Tempting as it might have been, my good friend Patrick O’Grady and I decided not to crank up LiveUpdateGuy.com and offer up a running commentary during the “Worldwide Exclusive” on Oprah these past two nights.
“Why bother?” the sage from Bibleburg asked.
It would have been fun, but mostly because it would have afforded both of us the opportunity to catch up with the group of regulars, who have come to call themselves “LUG nuts.” That’s a bit of shorthand for that little community that comes together during the grand tours for a combination of race reporting, thumbnail sketches of local history, haiku and a healthy dose of snark.
For a race, it’s a nice little place to field questions, offer observations and commentary and – if the occasion warrants – rude descriptions of people who take themselves way too @#$%ing seriously. But to devote two evenings to one of that latter group? Nahhhhh.
O’Grady was right. Why bother, indeed. Dinner, a nice Cabernet and even sleep were each a better option.
Instead, I took a pass, catching up on video of the interview and others’ observations in those quiet, early morning hours that have become my favorite time of the day. So, yeah, I ended up watching the entire thing, but not in real time.
To be honest, there is something rather liberating about no longer being obligated to report on the “Lance story” with anything resembling a sense of urgency these days.
What interested me more than the interview, though, were the reactions from those I respect … and those I do not.
Reactions I wanted to hear
On Friday, I woke up in time to catch the Sunday Times’ David Walsh on the BBC, offering a mixed reaction to Part I of the interview. David was making the rounds, doing his seventh or eighth interview of the day and beginning to lose his voice.
His were opinions I wanted to hear. David brought a healthy dose of skepticism with him to the 1999 Tour de France. He left with a high degree of certainty, offended both by the arrogance of a drug cheat who could lie without flinching and the apparent unwillingness of the sport’s authorities to do anything about it. It was especially painful in light of the fact that we were there reporting on the first “Post-Festina” Tour. 1999 was supposed to be the start of a new chapter in cycling. Unfortunately, it was … but for all the wrong reasons.
What I admired – and still admire – about Walsh is that he stuck to his guns. Even when shunned by teams, riders and, yes, even friends and colleagues, he did his damnedest to get at the truth. The man that the Armstrong camp constantly referred to as “the f#cking troll,” finally saw the target of his efforts concede that he had been right all along.
“Do I feel vindicated? I will be honest and say no,” Walsh said. “Vindication comes when you are challenged by many people and you need other people to say you were right. I hope this doesn’t sound arrogant, but I never needed other people to say I was right.
“I’m glad it came out but I never needed that to know that Lance Armstrong was involved in doping in ’99 … and every time subsequently since that time.”
Walsh did appreciate that it was Armstrong himself publicly acknowledging that he had cheated, but he remained deeply offended by the interview subject’s unwillingness to concede, for example, that Betsy and Frankie Andreu have been telling the truth for more than a decade.
When asked about the now-infamous 1996 “hospital incident,” in which he confessed to using a veritable pharmacopeia of substances in the years preceding his cancer, Armstrong demurred, saying he simply didn’t “want to go there.”
Armstrong revealed to Oprah that he had tried to make amends in a call to the Andreus’ home days before the interview. When asked if things were “good” with his former teammate and his wife, Armstrong acknowledged that he has a long way to go before that will happen.
“They’ve been hurt too badly and a 40-minute conversation isn’t enough,” Armstrong said with heart-tugging sincerity.
Then, much like the Alien bursting out of Executive Officer Kane’s chest, the old Armstrong suddenly reared its ugly head.
“I think she’d be okay with me saying this,” Armstrong incorrectly assumed, “but I am going to take the liberty to say this and I said ‘listen, I called you crazy and I called you a bitch. I called you all these things, but I never called you fat.”
Why Oprah didn’t just lean over and slap him across the face right then and there shall forever remain a mystery to me.
Meanwhile, Betsy, a guest on Anderson Cooper’s 360 program on CNN, was floored. Her emotional reaction didn’t flare up because of that feeble and dismissive attempt at humor. Hers was an honest, heart-felt response to more than a decade of abuse heaped upon her, her husband and his career.
Betsy is still pissed and, dammit, she deserves to be.
So, too, is Emma O’Reilly, who, after speaking to Walsh about doping on Postal, was characterized by Armstrong as an alcoholic and a whore and then sued.
“She’s one of these people that I have to apologize to,” Armstrong acknowledged. “She’s one of these people who got run over, who got bullied.”
Please, note the use of the passive voice here. It’s akin to “mistakes we made,” not “I made a mistake.” Emma O’Reilly was “one of these people who got run over, who got bullied,” not “I made that poor woman’s life a living hell.”
In O’Reilly’s case, a big part of that bullying came in the form of Armstrong’s weapon of choice, the lawsuit. Indeed, it was something he so commonly used, he had to hesitate when asked if he had filed one against the former Postal soigneur.
“To be honest Oprah we sued so many people,” he said, finally abandoning the passive, ”… I’m sure we did.”
