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Letters to Cyclingnews - August 27, 2004
As bad as American television is slammed for being biased on covering American success stories during the Olympics (and thereby neglecting to cover track cycling), I read Cyclingnews daily and can't help but notice how Cyclingnews is equally guilty of bias in covering the Aussie wins at the cycling events. This is great for 2 reasons! Why? Because I realize how great the Olympics are in creating admiration and association with one's nation like few events do, and because it makes people realize how similar athletes from differing nations are and in turn, how similar people from different nations are. We have too few avenues and opportunities to view such a wide array of cultures.
I love to see the unabashed bias we have in associating with our respective nations and viewing how dramatic the effect sport can have. The Olympics binds us like few events can. It captivates us, it motivates us, and hopefully, it can better us by making us realize how much people from different nations have in common. When I watch war torn Iraqis support their soccer team, or Israelis gather to celebrate the joy of a first Windsurfing Gold medal, or the anguish Japanese gymnasts feel no differently from what an American would feel, I make a genuine association with my fellow fan and athlete. It makes me consider what else I may neglect to consider what we have in common.
Kudos to Cyclingnews on having great coverage of the Olympic events in general but in particular, for conveying the pride of Aussie success.
With that said, GO USA!
Why the discrepancy between swimming and cycling? Phelps (USA) was reported here as getting a gold as he swam in the heats. Why not then the Australian cyclists (or any other athlete who makes the team achieve a medal)?
It must have been a bitter pill for John Coates to swallow, to present "Flyin Ryan" with his gold medal Tuesday night. Not that someone watching would have known that John Coates was Australian, from the way the medal was presented, it may as well have been thrown to Ryan. Scenes reminiscent of John Howard awarding medals to the victorious English Rugby team last year. It will be interesting to see how quickly the Australian media performs a backflip as they congratulate our most successful cycling team ever. How will John Coates explain to his corporate pals that they have missed out on the opportunity to support some of our most talented and successful athletes.
Farewell John (either one mentioned)
Well, it's been a few weeks since the inaugural Bank of America Invitational Criterium was held in uptown Charlotte, NC. To all who attended, myself included, it was a great success. I'm almost certain the pro riders are enjoying their cut of the $125,000 prize money. The fans, estimated at well over 30,000, seemed to have enjoyed themselves on a beautiful cool summer evening. Bank of America, the title sponsor, received considerable airtime (live TV in particular) and great press; hopefully, they will return next year with a bigger and better venue.
Still, something's not quite right. I remember, almost hauntingly, of a venomous letter I read in cyclingnews.com, August 2003. I have yet to see an apology from that writer, John Carruthers (Syracuse, NY) to race promoter Thad Fischer of Charlotte, NC.
Some of the highlights. ”I find it both tiresome and irresponsible to have yet another promoter spouting off about an event," reeks of malice and, possibly, a personal vendetta. He goes on to blast OLP Racing (Outdoor Lighting Perspectives) for assembling a "wannabe-pro squad of 40–somethings”. Really, last time I checked they had some promising espoirs, in addition to local talent, on the squad as well.
He concludes with the sardonic question, "could promoters and team managers please restrain themselves from distributing fantasy under the guise of news?"
Well, I think Albert Einstein, years ago, answered it best: "Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds."
E. Scott Dawson
If Jay Lakes really doesn't have a clue what caused Arndt's reaction he should just shut up. In fact Arndt's reaction was still pretty "relaxed" when I think about the actions by the German Cycling Federation before the Olympics:
a) Rossner was promised to have a place on the Olympic-team if she wins the German championships... she won and the president backed off because he claimed he had also promised the place to Brodtka in April after her world cup victory!
b) If Rossner would have been in the team Arndt would definitely have won gold because she wouldn't have had to lead the Aussie girl to the Finish line if Rossner, definitely one of the best sprinters in the world, had been behind in the pack. Arndt, Rossner and Worrack ride in one team all the year so they naturally would have been the best Olympic team. Arndt's reaction had nothing to do with the fact that Rossner is her friend!
c) If the German federation would have known anything about cycling and tried to build the most athletic and cohesive TEAM, like you mentioned, the team would have been Arndt, Rossner and Worrack - everybody agrees with that - except the president of the German federation.
