Letters to Cyclingnews — April 17, 2001

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

After a classic edition of Paris-Roubaix, Keith Connelly thinks it's time George Hincapie rode for a team that makes the Classics a priority. You do have to wonder if any team could have combated Domo's strength and tactics on Sunday, though.

Woyteck Morajko comes back with more thoughts about the fragility of modern bikes, and Julian Yuen has his own tale of failing bikes. As the site's resident tech-weenie, what I find more annoying is that you can barely buy a road bike these days that will take anything bigger than 25mm tyres. The market seems to demand road bikes that are totally focused on racing, when with a few changes that are inconsequential for racing, they'd be useful all-round as well.

Mike Kallal's article on fixed gear road bikes prompted a positive reaction from fixed aficionado John Forbes. Hobie Simons wrote to tell us of his rather sweet fixed set-up, and Jay Dwight wants some further discussion of fixie tech. Mike has other pieces in the pipeline for us, so look out for them in coming months.

Discussion of women's cycling continues to rumble on, with Kate Rowe responding to letters from last time, Tanya Wyr opining that women's races are just as exciting to watch as men's, and Stella citing a good women's event in New York.

In our other long-running discussion on the nature of sport, Rick Bose thinks that the popularity of sports depends on how easy it is for people to understand what's involved. This certainly helps explain why cycling is popular in Europe—where casual cycling is part of life—and less so in Anglophone countries where the car is king.

Following on from last week's story of Dylan Casey's one-man, grass-roots bike test program, Mike Praught writes in praise of Seamus McGrath's helpfulness.

To open up a couple of new subjects, Christine Wnuk wonders which athletes suffer most. I'm not sure you can quantify the different types of suffering endured by cyclists and, say, boxers. Any answers from people who have tried a variety of sports? Julian Yuen thinks there should be a Tour of Sydney stage race. Great idea, but I suspect the logistical problems would scupper it. Cyclingnews is based in Sydney, and to say it's not the most bike-friendly city in the world is like saying the Pacific Ocean is not driest place we can think of.

Finally, Paul J Lee is looking for some custom shoes. We're aware of Rocket 7 and also of LUST Racing, but does anyone out there know the whereabouts of Don Lamson?

John Stevenson
Letters Editor

George Hincapie in Paris Roubaix
Bikes Breaking
The Way of the Fixie
Women's Cycling
What is Sport?
Grass Roots—Seamus McGrath
No pain, no… pain?
Tour of Sydney
Custom shoes

George Hincapie in Paris Roubaix

It should be abundantly clear that it is time for George to move on. Enough monkeying around with the Postal team. No one of his stature should be left alone so far from the finish in such an important race. As much as I like to see Lance kill everyone in July, he does not need George. What George needs is a team that can support him in the classics. A real Euro powerhouse‚ of a team. He was so strong in Sunday's race, and it showed when he made the move in the Forest. Too bad he flatted because things could have turned out differently. But there should have been someone there to help. From that point on George and Ludo spent the rest of the race being bullied by Domo.

It is clear that the number one priority for the Postal team is the Tour, and it should be. But the team is also doing nothing for George, and there is no reason for him to stick around. They clearly do not put 100 per cent into the classics, and George might as well have started yesterday by himself. Going to Lampre next year would not be a bad idea… He is the next great thing in American cycling. He needs, and deserves the proper support in order to achieve what is possible!

Keith Connelly
Monday, April 16

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Bikes Breaking#1

Yes, the pros will use the lightest possible equipment, but at some point one needs to ask if the risks are worth it. What if the frame broke during a 60km/hr descent?

As far as stress is concerned, it's debatable. Since I'm at 230 pounds (110kg) and manage 6000-7000 miles a year, I believe I'm stressing the frame a considerable amount! Would a 2.5 pound frame last under these conditions?

While we all agree that pros will never use touring bikes, the general public (leisure, recreational, touring, commuting, etc) would be well advised to consider safety and durability as much as lightness when purchasing equipment. This applies to tires as well. Would a size 25/28mm tire be that much slower? How about using Kevlar/Nylon belts for puncture protection? Just thinking...

Woyteck A. Morajko
Thursday, April 12

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Bikes Breaking #2

I've been club racing in Sydney since 1997. I started on a cheap chromoly frame. That snapped on the right chain stay near the drop out after 12 months (at that time 10,000-11,000 annual kms or less). I moved on to a 2nd hand 753 Reynolds baby that I thought was indestructible. I found out the hard way that it wasn't. In the Blue Mountains in the rain, it fractured around the down tube, inbetween the water bosses, creaking on every pull on the bars.

