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Letters to Cyclingnews - December 24, 2004

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.

Because of the very low volume of letters this week, we've held over awarding 'Letter of the week' till things return to normal after the holidays.

Please email your correspondence to

Recent letters

Why are cyclists so trendy?
Business and cycling
Big Bear ends downhilling
Off-bike weight gain
No flat tires
Armstrong and Simeoni

Why are cyclists so trendy? #1

The answer to why are cyclists so trendy is as simple as this: It's not how you race, it's how you look on the start line!

Everybody can try and look pro even if they can't race like one!

Scott Greenland
Brisbane, Australia
Monday, December 20, 2004

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Why are cyclists so trendy? #2

Someone from Seattle please help me out on this. I remember a Recycled Cycles Category 1 or 2 rider racing a few seasons ago on a fully retro 1970s rig. I seem to recall him placing in and/or winning races, including crits, on his down tube friction-shifting lovely. I have also seen Seattle-area Jittery Joe's pro Jonny Sundt ride off the front of a number of Pro 1/2 road races on a complete POS bike -- this was before he changed his focus from cyclocross to the road and just did road races for kicks.

The proof's in the pudding. And you've either got the pudding or you don't. I'm under no illusions about personally having the pudding. Money can't buy it. Training can, to a certain degree, but it's much more important to pick genetically gifted parents. As a busy person with a job, a wife and two toddlers whom I love very much, fitting in an extra hour of intervals a week is going to do way more for me than buying a stiffer, lighter bike or some other such hogwash.

Dave Dederer
Medina, WA, USA
Sunday, December 19, 2004

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Why are cyclists so trendy? #3

In response to Jason's long and weary letter: Jason, I'm glad you point out that you are a college student. I surmised that from your letter but am glad for the verification. I'd suggest you withhold judgment on "the system" until you're actually a part of it.

How the poverty of individuals half a continent or half a world away should impact my bike purchase is beyond me. Impact my vote, yes. Impact my generosity and charity, yes. My bike purchases? No.

You make several statements that allude to your belief that somehow cyclists should act more intelligently than others. That sort of subculture -centrism is dangerous. It leads to the feeling that you're better than others. I don't feel particularly close to the bowlers in my community, but I don't feel above them.

I would suspect that, as a college student, you can't now afford a carbon bike so they represent some sort of evil manifestation. Well, I have a C-40 which I waited many years to afford. When I was in college I couldn't afford a bike at all. I had to work to put myself through and just barely had enough clothing and food to eat. So, from my perspective, I could consider you a portion of the pampered minority who are "making it" at the expense of others. I won't do that. I sense some real concern in your writing. Try to maintain that when you're balancing a job, mortgage, relationship, family... and cycling.

By the way, if you really want to rant against a group of people, how about the SUV owners who buy 7 mile/gallon vehicles while we're at war over oil? My favorite rant!

Raymond F. Martin
Friday, December 17, 2004

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Why are cyclists so trendy? #4

Seems to be a strange place to debate capitalism. But, why not? It's cold outside and I can't ride. Jason, I'd like to temper your stats on capitalism with some additional information. Although I can't substantiate your stats on the number of people living below the poverty level, I can say that fewer than 3% of the people in the bottom 20% of wage earners in 1975 weren't in the bottom 20% in 1991 and 39% of them were in the top 20% in 1991 (source: "Basic Economics: A Citizen's Guide to the Economy" by Thomas Sowell, p. 137).

Also, "most of 'the poor' from the 1970s had reached higher real income levels in the 1990s than most of the whole American population had in the 1970s." (same source).

In other words, capitalism provides a great deal of upward income mobility and also raises the tide for everyone along the way.

As for medical care, even the poor who are not covered by specific insurance policies (which is less than the number you cite, b/c some of those people choose to self-insure) typically have government subsidized medical care available to them that is still far superior to care given in other first world countries.

Finally, it strikes me as odd that you would blame capitalism for "millions of other children that don't get the education that they need," given that the U.S.'s education system is a state-run, socialist monopoly exactly like the medical system model I'm almost certain you would support to fix your uninsured problem. Free education for everyone. Free medical care for everyone. Sounds great, but history has shown many times that such socialist models are not an efficient way to allocate resources for the greater good.

You should pick up a copy of Sowell's book. In it, he explains economics w/o using equations.

And, as far as cyclists being trendy... what the heck? As with all groups of people, some people like to keep up with the latest trends and some don't. No real reason to worry about it. We aren't going to change it. The important thing is that we all love cycling. That doesn't mean that we all have to like each other or think and be exactly alike. That'd be boring.

