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Letters to Cyclingnews - May 23, 2008
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; please stick to one topic per letter. 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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I grew up in Sydney, lived 16 years in Melbourne, and then moved to Lyon, France at the beginning of this year. The change of culture has been amazing: in Australia I have dodged beer bottles and been hit with eggs thrown from cars, I've been forced on to the gravel shoulder by trucks and I've experienced the 'brake-check' in traffic. Fortunately I'm sufficiently slow that I was able to avoid a collision. Commuting meant being regularly harassed, squeezed and threatened.
In the hills around Lyon, I'm typically treated with respect and courtesy by drivers. Friends tell me that motorcyclists benefit in the same way (and in neither case are the two wheeled fraternity more law-abiding here than in Australia). Even in the city, with its heavy traffic, progress is much calmer. Cycle lanes actually continue across intersections, rather than being placed where they are convenient (and hence, typically useless).
I suspect the sad truth is that Australian society is polarized between the few who actively participate in sport and the great majority who simply watch it on TV. Those who've never used anything but a car for transport seem simply incapable of seeing the roads as available to anyone else... with the occasional idiot being just the extreme of the general pattern.
Road rage incident #2
Having visited Western Canada and North-West USA August last year on a cycling tour covering 15 days and over 1000km, it was with interest I read your letter.
I live in Perth, Western Australia and had not cycled outside of Australia before. I assumed that Australia has its share of road nuts and anti-cyclist drivers like anywhere else, and it was a revelation to me to see the level of general courtesy and consideration given to riders whilst on tour, and especially in Canada. No horn honking, no swearing, no pressing cyclists into the curb or other threatening behaviour - it was a real (but pleasant) shock! Testament to the appalling attitude of a sizeable proportion of the car driving population in Perth (and apparently throughout Australia). It really bought home the sheer aggressiveness and intolerance of car drivers here.
Funnily enough (or not), the day after I returned from my tour of Canada and the States, in which I had not been subject to one harsh incident, a ride on the roads in Perth on a Sunday afternoon led to me being screamed at by a driver!
I too was equally perturbed by Anne Morphett, the media officer of the NRMA, and resolved to write to her expressing my dissatisfaction with her comments - until it dawned on me that, as the public face of a motoring advocacy group, she was simply spouting the line that typified many car driver's beliefs: that it's their road and no-one else's. This is the ingrained prejudice we as cyclists face...
Road rage incident #3
While I in no way condone the actions of this stupid and dangerous driver, it is also important to realize that we cyclists should ride safely and responsibly. If we do so, then we are less likely to incite anger in other road users.
A classic example is our frequent failure to obey road laws. Large groups of riders, in this case 50 or so cyclists, present a long and cumbersome obstacle for traffic, particularly as cyclists are often travelling more slowly than the surrounding traffic.
Cyclists should ride in groups of a maximum of 10-12 riders to allow cars to pass easily and safely. This is a basic rule of our local club. Again, this driver's actions are inexcusable, but this incident of road rage may not have happened if this group split up into smaller groups to allow better integration with the surrounding traffic or alternatively had safety vehicles at the front and end of the group.
I noticed all the Sydney road rage letters were from Americans and Canadians; cheers for the thoughts guys.
Having moved from Wales (best place in the world to ride except for the weather), to live in Oz 4 yrs ago, I can confirm the attitude toward cyclists here is shameful.
Having ridden in; Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Gold Coast and Cairns to date, it appears many drivers are of the same attitude; Cyclist should not be on the road. Buzzing you, cutting you off, slamming on brakes after passing you, pulling out in front of you when you have right of way, hurling verbal abuse and projectiles, threatening assault, and in fact striking you with their vehicles are all regular occurrences.
No amount of responsible riding; wearing bright clothing, full HID lighting and reflective clothing at night seem to make a difference. The culprits aren't limited to one group either, men and women, young and old, tradies, truck drivers, taxi drivers, bus drivers are all there along with the young set.
In addition the police respond in dismissive manner, belittling you or failing to follow up after an incident report is made.
It's laughable to hear the much flaunted phrase "giving people a fair go", and yet the ignorant element of road users failing to do exactly that. It is the most "un-Australian" element here.
For anyone planning to visit and ride in OZ, please do, this country is awesome and the people are the best (when not behind the wheel), but please consider the other road users as a very real hazard, and do not assume the same level of skill as European drivers for example.
For the rest of us over here, the report in Sydney was sadly no more a surprise than the fact the press even bothered to cover it.
I wanted to write you to express my dismay at the really weak coverage cycling media has given to the crash on the last stage of the Tour of the Gila, which left Mexican Champion Fausto Esparza paralysed in hospital in El Paso Texas. This is one of the most horrendous injuries that have occurred in cycling this year and it seems as though it is being swept under the rug because there is no interest in an injured Mexican rider.
Had this been the US, Belgian, French, or Aussie Champion it would have been leading news, trumpeted all over the internet, yet I have to search to find any mention of it at all. Fausto has lost his ability to make a living, has a family and 3 children to support, and I had hoped to see the cycling community rally to his aid. Instead it seems the media treats this story as though it didn't even happen. Kudo's to Toyota-United who have donated to Fausto's help and to cyclingnews photographer Mitch Clinton who donated all his profits from race photos to this cause. I had hoped to see an outpouring of support from the cycling community and media; instead all I hear is deafening silence. Please do more to bring this story to the attention of the cycling community, this brother of ours has suffered an incident which every rider risks daily and deserves and needs the help and support of us all. Please, please, please, don't let this story die.
