Friday, August 29, 2008

Just Three Days Left...

to Vote in the 2008 Veggie Awards!


We're just three days away from closing the 2008 Veggie Award polls, so now is the time to get out the vote! Some of the categories are very close, so let your voice be heard and vote for your favorite vegetarian people, places, and products today.

All ballots are entered into a Grand Prize Drawing for a chance to win these great prizes:


Click here to vote NOW.

I am under "Athlete" category a few pages in. To save time you dont have to vote for every category. But if you do have an extra second, can you please vote also for Pattycake Vegan Bakery ( and (in the categories of Best Website, Best Blog and Best Forum)? VeganWorld is not on the ballot (it's a new site), so you have to add it under "Other".

P.S. Polls close at midnight on August 31. Vote now while you have a chance to win these fantastic prizes!

THANKS so much.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Normally I don't pass jokes on, but...

this one was actually funny. I just got it from my cousin Patricia who just moved to Singapore and now spends her time forwarding jokes on the internet:

A lesson to be learned from typing the wrong email address!

A Minneapolis couple decided to go to Florida to thaw out during a particularly icy winter. They planned to stay at the same hotel where they spent their honeymoon 20 years earlier. Because of hectic schedules, it was difficult to coordinate their travel schedules. So, the husband left Minnesota and flew to Florida on Thursday, with his wife flying down the following day.

The husband checked into the hotel. There was a computer in his room, so he decided to send an email to his wife. However, he accidentally left out one letter in her email address, and without realizing his error, sent the email.

Meanwhile, somewhere in Houston, a widow had just returned home from her husband's funeral. He was a minister who was called home to glory following a heart attack. The widow decided to check her email expecting messages from relatives and friends. After reading the first message, she screamed and fainted.

The widow's son rushed into the room, found his mother on the floor, and saw the computer screen which read:

To: My Loving Wife
Subject: I've Arrived
Date: October 16, 2007

I know you're surprised to hear from me. They have computers here now and you are allowed to send emails to your loved ones. I've just arrived and have been checked in. I see that everything has been prepared for your arrival tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing you then! Hope your journey is as uneventful as mine was.
P.S. Sure is freaking hot down here!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Did I ever tell you that I'm an expert in CRASHING?

See, it's in print so it must be true! This was in SHAPE Magazine's July Issue. I had submitted the information to them so long ago that I had almost forgotten about it until a recent workout on wet roads. My rear tire slid around a turn - just enough to get the adrenaline flowing in preparation for a possible fall. Luckily I was better off than the gal shown in the drawing to the right.

The article may be little, but it gave me enough interaction with SHAPE Mag to easily see that the gals there are a lot of fun to work with - a very pleasant experience. Hopefully I will have more opportunities to write for them.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Do riding, Bee Stings, and Drugs Go Together?

I think NOT - especially for pro cyclists. I found that out a few days ago when i was stung by a bee on the collarbone while on a bike ride. I've had a couple of serious reactions to bee stings in the past so I was prepared for it. I immediately pulled over, grabbed the Epipen from my pocket and waited for the anaphylactic shock to kick in before pricking myself in the leg.

I didn't do it right away in hopes that i wouldn't need it. Because if i do, it means a few hours dealing with paperwork to get myself in legal cycling status. I would have to fill out a medical form, get it signed by a doctor, then fax it in to UCI (Cycling's international governing body), USADA (US Anti-Doping Agency) and WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) and hope everyone receives and approves it. If, for some reason, it does not find its way to the right people and i am drug tested, then my name will pop up on as a druggie. Then it's no cyclo-cross, no road racing, no life. Unfortunately it is not allowable to have the forms on file for such potential emergencies. Pity because it has been the cause for a few dropouts in major cycling events such as Jonathan Vaughters' premature departure from the Tour de France in (i think) 2001.

Luckily I didn't die but my whole chest swelled up and turned deep red. The pain and itching was simply unbearable. This led me to another dilemma. How can i stop the itching without using creams or pills that won't get me in trouble with the doping agencies? It's tougher than most people think to find supplements that are not on the doping substance list. I never think to take drugs until situations like these pop up.