Judith Arndt #2
I must agree with Mr. Lakes concerning Ms. Arndt's selfish and offensive behavior at the Olympic women's road race. It is completely inappropriate for a rider, no matter how gifted, to display such base and rude behavior on the world stage. 99.9% of Olympic fans don't know what she's on about, and probably don't care. In retrospect, it's pretty clear that Ms. Arndt should have stayed home to have a good pout with her friends. Cycling needs to put heroes on the world stage, not self-important brats. I hope Ms. Arndt does not regret her career decision.
Judith Arndt #3
The reason 'sportsmanship' is such a big issue in athletics is that it's a struggle for high-level athletes, who tend to be obsessive, selfish and isolated; the reason everyone says politics 'should not play a part' in sports, and above all the Olympics, is an attempt to deny the fact that they are so obviously saturated with politics.
That's not the point. Arndt could be exactly correct in her assessment of the selection process, or exactly wrong, it doesn't matter. She showed more than she probably wants people to know about her, and will be remembered for it out of proportion with her accomplishments.
Be that as it may, if Arndt was obnoxiously 'childish', then the idea of 'stripping' and 'relegating' is obnoxiously paternalistic -- though it certainly is a good enough fit with the paternalism of the institutions of sport themselves, systems that are complicit in all of the vanities that these athletes suffer and benefit from.
The wobble comes from a combination of frame flex AND front wheel shimmy. Any low spoke count wheel with spokes laced from alternating sides of the hub will pull side to side as these spokes transfer the load. This can be minimized by a stiff rim and tight spokes. It can be handled by a stiff fork/frame much better. Tires also make a difference in damping.
I recommend tensioning the spokes. Also try a different wheel just to see if it makes a difference.
Anybody from NorCal who has ridden into the beautiful, tree-lined, rich, snobby and notoriously anti-cyclist town that is Woodside, probably has gotten a ticket along a road there.
I have seen police following cyclists along there numerous times and I myself was given a ticket for riding 2 abreast and had to go to court. It was ridiculous. Riding in a group constituted heresy for a while there I remember.
What is funny is that Eric Heiden lived there, and Och lived with him there
for a while when moving.
Pedaling furiously #2
In 1963, I was pulled over by a policeman while riding a 100 mile time trial who said "I've been watching you, you've been riding too fast". This was in an event which the police had sanctioned. At the time all riders were in the centre of the road overtaking slow or stationary traffic.
I agree that past records should be stripped from athletes. I would also like them, in cycling, stripped of any titles and that they should repay their winnings. However, these things are unlikely to happen. What would hit athletes much harder would be for sponsors to sue them for damages to their image. They have the financial clout to do it. When you look at how many companies advertise on a cyclist's shirt that number of companies suing for damages would bankrupt the offender.
Even better with this idea is that it would probably take but one case to put enough fright into all competitors to make them forget about cheating,
Just found this little tidbit regarding IAAF drug testing in an AP story from the Olympics: "Under IAAF rules, athletes face sanctions in the event of three drug-test 'no-shows' in 18 months." I'm not sure how tough that is. The story went on to describe those wacky Greek athletes who had that horrible motorcycle crash that caused them to miss their tests. "Before the missed test in Athens, the Greek runners were absent when testers looked for them in Chicago on Aug. 10-11. The IAAF is also looking into a third possible case involving Kenteris in Tel Aviv, Israel, in late July."
Hm, maybe I'm wrong here but three missed tests in a couple of weeks is a little suspicious. I wonder whether the IAAF is really that tough.
While almost everybody is aware that Lance Armstrong is the highest paid cyclist in the peloton, most cycling nuts I talk with have almost no idea what type of ching the other riders are pulling in. How much are the other stars of the Euro peloton making? What about the neo-pros? More interestingly, what about the U.S. D3 teams? What are the big guns making? How about the fresh-from-Cat1/2 rookies? I guess it's the low end of the spectrum that I'm really curious about. The impression I get is that they really have to scrape by in some instances. Can anyone shed some light on the subject?
Regarding Ian Farquharson's suggestions for "improving" the Tour, they smack of the same thinking that dominated certain golf courses "Tiger-proofing" their events, only to lead to more domination by one-dimensional athletes. De-emphasizing the TT's and team tactics might help an explosive climber (assuming they don't catch mono), but that might make the flatter stages even less influential than they are now.
