Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Some TheDickPound news

As noted in yesterday's gloomy prophecy ("where's WADA when you need it?"), Pound stepped into the light today, and "called for "greater unity" of the sports' institutions in the fight against doping". According to Reuters, he also called for expedited processing of doping cases. How ironic that he comes up with that idea now, after having dragged out the Floyd Landis case for months and months. On the other hand, Pound wants the AFLD to defer its investigation after the WADA/UCI proceedings on the Landis case. What is also funny, is that he was quoted saying

"But we at WADA have never said anything about the guilt or innocence of the person involved. We just say that the process has to run its course, and we will see what decision is taken at the end."

I'm speechless ...

And here the latest: Reuters Canada reports that Pound has been "summoned to answer defamation charges brought by former Austria cross-country coach Walter Mayer". Now, how close are we to a class action suit against Pound regarding defamation of athletes ?

But now I'm really off. Aloha!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Next stop: Kona

Pereiro, Vandenbroucke, Lefevere, Museeuw ... not a day goes by without some new revelations and/or accusations about current or past doping, and whether it's been "doping" after all. Now who is next ? Then, a power struggle has emerged between UCI and AFLD. Each of them wants to be entity that makes the final decision on Pereiro. Now where's WADA when you need it ? Just kidding ... and I need a vacation, and a week of being in paradise lies ahead.

In less than 48 hours, I'll be sitting at the beach near Kona with my wife on my side, and a Mai Tai in my hand. Pedals, shoes, helmet, jerseys and shorts are packed. I'll be renting a Specialized Allez from Bike Works in Kona, since paying an extra $170, to take my bike on that round-trip, is a bit steep. My plan is to attend the Kona Saturday Morning Ride of the Hawaiian Cycling Club (HCC), and otherwise spend as many miles riding as I can, without upsetting my wife or the bartender. There will be time to explore the island and its culture, time to reset yourself and refocus on the essential things in life. Until then, aloha!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Sun, Jan 21

Weather-wise, today was just like the Sunday 3 weeks ago. Still feeling the effects of yesterday's ride plus encountering a nasty headwind today, the 40-mile loop took me about 2 3/4 hours. Part of my route is going west on Sand Hill Rd, between Santa Cruz Ave and Highway 280. On this particular stretch of Sand Hill Rd, westbound as well as eastbound, there have been many near misses between cars and bicycles, but also a few "hits". In 2001, an intern at SLAC was struck by a car and killed. In today's San Jose Mercury News, Scott Herhold writes about MaryAnn Levenson, who was struck by a car on Dec 23, while riding in the bike lane eastbound on Sand Hill Rd, east of 280. Levenson luckily survived, and she's on her way to recover.

My personal issue with the 2-lane westbound stretch, is that just before reaching 280 and where the EB and WB lanes kind of diverge, the bike lane ends. Then, just before the next traffic light, a bike lane emerges between lane #1 (the right lane to the on-ramp to 280N) and lane #2, the left lane that continues westbound. After the traffic light, the bike lane continues to be between the two lanes until lane #1 turns away to 280N; lane #2 is now a single lane road with the bike lane to the right for the next ~400 ft. Now it becomes more scary: the 280N off-ramp lane joins Sand Hill Rd, and runs in parallel to it with the bike lane in between, for the next ~700 ft. Drivers coming west on Sand Hill Rd and planning to go on 280S, and drivers coming from 280N and planning to continue west on Sand Hill Rd, BOTH have to cross the bike lane. Now you can imagine the cyclists' nightmare there. Scott Herhold sums it up:

"The unequal odds out on the streets bear repeating. Bicyclists need to do even more to be vigilant and safe."

Again, be safe out there !

