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.

Please email your correspondence to letters@cyclingnews.com.

Recent letters

Lance to enter Spring Classics
Cycling better than Viagra
Italian/French excusses
I'm better in the mountains than Lance Armstrong
Coastal post, California
Tony Cruz returns to his roots
Inner tube tips
Running red Lights
Tour Du Faso
Derny Races
Tour is boring
Racing in China
Robert Millar
Tour de France - The old Vs the new
Botero's changing abilities
What is Possum?
Wheel Regulation


VDB #1

Scott, 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.

Jad Sutton
Friday, November 30, 2001

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VDB #2

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.

Charles Manantan
Phoenix, USA
Friday, November 30 2001

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VDB #3

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.

Tuesday, December 04 2001

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VDB #4

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.

Big Jonny
Saturday, December 08 2001

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Lance to enter Spring Classics

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...

Slavomir Tomasovic
Thursday, November 29 2001

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Cycling better than Viagra

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!

Cliff McArthur
San Francisco
Thursday, December 06 2001

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Italian / French Cyclo excusses

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.

As for the French, I guess they are taking a page from the Tour De France's book and deciding against a member of a non French team. Only problem is, it will not give them a better chance at a good place, as they suck anyway.

Of course, none of this matters as there is no threat to Belgium & Norsemen anyway, unless one of their team gets an abdominal injury caused by laughing at Italy and France. Hey, maybe they're on to something!

Sunday, December 02 2001


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I'm better in the mountains than Lance Armstrong #1

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.

E. M.
Chicago, USA
Saturday, December 01, 2001

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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
Korsør, Denmark
Sunday, December 02 2001

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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:
1. In a local race here in Utah back in '96, I rode up a hill faster than my fellow Utah Premier club member Christian Johnson. (I can prove this. The hill is in Bluffdale, Utah, and a mangy farm dog witnessed the event).
2. On several occasions, Christian Johnson has ridden up a hill faster than US Postal rider and local Utah boy Dave Zabriskie. (I can prove this, too. The hill is at the Department of Motor Vehicles in West Valley City, where we hold Wednesday night crits. Many Utah racers have permanent deposits of lactic acid in their legs from chasing Christian and Z up the hill. They are witnesses).
3. Dave Zabriskie probably once rode faster than Lance Armstrong up a hill. The hill was probably in Europe, or some other place where the Posties train. (I can't prove this, but it must have happened sometime, right?)
Ergo, I can whup LA in the mountains. Also, I tied with Pantani in last year's Tour, and Pantani also "beat" Lance at Ventoux. With me and Marco at our computers getting live feeds of next year's Tour on cyclingnews.com, Lance's "superiority" will definitely be in danger. Tremble with fear, Lance.

Charles Rosett
Utah, USA
Saturday, December 08 2001

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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).

In Felton's article "Losing it All" (October 2001), he cites "smear campaigns, lawsuits, and criminalisation of mountain biking" as the cause of trail restrictions and closures. The recurring theme in the mountain bikers' lament is "it wasn't my fault." Mountain bike proponents just refuse to admit that their sport has caused tremendous environmental damage, increased expenses for taxpayers through enforcement and restoration programs, ruined the experience for, driven off, and endangered, other trail users.

The "criminalisation" of mountain biking doesn't occur until there's a crime and a conviction. It is odd that two months after Bicycle Trails Council of Marin Director, Michael More, Neal Daskal, and William McBride pleaded guilty to destruction of federal property by constructing an illegal mountain bike trail in a national park in Marin, BIKE magazine is still saying that More "allegedly" built the trail. According to one land manager, BIKE published a photo of a portion of this trail in their June 2001 issue, page 61. That lush Redwood forest and delicate soil through which the trail was cut contradicts Felton's attempt to underestimate the seriousness of the destruction by depicting the trail as passing "through land that may soon be leased out for cattle grazing, a less than environmentally sensitive use of open space." In
its indictment, the US Attorney's office described the land quite differently: "The GGNRA (Golden Gate National Recreation Area) is part of the Golden Gate Biosphere Reserve, so designated by the United Nations based on its significant biodiversity and ecological value. Portions of the GGNRA provide habitat for the Northern Spotted Owl, the Coho Salmon, the Steelhead Trout and the California red-legged Frog, all threatened species under the Federal Endangered Species Act..."

