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Letters to Cyclingnews - May 29, 2008
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My hat's off to Daniele Bennati for his act of sportsmanship in not squeezing Mark Cavendish into the barriers on Stage 13. It cost him victory, but earned him a lifelong fan (me). With all of the negative aspects of cycling these days (doping, politics, etc.) it never fails to make me proud that at least once or twice every grand tour you see some act of sportsmanship such as this. Thank you Bennati for being the type of rider I wish everyone was!
Also, how can anyone (accept race directors) argue against a race radio ban? Imagine watching a flat or rolling stage and not knowing whether the break was going to stay away! I would actually have reason to watch more than the last five minutes of such stages.
Helmets in the Giro
Why were pro riders wearing helmets in an all ascent mountain time trial? Most athletes can run faster...will marathon runners be the next? You never know, they could run into poles or trees or trip on a loose shoe-lace and hurt their little selves. A
I very much enjoy your site, including your equipment reviews. However, I must take exception to today's review of the Wilier Triestina. You criticize the 13-26 cassette when paired with the 34-50 chainrings as being, "unforgivably casual...While this setup might be suitable for more leisurely jaunts in the park, any serious rider with a reasonable amount of fitness will almost certainly want to swap out the cassette for something with a more appropriate top end."
That's just nonsense. At a 120 rpm cadence and using 700C x 23mm tires, you'll be going 36.1 mph (58 kph) in that 50-13 combination--way beyond "leisurely jaunt" pace. Even a more casual 100 rpm puts you over 30 mph, a speed few can maintain for very long. And when going downhill, it's faster to get into an aero tuck than to keep pedaling once you've spun out this gear.
Do serious riders sometimes have a legitimate need for a higher top end? Sure, in certain competitive situations. But they also swap cassettes (or more likely wheels) when necessary.
However, for most fit riders, this is an appropriate top gear, even when riding pacelines, and even when descending. Cadence and technique count! I will hope that in the future you leave the machismo out of your reviews so that novices can receive more practical information on the pros and cons of the equipment you discuss.
LeMond vs. Armstrong
The fact is that Lance Armstrong failed two drug tests. He failed an in competition test for corti-steriods during the TDF (can not remember which year). He was given a pass because he had a prescription for a cream used to treat saddle sores, that contained a corti-steroid That information was not on file with UCI as it should be but it was overlooked but the TDF organization and the UCI. The second test he failed was after he retired and the UCI was testing urine samples of his that were frozen and held from previous years. EPO was found in Armstrong's frozen sample. The UCI and ASO overlooked this because there was no second (or "B" sample) to test and that second positive is necessary for positive finding. Two positive tests. Both dismissed for technical reasons.
Also, be aware that Frankie Andreau and his wife both testified in court, under oath (during a civil trial involving an insurance company) that Lance admitted using PED prior to having cancer. Lance made this admission during his treatment for cancer.
The incidents noted above are facts, not rumour. There is no dispute over them. Only spin.
Please do not claim that Armstrong never tested positive that is simply not true.
Losing something in the translation
Who the heck does your translations? Whenever you quote a rider whose original remarks appear to have been in his native language, your prose goes literal and tightens up. It reads like those goofy, sometimes incomprehensible instructions that come with Made in China electronics.
Here are some examples:
"Cavendish is a sprinter in the last 100 to 50 metres," Bennati noted of his closest rival on the day that was marked with heavy intermittent rain showers. "He made a great sprint, even if I started before the last curve. According to me, he is very young and demonstrating to be the strongest sprinter in the world."
Riccardo 'Ricky' Riccò passed his hometown of Formigine 136 kilometres into the race. The Saunier Duval rider, winner of two stages in this Giro and active in many others, did not have a chance to attack on home roads. "I won on the first day of the Giro, so my sensations are good. I will look forward to Saturday," he remarked with his girlfriend at his side.
My sensations are good, too, as I demonstrate to understand, while making a sprint. But then I am not very young.
I think it's a great pity that performance enhancing drugs have been such a predominant part of our sport of cycling. They have been so entrenched in the arena over the years, and there is so much money involved, that it is obviously difficult to truly eliminate them. David Millar has admitted using such a substance, when denial is the norm, and I give him a lot of credit for his honesty. He has done his time, and it has cost him dearly. If he is found guilty again, the penalty will be much harsher.
At no stage in any argument have I seen any mention of outside influences. For argument sake, where did these drugs come from? Were they personally sourced by the individual, or did they come from the team, or other influential individuals? What sort of contract do the riders in a team sign about taking medications? It's all very well to place the whole blame on the individuals concerned, but I believe that this may be oversimplification of the matter.
