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Letters to Cyclingnews - June 22, 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

Recent letters

Cycling in Louisiana is dangerous
Crankset and bottom-bracket
Hamstring injury
It's all about the right gear
Measuring the gradient
Tour de France Selection
US Postal investigation
Colnago factory
Vegetarian professionals
Another round of drinking games
Desperately seeking Clara

Cycling in Louisiana is dangerous

Having lived in New Orleans for five years in the 1990s and having ridden on River Road in Baton Rouge many times, it was with sorrow that I read your report of two deaths on that road. Cycling in Louisiana is a dangerous activity, kept dangerous by a Louisiana State Department of Transportation and Development that is the inverse of being cycling pro-active. Motorist attitudes in Louisiana are too often negative and dangerous to cyclists.

Around fifteen years ago, a New Orleans cyclist was killed by a drunk driver on New Orlean's Lakeshore Drive during a training ride/race. His death, leaving a wife and two young children, prompted the creation of the New Orleans Regional Bicycle Awarness Committee which has done much to improve the lot of all Louisiana cyclists. I hope that these new deaths will prompt a resurgence of bicycle advocacy in Baton Rouge and throughout Louisiana.

Brian Lafferty
Massachusetts, USA

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Crankset and bottom-bracket

Is there any documentation indicating which is the strongest crankset/bottom-bracket combo out there? I would like any answers to be kept to the more traditional looking cranks and not the carbon style. So I guess it really is between, Campy, Shimano, Ritchey and other similar cranks.

Also aluminium frames are quite stiff but how is their longevity? I know they don't rust, but do they weaken? What about Carbon Frames? What would be the draw back to them? As for steel, so many companies indicate that the bikes are as "smooth as steel". Why don't we see more Columbus/Reynolds "steel" frames? If steel frames were made with as large a diameter as aluminium, wouldn't they get stiffer also?

I know everyone has opinions, but I am looking for data (not that opinions aren't fun to read, and would gladly take those also). Any independent studies, showing us the real numbers?

Thanks again for all the coverage.

Georgia, USA

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Hamstring injury #1

This might not be too much help - but I tore my hamstrings 3 times over a period of 6 months whilst trying to get back into cycling. They were excessively tight due to the amount of time I had off in the off season - sitting down etc.

Two years later after trying several specialist physios, sports doctors and
podiatrists I am only now getting recovery results with the regular use of 'Twana' - kind of chinese accupressure therapy. Its like deep tissue massage but 100 times more painful. A Taichi Master treats me using this method. As well as that, I've undertaken a twice daily stretch routine. All in all things have come right over the past 4 months primarily because of those two activities.

Before I could only ride for an hour at best - now I'm back up to around 50/700km a week including specific hillwork and interval training.

Andrew Hawley

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Hamstring injury #2

Since I am from the USA, I do not know who would be a good physiotherapist in London, but I may shed some light on how to prevent the same thing from happening in the future when you recover from your injury.

The hamstring help stabilise the leg when pedalling. There can be several factors that contributed hamstring injuries:

1) Lack of flexibility (biggest factor) in the hip region.
2) Too much pedal float or improper cleat position.
3) Dropping your heel when climbing and/or pushing big gears.
4) Hamstring strength to quadricep strength ratio.
5) Saddle height to high and/or sitting to far back on the saddle.

Most cyclist and runners only do the basic hamstring stretches (hurdlers exercise, touching toes, etc.). They neglect flexibility exercises for the hip and gluteal region. As you have found out this is where most hamstring pulls and tears occur.

When runners and cyclists do strength training, you will see them do tons of leg machine curls in the gym. This trains the hamstring as a single joint but the hamstring is a multi-joint (hip & knee). It is more beneficial to do more strength training that incorporates the hip area (leg lunges, squats, single leg squats, step-ups, hip & back machine, hip abduction & hip adduction).

