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A short 5 minute highlight video of the 5th annual Pro Cycling Race in Basking Ridge, NJ. The BaseCamp International.


Here are the Top Finishers:

1 Robert Forster (UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team)
2 Hilton Clarke (UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team)
3 Jaan Kirsipuu (Team Champion System)
4 Anibal Borrajo (Jamis Sutter Home p/b Colavita)
5 Jonathan Cantwell (V Australia Pro Cycling Team)

What started out 5 years ago as the Ricola Twilight Grand Prix has evolved into a high-profile, multi-national race sponsored by BaseCamp Adventures, Verizon and Liberty Cycle.

Five years ago, local shop, Liberty Cycle put together a challenging and technical course through the streets of downtown Basking Ridge. Then sandwiched the event between the Historic Tour of Somerville and the TD Bank Philadelphia International Championship.

The race has grown into one of the best in terms of talent and competition on the east coast. The prize money has grown significantly as well. Many of the top U.S. teams and riders now show up and ride the Small town race. The action is fast and furious as near 100 riders snake through 8 turns in a 1.1 mile circuit.

Unfortunately, the same accolades can’t be reiterated for the town government and a lot of residents. The 2011 edition saw a drastic drop off in attendance. Easily, there were 30% to 40% less spectators at this years race.

The Bernards Twp government does almost nothing to promote the race and (by doing virtually nothing) basically do all they passively can to discourage its continuation. It is painfully obvious that township officials wish this race gone. They tie the hands of local eatery merchants on the main straight-away from doing business and basically ignore the entire event.

It’s not surprising really, most of the town and its officials look down upon such type of events. If it is not an equestrian, orchestrial or some other wealthy activity, they snub their noses at it. Basking Ridge is one of those towns that wishes with all its might it was an exclusive, true wealthy bedroom community. Instead, it has a nice mix of condos, townhomes and single family homes with incomes that are very varied. Much to the chagrin of township officials and some residents.

The overall marketing of the race in general lacks in promotions and relations and one has to wonder how long it will continue. One possible bright spot is that BaseCamp Adventures is moving to neighboring Bernardsville. Could the race possibly move as well? It might be the best thing to happen to the race since its inception. Time will tell.

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Brian Surtees on his TZ250


Although a usual departure from our regular postings- please enjoy a time tested delicious favorite. Buona salute…

Ingredients:

4-6 Roma tomatoes

2 garlic cloves

Extra virgin olive oil

fresh basil leaves

Crusty bread (a loaf of brick over or french do well)

Sea Salt

Slice the tomatoes in half and squeeze out a bit of the seeds and juice. y Chop and dice coarsely. Chop 2  cloves of garlic then chop or tear basil leaves into small pieces.

Mix tomatoes, garlic and basil together with enough olive oil to moisten, add a half teaspoon of salt and set aside for 20 minutes to allow flavors to blend.

 Slice crusty bread into thick slices then toast lightly, rubbing each slice with a garlic clove.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Just before serving spoon tomato mixture onto bread. Bellissimo!

 

6 Roma tomatoes
3 garlic cloves
extra virgin olive oil (use the best you can find)
fresh basil leaves
crusty bread without too many holes
salt
 
Slice tomatoes in half.  Over sink, squirt out seeds and juice then coarsely chop/dice. Peel and chop 2 garlic cloves. Chop or tear basil leaves into small pieces. Mix tomatoes, garlic and basil together with enough olive oil to moisten, add a half teaspoon of salt and set aside for 20 minutes to allow flavors to blend.  Slice bread into thick slices, toast (or even better grill over gas grill or charcoal!) then rub each warm slice with a peeled garlic clove.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Just before serving spoon tomato mixture onto bread.  Enjoy with Sangiovese wine!

Man

The purest of design, an elemental matrix of muscle wrapped around bone, shelled by flesh and fed by blood. A mortal composite that blends to be one- yet in a whirling division of  structured cells- lies the complex man. 