"It wasn't my fault" was the same excuse Wilderness Trail Bikes (WTB) president, Patrick Seidler, gave to San Rafael resident, Frances Nunez, earlier this year. Seidler claimed he didn't know that the mountain bike video "Superheros" was going to use his company's name as a sponsor. The film includes illegal mountain bike riding on Marin County Open Space District land, riding on the illegally built Medivac Trail in Novato (according to a County Open Space Commissioner), illegal trespassing and mountain bike stunts at the California State building in San Francisco, and public urination in a parking lot. Now BIKE magazine reports that Seidler said "Yes, his company sponsored the film." Felton calls complaints about this film "hate mail." Arrogance and irresponsibility seem to characterise the leaders of mountain biking organisations. While admitting that "a mountain biker can negatively affect the experience of other trail users who are trying to escape from a fast and crazy world," Felton demands that "the expectation of solitude needs to change." In other words, we're going to ride when we want, where we want, and how we want, regardless of how it impacts others. And when we get caught riding illegally, it's not really our fault because we are just frustrated by the rules.

Felton cites Camp Tamarancho (Fairfax, Marin County) as "living proof that mountain bikers can build, ride and maintain a healthy trail system." Yet this nine mile system was built illegally, completely without required permits for excavation, bridge building, tree felling, etc. The County is now requiring the owners to obtain retroactive permits and state-mandated environmental review. The bike trail system has forced closure of many footpaths formerly open to hikers, and it has forced many hikers to cease using the property for safety reasons. Mountain bikers expect hikers to jump out of their way so they don't have to reduce speed. Allowing mountain bikes on narrow "multi-use" trails creates de facto bike-only trails.

Lastly, BIKE magazine blames "sprawl" as the culprit which keeps bikes off single track trails ("It's not my fault"). It couldn't be that mountain biking causes damage, frightens or kills animals, scares people, and drives other trail users away. It couldn't be that mountain bikers are known for illegal trail riding and building, and for arrogant and rude behavior toward other trail users. It couldn't be that they trespass and damage private property. Everybody has to live by rules. Nobody gets to use or develop land, even their own, any way they choose. "Losing it All?" They can't lose what they never had.

Terri Alvillar
Monday, December 10 2001

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British Coverage

Dear Cyclingnews,

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.

Rob Finch
Basildon CC, Essex, England
Saturday, December 08 2001


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Tony Cruz returns to his roots

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)

Eric Snider
Toledo, USA
Saturday, December 08 2001

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Inner tube tips

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:
(1) To protect one of the most vulnerable bearings on your bike - especially good for mountain bikes. When installing new lower head bearings - or simply when you have taken your fork out for any reason, cut a 50mm length of maintain bike inner tube and stretch it over the bottom bearing cup and headtube. When the fork is back in place pull the piece of inner tube down to cover the join. This keeps the world out and will stop your bottom bearings looking like old peas in watery gravy for ages! There is an alternative - buy a Chris King headset and never have to touch them again but this is about £120 dearer!

(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.

Robin Cooney
Cumbria, UK
Friday, December 07 2001

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Running red lights #1

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...

Boulder USA
Friday, November 30, 2001

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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.

Chicago, USA
Saturday, December 01, 2001

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Red lights #3

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.

Gerald Biehle
Phoenix, USA

Tuesday, December 04, 2001

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Tour du Faso

I'd like to contact this writer for info as I would like to go to Burkina
Faso next year.

Thanks for printing my Tour de France letter today. (Read full story)

John Leitch.
Thursday, November 29 2001

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Derny Races

How do the Derny drivers know how fast to go for their riders? For the six day and the Amsterdam Derny race.

I really hope they play this card soon... He's the next big winner, I say.

Thomas Zander
Thursday, November 29 2001

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The Tour is boring #1

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.

John Spevacek
St. Paul, USA
Thursday, November 29 2001

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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 more.

As for Lance never being challenged, yes it is true he has won all three Tours by a good margin, Zulle finished second in the '99 edition at 7.27 behind. HOWEVER...over 6 minutes was lost on Stage 4 when a crash split the peleton up, (remember). What a different Tour that would have been had Zulle been only 1.05(the margin of the prologue and first ITT) when they entered the mountains. Lance has prepared for the Tours heavily and his success shows. Ullrich has proven to be a superb rider-we already knew that-and it will be nice to seem him win a Tour again.

