Letters to Cyclingnews – October 2, 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

Oscar Egg Bicycle
EPO testing
Vuelta at record speed
Transcontinental US Record Attempt
Noble House
Saddle Heights
Pantani, Virenque & VDB team
High blood pressure and cycling
Podium Girls
Surfer's abuse
Nice Gesture


Oscar Egg Bicycle

Yes I am happy to help with advise on restoration of the bike. I have a reasonable knowledge of French bikes having been fascinated by them since my early days. My store, Bicycle Specialties in Toronto restores many vintage machines and there is nothing I enjoy more than trying to restore old bikes to their former glory.

Mike Barry
Bicycle Specialties,
Toronto, Canada.
Friday, September 21

Respond to this letter

EPO Testing #1

The benefit of EPO lasts longer than the few days that a rider will test positive for. I have read that it will improve performance for as much as a week or two after a rider stops using it (all those new red blood cells that are created don't suddenly disappear as soon as a rider stops taking EPO). Thus a careful rider could (and I'm sure some have) timed their EPO use to end three to five days before a race, and thus not risk detection, but still benefit from increased performance for an additional few days to a week. That's why, in my opinion, random out-of-competition tests are so important.

As for anti-EPO, it would be cheaper to simply drag an anvil behind you on training rides.

Duncan Granger
Lancaster, USA
Friday, September 21

Respond to this letter

EPO Testing #2

It's not so much that the urine test will only detect three days post use. It's more the unwillingness of authorities, not just cycling, to use the blood test more vigilantly. Take for example the Russian track runner that tested positive, but got off on a technicality due to timing of her samples. Unless there is a positive test for both, it constitutes a negative result. Personally, I think it is perceived by the cycling fraternity that cycling is doing more than any other sport to stamp out drug use. This however is not received by the wider community. Until the governing bodies invest time and money making these tests statistically significant, they will always be second guessing and so will the public about the fairness of all sports.

Simon White
Gold Coast
Thursday, September 27

Respond to this letter

Vuelta at record speed #1

What are you thinking? Letting top cyclists continue to take performance enhancing drugs is not only dangerous to the athlete, but also dangerous to the sport. The cycling governing bodies and police are trying hard to keep drugs from interfering with bicycle racing. If athletes are given free rights to any drug of their choice, it would put their long term health at risk, and the teams with bigger budgets can easily afford the nicer drugs and doctors, making for an unfair advantage. Stop using the mentality: "Everyone in the peloton is on drugs." This simply is not the case.

As for the fastest stage in the Vuelta, anything is possible when the conditions are right. If the entire peloton were to work together in perfect synergy from start to finish of any stage, you would see the previous stage records smashed.

Friday, September 21

Respond to this letter

Vuelta at record speed #2

What about young riders who don't want to gamble with their lives in the risky drug game? Should they be denied the chance of winning ? If cycle sport accepts doping, then all young riders with ambitions will be forced into an abuse of drugs. Is that what we want? Please think twice Mr. Manantan.

On behalf of clean cycling.
Lars Nybo

Friday,September 21

Respond to this letter

Vuelta at record speed #3

I don't think we need to be so cynical. The organisers of the Vuelta design their race to be as exciting as possible by having relatively short stages anyway and the weather conditions - hot with following winds - have been conducive to fast times. An example of what a difference this can make. In a recent national 10 mile time trial here in the UK with a strong wind along the course the top riders were doing 12 minutes to the turn and 9 minutes back. Multiply the latter for a five hour ride and you'll get a very fast time.

On the general point of Charles Manantan's letter, I can only assume it's a joke in extremely bad taste. Many countries now accept that I don't need to get cancer because you want to smoke. Why should riders who want to stay healthy be forced to take drugs to compete with those who don't care?

