Oops I did it again

April 19, 2009

Well, it looks like our Boy Scout has gotten himself into trouble again.  Tyler Hamilton has retired after testing positive for the steroid DHEA.  My first thought was confirmation that the Boy Scout image I believed for so many years was actually a ruse.  Then I read his reason for the mishap.

Mr. Hamilton says he took an over the counter herbal supplement that contained the banned substance.  Then he let us know about his family history, his grandmother’s suicide.  Take the family history combined with the way his life has gone sideways since his 2004 Olympic gold medal and you have a good story.  I actually found myself nodding in belief.  Then I thought.

“Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me.”

I waited to post until I read a post from Dan over at Rant Your Head Off.  Dan has forgotten more about doping than I’ll ever know.  Dan quite literally wrote the book on doping in sports. What I do know is DHEA is pretty fay up the steroid cascade.  A building block that can be used if you are not on the straight and narrow.  If you are not a Boy Scout.  

So for now, I will not buy into the Hamilton saga.  I find it hard to Believe.  If true, I find it disgraceful to use family tragedy to build sympathy for cheating.  So to avoid the downward spiral that thinking about Tyler can cause, I’ll take a pass and focus on today’s Amstel Gold race.


Break out the black armbands. The Governor is not calling.

March 27, 2009

Cue Mozart’s Requiem

Imagine you were a die hard football fan living in Canton OH, or a baseball fan living in Cooperstown, NY.  What would you do if you heard the hall of fame was leaving your home town and no one cared enough to stop it.  That’s how I feel today.

The US Bicycle hall of fame is leaving my home town of Somerville, NJ.  Sources here say it is 90% certain that it will head for Greensboro North Carolina.  Either way, I feel like my heart just got ripped out.  

Ever since my children were born, we had a tradition of attending the oldest bicycle race in the US, The Tour of Somerville.  Part of the day included a stop at the Hall of Fame.  I would walk my kids around looking at all the memorabilia in the building.  When my daughter was 6 years old she pointed at the framed rainbow jersey and squealed “Mario Cippollini!”  

We would make a donation walk right out onto Main Street to watch the action.  The Hall had to move from that storefront.  A victim of progress that claimed the all the stores in the vicinity.  In its place a new modern shopping hub would provide the Hall of Fame it’s proper place.  In fact, there was even talk of a velodrome.  Sadly, the builder became a victim too.  One of endless lawsuits with the town and ultimately the economy.  For the past two years, the shopping center sits behind yellow tape an empty shell.

The Hall suffered from an out of sight out of mind syndrome and funding slowed to a trickle.  That’s when the bids went out for a new home.  Several NJ towns stepped up and made, in my opinion, half hearted attempts to save this piece of NJ history.  The state refused to step in and that was that.

I’ll still go to the Tour of Somerville until that becomes the Tour of Somewhere Else.  Now all I have of NJ is the highest US taxes, highest US unemployment, and the Turnpike.

It’s time for the Cycling Channel

January 16, 2009

Over the past year, the desire to have a dedicated cycling channel kept gnawing at me. Cable and satellite have brought all kinds of programming into my home.  Niche networks have sprung up to serve very specific interests.  Why not cycling?

In the area of sports programming, I’ve seen the introduction of the Major League Baseball Channel (MLB), the NFL Network, the Golf Channel, and even the National Hockey League (NHL)  network.  All in High Definition, no less! OK, I know these sports are bigger than cycling when you measure viewership.  But the NFL Network carries only a couple of games a year.  The Golf Channel does not carry any big tournaments.  Surely a Cycling channel can compete with these?  OK, maybe not but it started the hamster on the wheel in my head.

Then came the Tennis Channel.  Now we have to be in the right ball park (sports pun intended). That’s when I began to start thinking that the time is coming where we cyclists can have our own place on the proverbial dial.  I knew the time was here when I saw the press release for the Ski Channel.

My problem is while I know Marketing, I know little about setting up a Television Network.  For those of you who do, listen to just a few facts I have been able to find.


I’ve been able to come up with a few statistics that tell me that I am directionally correct in thinking there is a potential market for a Cycling Channel.

  • 64.3 Million Recreational Cyclists
  • 48 Million Adults
  • Male/Female 45% – 50%
  • Median age 32
  • Median Household Income $70K
  • 70% College Graduates
  • Cycling is the #1 fitness activity among doctors and lawyers over 40

Now how about serious cyclists.

  • 12M cycling fans in US
  • 500,000 daily viewers of the Tour de France on Versus
  • 300,000 viewers of most cycling programs on Versus
  • $90,000 Average Annual Household Income for the 12M cycling fans

Remember that most cycling races are in Europe so these figures are not competing against prime time TV.  These are competing against reruns of Law and Order and Battlestar Galactica.  From my knowledge, TiVoed shows do not count in the ratings.


Here is where I think we have it over the the above mentioned channels.  In 2008, there were 591 professional road races ranked 1 and higher.  In addition, there are fantastic regional races.  The season for the World’s top riders start this Sunday with the Tour Down Under and runs through October 17th with the Giro di Lombardia. You can’t find that season anywhere else.

