Readers write about helmet-less pros, knee injuries and more

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Helmet-less riders Editor, I just saw the photo on your home page of the Gamin-Chipotle team out for a spin.
Garmin's boss feels the breeze at the front of the pack.

Garmin’s boss feels the breeze at the front of the pack.

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

Do you want to contribute to Mailbag, a regular feature of VeloNews.com? Here’s how:
? Keep it short. And remember that we reserve the right to edit for grammar, length and clarity.
? Include your full name, hometown and state or nation.
? Send it to webletters@insideinc.com.


Helmet-less riders
Editor,

I just saw the photo on your home page of the Gamin-Chipotle team out for a spin.

Nice shot, BUT as a bicycle safety advocate and a head injury survivor (yes, bike related) I was appalled to see several of them out on the road without helmets!! Bicycling is a dangerous enough sport without adding to the risks unnecessarily.

First of all, this is not the message I would want sent to my aspiring cyclist if I were still a parent of a small child riding a bike! As any parent will tell you, it is a major battle getting a kid to put a helmet on when they see others without one, especially a professional rider. Secondly, doesn’t Gamin want to protect their investment? A head injury without a helmet could put a rider out of commission for a season or end a career (not to mention a life)!
Bill Levey,
Reisterstown, Maryland

Valverde’s Groundhog Day
Editor,

Re: Valverde’s 2009 plans

Why is this news? Every year we hear about how Valverde is tailoring his program to win the Tour. And every year he performs under expectations. Valverde’s a great classics rider, he just wasn’t cut out for Grand Tours. I guess he’s not going to realize that this year, either.
Scott James Pendleton,
Los Angeles, California

Can relate
Editor,

Your Tom LeCarner series on knee pain could not be better timed. I, too, have recurrent knee pain, and this year it’s worse than ever. No riding since early August. No cyclocross. No commuting past seven miles without pain.

It’s been so bad, I can’t even look at the VeloNews when it comes in the mailbox. I don’t need a reminder of what I’m missing out on, and if it keeps up, next season is doubtful.

I will read the series with great interest, and may I suggest a full story in your print edition along with a “re-training after injury” story, which I think you might’ve touched on before. It’s well worth visiting again, I think, as so many of us have to come back from accidents as well as injuries.

If the recent New York Times story on bike fits is any indication, I will count the number of knee braces and tendon straps in the next Masters race I enter.
Rick Fuentes,
Saint Paul, Minnesota

Why bother with disc brakes in ‘cross
Editor,

The one answer to the question of disc brakes on cyclocross in the Nov. 19 Explainer column is not so much why not, but rather why bother?

I can ride on the road and pretend I’m in the Tour de France, or I can take out a mountain bike in the woods and pretend I’m racing for the world cup crown, so the technology they use is relevant to my ride.

But cyclocross is like motocross in that everything largely artificially built, with barriers, stairs, and constructed sand and mud pits. So the bike technology is in a sense is largely irrelevant, which makes all the arbitrary rules just fine.

As long everyone follows the same well defined rules, it’s a great race. In many ways that’s part of its charm.
Steve Rempel,
Los Altos, California

More on the ‘cross Explainer
Editor,

You forgot one very important reason why cyclocross can never be included in the Winter Olympics.

The rules of the IOC require that sports to be included in the Winter Olympic Games must be practiced on snow or ice. While we all know that cyclocross is better in nasty conditions, snow and/or ice are not a necessity for races to be run.

Cyclocross would stand a much better chance of being included in the summer Olympic Games, even though we think of it as a winter sport.
Steven L. Sheffield,
Holladay, Utah

Trying to undestand
Editor,

I’m trying to wrap my head around this — the possibility that Lance Armstrong could face an attack by some angry fan or fans (who happen to live in France) during the Tour.

I would never generalize and blame the French as a people for the actions of some of their sour grapes. As an American, believe me, I don’t want to have to share the blame for the last eight years of our country’s misdeeds.

The rationale behind this animosity supposedly being that “doping allegations surrounding him have helped to destroy the credibility and the magic of cycling’s most famous race.”

Hello? To be threatened with bodily harm for any reason, let alone “allegations” over a bicycle race (sorry, that’s really all it is) is ludicrous!

Are we talking about the same Tour de France that saw a monumental increase in viewership and interest because Lance Armstrong was racing in it? Hmmm, call me crazy, but could it be the current batch of high and low profile riders from almost every nation, including France, who have actually been proven to have doped (yet are once again racing in the Tour) that are responsible for this purported destruction of credibility and magic?

Lance Armstrong may rub some people the wrong way, and that’s OK. He’s out to win races, not Mr. Congeniality. I’m sure a lot of this boils down to jealousy and the fact that this incredibly focused and talented rider virtually owned the Tour de France for seven years. The real fear seems to be that he will come back and do it again — thereby calling attention again to the fact that the French have not had a Tour winner in over twenty years, while the Americans have had 10 wins since 1986. Don’t even get me started on Greg LeMond, who has lost the respect of many former fans for his relentless and baseless persecution of Lance Armstrong; but yes, he provided the other three wins.

Personally, I don’t care who wins as long as the race is exciting. There are enough risks out there for riders from the terrain, the weather, and the fans who support the riders with their drunken antics; there is no room for those who intentionally seek to harm a rider. Any team or director who knowingly encourages this should be banned for life; no country’s pride is worth that. The magic is still there — and it’s bigger than one rider or one country.
Susan Miller,
Warwick, New York

Likes Michael Barry’s articles
Editor,

I always read Michael Barry’s diary entries. They are well written, incredibly honest and at the core of professional cycling.

I want to thank him for his latest tribute to his teammate Craig Lewis, who we never hear about except casually on the web live reports of races.

These guys ride their hearts out for their teams and their teammates and that’s what makes cycling such a special sport. I don’t follow any other sports, but have been following domestic and then European cycling since 1980. I know what it takes to be a cyclist and I have so much appreciation for what they do every day.

Keep riding and writing, Michael.
Kathy Garber,
Ventura, California