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Letters to Cyclingnews - February 27, 2003
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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Ride to work
How about biking to work as another way to work out. Here's a list of reasons and equipment that might motivate some people to leave the car behind and pedal.
Top five reasons to bike to work:
Stay in shape. Why go to a health club and ride a stationary bike when a five mile commute can burn 300 calories each way, or more, depending on your speed.
Save money. Commuting by car will probably cost over $400 a month in mortgage, insurance, parking, tickets, etc. By comparison, after the cost of the bike and gear, the ongoing costs for bike commuting are around $30 a month.
Burn off stress. People who ride to work arrive invigorated and work off the day's stress on the ride home. The family is happy to see a carefree Dad or Mom.
Reduce pollution and traffic congestion. Cars are killing us, literally. More people die in traffic accidents in the suburbs than from crime in the city, and pollution related illnesses are on the rise.
Fun. People who bike to work have more fun with their life (not statistically proven).
To make the ride enjoyable there is some gear you may need:
Rain gear - if you will be riding in the rain, bike specific clothing is good idea, because it is designed to breath, with pit zips under the arms to allow sweat to evaporate.
Fenders are a good idea as well, since they keep the water off your feet and back, and they keep the bike cleaner as well.
Bicycle garment bags (Two Wheel Gear makes a specific commuter pannier). A good idea for carrying your work clothes.
Light setup (Lighting) is a good idea, so you can be seen by cars.
Ride to work. It will become one of your good addictions.
"Hi. My name is Doug, and I am a Lanceaholic...
So, I sat down at my computer last night to check out my favorite cycling website, and suddenly, it's like I was in 'The Twilight Zone'! I learn that some of my fellow cycling enthusiasts had been calling for Lance to "throw the fight"! A man as talented as Lance, having fought his way back from death's door, and now in the best fitness of his career, is being asked to take a fall for... for what, exactly? According to Mr. Stoops, by refusing to pursue another Tour victory, Lance would "honor the racers of the past". Mr. Pearson, on the other hand, argues that Lance should hang up his Postal kit because he's earned enough money already. Is it just me, or are these guys starting to sound like the French? On behalf of my fellow Lanceaholics, I felt compelled to respond to recent letters regarding Lance and his bid for Tour #5:
On Honoring past champions: Lance waited when Ullrich went ass-over-teakettle on that descent in the 2001 TdF. Rather than trying to out-sprint Carlos Sastre for second place in the TdF stage finish at La Plagne last year, Lance held up and allowed Sastre to take second on the day. Lance had gained the time he needed, and that was good enough for him. Sportsmanship. Honor. Fair play. These are the "marks of a true champion". Lance upholds the highest ideals of sport, and in doing so he honors all those who came before him. Asking him to sit out the biggest cycling race in the world in his prime years, that's... that's... well, I don't know what that is, but it has nothing to do with honoring past champions.
On "How much money does Lance Need": I don't think Lance would mind kicking everybody's arse in the TdF for free... fortunately for him, however, Trek, Nike, and the US Postal Service have offered to pay him to do it.
On Challengers in the Tour: On behalf of all us Lanceaholics, let me state unequivocally: NOBODY likes a good fight more than Armstrong - excepting, perhaps, his fans! He admitted before last year's TdF that he was disappointed in Ullrich's missing the Tour. So were his supporters, myself included. Hell, what cycling fan doesn't want a close, competitive race? Gibi? Ullrich? Botero? Beloki? If somebody's got somethin' to say, come on up to the front, and have a go! Note to would-be challengers: Better make sure you can ride Mr. Heras and Mr. Ribiera off your wheel before you take on Mr. Armstrong!
On Payback: I think it would be wonderful to see Lance working to pay back Roberto, Georgie, and the rest of his teammates for their extraordinary efforts in helping him win 4 Tours de France. Let's hold on to that thought. My guess is that Lance will settle a few of those debts before his career is out...