Chris Whiley
Saturday, September 22

Respond to this letter

Vuelta at record speed #4

With respect Charles I feel your comments are knee jerk as there have been extreme following winds on at least two of the stages. There was a breeze so strong on one of the stages that Spanish TV lost its transmitter and no one would dare go back up the building as it was feared someone would be blown off the building. As for the other, I watched live on Eurosport, the guys were spinning out on the flat in 53/12 at times. The stages are also a lot shorter than in the past. It is easy for our sport to get a kicking in countries where it is not part of the history of a people, there is not the sporting and emotional investment and is easy for it to be labelled drug ridden etc. I remember the first time I saw the Tour of Lombardy and I was filled with a feeling that only true lovers of the sport will understand, those who do not will always target it as a problem sport as matters closer to home can be harder to face.

Yours in Sport
Patrick Kavanagh
Reading, UK

Tuesday, September 25

Respond to this letter

Vuelta at record speed #5

Aw', c'mon! Can't we explain faster riding and more exciting results with something other than cynicism for once? Why not press on with confidence that those who govern the sport and those within it (read: the athletes and their coaches and managers) are making it cleaner!

How about explaining the faster Vuelta with such novel concepts as; new, improving technology, i.e. lighter, faster bikes and associated equipment and perhaps better nutrition (and by that, no, I do not mean illegal supplements) and new and improved training techniques and conditioning making for fitter and faster athletes

We are allowed to improve based on these sorts of things, are we not?

Why not otherwise attribute the faster speeds to a race that is a lot closer than usual, meaning more pressure to keep the pressure on.....?

Cliff McArthur
San Francisco, USA
Saturday, September 29

Respond to this letter

Transcontinental US Record Attempt #1

Michael Secrest, a former RAAM winner, was hoping to do this seemingly impossible attempt by somehow managing to get the various highway patrols across the country to "pre-sweep" traffic off the roads, highways and freeways of a pre-planned route, the shortest possible. He was also hoping to acquire the services of several big rig truckers so that he could draft behind them. Since he had done this on a race track (drafting behind a big rig), accruing some ridiculously high mileage totals (well over 1000 miles) in a 24-hour period, he felt as though he could, on the right roads, with the right support, do this across the country, completing the course in 48 hours.

This was a couple years ago and I don't know if he is still planning to do this someday. The logistics of trying to pull this off are staggering though and would probably be the main reason for not giving it a try. If anyone is crazy enough to try such a thing and if anyone is at all capable of attempting and completing such a monumental endeavor it's Secrest.

Steve Born
Friday, September 21

Respond to this letter

Transcontinental US Record Attempt #2

3000 miles in 48 hours = 62.5 mph. Good luck to all of you that attempt this.

Colorado, USA
Saturday, September 22

Respond to this letter

Transcontinental US Record Attempt #3

Doing some quick calculations: approximately 3000 miles to cross the continent, 48 hours to do it in. That's about 62mph average, assuming you do not stop. I don't know of anybody, even drafting, who can do anything even close to that. The fastest track sprinters do 1km in 1 minute.

Mark Rishniw
Ithaca, USA
Tuesday, September 25

Respond to this letter

Noble House #1

I feel horrible for Ron Zurinskas.....he should sell the clothing via Cyclingnews to recoup his losses. I'm sure the members cycling community would pay for a Noble House Kit....I'm sure its functional clothing, it would be sort of a collectors item and buying it would help a fellow cyclist.

Steve Litvin
Friday, September 21

Respond to this letter

Noble House #2

Dear Editor,
In today's world of tech savvy young folks (like bike riders) a simple search of available sources on the WWW could help to establish the validity of a company's existence and, perhaps, their solvency. Information such as the officers of the corporation, date of incorporation, etc. are public information and tell a great deal about who's running things.

Too bad that just a small amount of searching was not done by those most directly affected by this "mind game" played by the prime movers of Noble House. Complaining after the fact, after spending a lot of money ($5,000) does little good. Perhaps others will be forewarned to do a little research before pledging their future to a non-entity.