Machine

Factories shape carbon and forge aero steel.  Heated, crafted and welded to form a working perfection- or perhaps just our perception thereof. Gleaming, sharp cogs mesh in unison and gears that hum with the energy of production.

But not alone, fore this mass of electrons and  particles remains still- until the matrix applies its human force. Utility, elegance and beauty melded into one- is essentially nothing without man.

United, Man Machine transforms the imperfect, somewhat awkward- but ever so fluid synergy of entities- one breathing, one unaware.  

Cogito – Ergo – Zoom


One of the most prestigious, long-standing bicycle races and sports events in general- is “Le Tour de France”. The Tour is the third largest sporting event around the globe, following the Olympic Games and the FIFA World Cup.

The 95 year old race event creates  massive interest from the international media, as it is broadcast on TV in 180 countries. The race brings in representatives from 75 radio stations in 25 countries and over 450 newspapers, photographers and media from 26 countries in total.

The Tour involves shuttling, accommodating and feeding over 4,500 people each and every day for the full 23 days (21 days of racing plus two rest days) A total of 2,400 vehicles will be following the race, including race director with support, team vehicles, medical and general support.  Then there is the matter of the huge, dedicated, fanatical crowds that line the routes for three solid weeks.

The entire budget for the Le Tour is estimated at nearly 100 million euros, or $140 million U.S. dollars-  of which, approximately 50% derived from the broadcast television rights, 40% from title and presenting sponsors and the remainder from participant fees paid by each town where the stages start and finish.

The 2009 edition of the Tour will see the competing cyclists span about 2,200 miles, visit 34 towns, pass through 560 municipalities and make stops in a total of six countries- Monaco, France, Andorra, Spain, Switzerland and Italy.

Each and every town in every country will feel the effects of the Tour from spectators, media and team personnel in the way of traffic jams, long lines, and crowded streets- but most importantly; money spent.

The event organizer- the ASO, or Amaury Sport Organisation owns the newspapers and magazine publications l’Equipe, France Football, l’Equipe Magazine, Vélo Magazine, Le Parisien and Aujourd’hui in France.

Created in September 1992, the ASO  is a specialized organization of sporting events, and in addition to the Tour de France, they put on the famous Dakar Rally and the Paris Marathon.

Aiding the ASO in France will be the French police and emergency services, who will direct and assist all the French municipalities in dealing with needed highway repairs, road signs, safety barriers and the planting of yellow flowers in all of the prevailing open spaces.

The cost of these operations is approximately three and a half million euros- with technical costs accounting for over two million euros and the rest spent on miscellaneous items including, communications and local ancillary supporting events.

On the financial side, along with the promotion of tourism in each city and town there will be a substantial increase in the traffic and flow of people in and out of restaurants, hotels and merchant shops. The subsequent impact of the large increase in traffic will spur positive economic upshots for all commercial merchants involved.

A major retailer, the Champion supermarket chain, which is the presenting sponsor of the “Polka Dot Jersey” or “King of the Mountains” for the best climber, will have 21 vehicles and countless personnel in the Tour’s caravan.

For the 2009 edtion of Le Tour, Champions managers have planned a very aggresive, dedicated marketing and promotions campaign for their 1,000 stores in France, Belgium, Spain, Poland, Greece, Turkey and Argentina.

With Spain being one of this year’s major themes for the supermarket, the chain’s plan is to have the in-store hostesses wearing outfits designed by one of the country’s most famous fashion designers all in hopes of attracting more female customers.

It is estimated that there will be approximately 15,000,000 spectators over the 21 days, spending an average of three euros per day- for a whopping total of 45,000,000 million euros or $63,000,000 million U.S. dollars.

The result will be a significant economic impact for all of the participating countries, cities, towns and boroughs. It is no wonder that over 200 towns in France alone apply to the ASO every year for a spot on the famed Le Tour route.


