Letters to Cyclingnews – December 13, 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

Eurosport Cyclo-cross coverage
Lance to enter Spring Classics
I'm better in the mountains than Lance Armstrong
Coastal post
Tour is boring
Tour de France - The old Vs the new
Wheel Regulation



Hear Hear...good points..and his ride in L-B-L when he won was awesome

Mark Wilkinson
London, England

Tuesday, December 11 2001

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Eurosport Cyclo-cross coverage

First congratulations on the site. I have been reading daily for two years and it has kept on getting better.

Does anyone know of any channel covering the European Cyclo-cross World Cup or Superprestige races? Eurosport seem to have forgotten them again this year. Luckily you are reporting the results!

Wednesday, December 12 2001

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Lance to enter Spring Classics #1

WOW! Isn't it amazing that the Lance bashers are all non-Americans?!?! I know we arrogant Americans think we are the best at everything...well Lance is! Who cares if he rode for Heras, he obviously was not in good enough shape to help, considering his results during that period. Yeah, I know he should have been in Spain supporting an off-form Heras instead of trying to further the sport in the USA. I seem to recall Greg LeMond getting bashed for racing in the USA, taking La Vie Claire to the Coors Classic, what a mistake that was, now we have Armstrong, Hincapie, Vaughters, McCrae, Julich, etc. I guess that didn't help the sport. I personally couldn't care less if Lance rode the Classics either to win or help George. Would it be nice to see, to get coverage here in America? Yes. But I would rather see him dominate Ullrich (yeah, he really takes those big pulls at the front for Zabel) Pantani (team mates, what team mates?) and the rest in France! Lance is king and whatever he wants to do is fine with me, he is a true inspiration to me and to millions of people around the world. If you're not one of them then you need to see a doctor!

L. Scott House
St. Louis, USA
Wednesday, December 12 2001

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Lance to enter Spring Classics #2

There is one BIG difference between Lance riding for Roberto and Lance riding for George. When Lance said he would ride for Roberto, the San Francisco race
had not been finalised. In case you're not all aware, the San Francisco race was put on by the main person behind U.S. Postal, Thom Weisel. Having Lance at the race directly equated to the crowds which I've heard estimations from 250,000 to one million people. Thom Weisel is the guy that's responsible for all the cheques of the riders on Postal. The team decided that it would be in U.S. Postal's, American cycling's, San Francisco Grand Prix's, Lance's, and yes even Roberto's best interests if Lance raced in San Fran instead of Spain. Lance is a man of his word, a team player, and a quality person. Why else would the Vuelta Winner and most threatening climber of the 2000 Tour sign up to ride second fiddle to Lance. Roberto signed because he knows that Lance will make certain that Roberto his more than his fair share of opportunities for glory and greatness.

Happy Riding,
J.C. Van Deventer
Thursday, December 13 2001

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

I can't wait to see you on a ride this next season and say, "Hey, there's the guy who climbs better than Lance!" I'll make you a special jersey.

Yeah, These letters have been a riot. Thanks for another great installment. (Read original letter)

Barry Johnson
Monday, December 10 2001

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I'm better in the mountains than Lance Armstrong #2

As I recall, Pantani's record on the Alpe was set when that climb came at the end of a significantly shorter (and some would agree less arduous) stage, was it not? And didn't Marco's record survive by a mere handful of seconds?

As far as Gilberto is concerned, I agree that if you're gonna talk the talk, you bloody well better be able to walk the walk. I for one am not going to hold my breath.

Trey Spencer
Monday, December 10, 2001

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I'm better in the mountains than Lance Armstrong #3


Your thoughts may be close (or not), but do I get a taste of sour grapes in your letter about Lance? And lets not fluff Simoni's comments with yours, Simoni didn't say that he "might be as good as Pantani was" nor did he say that he "might cause Lance a little trouble in the mountains". Those would be optimistic statements from a respectful person with some class. Instead, he said he "could beat Armstrong in the mountains". (Read original letter)

The Giro is not a lesser race because Lance doesn't ride it (in fact I wish all of today's champions would enter at least two Majors). The Giro is a lesser race regardless of who rides it in this Generation. While the Giro may be a more beautiful race to watch, the talent level at the Giro is not the same as is the Tour.

As for Lance going full stop up the Alpe, who knows (or cares). The stage Pantani won is widely held as having a much easier run up to the Alpe and not a true comparison, and Simoni is not Pantani. So should we feel that Simoni is better than Lance because there is a possibility that he may be as good as another guy who lost head to head (although Pantani was not in his prime) to Lance but on one day under unequal circumstance set a record?

Ahhh yes, with these ideas in hand, I change my mind. Simoni will win hands down! And (some of) his Fans are pure class. Maybe this year they can take out several of Simoni's closest competitors instead of just one.