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Sat, Jan 20

Finally, the thermometer made is above the dreaded 54F mark, so I took my bike, sporting an aerobar now, out for a 2 1/2 hour, 43.5-mile ride across and along the East Bay Hills. I still need to figure out whether the aerobar made me really faster, or whether this is all in my head; for sure, I LOOK faster. The most difficult part of the aerobar installation was and actually still is, finding a new place for the cycling computer, from where I can see it all the time from any position. The bike is objectively heavier just judging by the torque on the handle bar, but overall, the aerobar is a win just by reduction of headwind resistance.

Note to myself: avoid mentioning the short form of Richard P's first name; apparently this draws traffic from p0r|\| sites.

Floyd in talks with Vaughter's Team Slipstream

According to CN, Floyd Landis is in discussion with his former USPS team mate Jonathan Vaughters about Landis' potential return to racing. Vaughters is the team director of the Pro-Conti Team Slipstream Powered by Chipotle, but he made clear that if Floyd can't prove his innocence or won't be fully exonerated, Vaughters would not further be interested in taking in Landis. CN also quotes Vaughters from a November 2006 interview when asked about how to address the damage that has been done to cycling:

"It's too late to address the damage. At this point it's a matter of rebuilding from the ground up. Time must pass and time without any scandals. For this to happen, teams need to simply make sure the explicit and implicit message to their riders is: we love you even if you don't win all the time. We (me, directors, sponsors, management) have to start treating this as a sport, not just a business. We have to start treating the athletes as humans, not expendable fodder. If you say to an athlete, 'you must win today or else', the clever cyclist will make sure he wins, but the way it's done may not be so healthy for the sport or his body."

Rant also points fingers at the conduct of certain WADA and UCI officials:
For the good of the sport, they need to change their ways. If they can’t, they should be replaced.

The public pressure on WADA is already working, and is revising its doping code. Dick Pound is gone within the year. So there is hope for cycling; I'm optimistic.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Imagine the Olympics and nobody is cycling

UCI's Pat McQuaid has concerns that the IOC might one day scrap Cycling from the Olympics due to the ongoing and endless doping discussions. While this is certainly possible, consequently there should be no Swimming, no Nordic competitions, no Track and Field, and no Baseball, just to name a few. Billiards with its 9.96% AAF rate, according to WADA's 2005 annual report, would never become an Olympic discipline (not that anyone wishes for that). Which true sports, without the doping tarnish, are left in the Olympics ? Tobogganing ? Water polo ? Does anyone remember the good ol' days of the Olympics ? From about.com:

"Since the Games were not well publicized internationally, contestants were not nationally chosen but rather came individually and at their own expense. Some contestants were tourists who happened to be in the area during the Games. Athletes wore their athletic club uniform rather than a national team one. Pole vaulting, sprints, shot put, weight lifting, swimming, cycling, target shooting, tennis, marathon and gymnastics were all events at the first Olympics. The swimming events were held in the Bay of Zea in the Aegean Sea. Gold medalist, Alfred Hoyos Guttmann described it: "I won ahead of the others with a big lead, but my greatest struggle was against the towering twelve-foot waves and the terribly cold water.""

TBV has some suggestions that might bring back the Olympic spirit:
"We should adopt the Little Indy 500 rules and issue everyone Huffy or Schwinn bikes, too. Also, because everyone should be an amateur, we should have free admission and no commercials in any media coverage. Training should be limited to 5 hours a week, any any competitor must hold a regular 9-5 job, with no equivalence in "army" service or the like. All must live in the Olympic village for the entirety of the games, where bread and water will be served for meals 24 hours a day -- with all the olive oil they like, for whatever purpose they wish to use it for. It goes without saying that there may be no prize money give to athletes by their federations, nor support by the federations beyond uniforms and transportation to the games."

On my wish list: bring back the 4-horse chariot race.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Clever Germans avoiding doping control

It's all a matter of perspective, right? CN's Susan Westemeyer reports that German ARD TV reported that in about 9% of all scheduled / planned but unannounced doping tests, athletes from various sports have successfully evaded the doping control. The National ADA claims to be powerless against a few athletes because they "regularly outwit the controllers". Dick Pound is very mellow and just "very surprised":

"I thought that the German anti-doping program was first class.

