Thursday, November 20, 2008

Forgiveness my ass

There was a recent call for forgiveness. It is a little unclear, but there's an implication that we should forgive Floyd. While I reign in my temper a bit at someone suggesting Floyd be forgiven for being on the short end of one of the biggest hosings in modern history, I will first point out that I am grateful and indeed excited about seeing Floyd back as a professional racer on the OUCH Pro Cycling Team. I am grateful for Thierry Attias, president of the team, for bringing us the return of the Bionic Man.

That said, here's a clip of my sentiments around this holiday time with the suggestion that we forgive the whole lot of LNDD, WADA, UCI, USAC, ASO, and a special call out for the goons at USADA that showed us a new level of Keystone Kops starting in July 2006. Chevy Chase plays eightzero, but the dialog has a small error: substitute Richard Young for "Frank Shirley, my boss."

Friday, November 07, 2008

Rick’s Guide to the Use of eMail

1. eMail must either ask a question or convey information. It can do both. If it does neither, do not send it.
2. There must be a compelling reason to send a long email. If the information is complicated, it may need to be long, but edit carefully. Remember, you can send another email on a different topic later. Long means “more than 3 sentences.”
3. Do not send an eMail with more than one person in the “to” field. Similarly, do not assume someone in a cc: field will take action on an email. Multiple “to”s invites ignorage; someone else will respond, and if I don’t, no one can blame me.
4. The subject field should convey information. “FYI” is synonymous with “don’t read this now, but later when you claim I didn’t tell you something, I will remind you later that I did.” Thanks.
5. Read your email before you send it. Spell checkers don’t know the difference between you, your, and you’re. The recipient likely does. I prefer to at least maintain the illusion that I am diligent and have a reasonable command of the English language.
6. If you use the out of office assistant, tell the person you’re forwarding your email to that you have done so before you do it.
7. eMail is forever. You cannot delete or recall any message sent. You can apologize, correct, amend, append, and ask for forgiveness, but you cannot deny. All emails are potentially saved forever in backups and logs you, and no one person, have control over. The courts, however, potentially have control over all of us, and they also get to decide who goes to jail. Questions regarding this power can be addressed to Martha.Stewart@liar.com .
8. Don’t use color, complicated HTML, or stationary. The latter uses unnecessary amounts of disk space. Not all email programs recognize color, or format all HTML properly. Nothing says “I don’t care” louder than writing a form letter.
9. Use the forward button carefully. If you aren’t conveying information or asking a question, the forward button is synonymous with “spam.”
10. At least look at an entire email before you respond. Remember, the entire email may not appear on your screen until you scroll down. You look lazy (or worse) by asking a question that is answered in the very email you just sent. “See below” is a message that says “figure it out for yourself.”
11. Be careful with email distribution lists. Sending someone an email personally, then to a list they are included on really shows you don’t care who you are speaking to. If this is your intention, think twice about what you are broadcasting.
12. Think twice about your cutesy .sig line. Using an embedded graphic means many email programs will display an error, conveying the message “I don’t care if you got all of my message”. A personal political or social message invites an emotional response.
13. Know at least the basics of your email program. Recipient fields may be autofilled from your contacts list, and it is important to verify the exact email address of your intended message. Many people have multiple email addresses. Know what a “bcc” field is before you use it – the recipients will see a message that says the message was sent to “undisclosed recipients.” Your secret is out, I’m afraid.
14. Be very careful when replying, forwarding, and adding external recipients. Know that your internal snarky comments can be forwarded to someone else. And forwarding someone else’s snarky comments to someone else is…disrespectful. If that’s what you intend, be prepared for the consequences.
15. It is OK not to respond to an email. As Abraham Lincoln is quoted as saying, “I would prefer to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.”


I have a personal maxim of “never attribute to malice what can be explained by stupidity.” The necessary corollary is that I prefer others not be required to make that choice about me. Do I always succeed? Nah....

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Regime Change Begins at Home

John Dean writes an excellent article: The Evidence Establishes, without Question, that Republican Rule Is Dangerous: Why It Is High Time to Fix This Situation, For the Good of the Nation

A short exerpt:
Republicans' authoritarian rule can also be characterized by its striking incivility and intolerance toward those who do not view the world as Republicans do. Their insufferable attitude is not dangerous in itself, but it is employed to accomplish what they want, which is to take care of themselves and those who work to keep them in power.

Guess we took care of at least some of that yesterday.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Our long national nightmare is over

Can't believe I would actually quote Gerald Ford at a time like this, but it seems appropriate. Here the people rule.

Congratulations, President Obama.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Revolution Will Be Televised

I've been waiting 8 years for my ballot, and it is now in the mail to the elections office.

I cast a complete ballot for the entire Democratic Party. I was a little disappointed that there wasn't a single bubble to mark to make this the case, but filling in each of the individual boxes was something like tantric voting. It made the pleasure last.

It is time for the republicans to go. I voted straight Democrat if for no other reason than the republicans are to blame for everything that is wrong with the country to date. They've destroyed the national and global economy, supported an ill-considered and unjust war, and stripped us of our civil rights. Each and every candidate that identifies with that party must be opposed. That includes a certain Dino Rossi, who is labeled on the ballot as preferring the "GOP Party"; literally the Grand Old Party Party. Well done. I understand Dino might not wish to be associated the damaged brand that is the republicans, but he looks more and more like the illiterate GW Bush with that choice. Remember when Momma Bar was First Lady? Her "cause" was child literacy - she'd go to schools and read to kids. Makes sense, in a tragic kind of way: she had a learning disabled child at home. Duhbya certainly gave credence to the phrase, "anyone can grow up to be president." Indeed, anyone did. I only regret I can't also vote for Darcy Burner, who has a real chance of taking the WA-08 district this time around.

For the record, I find it appalling that John McCain would select Sarah Palin to be any part of his administration, much less the VP. She is hardly qualified to run her own household, much less a town, or even the smallish population of the State of Alaska. If this is the idea of breaking the glass ceiling, women everywhere need to be worried. And John's choice here is the least presidential thing I've ever seen a candidate do. Like Duhbya before her, she simply *isn't qualified*.

As for the all the initiated laws up for vote on the ballot, I am also pleased to have opposed each. Laws need to be made by professionals, not by amateurs around the kitchen table. Reasoned debate makes good law, not a wad of cash and petition signature gatherers. The only petition I will sign my name to is one that removes the initiative power from the WA Constitution.

The time is long since past for the republican party to go. Please go, please don't come back. And to my newly elected Democratic representatives and executives, remember - it is your job to oppose these cretins. Drop the foolish talk of "bipartisan cooperation." I want none of it, and it isn't the reason I voted for you. I expect you to do everything in your power to oppose each and everything the republicans stand for, and ever stood for. The blood is on their hands, and time for them to be made responsible.

Yeah, isn't "personal responsibility" one of those goofy republican catchphrases? Had it right on the tip of my tongue while I was marking that ballot against those republican bastards. Felt good.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sarah's been swiftboated

Paybacks are hell, hunh?
G.O.P. Consultant Reimbursed for Palin Shopping Spree
Or my perosnal favorite headline:
Palin's Wardrobe Malfunction

So lemme get this straight: The ecomomy's in the dumper, so naturally the republicans take their VP nominee shopping. $150k - that's what....125 economic stimulus checks? Nice.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

We know who is responsible. Remember your 401k (RIP) on election day.

I'm going to quote this here from today's electoral-vote.com commentary because it is particularly well said:

Government Bails out A.I.G.

After several days of saying it would not bail out the nation's largest insurance company, A.I.G., the government bailed out A.I.G. risking $85 billion of the taxpayers' money. In return, the government got 80% of the now near-worthless stock. In other countries, when the government effectively buys (nearly) all of a company's stock, it is called nationalization. Who would have thought that the Bush-Cheney administration would go Marxist-Leninist in its waning hours? Treasury secretary Henry Paulson was clearly afraid A.I.G.'s demise would take out too many other big players and wreak massive damage on the economy. The move will be very controversial since it risks public money to protect bad investments made by A.I.G. management. The political fallout will be immense.