When the East Germans were taking the world by storm in the 70's and 80's, we now know that the athletes were just the pawns in a field of professional, government backed cheating, all for the purpose of proper-gander. They signed non-disclosure contracts, were told what to take and when, without necessarily knowing exactly what they were being given. Here, can you place the blame for the abuses on the individuals, or more reasonably on the system in which they found themselves immersed?
David took the penalty on the chin and hopefully has learnt a lesson. I for one, hope that we can look forward to seeing him, along with the rest of the peloton, compete drug free and restore honour to our fabulous sport.
Damn right brother! Can we have some consistency surrounding penalties? It seems as if every federation has their own damn rules. What the role of the UCI then? Shouldn't they be working with federations to ensure all cyclists are treated in a similar fashion?
Pipeoli still riding, Petacchi banned for a year even though officials indicate he didn't cheat??? I would be very surprised if any of Petacchi's competitors felt as if they were cheated out of money, fame, glory, whatever! Damn, I'm annoyed, I can't imagine how Petacchi feels!
Greg is right to ask if Armstrong would have won without radio communication. It was reported that Armstrong wanted to attack earlier up Hautecam but was 'prevented' by Bruyneel. He later admitted that Brunyeel was right. Therefore it appears that Armstrong might not have won his first tour without race radio. It is also worth noting that race radio was introduced by American team, Motorola.
Road rage incident
Sorry Julius, I for one am getting a bit sick of seeing the old excuse that cyclists bring it on themselves by their own behaviour. All of us try to ride responsibly, but just because a few cyclists run red lights, or 'horror' - ride in a group, that shouldn't be an excuse for car drivers to run us down.
And believe me, it does happen. I also have ridden in Europe, and I nearly fell of my bike when I noticed cars coming towards us were veering off the road on to the verge to allow traffic past us safely. At first I thought it was a one-off, but it continued all through our trip. Coming from Australia I had never before experienced such tolerance towards cyclists. Maybe with fuel prices escalating, some of the morons in cars here may not be able to afford such a luxury and be forced on to a bike! We can only hope.
Road rage incident #2
Although I've lived (and cycled) in and around London for the past 9.5 years, I'm originally from Sydney and I used to ride with the group from Coluzzi every now and again. I tend to take my bike home with me when I go to visit so I suppose I have some basis for making comparisons.
I find riding in and around Sydney a much more oppressive experience than riding in the UK or Europe, which I put down to bigger cars travelling faster in the hands of worse drivers. From the perspective of a cyclist travelling south from Sydney's Eastern Suburbs, the worst thing to have happened in recent years has been the road improvements around the airport south of General Holmes Drive.
Unless you detour through Tempe, there is no way to get south - which is the usual route if you are planning on riding to the Royal National Park - other than travelling on the expressway and through the tunnel under the runway. There's a lot of traffic travelling very quickly with nowhere to go. In small groups or riding solo it is, frankly, terrifying. I'd also make the point that Australian drivers are not just inconsiderate; generally speaking they lack skill when compared with drivers in continental Europe and even the UK.
Road rage incident #3
I have recently been the target of a vicious road range incident. I live in Canberra and cycle commute to work. On the way home one afternoon I was yelled and honked at to which I responded with the one finger salute. The car driver actually stopped ahead, got out of the car and pushed me off my bike. This resulted in a badly broken wrist, which needed surgery including a metal plate and many screws to fix. I have just returned to riding after 12 weeks off the bike.
There were several witnesses to the incident (who were more helpful than I could have imagined) that helped to identify the registration number of the car and the offender. The police have been great in dealing with the matter, and the case will shortly be going to court. I have had lots of the usual abuse from drivers of all types before this incident, but nothing like this senseless level of anger and rage. Anger against cyclists seems to be entrenched in Australia; wherever I have ridden here it has always been the same. I have done a month long cycle tour in New Zealand and never encountered any abuse of any sort there. Where as in Australia I am subjected to some form of road rage almost every day that I have come to expect it as a normal part of riding. Australian drivers should realise that the more people that ride for transport the less congested the roads will be.
Road rage incident #4
Road Rage response
I have read many peoples comments and am of the current view that this is an incredibly complex issue regarding human behaviour. I did notice though one perception which caught my attention from Julius Liptak. Julius wrote: "Large groups of riders, in this case 50 or so cyclists, present a long and cumbersome obstacle for traffic..."
