Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Calling On The Media

By now, everyone knows that Lance Armstrong has admitting to doping in order to win his 7 Tours De France. Those who follow the sport of bicycle racing closely also know, or believe to know, that the sport's governing body may have been complicit in helping Armstrong cheat his way to the top. In the aftermath of the United States Anti-Doping Agency's (USADA) Reasoned Decision against Armstrong, USADA, the World Anti-Doping Association (WADA), the International Cycling Union (UCI), and other groups such as Change Cycling Now (CCN), have been engaged in a back and forth but otherwise fruitless pissing contest of a press release battle. The UCI at one point established a supposedly Independent Commission to investigate its links to Armstrong, but just yesterday shut it down without providing requested information to the commission.

The net result of three months of work following the Reason Decision is zero. Absolutely nothing has changed. The people most responsible for this dark era of cycling are still in place. The deniers continue to believe that Lance Armstrong was not wrong for doing what he did. No one else who has been implicated in any of the wider doping conspiracies are being taken to task. I also do not believe that the riders themselves will do what is necessary to affect change. The fans will continue to follow the sport no matter what. So it is incumbent upon the cycling media to band together and take a stand. They need to threaten a blackout of the sport.

Considering what we've seen so far, from riders to team personnel to certain backers of Lance Armstrong to those in power, outright asking any of them to do anything is a pipe dream. I believe that the UCI's own hubris has blinded it to the reality of the situation. Those within who are drunk with power believe they are untouchable. It is time to remind them that they are not. I think the only way to do this is to take their crown jewels, their cash cows, away from the public. If no one can watch a particular race, the sponsors lose exposure. The bicycle industry in general also loses positive exposure. No one sees their products being ridden by or on the backs of those who would animate the race. And when sponsors aren't happy, no body is happy. When Scrooge McDuck can't swim in a pool of money, as the likes of Hein Verbruggen and Pat McQuiad (past and current presidents of the UCI) are keen to do, changes get made. It's time to drain the pool.

To be clear, I'm not trying to put the media at risk of going out of business, and I recognize the challenges that they may face in undertaking this action. What I am proposing is that those in charge at publications like Velonews, Cyclingnews, Cycling Weekly, Cycle Sport, Peloton Magazine, La Gazzetta Dello Sport, and L'Equipe, among others, as well as broadcasters like Eurosport, Sporza, Sky, RAI, SBS, Universal Sports, and Versus all come together and put out a mandate that unless the UCI changes, they will not cover the UCI's top level World Tour events. These are the events like the spring classics, such as Milan-San Remo and Paris-Roubaix, stage races like the Dauphine, and the grand tours of the Giro, Le Tour, and Vuelta. Essentially a full media blackout of the events that make the most money. It would not be a total blackout, however; all of those entities would full and well be able to continue to cover any news from the industry itself, as well as smaller continental, regional and local races. But they should threaten to cut off the public's access to the bigger events. The ones that everyone wants to see. The ones that feed and support the long-standing corruption at the UCI.

If anyone thinks that the current path will lead to change, you need to remove yourself from the debate. You are wrong. The UCI shut down it's own investigative panel. It spent years backing Armstrong's claim of innocence. It has tried to silence many before me who have questioned it, like Floyd Landis, Paul Kimmage, and David Walsh. Many of the people most responsible for the drugs epidemic; team directors like Bjarne Riis and Johan Bruyneel, as well as notorious doctors Michele Ferrari and Eufemiano Fuentes, have all been uncooperative and defiant in the face of so many allegations against them. The riders themselves only protest when the police enforce doping laws, and want everyone to just move on. Based on the way the fans gave Lance a 'carte jaune' to operate, we can't expect them to properly organize and motivate change on their own. That leaves the media. The one group with the true power to shut it down. Or at least threaten to do so. Sure, the UCI might survive a lack of coverage for some events. But I doubt seriously it would survive a nuclear option such as a blacked out Paris-Roubaix

I do love the sport, in case you thought otherwise. I want to see it continue and prosper. But I am sick and tired of the same crap that has been going on for decades without any recourse. Because of my intent to attempt the Hour Record, I consider myself to be vested in this process. I cannot support the UCI in its current state. If I am to make a legitimate attempt, I have no choice to do so. I have to buy a license from USA Cycling, whom I also have qualms against due to their relationships with Lance. I have to pay the UCI to verify and validate my attempt. I have to pay for a UCI official to be on hand during the attempt. With the current doped and re-infused blood on it's hands, I do not want to give a single cent of my or my sponsors money to this corrupt organization. That is why this matters to me. And that is why I am asking the cycling media to help.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Some other organizations doing some good

Wanted to take a moment today to share a story from a local (Indianapolis) group doing work to spread the word about riding your bike. In particular, they are focused on helping kids lead healthy and active lifestyles through bicycle racing.

Here's a link to their press release: Nine13 Sports and ROLLFAST

Good luck to the both of them.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Sorry for the downtime

Seeing as it is winter, there really isn't too much to report. Outdoor rides are few and far between right now, and unfortunately, even trainer time has not been great. I'm still searching for that first big sponsor and hope to know something from the latest attempt next week.

I have managed to swap out my outer chain ring and my stem, as well as working on my fit and set up. The chain ring change was purely cosmetic. The frame on my Rocky Mountain Solo CXR is black while the outer ring had been grey. It was the only 50T the shop had when I bought the bike, and I wanted to upgrade from the stock 46T. The new 50T ring is back to the original black and just looks so nice. The stem was mostly another cosmetic change as well. I replaced the original black Easton stem with a white Origin-8 model. The white now matches the white saddle and bar tape. During this process I also flipped the stem over to raise my bars to see if it helped any with some of my comfort issues I had been having, and it seems to have helped.

Raising my handlebars further encouraged me to take another look at my bike fit. I've been battling discomfort and a sore hip for a year, I know that most of it is being caused by a slight leg length inequality; my right being longer than my left. Shimming the left cleat alone didn't seem to do the trick, so I went back to square one. My biggest complaint was that it always seemed like my right leg on the down stroke of each pedal revolution was being moved in a way that it didn't agree with. I couldn't decide whether or not it was being jammed, or hyper extended.  After watching an hour or two worth of YouTube videos on bike fit, and reading and re-reading a few articles on the subject, I came to the conclusion that I need to focus on three things: saddle height, saddle fore-aft, and cleat position. Naturally, they are the three most basic of bike fit principles. After remeasuring my inseam, running the calculations, and much trial and error, I ended up raising the saddle a lot, moving it forward a lot, and moving the cleats, one backward while the other forward. I also shifted the saddle slightly to the left of center as another compensation for my uneven hips

Things are better now. I still wouldn't say perfect. A few more tweaks once I am able to get outdoors more are in order. And even then I am likely to not be perfectly satisfied. But that is more mental than physical and is something I will have to work my way through. But then again, guys like Merckx himself were always tinkering and tweaking. I am also thinking that it might be a good idea to get myself into a daily stretching routine. Perhaps something simple like Graeme Obree mentions in his book 'The Obree Way.' It is just a set of four basic stretches top keep the lower body limber. Realizing that I'm not in my 20s anymore, this too could be a cause of some of my bike discomfort.

In other news, obviously the Lance news has dominated the cycling world, with an expected on-air confession coming this evening. I see a lot of people, particularly in the cycling world, who ask why it matters now. My answer is that 1) it is bigger than just Lance, and 2) it is still about integrity. I am tempted to write a blog article about it, making a comparison to something like The Black Sox scandal in order to show why taking action even now is integral to saving the sport. If I can get something I like written in a day or two, I'll post it here.

Until then, time to wear down some more tread on the trainer...