Thursday, May 27, 2010


I watched most of the Tour of California and I am continuing to watch all of the Giro d Italia. As I watch both of these races I wonder why race promoters in the US are so afraid of putting on a stage race that would compare to even the smaller Euro stage races such as the Tour of Switzerland or even Paris-Nice. I don't like to talk negative in my blog so I will say I grew up in the Bay
Area in California and I have ridden most of the roads that were used in this years ToC. They are great roads for a 15 year old to learn how to cycle, and I enjoyed watching the pros use the very same roads I grew up on. The problem I have is there are some real hard mountain climbs in California that were not used. The "Queen Stage" was hard but not hard enough. It was basically a big ring climb for a very long time. If you see my photos you will see the pack going up the climb in the ToC and then in the other photo you can see Evans and Basso going mano a mano on one of the hard climbs in the GIRO. It was awesome to watch as the other strong riders fell behind one by one leaving only the two strongest and then there was a little acceleration by Basso and Evans was left behind, he still looked strong but not strong enough. There was a crowd of 50,000 on top of the Zoncolon. I would think in the USA we could muster a crowd that large on some mountain top finish far from our cities and our resorts. For racing to prosper in our country we need to look at what has worked in Europe and emulate it. The ToC was won with time bonuses and the TT. The GIRO will be won in the mountains. That is the way of the Grand Tours. I guess the bottom line for me is the GIRO, TOUR and VUELTA are travel logs for their prospective countries, why can't the ToC go to Death Valley, the Grand Canyon, the Sierra Nevada, Mt Lassen and show off the most scenic parts of our country with some tough roads thrown in.
A little about Floyd and his confession. First of all I don't really doubt most of what he has said. I do wonder about the timing and his motivation. Cheating has happened and it will continue to happen. I wish it didn't. I race masters and there is quite a bit of evidence that performance enhancing drugs are rampant. I race anyway and don't even think about what my competitors do or not do. It is more about how I do. Floyd has said he wanted to clear his conscience, but I think it is more about revenge than clearing anything. He got caught and his comeback hasn't been all that great. I think he might just try to be honest. Not for us but for himself. Being bitter is not a healthy state of mind. Winning at all costs is not unique to Floyd, those that have cheated are paying the price everyday. If some of those that Floyd named are guilty and the US Government goes after them I would imagine their nights are not so restful, their training rides not so peaceful and in general their lives a bit like hell, even if they are not caught.
I just read the diary of Mary and Mike after their first two world cup races in Europe. Now there is couple where there is no suspicion of anything but hard work, and dedication. You know they sleep well at night and are at peace with themselves.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


It is snowing outside, Floyd Landis has admitted he used drugs all along (and implicating almost everyone else in the world of cycling), Cadel Evans and some Lampre rider are fighting with 1K to go in the GIRO, and yesterday's GIRO was so mind boggling it is still hard to understand what happened, if you don't know a breakaway with some pretty strong riders gained almost 13 minutes over the Maglia Rosa (Race Leader). That is only part of what is happening in my world.
So onto things that are more calming and peaceful. Andy Wardman, one of my very best friends, who lives in Scotland, sent me the most amazing video. This is of him riding his IBIS cross bike around some trails in the village where he lives. I have been on some of these trails hiking and riding. When you watch this video take note he did this all by himself. There was no camera man, or assistant. He also didn't put some loud rock and roll music to disturb the natural noise of the wheels and of the people in the background. I loved this video and it made me really homesick for my other place The Borders, Scotland.
I just read a book called the The Big Burn . It is about the largest forest fire in US history which took place 100 years ago in Montana and Idaho. It is also about the formation of the US Forest Service (where I worked for 1o years fighting fire), Teddy Roosevelt, and Gifford Pinchot. It made me understand a lot of things about the Forest Service I didn't know when I worked there. Hope all is well out there with all of you and please take a look at that video. I am going to Scotland in the Fall of 2011 with a small group if you are interested let me know email me at