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
the way...look at his handlebars....he rarely has a cyclo computer..he won Amstel without it) As riders and fans we control what is important. If we think the Tour de France is not run properly, then throw your support elsewhere. If the popularity of the TdF, begins to diminish, because so many people are watching others, I am sure the format will change. Until then I applaud them for supporting their local guys. I think it is great that the Tour Down Under, has the University cyclists ride. Why not? It is their race to run as they see fit! When we start asking for Oscar Friere's autograph before Lance's and his collectibles are more desired, then we will see a focus on the World Champion. Until then...c'est dommage.

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.

Friday, December 07, 2001

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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?


Michael Leung
Sydney, Australia
Monday, December 03 2001

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Robert Millar

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 would appreciate any news of any sort.

Ashley O'Neil
Plymouth, UK
Tuesday, November 27 2001

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Tour de France - The old Vs the new


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.

Warwick McAlpine
Tuesday, December 04 2001

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Botero's Changing Abilities

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 also remember reading something to that effect in a book by Samuel Abt on the major tour of the '80's. As a climber, Robert Millar couldn't hold up in the ITT's, so he did weights, which made him a better time-trialist, but really detracted from his performance in the mountains. True "all rounders" like Jalabert don't suffer from this. Hope this explains it a little.

Colin Williams
Wednesday, December 05, 2001

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iteamNova #1

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
Hobart, Australia

Thursday, December 06 2001

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iteamNova #2

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.

Edilberto Pangilinan
Melbourne, Australia
Thursday, December 06 2001

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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?

Mark Combs
Saturday, December 01, 2001

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Wheel regulations

Sorry to hear about the troubles you've experienced with Campy. I personally have had just the opposite experience. I've been a racing team, shop, club and neutral support mechanic for over 30 years now, and while I agree that in some respects Campy has had to compromise on finish (as compared to their standards from the 60's and 70's) in order to price competitively while paying their workers much higher wages, I have found their equipment to work better for me. I have been involved with cycle racing since the late '60's, but didn't own my first Shimano group until 1978(Early Dura-Ace). Since then I have owned over two dozen bikes equipped with Shimano Dura-Ace, 600/Ultegra, and 105, and a similar number equipped with Campagnolo Record (Nuovo/Super/C/Ti/Carbon), Triomphe/Chorus, Athena, and Racing T. Currently I am riding 14 bikes (I know I'm insane), five Shimano equipped and nine Campagnolo.

Don't get me wrong, I love Shimano components, and I have no doubt that the way they slammed Campy in the late 80's and early 90's was due in large part to the fact that they were making technologically superior equipment. This forced Campy into major re-tooling and redesign, which was much needed as they were definitely resting on their laurels. Since that time I feel, with a few fits and starts, Campy has come to at the very least match the best performance Shimano has to offer. While admittedly a matter of opinion I feel that the current (last five years) Campagnolo "Ergo" system offers several advantages over Shimano.

I prefer the Ergo levers, I like the "micro" adjustable ratcheting for the left lever far more than the pre-programmed stops in the Shimano system. I like the solid feel of the fixed brake lever as opposed the sloppy feel of the Shimano brake/shift lever. I like the way the Ergo thumb lever allows multiple upshifts on the right side, and as I said in the previous letter I really like the fact that the entire shifting mechanism of the lever is quickly accessible and re-buildable with easily available and low cost replacement parts. (As are all the rest of the lever's parts).

In direct contrast I feel that the super high quality that Dura-Ace, and even 600/Ultegra, displayed in the late 80's and early 90's has suffered in recent years. I believe the finish, and quality of my Dura-Ace 7400 and 7401 Groups is far superior to the Dura-Ace 7700. And forget the comparison between the older Ultegra and the newer!! Do you know anyone who can stand those cheap plastic, rattling Ultegra 9sp STI levers?

I have a Tommasini that was equipped with Ultegra 8sp STI from the mid 90's that group had over 30,000 miles on it and survived well (replaced levers twice, chainrings and cogs four times, and numerous bearings). In 1999 I "upgraded it to the current 9sp Ultegra group and after about 6000 miles it is on it's 4th set of levers (I finally upgraded to Dura-Ace because the Ultegras were junk), second set of chainrings and cogs, 2d freehub body, second bottom bracket, and 3rd Hub rebuild, second rear derailleur, sealed headset however is perfect, as are the brake calipers.

Even the current Dura-Ace is no where near the superior quality it boasted 10 years ago. It is made to be used for one or two seasons and then be replaced. My old Dura-Ace hubs are far smoother than the new ones (Same goes for Campy!).