On Sponsorship. Hey, I ride my bike cause I love it, but if some marketing rep from Gas Guzzler Motors tells me he'll give me a bunch of free stuff and pay my race entry fees if I agree to turn my backside into a billboard, I'm all over it! And, I suspect, most of you would be, too. From where I stand, there is no middle ground here. Either you accept the sponsorship model for professional sports - companies buy advertising by funding professional sports - or you don't. And if you accept the sponsorship model, then you're not allowed to pick which companies can be sponsors, based on nebulous criteria like whether or not they are deemed 'socially responsible', or whether they use bio-degradable toilet paper in their executive washrooms.
Does it suck that some sponsor's products or services seem incongruous with the goals of sport? I suppose. But what's the alternative? The alternative is, you have no sporting events to go to, and we have no professional athletes to write about on this web site. Companies don't succeed in the marketplace simply because they advertise - they succeed because people BUY their products. You're disappointed that Lance would agree to endorse this product or that product because... He's not being a responsible citizen? It's morally reprehensible and ethically unconscionable? Talk to the guy in line at the cash register in front of you who's buying it! Your energy might be better spent educating consumers about the impact of their choices, and the alternatives.
And finally, before you judge Lance based on the company logos he wears on his uniform, or the products he endorses, please consider this: Lance has done more for humanitarian causes like cancer research than most of us will ever do. We all must pick our battles.
There's still plenty of room up here on the 'Lance fan Wagon', and it's holding up just fine, thank you!
Doug Cook, Lanceaholic and PROUD of it!
It will be very interesting to see the effect that Lance's separation from his wife will have on his season in 2003. Given that his family were always at the Tour with him and seemed to be a source of constant inspiration and motivation ("Daddy yo-yo") I wonder whether a potential crack is opening in the armour?
The Armstrongs' separation - coverage
Thank you for your tasteful coverage of Lance Armstrong's 'separation'. No one needs to know the unrelated and possibly hurtful details of an athlete's personal life. And it certainly wouldn't help the relationship in question. It's a credit to your integrity that you don't sensationalize such things.
Very interesting interview with Bjurnio Riis....
Although his power allegedly came 20 degrees earlier, that doesn't mean that 20 is added to his previous power curve. Ultimately, the amount of sustained power one can produce is a function of cardiovascular fitness.
While the biomechanics of pedaling are more complex than, say stair stepping, no amount of change of technique is going to allow me to hold more than about 350 watts because my peripheral circulatory system, heart, and lungs can't handle it.
I can believe that "smoother" pedaling can increase efficiency, but he was already a pro and presumably pretty smooth. Smoother pedaling could only add a minuscule amount to his ability, or anybody's really.
Regarding Manolo's commentary in "The Tour Is Too Big": I would love to see Armstrong ride the Vuelta. But instead of riding as team leader, Lance should ride in support of Heras. Then maybe ONCE would have zero chance of winning the Vuelta. After all, why shouldn't a team have the right to develop another leader.
About cycling being monotonous: there is nobody to blame but the teams (like ONCE) chasing the leaders jersey. In the 2002 Tour, we all kept hearing that ONCE was going to attack in the mountains. Except for the Ventoux, the attacks never came. And the lone attack by a certain ONCE rider on the Ventoux lasted about as long as the opening of a fizzy pop can. 'Psshtt' - then he was toast.
If the ONCE director is really concerned about cycling, then he first ought to look in his own backyard and fix the problems there. Then we might see some exciting racing.
Since when is cycling a movement to change the fabric of society? It is a very, very bad idea to start disparaging the ever decreasing number of sponsors willing to fork over millions in marketing funds which make this little sport possible. Since when do automobiles, pharmaceutical companies, and Coca Cola represent a conflict of interest in the sport of cycling?