There are several good books on the market:

1) Sport Stretch by Michael J. Alter by Human Kinetics Home Page ISBN 0-88011-823-7,

2) Functional Training by RoseMarie Gionta Alfieri ISBN 1-57826-063-9 published by Hatherleigh Press

3) Bicycling Medicine by Arnie Baker, M.D. ISBN 0-684-84443-5 published Fireside Book

4) The Sports Medicine Bible by Lyle J. Micheli, M.D. ISBN 0-06-273143-2 published by Quill

5) Serious Cycling by Edmund R. Burke PhD ISBN 0-87322-759-Xby Human Kinetics Home Page

6) The Cyclist's Training Bible by Joe Friel ISBN 1-884737-21-8 by VeloNews .

Another excellent form of cycling information is from the Performance Conditioning Inc.

Contact your cycling federation in England. Also seek out a qualified strength & conditioning coach in your area who trains cyclists or is an avid cyclist him/herself to set up a program for strength and flexibility. Again contact your cycling federation for names or the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) for strength coaches in the London area.

Brad Jordan, BA NSCA-CPT
Certified Personal Fitness Trainer
Ohio - USA

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Hamstring injury #3

I would recommend a series of Pilates floor classes. I've found that these exercises are easy to do at home, and are an excellent stretching and strengthening routine to balance cycling.

Stuart Davis
Sydney, Australia

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It's all about the right gear #1

Some years back while riding in France I discovered a fantastic set of books in a French bookstore. You may be able to obtain them in the states, if not you can find them in a French bookstore when you get there.

There is a two volume set, in paperback titled "ATLAS DES COLS DES ALPES", Vol 1: Alpes du Nord, Vol 2: Alpes du Sud.,
Published by ALTIGRAPH Editions - BP1 - 49080 - Bouchemaine.
I.S.B.N.: 2-903968-13-6.

These are fantastic books for cyclists with descriptions, directions, and detailed profiles of all major and many of the minor alpine cols. Included with most of them is a listing of the percentage of grade kilometre by kilometre. Similar editions are also available from the same publisher on the cols of the Pyrenees, Jura, and Massif Central. These are about 5"x8", approx 240 pages. The last set I bought in 1997 cost approximately $12.00 each.
Happy climbing!

Steve Farris
New Mexico, USA

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It's all about the right gear #2

This shows a detailed view of the Tourmalet. Find others on this site as well.

I rode the Tourmalet during the 2001 Tour. It was great! I used a 39x23 on the upper section.


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Measuring the gradient

I've been reading the race reports this year, and have been interested in the descriptions of the climbs along various race routes. In particular the length/gradient descriptions go far to help one imagine the difficulty of a particular climb.

My curiosity is to the point where I'd like to be able to describe the climbs on my home roads to others as well as to be able to ride say, a 1/2-mile 8% climb, or a 3-mile @ 6% for more specific hill training.

What is the best (and simplest, i.e. can be stuffed in a jersey pocket) way to take accurate measurements of a climb and its various pitches?

John Flack

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Tour de France Selection #1

The most simple solution to the selection of teams to the Tour de France has been overlooked.

Currently there are 21 teams of 9 riders taking part. This is means that 189 riders will be starting the race. If the organisers decrease the number of riders per team to 7 riders, then the organisers can add 6 more teams and still have 189 riders in the race.

Less riders per team would make the races more challenging and exciting as well. Big teams would have much more trouble controlling breakaways.

I'd even like to see the number of riders reduced to 5 or 6 because 189 riders is too many, and crashes are inevitable. The larger the fields the more chance of a marginal racer taking out another team's star in a crash.

If the French don't want to put on this type of race, I say let's do it right here in America. We have the financial capital, the mountains, the valleys and we're great at importing. We can import some crazy fans and we don't have to include lesser French teams that couldn't hold a candle to our Navigators.

Mark Griffin
Greensboro, USA

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Tour de France Selection #2

I seriously doubt the organisers of the TDF have any interest in excluding competitive riders. They just have an excessive interest in including French riders and believe they are justified since this is their national tour.

I think they miss the point that riders' contracts are largely negotiated based on UCI points, which are an international commodity. There are a large number of UCI points up for grabs at the TDF. Excluding riders who aren't French gives the French riders unfair opportunity to score those points. Those points can then be used to demand entry into the other big races based on results that were only achieved by racing against a lower-quality field.