While getting it repaired bought a 6061 aluminium Peleton. That lasted 12 months before it fractured on the right chain stay 2-3 inches behind the bottom bracket. I got a new one on warranty. At the time I rode the 6061 aluminium bike day in day out (about 15,000km annually at that time). Now the replacement is a race bike and the 753 has been repaired and is a training bike!

Julian Yuen
Sydney, Australia
Thursday, April 12

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The Way of the Fixie #1

Here in the Northwestern corner of the US, Oregon in particular, fixed gears during winter and into spring, summer and fall(!) are almost standard. We even have idiots, er, riders, (myself included) who sometimes ride fixed during 'cross races.

In addition to the varied rewards mentioned by Mike Kallal, other benefits include ease of care, fewer moving parts, no chain rub induced by shifting, less wear on brakes and so forth. My coach has us ride only fixed for a least a couple of months each winter with a fair number of 70+ mile rides as part of the routine. However, his only reason for so doing is that come March we really appreciate a 'regular' bike. Frankly, I hate giving up my fixed then, It's my favourite commuter and so much fun watching potential thieves try and ride off on it! Sure makes for an easy catch.

Cheers to all the fixed riders out there.

John Forbes
Portland, Oregon
Thursday, April 12

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The Way of the Fixie #2

I enjoyed reading Mike Kallal's article on fixed gear riding. I have recently taken up fixed gear riding myself and it is blast of a workout and is also fun.

Much of the information that I have received about fixed gear riding has come from the fixed gear section of Sheldon Brown's website which has a wealth of information regarding fixed gear/single speed bike setup and conversion.
Click for larger image
Hobie Simons' Streetdog

I have a beauty that I built up specifically for this fringe activity. Attached is a picture of my trusty stead. It is a Gunnar Streetdog (made by Waterford), which is a cross frame for fixed gear/ single speed riding. I currently have it set up for road riding with a 46x15 fixed gear on 700x23C's with the option of flipping the hub over to an ACS Claws 16/17 combination BMX freewheel. I have equipped the bike with both front and rear brakes for the rare times that I do use the freewheel.

Hobie Simons
Crytal River, Florida
Saturday, April 14

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The Way of the Fixie #3

Thank you Mike Kallal. My Sunday morning has been made by your article on fixed gear riding, which I have indulged in for years. There is nothing like it, and once a person becomes facile on a track bike, they realize that brakes are not a prerequisite to avoiding obstacles. Thanks for the humour.

Follow up, if you could, with discussions about crankarm length, gear size, and the like. I ride 165's, and 46x17. Doing big hills isn't a real problem after a while. The track bike is so light and stiff. I just wish I lived near a track.

Jay Dwight
Sunday, April 15

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Women's Cycling #1

To answer Martin Pearce: Hi 'boy'. This response is very interesting and sounds like same old same old. I and many women (I am 50 and object to the term 'girl') before me and after me have travelled the road of involvement and with respectful exceptions, it doesn't seem to make much difference. Why don't we have a woman coaching a national women's team when there are women available with the skills? Why is the women's commission a toothless tiger? Why isn't there one female member in the board of the ACF? We could go on for ever.

Those exceptional men are very supportive, but I reiterate, when those in power have attitudes like this and persist in calling us 'girls'… well what can I say? No matter what, we will still be out there cycling and trying.

Nevertheless, I still love sport and will do what I have always done and try to infuse my enthusiasm to the younger ones, and hopefully they will progress further than we oldies have been able to thus far.

Kate Rowe
Sydney, Australia
Monday, 16 April

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Women's Cycling #2

I've been reading the thread on women's cycling and I have to admit that I'm somewhat appalled by the negative opinions of women's cycling aired here. I race and watch as many cycling events as I can. I do my best to support the sport that I love. Women's races are equally as exciting and fun to watch for me as men's races are.

It's frustrating to me that women's cycling is virtually ignored by the media. I think that this is the core of the inequality problem. I've suggested to World Cycling Productions that they cover some of the larger women's races. My girlfriends and I would definitely buy the tape! And hey, wouldn't guys like to watch some fit women cycling once in a while too?

When I go to major races I see the men's teams are well taken care of, while the women are left to fend on their own, often having to work full time jobs on the side to support their cycling. One of my friends, a professional cyclist, has to live out of a van to continue her career. Yes, I understand that it's a matter of economics at the moment, but give the gals a little publicity, cover their races in the cycling mags, and the interest will come. How can people be interested in something that they don't even know exists? More girls would get into cycling if there were role models to look up to.

