Friday, October 26, 2012

The Lance Armstrong Debacle: Part 1

There is so much to this story that there would be no possible way (Without a mutiny anyway.) for me to write it in one long drawn out post. So I'm going to break it up into a few. For my sanity as well as yours (You're welcome.)

Just to get the ball rolling I want to say a generalized statement for how I feel about all of this.

This ordeal does not change the way I feel about cycling as a whole.

I love this sport. I'm in. All the way baby. Warts and all.

I will continue to ride and race my bicycle.

I will continue to watch and take an active interest in professional cycling.

I will continue to wax poetic, rant and scream, be frustrated, and be joyful for a sport that is pretty damn important to me.

I wanted to say that ahead of time because this rabbit hole gets pretty deep and dark.  And the thoughts and feelings I have about all this may make it seem like I believe there is no hope. But nothing could be farther from the truth.

As some pretty serious bad ass old dude once said, "A little revolution now and then is a good thing."

So let the revolution begin!

I sincerely hope cycling's infrastructure does have a revolution, get torn down and built back up. Learning from the mistakes of the past in order to help it's future along the way.

But I wouldn't hold my breath...

The history of cycling is a also a history of cheating.

If you read anything at all about the history of professional cycling you will see a huge string of cheating.

The very first person to win the Tour de France (Maurice Garin) was caught hopping a train during a stage of the tour.

He must have been really excited to get a hug from the guy with the hat.
Stories of using opiates, cocaine, and alcohol were common place in the early years of the 20th century (And later 19th century as well.) during races.
After WWII came along, the drug of choice switched over to amphetamines.  Because of all of our fly boys leaving them over there (They used them to stay awake during bombing runs.). To be able to go harder and longer (Huh, huh) in an endurance sport was a big advantage.

And just so we are all clear, a ton of the major champions were doped to the eyeballs at one point or another. Fausto Coppi, Jacque Anquetil, the great Eddie Merckx and a myriad of other great riders either admitted to doping or were straight up busted throughout the years.

I'm not advocating or trying to make excuses for dopers or doping. I just want all of this new crap to have some context.

I believe a certain amount of cheating in endemic to the sport. I know that sounds jaded. And maybe it is a little. But if you look at the facts. If you look at the history. About once every ten years or so we have a major scandal. Things seemingly get straightened out and the people in power at that time claim a new "clean" beginning and the process starts all over again.

But why does it start over again? Why doesn't it really turn around?

Good questions (Thank you.).

Part of it is just what I said. Cheating is built into the sport. If you're not pushing the rules and doing everything that is within your power to win then you're not trying hard enough. You can't have the same people that bent the rules, that looked the other way, or out right broke the rules being the one's in power for the next generation.  It's like having a grandfather beating their son. Then that son grows up and beats his own kid... A lot of this behavior is taught generationally. We have to break that cycle.

And if you think we are doing that now. Just take a look at some of the new (Or old for that matter.) directors for some of the teams (Katusha and Astana come to mind.). Do you honestly think that these guys are going to be the ones to teach a new generation how to race clean!? Please...

The second part of the equation is the structure of the governing bodies of cycling. I've never seen a bigger mess in my life. We have in a lot of cases a minimum of three different governing bodies trying to keep their fingers in the pie at any one given moment. And it's constant power struggle between them on who gets what and why. It's ridiculous.

We can have the UCI, WADA, ASO, the national cycling federations and their anti-doping governing bodies, the team associations, plus the non-existent professional cyclists union all trying to make the rules for everyone else to follow.

The UCI is the worst offender. Which I will get into in Part 2 on Monday.

But until then. You all have a little homework (Hey! Quiet down back there!) to do.

I want you to read this blog piece by Robert Millar.  For those of you that don't know who he is. He was the first Englishman to win the Poke-a-dot jersey in the Tour de France in 1984. A pretty serious bad ass climber and up until Wiggo's win this year the highest finisher for a Brit in the Tour. In other words, he has street cred.

It's a very well written article and with the exception of disagreeing with him about the "Old omerta" not being able to stop the new generation from speaking out (Just look at how speaking out worked out for Levi Liepheimer, Bobby Julich, and Matty White. Not so good...). Its a very worthy read.

