If you don’t know Mark Cavendish, aka Cav, aka the Manx Missile, allow me to make a brief introduction. One of the greatest sprinters of modern professional cycling, he has won A LOT of races. Cocky and full of confidence, with a sly English (from the Isle of Man) wit and a low-key, self-deprecating sense of humor in post-race interviews, he was pure lightning on the bike. But he got older, moved to different teams, got sick, then depressed, and has been trying to make a comeback for a while. After a three-year drought, he just got three wins in a row at the ripe old age (for pro cyclists) of 35. Everybody loves an underdog, and as a perpetually suffering, aging, and fathlete cyclist, I was thrilled for him at the news. Read on for more on MC putting the hammer down.Continue reading
Le Tour de France 2019 edition, the 106th, began Saturday. It’s already provided thrills, drama and unexpected results. I won’t give you any spoilers here in case you’re streaming and are already behind like I am. But I wanted to share a few thoughts about the sport of professional cycling’s biggest annual event.Continue reading
The Tour is over for this year, but you can still watch it by subscribing to NBC Sports Gold Cycling Pass. (Go to this link to subscribe; it lasts for the whole year so you can watch La Vuelta a Espana and other races, but only in the US.) I’m a little late to the party since I’m still watching it on a Roku donated to me by dear mum. (So don’t spoil it by commenting on the winner or anything past Stage 11, please! I however may spoil it if you are are on Stage 1.) I am way behind because of life getting in the way but still enjoying it. Like many Americans, I got into the Tour a few years after a certain famous Austin cyclist won it seven times in a row. After that was, um, cancelled, I stopped watching for a few years (also like many Americans). But I couldn’t stay away, so I’ve been watching it every year for a while now, and still think it’s worth it. Here’s why I think you should watch it, too.
Off to the Races!
Thursday evening I moseyed on down the Southern Walnut Creek Trail to a small racecar track in southeast Austin. It was bike night, and the races were on. I rolled up to a small sea of cyclists milling about, and a group of maybe 60 riding on the .62-mile track. Held from April to September each year, the Driveway Series (or just the Driveway, in Austin) was selected as the best races in the United States, according to a chat I had with the congenial and sometimes funny announcer Logan. A former racer, he’s very familar with the sport and most of the riders, and was happy to share details between laps.
Sanctioned by USA Racing, these are the real deal. There are different levels, 4/5 (beginners), 1/2/3, Masters (over 35), and Pro for men (which some women race in) as well as the same for women. But it’s also a festive atmosphere with beer and food trucks, repair vans, sponsor tents, and music playing on the loudspeakers. There were serious-looking cyclists from the not so fit to the super skinny lean young guys, and the super-strong beasts and some very nice and expensive bicycles. Come along for a short lap!