Wednesday, February 29, 2012

This Is What Our Team Needs To Do!

If we had a well drilled Cat. 4 or 3 team that looked like this~

We would be a force to reckoned with!!!

Lets make this happen...

P.S.~  I love how the heavy guy in the aero bars sort of looks up ever so briefly as the guys rocket past. To funny...

Rubber side down,

Big E

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Capitol Velo Ride

The intrepid souls. Photo credit:Kurt

Twas a dark and stormy day...

This past Saturday was the first Capitol Velo group ride of the year. We went out and reckoned the OBRA state road race championship course for this year. And what a ride it was.

The night before I kept checking the weather reports hoping that they had gotten it wrong. But nope, it was going to be miserable. Maybe not biblical type misery. But definitely more than we wanted for the first team ride of the year. Meh, what do you do?

We were hoping to entice some new members or potential new members out for the ride. But with the way the weather looked to be panning out I figured we would be lucky to have just the club board members show up (8). But happily twenty intrepid souls were there for what was going to be a pretty "epic" day.  The ride was only 40 miles. Which by normal club rides is only a little longer than usual. But that doesn't mean it's not going to hurt...

All the other photos were from Hollie.
There were the usual suspects from the team. Along with a handful of new guys. I must admit I was pretty impressed that many people showed up. Honestly, if I weren't one of the people organising it I sincerely doubt I would have showed.
We met at the Bike Peddler just before the scheduled 9:30 am departure. And rolled out about 9:40 because evidently, Dusty doesn't own a watch...

Before we got out of town we already had two flats. Which didn't bode well for us. But we got them taken care of and continued south.

Hollie and Andrew had agreed to drive the route and take some video and pictures not only as blog fodder (Gee whiz, aren't they swell!). But also for the club website which will hopefully be getting an overhaul sometime in the near future. (Note: These are just some low resolution shots. The video and high res stuff is coming soon, so stay posted.)

As we headed out it became very apparent that the weather was going to be the key ingredient in this ride. With in an hour of starting we had cold, rain, wind, sun, snow, and snain (Snow/rain mix.). The temperature seemed to fluctuate just as much. When the sun was out I felt like I needed to strip down and as soon as the sun went behind some clouds the wind started to chill me down again. Of course the occasional snow flurry was also pretty effective at doing the same job.

The stuff on the lense would be snow and this shows how much we need to work on 2x2 riding...

The conversation was light and pleasant. And for the most part the speed was too.  We regrouped several times for people to catch back on. Everyone ended up waiting for me and a couple of the other "big" guys at the top of most of the hills. Which quite frankly I was hoping. I did my best not to keep them standing around and getting chilled to much but I only have about two speeds going up... Slow and stop.

This would be where I start to fade away into the distance...
As we reached about the half way point I was sort of expecting the head/side wind that we had been experiencing up to that point to become a nice cross tailwind. But unfortunately that wasn't the case. It just became a straight cross wind. Which did an exceptional job of splitting the group into several different echolons.
And that's when it started to happen.

I started bonking. Bad.

That would be me off the back. In my own personal 'Bonkland' (It's like Disneyland. But with out the fun and empty wallet at the end. But you still get that nauseous feeling...).

I had eaten something earlier. But I also went on another ride before the club ride (Although very short because of a slashed sidewall on my rear tire.). So I hadn't eaten anything real since about 6:20 in the morning.

The dumb part is that I've ridden long enough to know what I need to do. And I can usually read the signs of a bonk coming on. So I slammed a gu and some water and hoped for the best.

As we started to head north towards the Enchanted Forest (A theme park near Salem. Which also causes nausea and an empty wallet.) there are two longer steady climbs. The first of which isn't all that steep of a grade (Maybe 5-6%). And I knew I was still trouble when the group now had a tailwind and everyone around me was conversating without any problems. While I felt like I was sucking air through a straw and my legs were burning.  I really just wanted everyone to leave me along to my misery. But to their credit both Kurt and Tyler would drift back on occasion. Check on me. And then leave me to it.

