Letters to Cyclingnews April 12, 2001
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A couple of days ago, Woyteck Morajko expressed concern that bikes that had broken in the Tour of Flanders were widely available. Kjetil Haaland responds that perhaps using a superlight bike for Flanders is pushing the bike to its limit and beyond, but nobody is going to win on a touring bike. Peter Rhodes points out that Jo Rider puts a bike though far less than do the pros, while Terry Tomlin reckons bikes are substantially more reliable than a few years ago. In my observation, these things come in waves. The last round of lightweight fanticism spilled over from the mountain bike industry in the early 90s and produced some truly dangerous parts. We're about due for another turn.
Raymond F Martin believes the issues in women's cycling are more about economics than gender. Michael Hicks points out that swimming now has a 1500m women's event, and Martin Pearce believes things are improving, and greater activism among women in the direct election of cycling officials would help.
Finally, here's Dana Weber with a tale of Postie Dylan Casey's one-man grass roots cycling program.
Both Bortolami and Peers ride "state of the art" superlight aluminium frames. It is a well known that aluminium is light and effective (read stiff) at the expense of longevity. Putting these frames to use in the RVV is taking them to their limit and maybe beyond. I do not think anybody would try to win the RVV on a touring bike with 37mm tires more than anybody would take an 18-wheeler to the Monaco Grand Prix. However I agree with you that open tires smaller than 23mm are no good. How come it is always the guy on 20s who punctures (typically pinch flats) on group rides anyway?
Most of us will never even come close to abusing a bike as much as the professionals do. They have probably been riding these bikes for at least four months now and have logged most likely over 10,000 kilometers on the things. I'm not saying this is justification for a bicycle breaking, but it could easily be that they both just beat the living daylights out of their machines.
Professional cycling is also a wonderful testing ground for new materials and frame designs. For all we know both of those bikes could be prototypes. If so, they definitely need to go back to the drawing board. It is risk many of the pros probably think is worth taking.
As for the punctures. I would expect at least a couple punctures on the good ol' cobbles. It comes with the territory.
I suspect that both Bartolami and Peers put substantially more stress on their bikes in a spring campaign of training and racing than the "general public" does. As someone who earns a living selling, servicing and racing high-end bicycles I'm consistently amazed at how resilient these machines are. Both engineering and materials (especially alloys and carbons) are light years ahead of even five years ago. Frame breakage and warranty claims are actually rarer now than several years ago.
The general public should always have access to whatever high end products can be brought to market, but on an understanding of the purpose of the product and the expected life span of the product.
The products that DO scare me are those fly-by-night seatpost, skewer, stem and hardware manufacturers whose SOLE criterion for a product's validity is weight. Bigger manufacturers often seem to do more engineering, testing and have more 'riding' on their reputation. In the end, however, a mixture of buyer beware and good ol' common sense should be our guiding light.
The issue is not related to gender, it's related to interest generated, and advertising dollars; a business case. I race multisport, and our prizes are far less than in cycling. Don't I have to train as hard, if not harder as I race in several sports at once? I don't dispute the point, but it's not gender based. If as many fans came to Race X as Race Y, if sales of product due to each race were the same, the prizes would be similar. It's simple economics. I suffer as a result, but understand it for what it is. Van Gogh never sold many paintings.
Raymond F Martin
For Kate Rowe's info, the women's 1500 m swimming is in the program for this year's world swimming championships, to be held in Japan in July, although the point is taken.
The answer here for Kate Rowe and all the other girls is to put some women into power. Vote them in locally, That means: turn up to club and state cycling association annual general meetings and make a difference with your hands. Distance is only one aspect of the equation, don't forget the rest. Take your cycling future into your own hands.
1500 metres is not deemed too long in swimming any more, by the way, and marathons have been in for some time, as has pole vaulting, triple jump and so on. It's easy to blame attitudes and there has been male ignorance in the past but if women are to move on then they need a section of the UCI that deals solely with women's cycling at all levels - there may even be a section the exists already.
The attitude that holds anything back in the equality issue is the confrontational us (female) versus them (males who are all bastards) one. Get past this and you may have a chance as the majority of us males are completely on your side!
It appears that the United States Postal Service rider Dylan Casey has taken the initiative to start his own grass roots cycling program. After the finish of the BMC Software Downtown Criterium in Austin, Casey loaned his custom Trek to an interested spectator. The 200-pound, baggy clothed, Texas Relays partygoer did look slightly out of place wobbling down the 6th street sidewalk on the race bike. But Casey remained somewhat calm despite the man disappearing with the bike for nearly 20 minutes. When the man finally returned (with two postal crew members in chase) spirits were high. After a hug and group picture it appears that Casey‚s program was off to a good start. It may be best that Frankie didn't find out though.
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