This nationalization poses an especially large challenge for John McCain, who is now railing against corporate greed and lack of government regulation of the financial industry. What he doesn't talk much about is how deregulation happened. It was the 1999 Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act that repealed the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act and thus eliminated the depression-era walls between between banking, investment, and insurance that made this crisis possible. Glass-Stegall erected walls between banking, investment management, and insurance, so problems in one sector could not spill over into the others, which is precisely what is happening now. The primary author of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act was none other than McCain's economic advisor, former senator Phil Gramm (who thinks the country is in a "mental recession"). McCain fully supported the bill and has a decades-long track record of opposing government regulation of the financial industry. His new-found conversion to being a fan of regulation is going to be a tough sell as Obama is already pointing out that McCain got what he wanted (deregulation) and this is the consequence.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Bicycle Adventures: Crater Lake 2008 Photos

Bicycle Adventures Crater Lake
2008 Day 1

Bicycle Adventures Crater Lake
Day 2
Garmin Route Detail Day 2

Bicycle Adventures Crater Lake
Day 3
Garmin Route Detail Day 3

Bicycle Adventures Crater Lake
Day 4


Bicycle Adventures Crater Lake
Day 5
Garmin Route Detail Day 5 Part 1
Garmin Route Detail Day 5 Part 2

Bicycle Adventures Crater Lake
Day 6
Garmin Route Detail day 6

Bicycle Adventures Crater Lake
Day 7
Garmin Route Detail day 7

Bicycle Adventures Crater Lake
2008 days 5, 6 and 7

Crater Lake, 2008



We decided on the Bicycle Adventures Crater Lake tour for this year while we were still on the Glacier-Banff-Jasper BA tour last year. This is our third trip with BA, and each has been a great vacation. One of the guests on GBJ suggested the Crater Lake tour, and we booked it in October last year. Not that we were filled with anticipation or anything. Still, BA will let you book in a calendar year at that price for a trip the following year, saving any cost increase. Something to keep in mind for 2009, of course. More on that later....

We took the CA Redwoods tour in 2006 and GBJ in 2007. We noticed there were some subtle differences between the trips. The 2008 trip had little differences too. The Redwoods tour begins in Santa Rosa, near the CA Napa wine country. The accommodations seemed opulent - we even returned in February to Healdsberg because we liked the hotel so much - as compared to the GBJ itinerary. The latter is definitely more geared for lodging in national/provincial parks. The difference is simply apples/oranges. Neither is better or worse, but each was uniformly nice in its own way.

Crater Lake seems to sort of split the difference. The layover day at Sunriver Resort tends to the opulent/plush quality, and the last two nights in the Crater Lake Lodge more reminiscent of National Park accommodations. Oddly, the best restaurant on the trip was the Crater Lake Lodge restaurant.

The trip started for us in Portland. We drove down late Friday, and stayed at the pickup hotel, the Marriott Courtyard, Portland Airport. One thing to note however - we were going to leave our car in Portland while on the week long tour, and I specifically asked about it when I confirmed our reservation with the hotel directly. The response from the hotel clerk at the time was "just park in the back, and it will be fine." On arrival, another clerk said they didn't have the "park and fly" option anymore, but would accommodate our request. For $5/day. Not a bad deal, it is just I dislike "surprises." This one wasn't a BA issue, for sure. And with one small exception, the only unpleasant surprise we had. The other one? Yeah, I had a flat.

There for sure weren't any surprises from the BA folks; I had some advance email correspondence and had talked on the phone at length with one of our guides, Mark Wojahn. Mark has been with BA for nearly 15 years. He has this whole thing down to a science, yet it never seems like "just work" for him. Things just run so smoothly with someone like this on your side. You knew even before the trip started that you would be Taken Care Of.

The BA van and trailer pulled up Saturday morning at the appointed time. Tracey, another of the guides, hoisted our bikes onto the trailer for transport to the start in Eugene, and loaded up our bags into the trailer. We had already met a few fellow travelers, and had breakfast with one, Steve. I knew there would be 2 vans, one trailer, 3 guides and 19 guests on this trip in advance. But this too would be a change from our previous trips, both of which were 2 guides, one van and trailer, and 13 guests. Again, an apples/oranges thing, and more later. Most definitely a consideration for our next trip selection. But I am again ahead of myself....

We all loaded into the van for a few hours south to Eugene. On the way, we met up with the other van that had picked up more guests in Downtown Portland. This one was driven by our third guide, Wilder. We stopped again in Eugene at the Red Lion to pick up the last of the guests, and then it was time to get down to cycling! We all vanned to a picturesque park near Fern Ridge Lake. Mark gave us the low-down on the entire upcoming trip. He had great maps, with each route marked. He went over the bikes and equipment, along with the dos and don'ts. It was great to note that he had everyone's attention. No one was taking safety lightly - this was going to be a great group to cycle with. Tracey made a gourmet lunch of pitas and salad, along with trimmings of m&m's (a BA tradition) drinks, dessert cookies...well, you get the idea.

We set off on the bikes in the sunshine. This route on the first day was a bit different than the usual tour. BA had been unable to book the Westfir Lodge for this trip. Apparently, there was a family reunion using all the accommodations there, so we had a slight change from the brochure. Here's one of the kinda cool things about BA: they can handle just about any contingency. We cycled to the King's Estate winery for a short visit, and sampled their wares. A few bottles purchased went into the van. One thing to watch for on this route: the ride up to the winery is really nice, but the driveway up to the wine tasting shop is upwards of 16% grade. It's only a few dozen yards, and you'll see it coming. Gear down and be ready. The wine is worth it!

After a short stay, we zoomed out the driveway, and back out the road. The route is through Oregon county roads, past old farm houses. The van picked us all up in a finishing park, and we vanned over to the Valley River Inn. The traditional beer cooler was there and waiting. "Luggage Magic" commenced - another nice feature of the BA trips. Your bags aren't delivered to the curb, they're delivered to your room. All you need to pick up is a key. The Valley River Inn was nice, and had a pool and hot tub. It was a bit of a departure from the usual selection by BA - they tend to prefer smaller inns, but this one was borne out of some necessity. It was nice; the view from the outdoors restaurant along the river was perhaps the nicest of all the dinner locations. The food was tasty (I had prime rib) but a group of 22 seemed to tax the service crew. One of things to keep in mind is that the larger the group, the more likely it is that dinner will take a longer time. The flip side of that is that you get more time to socialize and visit with your fellow travelers.

We met up Sunday morning by the vans, loaded up, and headed out to Oakridge. We gathered up near a covered bridge for the route talk, swaddled on sunscreen for another sunny day, and headed off. This was perhaps the most pleasant ride of the trip. We cycled next to the McKenzie River along the Aufderheide National Scenic Byway, and there was very, very little traffic. What little cars that came by were mostly Forest Service trucks, and they seemed to know we were there. The road was really great, well maintained. The only stiff climb was right before lunch, and even then it never pitched greater than 8%. Funny, but as I was sort of grinding up the last mile or so, Tracey came over to keep me company. It was hot, and I was finishing up for lunch. We came around a short bend, and saw Drew had a flat. Tracey jumped ahead like a bird-dog to go help! Bang! On a 8% grade she jumped up the road a quarter mile, dropping me like 3rd period French. Remind me to never race her. Yikes!

A few notes on BA route directions. These are really, really good. You really can't get lost if you pay attention to the route directions and maps. But as you might have noticed, I carry a Garmin Edge 705 GPS tracking unit. I had planned to program the routes each day into the unit, but...I got lazy. I've uploaded the routes to the Garmin Connect site, and you can email me directly for the courses for days 1,2,3, 6 and 7. The file for day 5 got corrupted, and day 4 was a layover. Beware though, that BA does change the routes now and then, and there were places that I hopped a BA van ride (the climb out of the Pinnacles and the descent off Mt. Bachelor.) I think having the routes on the GPS unit on the handlebars would be nice, but honestly, if you think you're not in the right place, you need to pull over and check the map. Maybe I think this because I'm not totally familiar with all the 705 does yet. Oh well. I think there is little lost in paying attention to what's around you, and periodically stopping to read a map. Still, the 705 doesn't get soggy in my back pocket, and fairly though, dropping the paper map on a trail and losing it might be less expensive that doing the same to the 705.

Ah, back to the road ahead....

Mark made us lunch at the top. It was a great oriental chicken salad, with the usual trimmings. As we rolled in, Mark had his recorder out, and we glided up to perfect notes in the green forest. Cool drinks on a hot day in the forest. Yum.