The Tour de France is designed to test a complete rider. Saying that recent wins have been due time trial results would ignore some epic days in the Pyrenees and Alps in the last few years. The Tour ain't exactly broke, so further tinkering isn't about to fix anything.
Tour de France #2
In responding to Ian Farquharson's suggestion to simplify the tour to make it both more interesting and more equal, he doesn't get DRACONIAN enough!
NO TEAMS! Yeah! Take away the teams and make support completely neutral. Like it was 70 years ago? No team car to water-bottle-tow them back up to the pack, nor team members. They flat, they get themselves back on, or like us in our local RR, get dropped to the bus.
NO DRUGS! Latest test for HGH, and blood exchange. All riders stabilized by race doctors at 44-46 hematocrit. No asthma med. No synthetic hemoglobin or designer steroids. Just training. Can they race without a cocktail?
NO BONUS TIME! Yeah, again! They get the time they earn. To make it as dramatic as possible, NO SAME TIME, they all have transponder, make them all work for the line! These racers making half a million Euro or more can't straggle in, they will have to get off their duffs and work.
NO ELECTRONICS! This is a bike race, boys, not an x-box. No radios, power meters, heart rate monitors, speedometers. They don't need a transmitter hanging off their butt to tell them they are out of place, out of food, and cramping. They can cobble together a race strategy in their head, and live with the consequences of their own decisions.
NO WAY! It is not going to happen, would be fun though.
Tour de France #3
1. Having no communication would not add any 'excitement'. Instead, water should be dispensed by neutral service. This would mean riders could not hold onto the team car for water bottle 'accelerations'. Also, no rider would have to fall back 10 cars to reach their team car for water. ( How can you stop the 'imaginary' brake problems like Mayo had though?)
2. The TTT may soon be dropped despite the fans feelings. A mountain TTT would be amazing though wouldn't it?
3. Cycling events need less teams not less riders per team. Having only 6 riders would limit a team too severely if one or two riders crashed out. Removing every traffic island in a race would be safer but an unlikely event. Limiting each team to only one sprinter in the final kilometer would be safer for all riders also.
4. Use electric motorcycles so athletes are not breathing carbon monoxide for 6 hours. (How about those mini-planes with a single operator. They could just hover right above the race.)
5. It would be just plain nonsense to run the ITT backwards. Everyone would watch the first ten riders. Then wait two hours for the lesser riders? What would Lance do for two hours waiting to collect his prize and jersey presentation?
Here is a good question, are there any true cyclists heading the UCI or are they all merely business men with no clue to what fans and cyclists really want?
There do seem to be some good intentions in the UCI's weight and design restrictions, both for safety reasons and to enable costs to stay down for lesser teams/nations/individuals, however, people manage to adapt and the prices keep rising.
I've thought for a while that the main problem with the weight and measurement restrictions is that by setting an absolute limit (6.8kg) they are assuming that all cyclists are the same size. In any given race Magnus Backstedt (over 2m tall, 100kg) can ride a bike made of feathers, and David Extebarria (less than 1m tall, 3kg) has to ride one made of lead. Similarly in TTs the regulations state that the reach of the tri-bars can only be a maximum of 10cm in front of the centre of the front hub, in this instance Magnus has to really squish himself up, and David can have a nice lie down. Some things can be got around by innovative mechanics, like chopping off the saddle nose to make sure it's still legal, but the regulations in their absoluteness penalise everyone who isn't the ideal size.
As for the ban on monocoques (non-diamond ones anyway), this hasn't quite had the effect of getting prices down. Tried to buy a Pinarello Motello recently?
Speaking of weight restrictions, did I read in l'Equipe that as Basso's prototype Cervelo was below the minimum weight, the mechanics put heavier tyres on, or is my French getting rusty? How stupid is that, the outside of the wheels is the last place you want to add weight!
Does anyone have any idea what this means, from August 24's news?
And what are skinfolds and how do you expand them?
Jeff Jones replies:
If we are going to start using Yiddish in the cycling world, can we exchange Podium Girl for "shayna maidel?"
A shayna maidel literally translates as "a pretty girl." It describes inner beauty and is an expression of love and of yearning hope.
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