All I know is that I bought a road bike in 2001 that was lighter, stiffer, quieter, easier to use (index shifting), more durable and much less expensive than my 1985 top-of-the-line road bike, which is a perfect example of how capitalism raises the tide for everyone. Some trends yield postive, lasting benefits. Some fade away with the hype. Capitalism certainly helps that along by providing companies incentives to find ways to differentiate their prouducts from their competitors.

Seth McMenemy
Thursday, December 23, 2004

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Business and cycling

I think Tim Root has touched on the most significant part of the UCI's dispute over the ProTour; the money. The current models of big money organized sports: F1, football (soccer), tennis, etc., all revolve around TV rights; whoever owns them, controls the sport.

The UCI has leveraged the ProTour concept to force the big Tours to share their revenue with the governing body. On the face of it, that's not a bad idea. Put together a series of the biggest races; Classics and Tours, promise the sponsors the most exposure and guaranteed TV time, and force the trade teams to support this system by sending their best riders.

Of course the UCI is paid handsomely for all this arm-twisting, and all the race promoters all end up working for the UCI, because they control the calendar, the TV rights and the rules.

Understandably, the organizers of the national tours feel screwed. Their hard work is being hijacked by the governing body in a huge power-play. Their properties: Le Tour, Giro and Vuelta, effectively become the UCI's and they are left doing the same work for less reward; read: TV revenues.

All this talk of "ethics regulations" is just a cover for the justified complaints of the Grand Tour organizers over the heavy-handed tactics of Hein Verbruggen et al. Really, we should applaud their stand against the out-of-touch and greedy bureaucrats; "get your hands out of my pockets and off of my race!"

Paul Rinehart
Williamstown Mass, USA
Tuesday, December 21, 2004

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Big Bear ends downhilling #1

Ira Cooke's interpretation of the law (at least in the U.S.) is incorrect. Your insurance company has no right to sue on your behalf unless you authorize them to do so. The insurance company will send you papers of subrogation. If you don't sign, they can't sue. It's not "the system" at work at Big Bear, it's an individual.

Darrel Stickler
San Mateo, California, USA
Saturday, December 18, 2004

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Big Bear ends downhilling #2

I answer to Jim Trail, Stu Press's grand statement is flat true. As for someone flip-flopping when it's there misfortune, that may be true also but it still isn't right. You went out and did something unsafe and maybe stupid to top it off; you need to be responsible no matter the financial hardship you've just created for yourself and others. You knew the risks, you just figured that it wouldn't be you who got hurt and you were WRONG - tough luck.

Chet Ritchie
Wednesday, December 22, 2004

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Off-bike weight gain #1

To echo Barry a little, at 37 I find it amazing how fast the body changes when I stop cycling. A new baby and the ensuing cold has kept me off the bike for 2 months. I have only gained 2 pounds, but all of my pants are too tight around the waist. I'm down to three pair I can wear comfortably. As soon as I can sleep more than 3 hours at a time, I'll be hitting the road again.

Happy holidays,

Derek Schreihofer
Augusta, GA, USA
Wednesday, December 22, 2004

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Off-bike weight gain #2

Barry, I would suggest a high-fiber, low-fat diet which includes plenty of complex carbohydrates. I severed my Achilles tendon last July and have had two surgeries since (the tendon severed again after the first surgery; it wasn't fun). I've spent a total of fourteen weeks on crutches and seven weeks in a camlock boot since July of 2003, and my weight never went up.

My diet is, as I've said, high in fiber and relatively low in fat (I include "good" fats such as extra virgin olive oil, flax, etc.). It's also (dare I admit this?) vegetarian, but certainly one doesn't have to go that far in order to stay in excellent shape when temporarily disabled.

Congratulations on riding again!

Verge Manyen
Houghton, Michigan, USA
Friday, December 17, 2004

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Off-bike weight gain #3

Hi! Need some help melting a few kilos?

I discovered something great! This is, by the way, a totally disinterested letter; I have absolutely no advantage in this other than sharing my experience.

A friend told me about a book (I'm not even sure if it is available in english) on nutrition. I bought it, read it and now I'm shedding weight easily. It's very "Montignac", only perhaps made a little simpler to follow. And it has nothing to do with a "diet" in a sense of depriving yourself, it is rather a way to change certain habits. Of course it takes a commitment to follow, still. But what's more important is to understand the principles.

I'll just tell you about it in my words, since I'm neither a nutritionist or a cardiologist (the author of the book is though).

