Show #568 – August 14, 2021

Guests: Eldon Nelson; Chuck Marohn

If you’re like me, the thought of racing a mountain bike for 100 miles, starting at 10,000 feet and climbing 12,500 feet in a day is utterly terrifying! And yet, my first guest has done it 23 times – finishing it 22… and is about to go again – today actually – August 14th.

Elden Nelson is, by all rights, the Leadville 100 Guru – he even has a great podcast dedicated to the event.

But last year, COVID put the kibosh on the race and a series of small snafus have resulted in too many participants for this year. Yet still… the race will go on and I wanted to catch up with Elden to get the low-down on this year’s event.

PS… it’s NOT about the belt buckle – oh wait, maybe it is!

 

 

Then, we FINALLY get to speak with Strong TownsChuck Marohn about his upcoming book, Confessions of a Recovering Engineer.

Whenever I have a conversation with  Chuck Marohn, I have the best of intentions to follow the train of thought I had planned out …. Instead, I get a fascinating conversation that just flows from one topic to the next and, frankly I’m happy with that!

Chuck’s perspectives on planning and what will keep towns and cities solvent – even prosperous – have come up against an establishment that is both defensive and unyielding to new ways of thinking about roads, bridges, and how we live today. That establishment still relies on 50+ year ideas and technology in a world where new options abound.

Show #567 – August 7, 2021

Guest: Vince Jourdain

This week, we welcome one great guest to the show – someone who has a wide and deep knowledge of the UCI AND the peloton.

As you know, there was a lot of controversy in this year’s Tour de France about all the incidents – beginning with day one’s crash from a spectator leaning into the peloton and taking out the lead rider, causing the domino effect.

And, outside the race, there have been numerous discussions among professional fitters about what else might be causing so many riders to crash – from the size of the bikes and the kind of equipment the riders are using to the levels of skill and a lack of respect that newer riders on the world tour are bringing to the competition.

So, I decided to go to the source, and today, my guest is Vincent Jourdain.

Vince was in charge of Race Operations for the UCI from 2016 until earlier this year; and was National Coach for Canada for 15 years.

His duties were far reaching – from the organization of each event to fielding actionable complaints and incidents during an event.

Today, with everyone having a video camera in his or her pocket, and the wide reach of social media, every race can be fraught with issues that might need adjudicating. It’s a BIG job.

What happens when there’s a crash or a motor vehicle gets in the way? What is the process and who decides what is to be done?

Are riders coming to the world stage too early or without going through the proving grounds of local, state, national, and eventually world tour steps?

And, then of course there is the equipment – what happens when something breaks or there is an equipment failure and how does the UCI determine what is acceptable?

And, does the industry place too much pressure on the UCI to accept certain products or product categories?

These are all questions I put to Vince and, I think you will not only enjoy this conversation, but learn a lot about how professional racing is done!.

Show #566 – July 31, 2021

Guest: Chris Kelly

This week, the show is taking a different road – out to California to speak with just one guest in  great conversation – frame builder Chris Kelly.

Last week, in some banter on FB, I inadvertently mixed up Chris Kelly and Charlie Kelly… shame on me!  They are both amazing people and,  since I had Charlie on the show back in 2015, it was high time Chris joined me.

Chris Kelly has a great story – starting out racing back in the day, going to school for architecture, having a big bike building gig, and ending up back in his own shop, building his own brand of frames and forks, and just as happy as a clam.

Chris believes that the bike industry has a “lack of vision,” and today, a lot of what he tried and succeeded in having work years ago, is standard stuff. It’s just another example of how custom builders can and often do influence the market.

Chris also has done a radio gig and his Tom Petty Tribute Band, Petty Luv – that love as in L U V, just had its first public gig since COVID began last weekend.

I’d say Chris is pretty well-rounded, well-grounded, and well-informed.

I want to preface the conversation with an addendum to what you will hear – I ask Chris about his FAQ’a – which are excellent – but what I should have also have asked him was about his tech questions because they are fabulous.

