Archive for the 'Sports, etc.' Category

2005 Bodegas J.C. Conde Neo Sentido, Ribera del Duero & Floyd Landis’ Road Shoes from Specialized

You may or may not know that along with being a wine and web geek, I’m also a road cycling geek. Speaking of cycling, a couple of weeks ago, bike clothing/accessories/bikes company Specialized (@iamspecialized – you can follow me at @vinifico) had a contest on Twitter where a re-tweet of their message would automatically enter you to win a pair of Floyd Landis‘ road shoes that had been worn during racing/training. Floyd has definitely been an inspiration to me, despite being stripped of his 2006 Tour de France win under controversial circumstances. He’s done his 2 year ban and is back racing for the North American-based OUCH Pro Cycling Team. Well, I entered… and actually won.

Today I received the US Postal package (a former team of Floyd’s where he raced along-side Lance Armstrong) and opened it to check out the shoes. They had definitely seen a few miles and Floyd hadn’t even bothered to remove his Speedplay cleats before sending them to the folks at Specialized for this contest. Pretty cool. They’re the BG Pro Road shoe in white with black. I have to admit that if they had been in a size 42, I would have probably worn them, but they’re a 44.5 – Floyd has some big feet for a 5’9″ guy.

Now to the cycling/wine tie-in… this weekend marks the start of the 3rd Grand Tour of the year, the Veulta a Espana. Floyd won’t be in the race (maybe next year), but I’ll be following it at Velonews.com and other sites. So, I felt like pairing the shoes with a beautiful Tempranillo from Spain’s Ribera del Deuro region that I had tasted last week –  the 2005 Bodegas J.C. Conde Neo Sentido. Check out the video.

~$38 at Kitsilano Wine Cellars.

4 stars

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Cycling – the 2007 Tour de France

07272007.jpgThis may be a wine blog, but once in a while it’s cathartic to write about something else. :)

Anyone who knows me, knows what a road cycling nut I am. Any day that it isn’t raining here in Vancouver usually means that I’m out for a ride, cranking as hard as I can.

Since I was a kid, I’ve followed the Tour de France with that can only be described as a near-religious fervor. In the last few years, doping suspicions and suspensions have cast a dark shadow over my beloved sport, and even more so, le Tour. 2006’s “winner”, Floyd Landis is still waiting on a ruling to see whether he’ll lose the title because of a positive test for steroids.

2007 has been unbelievable at the Tour. First up was race favourite Alexander Vinokourov‘s expulsion for homologous blood doping (injecting blood from a compatible donor). This was followed a few stages later by Team Rabobank pulling Michael Rasmussen from the race and firing him while he was wearing the race leader’s yellow jersey for missing doping control tests and having mis-informed his team as to where he had been training.

Damn… who can we trust? Apparently no-one in the sport… save for a few militant anti-dopers, such as David Millar (a formerly convicted doper himself who served his suspended time and saw the light). The diary entry he wrote after Vinokourov was kicked out of the race is heartfelt, well-written and reminds us why he (and we) love(s) the sport. Check it out. Riders like that give me hope for the race and the sport.

OK, I’m not going to prattle on here… I just hope the few greedy and stupid riders who have damaged the sport haven’t dealt it a fatal blow. Let’s face it, if all sports were as vigilant and public about their doping scandals, pro football probably wouldn’t exist and people like Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire would have no more fame than the average steroid monkey at your local gym.

Enough said. I’m going for a ride.

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Gadgets – new iPod shuffle

11102006.jpgI gave in and bought one of these today… Carrying my 60GB video iPod while running was getting tedious. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

Wow. How small can these things get? Have you seen them?? They hold 1GB of music (~240 songs), are roughly 4 x 2.5cm and weigh half an ounce! Jesus. The real selling point for me was that it also has a built-in clip that’ll hold onto my shorts when I run, or my jersey when I’m out cycling. Put it on, run and forget you’re attached. So nice.

Click on the picture to go check it out in the Apple Canada store.

$89 CDN

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Cycling – The 2006 TdF Floyd Landis Controversy

2006 Tour de FranceI’ve been holding off since the whole steroid thing broke. It SO disappoints me… but I really think that Floyd wasn’t so naive to think that if he would do ‘roids and pull a ride like that without knowing 100% that he would be tested. If you win a stage in the Tour, you get tested. No exceptions. Besides, steroids aren’t a drug for cycling. They build heavy (and in cycling terms) slowing muscles. I smell a conspiracy.