I'm curious whether this is an isolated issue, or rather more common. Also, are certain sports more prone to hide-and-seek playing athletes ? Apparently, there was no real follow-up on sanctions by the respective sports federations, so the incentive is high to ditch the guys waiting at the front door. You could also argue that therefore the minimum doping rate is 9%. Otherwise, why run if you're clean ?

You too, Oscar, my son?

This morning, something new is brewing. Velonews reports that Le Monde, the French newspaper, alleges that Oscar Pereiro tested positive twice for salbutamol during the 2006 TdF. Neither UCI nor the Spanish cycling federation could confirm the allegations. Apparently Pereiro had a TUE for it, and had just not provided all required documentation. AFLD commented

"that the tests amounted to "false positives" that showed only a negligible amount of salbuterol, and he chided the French anti-doping association for leaking the information to the media."

Here we go, again. And when this is all over in 2012, Levi will be declared the winner of the 2006 TdF; 10 more riders to go.

Lastly, TBV has picked up my site; thanks for the plug and the comment.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

No money for Operacion Puerto investigation

El Pais reports that the Spanish judiciary hasn't paid a debt of about 25ooo Euro, delaying further analysis of blood bags in the Operacion Puerto investigation. It is funny that authorities can run out money while it won't cost them any money, and while suspects in the case continue to run shorter of money because of the investigation being delayed. Well, it's actually not that funny; we all wish for a quick resolution, not just for the OP investigation, but also the Floyd Landis case.

It is also being reported that WADA is revising its anti-doping code, while Dick Pound is put in a not so positive light, considering his recent public remarks. Macleans.ca has a collection of some of his quotes.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Mon, Jan 15

The weather on Martin Luther King Day didn't quite cooperate today either; sunny, but still cold. On the other hand, my wife was happy that we paid IKEA a visit instead. We like IKEA, and our house has almost become an IKEA showroom by now, which is not a bad thing. IKEA's modern and refreshing style makes American furniture look even more antique. And you've got to try these Swedish meatballs, available in the IKEA Sweden shop !

"24" has been reduced to "20", after the first four hours have passed. I realized that Alexander Siddig plays a role ("Assad") here, similarly renouncing the past as he did in "Syriana" ("Prince Nasir Al-Subaai"). The conclusion of today's show was kind of ... unexpected. The thought of this becoming reality though, IS scary; what a coincidence that the Doomsday Clock will move forward in two days.

Back to cycling, or better: not-cycling ... as far as I'm concerned, I'm ready for spring to get back on pace. My 2007 riding stats, same as a week ago, but I'm losing my pace quickly:
#of rides: 2, annual mileage: 78, on pace: 1898.

In cycling related news, two sad stories made it: first, former Phonak rider Uros Murn (now Discovery) was hit by a car while training. He's expected to be out for at least three months. And secondly, and unfortunately with a even more saddening ending, is that a prominent UK cyclist was killed on Sunday morning, also during a training ride.

Be safe out there !

Sunday, January 14, 2007

No TV coverage for Deutschland Tour ?

cyclingnews.com reports that German TV will not broadcast the Deutschland Tour if any suspects in the Operacion Puerto case will attend the race.

"Race Director Kai Rapp said that, "If one of the suspected riders starts, then there won't be any broadcast - and then no race." The question remains as to which riders will be considered 'suspect' - what criteria will be used to decide on this question, and who will make the decision."

I guess Dick Pound would be available to give out advice.

Sun, Jan 14

About 1pm, and my outside thermometer tells me a pathetic 45 degrees Fahrenheit. This is still about 10 degrees below my personal comfort level, and assuming that it won't significantly turn for the better in the next hour or so, I'll be turning my attention later to garden work instead.

Someone in my company FINALLY "decided" that Martin Luther King Day is a holiday, so tomorrow I'll have another shot of getting some mileage in for the extended weekend.