Coca Cola is the single most recognized product in all the world. There is not a single pro cyclist in the peloton who hasn't at one time or another downed a can of the stuff within 20 km of a finish line. Coca Cola will be airing a commercial with Lance Armstrong and NASCAR Winston Cup champion Tony Stewart. The fact that this "evil" company will provide major network exposure to a cyclist can only help the sport in America.
Pharmaceutical companies are not the enemy. The makers of EPO are not evil. If you had cancer, you would probably thank the makers of EPO. The last time I checked, the makers of medicine were doing a good thing. We all can agree that cyclists who cheat are killing this sport. Bristol Myers-Squibb isn't killing the sport. It is the guy in the lycra turning his blood into hemoglobin pudding who is killing this sport.
People who drive cars, or make cars, are not the enemy. I ride a bike. I drive a car. I love my car. I love riding a bike. It is this "us against them" attitude that gives the cycling community a bad name and a bad reputation. How come I see all those cars with roof racks in the parking lots around races?
A great big "THANK YOU" should go out to all sponsors for keeping this sport alive.
By the way, I drink Pepsi.
to this letter
Sponsorship - calm down
Bigaqua72's letter regarding sponsorship is pretty lame. First, the assumption that cars and bicycles are somehow in conflict: how so? Second, complaining that Coke is an unworthy sponsor of the Tour: when I first started racing long, long distances I asked my coach (2x pro World Champ) what the "secret of the Pros" was for a long race. He states simply: Coke. He didn't mean cocaine. I always keep a de-fizzed bottle full of Coke in my back water bottle cage as an emergency measure. And the Pro triathletes almost boycotted IronMan some years ago because Coke was going to be removed from the feed stations. Calm down already.
Raymond F. Martin
Sponsorship - we all drive & drink Coke
I'm sure Lance and his representatives didn't have to grapple with the seemingly important moral questions raised on this forum with regard to endorsing certain consumer products. Other than one of us being a top-level professional athlete and the other being just a guy who enjoys doing the occasional Masters bike race, Lance and I are probably pretty similar: sometimes we have to drive an automobile from point A to point B, and occasionally we grab a CokeR when we're thirsty. Does that mean we're morally bankrupt, or setting a bad example for our children? Didn't think so.
Sponsorship - moderation is the key
Why is everyone so caught up in what Lance decides to endorse? It is working a treat for his sponsors so far, purely because of the stir about the line between making a living and morality. Does it matter what he endorses? Well yes but not to the point of us making a huge fuss about it. This is the essence of marketing: find someone with a high profile and try to get consumers to associate these high profile people with their brands. It does not matter that Lance (maybe) doesn't know about cars, because that is not the point. What do lotteries (ONCE, FDJ, Lotto) have to do with cycling. Should we curse these teams because they promote gambling?
And for what it is worth, Coke is not a sinister product. I train with a few guys who are very serious full time cyclists and after a 3-5 hour training ride we will stop at a cafe and have a coke. I don't see them being adversely affected by it? Fast food is a poor product (loaded with saturated fat) but coke is not. Have you ever seen guys at the end of a professional race drinking a lemonade or the like? well almost all pros do. Wake up, coke is not making people fat, it is doughnuts and chips, not a drink. Like most things, moderation is key. To be honest at the end of a training ride, a lot of cyclists feel like a sugar hit and this is not detrimental to their health.
Will the State of Wisconsin pick up the funeral tab in addition to supplementing your income so your family can carry on? I understand more than two abreast that's common sense, but to not let cyclists have a piece of the road! That's a f ^*in' joke. "Cyclists may not force a motorist behind them to pull into an oncoming lane of traffic to pass."
In NC a motorist must give you three feet as well, but if you don't make someone go around you, you'll take an SUV mirror off the shoulder. That right side of the lane is mine! If a motorist doesn't like it too bad, they'll be 30 seconds late to see their family. I refuse to put myself in harm's way for anyone. As a cyclist in NC I must adhere to the same traffic laws that the motorists do, so I get a piece of the road! 90 percent of the folks share the road without a fuss, the others must hate me, but I get home to see my family when the ride is over. The NC drivers hand book even instructs cyclists to stay more to the left on a busy road, even taking the whole lane if you can stay with the flow of traffic.
