Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Since when was it a crime...

The recent images of Riccardo Riccò being carted away by French authorities following his positive blood test at the Tour de France got me thinking (again) about the existence of "sporting fraud" crimes that exist in some European countries. What I am referring to here are actual crimes for which one can go to jail or be forced to pay fines to the state...not prohibited acts in the eyes of the UCI, World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), or any other sporting body.

If a professional cyclist is caught doping in some of these European countries, he/she could face criminal charges of sporting fraud in addition to any criminal charges associated with possessing, distributing, or consuming a banned substance.

In America, the only actual crime associated with doping would be the possession, use, or distribution of the banned substance, assuming the drug at issue is actually illegal to possess.

This article from last year on the Huffington Post, written by J.P. Partland, makes the case for sporting fraud laws in the United States. I have to say that I disagree with it 100%.

I view the criminalization of "sporting fraud" in the U.S. as an expansion of the already over funded and largely unsuccessful war on drugs. I don't want my tax dollars funding cops who bust down the doors of professional athletes looking for EPO or steroids or extra asthma inhalers. I care about doping, but I don't care that much.

Plus, European sporting fraud laws have not stopped the scourge of doping in the European pro peloton. If you do believe that the pro peloton is cleaner now than it was five years ago (which very well may be the case), the recent shift toward clean cycling was not caused by sporting fraud laws. Instead, it was caused by the horrible publicity from several Tour de France scandals, sponsors pulling out millions of dollars from cycling, and a general sense of doom within the sport.

Allow the market to dictate how strictly pro cycling enforces its own doping policies. If people want clean cycling, sponsors will continue to pull out until the sport comes clean. The thought of the FBI, ATF, or local law enforcement involved in this fight seems unnecessary, which is why those Roger Clemens Congressional steroid hearings sat so poorly with many people.

The real shame here is that cycling continues to receive a black eye for all of the doping scandals when it is one of the few sports that actually try to purge the dopers, even at the expense of the credibility of the entire sport. There is nothing more annoying than hearing a U.S. sports commentator decry the illegitimacy of cycling while praising the virtues of baseball and American football.

Let's just say that, if doping did become a crime that was strictly enforced in the U.S., there would likely be a heck of a lot more baseball and football players sporting orange jumpsuits than cyclists.


One of the few universal truths among cyclists is the importance of hydration before, during, and after rides and races. Although we may disagree on the best type of frame material, training methods, or the on the definition of a "sandbagger" in races, most everyone agrees (expert and non-expert alike) that your ability to ride well is directly related to your hydration level. In fact, one of the best ways to let someone else know that you are superior to them in cycling knowledge and training is to tell them, while on a ride, to remember to drink before they get thirsty. That usually does the trick.

All of this knowledge about hydration, however, is completely thrown out of the window when cyclocross season rolls around. For some reason, racers miraculously do not need water for the 60+ minutes of all out riding we do in cyclocross races, despite the fact that we usually finish the race in a pile of sweat, regardless of the weather conditions (with some exceptions).

To place a water bottle cage on a cyclocross bike is akin to wearing a pocket protector to a high school dance. Not cool. Most cyclocross racers say that bottle cages interfere with their ability to shoulder the bike when running up hills. That makes perfect sense...compromise your hydration and performance for the entire race over a few seconds to be gained when running up the hill that half of the races around here do not even have.

Others keep a bottle in their back jersey pocket. This is a fine idea in theory, but even a smaller sized water bottle in your back jersey pocket feels annoying in a race. Plus, it is rather inconvenient to access the bottle from the jersey pocket, at least compared to grabbing a bottle from the way uncool traditional bottle cage.

Actually, it seems as if the only acceptable way of keeping hydrated at a cyclocross race is to rope your family member/spouse/significant other/friend into giving you a bottle handoff about halfway through the race. By giving them a job to do (that is relatively stressful for someone not familiar with racing), you will ensure that they will mysteriously always have some other "plans" on the dates and times of all future cyclocross races.

As for me, I've found my solution. I am a simple man with a giant cheapbone, so simple things for free cause me great excitement. At the Danville road race this weekend, racers were treated to free miniature water bottles:


These are the smallest bottles I've ever seen. As soon as I laid eyes on them, I thought, "The perfect cyclocross bottle!!" So I took three. Small enough to fit in the jersey pocket without being terribly annoying, but large enough to carry enough liquid for a 60 minute race in the fall. Nice.

