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Letters to Cyclingnews – March 7, 2002

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

Cross-over champs
Quick recovery after neck op
Press to blame? C'mon!
VDB & doping
Malaysia, politics & the TdL
Olympic cyclo-cross
Hernias
Paris-Roubaix

Cross-over champs not uncommon

Andrew, there have been numerous cross-over sports champions for many generations. I can think of several from the 1940s and 50s, but the following are a few of the more recent ones that come to mind.

First is Eric Heiden - five golds in speed skating in 1980, then Tour De France competitor in 1986. Also 1985 US Pro Road Champion. Also won, I believe, the intermediate sprints jersey in the 1985 Giro d'Italia.

Then, Connie Carpenter, who won the first woman's Olympic RR (1984), was on several winter Olympic teams, also in speed skating.

Sheila Young Ochowicz won several world cycling sprint titles as well as Olympic speed skating medals. Chris Witty, who just won in Salt Lake City ,is also a champion cyclist. (Hm, must be a pattern here, but then I always thought speed skaters skated in a position that looked like a rider, but without the bike).

I'm not too sure of other countries' athletes, but I do recall that Maria Canins (Italy) who won the woman's TdF and numerous worlds medals, was also a champion cross country skier. I believe she also skied in the Olympics.

Rex Gilmore
Thursday, February 28, 2002

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Who can argue with Lemond?

Eric Heiden won five speed skating gold metals in 1980 at the Lake Placid games and also raced bicycles. I do not know how successful he was in his cycling career. He is now a doctor and I believe he works with a cycling team as their team doctor. Greg Lemond would train in the winter on cross country skis. Some critics said it gave him to much upper body bulk. I do not know how you can argue with his success. World champion and three Tour de France victories.

Owen Speulstra
USA
Thursday, February 28, 2002

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And then there was Harvey

Canadian Pierre Harvey was a top level cyclist, if I remember correctly he finished 2nd to ... Phil Anderson in the 1978 Commonwealth games road race. He also competed as a cross country skier, and I believe he won three World Cup races in the 1980's. I consider him Canada's best all-round athlete ever.

Douglas Fry
Maillot, France
Thursday, February 28, 2002

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And Hughes . . .

Add Canadian cyclist Clara Hughes (Saturn) to the list of those believing in the benefits of speed skating as training, except it seems to work both ways! As 2002 winter Olympics bronze medallist in the 5000m speed skating event, she becomes only the 4th athlete in the history of the winter games to win a medal in both summer and winter games. Clara also won 2 bronze medals on the track at the 1996 summer games in Atlanta.

Grant McLean
Toronto, Canada
Thursday, February 28, 2002

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Not to mention Witty . . .

Andrew, Ms. Chris Witty of Park City, Utah, USA is one. She competed on the Velodrome in the Summer games and as a speed skater and a gold medal/new world record holder in the Winter. She is an amazing athlete and genuinely nice person. Pretty hip too.

Barry Johnson
Salt Lake City, U.S.A
Thursday, February 28, 2002

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And Zootemelk, Heiden, Youth, Longsjo, Urhlass...

Joop Zootemelk competed in speed skating as did Eric Heiden(US pro road champ86,Beth Heiden women's road champ '80,Sheila Young ,Olympic speed skating gold medallist and World Sprint Champion Cyclist,Chris Whitty Olympian both sports, Art Longsjo and Arnold Urhlass, Olympians in both, Connie Paraskevin Young world medallist both sports, Nelson Vails match sprint silver'84 also skater, Harvey Nitz world pursuit silver medallist and speed skater and I can make the list much longer for Americans and I know Dutch as well can be added. It's easier to go from skating to wheels than vice-versa because of the skill factor. If you need any more info please write.

John Lovell
Thursday, February 28, 2002

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But wait, there's more!

Other athletes in winter and summer Olympics or sports beside Clara?