As we finished the climbs (Thank God). I was absolutely convinced that there is no way on this earth that I was going to race this course.  But with a bit of hind sight. Maybe I'll go out there when I'm feeling fresh and give it a second go by myself. Just to see. I'm still pretty sure that I won't be able to hang on those longer climbs. But who knows....

So as we made our way back into town everyone seemed to be pretty glad they went. And even happier that it was over. With a couple months between now and the races. Hopefully we will be able to go back out under nicer circumstances and give it another go. I know I'd like to...

Rubber side down,

Big E

Friday, February 24, 2012

Famous People On Bikes

First off, tomorrow is the Capitol Velo team ride. We are going to go do a loop of the OBRA state road race championship course for this year (Which the team is putting on). If anyone would like to join us we will be starting from the Bike Peddler at 9:30 am in Salem. The ride will be a 2x2 conversational pace ride and should take about 2 1/2 hours. Please come out and join us if you'd like. Also, if it's raining please bring fenders. Thanks!
Second, thank you to everyone for the great input about the Big E's Beer Run. I've already developed some ideas and I think it should be a lot of fun. I'll keep you all posted as new things come up and when we get closer to figuring out a date.


Monica Bellucci from the Matrix Reloaded.

A beautiful Italian and a bicycle... Nothing could go better.

Over the last few months I've been collecting pictures of famous people on bikes from the past and present. I've collected enough now that I thought I would start sharing every Friday.

If it proves to be popular I'll keep doing it. But me being a guy, and Monica Bellucci being who she is I wanted to share this one first.

I hope you all have a great weekend and happy Friday!

Rubber side down,

Big E

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Big E's Beer Run

Mmmm. Beer...

I've been giving event rides some thought lately. Part of me really likes them and part of me does not.

Let me explain.

When you sign up for an event ride there are a lot of pretty cool things about it. Usually there are several routes to choose from. A lot of the time the courses are well marked. Although not always. The Blackberry Bramble in Eugene a couple of years ago comes to mind as a pretty poorly marked route...

The ride back into town had us meander all over the place in an effort to put more miles in. Which in and of itself seems dumb to me. I guess the first time you do 62 miles (I refuse to call it a metric century. It's 62 miles...) or a 100 miles or even a 200 miles (Or 3.2, 62 mile rides in succession.) it's worth making sure you've done the complete mileage. But other than those times. Why is it such a big deal?

"OMG! The course is only 61.1!? I have to get my metric in today!" I mean really... Who the hell cares!?

Back to my Bramble story...

Anyway, we were zigging back and forth on the multi-use paths along the slew and creek. Trying to follow their markers. In an effort to be more "green" (It is Eugene after all.) they used sticker arrows instead of marker paint. And someone thought it would be hilarious to pull them up completely or, even better in my opinion, switched the directions around.

I went to University in Eugene. So I knew something was wrong and re-directed our group back to the start/finish area and told the person in charge what had happened. And they went and fixed the problem. But it was still a giant mess.

But like I was saying before I went off on a tangent. There are a lot of good things about event rides in general. The routes are usually well marked. There is safety in the numbers of cyclists out on the streets. They have water and food stops. Mechanical help for those who need it. Sometimes even cops or flaggers at heavy traffic intersections. And a lot of the times there are specific charities that benefit from these rides.

But there are a lot of detractors about them too.

That many cyclists of all different skill levels on the road at one time causing havoc and usually making the non-cyclist road users pretty pissed off at us. There is also that mob mentality that cyclists get that I've talked about before. You could go blind from all the neon yellow jackets and helmet mirrors...

 And why do we always seem to have to ride for a charity? Please!  Don't clog my email inbox with hate mail. Just hear me out. I think rides that are for charities are great. I really do. You get to ride. They raise some money for a worthy cause. A win/win situation. But it seems like now a days if you don't have a charity connected to an event ride some how its inferior. Or at least not looked at in the same light. Why do all these event rides feel the need to justify themselves, or even identify themselves with a charity? Why can't we ride and event for the love of riding? Or why can't we ride for the love of... beer!?