That he forgot whether or not he had sued a financially challenged young woman, simply for telling the truth, underscores the callousness with which he approached the question. Rest assured, anyone in O’Reilly’s shoes being sued for libel by a millionaire sports figure, backed by a cadre of high-priced lawyers, would have no trouble remembering the experience. But for the fact that there many more examples, that answer and that answer alone demonstrated how little real regard he had for the people to whom he was “apologizing.” Contrite as he tried to appear, this guy really didn’t – and still doesn’t – give a shit.
Salle de Presse
Virtually anyone who has written about cycling at any point in their journalism career has weighed in on this one by now. Some of them I truly enjoyed, a list topped out by Bonnie Ford’s insightful and thoughtful ESPN column “Still moving reflexively in the rubble.”
Ford has followed this silly-assed story since 2000 and is among the most insightful in the American press corps. She is, by any measure, the best ESPN has to offer.
If you shift your attention to the other end of the qualitative spectrum, however, you hit Ford’s fellow ESPN columnist, Rick Reilly.
This week, Reilly’s column started with an email from Armstrong.
Riles, I’m sorry.
All I can say for now but also the most heartfelt thing too. Two very important words.
And my first thought was … “Two words? That’s it?”
Two words? For 14 years of defending a man? And in the end, being made to look like a chump?
No, Mr. Reilly, you looked like a chump long before we got to “the end.”
Reilly and a parade of others, including Sally Jenkins at the Washington Post, former pro John Eustice, the TV guys, Phil, Paul, Bob and, sadly, even an old friend and colleague with whom I’ve traveled and covered races, had to know. They chose to ignore the truth, denied the doping and, more importantly, stood by with hands in pockets while the bullying was going on.
They were the enablers who allowed a sociopath to run rampant through this beautiful sport for more than a decade, all the while inflicting incalculable damage on a group of fundamentally honest and decent people.
What I wish were final thoughts
So what are we to conclude from the two-night confessional? To start, for all of the criticism offered after the announcement of Armstrong’s choice of venue, I have to say that Ms. Winfrey did a pretty reasonable job. She did her homework, noting that she had read the reasoned decision and “all of David Walsh’s books” in preparation. Her questions were solid and based on allegations and incidents that a well-informed observer would raise. Her only failure was not to aggressively pursue those questions when the answer proved evasive. All-in-all, she did a good job and probably got more out of the guy than would a three-member panel composed of Walsh, Andreu and O’Reilly.
Personally, I came away from it pretty much how I thought I might: A little amazed at the fact that the guy was actually admitting to things he’d been denying throughout his entire career; damn sure that he’s not telling the whole story, carefully calculating what he does say and, finally, the feeling that all of us were somehow being manipulated into the start of a new and concerted PR campaign.
The Oprah interview seemed to be a calculated kick-off to the sequel to Armstrong’s original “Road to Recovery,” when he returned to cycling from cancer. Now, we’ve been duly primed and ready to follow this newly contrite messiah on the “Road to Redemption.”
Armstrong said he would like to open up and cooperate with USADA or a “truth and reconciliation” commission in cycling. Following the first interview, USADA’s Travis Tygart released a statement that he would like to have Armstrong testify … “under oath.”
I would enjoy that and it could go a long way to cleaning up the sport, especially if he opens up about the UCI’s role in all of this. Still, one of Armstrong’s not-so-secret motives in all of this is to reverse what he called “the death penalty,” a life-time ban from any sport that operates under the WADA Code. “Death penalty,” seems a somewhat hyperbolic characterization of a life-time ban from competition, but given the nature of the offenses, killing off this career seems fair.
I have my opinion, folks. I welcome yours.
Much has already been written and said about the Lance Armstrong interview with Oprah Winfrey. It ranges from naive praise to dismissive disbelief. My purpose isn’t to either defend him or further scorch the earth at his feet; rather, I’d like to offer some perspective to view this within the larger framework of the evolving myth of Lance Armstrong.
The general sentiment of Armstrong among RKP readers, the collective room temperature, isn’t hard to gauge. Many of you are tired of the lies, tired of the myth, tired of him. So why pay attention now? Because Lance Armstrong told the truth to Oprah. Based on what we know, not everything he told was the truth, nor was it all of the truth we want to hear. But he admitted to doping. It’s an important first step. That he wouldn’t roll over on any of his co-conspirators—in particular Johan Bruyneel and Thom Weisel—was the omission I feared would sour an otherwise bold change of heart. His continued denial of a coverup in 2001 at the Tour de Suisse was just as troubling.
When he told Oprah that he wanted to deal with what he had done, it may have seemed a noble move to some, but then he added that he didn’t want to address the actions of others. We all know that the best he could do right now is to be completely forthright.
What’s unfortunate about the first part of Oprah’s interview with Armstrong is that by drawing a line in the sand and telling her that he wasn’t going to discuss the actions of others he eliminated the anticipation that he’d reveal anything surprising, something we didn’t already know. Part two of the interview is a foregone conclusion. He will confess to some things we accept as true and he may deny a couple of details that we also accept as true.
The only surprises in store for us are really those items he continues to deny.
For my part, I was disappointed when Oprah asked him when he began doping and his answer wasn’t immediate, wasn’t detailed. Telling her, “I suppose earlier in my career … mid ‘90s,” is an unacceptably vague answer. The only way I’m willing to believe he doesn’t remember both the month and year he began is if it was some time in the 1980s. Either way, I’m unwilling to accept he doesn’t remember the year he began.