Well, I know of American Eric Heiden who won five gold in 1980 winter Olympics, then made it to the Tour the France with 7-11 in 1986. All that on top of becoming a doctor. But, that's not really it, so let's see...

I know there's been a few others, men and women. Mostly between cycling and speed skating. I think of a Dutch woman whose name I don't remember (skating and cycling?), then Italy's Manuela Di Centa was X-country ski champion and rode MTB at top level (linked to Doctor Conconi along with Pantani, by the way...) But still not in dual Olympics.

It leaves us:

Jacob Tullin Thams, Norway- Ski Jumping gold (1924) and eight-metre yachting silver (1936).

But Edward Eagan (U.S.) is the only athlete to have won GOLD on both summer and winter (1920 boxing and 1932 4 men bobsleigh).

And German Christa Luding-Rothenburger: gold, silver and bronze (total of five medals) in skating and biking between 1984 and 1992.

However, my greatest hero would be Quebec's own (If I can be chauvinistic, let's make it worth it!) Pierre Harvey.

Pierre competed WITHIN MONTHS of specific preparation in the 1984 Sarajevo (20th in the 50 km cross country ski) AND Los Angeles Olympics (road race and team time trial). He helped Steve Bauer's silver medal placing behind Alexi Grewal. Grewal tested positive six months later in another event, also b-t-way).

Pierre's best Olympic result has been 14th placing, many top 20. Harvey also WON (now, that's something, believe me) three ski world cups in 1987 and 1988 in Falun and Holmenkollen. No sh**, that was against the best northmen in the world. The King of Norway invited him over for dinner.

I raced against him in cross-country ski and MTB events. He would pass us and then pass us again. He still does today! He is considered a friend by all who have met him and a true example of integrity and sportsmanship. He's also a mechanical engineer and a father of three!

And it's not all: How about Canada's Sue Holloway: 1976 Innsbruck: cross-country ski and SAME YEAR STILL : Montreal: kayaking... Then a silver medal in 1984, in L-A, still kayaking..

Sébastien "tempete"
Lamarre Montréa
Thursday, February 28, 2002

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Quick recovery after neck op

I recently underwent surgery not unlike that of Evan Hawkins (anterior cervical discectomy and fusion of C5 - C6 vertebrae) and am happy to say that my recovery was very fast and complete. I was able to resume cycling on an indoor trainer within a month (albeit while wearing a neck brace) and was fully recovered and able to resume cycling outdoors about two months after the operation. My loss of fitness was fairly modest, considering the seriousness of my condition.

I think the amount of time I needed to fully recover was probably fairly typical.

My prior symptoms were also quite similar to Evan's (neck soreness, pain and weakness radiating down my right arm, tingling sensations, restricted neck movement, etc). Spinal disc problems are not uncommon and can be quite debilitating and a good physician ought to be able to immediately recognize these symptoms and recommend that the patient be given an MRI scan for diagnostic purposes. A patient with these symptoms should insist on it.

It's hard to believe that any competent doctor wouldn't understand this.

Louis DeCuir
Austin, Texas, USA
Thursday, February 28, 2002

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Press to blame? C'mon!

Saying that the press is at fault for non pursuit of facts is like saying George Bush isn't doing anything about terrorism (please, no reminders that he is also using terrorism as a vehicle to pursue lots of other crap...)

The press has hounded the hell out of doping (and continues to do so). It is one of the most frequently reported things on this site and in most other forms of cycling news. Hemassist, Nesp, Oxy G etc are all reported here. While our friends here at CN are not perfect (gasp!) they are quick to the point and have been all over the drugs both common and experimental. Problem is, it is tough to report when the UCI and other governing bodies don't have the tests and rules in place to catch more cheating. It's tough to report "non stories" and it's expensive (litigation) to report on speculation.

That said, I would have thought to hear more about Dr Terrados from none other than ONCE, being the doctor for one of the athletes that tested positive in the Games. It makes you wonder what it takes to get the repeat offenders at any level, not just the riders, out of the sport!

