Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Shut Up, Jens

Image result for shut up legs

Who doesn’t love Jens Voigt? The eccentric German pro cyclist was a fan favorite for years, beloved for his bold racing style, tireless work ethic, and wonderfully quotable commentary. His quirky personality, toughness, and penchant for long, impossible breakaways made him something of a throwback, a refreshing exception in an age where race-radio calculation all too often counts for strategy. In the final years of his career, Jens had a cult following, especially in the United States, where the story of him yelling at his own suffering body during races—shut up, legs!—has become the stuff of legend.

Jens is retired now but milking the cult-cow for all its worth, commanding a huge Twitter audience (#thejensie), hosting a Gran Fondo in Marin, California, and doing commentary on Tour de France tv coverage. (He’s the guy with what sounds like a totally fake German accent.) So, no surprise that Jens is cashing in on his success with an autobiography (written with the help of James Startt) called, of course, Shut Up Legs! My Wild Ride On and Off the Bike.  

Monday, November 13, 2017

Winterfeet


My feet are humming.

It’s full winter in Edmonton, has been since November 1, when a frigid front moved in with a dump of snow making it feel like deep January, even though it’s only Remembrance Day. Winter doesn’t officially start for another 5 weeks. Tell that to my toes.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

After Supper, Part One (A Cycling Ghost Story)

With Halloween approaching, I was reminded of this story I came across a while back in J.W. Allen's wonderfully eccentric Wheel Magic, Or Revolutions of an Impressionist (1909). This chapter is, indeed, a cycling ghost story, perfect for this time of year. Here's the first half. I'll post the thrilling conclusion on October 31. 


Monday, October 16, 2017

Hero's Welcome


Parking your bicycle in front of Hero’s Welcome, a classic Vermont general store on North Hero Island, is a tricky business. Two long benches, perfect for leaning one’s bike against, sit out front, one labelled Democrat, the other Republican. These two benches are kind of famous, and meant at least partly as a joke, I think.

People think of Vermont as a solidly blue state, famously progressive and liberal minded, the home of Bernie Sanders, for God’s sake. But it’s not all blue. There are pockets of Trump support in parts of the state, mostly the rural, less affluent, un-solar-paneled areas. So you never really know, even in Vermont, who sits where.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

East Burke



I spent all of about 16 hours—and half of that asleep—in the small mountain village of East Burke in the Northeast Kingdom region of Vermont. But the place felt familiar and comfortable right away. I liked it immediately and I can imagine returning there some day for a longer, more leisurely explore.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Gravel Glossary: Prairie Shale


Hey, Manitoba, you've got shale!

On my recent trip to the Morden area, south of Winnipeg, I stumbled onto a couple of these weird shale-gravel roads near the town of Miami.They look more treacherous than they actually are. The thin plates of shale are so soft and brittle that they basically crunch apart like potato chips when a bicycle tire rolls over them.

Friday, September 8, 2017

T of A 2017


Photo credit: cyclingnews.com
Poor old Tour of Alberta. Canada’s only pro cycling stage race, which wrapped up Monday here in Edmonton, is hurting. 

This year’s edition shrank to a measly four stages (the first two years, 2013-14, it was five stages plus a prologue; in 2015 it was 6 stages, no prologue; and then last year it went down to 5 stages). (The only part of the Tour of Alberta that is growing rather than shrinking is the Velothon, the mass participation event held on the closed course in the morning of the final day. This was a huge hit last year and had even more participants this year.) Then word came out last week that government funding for the event is going to be cut even more. Plus, I get the sense that communities aren’t exactly lining up to pay the hefty stage-host fees that this kind of event counts on.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Dusty Lens: Lake Champlain Piano


The western shore of Lake Champlain, in New York State, is full of surprises.