Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Roubaix Wrap

Not very Mullet, but very Euro, taking the hairdo prize:

Which wins him this:

While winning the race would win you this:

And we will be back for #3 next year.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Sunday, April 20, 2008

More Bogus

It doesn't look bad, but it was coming out of the trees in bundles. And anywhere above 500ft is going to still have the white junk on the roads. So I think I'll skip riding for now, and go find some coffee and a paper instead.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Friday, April 18, 2008

Nutella VS Peanut Butter
The Ultimate Face-off.

Peanut butter has long been a staple of the American diet. The peanut butter and jelly sandwich is the quintessential American meal. Athletes too have discovered the values of peanut butter as a delicious, healthy, energy laden food which can be eaten on or with a multitude of other items. What peanut butter is to America, Nutella has long been to Europe. Consisting essentially of milk chocolate and hazelnuts, it can be found on breakfast tables all over the continent, it comes in little packets to be spread with bread at hotel buffets, and has been used as a mid and post-ride recovery food for years. It is only relatively recently that Nutella has been commonly available in the US, and that peanut butter has been available in European stores.

Globalization has finally put both products in our cupboards at once. And thus we are torn: which is better? Which is the PRO food to eat, which is the SMART food? Does it matter? Will I be judged by my choices? It is time to duke it out and settle it for good, which one reigns over the stomach of the common cyclist?

There is only one fair way to settle it. We will compare the two products across a range of criteria, and score them both on a scale of 1-5. Highest total score wins. It's a straight up Face-Off.

The Contestants

There are many brands of peanut butter available, so we have chosen the most worthwhile competitor for the Nutella: Adam's 100% Natural Peanut Butter. Now, Adam's initially requires mixing, which other brands don't but I believe this will not grossly harm the product's chances.

Nutella Website

Adam's Website

1. Presentation

As the saying goes, we eat with our eyes before we eat with our stomachs. Yes, presentation is key. While the perfectly smooth virgin look of any freshly opened jar is a delight to behold, we have to go with Nutella on this one for the totally PRO white top and matching label. The perfectly sized jars also imply rational serving sizing, as opposed to the commonly available massive tubs of peanut butter which are just so white trash. The Euro takes the first round.

Peanut Butter 3
Nutella 5

2. Nutrients

Here we have some interesting numbers. Both listed serving sizes are 2 tablespoons. Nutella registers 190 calories per serving, 100 calories from fat. Peanut butter reads 210, with 150 from fat. However, 21g in the Nutella serving are sugar, versus just 1g for the Peanut Butter, and although sodium is much higher in the PB (120mg versus 15mg), protein is also higher (8g vs 3g) and thus the calories from Peanut Butter are probably of slightly higher value than those in Nutella. Neither, however, is particularly full of carbohydrate, and both are primarily fatty foods, and high calorie. Fool yourself not.
Peanut Butter 3
Nutella 2

3. Spreadability

This one is close. On room temperature breads, both spread about evenly, with maybe a slight edge going to Nutella. On toasted items, however, the Nutella becomes slightly more fluid and glides across your piece with the ease and suppleness one expects from an Italian product. Peanut butter lags just a little behind, but is by no means a difficult spread. Still, the Nutella is just so smooth...

Peanut Butter 4
Nutella 5

4. Bananas

Ah, Bananas. The cyclist's favorite food. Full of fibers and cramp-defying potassium, it is a common post-ride snack, often spread on the spot with either Peanut Butter or Nutella. Here, Nutella's spreadability becomes a liability. Peanut butter has a little more heft to it which allows it to stick to a slippery banana. There are not usually unsightly drips, but rather clean scoops balanced perfectly. Peanut butter has an edge, on technical merit alone.

Peanut Butter 5
Nutella 4

5. Bread

This is a difficult one. Bread's neutral background is a perfect complement and vehicle for a large expanse of flavors and savors. Both Peanut Butter and Nutella do well with this one. It is hard to think of a bread style that does not work for either - and any bread which works with the one works equally well with the other. I will have to call this one a tie.

