30 November 2010

Finally the best news for last

It's official, Cancellara will ride with the Schlecks!
Fabian Cancellara confirmed with Schlecks’ new team By Andrew Hood Updated: Nov 30th 2010 10:47 AM EST  "The still-unnamed Luxembourg team saved the best for last, announcing Tuesday its debut 2011 roster is officially closed with the arrival of Swiss star Fabian Cancellara." “We have said many times that we were looking to sign riders who would be compatible with the core ideas of this team. I think our humble but ambitious approach has attracted a lot of great personalities,” 
"They're putting the band back together" - Andrew Hood  

Fabian Cancellara, Photo by: PedalDancer.com
Interested in seeing who else is on the Luxembourg Cycling Project Team with Fabian Cancellara? Read an earlier PedalDancer.com post Who's Who in Cycling  Wednesday, October 6, 2010

29 November 2010

Quote of the day: Napoleon

"In victory you deserve Champagne; in defeat you need it" - Napoleon Bonaparte

Photo by: Ken Rakestraw, at the 2010 Amgen Tour of California, final podium in Westlake Village, CA
I especially like this quote since I am recovering so well from my recent injury and off pain meds, I can now enjoy my beloved Champagne again!

28 November 2010

Would your friend cheat?

"He would never do that," "he is such a nice guy".
Doping in sports brings up so many interesting questions. Do we really know people? There are things we will never know about others. There are things I never want to know about others. Doping in sports might be one of those things. As political scandals and sex scandals fill the media I am able to distance myself from the harsh truth that life is not fair by saying those people are not like me. When I am shocked by friends who have lied or cheated, or people who have stolen credit for my work, or people blatantly treating others with little to no respect, I am hit head-on with the reality that I really do not know the character of others.
Doping in sports raises a basic question: is the presumed character of a man a defense for doping? Are statements of "he would never do that," "he is such a nice guy" a potent defense? I understand that much of the accusations of doping could be slander, it certainly destroys a career until and even after the conviction is or is not delivered. But believing someone would never dope is as valid as hope. Even nice people can cheat. 
Recently the doping conviction of a local athlete Chuck Coyle hit much closer to home. He is a man that I have watched race. He pulls into the parking lot before the race like everyone else, he pumps his tires, checks his gear, and affixes his race number. He lines up at the start line next to people he has called friends for years. His entire social circle in Boulder, CO is wrapped around his love of the sport. He has an image. He is a bike racer. But he could also be one big lier and cheater. He was never going to be a big time racer, he cheated his friends and himself. 
However nice you think a man is, doping is not nice. To be guilty of doping the cyclist held the drug in his hands and knowingly ingested, transfused, or injected a substance into his body. It took some time to get it done and he was there. Was there a moment when he considered the side-effects, the ramifications, or did he only see his perceived benefits? He made a decision that it was worth it - to him. No one else needed to know, hopefully no one would know. It was his decision.
Sometimes what we dislike in others is what we hate about ourselves. Those who are most outraged about Chuck Coyle's behavior cannot be ignorant to that fact that life is unfair, perhaps they are most outraged that we all walk the moral line. We are all vulnerable and I believe you either got it or you don't. Some people just don't feel bad when they do wrong. Ernest Hemingway once said, "About morals, I know only that what is moral is what you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after". Everyone decides their own bad. 
Doping is wrong, and being a nice guy like Chuck Coyle, or being an admirable and powerful citizen like Lance Armstrong should not break or make a case. If a man chose wrong, he should be responsible for his actions because in the end it was his actions. The rest of us chose not to cheat.
And those of us who did not cheat should have the security to know, as Willa Cather said, "No one can build his security upon the nobleness of another person". 