At 7pm, we're back down to 40 degrees. The bike took a break (again), but now I'm counting down the minutes until Season 6 of "24" starts. Jack Bauer will return from a Chinese prison, and I'm always watching closely to detect any clichee or stereotype about China or the Chinese in the US media. At least, Rosie O'Donnell won't be starring; she had her foot-in-mouth moment.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Cycling in China

Professional cycling in China is still in its infancy, even less on the Mainland. China's first pro-Team, the Marco Polo Cycling Team, was only announced two years ago.

During my travels in Mainland China, I've not come across one person who was riding for fun. Me trying to race the rickshaws draw even more attention than I usually did by just being a wai guo ren in China; at least, Ronald was cool. Rather, the bicycle is simply a transport mechanism. Here some moments:

Zhuhai, Guangdong Province; I realized that the location where I took the picture in June 2004, is the same location as shown in this picture of the MP Team during their training in January 2005.



Meizhou, Guangdong Province, my wife's hometown.





[More]






Landis summoned to France

Now there's some movement in the Landis case as Floyd is summoned to appear on Feb 8 before the L'Agence Fran├žaise de Lutte contre le Dopage .... a romantic sounding name for the not-so-romantic French anti-doping agency. The Landis camp was granted an additional two weeks, after AFLD's chief had requested Landis to show up on Jan 25 and Landis' lawyers had requested some more time to be fully prepared. Since Landis won't attend the appointment in person, his Power Training Camp running Jan 20-27 in Temecula, CA, is obviously not a factor in the 2-week delay. Interestingly, way back (I think) in July, the 2007 camp was completely booked and interested riders were told to check back on the site for availability in the 2008 camp. Only just recently, limited space became available again. No, I'll be in Hawaii at the time, and No, I'm not even thinking of switching places.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Floyd "Red Bull" Landis

My attempt to raise some discussion about that can in Floyd's hand during Stage 4 of last year's TdF, went nowhere. Caffeine was on WADA's list of prohibited substances and methods prior to January 2004. In 2005, WADA was said to consider reinstating the ban because of claims that caffeine helped boost performance significantly. I have not seen anything suggesting that WADA acted on it. Studies confirm the actual performance gain, and Floyd APPEARS to take advantage of it. But No, Red Bull does NOT contain bull testosterone as some urban legend once suggested. Prost!

And in the final 2006 reader poll of cyclingnews.com, Paolo Bettini takes the crown for "Rider of the Year" (28.9% of votes), followed by Landis (19.8%); 3rd place for Valverde (14.2%), whose dog's name was also found in Fuente's address book. My suggestion for pro-cyclists: name your dog "Pound", "McQuaid", or "Baltimore-Will".

Monday, January 8, 2007

Erik Zabel - 2006 "legend of cycling"

"Hell on Wheels" Erik Zabel won the "legend of cycling" award according to a 2006 cyclingnews.com reader poll. Congratulations to my fellow countryman !

In another cyclingnews.com reader poll, Landis' Stage 17 victory won the "Best Moment of 2006" award. I intentionally omitted the "& resulting controversy" because I don't consider it a "best moment", regardless of the future outcome of the case.

The other big story today was that Michael Henson and Floyd Landis lashed back at Dick Pound about his recent, totally out-of-line remarks about Landis and the doping case. Most of the usual Landis bloggers have already commented on it; check out TBV for a comprehensive compilation.
On the one hand, I don't know whether I'm more eager to see Pound's reign or Dubya's reign end; on the other hand, I can only echo strbuk's comment at DPF that Pound should just continue to shoot his mouth off in order to accelerate his demise.

Rant takes a different approach with Sokolove’s NYT article and looks and the USADA and WADA doping statistics. My question here is: has anyone noticed WADA's 9.96% AAF in BILLIARDS ? Cycling came in with"only" 3.78%.

PS: It's amazing how many hits you get when you google "bush countdown". Even better when you can integrate the countdown clock with Firefox. Any takers for a Dick Pound countdown clock ?