I know that in the Portland area they have the Tour de Lab which looks like a load of fun (Please note. Also for a very nice charity). But it only goes to their breweries. And it's almost all in the Portland city limits.  Call me old fashioned and non-hipstery. But I like to roll out into the country side. Enjoy some open road. The smells and sounds of nature.  Not the smell of petrulli oil and mustache wax. Besides, my chain wallet and my wife's jeans really starts to chafe my thighs after the first 5 miles or so. And fixie bikes in Skittles colors are so out this year...

And what if I wanted to go to multiple breweries? With friends (And new friends. I like new friends.)?

So I've decided to try and figure out a route that goes to at least three different brewers in the area. Gilgamesh Brewery is a must stop. Seven Brides Brewing is also another thought.  But what do you all think?  Where else should we go? Pale Horse is an option. The RAM Big Horn Brewery and Mcminnumin's are also a possibility. But I know there are a couple more breweries in the Corvallis and Albany areas too. Or should we just make an epic day ride and finish at one of these places?

Let me know your thoughts.

I'd really like this thing to happen. Preferably in the summer when it's sunny and warm. And we can all show our street cred with uber cycling tan lines. I'm excited. Lets do this thing!

Let's do a Big E's Beer Run!

Rubber side down,

Big E

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

First Race Of The Year: The Cherry Pie

Well the first road race of the year is in the books. I had wondered what this race was going to be like for me. I was given the answer...

Painful and humbling come to mind.

For one, the course is pretty rolling. I generally don't do so well on courses like that (Gasp and shock I know.)

Secondly, I didn't know how my legs would feel racing that kind of distance (52 miles). I've done some longer days in the saddle this winter. But nothing anywhere near race intensity. And what intensity I have done has been much shorter. So it was a big question mark in my brain.

Thomas and I arrived at the venue around noon. Our race didn't start until 12:50 (A real luxury for a Cat 4.)  so we signed in. Took care of manly business (The essential PRD (As Graham likes to call it.) Pinned our numbers up and headed for the staging area.

The weather turned out to be really nice. Upper 40's, sunny and windy. I was sort of hoping for biblical rain. Mostly just to scare all the little climbers into quivering globs of jello. You know, so I would worry about one less thing...

As we rolled up we ran into a handful of Salem racers. Which really isn't all that unusual considering how close in proximity the race is. Scott, Rick, Lana, Steph, Lewis, Kenny, Kevin, and Mike were all mixing around the start area waiting for their perspective races to start or cooling down from their's finishing.

I felt pretty good. Calm and collected. But I still had those questions in my head as we started the neutral roll out.

The roll out was pretty long by most standards (2 miles). And it was funny to listen to the guys jadder and joke with all that nervous energy or caffeine or both maybe. Thomas and I were in mid-pack when we rounded the first corner and were given the signal that the race had started.

The speed instantly went from about 17 mph to 31 mph. I had kind of expected this. And since we were headed north bound, with a tailwind, it wasn't to bad. At least initially...

Because of the narrow road and the "strict" no crossing the yellow line rule (I did see several people do it with no ejection notice though.) moving forward in the group was a challenge.  I still remember Loren's advise on moving up in a tight group. "If you stay attentive, and wait. There are almost always holes that you can cruise up into and fill. Wait some more and do it again until you are where you want to be." Which generally works pretty well in the lower categories. I'd be curious to see what he says about that now that he rides with the Cat 1/2.

As we continued on the north bound portion of the course we maintained a speed between 28-31 mph until we hit the first hill. Now this is where I figured I'd find out if I was going to be able to hang or not. Which I did an "okay" job of doing. Then the down hill came...

Did I mention how well a big guy goes down hill? Almost to a fault really. Because I was continually having to ride my brakes to keep from slamming into all the little guys in front of me.