A thought: I think it curious that Lance Armstrong recently began to twitter as @juanpelota right about the time that his doping investigation crested. Is this intimate alter-ego of his a way of mirroring and recreating himself from himself? Could he possibly know that bad news is coming his way, and he is creating a second chance now, or is it a curious coincidence. There is no running from the self, "Where ever you go, there you are" - Confucius

Other Articles: 
Armstrong investigators weighing politics, too
Who is Chuck Coyle?
USADA witness Joe Papp admits conspiracy to sell EPO, HGH "earlier this year, Papp appeared in U.S. District Court in Pennsylvania and entered a guilty plea to two counts of conspiracy to distribute EPO and HGH, specifically from 2006 to 2007. While Papp acknowledged that he had a customer list including more than 180 buyers, none of those names was revealed at the time."
The Explainer: How do we get from aging dopers to the big names? "So with the federal investigators now focusing on the upper levels of the sport, USADA still has that list of customers out there. It appears that some of those names are coming out … one or two at a time. Stay tuned. "

Post post on 12//02/10: I am quite appalled to read that upon notice of his doping offense, Chuck Coyle, this "local racer" contacted one of the best lawyers in the country.  I am shaking my head at a local Master's racer running to the best lawyer in the country, then claiming he was forced to plea guilty because he couldn't afford the legal fees. There are plenty of lawyers waiting for these cases, and they will be busy when the other names come out.
The Explainer: Greeting! You’re busted By Charles Pelkey Updated: Dec 2nd 2010 5:44 PM EST "In Coyle’s case, he actually did seek the advice of an attorney. Indeed, he sought out the best in his field, California’s Howard Jacobs, who has represented a host of top-tier athletes charged with doping violations, including Hamilton and Landis, as well as track-and-field stars Tim Montgomery and Marion Jones. According to Coyle, he learned that mounting a defense against the charges he was facing, “would cost me $20,000.” Coyle says he concluded that since he didn’t have that money available, he simply caved in and accepted his suspension. Well, whether his vanishing teammates defense was valid or not, he still had other options. While Ruger’s list of available attorneys is quite good, there are a number of other attorneys quite familiar with the machinations of doping law.

27 November 2010

The Fun Factor

When pain feels so right
Riding a bike is so fun. It also hurts - a lot sometimes. But even when the pain is great there always remains an element of pure fun, after all I am riding a bike. Perhaps it is the opposing forces that are so fulfilling to my body and mind.
My brother recently sent this photo to me from the VeloNews Reader Gallery submitted by Ken Dawson on Nov 22, 2010. The photo is of Chris Horner. My brother thought it captured perfectly this idea that here is a racer competing in the Tour de France and obviously hurting, and yet isn't that a smile on his face? I don't think he was posing for this photo - he was enjoying himself. Look closely and you will notice that most cyclists are enjoying themselves. It is what gets us out there time and again.
Looking back over the years I began to think about the times I experienced this ultimate combo when the pain and fun were so intertwined that I was not aware of either but instead seemed to float on my bike. I recall those rides on:
Mount Ventoux, France: east side from Sault to the summit
Cottonwood Pass, Colorado: from Crested Butte to Buena Vista
The Lancets, Alps, France: to Col du Chaussy a short but fun switchback road
Col du Soulor to Col d'Aubisque, France: a highway in heaven
Hourquettes d'Ancizan, Pyrenees: from Ancizan to the Col d'Aspin
Foxen and Ballard Canyon, Solvang, California: vineyards 
These are the times when I never asked "when will this be over," because I didn't want the ride to be over anytime soon.

Here's the fun point: you too can ride these rides, or watch them as a fan. Cottonwood Pass will be included in the 2011 Quiznos Pro Challenge. Col du Soulor and Col d'Aubisque and the Hourquettes d'Ancizan will all be in the 2011 Tour de France. Ballard Canyon will be in the 2011 Tour of California. I'll be watching to see if the Pros will be smiling while riding those roads. I bet they will.

26 November 2010

Quote of the Day - Jens Voigt

"If you go (with a break), you can either win or not win. If you don't go for it, you definitely won't win."
~ Jens Voigt

25 November 2010

Thanksgiving Thanks

Thank you for visiting PedalDancer.com

I created this blog mainly as a creative outlet to express my joy of writing. I now see that it is also a resource of information for others like myself interested in traveling and cycling.
Today is the American holiday Thanksgiving, a time when we give thanks for the bounty in our lives. I am most grateful to my family and dear friends who have taken such care with me these past 6 weeks as I recovered from breaking my pelvis mountain biking in Moab, Utah. Thank you for helping me through a rough time. I am thankful for my returning health and happy to see my friends and family out enjoying so many varied activities. We have much more to share this coming year as we gather for meals, drinks, conversation, outdoor activities and a few great bike races. Here's to the year ahead - together.
I also wanted to say thanks to the visitors who visit this blog (including those who so kindly ask my parents how I am doing). For fun - a recap of the top ten most popular blog posts on PedalDancer.com to date:

