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Respond to this letter
Letters to Cyclingnews September 20, 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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Vuelta at record speed
OK, Here we are again, the Peloton storming down the road at record speed. Does anyone get the feeling that the Peloton has again changed gears? Tents have been around for a while, as have drugs and it seems like, as history proves, the cheats are one step ahead all the time. It doesn't surprise me that the field is speedy and will get faster, but if the use of EPO and its new (more potent and hard to detect) substitutes are able to give you a 2-5% advantage, why do we keep going faster rather than taking that step back?
I say let the pros take whatever they want. They are paid to entertain us and they do that very well. It may even be good for the sport by adding even more speed and heroics! I would love to see former positive testers do well again. Pantani in Yellow, Casagrande at the front of the Giro, another comeback for Museeuw or another Polkadot for Richard V, the list is embarrassingly complete. The Giro sweeps were a good indicator that we are not clean, but the best indicator are the results. I'm sure someone will chime in with "race conditions," "equipment advances," and the best guess of all "new training techniques," but the fact that Frigo had drugs not even approved for use yet, is to me a better indicator. Let the "prove it" crowd say what they will, but to disprove it is even harder. Just look at the numbers.
Let the athletes do what they will. It's the one true way to even the playing field and stop the issue being so important!
We already knew Gonzales de Galdeano, Oscar Sevilla, Botero and Laiseka were hot. We know that if you get Zabel to the 1K marker anywhere near the front, he's money. But Levi Leipheimer? He's riding out of his mind! This guy belongs on the Postal "A" squad at the TdF! (By the way, where's the Odessa Gunn behind the scenes commentary when we need it?)
Thanks for your always great coverage (especially when the Outdoor Life Network coverage fails).
SSRIs like Bupropion can be prescribed to relieve chronic pain in patients, and often, that pain has no physiological basis. Essentially, it has been approved by the FDA as a pain perception-altering drug. A cyclist on an SSRI might have a higher pain threshold, which could theoretically enhance performance, but there is no such thing as a free lunch, as it might also have other effects that decrease performance. The UCI is probably justified in being cautious and banning it.
Just a clarification - Bupropion is not an SSRI. The antidepressant prescribed most often for chronic pain is Effexor (also not an SSRI).
The thought of someone carrying a handgun during cycling is pretty silly. Leave it up to road cyclists to think of carrying a titanium one no less (why bother when you can get a polymer one?). You should NEVER carry a handgun unless you have the means to fully control it and I wouldn't believe anyone who told me they could do that AND ride a bike.
If you do get into a situation where you find a handgun is necessary, it would mean slowing down, getting off the bike, getting the gun out, and aiming it. Given that your adrenaline is probably pumping at this point, you'd most likely need to use two hands to control the gun.
Anyone who is even considering carrying a handgun during a ride should ask themselves if they see themselves doing all the above things, or if they think they're gonna be a modern day Wild Bill and shoot while on the bike (and possibly hit Grandpa and Grandma Smith driving home). If you are feeling so victimized that you decide to carry a gun while riding, you should either find a new route, ride in groups for safety, or stay home and ride the trainers. I road ride and I own a handgun. I couldn't possibly imagine combining the two unless it was some sort of mutated sort of biathlon. That would be kinda funny actually, 'cross and pistol shooting.
Cycle Bashing #2
In his letter, Scott Walmsley articulated something that needed to be said on this subject. I am an avid cyclist and ride every day in the country around my home in Northern California. I used to race in the USA and Europe many years ago, and follow professional cycling closely thanks to this Web site and others like it. Thus, I think one can assume I am as sympathetic to cycling and cyclists as anyone can be. However, I also get infuriated when driving and come to groups of cyclists, in numbers ranging from two to over 100, who ride side by side on narrow roads talking to one another and totally oblivious to the cars around (usually behind) them. They race through intersections without stopping regardless of the fact that there are usually signs controlling traffic, causing some cars to brake sharply, while others have to wait for the group to pass through before proceeding. These cyclists seem to think that just because they are on bikes, the rules of the road do not belong to them and offer no courtesy or thought to those with whom they share the road.