As we started up the second hill (Which is right after the first hill.) it was harder, but still not feeling to bad. I was beginning to feel like this was promising.

Once we were over the second hill the course continues north bound on a pretty flat course. And again the speed rose up to that 28-31mph range. There was a lot less chatter in the group at this point. But I was still feeling pretty good. I was sitting about mid-pack as the peloton made the swing back into a southerly direction.

I was amazed at how the speed slowed.  It went to 17-20 mph almost instantly. And that's where the real yo-yoing of the group started. I wasn't surprised by it. Somebody goes to the front, takes a long pull and then peals off. Only to have everyone else stare at each other for a while. Expecting someone else to take the reins. Then another goes to the front... Rinse and repeat.

The thing about the rinse and repeat cycle for me was that it was wearing me out. I did my best to be towards the front. But for a lot of the back side it's a pretty narrow road. And everyone's huddled together in an attempt to stay out of the wind. Making any shifts in places pretty tough.

With in about 2 miles of the first time around the finishing hill the pace started to gain speed. I knew if I didn't get towards the front of the group by the beginning of the hill I wouldn't be able to do the "sprinters slide" and keep in contact. But there wasn't anything I could do at that point to really change my position.


As we hit the base of the hill (If I had to guess I would say its about 10% grade for about 500 meters.) the road takes a sharp 90 degree turn. And where I was in the pack went from about 22 mph to 9 mph. Then as the elastic in the group started to snap back I gave it everything I had to hang on.

It didn't matter.

I put myself in the eye's popping out of your head, drool hanging down, legs feeling like someone set them on fire kind of place.

It didn't matter.

It's one of the beauties (If it happens to your enemies.) and tragedies (If it happens to you.) of  the sport. There is no hiding.  I can use my brain and all the wily tactics in the book (Minus the illegal ones.) and sometimes it still doesn't matter.  They yelled... I couldn't answer.

So my mind quickly shifted modes. I figured if I could recover on the downhill right after the finish line I might be able to TT my way back into the group. I did the same thing 2 years ago. And I hoped I could repeat the performance.

So on the downhill I ate a gu, drank some water, and tried to get my breathing under control. 

As the road leveled out I gave it everything that I had. I wasn't gaining any distance back but I wasn't losing anymore distance either.

I rolled up on Eddie (Portland Velo). I asked him if he wanted to work. He said yes. So that's exactly what we did. For a while it looked like we were making progress. But as soon as we got to the first hill the wheels started to come off (Not literally.). And by the time we crested the final hill on the north portion of the course the peloton were every bit of a half mile up the road from us.

We were done.

We both eased back on the throttle a bit in anticipation of the headwind section coming up. I figured it was going to be brutal.

I wasn't wrong.

According to Eddie's fancy cycle computer up to that point in the race we were only .1 mph slower than that section of the last lap. I don't know if he was right or blowing smoke up my ass. But it seamed like we were flying.

As soon as we turned south again. It felt like we almost came to a stand still. Our pulls were getting shorter and I was starting to get a fairly serious cramp in my left butt cheek which persisted for the rest of the race.

Every time I tucked in behind Eddie I would stretch my ass the best I could. Drink some and eat a little more too.

As the race wore on Eddie's pace got slower and the duration of his pulls were getting shorter. I didn't mind at this point to be honest. We both were just in survival mode.

With about a mile and half to go the road started to gently climb. I looked back and I had accidentally gapped him. I slowed up, waved my hand for him catch up to me and told him we had gone this far together we might as well finish. He grunted it out for the first portion of the hill and as we made that damn turn that I screwed myself on the first lap he started to fade a bit again.  I didn't speed away by any means. But at this point I just wanted it to be over. So I left him to finish and trudged my way to the line.

I was lucid enough this time around to notice all the spectators and cyclists waiting around the finish line. Staring at my like a rack of yard tools at Sears. Most with indifference, others with sympathy. I won't lie. It made me miss cyclocross a little. Even just to have a bit of cheering would have made me feel better. Meh. What can you do? You can't change a tigers stripes. And these tigers just have silent stripes, that's all.

