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Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood: Bending over backwards and a rousing ‘What the @#$%!?!?’ for Congress

Just back from Bend, Oregon, land of breweries, brushfires and bicycle racing, and after my first outing I’d have to say that the Cascade Classic is a fantastic event. Race promoter Brad Ross ran a race with stunning courses and full community support, and the consensus from racers I spoke with was that Cascade is one of the more under-rated stage races in the U.S. “I’m going to tell all the girls from other teams to come next year,” said women’s overall winner Lyne Bessette (Saturn), who raced at Cascade for the first time, easily beating the 50-rider field. And while Bessette did trounce

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Dinner at the Anderson's

Dinner at the Anderson’s

Photo:

Just back from Bend, Oregon, land of breweries, brushfires and bicycle racing, and after my first outing I’d have to say that the Cascade Classic is a fantastic event. Race promoter Brad Ross ran a race with stunning courses and full community support, and the consensus from racers I spoke with was that Cascade is one of the more under-rated stage races in the U.S.

“I’m going to tell all the girls from other teams to come next year,” said women’s overall winner Lyne Bessette (Saturn), who raced at Cascade for the first time, easily beating the 50-rider field. And while Bessette did trounce the competition, she did it with class, staying out of the breakaway’s sprint during Friday’s twilight criterium, gifting her leader’s jersey to a young girl who won the closing day kid’s race, and inviting the entire women’s field to Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, her treat.

While in town for the race, Ross connected me with a host family, Tim and Lindsay Andersen, who have rewritten the book on hospitality, serving gourmet dinners (and desserts) nightly and bending over backwards to make me feel at home the moment I walked into their peaceful Tumalo abode, just outside of Bend. Lindsey is truly an artiste in the kitchen, presenting meals — salmon, ravioli’s and outrageous summer salads — that looked so good I almost felt guilty defacing them with my fork. Almost.

The Andersens live down a long, curvy gravel road that one can only imagine would be good fun to rally in a Mitsubishi Lancer rental. They also have three dogs: two labs and a 15-year-old deaf dachshund named Earl. Earl sports a gray beard and is truly the Duke of the manor. Daily occurrences around the house include furrowing chipmunks out from under rocks (Earl’s specialty) and impromptu lab-on-lab full-contact wrestling (Earl quietly looks on and keeps score).

Tim tells me that back in his day, Earl was quite the champion, squaring up against menacing Rottweilers and winning over the hearts of their Portland neighbors. At one point the Andersen family tried to enter Earl in the local Weiner dog races, as they’re known. “Hold it right there, Tim,” I said. “Weiner dog races? Too good to be true. Tell me more!”

It turns out Weiner dog races have quite a following; just check out www.weinerdograces.com

A little research reveals that a pack of three-inch legged Weiner dogs run 100 yards in a minute and a half. I don’t know about you, but that might just be the most entertaining 90 seconds of my life.

'Princess Emma,' the Low Rider

‘Princess Emma,’ the Low Rider

Photo: The Oregonian

Unfortunately, Earl didn’t make the final cut back in his heyday, but while I was there The Oregonian just so happened to run a front-page photo in their Metro section of “Princess Emma” doing sustained interval training runs in preparation for the Wiener Dog Summer Nationals, held last Sunday in Portland.

The caption? “Low Rider,” of course. Damn, that’s good.

I wasn’t able to attend the Weiner Dog nationals because there was the matter of the final-day criterium in Bend’s Old Mill district, but the entertainment there was equally as high-quality. As I mentioned, there was a kid’s race held between the women’s and men’s events: one lap around the kilometer-long course, finishing on an uphill straight.

On tap for the young girl’s race, intermixed with about forty other racers, was Erica Horner, daughter of Saturn star Chris Horner, and Alexi Cruz, daughter of U.S. Postal’s Antonio Cruz.

Chris and Erica Horner

Chris and Erica Horner

Photo:

With Bend as her hometown, Erica held a definite hometown advantage, but Alexi got a jump into the first turn and kept on truckin’, finishing the day in second-place, about 1:40 ahead of Erica, who didn’t seem too bothered. Both dads seemed to enjoy the event, but never one to take defeat lying down, papa Chris Horner got his payback during the men’s crit, jumping a break (that included Cruz) late in the race and finishing second to Prime Alliance’s Alex Candelario.

•••

Saturn’s world number-one ranking
You knew the Saturn men’s team — winners of the overall at Cascade — were dominant, but did you know they made Saturn Cycling history recently when they topped the UCI rankings for Division III Teams? In the 12-year history of the Saturn team this is the first time that the men’s team has held the number one spot in the UCI rankings. Currently, the Saturn Team is the only U.S. team in the top-ten in the Division III standings, aided largely by Tom Danielson’s big win at the Tour de Langkawi in February, while John Lieswyn’s win at Tour de Beauce brought 7UP-Maxxis up from 17th to 11th, with 378 points. Prime Alliance sits 16th, with 241 points.

On the national front, the Saturn Team also leads the National Rankings with a strong lead over Prime Alliance, 4221 points to 2574, with 7UP-Maxxis third, at 2086. Looks like Chris Horner may win the top-rider standings for the second consecutive year.

The UCI’s top-ten Division III teams (as of June 29):
1. Saturn Cycling Team (USA), 1,044 points
2. Mroz (Pol), 864
3. Perutnina Ptuj (Slo), 713
4. Volksbank Ideal (Aut), 627.5
5. Team Barloworld (Rus), 545
6. Axa Cycling Team (Ned), 450.5
7. Team Bianchi Scandinavia (Sw), 429.5
8. Mikomax-Browar Staropolski (Pol), 403
9. Rabobank Espoirs (Ned), 402
10. Giant Asia (Tai), 380
 

Speaking of Danielson, rumors abound about his move to Europe next year, with major European teams like Telekom and U.S. Postal supposedly courting his raw climbing and time trial power.

While Tom isn’t ready to disclose anything yet, he did tell me that if he were to start taking language courses, he’d probably start studying “either Spanish or Italian.” Word is that he’ll likely be able to bring a Saturn teammate or two with him across the pond, although no one’s ready to go on the record as far as that goes either. One safe bet is that the rider (or riders) will likely be — like Danielson — young and English speaking. I’ll let you do the math; more details as they come.

•••
House Panel Votes To Axe All Bike Projects In 2004
What is this? I just saw this story today on Bicycle Retailer and Industry News:

Washington, D.C., July 14, 2003
A U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee on Friday approved a bill that would cut funding for transportation alternatives like bike paths in order to bolster highway construction spending.The House Appropriations subcommittee approved a $90 billion bill for transportation programs, the U.S. Treasury and several other federal agencies for fiscal 2004. The bill would completely eliminate so called transportation enhancement projects like bike paths and rail-to-trail conversions. Some $600 million was allocated for such projects this year; the subcommittee opined that such money would be better spent next year on highway construction and maintenance.If approved, total highway spending would top $34 billion in 2004, some $4.8 billion above what President Bush requested and $2.5 billion more than what was spent in 2003.The bill also included $580 million for Amtrak, $320 million less than what President Bush requested and less than a third of the $1.8 billion the company’s managers said it needs to remain in business. Amtrak, a for-profit federal corporation, has never had a profitable year in its 30-year history. It is now $4 billion in debt.All measures in the bill would go into effect for fiscal year 2004, which begins Oct. 1, 2003.

What the @#$%!?!?

Have they lost their collective minds? Sometimes it feels like this administration is bending over backwards to turn this country into a fuel-dependent land of obese flag-waving consumers.

Add this to the long, three-year nightmare list of “I can’t believe this is happening.”


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