It is not too much to think that the motorists who experience the same as I, but who do not have the sympathies carry a grudge. I only hope they do not take them out on me. Yes, I know it is a pain to have to slow at intersections and give the right of way to the driver whose turn it is to proceed, to be aware that there are motorists behind them and thus form a single line when there are, so as to let the cars go through, and to do all those other things they expect from drivers. Until cyclists do this, it does seem to me just a little cheeky to complain when motorists do not treat them as they would like to be treated. Why should they, after all. They treat the motorists in the same manner. (No, I do not condone any of the dreadful behavior I have read in this thread, especially about the man shot on his way to work. There is no excuse for any of this stuff.) The difference in the size and weight of the kind of vehicle being used to get from point A to point B is an even better reason to be considerate and try to get along with the other vehicles with which we cyclists share the road. The damage that is done to skin and bones is usually far worse than that done to sheet metal of a car when the two come into conflict.
Andrew D Farrand
Cycle Bashing #3
While I agree with Mr. Lee that handguns and cycling should not be mixed for conflict resolution. I did, however, have several experiences where they were. I rode in Cordoba, Argentina in June, July, and August of 1993 after I got out of college. While in Cordoba, I rode on several occasions with a fellow cyclist who was a police officer. As strange as it sounds, he had his gun (a 9mm) and holster under his jersey on all of the rides that I did with him. We rode in the hills outside the city and through some very poor farming areas. Fortunately it was NEVER needed. When I asked my host father about it, he didn't seem to think it was too far from the norm.
Cycle Bashing #4
I own a hand gun and live down on the border of Mexico in Southern Arizona. I often ride alone through the mountains and roads that are notorious for drug runners. These people do not value human life. They often looking for cars and bikes for transportation. Many people have been beaten and left for dead by these bandits. So I carry a gun. I know how to shoot. I hope to God that I never come across a situation that I have to shoot another human being. But I refuse to give up riding in these beautiful areas because some people are trying to make a buck smuggling drugs over the border!
David G Wilson
Cycle Bashing #5
I don't see why you can't control a gun on a bike, cowboys do it all the time on horseback, control the gun I mean.
Anthony G. Lowe
Cycle Bashing #6
Try pepper spray or tear gas instead of a gun. I have used it in two instances with great results. They both reacted like they had been hit in the head with a sledgehammer. Although I felt guilty hosing down those people later, I did feel fully justified in defending myself from a lethal weapon - namely a car. It is a dual edge sword though, so be careful when using it because the spray can be blown back into your face. I'm sure all you wimps out there will be outraged, but in both cases I was clearly being threatened and I did not encourage the would be attackers in any way. Its a far less lethal way to defend yourself than a gun and its really cheap.
Cycle Bashing #7
You are right. The local hicks cannot drive right even with out a cyclist around. But I've seen roadies ride two abreast and refuse to move over for cars even in a tight turn. That is belligerent and stupid. I keep on the white line and never weave so they can judge what I am going to do. Still been clipped or had bottles thrown.
In response to David Glyer about why Lance's climbing time may not be reflected in his TT speed and hence his ability to beat the hour record. I would accept this as being a valid argument, IF Lance Armstrong was a pure climber like Pantani. But he is not, he has dominated the time trials and the mountains in recent tours. He can time trial very well . If he has got the hour in his mind at some time during his career, then surely he should go at the top of his form?
The only TdF music I am aware of is Kraftwerk's "Tour de France" Does that help?
Tuesday, September 11
In regards to the Tour de France music letter. Often I have heard music by John Tesh (CD called, Tour de France) being used particularly back in the late 80s.
Also I've heard music from Yanni used before in TdF coverage from the UK. Both CDs are by Private Music, New York.
Hope this is of use to you.
Please permit me to extend my condolences to Stan Bransgrove on the death of his father Stanley Gordon Bransgrove. I read this sad news on Cyclingnews and wanted to express my sorrow at his passing. Though I didn't know either gentleman, the description of the elder Mr. Bransgrove certainly revealed an extraordinary human being and exemplary cyclist.
I mourn his passing and will remember him and the Bransgrove family
I know that all of us that love and rely on cyclingnews.com send our heartfelt sympathies and condolences to Stan Bransgrove on the passing of his father. Even in this especially difficult time in the USA, we feel the loss of anyone who was such a friend to cycling. Our thoughts are with you just as yours are with us.
