On my signal, unleash hell!

April 2, 2011

The Colosseum was used by the emperors to show off their power, wealth and to support their popularity. The show was usually held for more than one day and it included comical acts, displays of exotic animals and fights to the death
between animals.  The games really bagan when the gladiators came out to play.

Paris-Nice was a good opening act.  The metal on metal sound you hear are the gladiators sharmening their sworda for their epic battle that begins with the Ronde van Vlaanderen  or the Tour of Flanders.  The spring season of cycling does not begin until the first wheel touches the first belgian cobble.  My wife has already locked up my credit cards because if left unattended, I will be on the phone with Rosetta Stone buying their Duch/Flemish program.

The protagonists are set.  Most are focusing on the top gladiator, Fabian Cancellara.  Others are wondering if the formet top gladiator, Tom Boonen,  has anything left in his sword.  I have to agree that until someone comes up through the ranks, these two veterans of the Colosseum are the two to beat.  Wisdom and strength are both needed this week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The course profile is the typical Flemish saw-tooth profile that will sap the strong yet foolinh leaving those who parse their energy standing for the final battle.


Start Spreading the News…

October 11, 2010

If I can ride it there

I can ride it anywhere

It’s up to you New York, New York – apologies to Old Blue Eyes.

Sometimes you give an ‘A’ for effort.  The Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer released his report on the state of bike lanes in Manhattan. It seems that there is enough blame to go around.  For our part, cyclists need to obey basic traffic rules.  Do not run red lights, ride on the sidewalk, or ride the wrong way down a street.  These three activities are never smart but in Manhattan?  Come on!  Even if most of these infractions are by messengers, we can do a little better to make NYC bike friendly.

Now for the big issues that Mr. Stringer is looking to change.

  • Lane blockages – including NYPD using bike lanes in non emergency situations to avoid traffic
  • Pedestrians in bike lane.
  • Dooring – big issue with taxis.

Mr. Stringer, you have my full support.  Here is the full report.

 

Dear Friend,

After receiving numerous constituent complaints, my office studied bike lane use in neighborhoods throughout Manhattan. The verdict was clear: while bike lanes bring a tremendous benefit to New York City, misuse by all parties— motorists, pedestrians and cyclists —undermines their success. Over 22 hours my staff observed more than 1,700 infractions ranging from motor vehicles driving through the lanes and pedestrian use to cyclists going the wrong direction.

Today I announced the results of this unprecedented study, entitled Respect the Bike Lane and Clear the Path, and proposed several key recommendations to improve bike lane safety including increased enforcement, a public education campaign on dooring, and reserving parking spots for deliveries along commercial streets to discourage potential bike lane blockages

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions on this or any other work my office is doing please do not hesitate to call 212.xxx.xxxx

Sincerely,

Scott M. Stringer
Manhattan Borough President


39 ticks of the clock.

July 27, 2010

I remember talking to someone who does Marketing for Major League Baseball. He mentioned that one challenge was to keep people talking baseball during the off season. That is why you see MVP and Cy Young awards as well as other activities in the dead of winter. Get people talking about your sport all year round. Well, I’ll give you 39 reasons we will be talking about cycling long after Mother Nature has our bikes up on rollers or trainers. That is the 39 seconds between Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck.

How can you not believe in a higher authority after this year’s tour. That 39 seconds can’t be a random coincidence. It has to be part of someone’s grand plan. That someone has one heck of a sense of humor. Attack, drop chain, replace chain, lose 39 seconds. Have the time trial of your career and lose by….39seconds. If the margin was 38 seconds in Paris then you may have some people griping. Have it be 40 seconds and the other side can say that the Stage 15 decision didn’t matter. But spot on 39 seconds? Both sides have the fuel for a long debate.


Contador, Menchov, and Snachez, expect a call from your mothers.

July 19, 2010

Character is doing the right thing when nobody’s looking.  There are too many people who think that the only thing that’s right is to get by, and the only thing that’s wrong is to get caught.  ~J.C. Watts

Well Alberto, you got caught.  I have always been a fan of your ability.  I rooted for you when it seemed that your whole team worked against you last year.  Unfortunately, today your career may have been defined by one classless move. 