Hopefully this season's cross results fare a bit better than the results of Saturday's road race.

Friday, July 25, 2008


This deeply disturbing article today on velonews.com talks about a 19 year-old cyclist named Autumn Grohowski who was killed by an oncoming car. More specifically, she was killed by a drunk driver while she was turning left right before a railroad crossing where the lights on the crossing were blinking and the safety arms were swinging down. The drunk driver was coming the other way, saw that the crossing said "stop," illegally accelerated through the railroad crossing, and killed the 19 year old. Then he fled the scene, was forced back to the scene by shocked bystanders, and then proceeded to call 911. The story is actually much more disturbing than my brief summary.


Accelerating through an active train crossing is the same as running a stop sign or red light. The driver's illegal actions (in addition to being drunk) were the direct cause of this murder. Yes, it was murder, and I suspect that the only reason the DA did not press more serious charges is because the victim was a cyclist.

You'd think that by now, we would be used to being treated as second class citizens in this country. But I'm still not ready to accept this fact.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Odd day at the races

I knew that today's Westlake race would go differently than normal because, of the 30 or so guys at the start line, close to 20 were from three teams: Lake Effect, RGF, and Spin. That, and the fact that some of the big gun regulars were missing, meant that an early break with those three teams represented would stay away...for good.

And guess what...it happened, but fortunately my SBR teammate Tom K. also made the seven person break, which made life for me just dandy. The teams with people in the break were happy with its makeup, and those without teammates were not going to bring back a break with that much horsepower up the road.

So, I hung out in the main field, managed to snag a cash prime, and was very happy to find out that Tom K. took 5th, despite being seriously worked over by the three previously mentioned teams, all of whom had two people each in the break.

Also, Hats off to Tom H. of Spin for riding an excellent race today and taking 2nd place.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Identify the author(s) of this quote

"I was before the front group and they were probably going really fast cause my legs got really tired, I was in the front group"

Okay, that is an unfair question unless you've read this article on the KTRV website from Boise, Idaho. The quote is from 9 year-old Mary and 6 year-old Jack Aruskidicius, who participated in a 200-kid criterium with pro cyclist and hometown hero Kristin Armstrong. (The video news clip of the event, titled "Ride with Kristin Armstrong," is also definitely worth watching.)

In a month where reports of bicycle tragedy and hate-filled road rage stateside, along with doping scandals in the Tour, have brought down even the most optimistic cyclists, this story is a breath of fresh air. It is about a pro athlete giving a damn and giving back to kids. It is about kids who have no clue what L’Alpe d’Huez is, don't care, but do know how fun it is to ride a bike. It is about kids doing something other than rotting away at the television or computer consuming messages from the advertising media telling them that they should spend more time rotting away at the television and computer. It is about everything that is good about cycling. And for that, I thank Kristin Armstrong, and wish her the best of luck in Beijing next month.

Given how she is riding lately, however, I doubt she will need luck to bring back some nice hardware.

Friday, July 18, 2008

I guess I should welcome this change...

But I'm not so sure I do.

As I mentioned a few months ago, I am racing the Green Mountain Stage Race in Vermont over Labor Day weekend. It is a four-day stage race, with a day 1 prologue/TT, a day 2 circuit race where we do the circuit 2.5 times, a day 3 road race, and a day 4 crit in downtown Burlington. (Links are to mapmyride.com profiles of the courses. Click on "show elevation" to see the elevation profiles, especially on stage 3.)

In years past, the prologue has been a mass start race up to the top of Appalachian Gap, climbing 1730 feet, and 1267 in the last 2.7 miles at a 10% average grade. They ditched that course this year, though, and instead are including a more conventional 5.7 mile individual time trial. It has some climbing, but nothing like the previous years.

At my size, I should be happy about this change. But, honestly, I was really looking forward to the uphill prologue. Not that I won't have a chance to do this climb from the other side two days later when the stage finishes at the top of the mountain.