 The historic and famed TD Commerce Bank “Triple Crown of  Cycling” has been consolidated into just one title event for 2009. The single sponsored event- the Philadelphia International Cycling Championship is scheduled to take place on June 7th of this year.

Admist the deep recession and troubled economy as well as TD Bank’s assessment of its sponsorship dollars, the bank has decided to step down from title sponsorship of the Reading and Lehigh Valley Classics, the first two legs of the Pennsylvania Triple Crown of Cycling.

The event is now in its 25th year of existence, starting out as the old Core States race back in 1984. Each year its stature and popularity has proved to continually grow with both the fans and competitors alike. But with the on-going financial difficulties, 2009 will be more of a test to the future of the long standing event.

There will be a  main featured race for the contingent of pro riders and a few of races for the amateur riders. Philadelphia city and Pro Cycling Tour officials expect a slight decline this year, with between 50,000 and 75,000 spectators posibly attending, based on figures from previous years.

“Given the succesful history of the event and the past amount of spectators, the 2009 expected numbers are a bit down due to the economic climate.” Said a Pro Tour official.

Race Statistics:

Biggest One-Day cycling event in U.S.
Over 350,000 spectators – 2008
Local live television coverage
2007 ratings – 3.4 audience share

Video impressions – 12.5-million
Website hits 30 days prior to event – 3.6-million

Event Demographics:

53% male
47% female
57% ages 25–49
64% college graduate or higher

49% professional
31% non-professional
20% students
59% earning $50,000+
30% earning $100,000+

The estimated total economic impact for the city of Philadelphia  is approximately between $3 and $5 million dollars. Being the 5th largest media market in the country that type of boost to the local and regional businesses will do the tax coffers good.

The impact of revenue ranges from the mom & pop stores to chain hotels, restaurants and a variety of retail services.

Sporting events, both local and national are visible reminders that hard work eventually pays off and that winning is never easy- but is always rewarding.


Wednesday, August 27th 2008

Bicycle racing is Hard, Eh. No shit, you don’t say there sherlock. Well, yea to all those cyclists who are in the know! But if you don’t have the experience or an appreciation of just what it takes to push your body to its physical/aerobic limits then let me reiterate. Bicycle is racing is hard, no wait, make that really, really f*cking hard.

A couple of weeks ago I stumbled upon a local club- Century Road Club of America. Basically, a bunch of guys and girls who participate in a variety of club races, both road and off-road. I recently joined and took a shot at the Thursday night Road Race event which happens to take place near my apartment. First let me set the stage. I have not ridden much this year, due to a host of crap and what not. So, between some solo and group rides I had logged only about 800 mediocre miles before attempting my first race of 2008.

Not exactly a great idea…but I threw caution to the proverbial wind anyway! The 21 mile race is a three lap event that runs on a 7.2 mile circuit through Readington and Hillsborough NJ.

Thursday, August 21.
We set off at a blistering pace, about 25-26 mph out of the gate.  I’m going faster than I wanto to, but I have got to stay in touch with the draft. The group bends through the winding roads and the pace is mad- 28 mph. Now if this were 1/2/3 pro level race it would be fine, but we’re talking club guys here! Then there is me, the newbie, and slow as shit! Nearing the end of the first lap I’m barely hanging on and starting to fade- as I watch my speed fall from 27, to 25, to 21 and finally down around 19-20 mph.

It’s no use- I’m losing the draft but I’ve got to keep pedaling, got to keep going. By the end of lap two I’m done, and about to be lapped by the fast guys (who, by the way race in sanctioned events) So I give them plenty of room and slow it down letting them all pass. I’m not going to be the guy who took out the fast riders, or balked a move for the lead…that’s for damn sure.

I cruised in with a two lap average of 20.8 mph, lungs sucking hard for air, and my leg muscles on fire- no doubt filled with lactic acid. It was humbling to say the least, as I thought maybe, just maybe I wouldn’t get lapped…so much for that notion!