It's not about the quantity of food or the calorific value. It's sugar value that makes us fat. Perhaps that's not news to you. It was to me.

Modern eating habits, prepared, industrialised food often contains added simple sugar. Sugar intake will trigger insulin secretion. A necessity to transform sugar that would otherwise poison us (a form of diabetes as we know). The sugar transformed goes into the liver and blood to be stored as quick access energy. When the storage is full, the excess energy is then stored as lipids, along with the other energy digested from other sources (fat, carbohydrate). Therefore, the other energy sources are barely used and also stored.

Secreting a high level of insulin seems to develop as an "habit". The body, with all this insulin receives a message that it is "hungry", while all the energy is available. So you continue eating more, and if you don't eat right, you continue contributing to your fatty reserves.

If you cut on the sugar (as drastically as possible for best result) and follow a simple combination of food, you'll use the food properly. Simple as that. What's with the combination? That's where my rational understanding hits its limit. Probably something about the different processes to digest fats and carbs that is more efficient if concentrated to one source of nutritive elements? Something about the sugars values of the food combined? Anyway it works, for me. No more white flour. No more potatoes. No refined sugar, but also surprisingly; no more bananas, pineapple, raisins... Not until I've maintained my targeted weight... Read about it and make your own choices.

Not only does it work, but it works without having to eat "less" (I've always eaten well, and I am not obese to start with. But I've had difficulties with ups and downs between sports seasons, x-country ski and cycling). And the results are excellent already even if my life at the moment does not allow me to exercise well. (Lots of work, first baby, not enough snow yet, but too much to do anything outside).

I changed a few habits, banned certain food, and I now lose weight without any effort. Sound like a miracle diet scam? Sorry, there is no pill to buy, no club to join. Not even a book to buy.

A book; you can just read. Borrow it at the library? If you are interested, once again, I cannot tell if it is available in English. Author is Dr Dumesnil. The title: Bon poids bon coeur au quotidien; de l'épicerie à la table. ("Good weight, good heart in your everyday life. From the grocery to your table"). It has tons of recipes.

Once again, I just wanted to share. It's worked for me.

Sebastien Lamarre
Montreal, Canada
Friday, December 17, 2004

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No flat tires

I'm wet and cold, and it's dark. The last thing I want is a flat tire, but I've been getting quite a few lately. There must be a touring/commuting 700c tire that is made to avoid punctures. I've read the hype, but I want your opinion. What works?

Andy Bury
Seattle, USA
Tuesday, December 21, 2004

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Armstrong and Simeoni

In his letter about the Lance Armstrong / Filippo Simeoni affair, Timothy Shame asks "So why did Simeoni and his lawyer only name Armstrong?" and refers to Simeoni's "accusations about drugs, Ferrari, Armstrong, and whatever." I think this is typical of confusion that exists, particularly among many Armstrong fans (of which I am one), about what exactly Simeoni did to start this whole mess. Here's my understanding - I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong.

Simeoni has never accused Armstrong of doping, and in fact Simeoni repeatedly has stated that he would never do so. Simeoni testified in an Italian court that Dr. Michele Ferrari taught Simeoni how to use EPO. Although the testimony did not accuse or implicate Armstrong, it raised questions about Armstrong in some people's minds since Armstrong had a relationship with Ferrari. Armstrong responded by defending Ferrari and declaring that Simeoni was lying. Simeoni elected to sue Armstrong for defamation, saying that he was not a liar and that he would donate anything he won in the defamation suit to charity. After the Italian court convicted Ferrari, Armstrong reiterated that his relationship with Ferrari never involved doping, but terminated his relationship with Ferrari anyway based on a policy of zero tolerance for anyone convicted of doping charges.

Simeoni may have been lying about Ferrari - I have no idea. But I don't understand why people keep suggesting that Simeoni somehow started this with accusations about Armstrong doping.

