It turns out, after checking some results etc next year will make thirty years of Mountain Bike Racing for me. When I started out I wasn't any good to tell the truth. I had no idea how to go down a hill. I seem to remember at the Whiskeytown Downhill (which took me over four hours and it wasn't downhill) that children on tricycles were passing me on the first descent. My friend Tom Pickett assured me I could do better and he took me out and gave me some pointers. My next race I did a little better and by the end of the 80's I was an accomplished "downhiller". The down hills back then were more like easy Super Ds, but it is what we had. I digress. I have been doing this for quite a while now. When I finished the Sisters Stampede Race on Sunday Alex McClaren called me a legend. In the photos of the race the caption under my photo is "The Man, the Legend". Well I don't feel like a legend and in fact the term "man" isn't what I think of when I ride a mountain bike. The name for someone like me comes from Kathy's sister Jan. When Kathy and I got married all those years ago, Jan was a teenager. She wasn't sure what the husband of her sister was. A real grownup or still a kid, so she called me a Kidman. That is what I am when I ride my mountain bike a kidman. I just happen to have been doing longer than most others. I still love it. I look forward to every ride. It is hard to explain my feeling other than it is what I felt when I first started to ride a bike when I was a kid. The exhilaration of the downhill, the sweat and feeling of the muscles working on the uphill. Why do I like it more than road biking. Well I don't really, other than we just don't have many roads in Central Oregon that do a bike justice, at least for me. I like the curves, the jumps the fun. I do not like to mindlessly do long workouts. That is why I don't run, or do triathlons. This is not to dis those sports or activities. My exercise needs to include fun, because I am a kidman. I have never grown up. I like a session at the Lair when I ride. Yesterday I had to check out "Funner". It is open and it still funner than most other trails. Some will read this and say, but Don I know you do intervals on the trainer, isn't that mindless exercise? Yes it is, but I keep those sessions as short as I can so I have time to do fun riding later. In fact this year I found a place to do my intervals on my mountain bike. It is a sweet uphill which means a sweet downhill afterwords. The Kidman in me found a way to make the intervals fun also. If you see me out there be ready to have some fun. Don
I watched most of the Pour of California this year and I was really impressed with the Medalist, the organizer of the Tour of California. When I was a young lad growing up in the Bay Area we rode most of the roads that are currently used in the ToC. A ride up to Mount Hamilton was about 100 miles for us as we had to ride across San Jose and then up to the top and then return. There was no public transportation you could take a bike on back then and even if there was we would not have used it as riding was the point. When we found Sierra Road we thought that was cool. I doesn't really go anywhere you see, but it was steep. To put a mountain top finish up there would not be easy as there is nothing up there, they would have to take over the whole road and of course get permission from the people who live there. Something like us using Skyline road for our Cascade Cycling Classic only even more difficult. When Chris Horner read about the this finish he was excited as he realized the ToC had become a real race in the sense of the Grand Tours. Throw in Mt Baldy and the ToC was a perfect place for the almost 40 year old to shine, and shine he did. What he did came as no surprise to anyone who was at all close to Chris. He lost some weight, he trained hard, and he hinted that he was ready. He already proved last year that he can be the strongest rider on Radio Shack by finishing 10th at the tour, after acting as head support for his leaders who all faded away at the end. So yes I loved the Tour of California and all of its stages. That being said it could be better if it was held in the time of year where the real mountains of California (the Sierra Nevada) are free of snow. Those are the mountains that can rival the the Alps, Pyrenees and Dolomites for scenery and mountain roads. I am not sure that will ever happen or even if it needs to happen. Phil at one point said Mt Baldy was like going into the Pyrenees or the Dolomites. I have to differ, as wonderful as the ToC was it did not rival the Grand Tours for mountains. I have included a couple of photos make my point. There is a reason thousands of us travel to Europe every year to ride the magical roads they have over there. The best way I can explain it is to say the roads in Europe are like single track for road bikes, our roads are mostly double track. In the Giro yesterday Nibaly, who is one of the best descenders attacked at the top of one of the passes and gained a minute on the downhill. This would not happen on our roads, they are too straight. The top photo is the ToC, and the middle is the Giro. Thanks for reading Don