Directors, managers, trainers, Sponsors and especially doctors seem to keep popping up long after the cyclists that they allowed or help destroy the health, lives and careers of, are long gone. I would love to see real punishment of athlete AND HANDLER... Knowing what I do, It is doubtful if not impossible for team staff not to be part and parcel to a cyclist testing positive. The med tests, performance testing and time together on the road make it pretty impossible to just call the physiological changes "finding form".

It's a huge problem that the press probably can't solve and certainly can't be blamed or criticized for.

Charles Manantan
USA
Thursday, February 28, 2002

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Hey, look harder into EPO reportage

Tom, You need to open your eyes a little and read what has been written. If you think that cyclingnews.com has only been investigating the use of EPO as a form of doping, you can't have been paying much attention. And cyclingnews.com isn't the only cycling press that has said (for years) that EPO is just the tip of the doping iceberg. I'm yet to read Jeff's response to your letter, but I'm sure that he'll direct you to several examples of how the testing procedures which were being worked on by several labs around the world were not just looking for "chemical tags", but rather looking at the manner in which EPO -- and many other forms of doping -- affected the growth structure of blood cells (amongst many other things).

Read through the archive, Tom. I'm sure you'll find a lot more information than just quandaries about EPO and how it's detected. Hey, there are plenty of other products out there and cyclingnews.com has been reporting on them for years. The reality in your statement simply seems to suggest that you've been struck with a big dose of CBF -- Couldn't Be Fucked! If you're keen to learn about more than a little bit of EPO chasing news, I'm sure you'll be able to find it. All you need to do is look a little harder.

Rob Arnold
Sydney, Australia
Saturday, March 2, 200

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Doping in sport: It's sick

So, wonderboy VDB has been preparing for his big comeback after him multitude of problems. We've read all about it on Cyclingnews.com, CycleSport, Pro Cyclilng . . . you name it, the kid's story was prime stuff for the press. We, the readers, who may have been hipped to his troubles with "doctors" in the past, may have even been a bit snowed, and believed that he was making a "clean" start this time. It turns out VDB's "preparations" included a bit more than hours on the bike or in the gym. It included pills, powders and needles. I'm sure Sainz hooked him up with the latest pharmaceuticals available to assist in his "preparation" for the big return to the peleton. And now they've both been busted. Everyone close to the mess is wringing their hands, shaking their heads, and wondering how the wonder boy could have gone astray. But you can bet that this mess goes a lot deeper than VDB and Sainz.

So what will result from the latest dope bust in cycling? A life ban for VDB, jail time for both Sainz and VDB, a drawn-out court drama that results in who knows what? I'm in full support of the decriminalization of recreational drugs and the mess we have in the US, with exploding jails full of drug offenders, is a good example of how criminalizing small time users and dealers with jail time is NOT the solution to ending drug abuse. However, doping in sport is a completely different thing. Shooting up Pot Belge after the World Championships with the French team officials is one thing - that's recreational and I couldn't care less about that.

But the discovery that a cyclist has systematically doped, or is in possession of doping products can only have purpose, and that is to commit fraud. It's a fraud to the public, the individual, the peleton, and the sport when riders are caught red-handed with performance enhancing banned substances. The current threat of bans from the sport is clearly not enough of a deterrent. Anyone involved with the sport that is caught and proven guilty of dealing in, or abusing banned substances should be put in jail with the "common" criminals.

Maybe that would be a big enough shock to the sport? We could have interviews from prison from busted riders, managers and doctors instead of coverage of the busted riders who are making their latest "comebacks" to the peleton. Maybe I've gone off the deep end with this proposal, but clearly the sport is still very sick and maybe something drastic needs to happen. Athletes and their handlers believe they are above the law that governs the common people and it might be best that the illusion is destroyed by sentencing offenders to real jail time.