Tour de France Prize Money How is the Prize money divided? Wednesday, June 16, 2010  
Understanding Road Signs in France This should be part of any pre-training for your cycling trip to France, Thursday, June 17, 2010 
Cancellara will ride with the Schlecks in 2011 Cancellara has possibly made a decision on a new cycling team, Tuesday, September 21, 2010 
Quiznos Pro Challenge - Logo & Jersey design More comments on the Quiznos Pro Challenge Logo, Thursday, September 30, 2010 
Quiznos Pro Challenge - Colorado, August 2011 A real Pro Tour coming to Colorado! Sunday, September 26, 2010 
Motivation from the work of others Inspiration from a 22-year-old Saturday, September 25, 2010 
Who's Who in Cycling New ProTeams for 2011 - where is everybody? Wednesday, October 6, 2010 
Rider Profile - Fabian Cancellara Cancellara is one impressive cyclist, Saturday, October 2, 2010 
More images of the Tour de France Here are a few more rider pictures, Friday, July 30, 2010 
Upsetting the Apple Cart I like tradition in cycling, Monday, August 9, 2010

I love cycling and no matter what unfolds this year in regards to doping scandals or recovery, I will always love this fabulous sport, and perhaps my four bikes even more! 
Happy Thanksgiving! 

24 November 2010

Understanding Autoroutes and Toll Booths in France

A péage, what to do - think blue

Would you believe Understanding Road Signs in France is one of the most popular posts on the PedalDancer blog? I thought I would add another Travel Tips post about navigating the Autoroute and toll booths in France. Last summer after driving for weeks and weeks along the small roads in the Pyrenees I was so happy to hit the big highway, where the driving was easy, fast and carefree.

Except when I found myself cruising along the Autoroute at 130km/h and suddenly came upon a toll booth ahead sign. My first thought was how exciting something to do besides drive in a straight line, my second thought was, oh great I hope I get in the correct lane. Then suddenly 4 lanes expanded into 12 lanes and cars started jockeying for position. Which lane, which lane? I can't believe I go through the same panic every time I come upon a tollbooth in France.

Much of the country of France has auto routes (péage /Expressway/Toll Roads /Motorways), specifically over 7000 kilometers/4200 miles of highway run on a system of tolls. The toll ways are owned and maintained by different companies so you will travel and pay in differing segments as you travel across the country.

Becoming familiar with the signs ahead of time should make your journey more comfortable. I mostly research these topics when I want to learn myself. The last thing I wanted was to get stuck in the wrong lane with 6 cars lined up behind me. Here are some guidelines for navigating Autoroutes in Europe.

Click images to enlarge

How to find an Autoroute. Look for the blue signs marked péage. The red number at the top is the number/name of the peage (toll road). The green sign is the number name of a National Highway (no charge). Often you can take a national road to get to the same place, but it will take you more time to get there. Autoroutes are quick and efficient, but will cost you 4-8 euro per segment. If you drive around 200 km you might end up paying 20 euros in tolls on average.

Expressway road signs in France 

Upon your first sighting of a toll booth area from a distance, your job is to determine which lanes are open. Go for the green arrows. X means the lane is closed. Green arrow with an orange t are reserved/badge lanes.

Oh the Choices. Make up your mind - and fast! What lane to use at the Toll Booths when collecting a ticket: Look for the blue signs

If you have just entered the highway you will be instructed to take a ticket at the gate and not pay yet. Tolls are based on distance traveled.

I look for this lane and collect a ticket (cartes / card)

If you see this sign, simply retrieve the ticket from the machine and drive on when the gate raises. Many ticket machines will be double-deckers, with a ticket dispenser for trucks (high) and cars (low).

Be sure to keep the ticket in a safe place, don't loose it!