Ironic isn’t it.  Lance Armstrong who is known for breaking an opponent physically and mentally could not get into your head.  Then some kid from Luxemburg who by most accounts is a happy-go-lucky kid forced you to make a completely classless move.  You, Menchov and Sanchez took advantage of a situation that you were honor bound to uphold.  Odds are you could have taken Andy in the Time Trial.  I guess you could not wait.

I am reminded of a Shakespearean quote.

Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none. 

Also, own up to your actions to say “When I launched my attack, I was not aware of the incident. When I was told about it, we had a solid lead and we were going full gas.”  Passing a guy dressed in yellow bent over his chain is kind of hard to miss.


The lament of second tier sports

May 20, 2010

I can’t remember a time when I was not into sports. Either I was playing sports,  reading the newspaper , or watching on TV.  One of the advantages of going to a Catholic high school was the blazer we had to wear.  I also always drew the last seat in the first row due to my last name beginning with a “D.” When the Phillies would play an afternoon game -quite often back in the day- I would put a transistor radio into my breast pocket and run the earphone through the sleeve and into the palm of my hand.  I looked like just another student resting his head on his hand. 

Funny thing is, I never fell in love with the stars.  I always went for the grinders.  The guys who worked twice as hard to be half as good.  I identified with them since that mirrored my own paltry athletic career.  While most boys worshiped Dr. J, I saved a piece of hero worship for Bobby Jones.  Who, in the words of former Sixer GM Pat Williams “Bobby gives two hours of blood, showers, and goes home.”  Sometimes grinders break through and become stars of a sort.  The ultimate grinder-made-good is Jens Voigt. 

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that I have grown to love two sports that are the grinders of the sporting world.  First and foremost, Cycling and more recently, I have developed an affection for Lacrosse.  The later sport is through my son who is currently following his father as a grinder in a grinder sport.

One of the downsides to following these second tier sports is that they only time they make the front pages is when there is bad news.  We all know by now about the horrible tragedy in Virginia and of course, cycling is front page again with Floyd Landis’ admission. Even more unfortunate, the sport gets defined by these stories.

I am hearing that Lacrosse is full of thugs, that the sport is too violent.  I’ve engaged in countless debates as to whether cycling is a dirty sport and full of cheaters.  Bad people play sports.  All sports.  NBA players are frequently making the police blotters for rape, weapons, and drug charges.  How many non-cyclists showed up on BALCO’s ledgers.  Is professional football a bad sport because Ben Roethlisberger is a scum bag?   

It is a tough line to walk when I try to defend the sport without defending the abhorrent acts of any of its individuals.  I think all such arguments are just white noise or better yet, akin to the “Wa wa wa wa wa” of any adult in a Peanuts cartoon.

I’ll keep tilting at those windmills.  Twice as hard to be half as good.


It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

March 22, 2010

If you are a cycling fan, where are your thoughts come late March and early April?  Mine are in Belgium.  The true kick off to the cycling season.  The place where cobbles can tell stories back to the Romans; or at least look like the last people who paid any attention to them were Romans.

Well, I got the opportunity to put my body where my mind was.  On Friday, I was told I needed to head to the land of cycling, beer, frites w/mayo, and chocolates.  I immediately made plans to spend the weekend to watch Gent-Wevelgem.  While not the Tour of Flanders or Paris Roubaix but definitely worth it.

I contacted a few cycling tour companies to see if I could grab a last-minute cycling tours so my rear end could enjoy the same experience as my eyes.  To my displeasure, the three I contacted had cancelled their tours due to the economy. That’s OK, I’ll brave it alone. 

Then the other shoe dropped.  While I was needed in Belgium on Wednesday, I am also needed in New Jersey on Friday!  I can only blame it on “the man!”  “The Man” must have it in for me to send me there and then bring me home.


The rumor that will never die

February 24, 2010

A Grand Tour stage in the US?  Wouldn’t that be great?  Seeing the best riders in their best form competing on US soil.   On top of that, having them compete on the East Coast, in my back yard. 

Each time I read this story, I pause for a moment and let the feelings wash over me.  I always wanted to see the Giro.  Who would have thought I could see it via Amtrak vs. Continental Airlines?  The possibilities.  We could top London as the best place to launch a Grand Tour.