I also wonder how many of my rivals at the amateur and domestic (US) pro level are "preparing" a la the "real" pros. Maybe I'm participating in a big fraud. Maybe I ought to get on the bandwagon and "prepare" like a real rider since there is virtually nothing stopping me from doing it. Maybe that's what the top-level pros have thought and still think to this day.

Rob Campbell
Olympia, WA USA
Friday, March 1, 2002

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Holding it for a friend. Yeah, right

The VD in VDB made him do it.

February 28 - Domo Farm Frites's cyclist Franck Vandenbroucke and his personal injection coach have been charged with possession of drugs and negligent moronicism in Belgium, after police discovered a substantial stash of drugs during a Wednesday night search of his trailer in the woods.

The Domo-Farm Frites team quickly fired Vandenbroucke after news of the search became public. A spokesman for the team said, "We certainly know nothing of this. We are innocent man, we been framed. Why, we don't even allow the use of band aids on this team. It is better for a cyclist to bleed to death by the side of the road than to risk the wrath of the press. If Franck did this he is a big silly dodo dummy who acted alone. It is quite amazing that he managed to completely hide this from us while often spending days at a time with the team and being tested frequently by our doctors. We didn't have a clue."

Following the arrest of his French injection trainer, the infamous Bernard Sainz, who was arrested in the top of a tree in a clown suit howling like a hyena while throwing loaded syringes of methamphetamine into a schoolyard, Belgian police conducted a search of Vandenbroucke's Airstream trailer and found a variety of banned performance-enhancing and other substances, a prosecutor's office spokesman in Termonde, Belgium, said Thursday.

According to the source, police found the red-blood-cell-boosting drug EPO, as well as 50 kilos of Morroccan hash, 2 kilos of uncut Afghani heroin, 347 vials of crack, a jug of liquid LSD, 7 automatic assault weapons, 4 hand grenades, a neutron bomb, a crate of restaurant sized sugar packets which were full of anthrax spores, and an assortment of illegal exotic animals which had been branded with Michael Jackson's personal logo.

Vandenbroucke's attorney explained, "These products were all being stored for a close friend of Frank's. He is an epileptic diabetic narcoleptic kleptomaniac who works for the circus. It's all very simple."

Steve
Thursday, February 28, 2002

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Well then, how about his dog?

With the recent arrest of Frank VDB, I'm sure many people will assume that Frank is guilty. I however believe Frank, I'm sure the drugs were for his dog. If one checked his neighborhood I'm sure they would find that Frank's dog has had the unbelievable stamina to roam the neighborhood far and wide and probably has offspring all over, in addition I suspect that the mailman has been given quite a workout. Now that I think about it, I think that the dogs in the Westminster dog shows should be tested for EPO use. Notice how fresh the dogs seem when prancing across the infield? Now we know the real reason why, dogs are the biggest abusers of performance enhancing drugs. Who knew? Thanks to VDB the secret has been uncovered!

Kevin Schaeffer Mpls
MN USA
Friday, March 1, 2002

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VDB rides into the setting sun

You know, Frank Vandenbroucke has been one of my favorite riders since he first won Paris-Nice a few years ago. Called "the Next Eddy," - and rightfully so at the time - sidekick to Johan Museeuw; just an incredible all-around rider with untapped potential.

It was truly touching to see him racing up the Oude Kwaremont next to Museeuw, to see him outsprint Michele Bartoli up La Redoute (and the Cote de Sint Nicolas...), the unexpected show of strength in the Vuelta and having the courage to race the World Championships with a broken wrist. Not a lot of riders could do any of those things, much less all of them.

I had so much hope for him after things got straightened out psychologically. A new marriage, and being back beside Museeuw and on the best Classics team around couldn't even make the difference. Now I just hope his fans and friends support him through all this. Otherwise he's just a setting sun if he isn't helped.

Remember it was never proven that he actually used the drugs. So, for all fans of cycling, try to remember these athletes for their accomplishments and not let them be tainted by poor decisions.

R Matt Jennings
Thursday, February 28, 2002

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More drugs = bad press = less sponsorship

Thanks to cyclingnews and the written press for keeping me well informed, I think your coverage on the drugs subject is excellent.