If you do loose it, (and there is no live attendant) push the button on the panel (small black button) and an attendant will answer and instruct you to pay the full price fare (this fare might be greater than your actual fare, but that is the price you pay for loosing your ticket which proves your starting point).

Now you are driving along the highway and you see another toll booth ahead. The next toll booth you come upon will likely be a payment booth, you now need to pay the toll.

Oh the Choices. Make up your mind - and fast! What lane to use at the Toll Booths when paying your toll:  Look for the blue signs 

* Be aware that US credit cards may or may NOT work, US chip credit cards may work 80% of the time but there is no guarantee, so keep coins handy.

1. Look for an attendant if you are at all worried about your credit card not working and you see no sign for cash (stay in the right lane and approach slowly). (Attendants will cross lanes to help you, if you are holding up traffic; don't get out of your car).

A helpful attendant is present

2. Coins  I always keep coins in the car ready. Get in the habit of keeping coins on hand just in case your credit card does not work! I actually travel with a small pouch specifically to hold toll and parking coins ( I don;t simply hope I have some spare change). Be aware that some coins might be rejected, this is normal, just keep trying with other coins.

3. I look for the blue signs with CB and pay with a credit card (if you have a chip card). **Very important - do not use a credit card if it is the only card you have while traveling, if the machine takes your card, you will not get it back**.

How to pay your toll: You will first need to insert the small paper ticket, and then pay the amount on the screen, you may pay by cash or credit card. The sign below for Péage par Carte Bancaire indicates that you may use a credit card to pay your toll (if it is a chip and pin card, although some standard cards might work). This is the lane I go for. It allows me to use a credit card. Don't get panicked if it takes more than 1 swipe of your card before you see the green light. However make sure you select a credit card which does not charge per transaction fees (the fees can add up).

Chip n' Pin Credit Cards

Update July 2012: After spending 18 days in France, I can report that my American based chip card worked well in restaurants, markets, shops, E.Leclerc gas stations (with CB card signs only), autoroute gas stations, Tollbooths with the CB card signs (only!!). My chip credit card did NOT work at standard tollbooths (I kept coins ready), did NOT work at parking meter pay stations, and did NOT work at unattended gas stations (without the blue CB card logo), and did NOT work at some small retailers (like pharmacies in small villages).

The chip card was however very convenient to have, since most credit card machines (at markets and hand held devices) are not swipe card machines but insert your card machines. * Please always travel with two credit cards in case one is not returned from any machine.

This sign is a travelers friend

Back to Tollbooths: If you happen upon one of these, start tossing in your Euro coins. However sometimes your coins will be rejected (for unknown reasons). No change is given for inexact amounts. Remember to keep a supply of coins in your car.

This sign for Péage Automatique for pièces, indicates that Euro coins are accepted !!:

This sign indicates a person will be inside this toll booth. Most toll booths are badge or machine operated only, the site of a helpful person is very welcome:

Liber-T Badges

This is a service for locals, not the best option for tourists. The orange sign marks convenient drive through tollgates for pre approved Liber-T badges. For more information read about Liber-T, perhaps not the best option for infrequent visitors. They are marked with the orange t.  TÉLÉPÉAGE - an automatic charge system uses these lanes. You must first sign up for an infrequent or frequent use badge here: ASF Telepeage

Aire de repos - Look for the blue signs

You will also see signs on the péage that indicate rest stops ahead. The name of the rest stop (aires) is "Aire de (location name)", these stops will also be printed on many road maps. Rest stops contain gasoline stations (more expensive than in town or at supermarkets). The Gasoline Company name will be listed on the sign (Esso, Shell, BP), sometimes the cost of the petrol will be displayed on the sign as well, if it seems high, keep driving. Rest stop signs will indicate whether there are additional services such as picnic tables, restaurants, food, or public restrooms. They can be simple or very large. Some even have free wi-fi usage for a limited 20 minutes. I enjoy stopping for a coffee, sandwich, ice cream, or simply people watching while taking a moment to stretch:

If you see an Aire de repos (rest stop sign) like this one below, the services offered will be very simple (meaning stand-over toilets), with picnic areas to stretch or take a break. If you prefer a real public restroom wait for a sign with a Gasoline Station (as above):

