Friday’s mailbag: Single-speeding, artists, Euros and hookers

The Mail Bag is a regular feature on VeloNews.com, appearing each Monday, Wednesday and Friday. If you have a comment, an opinion or observation regarding anything you have seen in cycling, in VeloNews magazine or on VeloNews.com, write to WebLetters@InsideInc.com. Please include your full name and home town. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.Single-speeding and simplificationEditor:With the increase in both complexity and cost of equipment to the recreational user, is it any wonder there's been some grass-roots backlash evident in the increasing popularity of single-speed racing?

The Mail Bag is a regular feature on VeloNews.com, appearing each Monday, Wednesday and Friday. If you have a comment, an opinion or observation regarding anything you have seen in cycling, in VeloNews magazine or on VeloNews.com, write to WebLetters@InsideInc.com. Please include your full name and home town. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.


Single-speeding and simplification
Editor:
With the increase in both complexity and cost of equipment to the recreational user, is it any wonder there’s been some grass-roots backlash evident in the increasing popularity of single-speed racing? C’mon, anything that increases participation in our sport is good.

Besides, simplification and standardization of equipment has become common in many sports where technological innovation can translate into competitive advantage: motorsports, boating, bicycle racing. Hell, why not have distinct single-speed sub-classes? Fixed gear (with caliper/disc brakes); freewheel (with caliper/disc brakes; or freewheel with rear coaster brake only. This last would be especially entertaining, if dangerous. Any of these classes would raise the bad-ass ante a few chips.

In anticipation of the criticism that single-speed off-road racing is irrelevant, it’s worth remembering that BMX will soon be an Olympic event.

Mike Kallal
Denver

Equipment choice should not dictate categorization
Editor:
To all those who feel justified in their desire for a separate single-speed class: Can we also create a class for bikes with no bar-ends? How about another class for dual-suspension bikes that’s separate from front suspension only? Sounds absurd for the same reason a single-speed class is absurd: because it’s about differences in bike equipment, which is based on personal choice, rather than unalterable differences in human shape and age.

John Sandberg
Prior Lake, Minnesota

Dropping all classes would boost competition
Editor:
Andrew Juskaitis’s article on single-speeds brought up the issue of separate classes. Last count was over 40 in our local NORBA series – everyone can be a winner. Have we regressed to 5-year-old soccer where there is no scorekeeper and everyone can be a winner, even fat asses over 200 pounds? They didn’t have short-guy basketball at my high school.

Road cycling has categories for the safety of the field. Why does mountain biking even need race level classes? Running and Nordic skiing have no classes except for age groups; then you pick your distance. No classes create a more competitive environment and there cannot be sandbaggers. I actually race single-speed just for the challenge of it, but am open to racing against geared bikes any day.

Joe JensenBoise, Idaho

We would agree with you, Joe, if we weren’t hoping to repeat as champion in the Colorado off-road series (sluglike deskbound married cycling-website editor division). – Editor

Who was that artist, anyway?
Editor:
Just wondering what happened to the artist who used to illustrate the “At the Back” page? His stuff was awesome and worth multiple looks, kind like O’Grady (whose stuff warrants multiple “readings,” not looks, for heaven’s sake).

Tim Saviello

The superb David Brinton has been illustrating the “At the Back” page for as long as we can remember, Tim. We suspect you may be thinking of William Cass, whose excellent illustrations have also appeared in the mag over the years. A shoe designer for Nike, Cass has contributed artwork to the venerable Bicycle Guide and the more recent Asphalt, and has created posters for Lance Armstrong’s Ride for the Roses, one of which can be seen here. – Editor

Euros planned to visit Vail
Editor:
Just to clarify some comments in your May 19th coverage of the Vail event and the lack of participation by top-level European teams, the following teams were committed to participate in both Vail and in the T-Mobile International in San Francisco the following weekend:

Phonak with Tyler HamiltonSaecoSaunier DuvalCSCAcqua y SaponeT-Mobile (San Francisco only)

In addition, both Domina Vacanze and Landbouwkrediet-Colnago have also requested invitations to both of our events.

I believe these teams coupled with Lance’s intention to participate in Vail would have given us a field that would be equal to any that has raced in the U.S. in recent years.

Robin Morton
Technical director, Threshold Sports LLC

Just what is “hooking?”
Editor:I recently read about Freddy’s win. He spoke about some frustration he had regarding some questionable racing tactics performed by Robbie McEwen. He said “McEwen hooked me really hard and I had to shut down my sprint.” What is hooking? Is it an illegal maneuver?

Matt MartelCorvallis, Oregon

We rarely sprint, Matt, but as we understand it, “hooking” is an abrupt maneuver involving your rear wheel and a rival’s front wheel, often intended to discourage his further participation in the dash to the line. As with many aspects of cycling, its legality seems mostly a matter of perception. — Editor


The Mail Bag is a regular feature on VeloNews.com, appearing each Monday, Wednesday and Friday. If you have a comment, an opinion or observation regarding anything you have seen in cycling, in VeloNews magazine or on VeloNews.com, write to WebLetters@InsideInc.com. Please include your full name and home town. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.