Thanks for reading!

Rubber side down,

Big E

Monday, October 15, 2012

Alpenrose Cross Crusade Pictures

Well now it seems like forever ago. With the rains having returned and the cross courses getting quite a bit more muddy. These pictures evoke what seems like forever ago. But I really wanted to get them out for all to see. Sorry for the delay...

Jarod rocking the stairs.


Graham-a working it through the off camber section.

Martha looking tough.

Me hiding my pain face behind the ribbon.

Ross killing it in the single speed category.

Cletus running like he stole something.

Donald rocking it in the A Category.

Tony Jr. climbing "the wall".

Tina making it look easy.

Barry Wicks at the top of the wall.

D and Emmit watching the B race.

Mr T trudging up the run up.

I'm really glad I washed my car the day before.
Thanks for looking!

Rubber side down,

Big E

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Big George Admits To Doping

George Hincapie has admitted to doping during his US Postal/Discovery Team years. He is just one more in the barrage of former Lance Armstrong teammates that are coming forward before the USADA makes public the 1000 page case they have put up as proof of Lance and the US Postal Team's organized doping program.

George's statement:

For over 30 years I have dedicated my life to cycling. I have always been determined to compete at the highest level, in one of the most physically demanding sports. With hard work and success have come great blessings from the sport I love.
Teammates have become dear friends and I have worked hard to earn the respect of my competitors. I have been associated with managers and team officials whose professionalism is unparalleled. Wonderful fans have supported my family and me since I began this great journey. For all of this and more, I am truly grateful and proud.
Because of my love for the sport, the contributions I feel I have made to it, and the amount the sport of cycling has given to me over the years, it is extremely difficult today to acknowledge that during a part of my career I used banned substances. Early in my professional career, it became clear to me that, given the widespread use of performance enhancing drugs by cyclists at the top of the profession, it was not possible to compete at the highest level without them. I deeply regret that choice and sincerely apologize to my family, teammates and fans.
Quietly, and in the way I know best, I have been trying to rectify that decision. I have competed clean and have not used any performance enhancing drugs or processes for the past six years. Since 2006, I have been working hard within the sport of cycling to rid it of banned substances. During this time, I continued to successfully compete at the highest level of cycling while mentoring young professional riders on the right choices to make to ensure that the culture of cycling had changed.
About two years ago, I was approached by US Federal investigators, and more recently by USADA, and asked to tell of my personal experience in these matters. I would have been much more comfortable talking only about myself, but understood that I was obligated to tell the truth about everything I knew. So that is what I did.
Cycling has made remarkable gains over the past several years and can serve as a good example for other sports. Thankfully, the use of performance enhancing drugs is no longer embedded in the culture of our sport, and younger riders are not faced with the same choice we had.
I am proud to be part of the cycling community, and believe we continue to make positive changes to our sport. I applaud the extraordinary achievements of my fellow riders on and off the bike. Cycling is an incredible sport that not only requires unbelievable physical ability to ride hundreds of miles a day for many days on end; it also requires a certain type of dedication, ambition and character. I have been fortunate to compete with teammates whose commitment and talent will be hard to match. As a rider I have dedicated a large part of my career to helping those teammates succeed. As I begin the next chapter in my cycling life, I look forward to playing a significant part in developing, encouraging and helping young riders to compete and win with the best in the world.

It's sad and liberating all in the same breathe.

I'm glad George came forward. Just like Frankie Andreu did. Just like Jonathan Vaughters did. Just like I'm glad that Tyler Hamilton did. Just like I'm glad Floyd Landis did. And I'm sure by the time the dust settles from this whole malay there will be at least a few more that come forward as well (Levi, Dave Z, etc...). That's the liberating part.

I'm very hopeful that through all these guys breaking omerata (The code of silence in pro cycling.) that some real change will come. Hopefully for the better.

I'm also hopeful that something will be done with the UCI and the corruption that has plagued that place for years. But I get the sad feeling that that would be a hail-Mary pass that would take a miracle to happen. Like the lab tech that was involved in the meeting with Lance, Hien and Johan after Lance's alleged positive doping test at the Tour de Swiss for example. If that person came forward we might have enough fire power to root the dead wood out of the UCI. One can dream...

