Team Rwanda

I passed an unlikely sight on my ride today through Pebble Beach on the 17-Mile Drive. A team of cyclists in yellow and azure jerseys passed me going south as I headed north. It’s not uncommon to see pro teams out on the road when the Sea Otter Classic is held, but that was last month.

It was Team Rwanda, Rwanda’s National Cycling Team. They were probably out on a training ride here because it’s close to the home of the Rwandan Team’s organizer (and first American competitor in the Tour de France), Jonathan Boyer. They must have just arrived here from the Tour of the Gila, in New Mexico.

They must be seeing a different world.

(CIA’s World Factbook on Rwanda)

Jan Ullrich Retires

The New York Times and other major media have stories on Jan Ullrich’s retirement from cycling today.

Ullrich is one of the great riders of cycling’s current era. He was frequently a threat to Lance Armstrong in many of Armstrong’s Tour de France victories. Ullrich won the TDF in 1997 and finished second five times to Armstrong.

Ullrich’s other major victories were a Gold medal at the 2000 Olympic Road Race, a Silver medal in the 2000 Olympic Time Trial, a victory at the 1997 Vuelta a Espana (Tour of Spain), two wins of the Tour de Suisse (Tour of Switzerland) and two (1999, 2001) UCI World Time Trial Championships.

I’m sure the sloppy sample collection and the inconsistent scientific testing procedures done in the name of “fairness” by the World Anti-Doping Agency and their regional organizations in professional cycling have had an affect on Ullrich’s decision.

Having unproven accusations of doping have negatively affected the careers of many other athletes in cycling (and other sports), e.g. Floyd Landis, the current 2006 Tour de France title holder.

(Photo courtesy www.janullrich.de)

Amgen Tour of California

The second annual Amgen Tour of California started in San Francisco yesterday with the prologue running from the Ferry Building to Coit Tower.

Unfortunately, last year’s winner and 2006 Tour de France champion, Floyd Landis, will not be riding in this year’s Tour (both), but you can follow the teams in the peloton virtually, in real time, thanks to CSC’s Omnilocation and Google Earth.

Seven riders, plus the lead vehicle and broom wagon will carry a small GPS tracker. Using dynamic mapping developed by CSC, cycling fans to track racers and the peloton using Google Earth. This is a link to the Google Earth tracker and this is a link at CSC’s web site using Google maps.

Ghosts Bikes

I rode my bike in Manhattan for the 25 years that I lived there and I still have the scars. The first year I lived there, I got knocked off by a Checker cab in Central Park. It seemed like the driver deliberately swerved into me.

Another time, riding home from Conrad’s Bike Shop, I got a little cocky and rear ended a cab on 3rd Avenue. I went over the bars and landed on the trunk, embarrassed but unhurt. My De Rosa‘s wheelbase was shortened by a few millimeters and there’s now a very small kink in the top tube.

Fred Conrad, a photographer for the New York Times, did a series of somber photographs “Ghost Bikes“, that are memorials to bicyclists who have died in collisions with cars and trucks on New York streets.