My condolences. Sounds like he was a great guy.
The idea is based not on Australian publicity, but true worldwide publicity and I am afraid that Cricket, Rugby and Swimming combined do not match the reach of Le Tour on the world stage.
$12 million? that might be about how much Fosters spend every year in Formula 1 sponsorship and advertising in European countries, of which I think that cycling regularly beats the F1 viewing numbers. I could be wrong though, someone might like to advise us of the actual stats to see the actual viability, not the perceived unviability.
Australian Pro Team #2I have seen the support for an Australian trade team in the last few weeks within the Cyclingnews letters, and I would like to point out such 'experiments' in the mid to late 1990s as Jayco and Giant-Australian Institute of Sport (AIS). From what I remember of Jayco (and I was only a teenager then), they sponsored a trade team for two years in the mid 90s with ten or so members their main rider was the 1984 Olympic Gold medallist, Dean Woods. Due to their lack of UCI points, the team was unable to break into the big races in Europe and often raced in the USA. As for Giant-AIS who started in 1996 (and finished in 1997), they too had this problem of lacking points to make the more reputable races even though they had such riders as Matthew White, Jay Sweet and honourary Australian Jens Voigt winner of a stage in this year's Tour de France.
I am sure that a lot of Australian people never knew that these Australian trade teams existed. That is probably why Australia will not have a trade team at least not in the near future anyway. Australian sponsors will never spend precious money in teams that will not be broadcast in the home country isn't that what sponsorship is all about? To the 'mainstream' Australian, there is only one cycling race that is important and of course that is the Tour de France. Could anyone sponsor a team for a whole year with little or no return and then risk it all in getting a result for that one big race? The Mercury team has seen it go this way after their non-election for this year's Tour de France and this may see a reduced program for next season. For a business to spend money (as suggested of $A12m), they would certainly want their money's worth and one race of the year for an Australian sponsor and team would not be a wise investment.
One rider who would benefit from an Australian team (actually any professional team for that matter) would be David McKenzie. 'Macca' as he is known has been one of my idols for a long time since I met him through a friend from his old town of Shepparton. That was way back in 1994 in October at the Herald Sun Tour just days after he had won the first stage in a bunch kick of the then amateur Commonwealth Bank Cycle Classic, and then went on to win another stage. As that friend of mine knew him, I decided to 'know' him also even if he doesn't even know me! It was great to see him turn professional for the Colombian-Italian Kross Montanari team for 1997 after he had won two stages of the Herald Sun Tour the previous year. Even better was to see him get a break to ride with the Linda McCartney team for 1999 and with that team seen to be going places, it looked like a good move. The Giro d'Italia stage win in 2000 would have been the icing on the cake for Macca and I remember willing him on in the early hours of the morning over the internet as he held on for arguably his biggest win ever. Unfortunately for him, the Linda McCartney team saw some 'improper' dealings going on but Macca left the team as a winner with the final stage of the Tour Down Under this year. It looks even now that he is not a member of the Swiss team Ficonseils (according to the UCI).
I'd like to personally wish David McKenzie my best wishes for the rest of the season in the hope of finding that deserved contract with a big trade team.
"The current EPO test can only detect use in the last few days, so a negative does not rule out that the rider used in preparation for an event." True, but irrelevant, then all they have done is undermine their preparation by training with EPO and racing without the benefit. Now anti-EPO, that could work. Train with an artificially lowered count, let it recover for the race and you would notice the boost. How to test for the absence of performance depressing drugs ?
Well put! I can't believe people focus on the few negatives of the coverage. I watched the Alpe d'Huez stage again last night, it was awesome.
Great job OLN
Check out a low fat diet like Nathan Pritikin recommends. There are any number of testimonies that show that blood pressure can be reduced to normal with such a diet combined with exercise. In my own case, several years ago, I was able to reduce my blood pressure from 150/105 to 120/80 without the use of any blood pressure medication.
High blood pressure and cycling #2
I am 55 and am in a similar position to the original correspondent on this, ie on similar medication.
I have found that for some hours after a few hours on the bike my BP is high, typically 160/110, however following a nights rest it is around 110/70.
If I do not exercise for some days my BP raises to circa 150/100, which is above the 120/80 prescribed as a healthy normal.
