Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Riding with Dale Stetina

This past Sunday I really felt like riding in a social setting, so I went to the popular roadie gathering spot in North Boulder, Amante coffee shop. Saturday or Sunday anyone can show up at 9 AM or 10 AM, and pick any number of group rides--from novice to professional groups. I waited about 10 minutes for a group to leave, and most looked like they were more interested in talking or drinking coffee, despite nearly 40 bikers gathered just outside the shop. Finally, I decided to take off on my own, but soon realized I would need a hat under my bike helmet, as it was quite chilly. I took my time putting the cap on, only a mile from the coffee shop, in hopes that a group would come along. A group of 11 rode by, and I quickly joined in. Throughout the ride we rotated pulling at the front of the pack. The last half of the ride I was at the front and got talking with my co-puller and found out he had won 2 of the Coors Classic bicycle races (1979 & 1983). His name was Dale Stetina, and was the only person beside the famous Tour de France champion Greg LeMond, to win the race multiple times. Among other names that won this race was Bernard Hinault (LeMond's former team mate). Dale was obviously overdressed with his fleece jacket, and thermal jacket, booties, neoprene gloves, skull cap under the helmet, and thermal bib tights. I had knee warmers & just a base layer with jersey on top...Dale was sweating like he was in a sauna. He used to be on the US National Team, and was invited to the Tour de France, but eventually declined due to the timing of the race and being tired from racing all spring. I learned a lot in that you don't "half-wheel" a former world class bike racer. If you don't know what "half-wheeling" a biker is, it is when you slightly pull ahead of someone and it basically means you are challenging them. Dale picked it up, then me, then him, eventually we briefly hit 29 miles per hour on Airport Rd. in Longmont, looking back--we had exploded the entire group that was with us. Someone yelled up to us and asked what had gotten into us...Dale replied, "Oh, he was half-wheeling me and I got irritated..." To which I explained to him I thought he picked it up because I was going too slow. Heck, I didn't even know what "half-wheeling" was, so this was news to me. Triathlon is a different culture, have a different way of riding. Unless you spend some time riding with groups (which I very seldom do), especially with roadies, you may not ever know what half-wheeling is. He calmed down after I explained I really had know idea why he kept picking it up, and that I was just trying to keep up with him. It was a great learning experience, and fun to ride with such a superstar of cycling from the old days...even if I never heard of him before, or knew of his accomplishments--until I Googled him. It looks like he was quite the world beater back when I about 10 years old. Maybe we'll ride again...only this time I won't half wheel him.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Lance Armstrong and legends

Lance, Tyler, Landis, Heras, all are back this season, battling age & time. For whatever reasons you have to applause or boo their return to pro cycling, they are back. The excitement seems to be abuzz in all the mags, and the evening news even has been having updates. While cycling sales have slowed the past couple of years (Bicycle Retailer), they seem to be picking up slightly from what some call the "Lance effect". While there is not any supporting solid data aside from opinion, I for one, am glad we have a return of such legendary athletes (some may have other choice words aside from "legendary"...) The mere fact that Lance is back, makes me want to follow cycling a little closer than the last couple of years. Three years off & he is back at the top, obviously holding back from winning Tour de California due to respect for Levi, and orders from above to support Levi. No doubt Lance could drop the entire race if it was July right now. These are training days, and his payback days will be this summer--with his team in full support. Like him or not, Lance is back and the ones who don't want him back seem to be the ones who want to win...or those who want their own favorite rider to win, yet KNOW that with Lance in the peloton, they won't. Besides, the awareness of cancer and the drive for a cure is driven to new heights by this cyclist. If you don't agree, look around at all the yellow wristbands folks wear. To think one cyclist could have the effect on so many people, and bring such world wide attention to the sport, the technology of cycling, and awareness to one of the biggest killers in the world is nothing short of applausable.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Never Say Never...

Alas, the newest triathlon blogspot on Friday the 13th...I said I'd never do it or at least it was unlikely, but blogs seem to be the thing because there are those who just can't help themselves in "nosing around" and reading up on others. Prepare for some fun, this will be a trip. From the city at the foot of the mountains...Boulder, CO, this is the official blog of Kevin Konczak. Stay tuned for posts, or visit www.geminimultisport.com for more information about triathlon, the lifestyle of the sport, it's going to be a blast!