So – when you go to his website, kellybike.com, make sure you click on the tech tab at the top and read through his tech questions!

Show #565 – July 24, 2021

Guests: Justin McCurry; Iris Slappendel & Lexi Brown

Well… it’s a version of the summer Olympics we’ve never seen before and I hope all the athletes are safe! One of the cycling events I’ll be watching is a version of Keirin – Japanese track racing..  And, auspiciously, The War on Wheels, Inside the Keirin and Japan’s Cycling Subculture, the first really in-depth book about the sport, the riders, the bikes, and the subculture has just been published.

Justin McCurry. who has lived in Japan since 1991, is the author of the book, and the Guardian’s correspondent in Tokyo where he covers Japan and Southeast Asia.


So – what IS Keirin?  We know it’s a form of track racing – but, it is a very different sport in country  – and it’s apparently pretty crazy.

Keirin – pronounced Ka-Rin in Japan and Ke-Rin, which is the UCI approved version – are actually two different types of the sport.

Steeped in a culture of betting and slogging it out in a tight formation on concrete tracks, Japan was, in a way, revitalized by the sport when it was the idea of two returning soldiers in 1948.

 Iris Slappendel and Lexi Brown are part of the Cyclists Alliance, a great organization formed to help professional women riders.  

When I saw the appalling statistics from the 2021 rider survey conducted by the Cyclists Alliance, I wanted to understand if what I was seeing was real – and unfortunately it is.

From a dismal 34% of professional riders with no salary – up from 17% in 2018 to 38% of professional riders working a second job alongside their career, women are not thriving in the peloton.

With a goal of supporting and protecting women pro cyclists, the Alliance’s mission is simple: in a word, they are seeking fairness.  And, their annual survey makes it painfully clear just how unfair things are.

The cyclists alliance was formed to not only help with salaries, but to offer guidance, legal support, and mentor-ship.

Show #564 – July 17, 2021

Guests: Shannon Galpin; Trudie Lobban

My first guest is not new to The Outspoken Cyclist..  She is one of the bravest, most passionate, and ardent activists for women’s rights, Shannon Galpin. (You can join her on Patreon!)

Her message today should strike a chord in the very depths of your psyche as she offers us the unvarnished truth about what is happening to the women of Afghanistan – especially the women’s cycling team.

Back in 2012 and 2013, the Afghan Women’s Cycling Team was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize and Shannon was named National Geographic’s Adventurer of the Year.

Now, Afghanistan is under siege and women especially are at risk, including the women’s cycling team. (You can help the Afghan Women’s Team!)

Shannon, who currently lives in Scotland, returned to the U.S. on a personal matter and I was able to catch up with her a couple of days ago.

Then, we discuss a really important issue that affects a LOT of people and apparently, might affect those who exercise intensely even more than the general population.

On July 12th, the Irish Times published an article titled: “Athletes more likely than non-athletes to have irregular heartbeats”

It seemed counter-intuitive at first; but, 13 studies between 1990 and 2020 that analyzed data from 70,478 participants concluded that “there is a threshold beyond which exposure to increasing levels of exercise is linked to heart issues including atrial fibrillation.”

AA logo – MASTER 2016 LOGO

As I read the article, I thought back to my conversations with Lennard Zinn and his tribulations with Afib as well as all the ads on TV which I thought were overblown in an effort to sell more pharmaceuticals.

 

So, I decided to talk with Trudie LobbanTHE expert in the field.  Trudie is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Arrhythmia Alliance and she has some sage advice to pass along to us about heart irregularities and how to not only detect them, but what to do about them – including her “knowyourpulse.org” initiative.  (Know Your Pulse Video!)

Show #563 – July 10, 2021

Guests: Professor John Pucher; Martin Sigrist

How much has changed in our world of cycling since 2012? When I think back to some of the very first chatter about advocacy and how we can get more people riding, it seems SO long ago.