The downhill after lunch was fast, fast, fast. We got out to the Cougar Reservoir, and there was no mistaking the "cover shot" from BA's brochure as we came around the bend in the road. A few more minutes at the bottom took us in to Holiday Farms, our lodging for the evening. Beer cooler first, and then we discovered our bags inside a nice, spacious cabin by the river. These were really great accommodations; just the place you'd want to visit in the winter to curl up next to the fireplace (!) with a book by the river. Very quiet, very tranquil. Dinner at the lodge was very nice, but beware - the full rack of ribs is a *lot* of ribs.

Overnight, we got the expected change in the weather. The rain I saw coming for the previous week arrived. I do think we got just the southern part, and the rain in the morning was mostly just heavy fog. It was essentially dry when we started out from breakfast.

Ours was the first Crater Lake group in 2008 to be able to take on McKenzie Pass. The road had been closed for repairs all summer. And next year, it may be closed for construction. Just before we got to the road for the climb, we stopped at a ranger station. This was perhaps the most beautiful ranger station I've ever seen. Stone bathrooms, fine wood furnishings, and exhibits perfectly displayed.

Knowing this was going to be a longish climb, mostly alone for me (Cindy usually climbs faster,) I put on some music to help me. But this was one of the most even, beautiful climbs I've been on. Even though the weather was bad, the road was well maintained, and there was no traffic. Max grade was 7%, but mostly real even at 5-6%. Lots of switchbacks to the top. And you'd think I'd know this by now, but as altitude increases, the temperature drops. The rain was really light, but definitely keeping my glasses wet. It stopped by the top, but it was kinda cold. Fortunately, Tracey made delicious tomato basil soup, with tuna melt sandwiches. Perfect for the blustery mountain pass. Sadly, the views of the Sisters was washed out in the weather, but we got to do this great climb.

Downhill on the other side meant we needed to be careful. The road was not exactly dry, but there was only a light mist in the air - not really even rain. We jetted downwind downhill into Sisters for the pickup at the park. We had time to visit Anabelle's, a great coffee shop in town. We got souvenir jerseys at the bike shop in town, and shopped in the antique and art shops. We even found a new print for home: Robert Bateman's "Lone Raven."

The van ride from Sisters was to the layover place at Sunriver Resort. Dinner was at the resort golf club. Sunriver is something of a monolithic golf-ski resort. Lots of things to do, for sure. Plenty to choose from. But there's something a little....incongruous about all the real estate offices around. A spiffy place, definitely a nice change of pace for BA. If you dig golf and skiing, I'm thinking you'd plan many returns.

The layover day was relaxing. We took in a canoe trip down the river. The resort has canoe rentals with return van to the marina. It was about 2 hours, and we had the whole river to ourselves on a beautiful sunny day. We roamed the village shops, and had some Italian food for lunch. We had made spa appointments ahead. Even though our appointments at 5:45 conflicted with the planned wine and cheese party, we were able to join the party afterward. The spa appointments ahead are a must, but check with BA ahead on any plans they have for the layover day. Fairly, this was the first trip we took that didn't really have an activity on the layover day. There are plenty of bikes at Sunriver, but the trails are all for transportation. I don't think the road cycling options at Sunriver are numerous, but fairly, I didn't inquire too much. We met up with Mike and Jen at the pub that evening for drinks. The band was really, really loud. We moved to a quieter table when the guides joined us. It is fun to chat with the guides - they are all fun people, but practically all of the time, they are working. They work *really hard* out on the road and even on layover days and late at night. They work long, long days, and it makes such a huge difference. It was lots of fun to relax with them just a bit, even if it took me 4 days to discover I left my credit card there. Fortunately, once I found the number to call Sunriver back, they had it in the lost and found, and mailed it back to me. Whew!

We chose to opt in on the early morning additional ride from Sunriver to Mt. Bachelor, a 21 mile climb. This was another really great climb. And somehow, I totally blew the weather forecast. I again forgot in the sunshine yesterday that temperature drops with altitude. I had planned to be stripping legwarmers and layers halfway up the climb. Didn't work out that way. But the rain held off until about a mile from the drop-off/pickup place on Dutchman Flats. By the time I got there, the rain was steady, but not torrential. Mostly just light rain, but the wind had picked up and the temp was 43 degrees. Ugh. I was having a hard time seeing, but the climb was really great. Again, good road, very little traffic. But the road ahead was wet, it was cold, and I really needed to warm up. So I opted for a van ride down. Not far off the top, we came onto dry road, bluing skies, and warming temperatures. I caught up with Cindy, and we dried out quickly.

Not far up the road, our route directions pointed us on to a road marked "closed - fire." Ugh. Oh well; we saw most of our group up ahead, so we followed. After some confusion, we caught up with Mark, and he had a map for an alternate route to lunch. The weather, while still a bit chilly, was getting better. We rode in to lunch by a lake, and even spotted a pair of bald eagles in a tree. Lunch was bagels and salmon, again with all the trimmings. We vanned to the north entrance of Crater Lake National Park, and cycled up the side of the cone. The first view of the Lake was a literal "Wow!" I knew it was coming, but nothing prepares you for the reality. This is what we came for, and it didn't disappoint. The climb was steady, on good road, and it had become sunny. We were now getting to some serious altitude. I was trying to be careful with both heart rate and sun exposure. I think I saved myself some real problems by doing so, even though we were at about 8000 MSL. Even though the air was cool, the sunny sky made it feel warmer. We pedaled in to the lodge and nightly beer cooler.

We had the million dollar view of the lake from our room. A real change from Sunriver, but the room was very comfortable. The restaurant was the best on the trip. The seafood Linguine Alfredo was really good, the huckleberry ice cream even better.

One thing you don't want to miss. We noticed on the clear night at Runriver that a glance up at the night sky is definitely worth staying up do do. For sure Sunriver is away from any real population center, but Crater Lodge is even higher, and even further away from the lights. Find some time on a clear night to get away from the lodge lights and look up at the stars. The galaxy awaits. Those of you that haven't seen "the backbone of night" are in for a treat.

For breakfast, the biscuits, eggs and gravy with sausage was excellent. I usually stay away from Big Breakfast like this, but for our ride around the Lake, I wanted some extra calories. The morning was cool and clear, but no need for legwarmers. A couple layers worked well in the sunshine. The ride was only slated for 34 miles, with an up-down option for another 15, but the terrain was going to make this very much an interval day. The real problem wasn't the climb and descent of the road, but it seemed that every few hundred yards was a new viewpoint, and a new picture of the Lake. It looked different from every angle. Hard to imagine the cataclysm that took place here to create the crater.

We pedaled toward lunch at Cloudcap. Mark had made pesto tortellini and salad with the usual trimmings. Cindy and I decided to take the side trip down to the Pinnacles. The road was a little rough at the top, right where it splits off from the rim road. The descent is a bit steep, and I got a flat - the only one of the trip for either of us. It was likely a pinch flat, as the road there was pretty rough. I took it too fast. Anyway, I got the tube replaced just as Wilder came along in the van with the floor pump.

The Pinnacles are really cool. It was worth the trip. I decided to take a 7 mile van boost back up to the rim road. I was trying to make it back to the gift shop at the lodge before they closed. The folks at the lodge told me they closed at 5pm, which isn't true - they're open to 8pm. But still, the boost was welcome. Cindy said the climb was kinda steep. Once I got to the rim road, the ride back to the lodge was really great. Lots of steady, even climbs, with nice descents. The switchback climbs were a little different from what I'm used to. These leveled out some in the turns. Most switchback climbs I'm used to pitch up in the climbs. The road was great. Perhaps some of the nicest cycling I've ever done. There are less viewpoints on the south side of the lake, so while it was pretty, you're not tempted to stop every few hundred yards to see a new view of The Lake.

Back at the lodge, I did make it to the gift shop. Cindy and I collect posters of our travels. I got one of the lake, but when I got it home, I discovered it was *huge*! Check the dimensions on those rolled tubes. A quick stop at the beer cooler (Tracey had my favorite brews well-stocked) and Cindy rolled up shortly thereafter. We had plenty of time for a shower and clean up before dinner. Again, the lodge dinner was excellent.