Donations can be sent To:
Wells Fargo Bank
Totally agree. The first thing I thought of was karma. I love to see really grateful cyclists like the young Mark Cavendish win stages. He seemed genuinely delighted and grateful to be there. On the other hand Millar seems like a spoiled brat throwing his toys out of the pram. Whenever I see or read an interview of his he comes across as being arrogant and cocky. He's got nothing to be arrogant about. He's only famous because he's one of the best British riders. In reality though, I think that he is very average.
David Millar #2
Although I appreciate Ian Watts' opinion concerning David Millar, I have to say that I support Millar all the way. The fact is that there have been plenty of great riders who felt they had to dope just to be competitive in a peloton more doped than straight.
Let's start from scratch and consider everyone a saint until proven a sinner from this point on.
David Millar #3
Ian Watts said, on 8th May:
"I absolutely agree David Millar is a disgrace to the sport, the fact he is allowed to wear the British national champion's jerseys for both road and time trials really sticks in my throat. The guy puts himself on a pedestal making out he is some goody two shoes reformed druggie and thinks it's acceptable. Worst still English speaking magazine hold the bloke up as some kind of doping 'guru' and allow him endless pages of preaching. Well let's remind everybody... A leopard never changes the colour of its spots!!"
Millar never failed a test. Yet when interviewed by police, came clean and admitted his guilt. He "did his time" in the form of a two year ban. He did not spend the time finding ghost writers to pen 'I'm innocent' books for him; he did not manipulate his family and friends into starting a fruitless 'David is innocent' internet campaign; he did not come up with a '101 ways the test is wrong' document - he put his hands up and said 'yes, I doped'. He then went about rebuilding his career, and today, when journalists approach him, (not the other way round) he'll talk openly of the mistakes he made.
So, go ahead, condemn the guy for being honest.
Really? A leopard never changes the colour of its spots? I think throwing clichés and old "wisdoms" like that around is just a little too easy.
Have you ever made a mistake Ian? I guess not. If you don't like Millar, that's fine, but what you are saying is akin to an accusation that what happened in the past is continuing. Give the man a chance to right his wrongs. As far as I see it, he is making a reasonable effort to do just that.
Basso gets a contract #2
Sorry mate I think you are completely wrong, where are the skeletons in your cupboard? We all have them.
In life we have a thing called justice, Millar served his time he's back doing what he does, he's put his money where his mouth is with Slipstream and does his "soapbox" where ever people listen. You are aware of this, if you don't like what he has to say don't buy the magazines.
Whatever sport you are in if you break the rules of that sport you are punished within the rules. Millar broke the rules, he was punished he's back in the peloton, get over it. There is no lifetime ban!!
Cycling has had its head in the sand for years and until the UCI get's a grip then it will stay that way.
Basso gets a contract #3
In the non-athletic world of drugs, recovering and want to-be recovering drug addicts respond the best to talking with recovered addicts, because those who have successfully rehabilitated themselves know firsthand the challenges of getting off dope. They become role models.
The same thing can happen with performance-enhancing drugs. Why banish someone for life if they admit their mistakes and offer themselves up as part of the solution. Get over the bitterness, Ian. Millar was a cheat and a liar and a doper. But he didn't attempt to avoid the consequences of being caught. He confessed and paid the price; now he's clean and he's a poster boy for clean racing. What's the problem? More power to him.
Basso on the other hand has never really owned up to his sins. I don't know what to think about him; I hoped he would confess or just quietly go away. No such luck.
Bryan Kiriby - Nice one, very old school I like it. But where do you put 36kg, can't be in the back pocket. That's like riding up with 6 extra bikes. Six bikes that I cant afford.
Weight work #3
Hi, I Love your story. I remember back in the early 80's seeing some of the pro riders that I used to admire training with back packs on their backs full of heavy stuff and also going up hills with delivery style bicycles with the metal basket in the front and everything that weighted about 35 to 40 pounds or more. So I believe you and maybe I will try it too.
Well his team just sacked him, for what? For taking a medicine that if you in fact DO have Asthma allows you to breath like everyone else, not better than everyone else. And if you don't have asthma it does nothing for you. It is a short acting bronchodilator for acute asthma attacks. It relaxes smooth muscle in the airways that become inflamed during an attack. No attack, no inflammation of the smooth muscle. Yeah, yeah there are those that say it can be used as a fat burner but you would have to take much more than what he used. What a shame.
I like Les Woodland retro articles. Speaking of the shortest Tour de France participations. Fred Moncassin, while riding for Novel at the time If I remember correctly - year I don't know - signed on for the first stage but broke his ankle coming down the stairs of the sign in podium. I think that would qualify for a even shorter TdF than Boardman. How unfortunately can one be?
Petacchi is suspended, race results cancelled, out of a job, yet Piepoli who was tested with even more Salbutamol than his unfortunate compatriot - continues to romp up the Giro climbs. Why? Because his license is from Monaco, not from Italy. It's this lack of cohesion that's making a mockery of cycling.
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