After the Giro raids, it seemed that EPO was gone and they were on new stuff - Insulin in particular. If it is true about what was found at VDB's house (EPO, clembuterol etc.), what worries me is that these are all drugs that are supposed to be detectable and so why should a rider still be taking them? I just don't get it.

All that said, at the end of the day, what is going to happen is that with continued bad press for cycling, sponsors will get out of the sport even faster than they are now. As a result, wages will fall back to the pre-Lemond days (nothing personal, just a marker for when salaries started rising strongly) when the only sponsors around pay much, much less. Drugs will never disappear; cycling is such a tough sport. But will riders be willing to risk their long-term health for greatly reduced rewards? Then maybe we can accept a lot of the achievements of the racers without the current fistful of salt.

Chris Pearce
UK
Thursday, February 28, 2002

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Bye, bye baby, you are dead to me now

Good-bye baby VDB.

My mirrors are covered. I'm doing that thing with the hands and a candle and a scarf. Dear Vandenbrouke is gone. I had such high hopes. He was going to quell the smug voices of this page and others who couldn't fathom his, uh, prodigal-ness. I had hoped that he would emerge from "work release" to participate fully and brilliantly again in the sport that we all love. But, no. Both he and Robert Downey Jr. are dead to me now (recommend video: Two Girls and a Guy). And I didn't even get to lift a Farm Fritte in his honor.

It turns out he has the same capacity for reason as the "athletes" I sat next to in 'Math for Bi'ness' at The U of O (rhymes with Hoaklahoma).

I keep attributing higher principles and ethics to European cyclists. I don't know why. Is it because you can get Heineken in a vending machine? Is it because you can't find friggin' peanut butter anywhere? Or is it the wryness we mistake for impoliteness? Oh sure, I've been temporarily blinded by all that architecture. But, it turns out that faux finish is indeed a Flanderian term and not an Americanism after all.

I say this with full regret as the last Vandenbrouke fan, the prodigal son has never returned twice. My only hope now for a full-on human triumph story is Ludovic Capelle. I switch my allegiance to you L.C. and pray that Belgian championship jersey retains its elasticity and that you do us fatal-flaw-fans proud.

Tom Madison
USA
Friday, March 1, 2002

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American, but nobody targeted me in Malaysia

Giana S. Roberge's reply was thoughtful and will go far to assuage any misconceptions Malaysians may have about the lack of US Tour de Langkawi participants this year.

As far as Mr Dech's comments go, I would like to reply to two specific statements.

"Any American, whether it's the President of the country or Frank McCormack of Saturn Cycling, IS a legitimate target in Malaysia". I couldn't disagree more. I am American, I raced in Malaysia in October and I can assure you I was no one's target. The races are well organized, the whole community turns out to watch and sports are not considered an appropriate forum or target for radical Muslim groups. In fact, sports serve as a large integrating factor in Malaysia with National Cyclists from all ethnic backgrounds participating.

"The difference is someone is actively pursuing them in America. You can't say the same for Malaysia or many other countries throughout the world." Really? PM Mahithir has been actively trying to curtail and control radical Muslim groups for over a decade. In fact the only country that has detained more suspected terrorists or potential terrorists has been the US and that is only in the past six months.

My response to Mr Manantan is a bit different. First, I am a US citizen and about as Caucasian as you get, pink was my nickname in Singapore. Therefore I believe I would have experienced some degree of discrimination if it were prevalent. After over 40 trips to Malaysia in the past three years I can honestly say I have never been singled out for my race except by rapacious cab drivers. Second, Malaysia is in Asia, not the Middle East. The regions are completely different and the US is not vilified here as it is in the Mid East (as protectors of Israel, aggressors in Iraq, the invisible hand behind puppet dictators- the Shah in Iran). Rather, the US is acknowledged as a liberating ally (Indonesia), important trade partner and military ally (Singapore) in Asia.