On Friday, it was a little sad to think this was the last morning ride briefing. Mark lead us through the details of our descent off the crater, complete with where to stop for the best vistas. There is a short climb out of the lodge, then it was essentially downhill all the way out to Diamond Lake. There is a great bike trail around Diamond Lake, and the views are amazing. The trail crosses Silent Creek, and the ride is very, very pleasant. The trail is a bit narrow, so you need to pay attention and not go fast at all. Best to spread out some too - travel in groups here is a little uncomfortable.We just pulled aside and took some pictures, and really enjoyed a sparkling day.

Down, down hill to lunch. Wilder had prepared wraps with salad, along with the traditional, but no less yummy sides of nuts, fruit, m&ms, and fresh guacamole and chips. Lunch was at perhaps the most picturesque stops of all, next to some gentle falls in a secluded park. It was very relaxing. We discovered one of Mark's traditions is root beer floats on the last day with Umpqua ice cream. Man were those yummy!

The guides loaded all the bikes up on the trailer, and again, there was something of a sadness knowing it was all done. We had our "graduation ceremony" the traditional send-off by BA, complete with swag in the form of hats and socks and a completion certificate. Everyone gets a $100 discount certificate for their next trip. Way cool, as we are already planning our 2009 BA trip.

We had a longish van ride back to Portland. We stopped at a small town along the way and had rhubarb pie a la mode. We stopped in Eugene to drop off some of our group, and it was time to say goodbyes. One van went on to downtown Portland, and we went back to the Courtyard to pick up our car. As it turns out, we discovered one of our small bags with bike supplies was in the other van. Tracey went out of her way to retrieve it the next day, and drop it at our hotel.

This is the part where I really have to say something about all the BA guides. These people really work hard. I really can't imagine them not accommodating any reasonable request (and heck, probably most of the unreasonable ones too) from any of their guests. They are entertaining, fun, knowledgeable, and dedicated to doing what it takes to make sure you are Taken Care Of. And here's the funny thing: you know you're in good hands, but you never have to go look for assistance from them. It just suddenly appears, and they look as if they are having fun just traveling with you. Your questions are answered seemingly before you ask them, your needs are anticipated, and you're never, never, ever in doubt as to whether you'll have what you need. There is never any stress on a BA trip. It just isn't allowed. It is so well-planned, and so meticulously executed that there just isn't room for that kind of baggage. Leave it at home, go for a ride, see the most amazing sights, and revel in the joy of being cared for on a bicycle.

Back in Portland, Cindy and I discovered that a really good thing to do is to take an extra day at the finish location to take in an easy day to transition back to the real world. At the suggestion of the BA office, we stayed a couple of nights at the posh Heathman Hotel in Portland. It is very, very nice. We shopped around Portland, and simply relaxed before the drive back to Seattle. Portland's downtown has a very usable public transportation system, so it was easy to choose to see different sights. We toured an art show in the Pearl District that apparently happens each summer weekend. Lots of very talented artists displaying their wares. We've been to Portland, but never with enough time to look about. I recommend it.

The drive back to Seattle on Sunday was rather familiar, and uneventful. On the way, we chatted about our next BA trip. The Crater Lake trip was 7 days, and the GBJ trip in 2007 was 8. The REdwoods trip in 2006 was 6 days. We like the longer trips for sure. One really nice thing about Crater Lake was there were 2 layover locations - Sunriver and Crater Lake Lodge. It is a small thing, but not having to pack up in the morning to move is nice. Still, I really like inn-to-inn travel. Our preference is to avoid the van transfers as much as possible. It seemed that the Crater Lake trip had more of these. I asked Mark about it, and he pointed out it is something of a balance between doing as much inn-to-inn travel as possible, but eliminating "dead miles" where you're cycling in places where the cycling is merely transportation. BA does pick great routes for sure. I'd be hard pressed to really say there were more hours in the van on this trip. Perhaps it was just a perception, and the one day we diverted from the usual Westfir Lodge.

One other thing to consider is how popular a trip is. This was our first 2 van trip with 3 guides, and it is nearly the largest number of guests BA will accommodate on a trip. One the good side, it is clear the guides have more flexibility with 2 vans. They can send one van up the road to set up lunch while 2 other guides provide van support and a rider on the road to check on everyone. They are much more spread out, and can accommodate a wider range of cyclist's abilities and desires to make side hikes and sightseeing. There is never any rush, but with 2 vans it seems like there are more options. With 19 guests, it was harder to get to know everyone as well, and to spend time sharing traveling together. And there was simply a lot more for the guides to do. Dinner tended to take a little longer in the evening, but that wasn't necessarily a bad thing. I think it is really a matter of taste. Cindy and I are used to being reasonably self-sufficient, and thankfully didn't need much SAG, so we generally prefer the smaller 1 van trips. Still, it wouldn't really matter. It is fun to be in a bigger group too.

We really like taking our own bikes. There are shipping options to and from the start and end locations. Traveling on an airline with a bike box is doable, but I think not particularly desirable. BAs rental bikes are nice, for sure. I'd really like an option to rent, perhaps from another vendor, a really high end bike for one of these trips. I've never done any serious miles on a carbon or titanium frame. Wonder if BA could partner with someone to provide such a service?

We had a great time, and will again write to Bob Clark, the owner of BA, personally again to thank him for all his folks have done for us. Once again, his guides have beaten us to the punch: not but two days after we returned home we received a hand written, personal thank you from Mark (as we did for each of our prior tours.) This is such a nice touch, and it boggles the mind to think that your guides don't stop working to make sure you're Taken Care Of even after you get home.

An annual one-week vacation represents roughly only 2% of a lifetime, but it pays off in a lifetime of memories. All you need to know is: 800-443-6060. The rest will be magic.

Life isn't measured by the number of breaths you take, but in the moments that take your breath away.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

There's Gold in them Thar Hills: The Sports Machine

The August 16th New York Times editorial “Our Idea of Gold” is a flawed analysis of an important political topic: the role of government in sports.

It is true that Sport occupies a special status in most cultures around the world, and in our society in the United States. It is at its core entertainment, but also serves an educational role. As the Times observes, there is an obesity epidemic in the United States, and there are health benefits to exercise that we value. But the conclusion that there are better uses for $130M in federal funds than the USOC lacks understanding of this special status.

For sure, $130M is a lot of money, but not in comparison to what the Government spends on a regular basis. In my home of Seattle, WA, I note we now have two monolithic, state of the art athletic stadiums, one specifically each for professional Baseball and Football. Both were built in large part with WA state public funds and tax benefits to their owners and lessees. The teams that use these facilities are huge economic engines of commerce; generate huge profits for their owners; and corresponding huge salaries of the stars that play there. And fairly, the government doesn’t fund each and every request for extravagant public works projects for these sport-entertainment enterprises. Witness the relocation of the Seattle Supersonics upon being denied a government subsidy of an arena to showcase their professional product.

When considering the role of government in funding success in sports, we can’t ignore the fact that the spectacle appeals to many people. The young want to “be like Mike.” (And it is significant this week that there are indeed many young that will not be exactly sure which “Mike” they want to be like.) Never mind that these young are told the need to be like Mike by purchasing a special brand of shoe (or high tech swimsuit?) or that the cereal they get mom to buy at the grocery store is better because it has his picture on the box, or that all the kids at school emulate each and every move from last nights game on the playground (or at the pool?) The fact is that they react to such messages, and act on them. Those of us removed in years from school playgrounds thrill to Dana Torres, who at 41, is still winning Olympic medals against competitors that could easily be her children, and at French cyclist Jeanne Longo, who a few days before her 50th birthday missed an Olympic medal by less that 2 seconds against competitors that could be her grandchildren. If that doesn’t make you want to hit the pool or buy a bike, or even tune in for more TV coverage, well…perhaps nothing will. Suggesting that an after school program or daily gym classes for school children will fill this role equally well ignores the obvious – kids (and adults, for that matter) have much to choose from to occupy their discretionary activity time. When faced with “go play video games, or surf the internet, and thereby become good with computers to become the next Steve Jobs or Bill Gates billionaire” or go hangout in a smelly gym to shoot some baskets with kids too inept to actually understand academic pursuits while the PE teaches steps outside for another smoke, which do you think most kids will choose? But put a good coach that inspires achievement with a in a well appointed, updated facility, with good equipment (supplied by Nike?) and tell the parents (or the older adult wanting to feel better) “this could lead to a chance to compete on a world stage”, the balance shifts. Where parents or tired professionals are asked to invest time, effort and money out of a family budget, they rightfully ask what their child or they personally will gain from the experience. Sure, many times that balance is a hard call for parents and overwhelmed adults to make, and many times there can be some denial on the part of parents who think their kid is going to be the next Michael Phelps, but none will want to make that large in an investment of resources in something that is essentially pickup games that cost nothing. The conclusion that we don’t need to invest in Olympic or professional sport achievement, because we can replace it all with after hours school or gym classes is absurd, and ignores lacks reasoned analysis of important factors involving participation incentives.