So I finished.  I felt good where I figured I would. I felt bad where I knew I would. It was beautiful day. And despite the ass whooping I received I'm glad I did it.

I do think I'm going to pass on the Banana Belt Series this year though. I don't know. Maybe I'll change my mind. We'll see...

Thanks for reading!

Rubber side down,

Big E

Friday, February 17, 2012

100 Year Old Breaks Hour Record!

I saw this article today on another blog. So cool I had to share!

Rubber side down (Until we are all his age.),

Big E

French cyclist breaks age group record for The Hour - three months after his 100th birthday

'Chapeau' doesn't seem to do justice to achievement of centenarian who is still going strong in the saddle

by Simon_MacMichael on February 17, 2012 - 13:30
Robert Marchand (picture credit UCI)

A 100-year-old cyclist from France has set a new age group world record for The Hour an incredible 86 years after his first competitive race.
Robert Marchand, who lives in Mitry-Mory near Paris, had to enter that debut race under an assumed name because he was too young to compete.
Today, at the track at the World Cycling Centre (WCC) in Aigle, he rode 24.251 kilometres in the allotted time, and explained, “I’m not playing at being a champion. I just wanted to do something for my 100th birthday,” reports the UCI. The previous record distance was not revealed.
Marchand, who celebrated his 100th birthday on 26 November – the Titanic was still being fitted out in Belfast when he was born, and the First World War was yet to come – made his world record attempt following a request Gérard Mistler, Président of the Ardéchoise Cyclo-Promotion – the centenerian is a perennial entrant to the cyclosportive, launched in 1992 when he was a sprightly 79 years of age.
“I think he is a human example of the benefits of cycling,” commented Mistler. “The fact that this record is established at the WCC, headquarters of the International Cycling Union, is truly symbolic.”
Marchand admitted that he was a bit rusty when it came to track cycling, and spent four days this week familiarising himself with the venue before his successful record attempt today.
“I haven’t cycled on a track for 80 years,” he revealed. “You have to get used to the fixed gear! I prefer cycling outside but that is impossible at the moment.”
Snow in Switzerland also meant that he had to keep an eye on his health. “I don’t want to catch the flu. So I am short on training,” he explained.
The cyclist was coached by 40-year-old Magali Humbert, former World Juniors Champion and a multiple French national track champion on the track.
“The track is small. You just turn round and round,” Marchand said earlier this week.  “I could keep going for another hour. I’ve been told not to raise my pulse too high so I’m not even tired.”
He added that he tries to follow doctors’ orders not to let his pulse go over 110, but said that isn’t always possible.
“I did climb a steep hill not long ago and went up to 134 but it’s best to avoid that,” he revealed. “But I would be very surprised if I had heart attack,” he continued, revealing that in the build-up to the record attempt he had undergone a cardiograph for the first time in his life. It showed his heart was in great shape.
“For the last five years I have decided not to go for rides of more than 100km,” he went on, adding with supreme understatement, “There is no point going overboard. I want to keep cycling for some time yet.”
His exploits have led to a mountain pass being named after him in the Ardèche, the Col Robert Marchand, which not by coincedence has an elevation of 911 metres – the last three digits of his year of birth.
Asked what his secret is, Marchand, whose former jobs included being gym instructor to the Paris fire department plus three years as a lumberjack in Canada, explained: “I’ve never abused anything. I don’t smoke, I never drank much. The only thing I did in excess was work. I retired at 89 years old!”
Cycling wasn’t the only sport he turned his hand – in the past, he was a boxer, gymnast and weightlifter. Of the latter, Marchand said, “I was good. I could have been a champion.
“But basically,” he concluded, “I am like everybody. I am lucky that I haven’t had any major health problems. My advice to anyone, young or old, is to keep moving. I do ‘physical culture’ every day. It works out my whole body and keeps me supple. Some people when they reach 80 years old, start playing cards and they stay immobile. Not me. I’ve never been able to keep still…”

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day

I know most every blog and Facebook post and tweet out there today is about Valentine's Day.  And while I don't normally conform to such social pressure (I'm a contrarian that way.) I am feeling in a mushy mood.
In part because I met the love of my life while cycling and as I've stated before I also love to ride my bike.


