Just when you thought you had heard it all when it comes to drug and cycling, somebody throws in a new twist. And when the person is Missy "the Missle" Giove you have to expect that the new twist is not just a somersault; it is probably something on the order of a triple flip. You might remember that Missy was a huge force on the women's MTB downhill circuit in the 1990's winning the World Championships in 1994.
She's not in the news because of a comeback. She's not in the news because she tested positive for performance enhancing drugs(PED's). She is in the news because she was busted after hauling about 400 pounds of marijuana from the west coast to the east coast. It was not clear if the marijuana was for medical reasons or personal use.
Giove was reportedly to be paid $30,000 for transporting the marijuana cross country, but ran afoul of the law in New York and was arrested. If convicted she could face up to 40 years in jail which is significantly more serious than a two year suspension from competition.
Giove was a huge draw at MTB races, one of the first female superstars of the sport. During her halcyon days as a professional downhill racer, Giove was reportedly making upwards of $300,000/year. She still holds the record for most NORBA downhill wins by a female.
First Tiger Woods. Now Missy Giove. Parents, please be the role models for your kids. Don't make them rely on athletes for that purpose.
-the UCI will stop treating women as unequal to men in the track events. The men race the 1km time trial, the women 500m. The men do a 4000m pursuit, the women do 3000m pursuit. The men's Olympic sprint is 3 riders and 3 laps. The Women's Olympic Sprint is 2 riders and 2 laps. In Track and Field, the women run the same distance as men all the way up to the 26-mile marathon. The UCI should realize that these unequal distance are silly and make the sport of cycling look backwards.
-pass the law that Idaho has that allows cyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs and stop lights as stop signs. It makes a lot of sense.
-have the airlines charge equitable oversize baggage fees for bicycles. Skis and golf clubs fly for free, why should cyclists pay extra?
-have Campy, SRAM and Shimano come up with a standard cog size and cog spacing so all shift levers and cog sets are compatible and hence, interchangeable.
-have the mountain bike world design the one true rear suspension. OK, I am being a bit cynical, but it seems like mountain bike manufacturers seem to be coming up with new rear suspension designs each year just to sell bikes.
-have Comcast, which now owns both Versus and NBC Universal Sports, come to an agreement with DirecTV (and Dish Network when their contract expires) to keep the only two networks showing significant bike racing coverage on all three major cable/satellite companies.
-somebody invent a chain lube that lubricates, but doesn't leave a greasy residue on the chain. White Lightening is about as good as it gets in the clean category, but it isn't a great lubricant. We put a man on the moon (or in a Hollywood sound stage for you skeptics). Somebody should be able to invent a clean chain lubricant.
I did a quick assessment and it looks like Santa knows that I have been "nice", as opposed to "naughty" so there is a real possibility that I might get a present or two under my tree come this Friday. Here are some of the items on my list.
-car drivers and cyclists find a way to get along. Things seem to be going downhill in the relationship between four wheel and two wheel drivers. I am hoping for some understanding on both sides of this issue. Car drivers need to show more tolerance for the slower, law-abiding cyclists and cyclists need to obey traffic laws. It is a two-way street.
-UCI adopts a rule that takes the time of a stage during a multi-day race with 1 kilometer to go. This will allow the GC contenders to be able to relax and not have to mix it up with field sprinters. This should lead to fewer crashes.
-if the UCI won't adopt my 1km rule, then at least stop taking time gaps at the finish of stages where the whole peloton crosses the 1km to go barrier intact. Again, the GC contenders shouldn't have to mix it up with the field sprinters in those hectic finishes as they do now.
-keep Lance healthy and fast for at least two more years. Yes, he gets a lot of press and attention, but that's exactly why we need to keep him in the sport and riding well. No single cyclists in the history of the sport in America has even come close to raising public awareness of our sport. Lance may not be your favorite rider, but a rising tide floats all boats and Lance is just about as strong as the moon when it comes to our seas in cycling.
-more mountain-top finishes in the Tour of California. Please don't let this race come down to the time trial as it has for the past four years. Let's force the strong teams to work and work hard to win this race. The fans deserve it.
-bike manufacturers need to find a way to make carbon fiber frames which will accept a full-size frame pump. Using CO2 cartridges is about as "un-green" as you can get and those silly little mini-pumps are really silly.
-have the folks who make the Bike Friday include a clown suit, free of charge, with every bike purchase. You might as well dress for the part. BTW, there are several good Real(TM) bike options (S&S and Ritchey BreakAway). No one should be forced to endure 20" wheels and more extensions than Brittany's hair just to ride a bike.
-have all the people who wear MP3 players when they ride turn down the volume enough so that they can actually communicate with their fellow cyclists when a greeting occurs on the road.