Allen Rostron
Kansas City, MO USA
Sunday, December 19, 2004

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Recent letters pages

Letters 2004

  • December 17 letters - Business and cycling, Tom versus Axel , Big Bear ends downhilling, Shane Perkins, Spring classics trip advice, Tyler Hamilton, Phonak and the UCI, Why are cyclists so trendy?, Mark Webber interview, Armstrong and Simeoni, Injured and missing it: an update, Clyde Sefton
  • December 10 letters - Why are cyclists so trendy?, Big Bear ends downhilling, Floyd's choices?, Merckx, fit and trim, Pound must go, Spring classics trip advice, Tyler Hamilton, Phonak and the UCI, Punishment: Vandenbroucke vs Hamilton, Prosthetic hip, Armstrong and Simeoni, Dave Fuentes, Homeopathy, Jeremy Yates, TDF coverage for Australia, Weight limits and maintenance, Mark Webber interview
  • December 3 letters - Domestiques vs Lieutenants, Tyler Hamilton, Phonak and the UCI, Dave Fuentes, Santa vs Hairy Guy, Why are cyclists so trendy?, Mark French and homeopathy, Shane Perkins, Jeremy Yates, Weight limits and maintenance, UCI regulations, Armstrong and Simeoni, Prosthetic hip
  • November 26 letters - Mark French and homeopathy, Two big guns in one team, Tyler Hamilton case, Bartoli's retirement, Dave Fuentes, Shane Perkins, Merckx and Armstrong, Training like Lance, Lance Armstrong, Why are cyclists so trendy?, Phonak gets what it deserves, Armstrong and Simeoni, Bike weight, Spouseless riders, Mary McConneloug, Adam Craig, Mark Webber interview, Santa vs Hairy Guy
  • November 19 letters - Tyler Hamilton case, Phonak gets what it deserves, Are you there Mr Coates?, Bike Weight, Merckx and Maertens make up, Heart troubles, Where to find cycling spouses, Mark Webber interview, Lance Armstrong, Where's Greg?, What ever happened to..., Why are cyclists so trendy?, Armstrong and Simeoni, l'Etape du Tour registration, Still Laughing
  • November 12 letters - Why Armstrong will ride the 2005 Tour, Scott Sunderland, Why are cyclists so trendy?, Armstrong and Simeoni, Where to find cycling spouses, Lance on Italian selection, Heart troubles, l'Etape du Tour registration, Tour 2005 team time trial, What ever happened to..., Love and a yellow bike
  • November 5 letters - Love and a yellow bike, Tour 2005, Where to find cycling spouses, Why are cyclists so trendy?, Lance on Italian selection, Armstrong and Simeoni, Tour of Southland, Construction technique for veloway, Heart troubles, l'Etape du Tour registration, Rahsaan Bahati
  • October 29 letters - Armstrong and Simeoni, Lance on Italian selection, Armstrong and Tour 2005, Lance to Tour Down Under?, Davis on Lance, Bike Shows, 2004 Cycling Spouse of the Year, Cycling and hip replacement, Doping - Enough drama!, Doping redefined, Injured and missing it, Heart troubles, Interbike, l'Etape du Tour registration, Whatever happened to...
  • October 22 letters - 2004 Cycling Spouse of the Year, Doping , Floyd Landis, Armstrong and Tour 2005, Interbike, Armstrong and Simeoni, l'Etape du Tour registration, The new blood test, Injured and missing it, What ever happened to..., World time trial champion, Cycling and hip replacement, $125,000 criterium in Charlotte
  • October 15 letters - Is the Pro Tour a good idea?, Cycling is bigger than doping, Doping, Floyd Landis, Museeuw is too nice to be guilty, Pound must go, Armstrong and Simeoni, Blood doping, Peers and Planckaert, Doping and nationality, The new blood test, Tyler Hamilton, World Championships, World Time Trial Champion, Erik Zabel Interview
  • October 8 letters - Pound must go, USA World's Team Selection, World Championships, Armstrong and Simeoni, Filip Meirhaeghe, Say it ain't so, Dario!, Baby names, Blood doping, The new blood test, World Time Trial Champion, Tyler Hamilton, Doping and nationality, Erik Zabel Interview
  • October 1 letters - Baby names, World Time Trial Champion, USA worlds selection, Tyler Hamilton, The new blood test, Rider of the Year, Tyler, USPS and Bruyneel, Alternative criterium formats
  • September 24 letters - Tyler Hamilton, The new blood test, Thomas Aberg, Tyler, USPS and Bruyneel, Rider of the Year, Senor Ochoa, True ambassadors of the sport, Tour de France, American style, Cycling and hip replacement