Addressing the other parts of Mr Manantan's argument I think the following : 1) Terrorists apparently vacation in Malaysia, they plan and execute in the countries in which their attacks take place. Considering Malaysia is over 80 percentMuslim I doubt there will be any attacks planned there soon by Muslim extremists against Western targets. The main risk is Muslim groups that want an explicitly Muslim government, not the secular government in place. If you further take into account that the PM himself is the major catalyst behind TDL and his security forces are pervasive the likelihood of an attack diminishes further. 2) I still don't think a US sports team (div 3, not div 2 - my mistake) is a high profile target. In fact it is Australians who seem to be the major recipients of ill will from both Malaysia and Indonesia. This is due to perceived interference in regional politics and skirmishes (Timor especially). Despite this quite vehement animosity I notice that there were loads of Australians participating in TdL.

3) I don't race professionally, but I do race often and I participate in races with professionals. I have done so in Perlis and Surabaya within the past three months - two areas that are run by conservative Muslim parties. Therefore I can honestly say I have put myself in their place.

4) As far as the violent protests go I am not going to disagree that they were disturbing, especially for an American residing in the region. However, a lot of the people protesting were doing so without a great deal of conviction. I read numerous reports of students who said they protest the degree of America's response, but they still want to go to the US for postgraduate education. This denotes a political disagreement to me, not a violent one.

After Giana's explanation it seems apparent there were extenuating circumstances that precluded Saturn's competing this year. I hope to see them next year.

B Nagela
Thursday, February 28, 2002

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We're peaceful, but we understand

Terrorism is a global problem not confined to Malaysia and our fellow South-east Asian neighbours. We are peaceful and harmonious people, and when we invite guests to our backyard, we'll make sure we've got everyone covered. Arrests have been made, and we're constantly working with the American authorities to keep them and ourselves one step ahead of the trouble-makers. As an ardent fan of Team Saturn, I am disappointed but there's always next season when they can bring Frank and Trent back to do some serious racing. I just wan clear things up, and wish everyone a great coming season. Ride fast but safe, and "Let's Roll."

CH Cheah
Malaysian Cyclist
Friday, March 1, 2002

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More riders = more fun

After 7 years, Malaysian cycling fans get to see the Tour de Langkawi live over national television. And they sure did not disappoint. With such TV coverage, I would say the cycling scene in Malaysia has taken another important step towards promoting this sport in the country. After the TdL, we should have more people shopping for bicycles, young and old. Our riders at the local Thursday night rides has increased rather exponentially since February 10.

More riders, more fun. Thank you cyclingnews.com for covering races from all over the country, keeping the sport stronger than ever.

Here is a picture link to some photos taken by me during the Tour de Langkawi: www.totalsportsasia.com/article.cfm?id=211

Kelvin Wong
Selangor, Malaysia
Friday, March 1, 2002

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Put cyclocross in winter Games

Olympic Cyclocross is a must! Don't just limit cycling to the summer games. And don't make it either or. Put BMX and Downhill into the games too. Cost really shouldn't be an issue. If the host city/country is willing to put up the dough they do just to host the games, putting on a world class 'cross event would be a drop in the bucket. 'Cross comes at the most perfect time of the year in comparison with the winter games. I think it would be good for the sport. It would force racers to choose an event to peak for-World's or Olympics. Not too many guys or girls could win both. 'Cross in the winter games is an absolute step in the right direction, regardless of the cost. Later.

Jer Walker
Thursday, February 28, 2002

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...And bring the cowbells

Cyclocross is one of the oldest cycling events and I feel it would be well suited for the Winter Olympic Games. I haven't put a great deal of thought into this concept but the more I think about it I like the idea of making Cyclocross a Winter Olympic sport. It makes sense. . The Olympics were originally developed as a show of strength and skill. Cyclocross is all strength and skill. Cyclocross involves competitors from around the world, keeping in line with the "worldly" theme of the Olympics. Cyclocross is not weather dependent, proven by all the hearty souls who braved the -40F wind chill at the 2000 U.S. National Championships in Kansas. 'Cross is also a fantastically spectacular spectator event with up-close, in-your-face action. Put Mr. Van der Poel in charge of course layout and remember to tell your friends to bring their cowbells 'cause it's going to be the wildest hour the Winter Olympics has ever seen!