I am overweight and am doing my darnedest to get my weight down. My doctor has recommended that I carry on cycling as it is beneficial, but recommends caution about extreme effort.
I used a HRM for a while, but found I did as well just listening to my own body.
I do wonder if years of cycling (or any similar aerobic activity) develop an enlarged high capacity heart that is a bit too powerful for an aging circulatory system. My doctor is very noncommittal about this theory. Input from medics who might have studied this would be appreciative.
Meanwhile, my philosophy is to carry on enjoying a pastime that has brought me so much pleasure over the years. I am not impatient to step off this mortal coil, but don't want to do so with a knowledge that I have lost out on life by being afraid of life itself.
High blood pressure and cycling #3
I'll start with the caveat - I'm not an MD, so be sure to check with one before taking any actions related to your health. But, my knowledge of physiology (PhD biologist, work in pharma industry) suggests that your physician may be over-reacting by telling you not to exercise. Many people experience increasing blood pressure as they age, owing to the fact that the arteries become less elastic with time. This may be especially true for you if you have come lately to the world of cycling (i.e. are not a life-long aerobic athlete) and/or have eaten a diet high in saturated fats for most of your life.
I would suggest that you get in touch with a cardiologist who works regularly with endurance athletes to find out what you should or should not be doing for exercise. I would also recommend making the following (reasonably dramatic) changes to your diet, if you have not done so already:
1. Eliminate as much sodium as you can (i.e. no added salt in anything). This will take a while to get used to, but is probably the biggest single thing you can do to lower your BP without resorting to drugs.
2. Eliminate all added dietary fats (cooking fats) except olive oil, and all sources of highly saturated fats (that means no meat except lean fish, no coconut, no avocado). This will dramatically alter your blood lipid profile over time, and slow the progression of atherosclerosis, which I would presume you have at least the beginnings of, given your age and BP.
Good luck and good health,
Dear Thomas Gordon.
What is keeping Lance from showing his talent throughout the year? Perhaps the lack of drugs!
Michel van Musschenbroek
Better = Cheat? #2
My guess is that he is working for a teammate and it does not matter where he places.
Better = Cheat? #3
Let us not forget that while Jan Ullrich was only beginning to build his form and struggling to finish races, Lance Armstrong was finishing second in the Amstel Gold race in late April, not to mention a strong finish in Clasique du Alps, and winning the Tour of Switzerland. Let us also not forget that last year, Lance had similarly strong finishes in April and June, while also maintaining his form for the Championship of Zurich (5th place) and the Olympics (3rd, time trial). It was pretty obvious to me this year that Lance was not aiming for huge results post Tour de France, while throughout his career, Ullrich (when healthy) has performed exceedingly well in August and September. The results of riders should be more thoroughly examined before sweeping generalizations are made about their programs. My hats off to both riders for making this such an exciting summer of racing!
Better = Cheat? #4
Well my friend, there is something called peaking in cycling. An athlete trains very hard to build up to a fitness peak. In Lance's case his peak was for the tour. A normal cyclist is usually only capable of holding peak fitness for a couple weeks. Lance astounded for the full three weeks. After such a peak (especially racing every day for 4-7 hours) the body is so broken down, fitness is actually lost and rest is the only thing to heal the body. Once this process is over, a steady build up must take place again with proper base and intensity. As far as Ullrich's form goes and how he's doing so well now, you need only look at who beat who by six minutes in the tour.
Better = Cheat? #5
If you look at any athletes in running, swimming, cycling (aerobic sports) you will see they can only compete at world class levels for several events during the year for physical reasons as well as psychological reasons. For example, we have heard that American marathon runners are handicapped because they have to peak for the Olympic Trials to get on our Olympic team and then try to peak again 1-2 months later at the Olympic Games themselves. The comment is our runners would do better if they were picked the previous year and only had to peak once - for the games. Lance is great, but the gap between himself and other riders is not large. He has to pick his spots, even in the Tour he won more difficult stages than most Tour winners in recent years.
Better = Cheat? #6
One cannot sustain such a super condition. Lance peaked for the Tour de France. When you're riding at that level you are on a thin line from getting sick. He got sick afterwards and recuperation wasn't possible in the time allotted. Besides, what motivation can one have for a small race when he gave all and won the biggest one?