So that's a lot of love not to post at least a little something in commemoration of the holiday of cheap stuffed toys and candy(And something about of a Catholic saint who lost his head.).

Isn't she pretty!?

My beautiful wife and I originally met when I had decided to make a change in my life.

I was fat, out of shape and unhappy.  We both were still married to other people at the time. And I can honestly say the thought of my being with her never crossed my mind.  She was just fun Hollie who I enjoyed jabbering with from time to time on a ride.

Then my world started to fall down around my ears...

My marriage was failing and I felt like a failure.

Cycling was the only real bright spot in my life.  I could go out and focus on nothing but the task at hand for an hour or two and not worry. It was blissful in its simplicity.

Effort in = happiness out.

And as I worked through the divorce and starting a new chapter in my life I discovered that Hollie was going through the same thing. Unbeknownst to me or anyone else really.

When I discovered she was in the same boat, the way I looked at her changed. I saw this beautiful woman that if I had the stones I was going to ask out on a date.

I asked a mutual friend what he thought about me asking her out and he said that I should absolutely do it. And that he thought she was totally into me. Well that was all the encouragement I needed.

So I took the plunge.

At the bike shop (Of course...) I asked it if she would like to go out on a date with me. And I'll never forget her response, "I'd love to!"

That was the best question I've ever asked. I'm sure it's the best question I'll ever ask. Along with the best response...

We instantly clicked. And I would say that within 3 months I knew she was the one for me. (Hot chocolate, bacon and pancakes are the way to a man's heart. In case you were wondering...)

But we had both been wrong in the past. So we dated for a couple of years (I have this theory that you're going to see most every aspect of a someones personality with in that amount of time.). And on a beautiful bike ride (Of course.) at the Oregon coast I asked her to be my wife.

This is where the deed was done.

I'm not saying that it's always been farting rainbows and unicorns. But even at the worst of times. It has been better with her by my side.

I love you Hollie.

Happy Valentine's day.

Rubber side down,

Big E

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Cars Vs. Bikes

A common scene in Portland.

The last few rides that I have been on have had a really unfortunate theme to them. All have had, to varying degrees, altercations with cars. Well, drivers to be more specific.

Now I've been riding long enough to have pretty tough skin. A driver honks (Aggressively. Not in a, "Hey, I'm behind you." kinda a way.) or passes me at an uncomfortably close distance at a really high rate of speed. These things happen often enough (Unfortunately.) the I can let them go pretty easily.

Other times drivers want to yell at me or throw things because they think its funny. Or maybe because I have inconvenienced them for a few seconds. Halted their progress and not allowed them to go at the speed they want to go, when they want to do it.

I'm often amazed by how a normally rational person can get behind the wheel of a car and turn into a completely unreasonable, angry and aggressive person.

I'm not immune to that either. There have been times when I felt like I was going to go out of my mind because traffic wasn't going the speed I wanted. I've caught myself saying things about other people on the road when I'm behind the wheel of my car too. Hell, I 've even said a few things about cyclists out on the road when I was behind the wheel of my car.

And I guess that's what sort of brings me to my point. People are people. There is always going to be a percentage of the population that are either ignorant to the rules, think they are above the rules or quite frankly, just don't give a shit about the rules. They feel like they're above them. At least at that specific moment.

Drivers get that way when they get behind the wheel of a car. Their attitude changes. Even their demeanour. They are safe behind painted metal and glass. Protected from the elements and become detached from all that is happening outside of their metal box.

You are number one!

A walker, runner, or cyclist is no longer a living, breathing human being. At least not in the sense of how you would perceive them if you bumped into them in the hall. They are now road furniture. Things that encumber the right of passage of a car. An irritant on a commute.