He also told Oprah that he wasn’t a bully before cancer. I call shenanigans on that as well. He’s never not been a rough-hewn character who wanted his way. When I was a race mechanic, USA Cycling staff shared Lance Armstrong stories the way stoners trade arrest stories. Those who told the stories did so with an air of amusement, that while his behavior didn’t conform with the genteel demeanor expected of athletes sponsored by USA Cycling, they were willing to indulge him, a tiny gift for a guy who was destined to make their stock split. Perhaps Lance and I define bully differently, but where I come from, only bullies always get their way, and until very recently, Lance got his way.
I think much of the interview was truly aimed not at the public but at his aforementioned co-conspirators. It was a flare from him to demonstrate that he wasn’t going to rat them out, that he could have, but didn’t. Considering Bruyneel’s appeal looms, it could also be considered a shot across his bow—’I didn’t rat you out, bro. Don’t rat me out.’ CNN is claiming that the interview was a win for Oprah, her biggest “get” ever (which defies comprehension), but backfired on Armstrong.
If indeed Armstrong’s interview is only worsening his situation, there’s a simple reason. What we’ve needed from Lance wasn’t just some truth, we’ve needed what we expect in sworn testimony—the whole truth and nothing but the truth. We, the people, don’t feel we got that from him, and that’s why this was a fail for the average cycling fan, if not the general public as well.
I will say I was relieved to hear Armstrong admit that a single call to Frankie and Betsy Andreu wasn’t going to be enough to undo the damage of nearly a decade of attacks. When asked if he was forgiven, he was bang on the money in his response: “They’ve been hurt too badly … and a 40-minute conversation isn’t enough.”
Still, nothing that he said can overcome the disappointment of hearing him say of his past, “Such a bad story, so toxic … a lot of it is true.” From the jaws of admission—an opportunity for real contrition and reflection—he managed to snatch defense. It’s a shame he doesn’t appreciate what we’ve all come to learn about his story—that it was so fantastic, so mythic in its scope that no one—not Landis, not Hamilton, not the Andreus—ever needed to invent anything about him.
The inventions were his.
I tell my kids, on the rare occasion that we pass an accident on the highway, not to crane their necks and press their small noses against the window to gawk at the mayhem. You’ll blind yourselves staring into the flashing lights of the emergency vehicles, I tell them, and your attention won’t help the injured. Be grateful that the road still hums under our tires, and that we are still, mercifully, on our way.
When I parted the blinds this morning, the sun was just splitting the clouds on the east side of Boston, the Hancock and Prudential Towers silhouetted beneath a purple and white cloud line. It reflected off the crust of still-white snow in the front yard and bathed the kitchen in brightness. The radio said it was cold out, but this is one of those sunny, crisp winter days that hints at Spring’s rebirth.
I stood on the shop floor yesterday and talked with Mike about the rides to come this year. Registration is open for a couple of the big gravel rides that cash in on end-of-summer fitness, and we talked about riding them together. He clued me into another private ride over some of that same terrain, 60 miles of New Hampshire hill climbing, and we made the kind of plans you make when it’s cold out and the summer is just an approaching dot on the horizon. It felt good.
This week’s Group Ride is about the good days to come. What events do you plan to ride? What trips are you going to take (with your bike)? Who will you ride with this year that you didn’t ride with last?
I sincerely hope to meet more of YOU this year. Padraig and I have spoken about connecting for any number of the larger fondos and off-road rides that have become highlights of the casual, US cycling season. When we know where we’ll be, we have every intention to connect with readers who will also be there.
Image: Matt O’Keefe
When I was in my ascendancy as a cyclist, at a certain point, I began chasing numbers. We all did. There was higher speed—both average and max—because chasing velocity is inarguably the pursuit of fun itself. Then came longer rides. There was my first 20-mile ride, 50-mile ride, and of course, my first century—it wasn’t hard to figure out that a longer ride was just more of a good thing. Then, of course, came racing. There was the first race I entered, the first race I finished, then I chased my first placing, the first podium and then, finally, that first win. What came next? Points. I chased upgrade points and then the categories themselves. Along the way I picked up a heart rate monitor and for a while I was focused on seeing ever-climbing max heart rates. And once I learned what it was, each season I pushed my lactate threshold a few beats higher.
The appeal of chasing numbers is obvious enough. I was chasing a better me. When I decided to get serious about my cycling it was because I was nagged by a single, simple question: Of what was I capable? The promise that we may be a diamond in the rough can drive us to train with abandon for years, even decades. Within those numbers I pushed through boundaries as much of mind as body. I was learning that my limits are far less, well, limiting than I once figured.
Cycling, more than any other endeavor, taught me that the person I thought I knew, the identity that I carry day-to-day was as temporal as a rain cloud. For years, every time I thought I’d reached my limit, mere weeks later I’d experience some sort of performance breakthrough that would cause me to reevaluate my core beliefs. And the issue wasn’t that I was only as good as my last strong ride; no, even now I learn new lessons. I’ve seen recently that I can sustain more pain than I thought, I can exercise better judgment than I thought I possessed, that my skills are sharper than I suspected.
