Friday, June 29, 2012


Southern California racer Holly Breck gives the account of one of the competitors in the Minneapolis Uptown criterium stage of the Nature Valley Grand Prix on the blog of the SC Velo-Empower Coaching website:


Minneapolis uptown crit

Written by Holly Breck Minneapolis uptown crit, where shall I began. This course compared to the first crit course was a lot safer, more flowing, lined up well cornered course. Yet all the racers where still just as excited and ready to go as ever from the day before the stage got cancelled do to a tornado watch and incredible crazy storm. Do to the pretty good crash on day one stage two my bike was thrashed. Rear wheel was toast (though come to find out now, after running my front wheel the whole time, it has a quarter size hole in it so both are toast.) my derailer hanger broken and my bars and hoods all twisted and mangled. Jake and I went to bike shops found some parts and from the help of the shimano support people where able to get my bike back on track just 30 minutes before start time. Man did we feel like chickens running around with our heads chopped off or at least I know I did. Sitting on the start line my heart was pounding, arms where shaking, legs where twitching and it was all that I could do to not yawn on the start line. As they called people up and said the national anthum, I said my prayers one last time and they fired the gun and we where off. It started off pretty fast and aggressive. Most part everyone was riding alright but you could tell people where getting excited. We were 9 laps in and had just finished a sprint lap. I was sitting near the front, thinking it would be safer to be towards the front more. As we came hauling through the start/finish line all of a sudden I see people slidding and bikes flying. Im skidding trying to dodge bikes and people. All of a sudden two bikes just come flopping right down in front of me. All I can think of at this point is not again!!! My front wheel just stops. I got over the bars but when I came down it was soft. I ended up landing on someone. Λ (oops) I heard “get off of me!!” and a push as I was trying to get up. The person I landed on was ok, which I was definitely happy for, I was ok and so was my bike. It took out close to 20-25 riders this crash and some got wind knocked out of them, heads banged up and definite road rash. The race was neutralized until the road way was clear. Once again I sat just behind the starting line shaking like a leaf, took a deep breath and was off once again. We were suppose to have a neutral lap to make sure the road was clear but as soon as we crossed the start/ finish line it was full gas. This time around I say my teammate jenny and knew she’d be a nice SAFE wheel to be with. I was with her for a while but she did this crazy ninja move through the field and I lost her in the pack. Then I found Melina and was with her then found Amber for a while, but with the laps counting down the attacks and moves were getting faster and faster. No matter how hard I tried I kept going backwards. Now with about 3 laps to go I found myself on the back of the pack. No one else behind me I tried so hard to stay with the group. I say the two laps to go sign and the group was getting smaller and my gap in front of me to the back of the pack was getting bigger and bigger. I just kept pedaling as I heard the screams from people “come on catch them, there right there!!!” so I pushed through but never caught back on. Lost some time but glad I wasn’t in any other crashes after that. My teammates are incredible. All finishing with the pack and making it through to the next day. Many sketchy moves where made, one major and multiple minor crashes throughout the race where done and I was just glad to be leaving on my bike and not on a stretcher. It was a successful day.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What Are Corporations?

Talking Points Memo publishes this:

 Massachusetts Senate hopeful Elizabeth Warren took aim at Mitt Romney’s infamous “corporations are people” remark when she introduced President Obama at a fundraiser in Boston on Monday. “Mitt Romney tells us, in his own words, he believes corporations are people,” Warren said. “No, Mitt, corporations are not people. People have hearts. They have kids. They get jobs. They get sick. They love and they cry and they dance. They live and they die. Learn the difference.” Warren’s introduction at Symphony Hall landed her in front of a large crowd filled with party activists and donors who are important to her campaign as well. Warren praised the president, saying “He fought for you, students and seniors, homeowners and veterans, community banks and credit unions, and for everyone who plays by the rules,” she said. Obama returned the favor, thanking Warren for her remarks: “I just want to thank Elizabeth for that introduction, and let you know how lucky all of you are to have a chance to vote for her in the next election,” Obama said. ”Nobody fought harder for Wall Street reform – the reform that is now law and protecting consumers all across the country – than Elizabeth, reform that will end taxpayer bailouts, make sure folks aren’t being taken advantage of by mortgage lenders and credit card companies. She has been a fierce advocate since before I knew her for the middle class. She has been advocating on core issues that matter to families her entire career. She is going to be an outstanding senator from Massachusetts, and everybody here has got to turn out for her.”

 Harvard-educated Cherokee Liz had her dunce head-dress on with this little soliloquy. Corporations are voluntary associations of people, stockholders, management and employees, formed under government auspices to limit liability. There ain't no corporations without government authorization. The state sets the conditions for corporate operations, as it always has. And if, in her view, corporations are not people, well, neither is the US or South Dakota, or the Salvation Army or the Boston Red Sox or even Harvard University. If you or she enters the headquarters of a corporation like General Electric, there won't be a meeting with a gigantic, puffing machine that spits out ideas, products and money. There will rather be people there, people that "cry and dance". People that get paid for being part of the process of satisfying the wants of others. All voluntary.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Public Bicycling

The Nice Ride program, which has distributed rental bicycles in selected locations throughout the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, had a presence that included two very articulate spokespersons at the NGVP criterium in St. Paul. Their bikes are the same as the ones in the accompanying video, except that they are a kind of odd green color.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Chilkoot Hill