Perhaps they should reduce the team size to 7 riders? It's an easy way to
get in another half-dozen teams while giving the home riders access to the TDF and it makes sense given the breadth of talent in today's peloton. It would make it harder for any one team to control the race.

Brad Best
Pittsburgh, USA

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Tour de France Selection #3

I personally believe that true cycling fans would watch the tour regardless of whether or not they had a "star" rider from their nation present. True, you may lose some peoples interest if they don't have a big name to associate with but I think that the majority of people who follow bike racing do so because of what it offers and not just who it offers.

The fact that the whole Saeco team was excluded from the tour is very unfortunate, especially for the truly innocent as I'm sure there must be some.

Ramon Vasquez
Indiana, USA

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Tour de France Selection #4

It seems odd to me that LeBlanc and the TdF organisers were very quick to bounce Saeco after Simoni's non-negative test, but no word at all has been given on Mapei. One could make the same argument on Garzelli's team leadership that LeBlanc did with Simoni when he removed Saeco. I am not in any way suggesting that Mapei should be removed and there is no way that I want to see another undeserving and marginally qualified French team end up with another wildcard spot, but it seems a bit strange how the events have unfolded.

Andrew Gilbert
New Jersey, USA

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US Postal investigation

France obviously suffered a great loss when Inspector Clouseau passed on. His talents are sorely missed in the French department of investigation into 'non-financial organised crime'.

"If Lance Armstrong had made himself available for certain tests, then we could have been sure. But he did not want to, as is his right."

Why even report on this non-announcement? Why report Fran┘ois Franchy's latest fairy tale? It has been reported on this site and else where that Armstrong did make himself available. USPS cooperated with the investigation, going so far as to provide blood samples if I remember correctly. Armstrong himself went so far as to contact the Judge and offer to meet her but was never contacted.

Mike Gates
Colorado, USA

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Colnago factory

I will be travelling to Milan in October of this year and I have heard that the Colnago factory outside of Milan is an incredible place. I'd really like to visit there but I don't know if they offer guided tours, etc. Can someone let me know if it's worth visiting there and what's the best way to go about setting up an "appointment". Any other detail/suggestions would be appreciated.

Chris Condon
Virginia, USA

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Vegetarian professionals

Although I am unaware of any, I would say that there is no reason for any of them not to be one. There is nothing depriving in any sort of "normal" vegetarian diet. They can get all the protein they need (or want) from Legumes, and as far as good complex carbs go, well, that goes without saying. Personally I am not a pro, but I do put some miles in, and my diet is all non meat.

Eric Hallander
Little Silver, NJ

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David Duffield drives me round the bend. As a female I find his comments particularly sexist. He's always going on about viewers encouraging their wives and girlfriends to watch cycling, or suggesting they tape the coverage and watch it in the bedroom while the wives and girlfriends are watching the soaps. Honestly! My husband has no interest in cycling and I am addicted to every piece of live coverage I can get. Yes, I'm grateful for getting live coverage at all, but surely the cult Duffield following isn't enough to validate his mind-numbing commentary.

Cate Mills
Edinburgh, Scotland

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Another round of drinking games #1

Nobody has mentioned my favourite! Drink up when as the stage winner approaches the finish line and Phil says," Now as the rider zips up his jersey to look good for the cameras" or some such.

Ian Wright
Dallas, TX

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Another round of drinking games #2

Though there are ample submissions on this subject, I must offer a couple more rules for the OLN Drinking Game:

1(a). Drink anytime Paul uses the word "sterling" as an adjective.
1(b). Finish your drink (and open another!) when Paul exclaims, "Sterling performance!"
2. Drink twice (one for Lance, the other for Tyler) anytime Phil confuses the two in any way.
3. Drink when footage of Andy Hampsten in a blizzard is shown.


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Desperately seeking Clara

I am just wondering if anyone can get me a contact for Clara Hughes? I would like to invite her to come for a presentation at the University of Manitoba on September 3rd.

