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Letters to Cyclingnews December 10, 2001
Here's your chance to get more involved with Cyclingnews. Comments and criticism on current stories, races, coverage and anything cycling related are welcomed, even pictures if you wish. Letters should be brief (less than 300 words), with the sender clearly identified. They may be edited for space and clarity. We will normally include your name and place of residence, but not your email address unless you specify in the message.
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that is best letter I have ever read here. I couldn't also care
less about Very Depressed Baby, until he returns for real. A little
bit much of a soap opera for me, 'he's lost', 'he's found', 'lost again',
'he's signed' 'he's fired' 'he went for a swim', 'rode his bike on a
whim'................. there should be a moratorium on all articles,
and name usage until Very Depressed Baby can make it back to say at
least a top 50 placing.
While nobody doubts that Frank Vandenbroucke has been a head case, I can't help but wish him well.
We are not talking about a no hoper or a man who has done nothing, we are talking about someone who had a pile of wins and has been on the top step of classics. Not as an excuse, but if most people were put in his position at his age, most would have never even made it as far as he did, much less have the great self control to stay there.
This isn't football or basketball or baseball, it's cycling. Drugs or not, arrogance or not, to reach the top step (or even be competitive) requires massive individual commitment and effort. Part of the reason our champions are still our champions even after the host of difficulties they seem to heap on themselves is that most of us fans ride and so understand the unbelievable commitment required to be great at this sport that goes far beyond natural talent. The difference in abilities that the top pro's are born with are extremely small. The difference between podium and not comes down to the months or years of consistent and brutal effort that they are willing to impose on themselves. VDB has done that and even if he doesn't make it, Nobody can take that away.
No excuses for his past actions and silly ego, but if he makes it back,
celebrate it. Nobody gets to the top step in this sport without an effort
that borders on the insane.
In response to Scott Phoenix's letter of November 29 regarding his frustration with the flaky 'Walloon Whirlwind,' I am one who is following Frank Vandenbroucke's 'last chance' with rapt attention. Cancer victims have Lance to carry their guerdon. We dysthymics have FVDB.
As a depressive and a cyclist, I can appreciate Frank's struggles and even his detractor's estimations of him. It's all so familiar. I too was reluctant to answer the door (she knew I was in there). And I've called in sick to work when I was just sure that the world would reveal me a fraud and incapable of creating any more. While these eccentricities are sometimes allowed for in writers and artist-types, they seem unforgivable in athletes, especially with today's training and coaching methods. There's hardly any time allowed for psychotic episodes.
I, however, will count myself among his forgivers and will take my season access to his cheering section in the form of cyclingnews.com. If you're searching for that cheering section along the cobbles, look for the conspicuous gap in the crowd. There are probably plenty of VDB fans, but they're at home behind a couch.
OK, I just have to throw this in there. So it seems that some people out there are sick and tired of reading about Frank Vanderbrouke. I'm not. Bring it on. Post anything and everything you hear about that maniac. I can' get enough of that guy. I can only dream of his return to racing. I think he's got a few more big wins left in him. Just you wait and see.
Yes, I agree. Will this be the same case as this year`s help of Lance to Roberto Heras during Vuelta? I will not be surprised if we will not see Lance riding spring classics. Sorry George, you should choose a better team. But who knows, maybe I`ll change my point of view in April...
Well hot damn, Anthony Smith!! It's far too rare that we get some real science in this forum (read original letter). Anecdotes are great. But every once in a while we need to know or hear the real science behind claims. Thanks!
It seems funny that Italy and French won't send a team to Spain. Italy
can't stop fighting itself on the road in spite of being an absolute
favorite, so why not do something absolutely insane like leaving Pontoni
out and ruin a chance for a cross title. Should Pontoni ride, he is
an undisputed leader and rather than risk loosing without an excuse,
I guess they would rather have one and leave no chance of winning.
In lieu of all of this attention Mr. Simoni is getting, I would just like to remind everyone that Lance is the first one to admit that before the events in his life that changed it so much about him he was not necessarily the most well liked rider in the peloton. Many of the things he said and actions he performed were seen as disrespectful. Granted, what was said by Simoni may be a bunch of garbage, but lets give him the benefit of the doubt and hope that he too will someday see the light and refrain from making such absurd comments.
I'm better in the mountains than Lance Armstrong #2
Wow, what a strange debate Scott Goldstein's letter has caused. Gilberto Simoni's fans are violent hooligans, and Simoni himself should shut up until he has proved himself "in the race that matters". I see. Guess the Giro doesn't matter as long as Lance doesn't ride, huh?