Sunday, June 17, the NVGP racing scene moved over the hill to the St. Croix River valley town of Stillwater, Minnesota where the lady racers were scheduled to go up Chilkoot Hill and back down again 13 lung-busting times. DSCN0503 The sockless foot of Exergy sprint super-star Teresa Cliff-Ryan, winner of the two flatter urban criteriums in St.Paul and Minneapolis of this year's edition of the NVGP. teresa cliff-ryan The upper part of Teresa. amber neben Former world time trial champion Amber Neben received word while at NVGP that she had been selected for the US Olympic cycling team competing in the London games. Holly Breck 2 Affable Holly Breck traveled from southern California with her SC Velo/Empower Coaching team mates to try their luck against the star-studded NVGP field. The luck part didn't hold up for Holly as she suffered through mechanicals, crashes and flats but still started every stage. ingrid drexler Nineteen year-old Mexican road racing champion Ingrid Drexler probably cemented her spot on the Mexican Olympic cycling team with a 15th place GC finish. emilia fahlin Speciaized-Lululemon rider Emilia Fahlin powered to a second place finish in the GC. meredith miller tibco The heart of the Tibco racing powerhouse, Meredith Miller, Megan Guarnier and Samantha Schneider. Guarnier won the Stillwater stage with a solo breakaway.  Days later she won the US road racing national championship while Schneider became the U/23 national title holder.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Nature Valley Grand Prix, Uptown Edition

On Friday evening, June 15, the Minnesota cycling event of the year moved its orange barriers, announcer's stand and finish line to Hennepin Ave. in Minneapolis for the fourth stage of the Nature Valley Grand Prix, a criterium in the Uptown shopping and dining neighborhood. DSCN0411 Women's race leaders line up for the start. That's Leah Kirchmann in her red Canadian national road racing championship kit and Optum team mate Carmen Small in the race leader's yellow jersey. jenny ives & Lauren De Crescenzo Tenacious Jenny Ives from the horse racing mecca of Saratoga Springs, NY explains her tactics for the upcoming race to Kenda Geargrinder team mate Lauren De Crescenzo. DSCN0447 Cornell University student Lenore Pipes, a rare competitive cyclist from the Pacific island of Guam, represents the Kowalski's All-Stars, a team made up of college riders. Lenore surprised the rest of the peloton with a a fourth place finish in the sprint to the line at the St. Paul Criterium. Photobucket Local track and road racing competitor Tara James held her own against international competition. DSCN0467 Girls from the Minneapolis-based Optum Cycling Team wait for the starter's gun.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

China's Cotton Order Jolts Market

This article in the June 16 Wall Street Journal informs us that some entity or entities in China "bought close to 94% of the 795,700 bales of the net export sales from the U.S. in the week ending June 7." The purchase was made near the low end of a market that had been falling for some time, down to 66.10 cents per pound earlier in the month. Why would the inscrutable Orientals buy immense amounts of cotton? Two reasons. First, the commodity is cheap and they are the world's largest consumer of cotton. More important, however, is the fact that they have traded electronic pixels that represent slips of paper with former US politicians engraved on them for bales of a genuine substance that will keep for some time and can be used to make blue jeans and bath towels. Their purchase is a multi-billion dollar vote against the continued viability of the US dollar.

Detlev Schlichter and Max Keiser in the same room.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Maitre d'hotel Henri Charpentier said:

"There are things in this world more subtle than the minds of men can grasp.  For all their prying , what convincing words can scientists use to tell each other how an atom of musk during years can throw off a something that in human nostrils becomes that which we call an odor, and yet, itself, be undiminished?"

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Light Rail = $

Warren Meyer at Coyote Blog gives a brief financial analysis of the expansion of the light rail system in metro Phoenix:

Valley Metro is set to break ground today on the first light-rail expansion, a 3.1-mile stretch into downtown Mesa that city leaders hope will bring a sorely needed economic boost.
The $200 million extension is expected to attract thousands more East Valley riders daily and potentially nurture new development along the line.
If we assume “thousands” means two thousand, then this means the metro area is spending $100,000 per new daily rider for this expansion, not including the additional operating subsidies that will be required to run the trains.  Given that none of these people will likely be able to give up their car, since the route goes so few places, why should they get a $100,000 subsidy?
How about we charge them what it costs?  The payment on a 30-year 5% bond is around $13,000,000 a year.  So if there are 2,000 additional round trip riders boarding or debarking at these new stations each day, that is 1.46 million trips.  So the tickets should be $8.90 per trip plus the cost of actually running the train.  We’ll round it to $10, though the cost is probably higher.  If people really think this train is so great, they should be more than willing to pay the $10 a trip it costs for the expansion.
No, they are not?  What this means is that people think this is a really go idea as long as someone else pays.
PS-  If these seem unreasonably high, or simply an artifact of looking at this expansion on a stand-alone basis, think again.  For the original system, the capital cost was $75,000 per round trip rider and the public subsidy in 2010 was $32.73 per trip.  In other words, on the main system, riders would have to pay $32.73 a trip more to be actually covering the cost of the service they are receiving.  So if anything, these incremental numbers for the expansion are probably optimistic.
PPS – I am sure transit authorities would argue that the public did support paying for other people’s transit by approving the sales tax increase for this purpose a few years ago.  But the train piece was packaged in with a bunch of highway improvements in the same proposition that people really did want.  It would never have passed on its own.  Transit official may disagree, but the proof is in their actions – they have never allowed the public to vote on the transit piece alone.

We're seeing the same thing in other localities, Minneapolis-St.Paul, for instance.  You must read a British paper to be updated on the even more grotesque situation in California.