Monday, March 18, 2013

March Madness

All cycling fans know that March Madness isn't just a basketball tournament. It's time for the Spring Classics! The MONUMENTS of cycling! And they are happening NOW! I was devastated that there was NO coverage in the US for this last weekends Milan San Remo (MSR) race. I was all set to up my Dish Network package early this year, but looked on the NBCSports channel and viola...NO race. Nor was it on Universal Sports Network (USN). What the hay? I thought all the big classics were covered by NBC? But I thought wrong. However, here is their schedule (for those of you who get NBC Sports channel) of the REST of the classics season (and what the heck, I'll go ahead and give the REST of the season they are planning on broadcasting while I'm at it):

Sunday, March 24th: Criterium International, 1am
Sunday, April 7th, Paris Roubaix 8am
Sunday, April 21st, Fleche Wallonne, 10:30pm
                              Liege Bastogne Liege, 11:30pm
Sunday, May 5th, Amgen Tour of California (ToC), 5:30pm
Sunday, May 12th, ToC, Stage 1, 5pm
Monday, May 13th, ToC, Stage 2, 5pm
Tuesday, May 14th, ToC, Stage 3, 5pm
Wednesday, May 15th, ToC, Stage 4, 5pm
Thursday, May 16th, ToC, Stage 5, 4:30pm
Friday, May 17th, ToC, Stage 6, 5pm
Saturday, May 18th, ToC, Stage 7, 7pm
Sunday, May 19th, ToC, 1pm (not sure what this show will be)
                                       Stage 8, 6:30pm
Tour of Turkey (Dates To Be Determined)
Sunday, June 2nd, USA Cycling Pro Championships, 1pm
                             CriteriumDauphine Libere (CDL), 11pm
Monday, June 3rd, CDL, Noon
Sunday, June 9th, CDL, 5pm
Saturday, June 29th, Tour de France (TDF) Stage 1, 8am
Sunday, June 30th, Stage 2, 8am
Monday, July 1st,  Stage 3, 8am
Tuesday, July 2nd, Stage 4, 8am
Wednesday, July 3rd, Stage 5, 8am
Thursday, July 4th, Stage 6, 8am
Friday, July 5th, Stage 7, 8am
Saturday, July 6th, Stage 8, 8am
Sunday, July 7th, Stage 9, 8am
Monday, July 8th, Rest day (no coverage currently scheduled)
Tuesday, July 9th, Stage 10, 8am
Wednesday. July 10th, Stage 11, 8am
Thursday, July 11th, Stage 12, 8am
Friday, July 12th, Stage 13, 8am
Saturday, July 13th, Stage 14, 8am
Sunday, July 14th, Stage 15, 8am
Monday, July 15th, 2nd Rest Day (no coverage currently scheduled)
Tuesday, July 16th, Stage 16, 8am
Wednesday, July 17th, Stage 17, 8am
Thursday, July 18th, Stage 18, 8am
Friday, July 19th, Stage 19, 8am
Saturday, July 20th, Stage 20, 8am
Sunday, July 21st, the end, final Stage 21, 8am
Monday, July 22nd, boo tour syndrome kicks in BAD for the next few weeks of NO coverage
Sunday, August 18th, Pro Cycling Challenge (Tour of Colorado?) Preview Show, 3:30pm
Monday, August 19th, Pro CC Prologue, 4pm
Tuesday, August 20th, Pro CC Stage 1, 4pm
Wednesday, August 21st, Pro CC Stage 2, 4pm
Thursday, August 22nd, Pro CC Stage 3, 4pm
Friday, August 23rd, Pro CC Stage 4, 4pm
Saturday, August 24th, Pro CC Stage 5, 2:30pm
Sunday, August 25th, Pro CC Stage 6, 2pm
Sunday, October 13th, Paris Tours, 4pm (what is this?)

And there you have it. IF you don't already have NBC Sports Network on your cable/satellite provider, I'd suggest you GET IT. I know I will (I've already talked Jeannie into it...last year I waited until just before the TDF and I regretted it...this year I MUST see some of the classics!)