And then take pedestrians (Of which cyclists are a part.). They jay walk and act like your not there waiting for them to cross. You have runners with dogs on extraordinarily long leashes. That could pop out into the road way at any minute. You have cyclists riding the wrong way in the street. Or darting in and out of traffic. Ignoring traffic rules and signals. And then there are groups...

Big, giant groups. Riding from white to yellow paint stripe. Crossing the yellow line on blind hills. Ignoring the rules of the road. Emblazoned with the power of their own sheer numbers...

So here's the thing.

There are always going to be dumb, aggressive, dangerous drivers out there. If I were to guess, I would say probably 10% (My own totally subjective guess.) of the drivers out there are like this. And regardless of the rules or how much we try. That number is likely going to stay about the same.

And you know what. I would say the number of dumb, aggressive, dangerous cyclists out there is about the same.

I think it's got more to do with being human than anything.

Now please don't get me wrong. I am not talking about momentary laps in judgment. We all have had, and will continue to have, those moments. It's just part of being a human being.

But lets take a realistic look at our perspective groups reputations and why we have them. While they may be gross exaggerations of the truth, the reason that we have those reputations is because of repeated incidences. So let's not all act like they're completely unfounded.

So the next time you're behind the wheel of your car and you about to go ballistic on someone because you're behind schedule. Take a breath. And remember that they are human too.

And if you're out cycling. Understand your rights as a cyclist. But also be nice. Be aware. Be courteous. Have fun. And be safe....

Rubber side down,

Big E

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Bert And Lance...

It has been a pretty interesting week in regards to doping. First, with the verdict in favor of Lance Armstrong. Secondly, with Bert getting the boot for 6 months (Even though technically it's a "2 year" ban.). I have several thoughts on both these subjects. So lets start with one and move to the other.

 Alberto Contador has been stripped of his 2010 Tour de France title as well as his 2011 Giro d'Italia and all the other races that he's partaken in between the 2010 Tour and now. Which, if he cheated I don't disagree with. And since clenbuterol is a zero tolerance drug in professional cycling I lean towards the "so bad so sad" defense for Bert and tell him to suck it up. Take it like a man. And come back swinging.  Which considering the type of champion he is, I'm sure he will.

What really cooks me about this whole thing is two fold.

First, is the time in which it took them to come to a conclusion. Now I'm sure that between lawyers, the Spanish Cycling Federation (Who are known for their helpfulness and objectivity when it comes to condemning one of their own.), WADA and the UCI that this case was never going to be in the nine items or lest check out counter. But still, a year and a half!? That's pretty ridiculous even by "normal" court standards. And when you have a kangaroo court system like the UCI and CAS have. You would think coming up with the inevitable guilty verdict that both those courts always seem to conclude with (Seriously, have they ever lost a case?) wouldn't take that long.  But perhaps the particular brand of "justice" that the UCI dishes out runs at a molasses like pace. It sure appears that way.

None to surprising too was how quick and pointed the defense that a lot of the professional cycling community had (Particularly the Spanish riders, retired and current.) with the announcement of the guilty verdict.  He is obviously well liked in with in the peloton.  I mean, how could you not!? With those big brown sad eyes. Just makes me want to hoist him up on my knee and tell him everything will be okay...

I mean look at him. So sorrowful. Like a little puppy...
 But that brings me to the second aspect of this case that just chaps my ass.

They decide to allow him to continue to race after the 2010 Tour de France under a cloud of suspicion that he doped. And Bert being Bert continues to pile up the wins. Which is none to surprising really. But then once the verdict has been passed down that he's guilty and that he forfeits his "wins" from then until now. What about all the other racers that were near or close to winning? Or even for that matter close to the podium? That could make or break a contract for some guys. It could mean bonuses and vacations with their kids on sun filled beaches instead of flogging themselves at another race in order to continue their career for another year or few.

