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Friday’s mailbag: USAC and selections, the Spouse Acceptance Factor, and motorcycles on bike sites

Let the games begin (and not the good ones, either)Editor:The article about Alison Dunlap is just the start of a long hot summer before the Olympics. Every Olympic year deserving cyclists are not selected for the team. There is always going to be someone left out in the cold, and cold people usually employ lawyers to heat things up. Just wait – as the selection process gets closer there will be other stories to tell. On a similar note, it has been rumored for more than a year that the USA may not qualify a sprint "team" for the Olympics. Now that doesn't sound good for the country with the

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Let the games begin (and not the good ones, either)
The article about Alison Dunlap is just the start of a long hot summer before the Olympics. Every Olympic year deserving cyclists are not selected for the team. There is always going to be someone left out in the cold, and cold people usually employ lawyers to heat things up. Just wait – as the selection process gets closer there will be other stories to tell.

On a similar note, it has been rumored for more than a year that the USA may not qualify a sprint “team” for the Olympics. Now that doesn’t sound good for the country with the current Olympic champion sprinter. The new Olympic-sprint qualification criteria is just as weird as the mountain-bike selection criteria. The U.S. must have a top-10 ranked team sprint to send a sprint team to the Olympics. Individual sprinters may qualify through the World Cups.

However, the U.S. has not had a male sprinter place in a World Cup since Marty went to play with the roadies. There is still an outside chance that individual sprinters may qualify, but the probability that a U.S. sprint team will qualify is remote. It is possible that the U.S. will not send any sprinters to the Olympics. Alison may not be alone.

Let the games begin.

Fred Cutter
Savanna, IL

And USAC’s role is … what, exactly?
No doubt Alison Dunlap may be a victim of USAC. Matt Cramer was quoted as saying: “They’re responsible for knowing where they stand. This is information that should have been read by everyone.” Everyone except USAC, I guess. Maybe true, but the athlete’s primary role is to compete and win races. USAC’s primary role is to make sure the athletes have the opportunity to compete.

Another recent USAC action also needs a bit more inspection – selection of the junior men’s team for cyclo-cross world’s. Three of the top five at the national championships in Portland were not selected to race the world championships. USAC selected the top five UCI points leaders. UCI points? For juniors? Elites, maybe, but these are kids that are in high school and are the future of the sport. They can’t be expected to travel the country in a points race.

Some of these selected riders barely made top 20 at our national championships. The clearly stated goal in the USAC Athlete Nomination Procedures is to “select the U.S. athletes most capable of producing medal-winning performances at the world championships.” If I were as bad at my job as they are, I’d be on the street looking for work. Russell Kappius
Littleton, CO

Is it incompetence or ineptitude?
Does that guy Cramer get paid? If he does, every USAC member ought to demand a refund! I think Cramer’s comment that it is not USAC’s place to translate every nuance of the UCI rulebook is a crock. That would be like a lawyer who represents a union saying it was not his responsibility to understand the nuances of the laws that apply to collective bargaining.

Being that USAC is the national representative to the UCI, isn’t it USAC’s primary business to understand the rules that affect the athletes it represents? Aren’t the interests of the racers they represent their interests as well?

No wonder USAC has such a poor reputation. Incompetence or ineptitude – pick the one that works for you.

Jared Thayn
Whittier, CA

Should we start looking for the union label?
Year after year we pay for our licenses, and year after year the “benefits” grow, according to my USA Cycling website (ha, ha). I haven’t seen those growing benefits, but I have seen rising license fees and our NORBA series lose sponsors and points. I’m sure if the riders had paid more attention they would have been able to keep the NORBA scene alive.

I’m not a big union fan, but maybe something needs to be created to protect our riders from USA Cycling. I don’t believe you would see the NFL or the NBA telling their players to keep playing for the love of the sport or that the Super Bowl teams would have to pay the NFL $3500 to play in the game.

Something should be done before the good of Lance Armstrong can be undone by our governing body.