Could today's rumour of a team including these individuals be described as a dream team or a dreamy team?
I anticipate that a team's normal entourage of coaches and soigneurs will be replaced by an analyst and several counselors. With a new age therapist as Directeur Sportif.
In all honesty, I wish Virenque well as a reformed coureur, but has the sport really got space for prima donnas?
Pantani, Virenque & VBD team #2
Marco Pantani riding with Richard Virenque and Frank Vandenbroucke? Seems to me that this combo would really be good for pro cycling. Just think, one stop shopping for controversy! Not to mention the clever tie-in: The Pirate and his crew. I can just hear it in the peloton, "Arrrr, matey! Get to the front and ATTACK!! Arrrrrr!" And how about the action figures? Boggles the mind with the possibilities!
I heard certain names were omitted from the English version of Breaking the Chain for legal reasons. The libel laws are more difficult in the UK than France, and also at the time of publication, Virenque was still denying he took anything. The subsequent trial proved different of course, but that was after the book came out.
Can anyone give details of someone attempting to cross the USA in 48 hours drafting a vehicle? A friend of mine at work mentioned this to me but I'd like to check it out. Thanks!
I've been wondering about saddle height lately, as I was told recently on a group ride (by a Cat. 1 racer whose opinion I deem most credible and valuable) that my saddle was too high (even though I've never been more comfortable on my current machine). I'm wondering what all of you out there think and how you've arrived at your own saddle height.
For my own, I used the "place your heel on the axle of the pedal at the bottom of its stroke" method, which suggests that, for road racers, there should be between a half and one inch space between heel and axle.
I've also looked at riders in the pro peloton to gauge perhaps how they do things. But I've noticed that there seems to be a great disparity in pro's relative saddle heights; for instance, Ullrich's saddle height seems high (which is to say that his thigh is never parallel to the road during his pedal stroke), while the saddles of others are so low that they never really extend their legs very far (riders like former pro Neil Stephens, for instance).
Thank you for putting it in ....
Hope I never have to go through what he did, but a very poignant and necessary reminder that each person there is a person and not part of an overall figure.
Great article on that epic stage at Gila, but I was the last rider to get caught in that break and I ride for that "B" team Bianchi-Turkey Store. I'm quite proud of that break since we were the only two teams that had the guts to attack Mercury. Thanks for posting my letter.
I feel I must respond to Francois Siohan's letter about Kelly working for LeMond. I also seemed to recall this happening, and to refresh my memory I checked back to a video of the race. The coverage was by channel 4 (UK), commentators Liggett and Sherwen. The program was a highlights show lasting 30 minutes.
Stage 18, final major climb, Cote de St.Nizier du Moucherotte - First category climb. The action starts with Rooks and Theunisse setting the pace, chasing Herrera. Everyone gets dropped, including Kelly, until only Theunisse, LeMond, Fignon, Delgado and one other is left. Fignon attacks and bridges up to Herrera and goes straight past him. Soon Delgado, LeMond and Theunisse are the only ones left, Delgado sets the pace for quite some time trying to limit Fignon's lead. Liggett says "It's been left to Delgado to drag LeMond back into the race."
After a while, Delgado swings over expecting LeMond to come through and share the pace, instead he freewheels, tightens his toes straps and looks behind - clearly not interested in contributing to the chase. Delgado attacks hard (probably in frustration with LeMond) - "LeMond should have taken his share in the pace-making" says Liggett.
Meanwhile Delgado continues to set the pace of the three, limiting
Fignon to 10 seconds, 15 seconds over the top of the climb. There is
a modest descent followed by a plateau before the final short climb.
There is obviously a major edit here because the action then cuts to
around 4km to go. They show a chase group, containing Rooks, Herrera,
Kelly and a number of others, being led at a very fast pace by Alcala
- this group joins the Delgado group. Liggett says that Fignon has 45
Liggett comments that "PDM are racing into the lead of the team section, they will take it away from Delgado's Reynolds team".
The final climb is around 2km to go. Delgado attacks with around 1.5km to go but all the others get on his wheel. Over the final kilometre, that look pretty steep, Rooks takes over at the front and rides very fast. Coming into the finish, Rooks is still on the front and Fignons gap has been cut to 23 seconds on the line.