Cyclists are not and cannot be an obstacle to traffic. By definition they are the traffic. To the best of my understanding it's a requirement in order to justify harm. The need to render a person or persons not equal to oneself. I am not stating that Julius Liptak is stating this but attempting to point out how subtle our values present themselves. A subtle but fundamental difference that the cyclist IS equal to all other road users.
Road rage incident #5
Julius you are flat out wrong. It doesn't matter how many rules you obey, or how considerate you are to other users of the road, whether you ride by yourself or in a pack of 100, you will not be able to prevent the many idiots on our roads from treating cyclists as second-tier citizens.
The police do nothing for cyclists and are useless. The politicians do nothing apart from attend the opening of pedestrian friendly cycleways - paths which serve no value to serious riders or long distance commuters. Which makes the politicians worse than useless because they think they're doing something constructive.
I'm sick of the abuse, of the constant fear for my life every time I take my bike for a ride and the general apologist attitude cyclists are forced to adopt. Screw that! We need to start looking out for each other and start using our numbers to stop these bullies on the road from being on the road.
Road rage incident #6
I am a cyclist and live in Sydney as well as in several European cities.
I can put my hand on my heart and honestly say that the majority if cyclists on Sydney roads do not obey the road rules and do not have any respect for drivers. It can't be possible, according to the law of averages that motorists are always in the wrong.
See, its not a good idea to get out there in your aggressive defensive egotistical mode and take to the streets, you are asking for trouble I ride nearly everyday for 6 months of the year in Sydney and the other 6 months in Western Europe.
In Sydney, the dislocation and disrespect that cyclists have on the road is sickening. In Europe, they work together, slowly and calmly. You need to ride with the traffic, not in competition with it. I recommend that all cyclists take a course on how to do this.
The group which were involved in the Sydney incident are well known, they are famous, and they are legends. Not for their cycling achievements, but rather for their ignorance and arrogance on the road.
You could see that arrogance beaming from them on TV, they loved it and they were lapping it up, but for all the wrong reasons. Let's think about this logically - they depart from the centre of a busy city in peak hour and head along busy roads thinking that they own the place - something already wrong here?
As a keen rider and racer, I used to ride with this group but I don't anymore. why? Because, they, yes they the cyclists were putting my life at risk. Racing, cutting in, serving out, abusing drivers, sticking their fingers up, squirting water, braking. the peak hour World Cup Cycling Championships
If I count the number of near death experiences I had, they were caused by the group themselves, not the motorists that battled to move around an unorganised bee hive of arrogant professional and mind you, non professional idiots who think they are racing for Beijing gold.
Guys back off and take it easy. The road needs to be shared and people need to get to work. I have ridden with you and driven behind you and it's a bloody nightmare. Sydney is a city, a big and growing city, its a fantastic place, lets work together to educate a society that is not accustomed to bikes and scooters, etc. Get eye contact with the cars around you, wave them on, and let them pass and don't play chasings on a main road. Alternatively guys, find a better starting point or route. And for God's Sake go slow for a while; it isn't going to kill you.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Road rage incident #7
The story of road rage incidents in Australia makes me sad; I assumed so many other countries were so much better than the U.S. in their views on people riding bikes. And I think that is the miss, if everyone would just realize people are simply riding a bike, remember, perhaps they did this same activity when they were a child, before they became obsessed with the auto and all the places it could take them with less effort and more speed.
I laugh at people and their "ownership" of the roads, if they would think back in history, what came first, the car? Or no wait, it was the bicycle! If everyone could chill a little and think about the bigger picture everything could quite possibly work a lot easier then how we've got it going currently. But yet I know that is wishful pie in the sky thinking. Even here in picturesque and "super bike friendly Portland Oregon", we have support from government agencies but the people behind the wheels don't get it like they do in say Lyon, France, Voiron, France, or Amsterdam or Denmark.
Even with the city and state support, you can't change a rednecks mind, you may be able to make him/her obey laws some of the time, but they will still see red when they see something they don't care for or something they simply "don't get" (i.e. people in colourful kits made of lycra riding a gawd damned bicycle).
In summary, after reading other letters, I have decided however to not take my bike when I visit Australia, it's not worth it, a sad realization. I'm sure the time will still be a fun one but just on my two feet instead of my two wheels.
Weight work on the bike
It was interesting to read of Bryan Kirby's story of training with a heavy bike. Our own Robert Millar the 1984 TDF King of the Mountains Champion, used to train with heavy wheels. He would put a tubular tyre within a larger section clincher tyre for training.
He hated punctures interrupting his training sessions, especially if it was wet and cold.
His comment after using wheels kitted out with that combination of tyres was that it felt like you were flying up hills when he went back to his regular light race wheels!
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