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Sunday, Jan 7

Today's been a beautiful day in the Bay Area. Temperatures around 60 degrees brought many cyclists out on the road. I completed a 40-mile loop on one of my favorite routes, starting at the intersection of Highway 92 and Canada Rd. The road is partially closed for car traffic on Sundays between 9am and 3-4pm, depending on the season, thus making it an ideal venture for skaters, runners and cyclists to enjoy about 3 1/2 miles of rolling hills, without the risk of being run over by a speeding SUV. The route continues to Woodside, where you continue straight on Mountain Home Rd, and soon pass the estate of Larry Ellison. Not much to see from the road, other than a small security building and a big wooden gate. The route continues on Portola Rd, Sand Hill Rd, Alpine, Aratrasdero, Purissima, Robleda, Elena, S El Monte, and then ends on Foothill in Los Altos. From there you head north-west; Foothill becomes Junipero Serra, and merges with Alpine into Santa Cruz Rd. Turn left on Sand Hill, and after a few miles, you turn right onto Whiskey Hill Rd, which brings you back to Woodside. Woodside was formerly known as "Whiskey Hill" before it was bought by William Haacker and then renamed to "Haackerville". Another 7 1/2 miles are left to get back to the starting point. One lesson learned: you don't have to have a TT bike and upper legs like Arnold 20 years ago, to be dropped by an oldie like me (doped with pan cakes) on an incline. This was my Stage 17 moment today.

My 2007 riding stats:
#of rides: 2, annual mileage: 78, on pace: 4067.

In other news, the Floyd Landis Forum on Topix is overrun by a bunch of Will's. The first impostor from Chicago is giving our beloved Will from Baltimore a hard time. It's funny at times, but right now, there's no point on spending valuable time there, until things have settled or major Landis news surfaced.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Moments from the 2006 Tour of California

It was February 21, and Stage 2 (Martinez to San Jose) of the inaugural Tour of California. I took a short break from my work-from-home day, saddled the bike, and headed a few miles down to Castro Valley to await the peloton.

Then at 12:50pm ...

... the breakaway group with Michael Creed (TIAA-CREF), Ben Jacques-Maynes (Kodak Gallery/Sierra Nevada) and Mads Kaggestad (Credit Agricole) rides up East Castro Valley Blvd.


5 minutes behind, the peloton is led by Team Gerolsteiner, with Fabian Wegmann in front:


... followed by riders from Teams CSC, Phonak with Floyd Landis, HealthNet and Kodak/Sierra:


George Hincapie (Discovery) went on to win the stage; Floyd finished 7th.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Warming Up

So far, I'm my only visitor ...

One of my primary interests is cycling; I ride a 63cm Trek2000, and cycled 2052 miles last year, mostly on weekends, occasionally to work. One of the best rides of the year was cycling (almost all the way) counter-clockwise around Lake Tahoe; despite that after 66 out of 72 miles and two flats, one broken spare tube and a sliced tire, I had to hitch a ride back to South Lake.

This year's resolution are 2500 miles, and once temperatures are back in the mid- to upper 60s and it's still daylight at 7pm, at least once a week I'd like to do the 58-mile round-trip to and from work. By end of this month, I hope to already get some serious mileage in, as my wife and I will be spending a week on the Big Island of Hawaii. I'm looking forward to joining the Kona Saturday Morning Ride; 7am is not THAT bad.

Despite the doping accusations against Floyd Landis, I still feel getting a lot of inspiration for my own rides by virtue of his great comeback in Stage 17 of the 2006 TdF. Personally, I'm biased towards Floyd Landis, and I hope that he'll be cleared from the doping charges; if not, I'd be REALLY disappointed. To best keep track about all developments in the Floyd Landis case, visit Trust But Verify; in my opinion it is the best Floyd Landis resource on the web.

Aloha!

This is just to fill in the initial blanks, so that I can brag that I'm a blogger now.

.......__o
.......\<,
....( )/ ( )