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Vuelta a España

The 2006 Vuelta a España, the third and last of the three-week tours, begins this weekend in Malaga with a dead-flat 7.2km team time trial on Saturday. The field looks pretty interesting too. Tom Danielson will be the designated team leader for Discovery, unlike the situation in the Tour de France this year where there was no clear number one for that team. Alexandre Vinokourov and his Kazakhstan-based Astana team (formerly the Spanish Liberty Seguros squad) will compete after being shut out in France at the last minute. TdF de facto winner Oscar Pereiro and hard-luck crash victim Alejandro Valverde will lead the Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears team. And one of my favorite riders, Alessandro Petacchi, has recovered from the fractured kneecap suffered early in the Giro d'Italia and will be back to contest the sprints against Robby McEwen, Thor Hushovd, and others.

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Slow Food: Skate Fast, Eat Slow

I heard a reference to "the Slow Food movement" today. I did some Googling and reading and it turns out to be pretty neat.

Founded in 1986, in direct response to the opening of a McDonald's restaurant in Rome's famous Piazza di Spagna, the Slow Food Manifesto declares that:
A firm defense of quiet material pleasure is the only way to oppose the universal folly of Fast Life.

The Wikipedia article on the topic refers to it as "as the 'culinary wing' of the anti-globalization movement." Its projects include the "Ark of Taste," an effort to protect biodiversity and to "rediscover, catalog, describe and publicize forgotten flavors" threatened by industrialization, standardization, foods laws, and large-scale distribution. The above article describes Slow Food thus:

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TdF Blog: Carmichael and Armstrong Might Know a Thing or Two

In his Tuesday journal entry, Chris Carmichael made some rather prescient remarks about Tour de France strategy:
I was watching today's stage with Lance Armstrong and several other people, and at one point during the race, Lance and I talked a bit about the difference between racing conservatively and aggressively.
During his reign as Tour de France champion, Lance was adamant about seizing every opportunity to gain time on his rivals. The idea was to build a cushion between Lance and his nearest competitors in case he ran into problems later on in the race. A one-minute lead can turn into a three-minute deficit in just a few kilometers, and Lance and Johan Bruyneel always said they'd rather defend a lead than fight to catch up.
If you're in the lead, you have two options. You can follow other riders, and as long as you stay with them you don't lose any of your lead. Your other choice is to attack and build an even bigger lead. If you get into a situation where you're behind, there's only one option. You have to attack and drop riders who somehow gained time on you already, and there's never any guarantee you'll be able to do that.
The one thing that's certain about the Tour de France is that anything can happen, to anyone, at any time. Having the yellow jersey and several minutes of time in hand gives a rider a margin of safety; losing one minute of a six-minute lead isn't a cause for major concern. Losing one minute of a one-and-a-half-minute lead puts the yellow jersey in a stressful position and lends encouragement to the challenger.

I guess they pretty much nailed that one. It's a fair question to ask whether Floyd actually could have put more time into his rivals last week and early this week, and whether it would have been enough to matter when the bad day did come. But they sure did see it coming.

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TdF Blog: Floyd Landis to Have Hip Replacement After Tour

Floyd Landis, Number Two at Tour de France, Needs Hip Replacement
Outside Online, CA -
July 9, 2006 | Floyd Landis, the American rider currently in second place in the Tour de France, will have replacement hip surgery following the Tour, reported Outside correspondent Daniel Coyle in a New York Times Magazine article that will appear on stands July 16. Landis has osteonecrosis, or bone death, a degenerative condition which causes severe pain as bone grinds against bone. But, according to the report, he plans to continue to compete after the surgery. ...

The article goes on to say that Landis's condition is the result of a hip fracture suffered in a training crash in California in 2003. This same condition, also referred to as avascular necrosis, also led football/baseball player Bo Jackson to need a hip replacement. Reportedly, Landis does expect to continue his competitive cycling career after the surgery.

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Inline Skate Speed Boot Heat-Molding Results

After much research and comtemplation on the subject, I heat-molded my Hyper boots Tuesday night. It was my first heat-molding experience, and I rejected Hyper's suggested method of using a kitchen oven at 200°F. I didn't like the idea of softening all the carbon in the boot when I only wanted to reshape the heel cup area. And I also didn't like the idea that the whole boot could collapse in a molten heap if left in the oven too long at that temperature, which seemed to be a risk of that method.

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Tour de France live map tracking, and some photos

Coupla fun TdF links...

These folks have combined Google Maps with GPS and heart rate data to create a live Tour de France tracker. It'll be interesting to see how it works while the race is on.

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Fix Your Bike, Even If It Ain't Broke

Not a bad article in this past weekend's Washington Post about converting a road bike to fixed gearing. If you've never tried it, riding a bike that doesn't coast and that only has one gear is more fun than you might guess.

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Ditty-Bopping Across the Country

A vocal duo called the Ditty Bops are currenly on a cross-country summer tour, and they're doing the tour on their bikes. Great idea!

Reading closely, they're accompanied by a Dodge Sprinter van to carry gear and to accomodate mechanical problems, poop-outs, feeling-bad days, and the like. I can understand that, given the cost of a missed show. But give them a gold star for making the effort. (No word on whether the Sprinter is burning biodiesel. I'd feel a lot better if it was.)

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Keepers of the Flame

Besides celebrating old bikes, this weekend's Cirque du Cyclisme is also a celebration of those individuals and small businesses who continue to build bikes inspired by the classic style--typically made by hand out of steel tubing, and usually brazed (joined by melted brass or silver alloy rather than by welding, a higher temperature process that actually melts the steel) with "lugs" at each of the frame's joints. Dale Brown has dubbed this class of builder "Keepers of the Flame," a pun on the flame of the torch that's used to create the brazed joints.

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Old Bikes

I didn't set out to become a vintage bicycle enthusiast. I don't have any youthful cycling glories to recapture, and I'm not looking to collect multi-thousand-dollar Cinellis and Masis from the 60s and 70s. Nothing against that, I just don't have the money or the passion for it. I like old bikes more generically, for being an essential source of modern technology--the Wright brothers were bike mechanics after all--for what they represent as aesthetic objects, and for being an important agent of social change when they first appeared. I kept riding the bikes I had and they got old, and now it turns out that they're classics. (Undistinguished classics, but still...)

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For Us Old Codgers: Effects of Exercise on Joint Pain

I just saw this column in a old print copy of Runner's World as I was catching up on some of my reading backlog. It addresses a topic that I'd wondered about and had my own preconceptions on.

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