Wednesday August 27.
Ok, so I know that road racing is tough, so maybe I’ll try my hand or in this case legs at a Time Trial or as we two-wheeled blokes like to refer to as TT’s. The Wednesday night TT runs the same course as the road race, but it is only one lap- 7.21 miles of rolling terrain. It’s all out for one lap, right then, as quick as you like sunshine…Super.

I planned and prepared since Monday for this run, stretching properly, eating properly, hydrating, and so on, and I felt good on Tuesday with a short easy spin. Wednesday arrives and I feel a bit tired, but I figure it will pass as the day goes on and I get amped up for the TT. I roll out and decide to ride my bike to the start which is only 3 miles away from my door. So far so good.

I get to the start line of the course and sort out all my stuff, I take off my backpack, and set off to do about 45 minutes of warm-up riding. I get no more than 2 miles into my warm-up and BAM! My right quad cramps though not viciously, but enough to make the eyeballs a bit wide and my breath a bit shorter. My first reaction is anger, yup, I’m fucking pissed off, and cursing into the wind.

I cannot believe what is happening, I am utterly dismayed and disqusted at the same time. I turn around and head back to retrieve my stuff, and head home. I pedal easy spinning a low gear so as not to lock up the confounded muscle. I get off the bike and have a sit down, and good talking to myself as well!

I’m all like, wtf? what is going on here? Not that I was really expecting any answers, but I was frustrated and needed to vent. I stretched ever so gently, walked around a bit, drank a lot of water and powerbar mix drink, and tried to massage the knot out. I mean I didn’t want to throw the towel in, I wanted to run that damn TT – as it would be the last of the season.

I talked with a few guys and their words of encouragement gave me enough incentive to stay and give it a whirl. Eddie, the guy who runs the TT calls out our starting positions- based on previous times, but since I didn’t have one, I had to make a guess. I told him probably in the 22-23 minute range.

Slowly, my quad is feeling slightly better, as it has loosened up a bit. I feel better, mentally too. I pop an aspirin and a potassium pill, down some more water and get ready to roll off third in line. The only down side is that my warm-up was fairly slow and short, about 8 miles and not nearly at the pace it should have been.

I rotate leg and foot over and over, putting human force into my machine gradually building my speed. I try to quickly settle into a rhythm of around 21-22 mph, and get ready for the first set of rollers, where I know I will scrub off a bit of momentum. I’m down to 17-18 mph through the section of rolling terrain, but it soon levels out again and I’m back on the gas.

A hard right hander with scattered gravel in the road means hauling it down fairly well to negotiate the tricky turn, I keep my eyes up and keep off the brakes- and I’m through ok. On to the chipped stone road – which sucks balls btw, because it leads to the only short, but very steep hill.

I managed to pass both riders who went off ahead of me, and now I’m telling myself maybe only one or two of the real fast guys will come steaming by. Maybe it will be the guy on his P3 Cervelo- decked out in skin suit and aero helmet, or the gent on his beautiful Orbea TT bike, at least I could marvel at that their power and machinery as they go blowing past me eh? Well I just kept pushing, and hoping to make it to the end with no incidents, and as I approached mile 6, I could not believe that no one has yet to come past. Could it be that I won’t be lapped?

I didn’t want to get too confident just yet, so I put my head down and pedaled as hard as I could for the finish. The last 1/2 mile is a false flat and really burns the legs, so I held back a hair to have some reserve in the last few yards or so.

As the finish line came into view, I glanced under my arm to see if I was going to be passed in the waning seconds…and to my surprise there was no one there! I spun up the rpm’s then shifted to a higher gear, as high as my legs could bare, then I threw every last bit of energy and force I had left into those cranks and pedals- breathing extremely heavy as my legs burned- so much more than I have ever experienced this year.

25 yards to go…10 yards to go…now 5…whooshing across line I flew- it’s over man, it’s done. I began to slow my effort, shifting into an easier cog, but I’m breathing so heavy I can barely get the breaths in and out. That was suffering! That was Hard, but fun.