I'm quite bummed that I had to READ about Milan San Remo....Fabian was THAT CLOSE! And Boonen...he didn't get back on his bike after the bus/break, and supposedly had harsh words for the organizers! I guess his reign of classics truly is over...hate to be a hater but I just don't think he was going to do it over both Sagan and Fabian...I was SHOCKED that they both got edged out in the sprint...and speaking of edging out in the sprint, WHAT A RIDE Gerald Ciolek, a racer on a pro continental team no less! It was the race of a lifetime for him! The conditions were just about as bad as they can be and still have a race...almost half the peleton didn't restart after the bus trip around the snowed over climb...and HEY! Speaking of races of a lifetime, what about Taylor Phinney? He was suffering as badly as ANYBODY, yet he continued on in the race and jumped away from the chasing peleton in the final kilometer, which fueled the final sprint by the leaders (as they did NOT want him to catch them)..and he took 7th! That kid is something, and he WILL win this race one day, mark my words! I was able to watch the final 3k on the internet via stepplechase...but I REALLY REALLY wanted to record this and watch the whole race (we were out of town or I would have watched it on the internet).

And so...along with cycling, March is indeed the home of college basketball...I'm not a huge BB fan I must admit, but some of these college tourney games are OH so exciting! And one thing I DO like about the March Madness tourney: ANYBODY has an actual chance to be Number 1! Any tiny school...if they do well enough and get into the tourney, even in the very last slot #64, yes....they have a chance to win it all. THAT is what makes the big tourney so exciting....I long for those Cinderella story upsets of the big high seeds by tiny unknown schools. Reminds me of the US Olympic Hockey team in Lake Placid beating the Russians...and those are great moments in sports.

OK...I'll end this post with one picture Jeannie found when she was reminiscing the other's me with baby see, I had been out to sea and had JUST pulled back into port (on Valentines day even...we were living in Hawaii at the time) and I surprised Jeannie showing up unannounced as she didn't know we were back. She had just gotten PG from the shelter a few days earlier. And so, without further adieu, my very first picture with our little bundle of joy!

Just look at the size of those EARS! Jeannie wanted to call her "Princess" and I thought she looked more like Gizmo from the movie Gremlins...and thus she became Princess Gizmo, or PG for short. She sure was a cutie! I'll also pass along that she is doing WONDERFULLY on 3 legs...very fiesty, pretty much back to normal.

Hope everybody had a great St. Patty's day! And I also hope Spring has finally sprung for you. Get out there and RIDE!


Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Three Amigos

Thought I'd deviate from any PG news today (though she is doing AWESOME I will say). Instead I've set the WAY back machine for a trip thru time. You see, over at Red Kite Prayer (a cool blog I've been following for a while, ever since Greg turned me onto it) this last Friday for his weekly "Group Ride" post, he was talking about some of his earliest memories from cycling, and asking readers to post theirs in the comments. I posted a comment about my friends and I jumping our Schwinn Sting Rays on the streets as kids. Obviously NO helmets goes without saying (even if they HAD been invented, we wouldn't' have worn them...we'd look like dorks!) And then later that day Greg emailed me that he saw my comment...and I (in a much more abbreviated version) mentioned the story I'm about to tell (about my EARLIEST memories of bike riding). I thought I'd share them here as it's a nice story. (Greg, please feel FREE to correct me if any of my 'facts' aren't correct...this story is how I remember things...with no guarantee that it's the way things really were).

My earliest memories of cycling take place in the sprawling metropolis of Sheridan Wyoming, circa 1965...I think the town MIGHT have had a population of around 10,000 or so. I had a not very manly green steel steed...with training wheels. The tires were solid, no air required. I'm betting they weighed a TON. But the bike was bombproof (childproof). I can't state this as a fact, but I BELIEVE it was a hand-me-down from that's how things went back then. Greg (my big bro) had a red steel steed that was much larger, and WAY more manly. And my little brother Dave was still on a tricycle at this time as he was still quite young. Thank goodness our family was WAY into taking pictures! (I have a LOT of awesome b&w shots we took...yes, all of us kids had our OWN cameras and took LOTS of pictures throughout our childhoods).

Here's a picture taken most likely by our Mom...I remember she took a LOT of pictures (so THAT'S where I got it from!)

This was July 1965. I'm on the left, Greg in the middle, and Dave on the right. Greg was 7-1/2, I was 4-1/2, and David was 16 months old (thanks Mom for writing this on the back of the picture!)

Check out those crew-cuts too! That was THE STYLE back in the day. You can see my 'name' plate dangling from my mechanic should be FIRED! Greg is looking all stylish and debonair, as HE alone is on a BIG BOY BIKE! And I am obviously wanting that bike in a BAD way! I have no idea what that is on Gregs and my handlebars...some kind of cup-thing strapped on...Greg, any ideas? I remember a LOT from my childhood, but not a clue as to that device's job.