But, as with many things, cycling and its place in a sustainable world, has evolved much more quickly in the past 10 years than in the previous 25!
With that in mind, I welcome Professor John Pucher back to the show. Back in February 2013, right after his book City Cycling had been published by MIT press, John and his co-writer Professor Ralph Buehler spoke about the urban cycling renaissance including topics such as bike share, protected bike lanes, and more.

Now, almost 10 years later, John’s new book, Cycling for Sustainable Cities, is out and it’s remarkable how much has changed in such a short period of time.
A compendium of chapters that cover sustainability from every possible angle, John and his co-writer Ralph Buehler, have scoured the world for experts in their respective fields to round out chapters for the book.

We’ve been watching a TdF that started out being fraught with crashes and mayhem. Some of it came from inconsiderate or uninformed spectators, and some of it … well, the jury is still out on that – but there IS a lot of speculation. Is it the bikes – they’re stiffer and smaller; is it the speed? Is there a new generation of riders who may not be as respectful in the peloton?

My second guest is Martin Sigrist. Martin is a writer and very deep thinker about cycling – and a lot more.

I saw his article for Road Bike Rider about a topic I hadn’t thought about much – if at all – it was titled Learning From Perishable Skills. What that means and what can happen if you don’t continually work on skill building – especially on the bike – is at the heart of our conversation; although Martin has a lot to say on quite a variety of topics – mostly related to cycling.

Show #562 – July 3, 2021

Guests: Leah Goldstein; Russell Newell

Well, this week saw some really cool things happen… Mark Cavendish winning some Tour de France stages, some impressive athletes in many disciplines ready to head to Tokyo for the Olympics, and a record breaker for the ages!

RAAM rider, Leah Goldstein crossed the finish line in Annapolis, MD in 11 days, 3 hours, and 3 minutes – ahead of EVERYONE ELSE!      Walking the last kilometer because she had nothing left, supported by her amazing crew, this endurance athlete says she’s not done yet.

So, who is Leah Goldstein?  Her storied career in sports started at the age of 9 and at 17 she became the world’s champion kickboxer.

While serving in the Israel Defense Forces she was introduced to the duathlon and between her love of the bike and her love of endurance sport – Leah, now 52, has become the first woman to win what is arguably the world’s toughest endurance event – Race Across America.

I knew there would be cameras and journalists and television and radio all wanting to talk with Leah, so I hurried up the moment I heard and sent a message to her crew chief, Lori Moger, and she set up our conversation – which you’ll hear in a moment!

Then, in a different kind of endurance event, we meet Russell Newell

Russell, who has been a speech writer for some luminaries in D.C. as well as working for Disney as director of executive communications, and is currently working for United Health Care, is presently living in the D.C. area with his wife and 4 children.

His good buddy, Jim Kane, challenged him to race an Ironman event in 2012.  And, Russell, who would apparently jump off a bridge if his friends did it said – okay.

Out of that race – and more Ironman events since – has come his book, Irondad Life – A Year of Bad Decisions and Questionable Motives – What I Learned on the Quest to Conquer Ironman Lake Placid.

The book is filled with hilarity, a little profanity, and a lot of great stories

Show #561 – June 26, 2021

Guests: Dr. Harriet Fell & John Allen; Spencer Martin & Steve Maxwell

Want to hear the best bicycle pick-up line ever?

Harriet Fell chased down Sheldon Brown on a ride in 1979 and her first words to him were “you’re riding fixed gear aren’t you? and the rest as they say, was history.

Sheldon and Harriet were married 8 months later.

 

 


(photo courtesy of Harriet Fell)

So fast forward to June 13, 2021 when Harris Cyclery, in Ma. – the home of Sheldon Brown.com – announced its closing – the shock waves could be felt throughout the cycling world about what was going to happen to Sheldon Brown’s immense archives AKA sheldonbrown.com.

NEVER FEAR! It’s not going anywhere.