Like I said at the beginning, I thought I could remember a mountain stage where Kelly was pretty much doing LeMond's work for him. However, as far as these highlights were concerned, at no time in this pursuit did Kelly go on the front. Of course the action has been edited somewhat, but it's fair to say that it was Delgado that did most of the chasing.
One could debate about why Rooks went so hard in the final kilometre? With four PDMs in a group of around 10 riders, the onus was on them to try to win the stage. In my view, it was Rooks that did the damage to Fignon's lead, more or less cutting it in half, and certainly dragging LeMond back those valuable eight or nine seconds.
It's all a bit academic now anyway. You can't change history, but which stage was it where Kelly was chasing Fignon with LeMond on his wheel? Did it in fact happen? Cycling historians reply to the usual address please!
Try Mr Barry (father of Micheal Barry) in Toronto, where he has a bike shop that may be able to help.
Oscar Egg Bicycle #2
I know someone that comes to a shop in my local area that deals in antique bikes, I could forward the info to the shop and let them know of the dilemma... the shop could contact the guy to see if he can help...
Oscar Egg bicycle #3
Cycles Oscar Egg had a store on rue de la Grande Armee in Paris when I first went there in the fifties. At that time that street, in the centre of Paris, was a mecca for cyclists as it had a multitude of bike shops. All the big guys were there, Peugeot, Mercier, Alcyon, Delecta etc. plus a good few smaller ones of which Oscar Egg was one of the most interesting. Being an impecunious young teenager I couldn't afford to buy very much but I did buy a very nice green and yellow silk racing cap which I wore for years. I think it is still around the house somewhere today. Rue de la Grande Armee now has only one real bike shop. Special Boisis was founded in 1920 and is still run by the daughters of the original owner Alfred Boisis. These delightful ladies are getting on in years, however and I fear that before long they will be gone too. Peugeot is still there but it is just a showroom for cars now, the old Peugeot bike shop is still a bike shop of sorts but of very little interest to the enthusiast. I think Oscar Egg disappeared in the late fifties or early sixties.
This is just another view point to the Lance working for Heras at Vuelta debate. It is my opinion that it could very well not be helpful to have someone with such physical talent and tenacious personality as Lance working for Heras at the Vuelta. Team sports such as cycling need an undisputed leader in order to keep anxiety levels low and confidence levels high if they hope to control a race such as a three week tour. Lance obviously demonstrates his ability to do this in a leader position, but whether he would be helpful in a second in command position remains debatable. It could very well be that Management of US Postal would rather give Heras the "reins" and let him lead his team as he is the 2000 Vuelta champion. They, Armstrong, and Heras may have made a group decision that Armstrong end his season early.
I have a hard time believing Heras would hold feelings of abandonment/bitterness for Lance because of all his work provided during the Tour. We have to remember that he is being compensated quite well. Heras may actually prefer that this be his race and Lance not participate.
It is now very interesting however that Levi Liepheimer is proving to be "maybe" stronger than Heras in this year's Vuelta. US Postal Management now has the challenge of organizing a team that does not have a undisputed "Leader". We all know the history of the LeMond/Hinault conflict. Hopefully US Postal doesn't let this happen. We will now see if having a "strong man" like Levi is helpful to Heras and this may answer some of the questions of whether it was a mistake to leave Armstong out of the Vuelta.
"A vehicle full of surfer dudes with a combined IQ of 10 hurls abuse, using that all-too-familiar line "Get the F@#$! off the road you F@#$in w***er!". Given the fact I am still climbing and the lactic acid is slowly building up, I commend myself on my composure, and respond with just a middle-finger salute instead of a full-on attack of road rage."
This comment stuck out when I read it in your review of the K2 5.0. I moved to California from Canada over a year ago and, while I've found that overall motorist abuse is much lower here, when it does occur odds are it's 1) from someone with a surfboard on the roof of the car, and 2) way above average in its intensity. I'd never had anything thrown from a vehicle at me until I moved here, and both times it was from surfers.
Where surfers got their mellow reputations from I'll never know. Perhaps there are some cyclists reading this who also happen to be in on the surfing scene and can provide some insight into the short-tempered, ill-mannered, aggressive and abusive nature of the surfing mind.
What's with the unusual headgear for the Vuelta stage winners?
The last month's letters