Now I just have to decide whether to do the Cat 3 or 30+ race.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Ringing Endorsement

I ride and race on a 2007 Cervelo Soloist Team road frame that I bought last year from the good folks at Bike Authority. It is aluminum with a carbon fork, and I absolutely love it.

I was looking around at the Cervelo website today and found this statement which, I guess, is supposed to make people want to buy my bike:

We know that this is sometimes hard to believe – people are so blinded by “carbon” that they prefer a mediocre carbon frame over an Aluminum frame that is lighter, stronger, stiffer, more responsive and even more comfortable. Therefore, we can only recommend that you try out a Soloist Team, and find out why almost half of the Team CSC riders – the best team in the world – have a Soloist Team in their garage for training.

Almost half. In their garage. For training.

It evokes a picture in my mind of the bike sitting there and collecting dust next to the backup lawnmower and the chainsaw borrowed from but never returned to the next door neighbor last year.

I think that my college marketing professor would fall out of his chair reading this.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


This story is horrific. I am eager to find out more about what caused this senseless tragedy. From today's Toledo Blade:

Roland Gladieux was awakened yesterday morning by two men arguing outside his house in South Toledo. Still groggy, Mr. Gladieux peered out his bedroom window about 5:40 a.m. and saw one man hovering over a man on a bicycle, threatening to shoot him. Seconds later, there was a gunshot and the victim fell backward. “I saw him pull the trigger,” Mr. Gladieux said. “I seen the gun flash.”The victim, David Babcock, 46, of 908 Kingston Ave., who was riding his bike to work to save money on gas, was shot once in the corner of his mouth in the 800 block of Western Avenue, near Langdon Street. It was the first time he had set out on what was to be an eight-mile ride to work.
Thirteen years ago, Mr. Babcock was diagnosed with a brain tumor and, despite the odds, fully recovered from the surgery to remove it.“Doctors didn’t think he’d walk and talk again, let alone live this long,” his fiancee, Rene Long, said.Toledo police Capt. Ray Carroll said authorities are unsure why the two men were arguing, but according to witnesses, it was a heated exchange. “It was enough to wake people up at that hour,” the captain said.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Shreve Cycling Challenge 7-12-08

Another great race held in Shreve, Ohio and sponsored by Shreve Chiropractic. In the Cat 2-3 race, the attacks started from the very beginning and the race was already made about 3/4 into the first of five, nine-mile laps. Unfortunately, Tom and I from SBR did not make the break, which meant a long morning of riding around with the field. Not for me, however, because I lost the will and lost contact with the field on the big hill on the third lap. DNF...Ouch.

Congrats to Matt W. from Team Lake Effect for his impressive win in the 2/3 race.

In the Cat 4 race, SBR's Gary B. took 2nd and Matt O. finished in the field.

In the Cat 5 race, SBR's Mike L. won and Dave T. took 2nd, while Dave K. finished in the field.

The organization and support for this race is crazy good. A bag of free Amish pasta noodles in the promo bag, volunteers handing out water to racers after the race, free lunch for the riders, and an overall excellent vibe.

I do have one beef...with the rider in the main group (after the break was looong gone) who felt the need to chuck his Gu wrapper on the road. Not that this is a serious offense to humanity in the grand scheme of things, but it just shows a real lack of respect for the community that provides dozens of volunteers and offers their scenic country roads for this great event. Not that it would have been any better if the guy was in the breakaway, but c'mon. Is it really that hard to throw the plastic wrapper in your jersey pocket as you cruise along in the grupetto on lap two of five while fighting for the scraps of the race that is already up the road and is never coming back, no matter how much Gu you slurp down?

We can be better than this, people.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

So unrealistic

This video attempts to portray a "normal" American adult life as a predetermined journey down the road of unfulfilled dreams and mediocrity. It is, however, so very unrealistic. Everyone knows that a normal adult male doesn't have room in his basement for a rec room with a bar and pool table because all basements are filled with bikes and bike parts, right? Right??

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Le Tour on Le Internet

Today I watched the TdF stage here, for free, with English commentary. It is the live streaming video from Eurosport UK and, with any luck, it will be available all Tour long. The quality isn't superb, but cheap asses can't be choosers.

Here are some other options for trying to watch it online.