Aire de repos (outside rest stop)

Other péage road signs:

Pedestrians allowed / Pedestrians not allowed

Credit Cards accepted / Slow speed bump

Coins accepted / Stay right

Speed Limits
Speed limit on the péage in most areas is 130km/h. The Speed limit will drop to 50-90kmh in areas around large cities, and within construction areas to 60-90km/h. Speed limits change to 30km/h near the end of the péage or approaching toll booths. If road conditions are wet due to rain the speed limit drops from 130 to 110, and 50km/h in fog. Speed limit is 90-110km/h on National roads depending on whether there is a center lane divider.

Expressway speed limit signs in France

Click images to enlarge


Panneau Radar: obey all speed limits, there are automatic radar boxes located along the highways in France that will take an image of your license plate. You will first see this sign (to the left, below), then the radar box (to the right, below) will be a few hundred meters down the road, together with the speed camera box. These speeds boxes are numerous, they were installed to reduce the number of accidents and fatalities, they have been very successful in doing so.

The automatic radar boxes are set to take a photograph of the number plate on the offending vehicle. If your speed is 5 km/h above the limit for maximum speed allowed in the zone, the photo radar will send the photograph to a central office, the address of the owner of the vehicle matching the number plate will be found, the owner will have an automatic fine and a reduction in points from his driver license. The police also use mobile radars, on board unmarked cars, or vehicles set along side the road, to trap offenders and can fine or impound foreign registered vehicles on the spot. To see a list of radar locations on all roads in France view Radars-Auto.com. Another list of radars can be found at Controleradar.org

If your GPS unit starts pinging, check your speedometer and reduce your speed, your GPS unit is warning you that a radar box is near. The road speed limit will be encircled on the screen of your GPS. Check your speedometer with the speed limit, if in doubt slow down (and stay out of the left-hand lane). It also will ping near roaming cars.

Tremendous fines can be given on the spot by police as well. And must be paid.

 Radar sign  /  Radar camera box

Mechanical Breakdown or Accidents

Orange warning triangle and emergency vests must be carried inside every car in France. The triangles are set out on the road, the vests are to be worn by persons in case of an accident or mechanical break-down. They should be inside the car and not in the trunk. In Spain, cars must contain 2 triangles and 2 vests. In Italy every person in the car must have a vest to wear in case the car breaks down along a road.

Emergency numbers: Police — dial 17, Fire — dial 18, Ambulance — dial 15.

Misc. Driving Tips in France:
  • Realtime traffic information can be seen live at this link: Autoroute traffic
  • Or check traffic flow at fr.mappy.com or route planning at Mappy
  • There is a radio station which broadcasts information on the autoroutes 24/7 on FM 107.7
  • One thing you will notice is that there are very few old cars on the highways in France. All French cars must pass an arduous inspection every two years which clears clunkers from the road.
  • There is no “right on red” in France.
  • Cars entering highways from the right have priority, unless marked otherwise.
  • It is illegal to use a handheld mobile phone while driving in France.
  • My brother always warns danger comes from behind in France, and he is correct. Look behind you frequently and always before changing lanes. Drivers will come upon you very fast from the rear.
  • Don't hog the (left) fast lane. The left (fast) lane is for overtaking only, not for traveling in. If you hog the fast lane, you may also be reminded to move over with a flash of headlights from the car behind trying to pass.
  • Don't speed - speeding tickets are EXTREMELY expensive and if stopped by a policeman you might be required to pay on the spot, with cash!
  • If you need help in planning your route use this link on Autoroutes.fr

This is a familiar scene in July or August when all of France goes on vacation.