Anyway, here's what I wanted to say: Lance Armstrong rode full force on the l'Alpe d'Huez in this years Tour, almost from the start of the climb, and still couldn't break Pantani's record for the climb. Is it really that terrible for Gilberto Simoni to suggest that he might now be as good as Pantani (was), and thus may be able to cause Lance Armstrong a little bit of trouble in the mountains?
I don't see it. Maybe Simoni's wrong, but hey, he's hardly the only pro athlete to hype himself a little bit from time to time. And he probably believes in what he is saying.
Anders P. Jensen
I'm better in the mountains than Lance Armstrong #3
Unlike the many pretenders out there, I can prove definitively that
I can ride uphill faster than Lance. Here's how it goes:
Coastal Post, California
Calling Marin County "ground zero in today's war over trail access,"
BIKE Magazine's editor, Vernon Felton, relates tales of woe experienced
by disadvantaged weekend warriors who are often banned from careening
their root crunching, rock hopping, people scattering, machines along
narrow footpaths in the woods. Mountain bikers lost a key legal battle
in 1996 when an appeals Court determined there were several legitimate
reasons for separating people and horses from vehicles on narrow paths
(Bicycle Trails Council of Marin v. Babbitt).
Just wanted to drop you a line, to thank you for all the coverage of the Brits you have given us this year. The interviews with Nicole Cooke, Dave Millar and Charly Wegelius were excellent, we have had constant results from UK races, and plenty of news and reviews as well.
There is obviously a lot of rivalry between British & Aussie sport, but I think in cycling there is more of a bond. The riders from Down Under are very popular over here, and their results are closely followed. With joint projects, such as the new iTeamNova, and the former McCartney teams having Oz/UK members, the camaraderie is there for all to see. There is British interest in joining the iTeamNova on-line membership, can you imagine another sport where Brits would help to fund an Australian sports team?!
Keep up the good work in the New Year, but first, have a very merry Xmas.
Very nice essay on Tony Cruz. I am a Philosophy professor, and teach writing. And I race bicycles (at age 44). I very much appreciate well-written and meaningful stories. (Read story)
Hi Cycling news, just read the article by Øyvind Aas on how to use an inner tube to protect your chainstay. Good article, but how to pronounce your name! (Read full article)
More inner tube re-cycling tips:
(2) use more cut lengths of inner tube - road bike diameter is best - to hold your tyre levers, allen keys and other emergency tools together before putting them in your jersey pocket or seat bag. This will keep them together, help stop them going rusty and stop them wearing a hole in your jersey.
In the Peloton School of logic, having no evidence of something is proof that it doesn't exist. Therefore, never being caught running a red light on your bike is proof that you're innocent of it. Now, if you're waiting interminably on your bike for a light to change, I have to guess that there's no car around to trip the light for you...thus, no witnesses of your guilt if you should just keep going. Total innocence, right? In the spirit of cycling's traditional logic, I suggest this solution to the problem. However, those unlucky enough to have a guilty conscience, or those who just can't get around the vigilance of do-gooder motorists and cops, might shorten their wait at red lights by knowing some traffic-light physics. I admit it's not as sexy a topic as doping physiology. Still, wouldn't it be great if someone out there spent as much effort devising a way to get a million cyclists around red-light regulations, as some folks are spending to get a couple dozen cyclists around doping controls?!
The switch to trigger a traffic light is a passive coil of wire in the pavement that is connected to a controlling circuit. Electric currents in metals in moving vehicles make an electromagnetic field (EMF) around the vehicle, which in turn induces a small current in the coil in the pavement. If this current is above a certain threshold, it starts the light sequence. The electric currents in the vehicle's metallic parts are generated as long as the metal in the vehicle is moving through the Earth's magnetic field; there is a lot of flying metal in the engine, for example. The EMF from whatever electronic devices might be operating within the vehicle also affect the coil, and can be a lot stronger. Also, iron generates a stronger EMF than other metals, because iron has its own electromagnetic field. So, vehicles like bikes that don't contain a lot of flying iron or powerful electronic devices, have more difficulty tripping these switches. To trip the light with more success, move your bike and other metallic objects around above the coil like one reader suggested; the closer to the pavement the better. The angle and speed of the bike relative to the Earth's local magnetic field is important, so use trial-and-error. If you're desperate, you could carry some iron or magnets [snow chains, hand grenades, mega-bass speakers, etc. ...sorry, taking Hemassist won't help because its iron is free to rotate in the EMF!!]. In Boulder, cyclists have been successful in contacting the traffic engineers and asking them to turn up the sensitivity of the loops so that bikes can trip them. Unfortunately, no matter how well you can trip the switch, you'll still have to wait for the light to change according to the programmed sequence...that is, if there's a witness!