Lastly, when the "money guy" makes a promise and doesn't come through, beware. The world is full of big thinkers with empty pockets.

Ian Fuller
Saturday, September 22

Respond to this letter

Saddle Heights #1

There are to my best knowledge, no "rules" for saddle height. It is very much a personal setting, and most pros spend their whole life adjusting the saddle position.

Everything depends on how you like to ride your bike, the same way as the length of your bike ( climbers often want "short" bikes).

So if you are comfortable on your bike, then it is perfect.

Friday, September 21

Respond to this letter

Saddle Heights #2

I discussed saddle height with the very same Neil Stevens when setting up a bike I picked up in the South of France while following the TDF. Neil was one of Bikestyles' people on the trip. He suggested my saddle be about two inches lower than I'd have opted for. I raised it up after about two miles on the road, still more after I got the bike home. I think many pros have such powerful legs that they can push through the downstroke without the leverage that a higher seat provides. And, the lower position enables them to get more power during the entire pedaling motion despite sacrificing leverage. I think the lower seat eventually pays off. But, as a guy who's still 20 lbs. overweight, I don't need extra suffering at this point. So, I get the seat as high as I can without my hips rocking. If I ever get my weight down, I will revisit the issue, maybe lower the seat gradually.

Monday, September 24

Respond to this letter

Saddle Heights #3

Hi David,
The question of saddle heights is only part of a greater equation of which one's individual morphology is the centre-point. Some 18 years ago I became interested in ergonomics and as a former engineer, fed on a diet of Chet Kyle's work, realised the importance of positional geometry. As a qualified French cycling coach, I am aware of the vertical plumbline through the pedal spindle method devised by Daniel Clement and more recently, the renown "Hinault" or "Lemond" methods developed by Claude Genzling. There were aspects however of Genzling's theories that I would dispute, whilst, when one considers the data from laboratory studies, one has to recognise that these are simply laboratory projects, unaffected by outside influences, air temperatures or turbulences. Frequently called upon to determine the position of a rider, whether they be professional or amateur, racer or tourist, one has to remember that the principal of ALL athletic performance is to maintain the pelvien girdle in the horizontal plane. Whilst this is a primary consideration, in cycling the fixing of the saddle's position in relation to the Bottom-bracket becomes the critical element. Not only do we need to know the height of the saddle, but also the vertical rear offset behind the bracket. Once that has been completed, using the pre-determined dimensions calculated from morphological measurements, the position of the bars, the height of the stem and the forward distance can them be fixed. Some studies have shown that oxygen uptake (VO2) can be optimised by having the correct saddle height.

Having taken the measurements of the individual, the height of the saddle is determined by the length of the lower members and bio-mechanical angles of movement, as well as the style of a rider and of course the discipline. Having said that, a co-efficient is applied according to the rider's age, above all when the subject is not fully mature. ie: as in adolescence or prior to the second puberty. However I would add that the geometry provides what I call an "Optimal Position" which serves as the basic road, but forms the basis of the position for all disciplines, as diverse as Track or off-road. It is worth mentioning that a specific TT bike is set-up using the same base measurements as for those of the road (Optimal Position) being aware that riders who ride stage races or single day events, cannot alter their positions drastically without fear of injury or problems with articulations. Setting-up the TT bike properly can result in improvements as much as 4.5%, even if your PB is 53'44"in a 40km TT !

David James
Wednesday, September 26

Respond to this letter

Pantani, Virenque and VDB

I find it first of all rather misplaced of Pantani that he announces such a rumour just because of the fact he does not get any attention anymore. But when you consider the idea, I think it's a bad idea for both Virenque and VDB to go to the Pantani team. In my personal opinion, the team around the cyclist manager will flop and even if it doesn't, it will get a lot of critics and its results will be followed on the foot by the whole mass media. Not really a stable environment for two cyclists who need a stable team to grow back to the top.