A few years ago, while waiting to be drug tested after a World Cup, I sat with another racer who was battling a nasty flu. While i sat there thinking about what i want to eat for dinner, he was freaking out because he was on five different drugs for the flu. He said he checked the drug lists to make sure they were legal but it is hard to know for sure. When I got stung by the bee i thought of him and opted to suffer through it and not take chances.

Now that a few days - and sleepless nights - have passed, the pain and itching have thankfully subsided so i can start focusing on things other than my bee sting. It would be great if, in addition to the prohibited drug list, we were given an approved list as well!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Still Thinking About the Ardennes Camping Trip

Last week Jonas and I went camping in Bouillon, Belgium. We really lucked out on the best spot imaginable. While most of the Ardennes camping spots are riddled with semi-permanent trailer parks doubling as camp sites where people are living on top of each other, we snagged a river-side spot with an absent neighbor on one side and an empty lot on the other. It felt like we were all alone along the river.
Every morning started with French pressed coffee coupled with fresh bread delivered to the camp site via a bakery truck that swerved in and out of the lots honking his horn.

After eating so much that we were ready for a nap, we instead 'suited up' for our trail hike. I got to break in my brand new custom insoles made for my walking/running shoes which worked amazingly well. We hiked and hiked and got lost, then hiked some more, hitched a ride with strangers when we found ourselves many kilometers off our pre-planned route, then hiked the rest of the way home. It was the first time that my legs felt fresh from that much hard walking - thanks to the insoles (and the doctor from Kortenberg who made them)!

When we werent out hiking or getting lost while hiking, we sat by the river with our red wine in hand while watching passerbys. We saw fishers catching nothing and little kids drifting away on oversized tires while the parents chase them down alongside the river. But what i found most entertaining was the kayakers.
Every boat that passed was completely unique - some contained Dutch tourists obnoxiously yelling across the river as if they were the only ones on earth. Others held little kids who had no idea what to do with the paddle and relied on the river to pull them downstream. And every once in a while, we were passed by semi-professional-looking seasoned kayakers who flew by us in a flash. Inspired by the fast ones, I decided to give it a go figuring it can't be that hard to do it.

The next day we were out on kayaks playing in the river. It was a perfect day for it - sunshine and 28°Celcius. Within thirty seconds of hitting the water i realized it may be harder than it looks. About 1km down the river we took a brief detour to our tent to pick up a little courage in the form of a bottle of wine.

After our first glass we decided to paddle in earnest to work off the alcohol calories. Jonas went first - we flew! I was next. I put my head down and paddled my ass off. When i looked up i realized i had done a perfect circle. I guess my right arm is stronger than the left. Of course I glanced back at jonas and casually said I meant to do that.

On my second try i went a little sideways and we ended up wrapped in trees along the bank. To prove that I was effective somehow, i turned to jonas, pointed upwards at the blowing branches and said, " Look at how much wind I made." He laughed so hard that i think i fooled him again into thinking i planned that route. And to think I accomplished all this on just one single glass of wine. I'll never know what i could have done with two since I spilled my second glass when trying to duck my head under the branches. Maybe i should stick to cycling...or trail walking it seems.

To balance out all the nature stuff, we checked out the little neighboring towns by scooter, stopping briefly in each for a quick drink or bite to eat. Some of the cafes had incredible views so extraordinary I could almost believe they were fake. We happened to drive through one town just as they were having their weekly market. I love markets so i was thrilled to stop and check out the stuff. It took us about four minutes to confirm that they had the same crap as all markets around the world so we got back on the scooter to head home.
Our four minute detour cost us dearly though. We would have made it back to the campsite completely unscathed from the heavy storm chasing us through the past few towns but instead it nipped at our toes for a litle bit before dumping on us about five minutes from home. There has to be nothing worse than arriving at a campsite frozen and wet.

It is now back to reality. Training for cyclo-cross is top priority at the moment and all is going well. Thanks to that little break between road and cyclo-cross seasons I feel fresh, motivated and ready to train for cross.

Today was my first offroad ride on the cross bike. I spent the whole time with the corners of my lips glued to my ears. I'm sure many of you can relate.