For additional information about understanding road signs while driving or riding a bike in France, please read an earlier PedalDancer.com post about Understanding Road Signs in France

Also read an interesting story: A wild ride

For details on autoroutes in France, visit: http://www.autoroutes.fr/index.htm 

23 November 2010

2011 Bicycle Tour of Colorado - Route Announced

The Route for 2011 BTC to include Trail Ridge Road

Update 2013: please see COLORADO CYCLING

[If you are looking for information on the pro race in Colorado in August 2013, please visit this page - USA PRO CHALLENGE the event described below is a one-week citizens event ride for recreational cyclists.]. If you are interested in the 2012 Bicycle Tour of Colorado Route June 17-23, please read: 2012 Bicycle Tour of Colorado Route
The route of the Bicycle Tour of Colorado (BTC) week long event in 2011 was announced. The dates will be June 19-25, 2011. The route of the week long summer tour in Colorado looks like a good one. A friend who has done it four times said today, "I gotta say this looks like the best route ever". The ride is limited to 1500 riders. It doesn't usually fill up as fast as Ride the Rockies, but this year could be different, so don't wait too long. (their payment system was down for the first days after announcement, then their website went down. If the links don't work when you give it a try, check back again).
Rumors were circling that only one of the big Tours (Bicycle Tour of Colorado vs. Ride the Rockies) was going to receive the permit for their event to go over Trail Ridge Road this year (inside Rocky Mountain National Park). Looks like BTC won out. It does seem very strange that the tour is beginning from Central City, the city infamously located next door to Blackhawk - the city that does not allow bikes to be ridden through their town.
More Ride Information about the 2011 BTC:
Event: Bicycle Tour of Colorado
Dates: June 19-25, 2011
Location: Loop Tour - Start in Central City, Estes Park, Granby, Steamboat Springs, Glenwood Springs, Frisco, Finish in Central City. 
Route: 2011 BTC Route Description 
Length: 463 miles over 7 days with 1 day of rest.   
Limited to: 1500 Cyclists, 
Annual Event: The 17th Annual Tour
Cost: ~ $400
Registration: BTC Website
2011 Bicycle Tour of Colorado Route Cities:
June 19 Sunday DAY 1 Central City to Estes Park, 57 miles (Peak to Peak Hwy)
June 20 Monday DAY 2 Estes Park to Granby, 65 miles (Rocky Mountain National Park)
June 21 Tuesday DAY 3 Granby to Steamboat Springs, 80 miles
June 22 Wednesday DAY 4 Steamboat Springs to Glenwood Springs 6,728', 104 miles
June 23 Thursday DAY 5 Day off your bike in Glenwood Springs (Land of Hot Springs)
June 24 Friday DAY 6 Glenwood Springs to Frisco 8,153', 92 miles (over Vail Pass)
June 25 Saturday DAY 7 Frisco to Central City, 65 miles (over Loveland Pass)

Other related blog posts by PedalDancer.com:   
Cycling Tours in Colorado Okay let's make this clear,  Monday, October 25, 2010    
Bicycle Tour of Colorado - revisited Yes, I've ridden Bicycle Tour of Colorado too, Wednesday, June 16, 2010

21 November 2010

Quote of the Day - Bernard Shaw

We don't stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing. 
George Bernard Shaw

20 November 2010

Climb of the Month: Cormet de Roseland

Climb of Cormet de Roseland, French, Alps

The climb from the town of Beaufort (east of Albertville, France) up to the Barrage de Roseland and the Cormet de Roseland is a steady low traffic climb in the French Alpes. There was not much activity at the top of the climb in June of 2077, just some sheep being transported around. The town of Beaufort is a good place to stop and have a drink after the ride.
Barrage de Roseland and the Cormet de Roseland in the backround
Beaufort - at the base of the climb

19 November 2010

Who's Who of Cyclocross

I liked this list of European cyclocross riders

I told a friend the other day, I'm always looking for a new good wine. I am also always looking for a new good cyclist to follow. I enjoyed reading through this list by Podium Cafe of the latest greatest Cyclocross racers from Europe.

The ABC of CX: a who's who of the European cross peloton, by tgsgirl on Nov 18, 2010 (be sure to check out the ridiculous picture at the bottom of the article)

I am hoping I will find more of an interest in the CX racers from Europe, because honestly Jeremy Powers does nothing for me as a fan. Tim Johnson is amazing to watch on a bike, but a bit monotone. Although I enjoyed watching his 9ball diaries very much. Every time I see Ryan Trebon I am reminded of the animated character in the movie Triplets of Belleville. Don't you think it looks like him?!