In fact, since Sheldon passed away in 2008, the site, which belongs to his wife Harriet Fell, has been lovingly and painstakingly managed by both Harriet and technical writer John Allen.

So, I reached out to Harriet and John to have a chat about the site.

But, as I began to look into Harriet Fell – DR. Harriet Fell actually -I found someone much different from who I expected. So much for expectations!
Harriet has a PhD from MIT. She was a tenured professor in mathematics but moved over to the college of computer science at northeastern university as computers became more mainstream. She retired after more than 50 years with an amazing array of accomplishments in her fields of study.

Almost more interesting though is her history with bikes – from building an aluminum fixie frame in 1971 that ended up in France for many many years and became an important piece of an industry lawsuit, to riding 8,000+ miles in 2020. And, she turns 77 this year.

Joined in the second half of our conversation by technical writer John Allen, I think you will truly appreciate this amazing woman!

In the second half of the show, we check in with The Outer Line‘s Spencer Martin and Steve Maxwell for a preview of the Tour de France and some thoughts on the 2020 – now 2021 – Olympics and how the U.S. is and has chosen our team.

As Stage One gets going today, Spencer is pretty certain there are only a couple of riders strong enough to stand atop the podium in Paris in three weeks.

And, Steve and I once again discuss the absence of cycling on mainstream media and how our sport would so benefit from it.

Show #560 – June 19, 2021

Guests: Carter Strickland; Kyle Wagenschutz

Their motto is “public land for public good”… and today, we speak with the NY State Director for the Trust for Public Land, Carter Strickland.

TPL was founded in 1972 on the conviction that all people need and deserve access to nature and the outdoors, close to home, in the cities and communities where they live, as a matter of health, equity, and justice.

From transforming schoolyards into parks to working with communities and organizations to procure land and rights-of-ways for creation and expansion of trails and greenways, TPL works its magic across the entire country.

Kyle Wagenschutz, the VP of Local Innovation for People For Bikes, talks about this year’s most bikeable cities. The 2021 City Ratings came out recently and of course, I rushed to see if any Ohio cities made the list. (listen in to find out!)

When People For Bikes starts working on their “most bikeable cities” ratings
list each year, and the work begins on the next year as soon as the current year’s results are published, the criteria come from a lot more places than one would imagine.

It’s at the ground level – towns and cities and even villages – where PFB’s looks to gather data that shows how easily one can get around by bike… and, that data is crunched up and spit out to produce not only a list of great places to ride, but some comparative ideas to adopt or adapt to make every city more bike friendly.

PS – Here is the story about Harrison Ford riding 40 miles per day getting ready for Indiana Jones 5.

Show #559 – June 12, 2021

Guests: David Bradford; John Surico

This week, we jump across the pond (as they say) to speak with David Bradford.  David is the fitness editor for Cycling Weekly and his article titled   “Why Is the peloton hiding its true colors?” is getting a lot of attention – in fact, it caught mine!

David spent a lot of time trying to find someone to speak with him about the topic of gay riders in the pro peloton.  Out of 968 competitors, the statistical probability that not one of these riders is gay is about one in a trillion – he called his mathematics buddy to establish the probabilities.

But, even after his article was published,  the response from male riders has been crickets.

Statistically, it’s beyond improbable that there are NO gay men out of the 968 riders David uses as his sample.  So, what’s going on here?

I wanted to know more and I also wondered whether women are more likely to just come out and tell it like it is – and, we find that they are.

Then, we meet up once again with journalist, teacher, and urban planning researcher, John Surico.

When last we spoke – back in April – we talked about what life was going to be like post-pandemic and how cities have and will continue to respond.

Now, his new piece for Bloomberg’s City Lab, “Greenway Stimulus Could Bring Boom In Biking and Walking Trails,” focuses on the possibility of a $10B – that’s billion with a capital B – boost for greenways.  From BIG projects like the ECG to your neighborhood connector to a local path, biking and walking are slowly making their way to center stage in legislation large and small all over the country.