The bike projects are starting now too. First project is gluing the tubulars - I just started to prep the Reynolds wheels and Challenge Grifos. Next is to change the Speedplay cleats on my Specialized shoes. Photos of my projects to come...

Thanks for reading.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Article in Cyclocross Magazine

I am finally getting around to posting my cyclocross mag article in the current issue. As much as i enjoyed reading my own article, i did have a lot of fun checking out the other articles such as the cyclo-cross buyers guide - especially the cx tire review including their 'hi-tech' testing procedure. This was a must-read.

Another article to check out is the one on Eye Candy. My favorite entry of the bunch is on Ahrens Bikes. I gotta remember to ask Mandy where she got the letters that were used for her name on the bike.
To get Cyclocross Magazine delivered to your doorstep, or to find out where you can pick up a copy, click HERE.

AND if you have a second, can you kindly vote for my column OR on the article of Bart Wellens on the Cyclocross Magazine site? (it takes only one quick click) The article of mine they refer to is the last one i wrote - not the current one posted on this blog today. This contest is purely for my ego, I get to keep the column with the magazine either way. Good thing because i am losing in the polls.

The next issue of Cyclocross Magazine will be published just in time for Interbike Show in Las Vegas. It will include my column and a very long Sven Nys interview where he reveals many secrets on how he is able to dominate the sport year after year.
The cx season starts in just over a month so i have been busy lining everything up to be prepared for the start. Shortly I will update my race schedule on the left side of the blog so you know where I'll be just in case you're in the neighborhood and want to cheer me on.

Thanks as always for reading!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Olympic Mens Road Race on TV

I had just returned from the store and turned on the TV to check out the weather. To my surprise there was a bike race going on - the olympics? I knew when the mtb olympics would take place because i have friends and acquaintances who are racing it - sven nys, georgia gould, todd wells, adam craig and mary mcConneloug. When you're without internet for four whole days as i was recently you miss a lot.

Anyway i figured it was the olympics because the guys were wearing non-big-team jerseys. The things you i sat down and watched for a while. What caught my eye first was the obvious racer loyalty over their country's. Next thing i noticed was that there was something missing, namely spectators. Almost no spectators. Aside from the mini pockets of people standing in parking lots every few kilometers, the roads were empty.

The last climb of the event determined the race - one of the schlek brothers (Andy) of CSC instigated an attack that blew the field apart which dropped USA favorite Levi Leipheimer. My favorite move of the day was Fabian Cancellara's bridge to the chase group of two who were ten seconds behind the three leaders (Schleck, davide rebellin and Samuel Sanchez). Cancellara approached the two guys at about twice their speed. After a brief rest behind them he jumped ahead and bridged the gap. It did help that Schlek slowed the others down so his CSC teammate could catch up.

Sanchez really did a great sprint and deserved the win. Too bad there were so few people to see it.

Did you know there is a new CX BOOK?

I just found this in

Cyclo-cross skills in print

Cyclo-cross has become increasingly popular in the United States and other countries outside of its traditional base in Northern Europe. With that comes the need for instruction on the highly technical discipline, and the gap has been filled by Colorado coach Scott Mares.

Mares, who has been running the American Cycling Associations' (ACA) cyclo-cross camps for nine years has helped to produce more than a dozen national champions and even a silver at the junior worlds championships.

"The Complete Book of Cyclo-cross, Skill Training and Racing" will be available on line at on September 1. The book will retail for $20.00. The web site is full of information about the book and the author including a sample chapter from the book.

I have crossed paths with Scott Mares a couple of times so it was exciting to see he has a book out. Now to see if they ship to belgium...

Monday, August 4, 2008

I need your HELP in winning a contest with VegNews Magazine

Can you PLEASE take a minute to vote for me in the VegNews Magazine Awards Contest that is taking place NOW through end of August.

I am still on trial with the magazine as a fitness columnist so it would be great to win their contest.

Click on this link to get there. Just vote or skip the other contests to get to the "Favorite Vegan Athlete" section.

THANKS SO MUCH! Your help is really appreciated.