Then in the blink of an eye, reality sets in and those feelings are washed away.  What are they crazy?  A 3,500 – 4,000 mile transfer across multiple time zones? 

Well, cycling news is the latest to report that the RCS Sport  is looking to start the 2012 Giro in Washington DC.  Thanks for the thought fellas but let’s think of the racers.  I don’t think having the Tour of California and the Giro both running simultaneously in the US is a smart idea.  Let it go. There is a danger that if you talk about a topic long enough, you begin to believe it is possible.

Then again, remember Live Aid a few years ago? Phil Collins played on two continents on the same day.  Maybe Lance can race in two UCI races on the same day.  Think of the publicity.  He rides the prologue, which could be held at a private airport, then he climbs aboard Air Lance and jets to the West Coast. Brilliant!


Cross France off Floyd’s vacation list

February 17, 2010

Mr. Harden, it’s my duty to inform you that the larceny of an equine is a capital offense punishable by death, but you can rest assured that in this court a horse thief always gets a fair trial before he’s hung – The Westerner 1940

As things do, this story is finding its own level.  It seems that AFLD Director, Pierre Bordry over stated his authority.  Shocking that the French anti-doping authority would try to do such a thing.  I guess France is still reeling over their loss of influence over anything outside their borders.  They may see doping investigations for their Tour de France as a way back to relevancy. 

Pierre, now says that if Floyd chooses to return to Fench soil, he may be asked to come to suburban Paris to answer questions to a judge chosen by AFLD. Maybe the CIA can resurrect their New Earth Army program because Floyd has the incredible mind to match his athletic abilities.  He can win the Tour de France and rival Kevin Mitnik in computer “security” circles.


Just when you think it is over

February 15, 2010

Floyd Landis is back in the news. If you remember, back when Floyd was fighting for his professional life, he had copies of multiple files from the Chatenay-Malabry lab.  Those files showed how poorly samples were handled and multiple mistakes made by the lab.  It seems that those files were also stolen.

Four years later, the French want to talk to Floyd about his part in the hacking.  An arrest warrant was issued after Landis ignored a summons sent last November.  An international warrant was also issued for Dr. Arnold Baker.  I have no idea what this means for the rider who just recently left his US based team OUCH (now United Healthcare). Just as he was looking good on the bike again.

Maybe this is in retaliation for Roman Polanski?


DVD Review

February 13, 2010

Like many of you, I hate the trainer. The worst day on the calendar is when I have to remove my skewer and screw on the trainer skewer. With each revolution, I feel my mood darkening. Then when I take the walk to the basement, I can hear the line from The Green Mile. “Walking the mile, walking the mile.”

I have gilded my cage with a TV and DVD player that are designed to keep me just this side of sanity line. Each season, I bring a fresh new stack of DVDs to the basement to set the right mood. The 2009 Tour and Giro join stalwarts like Breaking Away and the one day classics on the play list. They help pass the time but I still have many days where I stare at the cyclycomputer wondering why time passes sooo slowly. This year I added a new DVD to the list and I want to tell you about it. That movie is called Bicycle Dreams.

The film by Stephen Auerbach chronicles the 2005 Race Across America. As I mentioned above , I watch a lot of cycling videos I have seen many riders in their share of pain. This was different. Riders ride over 300 miles a day forgoing sleep for almost two weeks and their pain is mental. To watch a determined stare go vacant in the matter of a few days, touched me. The most compelling scene was when Jure Robic, who had all but won the race, wanted to quit because he could not call up an image of his wife and child.

Lance Armstrong is quoted in the movie saying extreme athletes are running away from something. I saw much of that. Others I saw running towards something. There are many stories in this race and not all of them have a happy ending. In any RAAM, approximately half do not finish. The most tragic is that of Dr. Bob Breedlove who thought each day was “another day in paradise.”

Mr. Auerbach’s movie has garnered multiple film awards and received rave reviews from national publications including USAToday. All I can add to this list of reviews is that I could not turn the movie off. I set out to ride an easy 45 minutes to an hour on the trainer. I ended up doing riding the full length, including the credits. I never even glanced at my computer for a time check.

This is a must have on your winter DVD list.


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