Peanut Butter 5
Nutella 5

6. Bacon

Yes, bacon. There are few things more decadent than a piece of toast, spread with Peanut Butter, and layered with a strip or two of bacon. The combination of salts and fats, especially while still piping hot, is incredible. Try it. The chocolaty Nutella comes in far behind on th this one - Chocolate and Bacon just don't mix.

Peanut Butter 5
Nutella 1

7. Honey

Peanut Butter - Banana - Honey Sandwich, Nutella - Banana - Honey Sandwich, or just Peanut Butter & Honey on Toast, Nutella and Honey on Toast. Wonderful, warm, sticky, messy, sweet goodness. Both the Peanut Butter and Nutella score highly in combinations with Honey. However, the sweetness of Nutella is just a too much sweet when laid on top of sweet honey, here, Peanut Butter edges Nutella slightly for it's more subtle sweetness and nice balance of saltiness for the sweet & salty combo that is warm breakfast perfection.

Peanut Butter 5
Nutella 4

8. Cookies

Peanut Butter takes this one. I have yet to find a pleasing purely Nutella flavored cookie recipe. If one is available, however, do send it this way. Nutella can be mixed well to create a moist chocolate cookie, but it looses the creaminess and the hazlenut flavors in the process, and. Mind you, they are still delicious. Peanut Butter is a very common cookie ingredient, but a tricky one to work with due to the interesting ways in which it changes the consistency of dough, and a chewy Peanut Butter cookie that retains the full Peanut Butter flavors is a challenge. Of course, the Nutella fans will tell you that cookies are for the fat Americanos, and that Nutella makes wonderful Biscotti. Bull.

Peanut Butter 4
Nutella 2

9. Tortillas

Both items spread well. Neither resists the wrapping process nor spreads excessively once wrapped, and they do not create a mess inside a pocket. Like bread, both flavors are well born by the blandness of the tortilla. Bananas, honey, or other items can easily be added to the tortilla to create a more complex culinary experience. This is a tie. Tip: Avoid the tomato flavored tortillas.

Peanut Butter 4
Nutella 4

10. Straight from the Jar

This is the ultimate test. Armed with a spoon and a jar, and possibly some espresso, which one would you prefer to assault? I think the winner is clear. Peanut butter's heavier texture makes it much more difficult to process in direct form. It sticks to the mouth and the usual saltiness requires more liquids to compensate. Nutella, on the other hand, is a touch smoother to ingest and chocolate's undeniable love affair with coffee is hard to ignore.

Peanut Butter 2
Nutella 5


Peanut Butter: 40
Nutella: 37

And by a whisker, Peanut Butter takes it. Yes, versatility, perseverance, and the need for no special treatment, allows the old PB to nip the proud old Euro PRO at the line. There is just no denying a winner across a wide range of challenges, versus a specialist, no matter the hype.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Grand Tour Playoffs?

News of the Weird:

(from Yahoo! Sports)

PARIS, April 17 (Reuters) - Vuelta director Victor Cordoso has proposed introducing “playoffs” to make the Tour of Spain more exciting in the early stages.

Under the new format, 25 teams of eight riders would enter one-day races during the first week, with the peloton down to 16 teams of eight riders for the two remaining weeks.

“We would have a first five or six-day phase with flat races, mountain races and a time trial,” Cordoso told reporters at the International Forum for the future of Cycling in Paris on Thursday.

“We would have team standings to select the 16 teams to continue the race.

I've got a better one. How about this: Proceed with the usual stage race format, with cumulative times taken over the stages. Then, every day, the bottom 5 on GC are eliminated. Once a week (3 times in all), the bottom team on the team rankings is cut entirely.