What I'm sad about is that we even needed to go through this in the first place. That the peer pressure for these racers was so fierce that they felt like they had no choice if they wanted to stay with in the sport. That the things that they had worked so hard for up to that point had no meaning unless they took the needle to continue to pursuit of their dreams.

Also find it sad that these men didn't come out with this information until after their cycling (At least on the bike.) careers were over. I mean I get it. You don't want to rock the boat while you're in it. But it makes this whole process drag out that much longer. I don't know. I'm sure that if I were in their situation I probably would have done the same thing. Unless I had a really good back-up plan.


It's going to be big day.

The USADA is suppose to have some more information out later today.  I'll rant about it as it comes out...

Until then.

Rubber side down,

Big E

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Un-freaking-believable Video!!!

Good Morning Boys and Girls!

I know that I said I would have something up here about the cross race and I will. Scouts honor.  But I was surfing Twitter this morning and happened upon a link to this YouTube video. I know that I had a video up here yesterday too. I won't make this blog into a catch all for any stupid video or humorous poster with piano playing cats I promise. But what this guy does is easily the most impressive thing I've ever seen anyone do on a road bike. It appears like the video hasn't been out for a very long but I anticipate it going viral quickly. It's to impressive not too...

Thanks for watching.

Rubber side down,

Big E

Monday, October 8, 2012

Red Bull Rampage

So this last weekends worth of racing will be up tomorrow. Due to sickness my two camera crew was brought down to a one and half man camera crew. One being Thomas (Thanks again Train!) the half being a monkey that failed out of calculus class but still has a remarkable grasp of fore, middle and background.

I will have some pictures and words to go with those pictures up tomorrow.

But something else that was one the TV and interwebs this weekend was the Reb Bull Rampage. After watching the winning run on Dicky's Blog I felt compelled to put it on here as well. It's a very impressive run. Especially the sweet jump right before he embraces all his homies in a pseudo-homo-erotic embrace.  The stuff at the top of his run also made me want to pee my pants a little (In a non-golden showers kind of way.).

Hope you enjoy,

Thanks for watching.

Rubber side down,

Big E

Friday, October 5, 2012

Heiser Farms And Alpenrose Cross Crusade

This weekend the cyclocross season really kicks off with the Heiser Farms cyclocross race on Saturday in Dayton. Put on by Capitol Velo's sister team (No real relation. Just guys and girls from around the Salem area that ride and race bikes together.) Buy Local Cycling. But also the first race in the Cross Crusade series up at Alpenrose Velodrome up in Portland. Most racer's plates are really full.

My plate is only half full as I will more than likely just be doing the Crusades race. It pains me because the Heiser Farms race is closer and put on by a friend. But as of of this moment I just don't see it in the cards. But it makes me wince when I watch this super awesome video:

Heiser Farms 2012 preview lap from Matt Haughey on Vimeo.

I mean, were those whoops!? Maybe if they promise to take me around on the hay trailer I'll change my mind. Hmmm....

Maybe I'll switch up and do that one instead. We shall see...

I was going to piggy back a tutorial on how to properly glue up tubulars along with the announcement of the cross season really starting in earnest. But I think I've decided to make that it's own post. Just because I like to hook you guys like that.

But what I will do is bring back something that has gotten several mentions on the interwebs as being missed. Which is of course...

Famous Fridays!!!!!

Please, don't ever say I'm not a giver.

Monday I should have some quality pictures up from the race. Since we should have two, (count'em!!) two! DSLR cameras roaming the country side putting the photographers in uncomfortable positions just to get the best shots for you, our special and valued customers.

Like I said, I'm a giver.

So without further ado...

Rubber side down,

Big E

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Battle at Barlow

All I can hear is my heart in my ears and the steady sound of me sucking in wind and then wheezing it out. Despite my best attempt of concentrating on the correct lines to take I keep getting distracted by sweat dripping from the tip of my helmet down onto my stem and handle bars. Making me wish once again that I had worn a cap underneath my helmet so it at least wouldn't be dripping into my eyes during this whole process.
I get to the top of those God damn stairs and again go to leap on my my bike.