Tuesday, December 11, 2001

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I'm better than Lance Armstrong #4

Why haven't we heard from the lady who passed Lance going uphill on her mountain bike (somewhere in "It's not about the bike")? OK, he was undergoing chemo at the time, but still, she was faster than Lance, and I don't see her bragging about it. Have some modesty and a little bit of sportsmanship people.

Michael Dolenga
Woodinville, USA
Tuesday, December 11, 2001

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I'm better than Lance Armstrong #5

Several factors can weigh into the actual record of the climb, such as the layout of the stage prior to ascending D'huez, and whether Lance had anyone "pushing" him up the climb other than his own motivation. The difference in Lance's time vs Pantani is minimal enough to say, "who really cares" about the actual time. All that matters in any given race is who gets their first on that day alone. I'm sure Lance wasn't thinking,"I really gotta give 'er these last 3km to beat Marco's record!"

Tuesday, December 11, 2001

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I'm better than Lance Armstrong #6

Just a thought about comparing Lance and Pantani's ride up the Alpe. I think there is an asterisk next to the latter's name in the record books.

Jay Dwight
Cummington, USA
Tuesday, December 11, 2001

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Coastal Post #1

"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)."
Terri Alvillar, December 10 2001 (Read original letter)

This statement is incorrect. BTC v Babbitt was decided on principles of administrative deference. Both the trial court and the court of appeals (which simply reprinted the trial court decision) relied on the principle from Chevron v NRDC to hold that the agency's decision to ban bikes should be deferred to. Neither court held that anything the agency did was right or wrong, or that any reasons was legitimate or not, only that it was not for the court to decide that issue. It was for the agency. At the administrative level, those in charge of the Marin Headlands based the decision to ban bikes largely on anecdotal letters written by angry hikers. At the time the decision was made, there was almost no input from cyclists. It is true that one portion of the trail was closed, to both hikers and bikes, to ensure protection of an endangered plant species. It is not true, however, that any of the remaining trails were closed because of similar reasons. Instead, the primary justification was resolution of trail user conflicts.

As anyone involved with trail access disputes in the Bay Area knows, the local hiking advocacy groups, championed by a reactionary hiker and the SF chapter of the Sierra Club, tend to be some what irrational in their response to trail use. They seem to believe that trails, and the outdoors in general, are for only the spiritually evolved hikers. They get angry when the science shows that hikers and bikers have the same impacts. Identical. Horses, and their impact, cannot be measured in on the same scale, the damage they do to trails is massive and totally out of proportion to either bikes, or hikers. Thus there is no sound reason for excluding bikes, to
preserve resources, that does not also justify excluding hikers.

And what about "user conflicts?" I find it odd that no one ever suggested, or even seriously considered, the possibility of banning hiking. The end result is the same - the user conflict is gone. But the question does not begin from zero point, with an objective assessment of all uses. Instead, the land mangers decide one question only - should bikes remain or should they be banned? They are already assumed to be criminal, and somehow less that the established uses.

Your letter also assumes that bicycling is bad, that it is per-se illegal. But instead of providing examples of real conflicts, you cite to the extreme example of illegal trail construction. Well, look back a hundred years. Where did all the existing trails come from? They were carved by the feet and hands of hikers when the mountains and hills were first explored. They had no permits, they obtained no environmental review.. They simply built them, It is like saying that what San Francisco did to Hetch Hetchy was fine, perfectly dandy, simply because they were able to accomplish that before the oversight of the modern environmental movement. The trails exist for a reason - they were created - and to judge the creators based on the arbitrary criteria of when they happened to be born, is absurd.

You also cite a movie, and its flagrant depiction of illegal trial use. But your subsequent conclusion is a non-sequitur. You fail to establish any link between that activity, and anything other than subjective problems. That these trails are illegal is only a matter of the moment. Political power still resides with aging hikers. But they are aging. And the new generation is coming to power now, the tide is changing, and these illegal closed trails will soon be shown to be the result of arbitrary

As for the contention that bikers are "rude" that is more generational conflict than it is a real complaint. Most of those who are accused of rudeness are young. Most of those who complain of rudeness are, well, not young. Yet the most rude, arrogant, and self-righteous people I have ever met are hikers when they think that they are right. They stand firm on their hypocrisy, claiming that it is fine and fair to exclude bikes, but yelling and screaming when confronted with the possibility that hikers might be excluded too.

Now that bikers have organised themselves into coherent, powerful advocacy groups, it should be possible to challenge these rulings. That was what BTC v Babbitt was all about. Yet despite the fact that the Marin Headlands only considered the biased views of hikers, and very few at that, shows absolute arbitrariness in the decision making. At the time of the decision, the Chevron doctrine held strong sway, and so long as the there was some basis for the Agency's decision, it was nearly impossible to overturn.Yet the firm that tried the case for the BTC chose to attack the decision on substantive grounds, despite the power of Chevron. Somewhat predictably, they lost.