There comes a point for many cyclists where the numbers don’t add up. That is, they cease to contribute something meaningful. To use MBA-speak, they don’t add value. Off goes the heart rate monitor and computer. Out goes the training diary. I’ve encountered plenty of riders for whom the reasons why the numbers became an aggravation seemed a mystery. Trust me, it’s not. The ego of a cyclist is as fragile as a Christmas ornament. As soon as the numbers bear bad news, rather than good, the easiest solution is to stick the messenger in a drawer.
I’ve watched friends chase race fitness well past their 50th birthday, and while I think racing can be terrific fun and don’t see anything wrong with a bunch of 50-year-old guys racing a crit, I do fundamentally think of racing as a young buck’s game. At one point recently I contemplated a return to racing—just for fun—but once the accusations that some of the riders on some of the local masters team (sponsored by a biotech company) were doping, my stomach for pinning a number on evaporated. I’m sorry if this offends anyone, but if you’re old enough to be a grandparent and you’re doping to win a master’s race, you’ve lost the plot line. I also suspect that anyone doing that isn’t reading my work, so I should be in the clear with that last statement.
One of my goals for my life is to find a way to thread a middle ground between aging and chasing youth, between sedentary decline and doped-up racing, between passive retirement and head-strong ego. I call that space grace. I’d like to ride my bike as far into old age as possible. In my case, based on family history, that could be well into my 80s. My maternal grandfather rode his coaster-brake cruiser four miles every morning well into his 80s. On the days he felt good, he’d ride his circuit again in the afternoon. This is a man who smoked cigars into his 70s. Now, that said, I’m aware that at a certain point I need to think of my lactate threshold as a place not unlike the loud concerts of my youth. I might get back there once in a while, but it won’t be a weekly event. Not only isn’t it smart, I doubt I’d have the stomach for doing it every day.
Without geeking out too much, one of the concepts that has influenced my thinking lately is the projected lifespan of the average heart. The American Heart Association says that average human heart will beat in the neighborhood of two billion times. Some projections by Dr. Robert Jarvic, the inventor of the artificial heart, hold that it’s even higher, somewhere between 2.3 and 2.9 billion. Riding may drive up my heart rate, but the physiologic adaptation that has occurred as a result has lowered my resting heart rate. Bottom line: the numbers suggest that for cyclists, all that riding is buying us time.
Which brings me to my current relationship to numbers. I still wear a heart-rate monitor. Every ride. And, as many of you know (because you follow me), I use Strava. But I don’t use either of these training tools in the typical way. I don’t use the heart-rate monitor to go hard. I know how to go hard and no number will make me go harder. Going hard was never the issue for me. Going hard too often has often been an issue in the past. Overtraining was one of the reasons I stopped racing. Being overtrained robbed me of the ability to go fast and in so doing, sucked the fun out of racing for me. So these days the heart rate monitor helps me know when I’m going easy, easy enough.
These days, I think of tools like the heart rate monitor and Strava as means to keep me from overtraining. I’m not that disciplined in my training for the most part. I ride. I like doing group rides. There’s usually been a point every spring where I try to log some bigger miles to give me a good foundation for later in the season, but the reality is that I have traditionally logged my biggest miles in the summer. For me, that’s not hard to process: My greatest goal as a cyclist isn’t becoming a better cyclist, it’s to have fun. So in an effort to minimize the number of mistakes my exuberance inclines me toward, in addition to making sure I do easy rides, I also make sure to back off for one week out of each month. I cut both miles and intensity, arguably one of the more lasting lessons from Joe Friel’s book “The Cyclist’s Training Bible.”
As Robot noted in a recent FGR, I was on schedule to hit 8000 miles by the end of 2012, a figure I did hit just before New Year’s Eve. By any standard, it’s a lot of miles, though it wasn’t a goal until early December, when I realized that simply continuing to ride with the frequency that was normal for me would bring me to that total.
I had to ask myself why I even cared and then one night as I clicked around Map My Ride (where I have multiple years of data recorded) the answer popped out. It’s been more than four years since I had a season with that many miles. It’s by no means what I used to record when I was racing, and that’s okay. So why even think about how many miles I’m riding? It’s a tool, just another Allen wrench in the toolbox, one that helps me think about what I want my life to be. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life riding 15 mph, but that I can put in 8000 miles in a year reminds me that I can still develop some real fitness, that my future as a rider doesn’t have to be without a goal or two to chase. Setting goals is how we redefine our limits and while I may not ever climb in the big ring again, my future may hold a few surprises yet.
And that’s enough to keep the training exciting.
The era of the coordinated cycling collection is only barely out of its infancy. For most of my time in the sport of cycling jerseys have had a relationship to the shorts riders wore only if the same sponsor appeared on both garments. The notion that anyone might deliberately design a non-sponsor-adorned jersey to match yet another non-sponsor-adorned pair of shorts is as new as the credit default swap.