Hmmmm, you'd think "Ferrari" would be a good name for an expert in gaining "innocent" advantages in traffic...
Running red lights #2
In response to why the rolling back and forth may expedite the changing
of the lights I offer the explanation that it is related to the ability
to induce electrical currents with magnets. This is just an attempt
to dust of the neurons from past physics course, by no means am I a
physicist, but I think it has to do with a magnet in the road that senses
the movement of the metal in the car that passes over it. This movement
in turn is transformed into an electrical current which can communicate
with the light. The current induction though is based on movement so
maybe the rocking back and forth increases the currents frequency and,
therefore, speeds up the signal.
In our part of the world the red lights used to be triggered by weight, but now all of them are triggered by metal. I think that they have a large inductor and sense the current change when metal passes above the coil. We used to (when we had steel bikes) lean the bike over a little bit as we rolled down the edge of the coil. This doesn't work too well with the current carbon frames. A lot of times we resort to hitting the"push to walk" button on the light pole.
Additionally the lights are often triggered more quickly if there are more cars. That is why you see police ( and me also) roll back and forth. It is to trick the sensor into thinking more cars have rolled up.
Tuesday, December 04, 2001
I'd like to contact this writer for info as I would like to go to
How do the Derny drivers know how fast to go for their riders? For
the six day and the Amsterdam Derny race.
The Tour is boring and has been for years. I made the point back in June http://www.cyclingnews.com/letters/2001/june06letters.shtml and still stick by it. I watched very little of it this year, but caught nearly all of the Giro and most of the Vuelta. The Giro had over a dozen serious contenders around the halfway point, and it was back and forth between Simoni and Frigo until the big bust. The Vuelta wasn't decided until the very last day, and not just winner, but the entire podium. As for the Tour, Lance was ahead of Ullrich from the prologue and the gaps just continued to increase. It's been over a dozen years since the lead of the Tour went back and forth between two contenders. That's boring.
The Tour is boring #2
I am not sure about which Tour de France the man is talking about,
but this last year was very entertaining. Granted I will give you that
the anticipation of having a Tour winner decided on the next to last
or last day is exciting, but that is not all a Tour is meant to be is
it? Isn't it supposed to be hard enough that the time gaps of the stage
winners can make a difference? I mean what fun is it when all the leaders
always finish in a pack together, just playing around and waiting for
the last stage? If that is what you want follow the World Cup events
For all of those people crying that the Tour did not pick their favorite rider. Those are the breaks. It is the Tour de France, and if they want to organise it in a way to help support cycling in their own country, why are you so upset? I say hats off for letting the underdogs ride. I think it was great that Cipo wasn't in the Tour. He has won more stages than many great cyclists but has not finished the Tour. I wonder how many stages a rider like Zabel could win, if he knew he did not have to help Ullrich, or worry about finishing the Tour and suffer the mountains. What about Van Looy, or Raas, Marteans, De Vlaeminck, the list is very lengthy. The fact is he is very fast, but he doesn't play a whole match, and I like to watch a complete Football game, be it Aussie, English, Canadian or American. Everybody complained about Pantani's omission. WHY? The year before he was in better shape and he quit the Tour after winning a stage, the effort was so draining. That is hardly a reason for letting him ride.
Why aren't the big names riding the Worlds? Because nobody cares to
see the Rainbow jersey the way they do the Yellow. How come the young
cyclists are trying to get a World Cup Jersey instead of a TdF jersey.
I personally feel that Erik Dekker is by far the most complete year
round cyclist. He has won consistently. (Oh by
Anyway, CyclingNews, thank you for allowing us a forum for which we are allowed to debate our favorite sport, and for letting me ramble on.
Racing in China
I was wondering if anyone knew anything about bike racing in China, around Shanghai or anywhere in the Zhejiang province? I will be going there in early 2004 to study for a year, and would like to race either XC mtb, road or track. Are there any clubs I can contact?
Does anyone have any news of the great Robert Millar? I have heard
many rumours circulating as to his whereabouts and what he has been
up to, but as yet nothing has been reported officially. Has he cut all
ties with the cycling world? We don't seem to see him test riding bikes
in glossy magazines anymore.
I have just taken a quick look back over some the results of the Tour since inception.