What you have to put up with WI is not only dangerous but just plain stupid. I'm sure the people making the laws view the bike as a toy and feel men our age should be doing something more adult, say like bowling. If I were you I'd risk a ticket before I risked my life.
With Trek being based in WI I would appeal to them for help in changing the laws.
Good Luck in WI
Car culture - fighting back doesn't help
I am generally comfortable observing the debate from the comfort of my armchair (or, this winter in the northeast US, my trainer). Mr. Hardie's letter prompted me to write.
Fighting back by throwing rocks or cleating cars with your shoes only furthers the problem. If a motorist made you angry enough to want to retaliate, your retaliation may be enough to push them that same motorist to truly harm the next cyclist they see. And that cyclist could be a kid riding down the street, a newbie racer, or anybody. The point is that your personal vendetta will have then caused some serious harm to another innocent cyclist. And that's just no good.
If you really want to fight back, donate your time and effort toward causes that promote alternative transportation and that advocate cycling in particular. If your beef with cyclists receiving endorsement monies is real, write to the cyclists and companies. Better yet, combine the two and write to a professional athlete or company as a representative of an organization. You'll be surprised at the effect you have.
The key to changing attitudes is showing initiative and then being persuasive. The cause of safe cycling is larger than your interactions with individual motorists, and complex problems require complex and elegant solutions, not rock throwing. Leave the rocks on the road and channel some of that anger into productive activity.
Remember, "The pen is mightier than the Time cleat."
Car culture - cars and bikes must co-exist
I think people are beginning to forget that we sometimes need cars in our lives. The type of car that people choose is a personal one, and sometimes it isn't always the best one for the environment or for those riding on the road. But we do have to ask ourselves... how do most of us get to races? Certainly the trip of a couple hundred miles to get to a race in a couple hours can be blessing when you have a car.
You cannot change a "culture of cars" when it is already a facet of American culture. Most people eat, sleep, and live by their cars. The culture of convenience and simple satisfaction to the majority is widespread. So it is hard to make cyclists of a higher concern when there are so many more drivers in the United States and in the world. All cyclists hate that; I do too. But honestly now, do cyclists in chamois have much to say when we ourselves become hypocrites and use cars too?
Like it or not, a car culture must co-exist with a bike culture. Critical Mass, for bike tolerance in many cities, has only evoked hatred from drivers toward cyclists in the past.
I conclude with Patrick Henry's "Give Me Liberty or Give me Death Speech" because I believe cyclists do have a voice. Even though we have a small voice now, I hope we, as cyclists, will be seen favorably in the near future. "If we wish to be free--if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending--if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained--we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight!"
Brian, I agree with your point about asking questions in these tragic cases, but it was the immediate, implied accusation by several "inside" people that I found particularly odious.
I was fortunate to have been acquainted with Denis for a couple of years while I lived in Italy. He would frequently stop in at my friend Ennio Salvador's bike shop in Sacile. Denis was the friendliest, most gracious and accessable professional cyclist (or athlete) I've ever seen. He was also a hard working pro much liked in the peloton--often riding for another's benefit rather than personal glory. Yes, questions need to be asked but neither Denis and his family nor his memory deserved the reactionary "piling on" that we saw the morning after. So long, Denis. You will be much missed.
I just read Floyd Landis' recent diary entry and wanted to say 'Bravo!' Not only on his recovery but also on his relevation. Most cyclists (and people in general) are too busy whizzing around in life to stop and give thanks, like Floyd did. Unfortunately, like Floyd, it usually takes some kind of hardship or suffering before we stop taking things for granted -- like being able to ride a bike. The next time you complain about hill repeats or intervals, think about all those people who, for what ever reason, can't ride a bike - I gurauntee you will stop whining!