Capo Forma came into the market while collections were still struggling to gain acceptance, before serious style had really been established. If they can be credited with nothing else, they can at least take a bow for showing competitors how to use materials and design to create a harmonious look. I mean, if companies like Lululemon can make yoga wear cool enough to wear while wandering around town (and apparently there are because one can find towers of lean Manhattan Beach housewives on the loose daily), then cycling clothing ought to at least look good while you’re on the bike. I know, it’s a bit much to expect us to look great off the bike.
But like I said, that’s where Capo comes in. If you’ve ever met Capo’s CEO Gary Vasconi, you know why. Gary is a guy who prides himself on his Italian heritage. He dresses like he was raised in Milan, which is to say he’s always the best-dressed guy at Interbike. I’m sure he has a belt to match every pair of shoes he owns. Honestly, he dresses better than the guy at Nordstrom who sold me my suit.
That he’s in apparel is fortunate. That he’s in the bike industry is a miracle.
Up until I was sent the Padrone Long-Sleeve Jersey and the Roubaix Bib Knickers, all the Capo clothing I’d worn had been of the custom variety, which is a huge chunk their business. To give you some idea just how successful their designs are, last I recall, every six weeks Helen’s Cycles, the L.A.-area retailer with eleventy locations, places a fresh order for a new custom kit. They sell ‘em like some shops sell tubes.
Back to the Padrone collection. Part of the particular genius of this collection is that the look is not based on sublimated designs; rather, it comes from using different fabrics and creative patterning. Now, I will say that the back of the long sleeve jersey looks a bit like you’re wearing your bibs on the outside, rather than beneath the jersey, but I respect that the particle material selection comes from the need to use a less-stretchy material in portions of the back. By using a material without much vertical elasticity in the jersey back you can stuff the pockets with everything from a rain cape to spare bottles and not have the pockets sag down over your butt.
Both pieces are thermal, meaning they sport a brushed Roubaix finish inside. Normal Lycra/polyester knickers and long-sleeve jerseys carry me to the low 60s. I know some riders are calibrated differently and would wear such items into the mid-50s, but the sages who taught me said to cover your arms below 70 and your knees below 65. Roubaix material will generally increase my comfort into the low 50s. With a simple base layer the Padrone long-sleeve jersey and knickers were good for comfort from the upper 40s to the mid 60s.
The Padrone knickers and jersey sport a few features that used to be thought of as sort of extravagant. Full zippers were unheard of in long-sleeve jerseys just a few years ago, but can be particularly helpful for regulating temperature on days that warm considerably. And I can say from experience that that only thermal knickers on the market in the mid-90s that completely covered your belly and required a zipper for removal and calls of nature were manufactured by Assos. The extra material gives you a bit of extra insulation in a sensitive location. I struggle to drink enough on cold days; the cold fluid chills me and as a result I tend not to drink enough; the added material helps overcome the chilling that comes with a long tug on the bottle.
The single most eye-catching feature of the pieces I reviewed, though not the most notable was the red fleece used inside the knickers and at the sides of the jersey. At first look the material appears to be an ordinary black, but from certain angles the red fleece underlying the black poly surface shows through, giving the panels a burgundy-ish hue. The material called Thermo Roubaix® Dream that features a hollow core to keep you even warmer and the look is novel enough to be eye-catching. Using the red-backed fleece helped tie the two pieces visually so that they didn’t just look like two random winter pieces. In the photo above it looks a bit like the shot of the jersey includes the top of the knickers, but that’s how the jersey is actually cut. Incidentally, it’s worth noting that Capo runs the Roubaix material all the way up the front of the bibs, a move that’s uncommon, but offers just that much more insulation.
I had but two issues with the Padrone jersey and knickers. With the jersey I noticed that the upper arms and shoulders flapped in the wind. Unlike jerseys I’m wearing from Rapha and Road Holland right now, the Capo jersey was cut for someone who actually goes to the gym and does bench presses. If you have shoulders, biceps and/or triceps, and I don’t mean ones of the vestigial variety that make Andy Schleck look like a pink T. Rex, this is the jersey for you.
My knickers ran short. Even when the gripper elastic in the hem was positioned at the bottom of my knee cap I had trouble pulling the knickers high enough to get the chamois to follow my contours, rather than sit below my crotch. The Windtex® wind-stopper fabric used on the used on the front of the lower half of the knickers to help keep you dry on wet days contributed to this; wind-stopper fabrics, due to the membrane that keeps you dry, don’t stretch much, so simply pulling a bit more wasn’t an option. The trouble I learned, is that my knickers were pre-production and the final production knickers were cut with a 3cm-longer inseam. That increase in length will make a big difference for most, if not all riders.
Most pads I have encountered use two different thicknesses—or densities—of foam; the pad in the Padrone knickers features four different graduated thicknesses. It’s a sizable pad that—once properly situated—is truly an all-day pad, one that can easily carry you through a four- or five-hour training ride with comfort. Both pieces come in five sizes—Small through XXL. Sizing was in-line with other American lines I’ve worn; I took the small in the jersey and medium in the knickers.
The jersey comes in white or black and the bibs are available only in black. Both come with reflective tags for visibility. The jersey has three pockets; the two outer ones are cut at an angle for easy access. A fourth, water-resistant, zippered pocket has larger-than-usual capacity, making it perfect for a smart phone.