I do feel that the tide is changing though, I am seeing more women out there now on bikes. But they are mostly doing multisport, where there is equal attention given to women and men in the sport.

Tanya Wyr
Burlingame, CA, USA
Monday, April 16

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Women's Cycling #3

The NYC Grants Tomb race is a great race to watch, and for the racers, challenging and exciting. If there were more prize money maybe more women would race. I know for myself I got very discouraged racing with very strong men. Sometimes we can't live on just, "the love of the sport".

Monday, April 16

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What is Sport?

I once read an article that proposed that one general spectator perception of cycling was hampered by the fact that, for instance, Michael Jordan at his best performs feats that make him look as if he is a being from another planet, whereas Greg Lemond at his best looks like you or me sprinting away from a chasing dog! I think that appreciation for the amazing feats in cycling has to come from an inside perspective as to what this kind of effort entails and how and why it is beyond the capabilities of most of us. I believe that the same article pointed out in fact that the reason you could find televised golf on the television every weekend was not because it was so obviously exciting to watch, but because there are so many people who themselves spend their free time chasing little white balls around the pasture, and can appreciate how the skills of the pros are above their own.

Rick Bose
Cedar Falls, Iowa, USA
Friday, 13 April

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Grass Roots—Seamus McGrath

I had been racing for about three years when I met my hero Seamus McGrath. To my surprise he was one of the nicest people I have ever met. I have been lucky and have met a lot of pro athletes and most of them are really snobby and don't really care what you have to say. Seamus is an awesome guy and didn't hesitate to give you hints and race tips. I'm not sure if all racers are like that but I know that it is because of him that I am still racing to this day. Seamus, thanks a lot, Bro.

Mike Praught
Kitchener, Ontario Canada
Monday, 16 April

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No pain, no… pain?

Has there ever been a study as to what is the pain tolerance of a pro, three-week cyclist say, compared to a boxer, or marathon runner?

Who suffers more at the office, Lance or Lennox Lewis?

Christine Wnuk
Tuesday, April 3

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Tour of Sydney

To all you Sydney folk out there: what do you think of a Tour of Sydney? It could go like this:

Stage 1 - Crit to attract a crowd may be the CBD or Bondi
Stage 2 - Sydney city to Katoomba via suburbs to Sydney
Stage 3 - National park circuit in, say, Royal Nat park, or Kuringai Nat Park, or a Parramatta Park kermesse, or Centennial Park road course.
Stage 4 - Crit or kermesse in the Suburbs of town centre
Stage 5 - End of tour crit to encourage a large crowd.

Either one stage every weekend or over one week. National series points and so on, with grades!

Julian Yuen
Sydney Australia
Thursday, April 12

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Custom shoes

I'm hoping you can help. I wear a pair of custom shoes made by Don Lamson. These shoes accommodate a leg length discrepancy of 15/16in and a variance in length of one full size. I need a new pair and haven't been successful locating Mr. Lamson. I fear he has discontinued his business or moved without a trail. I found a company named Rocket 7, but they cannot help with that severe of a build up due to their process with carbon fiber soles. Can anyone suggest a custom shoe builder that can assist me? I don't race, mostly road touring and fitness. I use Speedplay Mtn. pedals. Thanks for your time and consideration.

Paul J. Lee
South Lake Tahoe CA USA
Friday, April 6

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The last month's letters

  • April 12 – Breaking bikes, Grass roots, Women
  • April 10 – Breaking bikes,What is Sport?,Women
  • April 5 – Sunderland, F&M, What is Sport?, Women, Peugeot jersey
  • April 3 – Milan-San Remo, What is Sport?, Women, Race Services vs Prize Money
  • March 30 – Bartoli, What is Sport?, Women, F&M, Chain Massacre
  • March 27 – Lead outs, Bartoli, Milan-San Remo crash, Women's Cycling
  • March 22 – Equal pay for women?, What is sport? Foot and mouth
  • March 20 – Equal pay for women?, What is sport? Foot and mouth, Book wanted
  • March 15 – Equal pay for women?, What is sport?, ESPY awards, Actovegin
  • March 13 – Equal pay for women? doping, Espy awards, interesting TTs, video wanted
  • March 8 – TV Coverage, HES, Espy Awards, Foreign substances, Actovegin
  • Letters Index - The complete index to every letters page on cyclingnews.com