-a real playoff in college football. Think all cyclists have tunnel vision? Think again.
With all the recent broken contracts in the sport of pro cycling you would have thought that they were printed on toilet paper using invisible ink. First there was half of Team Astana heading over to Team Radio Shack. Now, Bradley Wiggins has left Garmin-Transitions for Britain's new pro squad, Team Sky.
There are a couple of issues here. First off, are all contracts created equally? Should all contracts, regardless of the circumstances be honored? Are there any extenuating rules or laws that affect whether a contract is valid or not?
First off, it is not clear that all contracts are created equally. By this, I mean are some contracts easier to break than others. Some contracts include 'opt-out' clauses that allow a contract to become void if the team doesn't meet certain conditions. One 'opt-out' clause would be to allow a rider to leave if a team loses it's Pro Tour status. Clearly, if a contract has an 'opt out' clause it can be broken if the clause is met.
Secondly, are there any extenuating circumstances that might make breaking a contract OK. In the case of the contract breaking at Team Astana, it must be remembered that the riders on that team were not paid for three months during the middle of the season. And, though the situation was finally resolved, it took a lot of pressure and potential exclusion from the Tour de France to finally get the paychecks rolling again.
Since the riders on Astana are pros and they do this to put food on the table for their wives and kids, I fully support the riders' decision to switch teams. Team Radio Shack is run by a management group with a record of paying it's riders so that is a huge incentive to head for more security.
In the case of Bradley Wiggins leaving Garmin-Transitions, there are no concerns about being paid. This was just the case of a rider wanting to leave his contract early for a team where both the rider, Wiggins, and management, Team Sky, wanted him to be. I don't support this type of behavior. Wiggins is a pro and he should have honored his contract with Garmin, especially since that team was responsible for his breakthrough season.
In fact, it is kind of ironic when you think about it. Garmin were the ones responsible for Wiggins becoming a bona fide Tour de France contender. Team Sky has a stated goal of having the first ever British winner of the Tour de France within five years. So, Garmin created the problem that caused Wiggins departure. Before you start feeling sorry for Jonathan Vaughters, it must be remembered that there was a buyout clause for Wiggins to go to Team Sky. Vaughters might not have Wiggins in 2010, but his bank account is definitely larger.
The third point is that there are some other factors which affect the validity of contracts. Not only am I not a labor lawyer, but we are are also talking about European Union labor laws and that makes things even more complex. I believe there are some laws which state that you can't force someone to work for someone if they don't want to. That's a pretty nebulous statement and, to be honest, I don't know the full ramifications of such laws. Suffice it to say that there may be more to honoring contracts in Europe than meets the eye.
Here are some more photos from the Team Radio Shack pre-season camp.
The boys coming back from their 100km training ride. Lance is leading the team with Levi to his left and Haimar Zubeldia on his right.
Chris Horner had a very up-and-down season in 2009. He showed signs of brilliance in the mountains during the Giro, but it seemed like everytime he was just about to hit his stride he went down in a crash. Here's hoping that he has much better luck in 2010 including a ride in the Tour de France.
The Trek-Livestrong U23 team was also training in Tucson at the same time as their professional big brothers. Taylor Phinney is the team leader of the squad. He won the U23 Paris-Roubaix and the World Championship in the 4000m pursuit in 2009 while he was still a teenager!
Jani Brajkovic is undoubtedly Slovenia's most talented cyclist. He had a breakthrough year in 2009, his best racing came at the Giro where he was very strong in the second and third weeks.
South African Daryl Impey is probably best know for being taken down in a sprint finish in the Tour of Turkey by Theo Bos. He is recovered and motivated to ride well.
I attended the Team Radio Shack pre-season camp this week. It is being held in Tucson where the weather is usually warm and sunny, but the first few days were a bit, sub-par weather-wise. That didn't stop Lance and his 25 teammates from having some fun out on the roads and doing a bit of team building. Here are some photos from the camp, note that since this is a pre-season camp the riders are all contractually obligated to wear their current team's clothing until December 31st.
Here is a photo of the man himself. He is looking very fit for December. That probably means he is planning to throw down hard in his first race of the 2010 season, the Tour Down Under, in late January.
Andreas Kloden is sporting some very striking facial hair. Johan Bruyneel has tipped Andreas, Lance and Levi as triple threats to win the 2010 Tour de France.
Jason McCartney or JMac has moved back from Saxo Bank to his buds at Team Radio Shack. He won a stage of the Vuelta a Espana for Discovery Channel in 2006.
Chechu Rubiera said he was going to retire two years ago. But, he is back in the saddle and ready to ride for Lance once again. He told me that this was definitely his last season.