Of course, this quality comes at a price. The Padrone long-sleeve jersey carries a suggested retail of $220, while the Padrone knickers go for $230.
These are terrific pieces, but the jersey is best-suited to guys with guns.
Editor’s Note: I’ve previously made the case that endemic cycling publications were ill-equipped to chase the full-scope of the allegations against Lance Armstrong. Contributor Charles Pelkey told me of a piece he wrote that was first published on VeloNews.com in February 2009. The piece was a minor news update on a lawsuit filed in a British court by Betsy Andreu, wife of former U.S. Postal rider, Frankie Andreu. Within minutes of it being posted, Armstrong contacted management at the magazine and said that if the story were to remain on the site he would deny access to himself and his team by any member of VeloNews staff during the upcoming Tour of California. The story was subsequently pulled.
It’s a relatively benign story, reported in other media outlets, but the incident illustrates the hurdles the media faced in dealing with Armstrong.
British paper reaches settlement with Betsy Andreu
Britain’s Guardian newspaper has reached an out-of-court settlement with American Betsy Andreu over comments Lance Armstrong made about her in November.
By Charles Pelkey
February 14, 2009
The wife of former U.S. Postal rider Frankie Andreu has reached an out-of-court settlement with Britain’s Guardian newspaper in a libel case stemming from comments Lance Armstrong made about her in a November interview with reporter Donald McRae.
In the interview, McRae suggested that Betsy Andreu had lied about a now-infamous conversation Armstrong is said to have had with doctors treating him for cancer in 1996, in which she alleged that he admitted using performance-enhancing drugs. McRae wrote about Andreu’s allegation using a transition sentence that began “other people, apparently, also lied about Armstrong.”
That portion of the story was followed by a quote from Armstrong who recommended that the interviewer “go online and, to this day, Betsy blogs 24 hours a day about me. If that ain’t sick, what is?”
Following the November publication of the article, Andreu began legal action against the paper, demanding an apology, the opportunity to publish a response and damages, to be awarded to charities of her choice.
In a January letter to Andreu and her attorneys both in the U.S. and Great Britain, the paper acknowledged the validity of the claim and agreed to pay her attorneys’ fees as well as make $5000 in charitable donations on her behalf.
“It’s obviously not about the money,” Andreu told VeloNews. “I have asked that any cash settlement be paid not to me, but to charities of my choice: The Lennon Center, a local charity whose mission is to provide nonjudgmental counseling, material assistance and counseling before, during and after pregnancy; and St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.
“The whole thing is about getting the truth out and not letting people misrepresent who and what you are,” she added. “I told the truth and, in case you’re wondering, never have blogged … about him or anyone for that matter.”
The paper also removed the passages in question from an online version of the story and included an apology.
“We apologize to Betsy Andreu for comments made about her in this interview,” the paper noted. “She has asked us to clarify that, while evidence that she gave in proceedings about an insurance claim brought by Lance Armstrong is disputed, she honestly recounted what she believed she had heard.”
Andreu’s letter to the paper was published on Monday of this week.
Media attorney Razi Mireskandari, who represented Andreu in Britain, said he and his client are satisfied with the outcome of the case.
“”My client will not countenance the suggestion made in the Guardian article that she is lying when she says she heard Lance Armstrong telling doctors treating him for cancer that he had taken performance-enhancing drugs,” Mireskandari said. “She was in the room, as was Frankie Andreu, and they both heard what he said. They both told the truth on oath and no amount of denials or attacks will change their testimony. The Guardian apologized, regretted suggesting otherwise and paid an agreed sum to charities of my client’s choice and her legal costs.”
Calls to attorneys representing the Guardian had not been returned as of the time this story was originally posted.
You’ve written a lot about doping rules, but I am still a little unclear about the term “strict liability,” when it comes to one kind of violation.
The reason I ask is that I am resuming training after a two-year layoff (because of a new baby) and part of my program includes a lot of food supplements and occasional energy drinks. I know that riders in the past have been convicted of doping even when they make the case that their violation was a result of an accident. I am not sure that it’s even possible to avoid the risk of consuming a contaminated supplement, when you consider the places that make these things.
What bothers me is that I risk two years off the bike again – this time because of suspension – through no fault of my own. Is that fair?
I have stirred this hornets’ nest before, so what the heck. My first advice is to avoid using those “food supplements and energy drinks” and speak with a qualified coach, or more precisely, a nutritionist who can guide you through a maze of questions about how you can achieve the same results with actual food.
I think it was two or three years ago when I wrote about “tainted” supplements and the “unregulated” industry that produces them. A representative of that industry did set me straight in pointing out that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does hold regulatory authority over the supplement industry, particularly under the provisions of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA). The DSHEA authorizes the FDA to take action “against any unsafe dietary supplement product after it reaches the market.”
Food supplement manufacturers are also responsible for compliance with Dietary Supplement Current Good Manufacturing Practices, comply with labeling requirements and report to the FDA any “adverse events” that are associated with use of the product.
What manufacturers do not need to do, however, is register products with the FDA or get FDA approval for those products before bringing them to market.
In other words, it’s a regulatory framework that, in my mind at least, conjures images of barn doors and long-gone horses.