Before I get too carried away with comparisons however, let's not digress from the point which I tried to make in the letter, which you disagreed with, that Campy offered longer lasting value. I still maintain Campy is superior in this area. I have two bikes from the mid 90's equipped with Record components with over 20,000 miles. I have replaced chainrings, cogs, bearings, chains, and springs in the shift levers, nothing else and they still look and function like new. Campagnolo, unlike Shimano, for years has offered complete compatibility between their various levels of componentry. (i.e. Record/Chorus/Athena may be mixed together and still perform correctly). Shimano is finally starting this. Campy hubs are completely rebuildable, including replaceable races, by any reasonably competent cyclist with parts that are widely available. (In answer to your query: Yes, I have tried to obtain eight speed replacement parts and components from Campy, found it quite easy, and reasonably inexpensive. I don't think you can say the same for Shimano).

In the late 80's and early 90's one of the things I liked about Shimano was how you didn't sacrifice much in quality or performance when you went 600/Ultegra instead of Dura-Ace, while I found just the opposite with Campy. If you didn't buy Record you sacrificed not only weight but real performance. The tables are now totally turned. The quality of the Campy Chorus so far outdistances Ultegra 9sp it's laughable, while Dura-Ace is really the only Shimano group a serious rider would buy. So yes, I believe that Campagnolo offers longer lasting value for your dollar, and that belief is based on extensive experience with both product lines over many years.

Just as we will never decide with words the battle of Coppi vs. Bartali, Armstrong vs. Ullrich, or Merckx vs. Everyone, so we will not decide the Campy vs. Shimano battle with words. You prefer Shimano, I prefer Campagnolo. While I am willing to admit that Shimano has and does make many fine products which I have been very happy to use, I still believe that Campagnolo offers superior value for the dollar when all factors are considered.

Steve Farris
Saturday, December 01, 2001

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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.

If anyone should need reminding, just have a look the Rochester GP in UK a few years ago, which he won admirably, after having taken Stephan Barthe "out-the-back". That was just one example of this "pure" bike rider's ability.

His worth is obviously appreciated at Mapei.

Wm. David James
Monday, December 03 2001

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The last month's letters

  • November 29 - VDB, Lance in the classics, Bart, Bad Aussie news, Better than Lance Armstrong, Derny Races, Running Red Lights, National Championships
  • November 22 - Transfer News, Great coverage, NESP, Recovery from back surgery, Better than Lance Armstrong, Indoor Trainers, Running Red Lights,
  • November 16 - Transfer News, NESP,Tour du Faso, Better than Lance Armstrong, Indoor Trainers, Running Red Lights, Golden Age, Tour Duration
  • November 12 - Virenque, Indoor Trainers, Running Red Lights, UCI Points, Golden age, Worlds Format, Coaches,Tour Duration, Delatour
  • November 1 - Virenque, Golden age, Worlds Format, Coaches,Tour Duration, Ullrich
  • October 25 - Virenque, Pietrzak, Ullrich Worlds TT, Coaches Wheel Regulations, Support Vehicles
  • October 17 - Virenque, EPO Testing, Ullrich Worlds TT, Millar's TT helmet, Wheel Regulations, Support Vehicles
  • October 11 - Tribute song to Lance Armstrong, Podium Girls, High blood pressure, Saddle Hieghts, Santiago Botero
  • October 2 - High Blood pressure, Saddle height, Podium Girls, Vuelta, cycle bashing, Oscar Egg
  • September 20 - Vuelta, cycle bashing, Oscar Egg, Bupropion, climbing times
  • September 11 - Altitude tents, high BP, attacks, Oscar Egg, Bupropion
  • September 5 - Mckenzie & Vaughters respond, climbing times, anti-doping, 1989, Pantani
  • August 29 - Pantani, Vaughters, Where's Cipo?, McKenzie, Velodromes, 1989, Armstrong
  • August 23 - Vuelta, Mercury, Ullrich, Soviets, 1989 again
  • August 17 - Doping, Armstrong, LeMond and The Devil
  • August 14 - Tour, Armstrong, Chemo, Vuelta, Doping, Rooting, & more
  • August 8, part 2 - More about the Tour, and more
  • August 8, part 1 - Tour reflections, chemotherapy, commentary, commercials
  • July 31 - Armstrong, Ullrich, Rous, Hamilton, Drugs, Canada
  • July 18 - Armstrong on l'Alpe, Cycling Manager, food, 35 minutes, commentary, Men's World Cup, Schmoo, van Vliet
  • Letters Index - The complete index to every letters page on cyclingnews.com