I don't blame Bert for wanting to continue to race. If I was in his shoes I would probably do the same thing. Especially after the Spanish Cycling Federation gave him the go ahead. But if the UCI/WADA were so sure that they were going to close the deal on this case (And lets be serious. We all knew that eventually they would.). They should never have allowed him to continue on.

I realize that all this case is complicated and that hind sight is 20/20. But how would you feel if you get a call saying, "Oh by the way, now you're on the podium for the 2011 Giro d'Italia. Congratulations!" It would be hollow at the most and mean nothing at the least.  There should be a more professional way of doing this. On all sides.

It's easy to say that Bert cheated and there for boo on him. But when you take into account Floyd Landis (The other tour winner who had his title stripped.) and that he admits to cheating, but never taking testosterone (Which is what he was busted for.) during the tour. It makes me wonder about the legitimacy of the tests themselves. Especially the tiny amount of clenbuterol that was found in Ol'Berty boy.

The fact though is that the burden of proving innocents lays in the hands of the defendant. Versus the court proving guilt. But that is a common theme when you look at the history of doping cases of the last decade or so. It's almost impossible to show without a shadow of a doubt that Contador didn't dope. And ultimately that's where he failed.

So lets digress into the age old drama of Lancy-poo.

"Burn my dust! Eat my rubber!"
The US Attorney's Office has officially closed the case against Lance.


The large "duh" bomb is dropped by Captain Obvious.

I think everyone knew that Lance was never going to be found guilty of anything with in this huge investigation. Weather he was guilt or not.  If there is one thing that the US court system has proven time and time again is that the guy with the best lawyers wins. Period. End of statement.

I know that a vast majority of the general public only has a faining interest in the case. Even at the beginning. And that the insular world of cycling has been polarized on this subject from the very beginning (In fact I'm sure I'll get a couple comments or emails about writing this piece regardless of how neutral or subjective I am about it.).

Saint Lance!

He's so swell!

Lance is the deble!

"That boy is the deble!!!"
But I do think the most interesting part of it is how, evidently, one person at the US Attorney's Office can shut it down. It feels like a scene in a movie where the head of some super secret spy group tells everyone to shut it down. And everyone just disappears into the ether.

With the sudden closer of the case. A great number of people begin to ask why. And that's legitimate. I'll have a link at the bottom of this post to an NPR correspondent talking about both cases. But in particular the seemingly overwhelming amount evidence against Lance. And why the US Attorney's decided that there wasn't enough to pursue it in court.

When you hear the water cooler talk of who testified. What they saw him do. Or take or whatever. And then just have it dropped like that is intriguing to say the least.

My guess is that there was no real smoking gun to nail him with. Something beyond a couple of witnesses that could be shown to have an axe to grind in court. But who knows... I doubt any of us really will ever know what truly went down.

Lance and his camp came out and proclaimed the victory. Which it really was. The government was really the only player in this whole huge saga that had any real power.

The USADA can pick up the ball and continue the investigation. Of course without all the information or witness testimony. Because once the official government case was closed all that great stuff is sealed forever. So I'm sure with the huge budget that the USADA has, they will jump right on that and make Lance give back all his jerseys. Pfff... What a crock.

And really even if they had all the evidence and money in the world what good would it do? People can wax on about justice and the correct thing to do. But the problems with the system run far deeper than Mr. Armstrong. We have un-professionalism and corruption on every level. We have groups and persons doing and saying things they shouldn't at every turn of the process.

If it were my toy to play with I think I would cut everything down but the races and racers and start over...

But of course there is even more to the story. With whispers of cover up and back room deals are rampant on Twitter and the interwebs.  So the fariswheel will continue around and around for the foreseeable future.  I will be curious if it finally stops or blows up in spectacular fashion. Stay tuned...

Thanks for reading. Sorry it's been awhile (Broken record, I know.). I've got a few things brewing. So you should see more activity on here. Along with the fact that the race season (Mine and the PROs.) is starting to pick up again.

Rubber side down,

Big E