Consider who will benefit from that gym membership with a pool, or purchase of that bike, or that rowing skull. The gym, the bike shop, and a boat manufacturer for sure, but others as well: those purchases are taxed, along with those shoes, the cereal, and the gas to take the kids to soccer practice. Coaches and trainers find employment. Clothing manufacturers that provide accessories as well. It adds up quickly.

There is in fact some reasonable debate about the “savings” healthy lifestyles will return to our health care system – healthy people live longer, and therefore need more heath care over the years (see: “Healthy People Cost a Bundle”), but is it not in our government’s interests to provide reasonable health care to all citizens? Don’t we all aspire to long, productive lives? Isn’t the safety of all citizens, including protection from the predictable ravages of old age, a role of government?

The Times opinion is that $130M shouldn’t be built in building a sports machine. Quite the contrary: the sports machine may be a great investment. Many people will make sacrifices to have access to the sports machine, and they will benefit directly from it. Ask the executives at NBC if having the US in Gold Medal rounds at the Olympics makes their ratings go up, and if those rating have any value to their shareholders. Ask the makers of HDTVs if sports competition drives their sales around Super Bowl time. Ask a ski resort owner in Utah if his property is worth more because the world came to SLC in 2002. Should a rich benefactor augment the US Federal investment? Indeed they should, and they do. But how many more rich benefactors will there be to do so if the US invests more in the infrastructure they will derive direct, albeit long-term, benefits from? Would a trucking company benefit from US federal funds being spent on roads, or an airline benefit from more airports? I’m not an economist, but this seems reasonable.

I don’t dispute that there are many other things the US Federal Government can and should spend $130M on. But in an era of trillion dollar annual budgets, I believe it specious to argue that we can’t do those things too. Do choices have to be made, and some of them difficult? Surely. But making those choices requires reasoned consideration of all the factors. And of course, international sport, and the Olympic Movement in particular, are irrefutably tied to global politics. If we seek international amity, what bad result can come from athletes discovering, on a world stage, that even if they don’t speak the same language, or have the same values as other athletes, they all have something in common – their evolutionary urge to compete? Isn’t diplomacy predicated on finding common ground first? What bad result can come from competing fiercely and with dedication, but fairly and with understanding that respect for other humans and our mutual rules of interaction? Isn’t this “a collaborative, less arrogant diplomacy?” And if the price tag is only $130M, I say it is a bargain.

I recently watched a short segment of beach volleyball on NBC. It included a description of how the Chinese hosts maintained the beach sand. They used “sandbonis:” automated robot devices to groom the court. I immediately wondered how a nation of 1.3 billion people could eschew using a few guys with rakes in favor of costly technology that has limited application. Then it dawned on me that perhaps there is actually a market for such machines, given that beach volleyball is now a worldwide sport (with rich benefactors in corporate sponsorship?) Given the choice between employing people with rakes or putting those people to work building sandboni’s to groom beach sand around the world, what seems like the kind of thing that will lead to economic, long term growth? Indeed, one has to wonder how many Chinese could be fed for the cost of building the WaterCube arena, but how many Chinese will be fed because they built the WaterCube?

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

What really happened in July of 2006

Two USADA agents, Jules and Vincent, pick up Floyd Landis (played by Marvin) for drug testing. During routine analysis, something goes awry with Vincent's .45 caliber automatic LNDD issued IsoPrime unit. The USADA now has a mess to clean up.



Jules and Vincent are friends of Richard McClaren (Jimmy) so they go to his house at Pepperdine to clean up. Jimmy has "the Campbell Situation" and they need help. Jules calls their boss, Dick Pound (Marcellus Wallis) to send help. It arrives in the form of Brunet (the Wolf.) They work fast, fast, fast. With the help of a wrecking yard owner (the CAS) they dispose of the evidence.

The mess they created is "some fucked up repugnant shit."

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Where did that $100,000 figure come from?

I think I just figured this out:

2006 Tour de France
GC prize: 450,000 euros;
Daily malliot jaune prime: 7,000 euros.
S-17 Prime: 200 euros

Floyd was in yellow for 5 days, so the total prize would have been 485,200 euros. At 10% interest (not unreasonable for a credit card level purchase) and given the current value of the dollar ($1.5562/euro as of June 1 2008) were looking right at about $900,000. One ninth of that (GC winners traditionally, if not by contract, share the prize money with their 9 person team) is right about $100k.

Like Deep Throat said: "Follow the money."

Another 24-hour reaction

It is taking me some time to recover. I pulled myself together enough to post a short comment on TBV, but Larry’s response is much more accurate. I join his opinion. About the only thing I can add is that the CAS has spoken loud and clearly: “We shall have no more of these shenanigans. We do not like anyone challenging test results. We do not like your even suggesting the system is corrupt. We do not like them, green eggs and ham. We do not like them, Sam I am.” If the CAS wanted to restrict the result to the litigants, it could have simply dismissed the appeal, awarded costs, and written a short opinion. *This* opinion, is to me, clear evidence of their activist intent to deter such future challenges. Do not ever suggest the tests are inaccurate, the science unsound, or the procedures inadequate. They are like Caesar’s wife – beyond reproach, because those in charge say they are. End of message. Yeah, we hear you, you feckless bastards. Thanks a lot.

The only reason I can find the energy to write this is because of what Floyd has said in a Bonnie D. Ford ESPN article:

"They will never get to the end of how much I can take," Landis told ESPN.com Monday, sounding much as he used to when he was talking about what is blithely called "suffering" on the bike. "I'm not happy that I'm the person who has to take this, but I would never allow myself to be treated this way and ever give up."

The article continues:

Landis said the latest ruling in his case is "a disaster for all the athletes trying to make a career of the sport they love." He's not sure if he'll ever race again. "One thing I don't want to do is subject myself to this farcical system again," he said.

I’m not sure I want to subject myself to it through my participation in a WADA controlled sport either. But ya know – I do know of one way Michael Ball could sell me a $500 cycling kit: put one on Floyd. What’cha think, my man? (Me and Mike be tight...)

Back to the ESPN article:

But his tone turned unexpectedly warm when he turned to the subject of the race he yearned to be in, won, then lost so quickly. The 2008 Tour de France starts Saturday. "I hope people who are interested in bicycle racing forget about me by the end of the week and turn on the television and watch the Tour, and give those guys the respect and attention they deserve," he said.

These are the words of a champion and a hero. I take particular inspiration from them. While it isn’t clear (exactly) that he means to give the *riders* the respect and attention (he can’t mean “those guys” to mean the ASO) he still refuses to diss the sport and race he owes his fame to. Oh, how easy it would be to do so!

One of the hardest things I’ve ever done was to go for a bike ride Monday night. I was *so hard* to get on the bike again. I decided in the end I needed the therapy. I donned my Smith and Nephew kit, took some ibuprophen for my aching hip, and hit the road with my wife. On the route back, the setting sun in the cloudless sky was beautiful. A perfect summer evening.

If there’s no end to what Floyd can take, surely my little disappointments will pass.

Venga, venga, venga, Floyd. Lots yet to do: Anti-trust. RICO. 42 USC 1983. Bivens action. All this starts to look like S-17 again. They let you on the break and didn’t chase because they didn’t believe you’d put that power in for that long. Time to ramp up the watts. The road awaits, the team just launched you.

Race starts now.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

FWIW

For wider distribution, I repost my comment to Sunday's (6/29) TBV Roundup:

("Eightzero") said...

I can't believe I'm reading my last morning roundup....

I too will add my deepest thanks and congratulations to TBV, strbk and Judge Hue for their work here. It has changed my life, and the world is a better place for your efforts. You should be very proud of what you've done.