It’s for those reasons that I continue to hold the opinion that taking dietary supplements – especially if you are an athlete subject to the provisions of the World Anti-Doping Code – is a risky proposition.
As you mentioned, there are several cases involving athletes who apparently unknowingly consumed banned substances while under the impression they were merely taking supplements or perfectly legal energy products.
Now retired, Scott Moninger tested positive for norandrosterone in 2002. Upon learning of the result, Moninger forwarded his opened bottle of “Doctor’s Brand L-Tyrosine,” – an amino acid supplement – to an independent laboratory, which found that 19-norandosterone was present in the bottle. Tests on other, sealed, bottles showed no sign of contamination.
While the panel did not fully accept the argument that the supplement was the cause of the positive test, they did consider that and other evidence – Moninger’s unsullied 21-year cycling career and character testimony from other riders – as mitigating factors and imposed a one-year, as opposed to two-year, suspension.
The following year, Amber Neben tested positive for 19-norandosterone – although at significantly lower levels – and was suspended for six months.
In 2009, Brazilian rider Flavia Oliveira tested positive for Oxilofrine and was suspended for two years. Oliveira appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and was able to show that an energy supplement she used to counter the fatiguing effects of prescription allergy medications was mislabeled and did not mention that it contained the aforementioned banned substance. Nonetheless, she was still suspended for a total of 18 months.
I believe Oliveira has a lawsuit pending against the manufacturer for its failure to list all ingredients on its label.
It’s important to note that all three of these decisions were based on critical language in World Anti-Doping Code:
“It is each athlete’s personal duty to ensure that no prohibited substance enters his/her body. Athletes are responsible for any prohibited substance or its metabolites or markers found to be present in their bodily specimens.”
That is the “strict liability” language of the Code, since it eliminates the “intent” element of the violation. In other words, an anti-doping agency does not need to show that you intended to consume a banned substance, only that it is present in your body.
To varying degrees, the arbitration and appeals panels are allowed to view a lack of intent as a mitigating factor when considering a penalty, but not when determining whether or not a violation occurred.
So, as to your question, Aimee, I would suggest you do your best to avoid supplements and consult with a nutritionist to determine how your dietary needs can be met with actual food. Yes, I recognize that the FDA has authority over the industry, but all three of the cases I mentioned occurred after the agency was granted that authority.
If you test positive, that “adverse event” may (or may not) warrant the attention of the FDA, but that’s after the fact. You, on the other hand, are stuck with a positive test result, possible grounds for a lawsuit and the job of showing an arbitration panel that there are mitigating circumstances worth considering when they suspend you.
Speaking of mitigating circumstances, as I mentioned, the Code allows for an arbitration panel to consider those when handing out a penalty. Conversely, the panel can also consider aggravating factors and hand down an even harsher penalty, like USADA requested in a high profile case this past summer.
Now why do I mention that? Well, because it brings us to the first-ever edition of the The RKP TV Guide!
Yes, ladies and germs’, the story that will not die is still out there. So, for the television event of the … uhhh … moment, check out the anticipated confessional on a special broadcast of Oprah, this coming Thursday at 9:00 p.m. Eastern time in the U.S.
Are you going to watch? I would like to say I won’t … but, like a train wreck happening right in front of you, it may be hard to turn your head.
As for the content of this television spectacular, your guess is as good as mine.
As one friend and colleague recently posted on her Facebook page, “Please make it stop.”
A friend of mine was telling a story about a guy he’s known for years, a guy who, whenever he calls, reminds this friend of all the stupid shit he’s done over the years. The guy is basically a nice guy, but he’s tactless, and my friend dreads his phone calls. It reminded me that adulthood is sometimes dotted with persistent characters you don’t really like, people you hesitate to call friends but for the fact they’re always around.
Bikes are like that, too.
I seem always to have at least one bike that I don’t love. There is nothing wrong with the bike, per se, but for some reason we don’t get along, for reasons of fit or configuration or style. And yet, the bike hangs around because at root it is a useful object, and it retains some sort of potential to be better than it is, like a friend who is painful to be around despite being, deep down, a good person.
In my case, there is a certain steel frame, bought for its basic-ness and versatility, that hangs in my garage and occasionally gets reconfigured to a new task, another attempt at finding its inherent symbiosis with my vague ideas about what I want it to do. I think I keep setting this bike up for failure, and I know, in my heart, I should just sell it to someone for whom it can be great.
Of course, the fear is that by eliminating this perfectly good, but not-good-for-me bike from my collection, I will simply transfer its status onto another poor and unsuspecting frame. Every ship has a Jonah that must be cast overboard for the sake of the others. Every journey is shadowed by an albatross.
This week’s Group Ride asks: What is your albatross? What do you have in your cycling life that just isn’t working for you? Is it a bike? A jacket? A pair of gloves? Maybe it’s a whole style of riding, like mountain, for example. You look at the thing and don’t see quite why it doesn’t work for you, but it just doesn’t. What is it?
Image: Gustav Doré’s engraving of The Rime of The Ancient Mariner, c 1850
In the winter I try to remember what I like about riding bikes. The cold mornings with the air still night-cold can be intimidating, but at least the sun promises better to come if only I will clip in and roll out. The ride home, straight into the darkness and the grind of traffic, can be more forbidding still. Stirring the near-dead ashes of motivation for the surviving coals beneath becomes a bigger job.