The "Blue Train" will be untouchable if they all start having Lance & Floyd-like epiphanies about what suffering really is!
Apparently the Lance fans go off every time some rider has the audacity to say that they want to challenge him in the next tour as we have seen lately with Simoni. True sportsmanship would be if the Lancealots welcomed the challenge instead of denigrating the challenger. Statements like "he is never going to be able to challenge Lance as long as he is skiing in the Dolomites and Lance is out training on his bike" are just plain stupid if you know something about cycling. The body and the mind need to recuperate after a long season, so Simoni is probably right to go of skiing instead of pounding away in the middle of winter. There is still almost 6 months until the Tour. Maybe if Armstrong were not hammering away on his indoor trainer at 7 am on the 1st of January he would be able to perform for longer than one month a year? For your information the cycling season spans 10 months.
I actually admire riders like Moreau, Beloki, Ullrich and possibly Simoni who prepare for the Tour knowing that most likely they are going to receive a whipping from Lance again. But instead of focusing on races easier to win they go for the Tour every year. Lance is going to drop the ball at some point and they have just got to be ready and push him as much as possible year after year after year. So who cares if Simoni shoots his mouth off - he is going to be the one with the embarrassment if he does not walk the walk. Until then a little hype is fine with me.
Gibi vs. Lance - year-round riders
That "bunch of Belokis" as Steve F refers to them, are very dedicated professional cyclists who ride hard all year long for demanding sponsors. They do not have the luxury of devoting themselves solely to one event a year. So when they speak honestly about hoping to be on the podium in Paris maybe they are just following some of Dirty Harry' best advice: "a man's gotta know his limitations."
When Lance is competitive in the early season, rides two of the three grand tours and the Worlds then I will jump on his bandwagon. Until then he will be a great athlete who dominated a single event and will always have my respect, but not my heart.
L. S. Paden
Gibi vs. Lance - Gibi's head start
But you still have to remember, that by the time that Lance has figured out his schedule for the season, Simoni has been racing for a good month or so.
Where as Lance biggest target is the Tour, albeit Gibi's as well, Lance will not be in Italy for the Giro, and Gibi will. I have no doubt that Lance will be very hard to beat this year, also with the record as his motivation. But in my opinion there's more to cycling than just the Tour. Say if Simoni won (hypothetically) Paris-Nice, then he got second to Lance in the Tour, and then went on to win the Giro, then tell me who has had a better season. Lets also say hypothetically that Lance doesn't win, then his season is blown, unless he's in a break at Amstell with no Rabobank rider with him. I'm not against anyone who speaks their mind, and I would rather Simoni say that he wants to dethrone Lance than to say that he's racing for second. Its half mental preparation, and if he's thinking about coming second, then its already over for him.
Let him say what he wants, and let us enjoy this beautiful sport that it is, and if Simoni fails to win, let the pink newspaper in Italy trash talk their own champions.
The logic escapes me: Lance being intimidated in TdF this year, because of media powered anti-French sentiment here in the US? Unless the suggestion is that French fans lining the road will be displaying hands on anti-anti-French sentiment, because they now suddenly care deeply about what Americans think of them, would the current differences in political positions not be more of a risk for French or German riders competing in the US? The Iraq national cycling team coming to Sea Otter?
Henrik Groth Petersen
I agree with Chris's letter. Santiago does have more muscle mass than a 'text book' climber, but he sure can climb there's no doubt about it. Geez, two mountain top wins and a KOM winner in the Tour and apparently he can't climb? He is one of the most credentialed riders there is - he can time trial with the best and climb with the best on his day. He is aggressive and powerful. I hope he and Cadel can work well and at least one of them podium at the Tour this year. They are more of a threat than the Beloki/Galdeano combo. I think Simoni is talking up his chances too much, but would be happy to see him back up his words. Hopefully we will see a resurgent Ullrich but I wonder about his team...