Thank you as well to all the commenters. Your contributions to reasoned debate is the essence of scientific inquiry and the skepticism that must take place when some tells us "it is obvious." Well done, all of you.

Lastly and most importantly, no matter where we are 24 hours from now, I wish to thank Floyd and his family. I remember the thrill I felt upon watching his ride in 2006. I still have stage 20 saved on my Tivo. I can't imagine what it has been like for them in the last 24 months, but their efforts have been a source of continuous inspiration to me. I have used his travail as an example to my law students (yes, I assigned his case as a class project), and have told any who would listen just how important it is to be afforded rights when the rich and powerful wish to exploit us for their personal gain. Those that stand up to injustice done will forever be my heroes.

Floyd: come next what may, you're my hero. One day I will have a t-shirt or jersey made: "My Hero won the 2006 Tour de France."

Thank you all.

---
And for good measure, I'll add some slightly editorialized words of Drs. Jones:

TBV: The only thing that matters are the principles of fairness and justice.
USADA: What about the dopers?
TBV: Dick Pound would agree with me!
USADA: Two selfless martyrs. Jesus Christ!
[TBV slaps him across the face]
TBV: That's for blasphemy. The quest for justice and fairness is not sport - it's a race against evil! If justice is subverted by WADA and the ADAs, the armies of darkness will march all over the face of the Earth! Do you understand me?!

We're pilgrims in an unholy land....

Friday, June 27, 2008

What we did with the econostim check

We received our stupidity dividend check last week. The world is facing economic meltdown, so naturally George sent us a check and said "go shopping." Great. Maybe if the emperor could read, he'd notice the economy has now been stimulated down to about 11,000 on the Dow. Well done.

We deposited the check into the savings account. The rainy days are yet to come. Somehow I feel good about taking that cash out of a sinking economy.

Then again, I might spend it freely in the first 100 days of the coming Obama administration.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The cross exam we really wanted to see

Could this have happened before the CAS in March?
--
Brenna: You want answers?
Suh: I think I'm entitled to them.
Brenna: You want answers?
Suh: I want the truth!
Brenna: You can't handle the truth! Son, we live in a world that has cheaters. And those cheaters have to be found by men with laboratories. Who's gonna do it? You? You Mr. TBV? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Landis and you curse WADA. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that Landis’ loss, while tragic, probably saved cycling. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves sport...You don't want the truth. Because deep down, in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me in that lab. You need me in that lab.
We use words like metbolites, code, Isoprime...we use these words as the backbone to a life spent defending something. You use 'em as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide, then questions the manner in which I provide it! I'd rather you just said thank you and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a test tube and run a sample. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you're entitled to!
Suh: Did you order the dancing monkey?
Brenna: (quietly) I did the job you sent me to do.
Suh: Did you order the dancing money?
Brenna: You're goddamn right I did!!

My Drug of Choice

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Who's a dope?

VeloNews' 2008 Tour de France guide is out (printed under license from ASO and the French Tabloid L'Equipe.) Lots of cool stuff in it, but here's something worth noting: On page 223, the fastest time trials greater than 20km are listed. Greg LeMond has the fastest ahead of Armstrong and Miller. The latter is a confessed doper, and LeMond accuses Armstrong of the same nefarious activity. But Greg, faster than both, is clean as a whistle. Right.

Page 221 lists Riis as the winner of the 1996 TdF, but the 2006 winner is listed as Oscar Pereiro, not Floyd Landis. There is a footnote on the photo on page 226 about Riis. So why isn't Ullrich (the second place finisher in 1996) awarded a second win? Hmmm? Could it be the ASO has decided that...nah...that wouldn't be fair. Wait...what?

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Seattle Century

I received a nifty little flyer in the last issue of the Cascade Courier announcing the “Seattle Century.” They have a great web page for the event, and I plan to attend. When looking up the event on a great website/blog BikingBis, I discovered the Seattle Century (organized by a Portland group) is taking place on the same day as Tour de Peaks. Indeed, the TdP is taking place over what looks like some of the same roads in Fall City and Snoqualmie. That’s not really a Big Deal™ but I can describe my last attendance at the Tour de Peaks. While the route is very, very nice, the last time we rode that event, we had a bit of an unpleasant surprise. The “Tour de Feast” as the TdP calls themselves, ran out of food at the finish line. And not just late in the day, either. We got back to the finish line after a metric century. Fairly, we went a little slowly on the course – we had two flat tires, and were delayed a bit changing out the tubes. (Note there was no on the road SAG support. We also discovered no SAG support of any kind at the rest stops. No one even bothered to bring a floor pump.) We completed the ride at about 2pm, and got back to the starting pavilion to discover the organizers packing up everything to go home. When we asked about being fed, they said “we ran out of food. Sorry.” I do think they genuinely were sorry, but no one really was overly concerned about doing anything about it. What was at least as disconcerting was that we were hardly the last ones in to the finish. We passed *lots* of people out on the course. None of them got anything to eat either. We feasted on gels and powerbars from the car (kept right next to our floor pump.) Yum!

I wrote to the organizers afterwards and did receive a response. They blamed the lack of sufficient food on the attendees. Here’s their response:

... [W]e appreciate your comments, and am very sorry you weren't able to experience the food at Tour de Peaks. Unfortunately we not only underestimated the number of participants ( last year we had 340; this year 567 ), but also the huge appetites of the people who did eat. I heard stories of riders taking huge portions and three or four trips down the line. We are trying to come up with a solution for next year.

We will also better ride support next year, and our start/finish location will be different in 2007. As soon as we have the new venue confirmed we will post it on our website and send out emails to all previous riders. Keep checking back starting the first of the year.

Thanks again for riding and for taking the time to send us your thoughts, as so many other riders wrote to say how much they enjoyed it. We do appreciate your efforts and hope you will come see what Tour de Peaks has in store for you next year!


We’re looking forward to the “Seattle Century” this year.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

What it takes to be a competitve bike racer

Here’s how the Cycling powers obtain control over you. Being subject to their Code is a creature of Contract. Want to be a profesisonal cyclist? UCI requires competitors to have a sporting license. If you don't want to participate in their league (including the Olympics), no need to apply. If you're a US citizen, here's your application for an international license:

http://www.usacycling.org/forms/intl_license.pdf

In order, the clauses you agree to have interesting consequences. Note that this is a non-negotiable contract:

1. “I am not aware of any reason why the requested license should not be issued.” This simple declaratory premise is likely a warranty of quality of the application. Lying can provide the other party the ample opportunity to allege fraud, as well as avail themselves to other defenses, including unilateral mistake or illegality.
2. “I have not requested a license from the International Cycling Union (UCI) or from any other national federation for the calendar year.” Again, another warranty. USA Cycling does not want you to be answerable to another entity, as this can complicate the jurisdictional issues.
3. “I am solely responsible for the information contained in this application….” Removes the ability of the cyclist to interplead a third party or agent, such as a coach or team owner. It is possible that a professional cycling contract could contain a promise of indemnification by the employer, but I’ve never seen such an agreement.
4. “…and for the use I shall make of the license.” USA Cycling is not interested in dealing with a third party that fraudulently (or otherwise) uses a license it issues. They know where you live, and if they suffer damages, they want them from the person signing, not some person they can’t find.
5. “I shall undertake to respect and comply with the constitution and regulations of the UCI, its Continental Federations, and its National Federations.” Now we’re cutting to the chase. This is interesting, considering the current spat between UCI and the Rival Cycling League, ASO. Should a rider be issued a license with these terms and conditions, and the UCI says “you can’t participate in that race” and you do, you are subject to penalty, including, presumably, revocation of this license, this license perhaps being a prerequisite to entry into the ASO race? One aside worth noting is the third “and” in the sentence: if the listed organizations have inconsistent rules, perhaps the clause is unenforceable as vague?
6. “I declare having had the opportunity to read such constitution and regulations.” Ignorance of the law is no excuse. (Ignorance of the principles of due process and equal protection of the laws seems to be another matter.) I am really really curious if there actually is an opportunity to read these things. How many federations and how many languages are involved? If push came to shove on this one, I rather suspect a court might be inclined to find this a little over-reaching.
7. “I agree to compete in a sporting manner.” Yeah, whatever. The other parties sure as heck made no such promise.
8. “I shall submit to disciplinary measures taken against me and shall take any appeals and litigation before the authorities provided for in the regulations.” Welcome to the Star Chamber, have a seat. This clause seems to preclude a cyclist from commencing litigation in a non-administrative forum, but there is no such requirement, presumably, for USA Cycling to do so. They can go to any court they choose, but the cyclist can’t. And if that was in question, presumably they could amend their regulations to make it so. Are we getting the picture here yet?
9. “I accept the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) as the only competent jurisdiction of appeal in the cases provided for by the Regulations and in compliance with the terms thereof.” Exclusive jurisdiction: one of the hallmarks of Justice. Even the CAS has a rule allowing for, in certain very limited circumstances, for an appeal of a CAS award. This clause seems to preclude even that. No point brushing up on your Suisse Rules of Procedure.
10. “I accept that the decisions of CAS shall be final and binding and not subject to appeal.” Interesting: suppose you had evidence after a CAS proceeding that one of the CAS arbitrators had acted in violation of the rules of the CAS? Suppose s/he took a bribe to rule in a certain way? Perhaps that then would be considered a “decision of the CAS,” the term really meaning “…a valid decision of the CAS….”
11. “With that reservation, I shall submit any litigation with the UCI exclusively to the tribunals at UCI headquarters.” I think this means any litigation *against* the UCI, not any litigation involving the UCI. Again, this clause is not reciprocal. Presumably the UCI could file against a cyclist in any court of their choosing.
12. “I agree to submit to drug testing and to comply with and to be bound by the UCI anti-doping regulations, the World Anti-Doping Code and its International Standards to which the UCI anti-doping regulations refer as well as the anti-doping regulations of other competent instances as foreseen by the UCI Regulations, the World Anti-Doping Code, or the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), provided such regulations comply with the World Anti-Doping Code.” Ah, the Queen Sentence of the agreement. I find the reference to “International Standards” intriguing here. I would think such a reference would include things like scientific certainty, calibrations, certifications, reliability…in other words, all those things LNDD screws up with regularity. No one can make standards less that WADA’s code, WADA rules supreme here, but I am really curious about what it takes to “comply” with the WADA code. Suppose the WADA code says “thou shalt not have more than 1000mg/ml of Xenomorphozol in thy pee lest We smite thee” and a Rival Cycling Federation says “Yea, for if thou haseth more than 900mg/ml of Xenomorphozol in thy pee, We shall compare thy pee from last week to see if thou cheateth.” A finding of 950 triggers a subsequent test that also shows 950. Does this “comply?” Is it more or less stringent? Dunno. There is also a reference here to “…anti-doping regulations of other competent instances as foreseen by….” I have no friggin’ clue what that’s about.
13. “I further agree that the results of the analysis may be released to the public and communicated to my trade team, coach, or doctor in accordance with UCI and WADA regulations.” May be released by *who*? Presumably, USA Cycling, but if USA Cycling had no involvement with the publisher (say, the French Tabloid L’Equipe) this means nothing.
14. “I agree to allow my doctor and/or the doctor of my team, upon the request of the UCI or WADA, to release to UCI and WADA officials a list of medications or treatments administered to me before any specific competition.” Hmmm…I’m not sure, but I do wonder how compliant this is to be effective as a HIPAA release. This agreement is not going to the doctor, but allows USA Cycling, UCI and WADA to obtain health care information that is otherwise protected from disclosure. I am curious what it takes to become “my doctor and/or the doctor of my team”? Hey, that was flax seed oil you rubbed on my arm, right? Trainers and coaches not included? Anyone practicing medicine without a license?
15. “I agree that all urine samples in such cases taken shall become the property of the UCI and WADA, and that UCI and WADA may have them analyzed for any purpose, including, without limitation, general research and information on health protection.” Wow. No such proviso for “in accordance with the rules, or as otherwise provided for by law” here. At least this is limited to urine samples, but still, I think urine contains cellular residue and DNA? And you’re going to make that “the property of the UCI and WADA” for “any purpose?” WADA seems to be a little short on cash, so maybe they wish to sell genomes to insurance companies looks to cut their risks of insuring people with pre-existing conditions. Nice.
16. “I accept these conditions regarding blood testing and agree to undergo all tests required of me.” If a test of you is required while attending your infant child’s funeral, you must excuse yourself and do as directed. No notice requirement here. Last I read Matthews v. Eldridge, minimum due process included both being informed of the charge against you, and an meaningful opportunity to respond. Not sure the latter is being provided. Yeah, the charge is always suspicion of doping (or is it?) but can you request a slight reasonable delay? Apparently not.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Just when you thought it couldn't suck more

Important update: The kentuckyderby.com web site has been updated with a news release regarding the loss of Eight Belles. Not on the main page, but it is findable with a click or two.

Better.

For a stunning example of hack journalism, one need look no further than the New York Times' William Rhoden's piece Race Illustrates Brutal Side of Sport. Rhoden conveniently turns a blind eye to humanity's taste for the flesh of other animals. I'm a carnivore. I wish I wasn't, but I hold no illusions about where my steak, porkchops, and chicken parmigana come from. Lest we also forget that salmon and buffalo have been systematically wiped out by humans as well. Rhoden's innane "why do they get a free pass?" suggests facts not in evidence - horse racing is certainly not getting a free pass, and his suggestion that the industry is in denial is unsupported. But where is Rhoden's outrage over "ultimate extreme cage fighting?" Why does he continue to work for the Times that prints advertisements on newsprint paper that grinds up trees? How much of his electricity he enjoys comes from hydroelectric dams that block spawning salmon? I won't speculate on his favorite protein source.

A better example of a first-hand account is Tim Layden's article at SI.com. He offers some reasoned analysis regarding humanity's relationship with race horses.

Rhoden likens horse and greyhound racing to animal fights. My greyhounds (and I have 3 of them) were bred specifically to race. When they were no longer economically viable for their owners, they were made available for adoption. Not all hounds are adoptable, and many are destroyed. I wish this wasn't so, but not all hounds make suitable pets. Their nature may be incompatible with living with humans - they may be prone to biting, destruction of their habitat, or similar. I wish this wasn't so, and more could be provided for. But does my adoption of these animals encourage the greyhound race industry to continue overbreeding? While that might be valid and demonstrable economic argument, the facts are that there are greyhounds currently in need of a home. I've filled mine to capacity. It is absurd to suggest that race horse or greyhound owners mistreat the animals in their care that provide them with income and business opportunity.

I wish horses didn't have to die in accidents because of their nature. But I imagine there are many animals that wish I wasn't a carnivore either.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

It still Sucks today

USA Today's Mike Lopresti's article on the death of Eight Belles starts the inevitable second guessing about the ethics of horse racing. The Washington Post's Sally Jenkins explains just what millennia of genetic engineering can produce. In the case of the modern race horse, make no mistake about it - humans have created a creature that, as most vet's I have met say, is "an accident waiting to happen."

There is no denying the horses are beautiful. Their motion is inspiring, and they are playful, intelligent creatures. But as Mary Shelley pointed out in dramatic fashion many years ago, humans have an obligation of care toward their creations.

I write this entry less that 24 hours after Eight Belles ran her last race, stood on the track for the last time, and the picture of her distress is still fresh in my mind. As I type, I can look down at the blue band on my left wrist that reads "Riding with Barbaro." OK, so maybe I'm a sentimental sap, and it is just pointless for me to get choked up about the loss of what, in the end, is property owned by humans. I donated to the Barbaro Fund, simply because I felt helpless to do anything else.

But run your browser over to Churchill Downs' Web site. What is there right now is all the news of Big Brown's win. And I'm all for that. Big Brown won the race, and I'm thrilled for their owner, trainer, jockey, family and friends. He's a beautiful creature, and I hope he goes on to win many, many more.

But behind the winner lies his closest competitor dead. And not a damn word anywhere on Churchill Downs' web site. They apparently don't want that to be associated with Visa, Yum! and UPS as sponsors. No, the realities of the product they are selling can't be acknowledged, even in the small, fine print, somewhere.

Shame on you people.