Justin Morgan
Sacramento, CA
Thursday, February 28, 2002

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Hernia - riding after four weeks

[Read previous letters]

As a recreational cyclist and as someone who had a hernia operation four years ago at a well-known hospital in Toronto that only does hernia operations, I thought I would add my 2 cents' worth here. The specialists told me that about 10 per cent of all men suffer from hernias as a congenital disorder, rather than one having a specific trigger. In my case, I noticed some pain while sitting in an airliner and thought that having dragged a heavy suitcase and laptop around was the cause, by the doctor said that it would have happened sooner or later anyway.

In the cases where hernias are caused by stress, it would seem to be a heavy lifting motion that would tear the tissue. I have never heard of cycling being a cause of a hernia, although I might be wrong, but I do know that I did a 350 km weekend ride in Ottawa two weeks before my surgery with no problem at all. In fact, sitting on the bike seat was much more comfortable than, say, running since there is no jarring motion.

In the hospital, there were stationary bikes available to use and many patients were on them a day after the operation! The hospital encouraged us all to be as active as soon as possible and the doctor told me that in about four weeks I would be quite comfortable out on the road on my bike, which proved to be the case.

Leslie T. Reissner
Berlin, Germany
Friday, March 1, 2002

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What's a hernia? Think of a bike tyre

Mark, your hernia was almost certainly not caused by bicycling. A hernia is an abnormal protrusion of typically fat or intestines through an abnormal opening of the abdominal wall. Think of your cycling tire and inner tube, when the tire wall weakens the inner tube protrudes through the tire wall - that is a hernia. As you might imagine hernias can occur in many places. I assume you are talking about the most common one that affects you groin called an inguinal hernia. These hernias come in two forms: indirect and direct. If you have an indirect hernia then the overwhelming odds is that you were born with an abnormal opening (called a patent processus vaginalis) and neither bicycling nor your work caused the hernia.

In contrast you are not born with direct hernias. Rather they are believed to be caused by a gradual weakening of the abdominal wall often caused by heavy lifting, chronic coughing, and other strenuous activities that increases the pressure inside your abdomen. Direct injuries to the area could cause it as well. But again biking is an extremely unlikely candidate. Years of heavy labor is a much more likely candidate. Reports of hernias related to cycling are typically related to handlebar injury to the abdominal wall.

The only truly reliable way to figure out if you have an indirect or direct hernia is during surgery. You can do an "educated guess" based on physical exams, but based on my experience working with some of the best hernia surgeons around you can never be certain.

Thank you for publishing cyclingnews.com. It is a great resource for us who love bicycle racing. I have read it daily for over a year and recommend it to all my bicycle friends. I often think about bicycle related issues, especially (and unfortunately) doping.

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Mikael Eliasson
Boston, USA
Saturday March 2, 2002

On the road to the Paris-Roubaix

A friend and I are trying to go watch the 100th edition of the "Queen" and have some questions for anyone in the know.

1) Where can we find a 2002 course map? We're going to rent a car (or, if humanly possible, a couple of motorcycles) so we can see the race in multiple places. It would be a huge help to have the map in advance.

2) Where's the best place to go after the race? Post-podium is there an ideal pub/restaurant/other place where fans/teams might mix?

3) How can we get tickets for the track at Roubaix? (I walked around it on a drizzly non-race day a couple of years ago. Really amazing.)

That's it! Any other comments or tips, feel free to post or contact me directly at idbaker@yahoo.com. Huge thanks in advance for any and all help!

Ian Baker
Boston, MA
March 4, 2002

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