Santiago Botero can't climb consistently
Botero's history shows that he always has at least one disastrous day in the mountains of the Tour, and ends up losing big time which he's unable to make up. Until he proves he can avoid this, he will always struggle to make the podium. In contrast, Lance has had one (1) bad day (or should I say one bad climb) at the Tour in 4 years -- his time loss that day: about a minute and a half.
Joe Papp's diary from the Vuelta a Cuba is fantastic - please tap him for future 'inside the peloton' pieces. Not only is Papp able to provide his own perspective as a rider, but he really captures the soul of the race, the heat, the dust, the local competitors, the tastes, the struggle - a truly great sports journalist. He's taken a race I cared little about and turned it into one in which I'm now hanging on his every diary submission.
And what scrappy racing!
My former boss told me they had similar problems to Steve's with their rifles during the Korean War. The eventual solution was to wiz on your weapon to melt away the snow. I've used this technique on wintry MTB rides countless times, and it always works without fail. A little sprinkle on the cassette and derailleurs will have you back on the road in no time. I actually did it once during a cyclo-cross race, and it was thoroughly gratifying. I had to go, my bike wouldn't shift, and it gave me an opportunity to express to the evil machine how I felt about it during that hour of hell-my three wishes granted with a short portage and pause obscured by the trees of the single-track section. Does that make me a genius or a genie?
As a North Carolinian I can tell you that my alternate solution works even better, however. I've been in Spain training under balmy skies since the first of the year. Today is Feb 23, and I rode 5.5hrs and over two cat2 climbs formerly used in the Vuelta-it was 20c (72f), clear, and sunny with a light tailwind all the way home.
Here's to a successful return of Pantani. I only hope the UCI doesn't view his new ears as an unauthorized aerodynamic modification!
Does anyone know if a pro cyclist has ever made a decision on which team to sign with, based on what equipment the team uses?
Spurred on by your recent pictures of fresh snow in the Eastern States and Jaan Kirsipuu's stage win at the Etoile des Bessèges earlier this month, I have a question: Just how many races have been won wearing a toque?
The only race that comes to mind is Andy Hampsten's epic ride in the Gavia stage of the '88 Giro (even though he came in 2nd). Any others?
Hello Cycling News
I have been searching for many years for a video for my father (big big cycling fan) of the 1984 Tour de France.
Can you possibly help at all or point me in the correct direction.
Any help would be greatly appreciated indeed.
Lynne Coombes firstname.lastname@example.org
I am inquiring to the many Cyclingnews readers out there "anywhere and everywhere". I have been looking for a couple of months now for Cycling Manager 2 for the PC. I know it is available across Europe, but I'm not to sure about Australia. All I know is that it is not available in North America, especially Canada. If I'm wrong, please let me know. I am pleading with anyone that is willing to sell their used copy, or to anyone that can get their hands on a new copy, to please let me know. There's only so much of the demo that I can take!
Can you get a worse name for a cycling team than "U.S. Postal Service presented by Berry Floor"? Just who in hell is Berry Floor? Is that like Barry Manilow? Or Berry Smoothie? And how do you fit all that on a jersey? As an English teacher, I want to know where the comma after Service is. Or why presented isn't capitalized. This name sounds like a coming out party for some debutante named U.S. Postal Service.
Here's a Postal Service story for you. I was at the local P. O. to buy a single $.37 stamp. The line was huge and moving at less than snail's pace (of course), but, fortunately, I scrounged up the change to use in the stamp machine. I put in exactly the needed amount, pushed C1, which was for ONE stamp, then waited for the expected item to pop out of the slot. There was even less movement than at the line, so I looked at the message screen and saw that I was expected to pick a quantity from 1 - 10. Wait a minute. Didn't I put the exact amount in and push the button for ONE stamp? With machines like this, the U.S. Postal Service might really need to be presented by Berry Floor.
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