Many people (myself included) were inspired by Barbaro's fight 2 years ago when he shattered his leg in the Preakness. Who will remember Eight Belles? Sure, it might be silly of me to say this, when many, many horses are destroyed on the track each year because of their fragile nature. Indeed, we only know about Eight Belles because she was in the world's most famous horse race. And of course, the drama is increased because she was "running with the boys" trying to be only the 4th filly to win The Big Race. From what I understand, it was something of a freak accident that caused her injury - it isn't common for what actually happened to her to occurs. But that doesn't make that image of her laying on the track a few minutes later go away from my mind. Is it too much to ask for Churchill Downs to acknowledge her loss? Can't something good come out of this? Sure, maybe it is too early, and eventually someone will come up with something like the Barbaro Fund for us to foolishly suave our guilty feelings by sending money while we look away from the tragedy we've created. But is it too much to ask the people who are making money right now, in Very Large Amounts to put a note on their web page to honor the loss of a beautiful creature? Is that really too much to ask? Weeks from now, maybe no one will look at that web site. Right now it is news. And we all know bad news can't benefit sponsors who hold the purse.

I so much wanted to make a trip to Churchill Downs to see the Derby one day. It looks like something of a spectacle that would make a wonderful memory. I thought even the opportunity to go see Barbao's brother run when he turns three in a few years would be a fun trip.

Now I'm not so sure. Not because I don't know about the realities of what I am watching, and it is dangerous as hell; but because the people in charge, the people that are stewards of these animals don't seem to want me to know about that. They want me to buy a betting ticket, eat some Yum!, and drink another mint julip in the warm Kentucky spring air.

This Sucks.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

This Sucks too

Eight Belles euthanized on the track after 2008 Kentucky Derby

We watch a beautiful race. They pay the price.

And there's not a damn thing we can do about it. I wish it didn't have to be.

Our condolences to her family on their loss.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

My new Edge 705

I've only taken a few rides with my new Garmin Edge 705 and I'm very impressed. Gotta say right off the bat that perhaps it is a little ironic to mount a $500+ GPS receiver on a $450 bike, but I love my Trek. OK, so I've tricked my Trek 1000 a bit with a GPS and new Shimano 105 drive train, so what? I've also come to grips with the idea that I've spent more money on bike clothing than I paid for my bike. Oh well.

Anyway, my first impressions of the new Garmin toy are favorable. I don't have a power transmitter (yet!) so I haven't been able to use that function. I did get the cadence and HR attachments, and have set up the online training system and the local software. I haven't had a chance to use the plethora of option soffered by either. One thing I have noticed is that the heart rate and cadence data are in serious need of some sort of filter. As you can imagine, every now and then, you do stop pedaling. This makes the cadence track pretty noisy. There are occasional HR dropouts too - nothing serious, but there is some noise.

The unit is packed with features. I just figured out out to upload courses, and am looking forward to seeing how well it works on the bike. Fairly, the moving map is really cool, but it isn't something you can look too closely at while riding a bike. Biking just isn't a sport where you can take your eyes off the road. I imaging this will be a reference when stopped. It is very cool.

I'm really curious to see if manufacturers will take advantage of the ANT+ technology. The power meters are the first step for sure, but I've wondered about pedal stroke analysis. Sure, you can get this done on a trainer or in a lab/studio, but I sure wish I had a bike mounted device to give me some encouragement to pedal circles, not squares. Will new devices be available to make use of the new Garmin tech? I hope so.

A prerequisite for my buying one of these was Apple/Mac compatibility. I don't use PCs, so this was a must. I'm hoping to see some dashboard widgets for the training peaks software, and maybe the esoteric Garmin training software as well. Fairly though, since I've just started using the unit, I freely admit I haven't seen all it has to offer already. For sure though, the ability for people to share courses and rides is a big plus. Mapmyride.com seems to be a great source. I hope I can get my daily course maps for my upcoming Bicycle Adventures Crater Lake trip too.

One thing to be aware of: you really need the add-on StreetMaps card to make the map useful. The included pre-loaded map...well...sucks. The add on is $140. Garmin gives you 10% off for registering the new Edge 705, so that helps a bit.

The user guide could use some help, but for the most part it seems to describe things correctly. I sure would like a computer "emulator" so I could become familiar with the functions without using the unit itself.

I haven't figured out how to tie the cadence date to the speed data so I can tell what gear I should be turning, either on the bike, or with the post-ride training software. One of the plus differences to me between the Edge 305 and 705 was the latter's use of a wheel based sensor for speed, not just the GPS speed. It seems natural to me to be able to program a "shift up/shift down" indicator to tell me if I'm pushing too big a gear for my heart rate. The unit seems to know what the grade is too, so it seems like maybe it could help me figure out where I should be geared. Maybe it's in there somewhere, and I haven't figured that out yet.

If someone is looking to build an add-on for that ANT+ tech, one thing that came to mind was an auxiliary input button. It'd be really cool to have a wireless programmable pusbutton to put on the back of a glove, or up on the hoods. Hit a pre-programmed button to quickly mark a location on the GPS track. Be nice to tap a location in to mark a pothole, then download the location to the city so they could fix it. How cool would that be? And heck, while you're at it, tap that button twice to snap a photo from a helmet cam and mark that location on the GPS track?

The GPS map itself seems versatile enough that I think I want to find a suction cup to mount it in my car as well. Nice to have nav data there too. 2 for the price of one, you know.

Maybe that ANT+ tech could be linked to tire pressure sensors too? I guess this would have to be a pressure sensor built into a tube stem cap. Nice to get a warning that a tire is leaking. Maybe this is just tech looking for a problem to solve. I sure haven't needed a computer to tell me I've had a flat.

Anyway, more comments when I get more familiar with the unit.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

What Made Milwaukee Famous - Sultan

Show Me The Money*

Larry Stone's Article regarding fan reaction to doping in baseball rings true in cycling fan's ears. MLB revenues are up, the owners are making money hand over fist, and local governments are willing to fork over subsidies aplenty to keep the enterprise alive.

Compare this to cycling. In my view, cycling is a far more visually appealing sport than baseball. While George Carlin notes that baseball is "pastoral", is there anything more appealing than a bike ride through the countryside? Like most American kids, I played baseball when I was young. I stood at the plate and watched the ball go by a lot. I stood in the outfield and did the same thing. But mostly, I got to those playing fields by riding my bike there. Now, as I watch professional cycling implode as rival cycling leagues (UCI and ASO) divvy up the revenue pie, I wonder what could have been. How great would it be to see le Tour on HDTV? But alas, it won't happen. Road cycling takes place in exactly that arena: out on the open road, not in a stadium (built with the same tax dollars that build roads, BTW) where the fans can be quantified by their turning of the turnstyles and paying a fee. No, cycling depends on secondary revenue streams. Advertising. This is not to say MLB and other pro sports don't make wads on that too, but cycling (other than track events) relies almost exclusively on the good will of sponsors.

As Larry Stone points out, fans just have to come to grips with their association between their sports heroes and doping. And generally, I think I agree - many, if not most fans, would prefer to look the other way. We don't want to know. And to some extent, we celebrate the "feisty" player who challenges the ref when they make what the athletes thinks is a bad call. We want to see what athletes can get away with. Who hasn't cheered when the coach threw the challenge flag because the evidence wasn't clear? And don't you feel screwed when your team loses because while the replay likely shows a bad call, there wasn't "indisputable evidence" to overturn the call on the field? Now you know how Floyd feels.

The guys who foot the bill in cycling (e.g. "The Tour de Georgia Presented by AT&T") are very very sensitive to brand association and cheating. *No one* wants to think their cell phone company is cheating them. When your turnstyles stop turning, your sport is in trouble. ASO has essentially punished their "turnstyle turners" by penalizing a *sponsor* because of their name. I don't think anyone needs to remind Astana about their transgressions in 2006 and 2007. But ASO has chosen to do so by excluding their participation in ASO's league. Ya really gotta wonder just how wise that is. Time will tell.

If ASO's league prevails though, it is likely road cycling will cease to be an Olympic sport. I'm not sure the IOC will stand for only having access to second tier athletes. ASO's terror tactics with teams aside, if they succeed in producing a dope free sport, with verified controls that respect the rights of athletes, who will be the winners? Well, it would seem to be everyone. Except for one minor problem: to do that costs a lot of money. And ASO doesn't seem to be terribly interested in reducing their bottom line.

Go Astana.