Chad Mantz
Portsmouth, VA

They don’t know much (and neither do we)
Don’t blame the feds for too much. With one or two staff exceptions, they don’t know much about cycling. And remember, you voted for the people who put the top staff in place! Andy Bohlmann (a former USCF technical director, 1984-90)
Colorado Springs, CO

Editor’s note: Plenty of people were eager to provide Erik Voldengen with valuable advice about maximizing the Spouse Acceptance Factor (SAF), which married cyclists have long known to be critical to the purchase of a new bike. We’ve posted some of the tips below.

Take the low road …
The dreaded Spouse Acceptance Factor (SAF) is such a common syndrome that it occurs to me that there may be a business consulting opportunity here, like personal coaching.

As a married parent who is paying for two college tuitions, but still toils astride a splendid Serotta (steel, mind you, but no apologies), I feel uniquely qualified to assist you; we’ll have you on the carbon in short order.

The premise is very simple. You need to, for a time, totally abandon your current healthy lifestyle (just think of it as periodization). You should immediately begin an intensive program of heavy drinking, smoking, gambling, watching tons of spectator sports (bonus points for withstanding NASCAR), swearing, loafing, staying out late, and any other objectionable behavior that is suitable for the task at hand, legal or otherwise. Do not, under any circumstance, pay any attention to the spousal questioning or eventual bluffing, or show any signs of letting up. Then enjoy your new ride.

Glad I could help.

Jeff Sampson
Downers Grove, IL

… which is a two-lane road …
You haven’t bought a bike in six years, damn it, you deserve it. She has to understand this machine helps you breathe and live life to levels in which, mere mortals cannot comprehend. This is a lifeline, a passion unlike no other, she cannot just roll her eyes. How would she like it if you rolled your eyes everytime she expressed interest in the things she cares about? Tell her you’re going to hang up the bike, start drinking, do the better living through chemistry and lay about the house like a slug with that umemployed next-door neighbor of yours!

Paul Hadfield
New Bedford, MA

…or the even lower road
You should explain things to your wife like this, “If my arse is going to be sitting on something for 15-20 hours per week, then it needs to be on something smooth, sexy, and good-feeling! Kinda like lying in bed with you at night!”

G Salinas
Wilmington, NC

… to the very bottommost road
Here’s some advice from a person who has been married for 25 years and has owned at least six bikes in the last 10 years alone.

Your spouse does not have to fully accept you buying a new bike. As long as you’re not spending the rent money, buying a new, even expensive bike is not that big of a deal. It should not bring down a solid marriage. My spouse knows that when I buy a bike or biking gear, none of it sits. It gets used. It appears that your bike doesn’t gather dust, either.

I bought a new bike about 18 months ago, and just bought another one last month. My wife sighed and raised her eyes when I bought the second one, but she also went with me to pick it up. In other words, even though she’s not interested in cycling, she knows I am and respects it.

So Erik, go buy a new bike. If your spouse gets upset, go for a ride and enjoy yourself. Any hard feelings will pass. And if not, at least you’ll have a new bike to comfort you. Jim Nankervis
Midlothian, VA

Try the safety argument …
Explain to your spouse that aluminum fatigues over time, and that after so many years, the bike is ripe for some kind of catastrophic frame failure, despite appearances. Done deal. She doesn’t want you to get hurt, does she? Eric Teel
Ashland, Oregon

… or the bait-and-switch
You have to go with my personal favorite and the well-tested “bait and switch” tactic. Example: “Honey, I really need to replace my 6-year-old Cannondale because it’s getting hard to find parts for it. I’d really wanted to get this carbon Merckx GX2 or Bianchi Luna for $6000-$8000, but I found a screaming deal on a Trek 5900 or Giant TCR carbon at my local bike shop for almost half that. What do you think?”

Works like a charm!

Michael Pauole
Salt Lake City, Utah

… or the passive-aggressive …
I prefer to wear my wife down. I will constantly leave cycling magazines open to the particular item I want, talk to her about the more technical features, information that she doesn’t understand or want to hear, etc. I badger her until she can take no more.

If this fails, you could “accidentally” break your frame. At the age yours is aluminum starts to fatigue and possibly this could happen, necessitating a new bike. However, this could backfire, leaving you without a bike to ride.

Tim Swift
Christiansburg, VA

… or the truly aggressive
If you really want the new bike, you may have to bite the bullet and crash the old Cannondale. You’ll heal.

