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Archives for May, 2012

Wildcard Teams Liven up Cycling

In the 2012 Giro d’Italia, won by Canadian Garmin-Barracuda’s Ryder Hesjedal, the four wildcard teams offered a chance to race made it worthwhile.

A couple wildcard riders made the top 15, with Colnago CSF-Inox won a stage, while Farnese Vini-Selle Italia and Androni-Venezuela grabbing two stage victories each.

“I hope this victory, my first in the Giro, inspires other riders from the south of Italy to try to turn professional in these difficult financial times,” said Domenico Pozzovivo, a Colnago rider picking up a stage win – and finishing an impressive eighth overall – when asked after the race. “There are just two pros from my region and I would like there to be more.”

The ProTour teams typically dominate all the races they enter – but the wild card teams are tasked with attacking and helping liven up each race or tour stage. During a lull in a grand tour, for example, the wild card teams are typically the ones making it into the breakaway, forcing the ProTour teams to limit their losses and keep the attackers under control.

The 2012 Tour de France will feature the following pro-continental teams: Argos-Shimano, Saur-Sojasun, Cofidis, and Team Europcar. To be fair, Cofidis used to be a UFCI Proteam cycling squad, but they’ll still look to prove their worth this July.

We have a lot of exciting things in the works here at Alameda Runners.  I recently started working with several new companies and PR agencies, so that means we have some great articles and reviews in the pipeline.

For a sneak peek, I can confirm at least two new projects that Ted and I have on the schedule.

I asked a few people on Twitter and Facebook about compression products, and the results were unanimous: 2XU is the company to speak with. Originally founded and based in Australia, 2XU has invaded the US with high-quality products aimed for runners, cyclists and triathletes looking for top notch gear – but it comes at a price.

Giro, known for making helmets and shoes, also is taking some time to answer a few questions for Alameda Runners.

We have a couple of reviews to post in the next couple of weeks – and even more cool stuff is rolling in! Thanks to our readers for continually showing up to read our ramblings, because we obviously couldn’t do it without you.

Thanks for the participating companies, because they could easily shrug us aside (even though I’m persistent) with little repercussion.

A lady jogger was mugged for her iPhone while out for a run on Broadway (1500 block @ 8:00 p.m.) a few days ago, and Alameda Police are warning athletes to be aware of their surroundings.

A full incident report can be seen here, including descriptions of both suspects.

Here are a few tips:

• Do not wear headphones when running alone.
• Run against traffic.
• Be mindful of your surroundings and trust your intuition. If a location, a person(s) or something does not feel right, avoid it.
• Always carry identification or write your information on your shoe.
• Wear light colored and/or reflective clothing.
• Carry a cell phone, preferably in a non-visible location.
• Run with a partner, a dog perhaps. We have great dogs available at our local shelter
• Consider carrying a noise maker or pepper spray.

If you want to learn more about jogger safety, please feel free to post a tweet directed to the AlamedaPD’s Twitter account; they are very welcoming to interaction with the public.

I’m always bummed when I have to write a short blog post like this one – but it’s actually a great reminder that we need to be aware of our surroundings.

Shopping for running gear

Shopping for running gear can be aggravating.  There are so many choices that you never know if it is worth the money for that small upgrade.  Several years ago, I was having knee pain from my IT band so I kept buying softer and softer shoes.  The more I spent for the soft shoes, the worse the pain became.  I went to Road Runner Sports to have my feet measured and my gait analyzed.  It turns out; I have high arches and a neutral gait which need additional support and firm cushioning.  It cost a little more for the shoes but they give you three options and you find the one you like best.  I paid about $150 for the first pair of shoes then waited for them to go on sale at Sports Authority and bought 5 pair.

I love Road Runner Sports.  They have great gear that is always of the highest quality.  I went there today (Sunday) to get some shoes for my son.  There were some workers at the shoe area helping customers and a lot of customers sitting around.  I asked a clerk how to buy shoes and I was told to sign in and it will be about a 20 minute wait.  I must be spoiled by being able to go to Sports Basement and try on my own shoes but I don’t like to wait 20 minutes to have a shoe salesman call my name.  Lombardi Sports on Polk Street in SF has store people wait on you and I never have to wait 20 minutes there.  If I do have to wait a long time, they have cool stuff to look at, while I wait.  Road Runner failed my patience test but they are a good store and worth wait if you need a gait analysis.

In the same plaza as Road Runner Sports, there is an REI.  Since I am a triathlete, REI is not really my type of store but I like it there anyway.  We went in looking for running shoes and wound up buying 2 bicycle helmets and some bike gloves.  They had Lance Armstrong Giro helmets on sale for $26 and I just had to buy the matching gloves for $25.  It is a good thing they did not have the cycle kit to match.

The next stop on the shopping trip was the good old Exchange on Coast Guard Island in Alameda.  They are a good consistent store that usually sells all sporting goods at 20% off list.  I bought 2 shirts and 2 pair of running shorts for about $100.  All of this shopping made us hungry so we went to lunch.  We went shopping for running shoes, spent about $250 and came home with no shoes.

My little story took us to a few stores in the San Francisco Bay area.  They are all good stores with their own strengths and weaknesses.

Road Runner Sports – As the name suggests, they are a running store.  They have good customer service and great products.  You usually have to pay list price for stuff.