If you have been following the Giro this year you will know Alberto Contador is in the Maglia Rosa. I am not going to comment on his current drug problems but on his race style. What you could have noticed is the way Contador has gotten the "Pink Jersey". He has done it exactly the way he has always raced. With daring attacks at times when most contenders would be content to wait. A few bonus seconds here and a few seconds by leaving the other favorites behind. He has managed a minute plus lead before all the hard stages have even started. This is what I would call smart and daring racing. It is also what he did in 2009 when he was a teammate of one Lance Armstrong. Only then every move was questioned. Was this good tactics, was he a good teammate. What Contador is is daring and willing to follow his instincts more than the ear phone. He goes when he feels it is right. The funny thing is he rarely makes mistakes. His instinct is good. I hope those who questioned his tactics in 2009 or even his attack of Andy Shleck, last year in the great chaingate controversy, will see that is who this racer is. He goes when his body tells him to. He can't help it. It is also how he wins. Again I am not defending Contador just explaining him. If you haven't been watching the Giro now is the time to start. The fireworks are just about to start in what may be the hardest grand tour ever. Don
It is somewhat presumptuous to think I can write something meaningful about the death of Wouter Weylandt. In fact I probably can't. What I can do is express my feelings. Death is all around us all the time, the issue with this death is it happened in an activity that celebrates life not death. The juxtoposition of the two what makes it so hard. I was on a week long bike ride when someone rode off the highway and died at the scene. I was next to his wife, standing around a fire celebrating the survival of a difficult day of riding when we heard the news. One moment we were all excited at the prospect of another day if riding and the next second we were in shock, in too much shock for me to actually feel anything. It was only hours later that I was able to feel the loss and saddness which comes from such a shock. Cycling is a dangerous sport, and in my mind especially road riding. We are out among the iron death machines (cars), and just the fact that when we ride we like to be close makes this sport, which I love, so dangerous. We try to ignore and to pretend the danger down not exist, but it does. When there is big wreck in one of the local bike races many times there are statements of blame and accusations of " amateur" riding. Well that is because those involved don't want to accept that cycling is inherently dangerous. I am not quitting the sport I love, but I do not try to hide the fact that any thing can happen at anytime. What I learn from events like the death yesterday ismsimple for me. Go out, enjoy our sport but to also respect and to accept the personal responsibility of what we do. My heart goes out to all of those who knew Wouter. It is a sad day for all cyclists. Don
It was forty years ago that Kathy and I got married. I am not sure where all those years have gone though. We have been married longer than many of my friends have been alive and I still can't figure out how that could have happened so quickly. I remember like it was yesterday when I first saw my sweetheart. It was at our University's hiking club (The Boot and Blister Club) which met in the Wildlife Building (room 206). Not to relive our history I just want to be clear I remember the moment as clear as when it happened. I was 18, and like all 18 year old I was pretty sure I knew most of what I needed to know. I guess the one thing I did know and still know is that Kathy was the love of my life. No it hasn't been all roses since then, but it has been special an our life together has been full of love and happiness. I am a sucker for weddings. I guess I have the hope that all young people will find the love of their lives, get married and live happily ever after. The ironic thing is when we got married we didn't really believe in the institution of marriage. We did it to appease family members and to make our lives easier. Now I do believe in Marriage. I think the commitment and the love that goes into a marriage is well worth the effort. Last year I went to two weddings and I hope that Serena and Ben and Matt and Ruth have long lasting relationships full of adventure, love and joy. I even watched the Royal Wedding, well the highlights anyway. Being part Canadian gave me the right to enjoy the royal couple (yes if you didn't know The Queen is also the head of state of Canada). It was refreshing to see two people in love getting married instead of two people in a marriage of convenience. Kate is the first commoner to marry the successor to the crown in over 350 years. So I hope love conquers all. I also have a few friends who I think should marry. I would be foolish to know who should marry and who should not, but because my marriage has been so wonderful I think others should be able to share what we have had. I am an optimist for sure. Here is to love, joy and happiness Don
Hi, I am Don Leet an owner of Sunnyside Sports. I love cyclo cross racing, mountain and road riding and Nordic Skiing. I also love my sweetheart for over 35 years, Kathy. I started doing a blog because Susan (one of my business partners) told me to. Now I do it because I like to. Please enjoy.