On top, I don't think Pantani can manage it to stay in Division I with his squad as he has almost no UCI points himself. So that means that Virenque won't get to the Tour and VDB cannot ride the classics, I don't think they will accept that. So I hope that they both use their minds and choose for a normal team and we get them both back on the top level. And for Pantani.. I'm still waiting to see an other mountain attack from him...

Tjerk Gauderis
Friday, September 21

Respond to this letter

High blood pressure and cycling #1

Good letter, Alex. Can you suggest an alternative to your suggestion of fish as a source of fat?

Mo Joyce
Friday, September 21

Respond to this letter

High blood pressure and cycling #2

Who is Nathan Pritkin who David McNaughton mentions in his reply to my query and how does his diet / exercise programme work ?

John Andrews
Thursday, September 27

Respond to this letter

Podium Girls

Cycling News.com is an awesome resource for LIVE race coverage for all of the three major tours. I go to the site every day for results and news of the day. But one section I would love to see is more pictures of the podium girls! I would say that the Spanish women are the most beautiful this year.

I just found this following picture from Graham Watson that was taken of Robert Millar at the Tour of Spain. Forget his pictures of LeMond vs. Hinault, or Armstrong vs. Pantani. Get more pictures like these: http://www.grahamwatson.com/2001/vuelta/vuelta1/image8.html

Thanks again for all of your hard work on cyclingnews.com. Your site is the best!

Bicycle Bill
North Palm Beach, USA
Saturday, September 22

Respond to this letter

Surfer's abuse

Iím sorry to hear that some of my 'brethren' have been misbehaving on the nationís highways. As an avid surfer and cyclist, I have no explanation for this behavior except to say that if you get any group of people together, no matter the sport or cross-section of society they come from, youíre going to get a certain percentage of idiots. Additionally, having dealt with my fair share of aggro attitudes and localism while in the water, it seems not unreasonable that the image of the 'mellow surf dude' is a somewhat dated one. Fighting in a crowded atmosphere (the line up) for a limited resource (waves) pretty much inevitably leads to some confrontational situations, especially given some of the dangers inherent in surfing. Oh, for the days when you waited for someone else to join you in the line up so you could share the experience.

I'd also keep in mind that your unfortunate incidents, while annoying, are also anecdotal, and may not be indicative of a larger attitude problem among surfers toward cyclists. I try to remember that as the rednecks outside of Seattle honk, scream, curse and even slam on their brakes in front of our paceline.

Seattle, USA
Saturday, September 22

Respond to this letter

Nice Gesture

I congratulate Beat for his grand gesture in wanting to donate his winning prize money today (Vuelta stage 13) to the victims of the World Trade Center attack. Cycling could not have made a greater or more touching statement about this tragedy than he did today. Best of luck in the future Beat.

Jay Gehrig
Sacramento, USA
Saturday, September 22

Respond to this letter

The last month's letters

  • September 20 - Vuelta, cycle bashing, Oscar Egg, Bupropion, climbing times
  • September 11 - Altitude tents, high BP, attacks, Oscar Egg, Bupropion
  • September 5 - Mckenzie & Vaughters respond, climbing times, anti-doping, 1989, Pantani
  • August 29 - Pantani, Vaughters, Where's Cipo?, McKenzie, Velodromes, 1989, Armstrong
  • August 23 - Vuelta, Mercury, Ullrich, Soviets, 1989 again
  • August 17 - Doping, Armstrong, LeMond and The Devil
  • August 14 - Tour, Armstrong, Chemo, Vuelta, Doping, Rooting, & more
  • August 8, part 2 - More about the Tour, and more
  • August 8, part 1 - Tour reflections, chemotherapy, commentary, commercials
  • July 31 - Armstrong, Ullrich, Rous, Hamilton, Drugs, Canada
  • July 18 - Armstrong on l'Alpe, Cycling Manager, food, 35 minutes, commentary, Men's World Cup, Schmoo, van Vliet
  • Letters Index - The complete index to every letters page on cyclingnews.com