  • September 17 letters - Alto de Monachil, Tour, technology, predictability, La Vuelta is the race!, Tyler, USPS and Bruyneel, Frank, Trent Klasna retires, True ambassadors of the sport, Tour de France, How good is VAM, Super Mario, Alternative criterium formats, Axel, Eddy and the Olympics, Rider of the Year, The coming of the 3 kg bicycle?
  • September 10 letters - Olympic Madison lemon wedges, Axel, Eddy and the Olympics, The coming of the 3 kg bicycle? Rider of the Year, Tour de France, Rider wages, Alternative criterium formats, Chris Horner, Judith Arndt, John Coates
  • September 3 letters - Posties at the Vuelta, Rider of the Year, Tour de France, Chris Horner, Scott Sunderland, What is going on in Belgian track cycling?, John Coates , Judith Arndt, Criterium in Charlotte, Embrace technology, Rider wages
  • August 27 letters - Olympic road races, Kudos, Medals, John Coates must go!, $125,000 Criterium in Charlotte, Judith Arndt, Death wobbles, Pedaling furiously, Rewriting history, IAAF getting tough?, Rider Wages, Tour de France, UCI Bike Weight Restrictions, Mactier's reaction, Yiddish Cycling Terms
  • August 20 letters - Rewriting history, Arndt should have been relegated, Crowds at the Olympic road races, Olympic road races, Racing with a concussion?, Sponsors and Olympics, Hamilton, Julich & CSC, True ambassadors of the sport, Death wobbles, There are other races, CSC tactics, Shmenges, The debate begins, Tour de France, UCI Bike Weight Restrictions, Pedaling furiously
  • August 13 letters - Bush vs. Kerry, Brits at the track, Nicholas Roche, Olympics and Lance, UCI Bike Weight Restrictions, Pedaling furiously, Armstrong vs the hour, Armstrong vs Simeoni, David Millar, Greg LeMond's comments, No romance in France, The debate begins, The power of a team, The Tour 2004
  • August 6 letters - John Coates must go!, Witch hunting in the 21st century, Greg LeMond's comments, Bush vs. Kerry, David Millar, Adam Bergman
  • August 6 Tour letters - If you had told me before the Tour..., Looking to the future, The Tour 2004, The power of a team, The debate begins, Fan behavior, The anti-Lance attitude at Tour 2004, TdF blood bath, No romance in France, Italian investigators, I hope to see the Giro at last, CSC tactics, Armstrong vs Simeoni, Armstrong vs Klöden, A Legend
  • July 30 Tour letters - The Tour 2004, The Debate Begins, Armstrong vs Simeoni, Italian investigators, Ullrich and T-Mobile, Fan behaviour, The supporting actors, The power of a team, The anti-Lance attitude at Tour 2004: A French view, TdF blood bath, TdF 2004 ITT profile, Tour Favourites, Most inspiring ride of the Tour, Postal for la Vuelta? Poor prize money, LAF Bands CSC tactics, A Legend
  • July 30 letters - Adam Bergman, Greg LeMond's comments, Drugs in cycling, Doping reporting, David Millar, Museeuw and getting doored
  • July 23 Tour letters - Most inspiring ride of the Tour, Fan behaviour, Le Grand Bornard, The power of a team, Scott's diary, Sandbagging, A sad day for Hamilton, CSC tactics, Rabobank tactics, Mountains, TdF blood bath, Ullrich and T-Mobile, LAF Bands, Virenque's nationalism, Robbie McEwen and sprinters
  • July 23 letters - Greg LeMond's comments, Christophe Brandt, Drugs in cycling, McConneloug's Omission, Local Report of the Year, David Millar, Museeuw and getting doored, Hardie articles
  • July 16 Tour letters - The TdF saved my life, A sad day for Hamilton, T-Mobile's choices, LAF Bands, Mario Cipollini vs. Jaan Kirsipuu, Playing by the rules of the game, Robbie McEwen and sprinters, Ullrich v. Riis, Stage 3, Stage 4 TTT, Stage 5 - 12 minutes?
  • July 16 letters - Greg LeMond's comments, Drugs in cycling, Museeuw and getting doored, Human evolution and cycling, David Millar, The French affair, Why thank Lance?, Canadian TV
  • July 9 letters - Drugs in cycling, David Millar, Cadel Evans, John Lieswyn, Human evolution and cycling, Museeuw and traffic, Canadian TV
  • July 9 Tour letters - Stage 5 - 12 minutes?, Stage 4 - The team time trial & those rules..., Stage 3 - Should the leaders have waited?, Jan Ullrich / Lance Armstrong
  • July 2 letters - Tour de France: Result already known, Stive Vermaut, Disappointment, David Millar, Cadel Evans, Open letter to the World and Canadian TV Executives, Human evolution and cycling, The Mark French affair, Drugs in cycling, TdF heroes, Tour Contenders, Museeuw & traffic, Jan Ullrich / Lance Armstrong, The battle for the commentary podium, Green jersey dog fight, Why thank Lance?
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