On another topic, I just finished my last road race of the season. No win but really good form. Wow, what a difference from only two months ago. I had a really good feeling that my fitness is elevated to a high enough level from the road season that I expect (assuming i stay clear of head injuries) to have a decent cyclo-cross season. What a relief. Now I just can't wait for cross season to begin.

But first it's off to the Ardennes for a few days of camping. We are headed to a town in Belgium called Bouillon -which, to an american ear seems a bizarre name for a town. Every time i hear the name i can't help but to think soup. I can understand naming a town SPA since the SPA water theoretically comes from there but Bouillon is just wrong. After racing 9 events in 12 days i really look forward to a few days off the bike and on foot. Just got my custom orthodics so i am ready to go.

Thanks again for voting for me on the VegNews site.

AND thanks for reading.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Still in racing hell...

I haven't written much lately because i am still in racing hell. As of this sunday i will have raced 9 races in 12 days. That alone is not a feat but when combined with my other multitasking activities it makes it impressive - or at least explains away a little of my flakiness for not updating my blog in a timely manner.

This week has been post-Tour (de France) criteriums. For many of them there is a womens elite race just before the mens spectacle, which is exactly what it is. While the women race it out no-frills style - no parade, no pre-arranged finish, no podium girls, the men's event starts off with a caravan of convertibles containing the crowd favorites like Cavendish, Boonen, Gilbert sitting in the back seat flanked by sexy long-legged bikini babes. Next the guys ride around the criterium track for a few laps at an almost trackstand pace, slapping hands with their fans and happily responding to the fans who yell random encouraging words.

Finally it's race time. Last night's crit in Herentals, Belgium was the only mens crit I got to see this season. For the first many laps of 50, the guys take turns showing their faces off the front of the peloton. First it was cyclo-cross stud Bart Wellens taking a flyer for a few laps while the rest of the peloton pretended to grimace in pain. Next flyers came from the local favorites racing for Belgian clubs, then some of the other big pros went for a front seat "hello" to the crowd. Finally after about 40ish laps, Cavendish, Gilbert and Boonen were off the front - clearly the three chosen for the podium placings. With two laps to go, Boonen dropped them. But within a lap he was caught and Cavendish flew through for the win with Boonen and Gilbert behind - in that order.

The first 40 laps looked fast but when they hit the 45-lap mark and the pace went up to something closer to reality, it was very impressive - almost surreal to see cyclists moving that fast.

Compared to the mens race, ours must have seemed quite ordinary to the crowd. But to me it was much more interesting. This is partly because i was riding on a borrowed bike that was one size too small and only ridden by me for a whopping 15 minutes before the start.

The night before the race, just after returning home from a race in Chaam, Holland (which was a fast race, by the way - we finished 60km in only 1hr 10min), Jonas found a crack in my frame. So that night we stripped the bike down in hopes of getting another frame by the morning so i can make the afternoon race.

Jan from Fietsen Goeman (photo right) in Everberg thankfully called Scott Headquarters in Belgium in the morning and they had a frame in stock. Unfortunately by the time we could get the frame there would be no time to build it up so Eddy at Scott (his is the one talking to the Scott rider) graciously lent me a bike to race for the next three events. What a godsend!!! Not only was it in perfect race condition (although a bit too small to race on all season) but it was the top of the line Scott Carbon CR1 bike equipped with full carbon campagnolo record - even carbon cranks. What a luxury.

I was nervous about racing with it, firstly because it is a very expensive bike - my guess maybe worth 4000 euros?, and secondly because i was not sure if it would be comfortable enough to ride at 40-50kph in a tight group through hundreds of high speed turns, some of which are on cobbles. But the bike proved excellent. Wow - it was the most comfortable ride i've ever felt from a road bike. I used to think that road bikes are all the same (while cross bikes are NOT) but now my mind is changed for sure.

Anyway, i didn't win the race but i surely showed my face a bunch at the front of the race. And most importantly i had a blast doing it.

Today has been spent writing, writing and writing. Tomorrow it is back at the races. Just two more races then i am off for a mini 3-day holiday without the bike. I guess it's time to blow the 1-inch dust off the running shoes since i'll be using them shortly to get ready for cyclo-cross season. Just can't wait.