Chain bounced off again!

I quickly start to fumble with the chain trying to get in back on. But between the glasses and my oxygen depredated state you might as well ask a monkey to do calculus. Once I finally get the chain back on and undoubtedly another dozen guys have passed me in the process, I see B just behind the first row of the crowd looking sorry and concerned for my pitiful state.

In one simultaneous motion I yell, "Brison!" and throw my useless sunglasses at him. They get tossed into the pit of his elbow like I was a quarterback hitting the numbers on a wide receiver. Almost like I knew what I was doing. That felt good. But the feeling was fleeting...

Once I had remounted my machine and continued to whined my way through the woods. Darting in and out of the strobing sun light like some sort of rave party that had forgotten the X-tabs and glow sticks. I finally start to head down hill. Only this time instead of dappled sun light through the trees I've traded it for three inches of fine powdered dust. The kind that doesn't let you know whats hidden underneath. The kind that makes your lungs hurt like that crap shake you use to smoke back in college when you had nothing else left. Fuck, I can still feel it in the back of my sinuses and throat.

I'm bouncing around holding onto the bars with every fiber of my being. Just trying to concentrate on what's twenty yards ahead and what's coming around the next bend.

Another hill.

This ones in the light and at least there isn't any more of that dust. All I can hear is the wheezing sound again. Only this time it isn't from me. It's the guy who's passing me. Great...

I look up as he passed and notice a camper sitting on the ground with blackberries sprouting out of the side like its the best kind of fertilizer. I see an old mountain bike. The kind with the solid triangle/handle bar combination. The thought of, I wonder if it's got air in the tires? passes through my head.

I'm just grasping now. Trying to come up with any form of escape. Anything to get my mind and body out of this pain that I'm inflicting on it at this very moment. Why am I doing this again? Oh yeah, it's fun...

That's bullshit.

Or at least at that moment it's bullshit. This is anything but fun.

I hurt.

I'm tired.

I have no go.

I have bonked in the most spectacular of fashions. It's my own damn fault...

Let's go through the list.

1. I didn't hydrated.
2. I didn't eat enough.
3. I didn't warm up.
4. I didn't preview the whole course.

I hadn't prepared like I normally do and I was paying the price.

I pathetically hop off the bike to do the triple barriers and I hear a voice. It's a small girl yelling, "You are one in a million!!!" It made me smile.  Once I was through the barriers I jumped back on and I felt better. Not super man mind you. Not a, I'm going to tear every one's legs off, kind of better. But still up beat.

I make my way through the chicane with ground that was bumpy enough to rattle fillings loose and get back on to the gravel road where all this suffering started. Only this time instead of feeling like I was going to roll slowly and steadily to a stop I knew I would finish.

Even if I came in last fucking place. I was going to finish.

Just as this thought was welling up inside my brain. Like a spark of hope in a very dark and desperate night. I saw someone pass. I will stay with him until the end . I pushed hard to latch on. The final moments seemed like forever. As we made the turn to get on the asphalt. All I could do was lower myself into the drops and hang on. We went around the corner and up a rise into the light that was shining down on the final two corners. I dug. He saw me coming up the outside. I pushed a little more. Simultaneously accelerating and bunny hopping a speed bump. I lunged for the line.

Not one of those half-assed lunges you do when you just want to make sure that your tire goes across first. No, this was a lunge to save my life. This was a lunge to prove to myself that I'm not a quitter. That I can still make it through something hard and wrenching and be okay. All I could see was the nose of my saddle and the small white strip of tape that was the finish line.

I was done.

My lungs were on fire. The wheezing was back. Only this time I wasn't the only one. There was a large group of us, heads down, chests heaving in an orchestral sound that along with a freewheel clicking sounds and that awful sound of bikes crashing should be on the soundtrack of cyclocross. My sweat still dripping on the stem and this time my gloves as well as I try and catch my breathe that has passed me by a long time ago.

And I was done... Until next weekend.

Thanks for reading.

Rubber side down,

Big E