REI – All around outdoors store.  Cater to high end customers who go to national parks.  They have a pretty good bike selection and a lot of that outdoors survival stuff.  They also have lots of cool lectures and classes.

Lombardi Sports – A great sporting goods store that is surviving on Polk Street.  The area is getting better all of the time as the time as gentrification heads south.  The developers would love to tear that place down and build some condos.

Coast Guard Exchange – No customer service, consistent discounts, quality products and no taxes.  I point this out because there are a lot of discount stores that have good stuff without the brand name for about half of what you would pay at a high end sporting good store.

The big bridge birthday celebration is this weekend.  If you are like me and like to play in the Precidio and Crissy Field, parking may be difficult.  I am going to head north and ride my bike up MT Tam or some place like that.

I have to admit, the Golden Gate Bridge Commission knows how to throw a party.   Here is a copy of their flyer.

Golden Gate Bridge 75th anniversary! – Sunday May 27th – 11am – 10pm

Join the celebration next weekend….by foot or bike or bus and leave your cars at home in SF or Marin …

Key details on transit and road/bridge/parking closures at the link below. Presidio is closed to all vehicles All Day. Bridge will be closed to bikes/peds at 6pm and to cars at 9pm Sunday night for fire works. Tell a friend and share

All access from Bay Bridge/101/19th and north of GGP will be impacted 100% all day. Encourage all to take bart, muni, bus or other.

Please share this with everyone you know coming to the city on Sunday.

New Sound Product For Athletes

Enjoy total sound isolation with a quality pair of earbuds, but worry if you’re losing out from not being able to hear ambient sound?

If so, there is an interesting new product that utilizes air channels so you’re able to hear ambient sounds while still listening to music with a promise of no distortion. It helps give citizens and athletes have an ability to hear ambient sound while still enjoying their playlist.

Visit the AIRbudz Kickstarter website to learn more about these earbud enhancers.

It looks like the team did take its time working with design experts seriously, and this product could prove to be most useful.

The AIRbudz alone will cost $10, or you can pay $20 for the AIRbudz and some headphones. The Kickstarter AIRbudz promotion requires a minimum $10 donation, though additional funds can be contributed.

The SafeSound AIRudz seem interesting enough, and I’ll be curious to hear what people think about the product. I’ve seen runners and cyclists become oblivious to their surroundings while jamming out — which might be okay in the gym or on the tread mill — but can be extremely dangerous out in the world.

We all frequently learn about studies that discuss habits and life style choices that either add or remove years from our lives.

The newest study being marketed shouldn’t be a big surprise to any of us: jogging is a healthy activity that extends your life expectancy.

Running helps add 6.2 years to male life expectancy, and 5.6 years to female life expectancy. The research still must be peer-reviewed, but it’s definitely interesting to hear that all those hours of effort and sweat have a positive long-term impact.

“The results of our reasearch allow us to definitively answer the question of whether jogging is good for your healthy,” said Dr. Peter Schnohr, a cardiologist involved in the running research. “We can say with certainty that regular jogging increases longevity. The good news is that you don’t actually need to do that much to reap the benefits.”

If you’re in it to stay healthy, it’s recommended to work towards being breathless, but coherent enough to be aware and have a conversation.

EBBC: 2012 Bike to Work Day Was a Hit!

Bike to Work Day is a major event every year, and it isn’t a big surprise to hear a large number of people in the Bay Area participated.

During the 2012 Bike to Work Day on May 10, more than 17,500 bike riders were counted at 143 energizer stations across the Bay Area, East Bay Bicycle Coalition numbers report.

Of note, the City of Alameda saw an impressive 29% rider increase over 2011, and Bike Alameda and East Bay Bicycle Coalition should be complemented for their efforts.

“Exercise is the prescription to a better life,” noted Dr. Todd Weizenberg, Kaiser Permanente (Santa Rose) Director of Sports Medicine, said in a press release. “Exercise on a regular basis can increase your mood, allow you to sleep better, improve your memory and concentration and decrease the chances of developing a chronic disease. Essentially, if you exercise more, and cycling is a great way to do it, you will live longer and have a better quality of life.”

It was great to see Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, and other elected officials out and about on their bikes during Bike to Work Day.

Public awareness needs to continue — and Alameda is no different — with several notable incidents between vehicles and pedestrians in Alameda.

For those looking to receive more knowledge, the EBBC and Bike Alameda offer bike skills training classes for citizens.

Image courtesy of Twitter // @EBBC

Fight the power!

More than 150 participants will ride from Oakland to Sacramento, protesting extremely reckless school spending.

For those not looking to make the full journey, there are 45-mile and 65-mile routes also available.

Proceeds will be directed to Oakland Technical High School, Oakland International High School, Claremont Middle School and Emerson Elementary School. Event organizers want to generate $60,000 for the ride — and depending on the success of the 2012 ride, additional cities may be added in the future.

If you want to learn more about the ride, please feel free to visit the official website.

PSA: Meet the Rabobank Cycling Team

The Windsor Bicycle Center has a special day of events planned to celebrate Bike to Work Day, which is on Thursday, May 10.

Here is the full schedule of events:


6am – Open early for Bike to Work Day

5-8pm – Ride Home Happy Hour energizer sampling

6:30pm – Rabobank Pro Cycling Team is here for poster signing and Q & A Session

It’s fun to be able to interact with such high-level riders, as they have experiences no one else can relate to.  If you’re in the area, it’s probably worth the chance to ask a question to the pros.