A call for water bottle standards, Armstrong's bookshelf, and putting toothpaste back into the tube.

What follows is merely an amalgamation of things I'm thinking about today. They range in subject matter and depth, but I hope they are all to your liking. Because I lack the ability and talent to string these together into meaningful prose (I'll blame it on the fact that English is not my first language), I present them as little more than bullet points. Though I wont be using actual bullets, because I'm unable to control the way the bullets hang, and that drives me crazy.


"Yay! This new component that I bought for my bike has 2mm and/or 2.5mm bolts" said no one ever.


Without going back and looking too closely at it, I do believe that all the things Floyd Landis said in his original letter to the UCI have been proven to be true. Including those really "crazy" details about the US Postal bus stopping at the top of a mountain, so riders could do their blood transfusions in peace. But the status of things today would lead you to believe that only two things in the whole letter were somehow untrue: Jim Ochowicz's involvement and knowledge of the whole thing, and Allen Lim's role, including carrying and delivering Landis' doping products for the 2005 Tour. Kind of interesting, no?


Colombians keep tidy homes. As proof of this, I offer up the fact that many wax and then buff their tiled driveways and garages to an astonishing shine. The preferred product for doing this is the hilariously phonetically-spelled Beisbol floor wax. Because my trips to Colombia these days are largely to Medellin, where I stay in, and visit apartments, I had forgotten what a proper house in Bogota smells like due to the complete overuse of floor wax. My recent purchase of a Shimano chain brought it all back. The wax they use must be Colombian grade. So if you're from Colombia, and miss home because you now live elsewhere (or if you are not, but you wonder about such things)...buy a Shimano chain, and take a long, deep whiff. What you will take in is the smell of my childhood.


Photo: Emily Maye/Trek

Photo: Emily Maye/Trek

Did you see the pictures that Emily Maye took when she went to Julian Arredondo's home town in Colombia? You can almost smell the floor wax when looking at them.


Photo: La Republica

Photo: La Republica

I fully understand that websites have to be updated and redesigned. I just went through that process myself. But it's too bad that in doing so, content and assets are sometimes lost into the ether. I come across this countless times, in part because my interest in many subjects is largely set in the past tense. One example of this is the video of recent Tour of Turkey stage winner Davide Rebellin buying EPO in a Marion Barry-like video. Most references to the video ever existing are gone, and the video itself is gone too (though a page from La Republica has a still of it, along with  a dead link to it). In a time when most of us have this sense that the internet never forgets, and that once information and data is out there (like toothpaste from a tube), there's no putting it back...it's unusual and unsettling when you find a case where that's exactly what has happened.

Oh and speaking of that, some of you have asked about the articles I wrote for Manual For Speed about youth cycling academies. They are no longer up on their site (since it was redesigned), but will be soon. All the old content is being ported over to the new design.


Every year, around this time, I switch the pedals on my road bike from SPD to "proper" road ones. And every year I sort of wonder why. Am I alone in this? Are SPD pedals and shoes not sufficient for most of us? Is this the year when I finally say "screw it" and just keep using SPDs?


And speaking of pedals don't you think it's unfair and inaccurate for Speedplay to crow about how light their pedals are, when their system is an inversion of how most pedals work, thus making their pedals little more than heavy-duty cleats with spindles on them? The pedal mechanism, as it were, is in their cleat. So Speedplay stating the weight of their pedal would be like Look or Shimano listing the weight of their cleats as though they were the pedals.


Even though I don't know a whole lot about bikes (or the things that are attached to them), I hope you don't mind me making one last point about the matter, in part because this is about a low-tech item that is hardly a component. I read online and in magazines that there are way too many bottom bracket standards. There most certainly are, and seat post diameters are plentiful, and soon hub sizes and types of brakes will be up there too. Call me a simpleton, but I simply wish that there was a standard water bottle lids/tops size and thread configuration, thus allowing me to make tops and bottles interchangeable. No, it's not as though I'm a water bottle version of Scrooge McDuck, diving into piles of fancy water bottles...so many that I loose track of them. It's just that I like some tops better than other. And I also sometimes have trouble keeping track of them in the dishwasher.

Did you fall asleep yet due to my fascinating insights or the quandaries I ponder? Is reading something I write about water bottle minutia akin to listening to an episode of the Splendid Table where Lynne Rossetto Kasper only talks about salt?


Who knew that it would take a post about soap to have some of you once again leave comments here? While readership numbers have not changed, the amount of comments has decreased significantly. I'm assuming it was Colombians leaving the messages, while the rest of the readership probably wondered why on earth I wrote about soap, and why on earth I'm now selling said soap.


Seattle, you are a very nice city. But why do almost all your streets have expansion joints running along them that are wide enough to easily swallow a 30mm tire? It probably has something to do with street surface (concrete), as a result of your non-snowy winters. But good lord almighty, it makes for nervous riding.


Photo: Manual For Speed

Photo: Manual For Speed

I once read a big, scholarly book (you could even call it a tome) about Mies van der Rohe. It was a challenging, but worthwhile read. One of the book's essays (papers?) studied every book known to be in van der Rohe's book collection, and attempted to understand his stylistic and theoretical underpinnings through their potential sources. In the end, after looking at his book collection (along with many accounts from people who knew him well) the author more or less surmised that the famed architect was not an intellectual genius. Quite the contrary, which made his design achievements seem ever greater. It may seem unfair to judge someone by their book collection, but if it can in fact be done, what do the books that Lance Armstrong left behind at his Girona home (recently photographed by Manual for Speed) say about him? Under The Tuscan Sun? Rosie O'Donell's Find Me? Then again, there's also a copy of David Sedaris' Me Talk Pretty One Day, and of course, Matt Rendell's Kings Of The Mountains. A book that no pro cyclist's (or fan's) bookshelf should be without.

This in turn reminds me that a friend of mine worked at Strand, the big book store in New York City, creating literary pseudo-collections for celebrities and the mega rich. Decorators, or assistants would call and say they had x amount of space to fill in some gigantic bookshelves, and it was my friend's job to fill it. Books were usually sold by the linear foot. But it was the requirements for the collections that were really amusing. Some wanted books about mathematics and physics, or about philosophy. Well-worn copies were sometimes preferred, to make it seem as though certain books were the owner's favorites. Ones they simply kept referencing again and again, though in reality that hadn't ever read them, or even picked them out.


Based on my interest in South American cycling at large, back in 2012 I interviewed Isaque Kirschner from the cycling clothing company Kirschner, to see what riding is like in Santa Catarina. Kirschner is still going, and they've made two short videos showing what road riding and mountain biking is like in sourthern Brazil. Enjoy.