Laksh Khatter
Special Events Coordinator
University Of Manitoba
Ph: 204-474-8567

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Recent letters pages

  • June 12 - Osteoporosis, A pain in the..., Vegetables anyone?, TdF selection, Tchmil, Drugs, Where the shorts have no name, More drinking games, Duffield, Jose Maria Jimenez, TdF starting times?, Our man in Colombia, Get your skates on, It's all about the right gear
  • June 5 - Saeco rejection, Doping, Giro coverage, Bob Roll, Shorts, What to about DOMS, Cadel, Drinking Games, Osteoporosis, Landmines, House swap, Get your skates on, Andrei Tchmil
  • May 31 - More on Le Tour, Lieswyn, Giro, doping, drinking games
  • May 29 part 2 - Tour de France, Drinking games, Lieswyn, Osteoporosis
  • May 29 - more on the Giro & doping
  • May 24 - Pantani, Probenecid, LeBlanc, Bob Roll, Garzelli, Simoni, Giro, McEwen
  • May 17 - Eurosport, Worst Tour in 20 years, Who now for second place, Radios, Coming to NY, Saddle tags
  • May 13 - Eurosport, Worst Tour in 20 years, Who now for second place, Radios, Coming to NY
  • May 6- Eurosport, Live coverage, RAI for free, Amstel Gold, Bike Tech a waste of time?, Radios, Hincapie
  • April 26 - Eurosport, Armstrong's tax problem, Johan Museeuw, Shelby Crit, Podium Girl
  • April 19 - Cipollini, 30's Classics Club, Eurosport, Paris Roubaix - a touch of sanity, new site design, Armstrong's tax problem, Freddie's "Quiet" Classics Campaign, Sports Crimes, Roubaix winner Johan Museeuw, Hincapie
  • April 12 - Cipollini, Armstrong's Tax problem, Love the new site design, Lieswyn a class act, Tour of Flanders, Agilis test, Atrial Fibrilation
  • April 4 - Cipollini and Paris-Roubaix, Milano-San Remo Live, To the top of the Mont Ventoux, Lance Armstrong Article, Cyclists as second class citizens, Marcel Wust, Atrial Fibrilation, Raybestos Brakes Advertisement , Question Regarding knee patches, Roland Green winning the Canadian Athlete of the year , Lieswyn diary on Valley of the Sun
  • March 28 – Cipollini, Milano-San Remo Live, 50km Madison Championship, Cyclists as second class citizens, Motorcycle/cameraman, 96 Atlanta Road Team, Baby Boomer, Raybestos Brakes Advertisement, Tour De France , Lieswyn diary on Valley of the Sun, Milano-San Remo Live, Marcel Wust
  • March 23 -Vasseur comments, Motorcycle/cameraman, Sponsored teams, 96 Atlanta Road Team, Insurance and police costs
  • March 14 -VDB, Vasseur comments, Cross-over champs, Langkawi, Hernias, Paris-Roubaix
  • March 7 - Cross-over champs, Press to blame?, VDB & doping, Langkawi, Hernias, Paris-Roubaix
  • February 28 - Tour de Langkawi, Olympic cyclo-cross, rest heart rates, domestiques
  • Valley of the Sun special edition, part 2
  • Valley of the Sun special edition, part 1
  • February 19 Tour de Langkawi, Olympic cyclo-cross, rest heart rates, domestiques.
  • February 8 - Where's Greg?, Road rage rampage, Team listings, Who's the best climber? Canadian 'cross selection, TV Coverage of Worlds 'cross championships, Worst Team Kit
  • January 31 – Vasectomy and cycling, Road rage rampage, To edit or not to edit, Worlds selections, Simoni vs Armstrong, ugly kit, reader poll
  • January 24 – Worlds selections, Simoni vs Armstrong, ugly kit, reader poll
  • January 18 – About the poll, Acqua&Sapone, Canadian athlete of the year, Lance & the Spring Classics, Mystery Aussies, Broken Hips
  • Letters Index – The complete index to every letters page on