That loss, however, may be short lived. A recent case from the Supreme Court has cast a grave shadow over the legacy of Chevron. And especially in this context, when faced with such arbitrary decision making, and with such a fundamental right as the ability to access our commonly owned public lands, it seems that the tide will turn, and the next time a case is challenged bikes will win. The result will not be a loss for anyone. Instead, the win will be a victory for equal access to our public lands.

It is ludicrous, then, to suggest that biking is a crime. That a biker could be condemned for using the public lands they have arbitrarily been excluded from. Biking on our public lands is a victim of circumstances and the time it was born in. Because biking is the newest use, the established uses took advantage of its nascent state to push forward arbitrary and exclusive trail use policies. Bikes have been excluded from trails across the country. For specious resource preservation reasons that arbitrarily exclude bikes but allow hikers. To resolve trail conflicts.

You are a absolutely right when you say that "[n]obody gets to use or develop land, even their own, any way they choose." Yet that is exactly what you, and those who would exclude bikes want. You want a bike-free hiker land. "They can't lose what they never had"? We, all of us, have always had our public lands.

But if we are to use public lands at all, then we must use them fairly. It is inappropriate to suggest that you, on foot, should have a greater right to access land that I own as much as you. Far be it from me to judge why anyone chooses to use our public lands. For many of us, our love of the outdoors resides deep in our souls. And it is not within my power, nor would I have it so, to judge what may be deep in your soul. But I do not want anyone excluded. I know it is possible to work together. It is time to shelve differences, return all parties to a level playing field, and restore the "public" to our public lands.

Justin Lucke
California, USA
Tuesday, December 11, 2001

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Coastal Post #2

Terri's letter is a classic example of enviro-extremism. A typical enviro will tell you that they are interested in protecting endangered species or the environment in general, when in reality they are motivated by nothing more than NIMBYism and selfishness. "Itís my trail, my waterway, my forest to enjoy and Iím gonna use ESA to keep everyone else out!" It is easy to prey on the ignorance of the general public with grand tales of destruction. Funny thing is, there are only a handful of bad, highly publicised examples compared to many more un-mentioned examples of good stewardship by mountain bike clubs. I donít see the Sierra Club out doing as much trail maintenance as the IMBA. But then again, that wouldnít serve the purpose of limiting access.

While she points out some examples of bad behavior by a few of the "hard-core" group, she doesnít allow for the fact that most mountain bikers are responsible trail users. This is a classic mentality: "letís blow everything out of proportion so that the people who are ignorant of the issues of trail access only hear the horror stories and want to ban mountain biking all-together."

As for "Bike" magazine, I have never been a fan, though somehow I receive a free mailing occasionally. I donít see 50 foot drops on "motorcycles without engines" and extreme "Northshore" riding as representative of the sport of mountain biking. If they can get away with that in Canada, fine. In the US we have do listen to people spoutting off at public meetings that only hikers and horses should be allowed on trails because someone might run over a kangaroo rat or scare a bird!

I'm thankful that we have a generation of young people interested in the sport of mountain biking.

Russ Freeman
Hanford, USA
Thursday, December 13 2001

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Coastal Post #3

Ax to grind Terri?
Not all Mountain Bikers fit into the groove you have so neatly built in your letter, and not all Mountain Bikers agree on the issues of land use and access either. Lastly, not all Mountain Bikers agree with the views of Bike Magazine (I'm a subscriber btw).

Bikes can impact trails adversely, and they can impact trails minimally. It is determined by the rider. Your issue is really with irresponsible people who ride mountain bikes, not Mountain Bikers. Try to frame it that way rather than indicting all of us in your diatribes.

Don't skid, don't cut trails, stay on the singletrack, announce your presence will in advance when overtaking or rounding a blind corner on a highly traveled trail, yield to people riding or walking up hill, and dismount around horses. It's pretty easy.

Michael Sylvan
Seattle, USA
Tuesday, December 11, 2001

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The Tour is boring #1

In regards to "boring" Tours vs. "exciting" Giros and Vueltas -- would you rather watch division II Italian/Spanish teams, or the super-teams? Every stage in the Tour is on-par with a classic win for the numerous domestiques who ride for one-day glory. The same can definitely NOT be said for the other grande rondes... The overall winner is just one small part of the Tour. The day-to-day drama and zero-to-hero stage winner is what makes the Tour -- it is never BORING.