News, interviews, training and racing tips are all possible programs on the Cycling Channel.  Add to that the deep library of classic races in the World Cycling Productions libraries and you have plenty of content to fill the airwaves.

Side Effects

Once we get our slice of the airwaves, I would expect to see an increase in coverage.  Just look at what John Eustace can pull off on a shoestring budget with no real outlet for his work.  Once sponsors have an avenue to realize an ROI for their spend, you will begin to see more sponsor dollars come to cycling.


The first stop has to be Comcast.  Not a bad first stop since they are the cable company in the US.  Comcast owns Versus. Versus has the rights to the three major tours as well as most of the classics.  While some of the channels I mentioned above have launched without the rights to their sports top events, this would be a non-starter.  We just need to lay out for Comcast that this can make money.

I know a Cycling Channel would need to reside on the top premium tier of any cable/satellite provider.  It may even reside in a Video on Demand/PPV slot.  That’s OK.  This is coming from a guy who asked for Rosetta Stone Italian for Christmas.  The sole purpose is to watch as much of the Giro d”Italia on RAI as possible.  I also have a subscription to Cycling.TV.

Let me know what your interest level is and would you part with a few dollars each month for the Cycling Channel.

Good Guys 1 Bad Guys 1

September 5, 2008

Over this past weekend, the heroes and villians fought to a draw.  In the US Championships, argyle clad Dave Zabriskie retained his status as this country’s best against the clock.

In the road race, good guy turned bad boy, Tyler Hamilton of Rock Racing took top honors.  Look at the bright side, a Stars and Stripes kit is quite a bit more palatable than the various incarnations of the Rock Racking kit.

Summer Book Review

August 11, 2008

Summer is generally a time for escape. For confirmation, look at the typical line-up for movie goers. Action/Adventure films are generally released in the summer while serious Oscar contenders are released towards year-end. Barnes and Noble will greet you with shelves full of brain candy moving the more serious works of literature towards the back.

I can’t say I wasn’t a little concerned when my copy of Dope: A History of Performance Enhancement in Sports from the Nineteenth Century to Today arrived. I am a big fan of the author, Dan Rosen and his blog so I knew it would be well researched and well written. Would my brain be ready? Would it come off like a medical textbook?

I put the book aside until the Tour was over. Not for any of the above concerns but I was enjoying the Tour and did not want to be reminded of the darker side of the sport. So it waited until the Monday after Carlos Sastre crossed the line in Paris.

What I found was an engaging story that took me through the history of doping in sports. All sports, not just cycling. Some of the stories, I knew some I didn’t. Throughout, Dan told me enough science to allow me to understand the story. Never more.

Dan shows us how doping was originally encouraged by governments and governing bodies. Even as testing came into play, official counter measures were put into place to circumvent the tests. As the war raged on, governing entities turned a blind eye to any practices in the ultimate “Don’t ask Don’t Tell” policy. Finally, most organizations have taken up the fight. What is more astonishing is how recently we have come from empty platitudes against doping to where we sit today.

Dan tells us all this in a non-judgmental manner that allows us to form our own opinions. Heck, even Dick Pound has his good points. The story is well told and well documented.

Forgetting what I said at the beginning of this post, I actually feel the timing is great as the Summer Olympics are upon us and we are already seeing reports of altered passports of gymnasts and other formalized slights of hand that tells me we still have a long way to go.

This book is a must read for any sports fan, not just cyclists. If you enjoy professional sports, Olympic sports, or just fair play, you will not be disappointed in the time spent reading Dope. My only negative is Dan used a photo of my pecs for the cover of his book without my permission.

Matti Breschel takes Philadelphia

June 8, 2008

Once again, I had a fantasy weekend with Riis cycling aka Team CSC.  Lars Michaelsen, in his new director’s role hosted a few people for a ride with the team yesterday.  Lars is the thin one on the right.  The one on the left is John Axel-Hansen who handles all the “extra curricular” activities of the team. You will not meet a better person.  Or one with a great sense of humor. I’m the large out-of-shape one in the middle.

Yes, I get to keep the kit!

I could have predicted the outcome when Matti stayed out on course a little longer than prescribed to take us up the famed Manayunk Wall.  For those who don’t know, it is only 1K long but with an average gradient of 17%. To make matters worse, today’s 10 trips up the wall came when the thermostat kissed 100 degrees

A break formed early which included Tyler Hamilton of Rock Racing.  Given the heat and the distance the break needed to last, no one believed it would stay.  So the process of watching these men wilt in the coming hours was tough. 

The best part of the weekend was the relaxed atmosphere surrounding the team.  Given this is the last year CSC is sponsoring cycling, I didn’t know what to expect.  But the team feels confident they will secure a new sponsor soon enough.

Speedy Recovery

May 10, 2008

One of my favorite bloggers is Tim Jackson – aka Masiguy.  Well as they say, Tim is in a spot of bother.

On Tuesday night, April 29th, Tim crashed at a race in San Diego.  He suffered significant injuries including almost severing his thumb.  He has been released from the hospital and is recovering at home.  Please drop by his blog and wish him well.  He is one of the good guys.