Monthly Archives: May 2011

Regarding Lance, Tyler & that 60 minutes piece-

Near the top of the Aubisque, July 19, 2005. Right to left Ivan Basso, Lance Armstrong, Jan Ullrich and Floyd Landis. At first thought Basso was Tyler, but thanks to John Murphy for correcting me. Doh! Oh well, what's swapping one doper for another these days? The only one in this group still in question is Lance.

(This is copied over from our “racing” blog) So Sunday we got to watch Tyler Hamilton in Act II of the supposedly-repentent cycling sinner’s club, telling us that he, like Floyd, now sees the light and wants to set the story straight, and part of that story is to tell the world that Lance Armstrong cheated his way to his Tour de France victories.

This would all be so much more believable if Tyler and Floyd weren’t circling the drain, after years of professing their innocence despite failing doping controls (in Tyler’s case, twice, although he did admit to the latter event). This would all be so much more believable if there wasn’t lots of $$$ involved… the huge number of $$$ each of these former athletes lost when they were caught and spiraled downward, the huge number of $$$ to potentially gain from book contracts and media access fees.

In the Tyler Hamilton 60 minutes interview, you couldn’t escape a feeling that he was making some of it up as he went along, with long pauses and lots of blinking. To be fair, he was that way with easy questions too, but it causes me to wonder if the guy cannot distinguish between the fantasy world he lived in for years and the real world.

If there’s a real bombshell that’s going to harm Lance’s legacy, it’s the Tour de Suisse angle, the supposedly-failed EPO test that was covered up by the UCI. That would be huge, if there’s credible evidence it happened. But there were issues with that as well, as we were shown evidence of a “suspicious” test result, not failed. And the money trail, the $125,000 donation to encourage the UCI to cover things up? You’ve got to be kidding; that might be a down payment but certainly doesn’t come close to what it would (or should?) take to buy off something like that.

And finally, there was the “white lunchbag” story. Tyler telling us how he lost his virginity to EPO via one of those “white lunchbags” the team doctors and trainers assigned to their best athletes, with EPO and/or HGH inside. This was a big thing for Tyler, a recognition that he’d arrived. And then later in the broadcast he talks about “reaching out” to Lance for… EPO. In a way that made it sound like Lance really helped him out; as if if hadn’t already gotten onto the EPO train previously. But he had. The “white lunchbag”, remember?

Personally, I don’t think it’s possible to compete at the highest levels in cycling, against people who are doping, without assistance. That’s the polite way of saying it. Assistance. We all need help from time to time, right? So we’ll make doping no more evil than someone down on their luck taking food stamps or a tax credit. But at some level it’s not. What is that level? Back in the day, we had a clear distinction between the supposed purity of college sports vs the evil commercialism of the professional world. I think I bought into that; I never assumed that all was clean & nice on the professional side, and maybe that’s why doping in cycling hasn’t bothered me as much as it should. But that’s not an argument with legs to stand on, because with the professionals in football, baseball, soccer, cycling etc leading the way, the amateurs have been encouraged to step up their game. Doping is clearly rampant in amateur sports, even at the high school level.

If there had been a distinction between professional and amateur sports and any sort of purity or honest competition, I think it was lost when the Olympics allowed professionals to compete. That, for me, was probably the “Dave Stoller” moment. “Everybody cheats. I just didn’t know.” –Mike–

Trains & bikes, no planes, no automobiles as we took on Mount Hamilton

The last mile up Mount Hamilton, with an over-the-top soundtrack.

It’s Sunday, you need to get in something tough, and it’s tough to get in something tough without heading out to the coast. But how many variants of a ride to the coast can you do before it starts getting a bit repetitive? This coming from the guy who’s done the same loop every single Tuesday & Thursday morning for the past 30+ years, by the way. Kevin likes variety, while I like consistency and dedication. But looking out the window this morning and seeing the heavy marine layer still hugging the coastal hills, I was thinking maybe it’s time to head east, away from the clouds. Trouble is, it’s not so easy to head east on a bike; you’ve got the bay in the way, or a really long boring ride around it if you want to get anywhere decent. Or you drive, but I’ve really been trying to avoid that car thing lately. What to do.

Simple. Ride to the train station, take CalTrain to San Jose, ride up Mount Hamilton & return. Not much different from last Wednesday’s run up Sierra Road to see the Tour of California come through. So that’s what Kevin and I did, leaving the house at 10:50 to catch the 11:07 train (which ran 20 minutes late due to track work), got off in San Jose, hit every single red light you could possibly hit and had a very nice ride up Mount Hamilton. Nothing super fast; just under two hours, but Kevin’s not yet up to speed, and this was a very good opportunity for him to see where he was with the France trip coming up in less than two months.

I took a lot of video on the way up; still working out the kinks on that, figuring out how things work, how to get the least camera jitter, but what I really need to work on is the post-ride editing. Adding music is key to an interesting video, and clearly what I need to do is lay down the music track and then edit the video around it. Or I could ride with music playing and try to set the tempo accordingly, but that’s probably not so practical.

Eventually I’d like to set up a bunch of rides that can be easily accessed via public transportation (trains), so you can leave your car at home. Key to that will be identifying train stations that are close to places we like to ride, and hours that particular train system allows bikes. CalTrain allows bike on all trains, but BART is much more restrictive, keeping you off them during commute hours. That still leaves weekends! Using a combination of CalTrain, BART and the Capitol Corridor lines, we’ve probably got access to a pretty wide area.