Today, I arrived at work the same time as Neil on his fixed commuter. He took the driveway in front of me, and as we came to the dip just before the parking lot, he did that little rear wheel hop you do when you ride fixed, a way to dump some speed quickly. I haven’t ridden fixed for a few years, since we moved to a house on a high hill, but I remember that hop and how it feels. It feels like mastery, and it feels like control. And I miss it, a little.
There is a moment, too, when you are riding along on a brisk winter day, and the cold recedes and heat rises in your core and flows out into your limbs, and suddenly you are less tense. Your movement becomes languid and comfortable, mist rising from the back of your neck, and you feel as though you could ride all day.
Quiet, slow times when you’re alone and you think to slalom gently against the gyroscopic action of your wheels. Sometimes the sun catches the rims and projects a small mobius strip of light on the ground next to you, tracing in and out, suggesting something much more than simply rolling along, some sort of connection to the infinite. Whatever that is.
If I squint I can recall that first burst off the front on the Wednesday night ride in summer, not a race but a competitive ramble with some friends. If it were more competitive I’d never get off on my own, but sometimes they let me go, and I can feel the flush in my legs and breath rise in my chest, and all and everything comes into focus, not just trying to maintain that crazy cadence, but to hold the best line, to find a resting a place in the effort and to enjoy the moment.
Or, when twenty miles disappears in the craic of the group ride, swapping seamlessly off the front and slotting into new conversations. Zingers flying between partners, side-by-side, eyes rolling, directions shouted over shoulders. Distance dissolving in the raw good nature of the whole thing.
Even just bringing myself, as I did today, to ride when the thermometer lies about the day’s true intentions, when the wind has teeth. Water flows off the front lawns of my neighbors and freezes glassily across the road. We slip and slide, the kids and I, on the short walk to school, and I begin to convince myself that the car makes more sense than the bike.
But I know better. I know what the bike will give me that the car never can, despite the heater’s comforting blare and the soft sounds of the radio. The siren song of what is easier in the moment gives way to what is better in the long run. I pull on my winter tights, gather my things.
Image: Matt O’Keefe
I’m going to open this by apologizing for not giving you something juicy and/or entertaining to read. To that end—sorry. What follows is the blogging equivalent of sweeping the porch, and while not sexy, there are a few points I do need to communicate to all you who are kind enough to drop by here.
First up: The RKP Store. Simply put, our store is down. Now for those of you who have clicked on the link only to be taken to a page with absolutely nothing on it, this isn’t what you’d call news. The reason I’m bringing it up here is that A) We are aware of it. And B) We have no clue (so far) why it isn’t working. My troubleshooting skills on this particular WordPress plug-in are as comical as an episode of Archer. Nevertheless, we are working have it back up ASAP. In the meantime, if there’s something you want, just drop us an email at: killerkit [at] redkiteprayer.com. I might add, it would help us all if you request something that we’ve sold in the past; that ’63 Jaguar you’ve had your eye on isn’t something we have in stock.
Next up: The Comments Section. This is probably a bit overdue. RKP’s readership has grown a good deal in the last year and we’ve had an occasional issue with things written in the comments. The biggest point I want to make is that the more civilized and cordial your comments are, the more likely others are to join in the conversation. We’re pleased that part of RKP’s reputation is based on the almost complete absence of idiocy in our comments section. That’s a testament to the intelligence of you lot rather than any sort of confirmation that we do good work. That said, even as our readership grows, we want to keep things that way. So, here are a few requests: Think of RKP’s Comments Section as a dinner party, an event at which polite engagement is the norm. I expect everyone present not to insult my family (contributors), friends (readers) or the food (posts). That’s not to say you can’t disagree; we just want the comments to remain civil and be constructive so that they drive the conversation forward, rather than shutting it down. Similarly, please contain your comments to the subject at hand. That also means that if we review a jersey from Company A, your review of a jersey from Company B isn’t an appropriate comment. We’ve had to clamp down on this especially hard because we have no way of knowing if said review is written by an employee of the manufacturer in question. Which brings me to my final point, which regards comment length: If you feel a need to review something yourself, or your comment is turning into a 500-word essay on the nature of man, we ask you to reconsider it. Brevity helps the conversation move. If your comment is more than a couple of hundred words, you might be in need of a blog of your own, or you might consider sending us a query. Robot got started with a query; think how much less interesting this site would be if he hadn’t. Just to reiterate: Feel free to disagree with us or with another reader; all we ask is that your comment be both civil and constructive.
Last up: Advertising. I’m in need of some advertising sales help. Our last hire didn’t work out. The position, based on our current needs, is part-time. There may come a point when the need will increase, but the amount of time this requires would allow someone a second gig. And while the gig is sales, the position is mostly relationship management. There are some introductions to be made, but there won’t be any cold-calling. Also, we pay a commission that is in-line with the rest of the publishing industry. Someone with a real work ethic could make good money. If you know someone who might be a fit, tell ‘em to drop us a note at: info [at] redkiteprayer.com.
As always, thanks for reading.