ANYWAY...I digress. I vividly recall one fine day (most likely not too very long after this picture was taken) that I was sitting in the garage on Greg's bike as I often did (it was on the kickstand...remember those?) I was pretending to be on a motorcycle...and I was making the VRRROOMMM sounds, bobbing my head, pushing and twisting on the handlebars, and pushing my feet down on the pedals (both at the same time so there was no real forward motion initiated). Obviously I had NO idea how a motorcycle worked, but I'm sure I thought I was doing an admirable job of pretending. I'd sit there vrooming and vrooming....until THAT particular day. Mom was sleeping I believe (she was an RN at the local hospital, and I recall she was working nights. Dad was either working at our Grandpa's dime store (Chapeks Ben Franklin) or was out of town bowling (he bowled professionally for a number of years during the 60's, and was often away at tournaments).

On that particular day, I vroomed and pushed the forward pedal a bit too hard, and the bike lurched forward off of the kickstand. And just like that, for the first time EVER, I was rolling on ONLY two wheels. We lived outside of town on private property, compliments of our grandparents. Our two houses were the only ones within about a mile or so...and it was a private road. My grandparents house was a right turn out of our driveway, and the paved road looped completely around their beautiful house and spacious yard.

Once I was away and moving I had no choice but to keep going. So I pedaled and pedaled, all shakey and wobbly at first, but QUICKLY getting the hang of it....and I took that right turn towards Grandma & Grandpa's house. I rode around and around (and around) that loop, making ABSOLUTELY SURE that Grandma saw me. Which she did. You see, Grandma had her TV set in the living room and a large mirror perfectly positioned above it, and she could see ANY traffic of any sort from this position. I remember seeing her standing in the window on one of my laps with her hands on her hips, intently watching me ride the big boy bike, and boy was I proud!

I remember later that afternoon my Grandma (after having told Grandpa) told my parents, and just like that, GREG needed a new bike! And you know what? I wasn't jealous in the LEAST about how the hand-me-down thing worked. You see, I was getting a BIG BIKE! I had lusted after Greg's bike for some time, and NOW it was mine! I remember being VERY excited at this prospect...just like that I WAS a big wheels were a thing of the past!

I have NO idea what bike Greg got...for some reason my memory has zero recollection of that. I just know that with that big red bike I now had FREEDOM! I could go all the way down to the corner and back JUST LIKE THAT! (the "corner" was if you took a left out of our driveway on the private road, probably around a quarter mile or so (probably MUCH less but it SEEMED like a long ways!) our road turned left onto "Airport Road" which was dirt. That road takes you into town. A few years later I remember riding that bike to little league practice down Airport Road...hit the paved road, then a left on De Smet Ave (how on earth do I remember this stuff when I can't remember what I did YESTERDAY?)...then down a bit was the ball field.

Bikes were freedom! The distance a kid can cover on two wheels is just incredible.

I have lots of other fond memories of growing up in was a GREAT place to be a kid...and our Grandpa was a wonderful man who did a LOT with us as both our parents worked. He had a big old green Willy's Jeep...and the four of us went EVERYWHERE in that thing! Maybe someday I'll jot down some more stories here. I know that if you Google Map "Sheridan Wyoming", then zoom in a bit on the left side of town near the airport, you can see the houses still. Find the airport runway that slants from the lower left to upper right...just above that runway is "Airport Rd". Follow that to the left and you will see where it abruptly turns right...that's "the corner". Those houses near "the corner" weren't there back then...all that land was my Grandpa's...and it was mostly wooded fields down by the road. Take that right turn onto "Chapek Dr" (which is really Chapeks have lived there since about 1972 or so)...and you will see our house on the right, and then Grandma and Grandpa's house at the end in 'the loop'.

To the right of those two houses you will see "Chapek Reservoir #1"....(a pond, or lake as we all remember it). Technically they (whoever "they" are) got it wrong. The lake just above that listed as "Chapek Reservoir #2 was built by my Grandpa first. His house was over on the right side of THAT lake, and when everything was said and done, he decided he didn't like it, sold it all and moved across the valley and a new house, and then made the new lake you see below the first one in the picture (technically it's 'above', as our lake drained into the other one).

That lake...gosh I have a LOT of memories there I can tell you! Grandpa had it stocked with small mouth bass (and a few large mouth)....I grew up thinking EVERYBODY fished for bass on their own private lake starting at the age of about 1. I think it's cool that they are still named after our family after all this time.

Well...that's about all the reminiscing I will do on this post...I'd love to hear YOUR stories of childhood memories. I'd be happy to make a post out of some if you need more room than just a comment...just email me or let me know in the comments and we'll work it out.

Have a GREAT day!