Floyd is known as one of the hardest workers in the history of cycling. He has been known to ride up to 24,000 training miles in his early road riding years to build up his strength and endurance base. Knowing this, the thought that he would take the easy way out knowing he’d be caught is a bit hard to believe.

We’ll have to see how it plays out in the months to come, but unlike many folks I know, I’m not one who sees an athlete do something extraordinary and immediately writes it off as chemically enhanced. I’m rooting for Floyd. I want to believe in heroes.

UPDATE: Floyd and his wife, Amber interviewed by ABC News

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Cycling – Floyd Landis and the TdF

2006 Tour de FranceToday I watched what I will argue was the single greatest stage win in the history of the Tour de France.

Being a road cyclist, I am far too familiar with the “bonk”. Last year I hit the wall in the final kilometres of a ride that included Horseshoe Bay, Cypress Mountain and Mount Seymour… I almost ended up in an ambulance coming down Mount Seymour.

Yesterday, the leader of the TdF, Floyd Landis, hit the wall on the final climb of the most brutal stage of this year’s TdF and not only lost the “yellow jersey”, but seemingly lost any chance of winning the 2006 TdF. He dropped right out of the top 10, finishing 10 minutes behind the winner of the stage.

Today, over 5 mountain passes, in a sport that can sometimes measured in seconds, he took back 5 – 7 minutes out of his closest rivals. It was, in a word spectacular… even legendary. One of the greatest rides ever. He took off from the main pack in the first 45 kilometres and decimated the field over what amounted to a smokin’ 160 kilometre time trial. It was a ride of pride and anger. It was unbelievable.

He now stands 30 seconds out of the yellow jersey… and is favoured to take minutes more in the final time trial on Saturday. After today, he deserves it. He has defined this year’s Tour.

In cycling terms, this was beyond a 5 star performance.

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The Internets – Please Hammer, don’t hurt ‘em

I thought this altered road sign was hilarious.

Break it down!

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Cycling – 2006 Tour de France

2006 Tour de FranceI’ll say it again. I’m a big geek for the cycling stuff… The 2006 TdF kicks off tomorrow morning and I’ll be up early to watch it before going for a ride.

I was REALLY looking forward to seeing the 3-week-long duel between Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso… and even the feisty Alexandre Vinokourov. This morning, to my complete dismay and disappointment, I read that all three had been barred from this year’s race because of blood doping allegations… Jesus! The scandal is HUGE in the cycling world. This is almost big enough to cause a cancellation of the race. The list of names implicated is amazing… You can see the names that have been crossed out. Gah!! It’s devastating!

It’s cycling… can’t everyone just revel in the beauty and enormity of the challenge without cheating?? Obviously not.

I’ll still watch every minute because there are still plenty of great riders left in the race, but whoever wins will certainly have an asterisk beside their name in the history books… They will have won the race in a year which saw 4 of the top 5 competitors out of the race before it even got underway – sad.

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Sports – Mmmmm TdF goodness

2006 Tour de FranceI’m such a geek. Each year I look forward to the Tour de France more than just about anything else. I get up at 6am everyday just to watch it live on OLN. This year it kicks off in Strasbourg on July 1st and I’m already getting into the swing of things by getting out on my road bike every day that it isn’t raining (OK pouring). It’ll be extra interesting to see who wins it now that Lance Armstrong is retired.

It’s nice to see there are geeks out there with more time on their hands than I have. A bunch of Tour de France fans in the Google Earth Community (GEC) have actually mapped the 2006 route out in Google Earth. Go check it out. Do the 3-d tilt with the mountain routes. Very cool.

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The Internets – The Philips Bodygroom

I thought this was hilarious… I came across it on Darren Barefoot’s blog: the Philips Bodygroom. Being a road cyclist, I’ve been shaving my legs every summer for years. On the Bodygroom site, they encourage you to take it the extra mile. Click “Where to Shave” off the main menu and then choose “Groin and Posterior“. Funny stuff.

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Cycling – The Ultimate Jersey

RaphaBeing a road cyclist here in Vancouver, it’s next to impossible to get my hands on stylish roadie wear… I just read an article in Bicycling Magazine that mentioned the Rapha Ultimate Jersey. Pretty damn cool in a minimalist, black retro kind of way. I want one. $200 though. There’s some internal justification going on here.

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