That would be a race worth watching.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Crittin' Time

Man, the legs are tired today. Saturday was the King's Valley, and, finding myself both fatigued from a longish work week and a bit sore in the legs from lots of evening miles, I skipped it. Instead, I went on the CSC ride to Cottage Grove with Dan V, Jason R, and the True Lover. The Lover was absolutely gettin' it on the climbs, and I was too stubborn to sit and spin until the final climb up Dillard back into town, where I realized that 400W up the damn hill just to sit on the wheel was simply not going to be an option. So the legs were feeling thrashed when I got home. And only then did I realize that I had achieved a nice rosy tint to all my exposed appendages - first sunburn of the year. And it's a good one.

Sunday started off pretty bad as I took an hour or so trying to loosen up and failing completely to improve the feelings. Rubicon had like a half dozen guys in there, with nice shiny bikes and matching legs, and a host of other strongmen were looking the part at the line as well. The race was looking pretty bad. So, I turned to Nick and said "My legs feel like crap. I think I'm going to attack a lot". And he replied "How is that different from how you usually race this course?". Hah. The difference is, when I feel bad I attack so that I can get in a steady break and not have to match a lot of accelerations. When I feel good, or really, really bad, I sit in more and think about the finish. Unless I get bored, in which case I attack.

As it turned out, attacks were more or less pointless for the first half of the 45 laps. I sat on a lot and went with a few promising moves but decided early that I wasn't going to be the one trying to get something off the front, but rather should wait for a serious Rubicon move. And my legs were toasted and well on their way to burnt. A chunk of the field had to have been feeling pretty sore was well, as a split happened around the middle of the race, and the next time I saw any of them it was in the finale as we lapped the 3 remaining riders from the back of the split. Weird.

Somewhere around 15 to go, maybe a little more, a Rubicon went off the front for a prime lap, and coming down the home straight as he took it I took off to bridge and found myself alone. I caught up to him in about 2 laps as Mark and Paulie bridged behind me, and the four of us opened up a gap. Another Rubicon and Zach bridged up a little while later, and we caught the 3 lapped riders, so now Hutch's had 2 with a man one lap down, Rubicon and 3 with a man one lap down, and the rest of the break was flying solo. With 2 to go Marc and Paulie were off by a little way and everyone else looking at each other, so I took off and got right up to them when I got caught by the other 6, and now we were looking at the last lap and that was all she wrote for me. That was the last bullet in the chamber. I got 6th.

I'll call that a minor success for the weekend. I got in the right move and had OK power despite having horrible feelings in the legs.

Needless to say, the only riding I am doing today is a very short, very slow commute. Very slow.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Acceptable Coiffures.

Three of the pictures below are acceptable entries to the Roubaix Euro Hair / Mullet competition. One of them is not. Which one would win? I don't know. What would they win? Well, enter the contest and find out.

Monday, April 7, 2008


So these dudes came down the valley to race this weekend. Something about Willamette. Coburg TT, Alpine loop, Crit, Wolf creek. In the rain. It sounds like a typical Eugene training week schedule. I actually did an out and back ride on Wolf Creek both days this weekend - and got soaked both times.

The WVSR looked like a great event. Good stages, hard riding. Friday was just slammed at work, but hearing the rain and wind beating on the windows made me think twice about going outside to train afterwards. For the first time in 8 weeks I thought very seriously about pulling the trainer out instead of riding - and everyone else was riding over Mary's Peak right then. I'm still glad I wasn't there. Well, not there racing, at least. I pulled a trailer full of sandwiches and homebrew to the top of Wolf Creek with some buddies and heckled freinds who were racing, and they were all looking like they loved it too, judging by the grit in their teeth and the stains on their clothes. Good on 'ya, boys, we lifted a brew for you as you went by.

My favorite part of the race still had to be the crit - when the newbie fixed gear hipster with no brakes and platform pedals got himself onto the course and couldn't figure out how to bail with dignity. Chump. Hood ornament, waiting to happen.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

I want.

Rob's been talking about this for a while. I've had a hard time envisioning it. Now it's done - and it's so slick, I want one.