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Yesterday I got to ride my first century of the season. A few years ago I got over the "century" thing. I still ride one once in awhile, I even races a 100 mile mountain bike race last summer, but normally I stay away from 100 mile rides. I could go into all the reasons but it really comes down to one thing - I have done hundreds of them and they make me tired.
So, I was a little apprehensive when my friend Whit Bazemore invited me to participate in a pilot TV show that will be about travel and cycling. I didn't mind the interview we did on Monday morning it was the 100 mile ride with Ryan Trebon and Adam Craig that was a little intimidating. The weather looked dicey, and the company I was with fast. There were a couple of other quite strong riders who showed up, Carl Decker for the first hour, Bart Bowen, former winner of the Cascade Cycling Classic now owner of Rebound Sports Performance Lab, Karsten Hagen, one of the stronger master racers in the state (sales Representative for Garmin), and Teri Sheasby, probably the strongest woman racer in Bend. There were a few other mere mortals like me, Lizzy English, Adam's girlfriend, she was on her first road ride, she rocks on a mountain bike, Doug LaPlaca a strong amateur road racer, Chet, an employee of Nike who was the only other man with some grey hair. Jeff, Whit and his wife Michelle rounded out our group.
Well lets just say it went great. One of the best Centuries I have ever done in fact. The strong lads were polite, the rest of us were smart enough to stay out of the wind, I actually felt strong and could punch a little when needed. The added luxury of having a follow car with extra wheels (we needed two), food, water etc was a real bonus.
We did the Prineville Reservoir Loop. It was close to 110 miles, and it took a little over 5 hours riding time.
Riding with polite pros, especially tall ones like Ryan, is a real pleasure. They don't want to go hard as they will have real training some time later in the week, and dropping ones girlfriend or grey haired friend isn't really what they want or need to do. This was a group whose purpose was to start together and finish together. The kind of long group ride that I love.
I have ridden for years with friends and have been the "strong one " on many a ride. As I get older and my friends younger I have become less of the stronger and more of the follower. When a weaker person rides with a much stronger rider he/she is at the mercy of that person.
It was nice to be in such good hands.
Later that evening after all of us took our obligatory nap we had a group dinner. We went to Staccato, a great restaurant in Bend. The last time I went to a meal with a group of Pro bike racers was in the mid 80s. I will not mention any names but I will say it was the best of the best in US cycling. It was embarrassing to me how they acted to the promoter of the race who was buying them dinner. This time was 180 degrees opposite. Adam, Ryan and retired pro Bart were relaxed and entertaining. I could tell they were having as good as time as the rest of us.
Kathy, who came along for the dinner, was equally impressed with how nice everyone was. She is a piano teacher not an athlete and she felt just a comfortable as me. Thanks to everyone for a great day, now I am excited to see the TV show.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Another week and another bike race, this week it was the Mudslinger. A great name for this race as the mud was thick and wonderful. I didn't feel particularly strong but none the less I was competitive and ended up third. What I did do was rail this mud section (as seen in the photo) like a pro. I managed to get into first with this sweet bit of technical riding but a long gravel uphill right after was more than my legs wanted and two of the older guys got by me. What is more interesting to me is at the awards ceremony the presenter asked how many had raced this race in the 90s, quite a few of us raised our hands and then it was the 80s, three of us raised our hands and then it was the first one 1987. One of us raised our hand. Here I am in a sport I love and I feel like the last man standing. Well not really, what I really feel is all this appreciation for still doing what I love to do and when I come to an event the promoters are thrilled that I still attend their races. Maybe I should ask for a senior citizen discount. I wasn't the oldest racer (my friend Ron Strasser is one year older than me), but I have been doing it longer than most others in the state, it is nice to know I can still do this sport. I think I even ride the mud better now than all those years ago. Longevity is something I seem to be good at,working at Sunnyside for over 30 years and married to Kathy (May 1st) for 39 years.

I see on Facebook when one of my friends does some horrendous workout in the hail, snow or rain their friends seem to say awesome Matt, or go girl you rock or something to that affect. Now I have done hours of riding in some pretty "bad" conditions and never have I thought of myself as awesome. Dumb, insane, and clueless are more of the descriptions that come to mind. Some think I am a little obsessed with my training (why would a 59 year old do intervals in the garage 3 times a week?). They are correct. Most of us who train hard, disciplined and and in all weather conditions are more obsessed than awesome. What we are really doing is taking time for ourselves. In a way it is more selfish than awesome. I look at my training as very personal and it is my time to do with what I want. I suppose if I were awesome I would not train on those days and volunteer at a homeless shelter, or maybe the bike coop, but no I choose to stay in shape, and it takes time and it is my time and I enjoy every hail stone, rain drop gust of wind and flake of snow, I enjoy the night ride by myself and the mystery of the dark. I also enjoy, though Kathy doesn't approve, listening to hours of my favorite music, the Beatles, the Gypsy Kings, Johnny Cash etc. I don't mind the recognition nor even to be called awesome, but I am doing what I absolutely love and I feel like it is a gift that I have been given. I have friends who are not doing what they love for many reasons, but they still get on with life and live it as full as they can. They are the awesome ones in my mind.
One more thing. The middle photo is of Andrew Neethling. He is a South African Mountain Bike Pro. He races the downhill and was 11th overall in the world cup last year. He just happened to stop in to see his friend Travis (our newest employee). Kind of cool.
Take care.