Meanwhile I am heading to a local CX race tomorrow, should be interesting.
My list of Who's Who in (Road) Cycling continues to grow, check out who is on which ProTeam for 2011 at: Who's Who in Cycling Wednesday, October 6, 2010

17 November 2010

Do we all think doping is cheating or not?

I have watched far too many Spy Movies 

Interpol sounds serious. Today I read the headlines that Interpol has been pulled into the doping investigation against Lance Armstrong. A team of US representatives including FDA Agent Jeff Novitzky, U.S. attorney for the Central District of California Doug Miller, and U.S. Anti-Doping Agency CEO Travis Tygar have descended upon the corridors of Interpol to gather additional evidence. Somehow the US Food and Drug Administration does not create the same intimidation factor as Interpol. I am picturing interrogation rooms, men in suits with high tech devices, and assassins. All to take down Armstrong. 
Once I finished with the Hollywood high-action scenario, I realized that Interpol is involved simply because this investigation is crossing borders, chiefly US, French, Spanish, and Italian borders. They are scouring the earth for evidence against Lance Armstrong, and they will likely come up with something. What exactly and how they will be able to charge Armstrong with a crime on US soil remains unclear. I understand they are investigating him for financial fraud and perjury, but is doping in France a crime in the United States?

In recent months I have become more and more discouraged about seeing a resolution to the problem of doping in professional (and amateur) cycling. Honestly I am not exactly sure what the problem is and what the correction should be. By this point I am one who believes doping to be quite pervasive. Still people are working hard to eradicate doping. They are clearly failing. Biological Passports and the 'Riders’ commitment to a new cycling agreement were recently shot down as possible solutions. They turned out to be a distraction from real action and a big waste of time. 

We need real economic penalties. Teams don't seem to be penalized for rehiring previously sentenced dopers, certainly not when individual rider points can be added to overall team points when deciding ProTeam rankings with the UCI. Directeur Sportifs (managers) are not penalized when contracted riders under their tutelage are found to be guilty, but meanwhile have secured race wins. Riders are clearly not penalized when they are able to come back after a 2 year suspension and easily step back into sponsorships and team contracts. Even the Organizers of bike races eagerly invite recently accused dopers. Is there any reason not to dope? Health? I fear a twenty year old is going to struggle to relate to health concerns.

Do we all think doping is cheating or not? Quite frankly I am wondering if we are talking about cultural differences. Do the Spaniards justify doping, the Italians, the Americans? Think about it, is doping part of enhancing the training process, or part of accommodating better recovery, or is doping cheating in competition only? Isn't the short term glory and financial gains worth the risk? And does the health of the athlete get lost in the wake of all these other incentives to use drugs. Dopers Suck - at what specifically? I think we all need to decide why doping needs to go and decide on one clear solution.

So far targeting the athletes has not worked, targeting the teams is not working, targeting the sport might be the answer. It occurred to me this morning, that Lance Armstrong will very likely spend some time in jail and his reputation will more than likely be tarnished. But more importantly, if he is found guilty of doping and his titles are taken away, he will take with him much of the history and integrity of this sport for the past decade. Increasing numbers of citizens will look upon the sport of professional cycling as a farce. As a non sport.

I agree with the argument that by now most cycling fans have decided to accept or not accept the reality of doping. Fans have made their peace with it by now. Still continued damage to the sport would be tragic. It would take years for the sport to recover from the reverberations if Armstrong is found guilty. Will the fans and the Sponsors hang in there?
Photo by: PedalDancer.com
Recently Ettore Torri, Italy's anti-doping prosecutor for the Italian Olympic Committee said, "The longer I'm involved in this, the more I marvel at how widespread doping is. And I don't think it will be eradicated. Because it just evolves continuously. There are new substances coming out that can't be tested for. As long as doping is a viable economic option, it's always going to exist," he said. "It needs to be made so that it's no longer worth it economically."
Maybe it is time for the Sponsors to take a new approach.