Monday, July 07, 2008


Check out this finish of the 2008 Mountain Bike Marathon World Championship in Italy this past weekend:

According to this article on cyclingnews.com, after nearly 5 hours of racing, Belgian Roel Paulissen (Cannondale-Vredestein) and Christoph Sauser (Specialized) approached the finish together and tangled handlebars about 70m before the line. Sauser then remounted his bike and crossed the line first, but was later relegated by the UCI officials for riding "dangerously" in the sprint. Paulissen was then declared the winner.

I'm not so sure I agree with that call.

Twin Sizzlin'

In the summer of 2001, I had just finished my second year of law school, rode my bike about twice a week, and was moderately overweight. I fancied myself a pretty badass rider, at least compared to the other recreational cyclists to whom I compared myself at the time.

I then decided to try my hand at road racing that summer in the 20-24 age group Citizen's race at the Medina YWCA Twin Sizzler. I lined up with about 10 other guys, including several members of the Case Western cycling club and some guy with a Colnago bike and an Italian flag tattoo. Within a couple of miles into the race, two or three guys crashed on the side of the road, and one of them landed in the roadside ditch. A few miles later, the Case guys used team tactics to launch a guy into a solo break, which he held for the rest of the race and won. I dropped the rest of the field chasing him in vain and finished 2nd. I came home with a silver medal and a new addiction.

It took me several years to really get into road racing, and that was mostly due to my lack of exposure to bike racing social circles until 2003/2004. But, that 2001 summer race was the pilot light that led to the flame of obsession that causes many of us to spend hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars on this silly little sport.

So, every year since then except for one, I have made the trip to Medina for the July 4th Twin Sizzler. This year was no exception, and the race was typical for this event: a police lead car that led the elite 19-35 field for a few miles, then inexplicably turned off of the course with no warning to the riders; unmarshalled intersections, one of which the cyclists did not have the right of way; mixing of the 19-35 and 35+ elite fields about 20 miles into the race; and a bombed out Smith Road that made for an interesting last few miles of the race.

I tried to make a solo move at the end of the race this year, about 1.25 miles from the finish. I got caught by the peloton right before the final two turns and everyone passed me like I was moving backwards. But I lived to tell about it, and lived to fight another day, which likely includes next year's Twin Sizzler.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

I knew it!!

I just called Representative Boehner's Washington office this morning and was directed to someone on his "leadership" department. I asked him if Boehner supports the automobile tax credit I talked about yesterday. He said the Congressman did not have an official position on it yet, but he was pretty sure Boehner supports it.

This level of hypocrisy, although par for the course, is maddening.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

About that $240, redux

Back in December, I talked about how stuffed suit/U.S. Representative John Boehner (Republican - Ohio) joined the charge in deep sixing the bicycle commuter tax credit that was originally contained in the House version of the Energy Bill. It was a $240 tax credit over 15 months for those who regularly commute to work by bicycle. That post also included a video of Mr. Boehner's inspirational speech where he mocked the tax credit in a very mean spirited way and pretty much classified it as wasteful pork barrel spending.

Now, local U.S. Congressman Steven LaTourette (Republican - Bainbridge Township) has proposed a bill that:

will reimburse [automobile] commuters for up to 30 miles per day, round trip. The reimbursement will be for up to five days a week for 50 weeks a year, taking into account that most Americans get two weeks vacation.

Under H.R. 6154, the standard reimbursement will be 4 cents per mile, and vehicles that receive 35 miles per gallon will receive a higher reimbursement of 5 cents a mile, the equivalent of $1.75 off a gallon of gas (5 cents x 35 mpg). The maximum reimbursement will be $375 a year for someone driving 30 miles per day round trip to work for 50 weeks of the year, or 7500 miles. The bill is triggered whenever the national average price of gas is at or above $2.75 a gallon.

I am dying to see how Boehner responds to this proposal. I would bet my entire arsenal of bikes that he supports it.

There are valid arguments for and against both of these tax credits. But, to allow the $375 car credit and not the $240 bike credit is shameful and disgusting.

Raccoon Rally 2008 road race videos

Start of Cat 1-2 race.

Start of Cat 3-4/masters race.

Start of 2nd lap in Cat 1-2 race.

Start of 2nd lap in Cat 3-4/masters race.

Finish of Cat 1-2 race.

Finish of Cat 3-4/masters race.