Brooks Lawrence
Newton, USA
Tuesday, December 11, 2001

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The Tour is boring #2

Is the Tour Boring? Perhaps it is if you think there is only one reason to follow sports. The Tour is incredibly exciting because, in fact, precisely the opposite is true: there are a great many reasons to watch and follow sports. Cycling is no different than any other sport in this regard. Some people think the only thing that will make the Tour interesting is down to the wire action with thirteen lead changes for the overall and the winner crowned on the final stage. The Tour de France (or any of the Grand Tours) is a huge event with literally hundreds of competitions spread over three weeks. Who is going to win? Win what? Each stage, each sprint, each climb
produces incredible action. (Read original letter)

Want to hear another reason to watch the Tour (or any sport)? The chance to see an athlete whom, when compared to the World's best in his sport, consistently rises head and shoulders above the rest. The chance to see Greatness. Most of us will never attain the ability of the lowliest Tour cyclist. However, when we watch the Tour, either on TV or by the roadside, if we are lucky (and we are lucky) we can see first hand a little bit of what it means to be unquestionably the World's Best. Sports are about who wins, but also hidden in the mix is the question of who is best. I am interested in the latter as much as the former.

Here is another thing to consider: Do you ever, when thinking about those"exciting" Tours of years gone by with umpteen lead changes and a final winner decided by less than a minute, listen to the little voice quietly whispering in your ear: "Somebody had to win, didn't they?". If the Tour de France was contested between the teams from the bottom of division II and Division III instead of the top of Division II and Division I...the race would be very close and SOMEBODY would win. But that wouldn't make it great, would it?

The Tour this year was spectacular. Anyone who watched the race could name literally dozens of riders, achievements and moments that were amazing to watch. On top of this all, we saw a man who was clearly better than the rest (in a competition where the worst participant is a terrific athlete), a worthy champion in his own right..and yet there was someone better still, as far above him as he was above the rest. It could not have been better.

Saying the Tour is boring is like saying an American Football season was dull because the Super Bowl was a blowout. Watch the event, not the score at the end.

Scott Goldstein
Tuesday, December 11 2001

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Tour de France - The old Vs the new

With all due respect Warwick,
Yes, the Tours of the early 20th century were extreme in length and difficulty (especially given the heavier bikes, fewer gear, poor roads and much less service), but the dynamics of the race have also completely changed. In the old days it was more like the current adventure races, where everyone takes their bike, and has to nearly fend for themselves until they get halfway to nowhere in 15-20 hours at a time. These days, riders instead go all out for 6-8 hours at a time. Modern day racers are much more evenly matched, and therefore have learned and are willing to push their bodies much harder. To do a 300km stage once, let alone multiple days in a row would be near suicidal....multipe riders could conceivably push themselves dangerously far. The other point is that cycling, especially in Europe, has become a spectator sport that is televised live. More then eight hours of coverage could get quite boring, and the current lengths still provide more than enough time for exciting tactical and strategic racing that results in the best/strongest riders winning. (Read original letter)

Stuart Press
Velo Club LaGrange
Los Angeles, USA

Wednesday, December 12 2001

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Wheel regulations

Amen, brother. I finally had to retire my 1992 Dura Ace 8speed gruppo, it suffered from STITIS (so Eamon told me). Since then I have ridden a Dura Ace 9speed gruppo, and a Record 10speed gruppo. Hands down the Campy is more reliable. Frankly, I wish both companies would make stronger parts that lasted longer, even at the expense of weight. (Blasphemy, I know.) Until then, I guess I'll just replace cassettes more often than I care to. (Read original letter)

Seattle, USA
Tuesday, December 11 2001

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Respect #1

In agreement with Wm. Davis James, the last person to call Tafi a poor rider or a little man that I can think of is Naz. Kinda funny that in an attempt to whine about Armstrong's exposure, he comes off with an example of Tafi being "so called small" etc. I would love to see the quote from anyone proclaiming Tafi as anything but a monster in the pedals.

If you're upset at the amount of exposure Lance Armstrong gets, try two things; First, don't bloody mention him to start your own letter. Second, Fly to the moon or hide in a cave (not in Afghanistan) for the next two or three years. The man is the best cyclist on the planet right now (unless you ask Gilberto Simoni), so you're in for a long haul.


Thursday, December 13 2001

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Respect #2

Naz Sullivan here again,I apologise to Dave James if he thought that I do not believe that Andrea Tafi is a great rider,in fact I love Tafi, I think he's the greatest rider ever and I support him like a maniac, every time I see him I let a cheer.

I think you got confused about what I was saying or I didn't put my point across properly. I was saying and trying to put across that other fans, reporters,etc. don't seem to give him the respect of a great talented champion,when in fact he is supremely fit,professional,courageous and talented. (Read original letter)

Naz Sullivan
Thursday, December 13 2001

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The last month's letters

  • December 10 - VDB, Lance in the classics, Coastal Post, Racing in China, Better than Lance Armstrong, Derny Races, Running Red Lights
  • 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