If you have not seen the Frank Schleck crash on Stage 5 in the Tour De Suisse, go review it to see how it unfolded. If have already watched it, then you may or may not understand how it happened. Regardless, Schleck was extremely fortunate not to be seriously injured or worse. That said, he has really no one to blame but himself for the a very “basic” mistake.

The Breakdown:

Schlecks crash actually began a minute or so up the road before he actually lost control of his bicycle. Let’s rewind the tape and go back up the mountain to analyze what went wrong and how it could have been avoided. This analysis will preclude any mechanical fault and focus on rider-induced incidents only – and by all indications, the Schleck crash seemed to be just that – rider induced.

As Schleck and Markus Fothen are descending, notice how both riders turn in too early, as most all cyclists do, and is most common in the pro peleton. The difference is that Fothen manages to keep his vision further up the road than Schleck did. Also, Fothen did not panic at the high entry speed into the corner. Apparently, Schleck (from watching the video) perceived his corner entry speed too high, and thought he would not make the corner – so he unclipped his right foot, and most likely was on the binders to slow himself down. But, braking is actually the last thing you want to do when you blow a corner.

By braking, the bicycle or any two wheeled vehicle, tends to “stand up” – meaning the object in question now has an opposing force to the riders input of lean, through body weight and counter-steering and instead of following the arc of the turn wants to go straight on. Braking also inhibits steering input – too much front brake while steering, and the front end will wash out. Too much rear braking destabilizes both the front and the rear of the bike. Consequently those opposing forces cause the chassis/frame to become “upset” or ill-handling which is harder to control – especially at high speeds.

So Schleck and Fothen are flying down the descent in the drops, and just as they pass the stone building on the left, the road starts to bend right – and it’s a decreasing radius right hand blind corner. They both begin their turn-in, (which is about a second or two too early) Schleck is positioned on the inside of Fothen, and Schlecks lean angle is more pronounced than Fothen’s. As Schleck leans more and more into the turn, his perception of where the apex was – is farther up than he anticipated. He then realizes that he is in too hot – too soon, and tries to scrub off some speed, but makes what could have been – fatal mistakes.

The video is not clear enough to tell, nor is the angle of the video conclusive to see if his eyes veered off course. Although it does appear that he “target fixated” on the guard rail and the trees, instead of the road. Once he did that – it was all over. Mind you, this was all happening within about a 5 to 6 second time frame. But high-speed cornering is a split second exercise and craft. Take superbikes or MotoGp – where high-speed cornering decisions happen in mili-seconds.

The point is, that descending at 40 to 50 mph is completely different from the skeleton pace of 25 to 30 mph on the flats, or 15 mph on the climbs. The mental adjustment needed to understand and read the landscape and process that information is enormous, and unfortunately, a lot of riders never come to terms with it. It is a learned craft, not something that comes easy. Descending skills are not a “package” deal just because you are a pro or an elite rider, something that seems lost on the masses as well as the riders themselves.

Schleck may have been able to avoid crashing if he delayed his turn-in about a second or two later than he did. He may also have been able to make the turn – albeit very wide if he counter-steered his bicycle with a very firm and decisive input on the right bar. Furthermore, keeping his head up,  eyes looking “through” the corner towards the exit of the turn. Sounds easy – right?

Well, no it’s really not. But when you are a pro rider descending mountain passes at 50 mph – it is a critical and possibly life-saving set of skills. The point at which he unclipped – Schleck had already made the decision to bail instead of trying to think his way out of the inevitable crash. Yes, he maybe had a second to think about it, but it was a crucial second that could have ended his life.

The conclusion is that Schlecks crash was his own fault, his own mistake, that probably could have been prevented. Of course it is not 100% known for sure and there is some slight conjecture in the analysis. The best part of the incident was that Schleck came away unhurt and will live to race another day. Unfortunately, this type of crash will happen again and again, and all riders whether  recreational to pro who continue to make the mental mistakes will pay a high price – possibly the  ultimate.

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