Johan should be looking happy. He was able to get eight of the nine riders from his 2009 yellow jersey-winning Team Astana onto Team Radio Shack. No points for guessing who didn't make the switch.
I have been ragging a bit as of late on Fixie Fever. To be honest, as long as you have a working front brake on your fixie and use it, I guess I can't get too negative. Riding a bike of any variety is way better than trying to wipe out your enemy on Halo 3.
This past weekend I did observe one notable benefit to Fixie Fever. It occurred on a bike ride in the San Francisco Bay Area. Compared to the rest of the country we have really mild weather in Northern California. You can pretty much cycle here year round which is why a lot of pros live and train here. But, every once and a while the weather does turn cold. Those of you living in the northeast, don't get out your violins just yet, if the weather is in the 40'sF we consider it downright frigid.
So, my friend Lindsay and I were headed out for a longer ride (90 miles for me) on Saturday when we hooked up with three-time Olympian and current Bissell Professional Cycling Team director Eric Wohlberg. Our mutual friend Yukie tagged along as well. The fifth member of our group was Vincent Juarez, who is a senior at Piedmont Hills High School.
Vincent is finishing up his first year as a bike racer. He won a bronze medal at the US National Track Championships and was top three in a number of road races in the always competitive NorCal cycling scene. Vince will the the first to tell you that he is not considered a climber. Well, not yet. His best performances this year were in flatter races and he really enjoys riding on the track.
Vince hung tough on a cold, NorCal day that included a lot of ups and downs for a total of 6000' of elevation gain. I never once heard him complain even though he was clearly out of his element. And better yet, he seemed really excited to be racing his bike. That's a very encouraging sign.
So, what does this all have to do with Fixie Fever. Well, it appears that Vincent was first attracted to riding a bicycle by getting a fixie to knock around the neighborhood. The fixie riding on the road led to riding a fixed gear bike on the track and ultimately to riding a geared bike on the road. Hopefully, this is a path that more young male and female riders will follow in the future. I was going to say every cloud has a silver lining, but I didn't.
Tiger Woods is in the news these days for all the wrong reasons. In case you have been in a cave for the past week, Woods has allegedly had an affair with at least one woman which ultimately led to a domestic disturbance between himself and his wife, Elin. Mixed into this sordid drama is a car crash, a bunch of superficial injuries to Woods and his wife smashing out two of the windows in his car with a golf club.
Some people argue that this is a personal matter between Woods and his wife, and probably his alleged mistress(es). Others contend that Woods is a highly public figure and those who live in the spotlight can't turn the high beams off when things aren't so rosy. Both of the sides of this debate have some good points and it is hard to really decide who is right. But, that is not what I am writing about.
Just like professional cycling, golf exists because of sponsorships. There are big corporate sponsorships like AT&T, Buick and Nike and also lesser sponsors such as the golf companies. Regardless of the size of the sponsorship, the survival of the sport depends on the sponsors.
It is a bit of an oversimplification, but these sponsors give their dollars because of the image of the event or the athlete they are sponsoring. The sponsors want to project a certain image and the event or athlete they choose help them do that.
We saw in the infamous Michael Phelps 'bong' photo that if an athlete's image changes or is tarnished, a sponsor may decide to pull their sponsorship dollars. What remains to be seen in the Tiger Woods situation is if any of his current sponsors feel that his image is no longer a desirable commodity.
So, you can debate whether the general public should be concerned with what is going on in Tiger Woods' world, but his sponsors have every right to pull their money if they feel that Woods no longer fits the image they want to project.
I wrote about this last year at this time, but this is a safety issue and definitely bears repeating. It is that time of year again when people are rushing all over town trying to max out their credit cards buying things they think their friends and loved ones want for Christmas. That means that our normally barely-safe roads are becoming much less safe and are bordering on downright dangerous.
That doesn't mean that we should all stop riding and let all the turkey and stuffing take over our bodies. What it does mean is that it is super-important that we all be extra careful and ride more defensively when cycling in heavily-populated areas especially around shopping malls.
One of the biggest problems I see this time of year are drivers who are in a huge hurry to get wherever they are going. This means that they fail to use their turn signals and often make right or left turns without really checking. Their quick glance might warn them of an approaching car, but cyclists may not be detected which means we could easily get hit.
Again, the key to surviving the holiday, besides laying off the eggnog, is to ride defensively. It is a good idea to just assume that car drivers can't see you. Heck, when the 30% off sale is looming large at Macy's the drivers are on a mission and that doesn't include looking out for cyclists.
So, you have been warned. Hopefully, you don't meet a car, up close and personal, these holidays. Unlike the car drivers, give yourself some extra time on your rides and be prepared to be a bit slower when you hit the urban areas on your route. It just makes good sense.