 miles for me) on Saturday when we hooked up with three-time Olympian and current Bissell Professional Cycling Team director Eric Wohlberg. Our mutual friend Yukie tagged along as well. The fifth member of our group was Vincent Juarez, who is a senior at Piedmont Hills High School.
Vincent is finishing up his first year as a bike racer. He won a bronze medal at the US National Track Championships and was top three in a number of road races in the always competitive NorCal cycling scene. Vince will the the first to tell you that he is not considered a climber. Well, not yet. His best performances this year were in flatter races and he really enjoys riding on the track.
Vince hung tough on a cold, NorCal day that included a lot of ups and downs for a total of 6000' of elevation gain. I never once heard him complain even though he was clearly out of his element. And better yet, he seemed really excited to be racing his bike. That's a very encouraging sign.
So, what does this all have to do with Fixie Fever. Well, it appears that Vincent was first attracted to riding a bicycle by getting a fixie to knock around the neighborhood. The fixie riding on the road led to riding a fixed gear bike on the track and ultimately to riding a geared bike on the road. Hopefully, this is a path that more young male and female riders will follow in the future. I was going to say every cloud has a silver lining, but I didn't.
One of the unfortunate side affects of the economic downturn is that burglary is on the rise. Dave Zabriskie returned from his excellent second place from the Amgen Tour of California(AToC) to find his home in Salt Lake City cleaned out. A week before the start of the AToC, three-time Canadian Olympian and now Team Bissel director, Eric Wohlberg, returned from racing in Argentina to find his place had been broken into. This past Thursday, top Master's rider, Billy Innes, had his two team bikes and several wheelsets taken out of his garage.
Let's face it. Any burglary is bad. But, when it involves cyclists and their bikes it really hits home. I guess it is just a sad fact of these times that we need to be extra-diligent and supremely vigilant in protecting our own valuables, but also watch out for others valuables as well. When one of our friends gets ripped off, we need to keep our eyes peeled for any bikes or parts for sale, especially on the Internet, that seem suspicious.
There are a few silver linings here. The guys who burglarized Eric Wohlberg's place got caught breaking into another house the next night. Salt Lake City Police have arrested two suspects in the Zabriskie robbery and Dave and his wife Randi have gotten some of their stuff back.
Unfortunately, Billy's two 2009 team Specialized S-Works SL2's w/Sram Red components and several wheelsets(Zipp 404's, Zipp 900 and Zip 808) have still not been recovered.
Again, there are several things we can all do to keep burglaries to a minimum. Keep your houses, garages, cars, etc. locked at all times. Use your home burglary alarms. Keep your eye out for suspicious items for sale in-town and on the Internet. Also, keep your eye out for suspicious behavior such as a 6-foot man riding a 50cm bike.
It's tough out there and it is not clear when it will be getting better anytime soon. Be careful out there and keep your eyes peeled.
The Amgen Tour of California(AToC) organizers had the capacity to invite 18 teams to its recent race; it only invited 17. One team noticeably absent was the Canadian Symetrics squad which, in 2007, won the UCI Continental Championship for North and South America an honor which means it was the best team, based on UCI points, on two continents. Add to that, their rider Svein Tuft, not only won the individual UCI Continental Championships as well, but he also pulled off a remarkable win at the US Open, a race televised nationally on NBC TV, last April.
Unfortunately, Symetrics got no love from AToC organizers and was left out of the race. The Vancouver-based squad was on the sidelines as teams they beat in 2007 were racing in the Tour of California. I ran into one of their top riders, Eric Wohlberg, a three-time Canadian Olympian the day before the start of the AToC. His frustration was evident; there really was no good reason the Symetrics team was left out of the race.
Hey but, Eric is a champion and champions don't get mad, they get even. This past weekend was the first big race on the US domestic calendar after the AToC, The Merco Cycling Classic, and all of the US domestic squads who had competed in the AToC were set to participate. All Eric did was solo off the front for the final 25 miles of the 120-mile road race to win alone. That's an in-your-face move if ever there was one!
You have to know Eric to realize that it wasn't so much as kicking mud in your eye. It was just a case of kicking your butt. As former US Postal/Discovery Channel rider and fellow Canadian Michael Barry once told me, "Eric has two speeds, hard and harder." Here's hoping that Eric and his Symetrics team can get some love from the other top races in the US. They deserve to be at all of them, including that Tour of California gig. Hey, was all that rain some sort of karma payback?