Additional reading (recently in the news) - riders getting off Scott-free as numerous agencies work together:
Of course Lance Armstrong has never tested positive to date for performance enhancing drugs, and he has been tested for years, and often. But imagine the impact if Lance Armstrong is found guilty of doping; the history of the winner of the yellow jersey of the 

Tour de France could look something like this:
2010 Alberto Contador - DOPER
2009 Alberto Contador - DOPER
2008 Carlos Sastre -
2007 Alberto Contador - DOPER
2006 Floyd Landis - DOPER  / [Operation Puerto]
2005 Lance Armstrong - [DOPER]
2004 Lance Armstrong - [DOPER]
2003 Lance Armstrong - [DOPER]
2002 Lance Armstrong - [DOPER]
2001 Lance Armstrong - [DOPER]
2000 Lance Armstrong - [DOPER]
1999 Lance Armstrong - [DOPER]
1998 Marco Pantani - DOPER / [Festina Team doping scandal]
1997 Jan Ullrich - DOPER
1996 Bjarne Riis - DOPER

Here he is: 15 years of the Tour de France and the only winner could be Carlos Sastre (who likely ingested PVC plastics through this pacifier anyway. (We've heard the twin excuse, the tainted beef, next will be the pacifier plea - at least he has proof)

Previous related posts by PedalDancer.com:
Doping Investigation Maybe we should take this seriously, Friday, August 13, 2010 
Armstrong's ratings are plummeting The more I know, the more I am concerned Friday, August 20, 2010

16 November 2010

Why is Cyclocross so aesthetically ugly?

Orange fencing, parking lots, and yellow boards

I cannot be the first to notice how absolutely unattractive it is to attend a cyclocross race. I was watching the live coverage by CyclingDirt.org of the USGP of Cyclocross - Fort Collins, CO, this last weekend. It is purely awesome that CyclingDirt has worked hard to grow the sport by making the race available to viewers online (for those of us stuck at home unable to drive due to a broken pelvis). The race coverage was quite good, but watching the riders go round and round was like watching hamsters run in a maze. An unattractive orange plastic fence wrapped maze.
Cyclocross takes place in industrial parks, office parking lots, school yards and just about anywhere were folks won't get upset about riders and spectators destroying the land for the next generation. I had really wanted to go watch the best in our nation race at the Grand Prix last weekend, but more accurately I really just wanted to get out of my house! However upon watching the race online I couldn't help but think, I would have crutched my broken body out in the freezing cold weather through the mud to stand outside in that setting, why?
I look at the racers that race cyclocross and think, I bet they can train in their basements on rollers all winter and think nothing of it. Their need is for speed, not for beauty. Road cycling is appealing because of the great distances covered over spectacular terrain. Every Spring I begin my mornings by popping up the Spring Classics, and then the Grand Tours, on my 2nd computer screen set on my office desk. It is tradition to let the kilometers of scenery roll by before me as I begin my day. Cyclocross doesn't deliver this same beauty on the screen, or in person.
Cyclocross appeals to me because it reminds me of my childhood when a pack of neighborhood kids would gather on our bikes and ride dirt paths through the canyons or build jumps over ramps in nearby lots. It was pure play. Cyclocross looks like pure play for adults. But it is ugly play. I am pretty sure that is why spectators drink heavily at Cyclocross races, they are trying to numb the ugliness until they can return to the beauty of their office cubicles on Monday morning.
I would like to beseech someone to please develop new barriers and fencing for this sport to make it more attractive! Even the beauty of men clad in lycra cannot make up for a thousand yards of orange fencing and do not cross this crime scene looking tape. There has to be a better way. I feel for the photographers who try to make this sport appear intriguing through their lenses when the background looks like a construction pit.
This weekend there will be another CX race, which I'm trying to convince myself would be okay to attend, since, you know, I love cycling. Obviously I must need to get out of the house pretty bad to be willing to hang around a dirt pit on a weekend in Colorado. Bring on the beauty of the ski season!
I am clinging to a romantic notion of what cyclocross must be like in Belgium, and even in Portland. It's gotta be nicer then it is in Colorado. This video however is nearly 9 minutes of fun, and attractive goofy fun at that! A video of how I think cyclocross should look; just a pack of guys out on the moors:

found on http://www.twojohnspodcast.missingsaddle.com/