There has been much talk recently of the need to shorten the Grand Tours to take some pressure off the peloton and thereby reduce the incentive to take drugs.
Grand ideals indeed, however if one looks back to the tough old days of the early Tour, it is a wonder that anyone was prepared to turn up. Taking the ten toughest tours, which where held consecutively from 1911 till 1924 (1915 to 1918 where not held), a vastly different race appears to that taking place now.
Over that early period, the total distance of the race never fell below 5000km (each conducted over only 15 stages) and the average stage was 362.1km. The ten most recent Tours (to 2001) have averaged just over 3800km and have only been above 4000km once (1996). The increased number of stages has seen the average stage length fall to 183.6km, just over half the good old days.
The dramatic technology involved in the bikes, the improved protective clothing (against cold and rain) and the vastly increased support of riders both before, after and during the race serves as even stronger evidence of the toughness of the old guard.
My strongest respect to all the riders of that time, none more so than Philippe Thijs winner in 1913, 1914 and a monster in 1920.
In response to the letter by Nathan Drake, perhaps the perspective
of a "pure" climber such as myself can shed some light. As
a climber, I eschew training with weights, because, while building the
strength needed in time trialing (to turn an over size big ring and
a corncob cassette), weights also tend to build muscle mass. And as
I have read (in John Howard I think it was), muscle tissue is four times
heavier than fat tissue. Climbers want to stay light. Thus it would
seem that climbing and TTing are mutually exclusive disciplines.
I just want to say two things:
First to Susan Stewart (and anyone else involved), you deserve more praise than can be given by this humble reader/rider for getting this off the ground, to see Aussies racing for an Aussie team in Europe will be fantastic, maybe we can start to understand why the American's loved to see the Mercury team doing well.
Secondly to the Australian cycling public, if this doesn't take off
it's our fault. We all spend money on our bikes (admit it, you probably
spend more than is necessary, they are great toys), so rather than buying
that new pair of singles or seventh pair of knicks, think about becoming
a member and supporting this enterprise. It needs us for it to work,
so lets all get behind it!! (read
full anews story)
Simon van der Aa
Thursday, December 06 2001
It's quite a coincidence that I wrote about the merits of an Australian Pro Team and David McKenzie in a letter dated September 20! Now as I write my next mail, I am excited of the prospect of an Australian Pro Team, with "Macca" as the team leader! It seems to be a great prospect, but 2002 will of course be the test case for iteamNova.com to see if it can survive.
I believe though that funding a cycling team through the public will be difficult, especially since in Australia (and all other countries associated with the team) cycling is not the number one sport in the land. The media would also be a hindrance as other popular sports as football, both codes of rugby and cricket dominate the headlines.
I do recall a similar team run by the current AG2R team manager, Vincent Lavenu in the mid 1990's: Casino-C'est Votre Equipe or Casino- "It's your team." The French team went on the same lines as what iteamNova.com have with public subscriptions, but the Casino supermarkets were the main sponsorship source for the team, even if the money was only minimal in that the team was still a "Petit Casino". After their successes, Casino 'invested' more money into the team and now AG2R has succeeded Casino to become a top French team.
I hope for iteamNova that they will prove to be like Casino so that they will be able to find a title sponsorship rather than rely on the 'unknown' general public to achieve their goals. However for the near future, I will be happy to join the team (after Christmas!) even if my weekly wage is only $A100 per week, double of what iteamNova is asking for subscribing. Then, all members collectively can rename the team "our"teamNova as we hope to be a part of their successes throughout the cycling season.
What is Possum?
I read with great interest, the possum letter and I agree that it is on target. But alas, the real dish that day was CROW.
Its time that a lot of people start chowing down on it as soon as possible.
All these naysayers who just can't accept the fact that an American can be just as good, if not better than the worlds best. Face it. I could not care less where you are from or who you know, bottom line, Armstrong has talent, discipline and ability.
As to boiling the bragging arguments into who climbs better or who is the better rider. Then lets go another step and make it some sort of bitter nationalistic statement. He just happens to be winning. That's it. What's next, well winning races doesn't mean you are a better cyclist, right???
Can't you all marvel at the beauty of the competition, the balls out effort that is being done to win a race?
Naz Sullivan (read
original letter) may be a fan, but I doubt if Andrea Taffi can be
called a small or poor rider by any means. This is a rider I have admired
for a long time, well before the fiasco in Roubaix, for he is just so
generous with his efforts and very astute tactically.
Wm. David James
The last month's letters