Mat Boudreau
Simi Valley, CA

You could get sick …
It’s not a recommended solution, but my wife actually bought me a new bike after I had fully recovered from a heart attack. Now all I get is rolling of the eyes and sighs when I ask about a carbon-fiber crankset.

Chuck Widick
Denver, CO

… or get her involved …
I can only offer a couple observations or recommendations:

1. Get your wife involved in cycling so that she shares your passion. It may work, but doubtful if you haven’t gotten her riding yet.2. Marriage is about sharing and negotiations, not just me, me, me! If you haven’t figured this out, you’re never going to get that carbon-frame bike.

If you really want that bike, try to determine what is that your wife would like and appease her as well. Generally it’s not that hard, sometimes it’s all about paying attention to her.

Dean Peckham
Sacramento, CA

… or get her thinking
Tell the wife that:

1. Carbon fiber is a more forgiving ride than aluminum, so a long ride on a carbon bike will be less harsh on the (ahem) wedding tackle, leaving you ready for another ride, nudge-nudge, wink-wink.

2. You love her so much that you want to live with her forever, so maintaining healthy weight, cardiovascular fitness and blood pressure are all important. The new bike is merely a tool to achieve this goal.

3. A new bike at, say, $4000 really only works out to around five bucks a day, given 200 riding days per year over a four-year period. Offer to give up another vice, Starbucks perhaps?

That’s the best I can do. Sadly, none of these have ever worked for me, so take them with the proverbial grain of salt. Steve Crossley
Tillbsonburg, Ontario, Canada

Go for pure dominance …
First, let me say how happy I am not to be married to your wife. If I had married her, we would have been in the divorce court long before Cannondale came out with a CAAD5, let alone a CAAD8. You have been too kind and solicitous toward her. Now you must either live with the situation or take drastic remedial action that may culminate in divorce. You must make clear to her that it is not a question of needing a newbicycle (although you certainly do need one). You desire a new bicycle and that is sufficient reason to obtain one. The only question is which bicycle will meet your desires under a negotiated settlement. Make clear that your desire for her has been predominant for a significant period of time during which technology has moved faster down the road than a mistress chasing a wealthy and eligible man of 90 years to the cabana. The bottom line is that you must make her aware of proper priorities lest she lose you to a carbon mistress. Be strong. Be firm. Be resilient and resourceful in negotiations. Be certain to know the name of a good divorce attorney should she not be reasonable. Good luck!! Brian Lafferty
Longmeadow, MA

… or cooperation …
When I got married, my wife and I decided to have “slush” funds. While most of our income goes into the “house” fund, an agreed-upon amount goes into each of our own funds. While you may need to save for a while to buy something nice, you don’t have to explain why. It works really well. Hope this helps.

Mark Leonard
San Jose, CA

… or complete and utter submission …
To improve my Spouse Acceptance Factor, I started teaching Power Pacing at my local YMCA. Participants really appreciate a change from the usual aerobics instructor and you can get in a great workout, too.

The beauty of the deal is I adapt my training plan to incorporate the class, so the entire class is on my plan. Force/power workouts in the winter, endurance in the spring, sprints in the summer and endurance/power for cyclo-cross in the fall!

Benefits are a free membership ($40 per month), payment for each class ($7 per class), paid training to update CPR/AED, and bonus training time in their top-notch facilities. And by teaching a class a week for the year, I add more than $800 into the racing slush fund.

Marco Hollander
Des Moines, IA

… but whatever else you do, be sure to ignore this guy
Free-lance cycling journalists, like parakeets, are fascinated by bright, shiny objects and generally lack the cash or credit to purchase same. Thus, when I want something new in my cage – a cyclo-cross bike, a home theater system, or a shiny mirror with a bell – I must consider the Spouse Acceptance Factor (SAF).

There are a number of scientifically sound methods for maximizing the SAF. Unfortunately, I’ve never tried any of them, instead preferring to make it up as I go along. Following are the three methods I’ve employed, and God help you if you try any of them. Be sure to consult a ruthless divorce attorney beforehand.

Bike In, Bike Out. According to my wife, if a guy wants a new bike, he must sell the old one first and apply the proceeds to the planned purchase. This principle applies not only to bikes, but to new 12-inch 1GHz G4 PowerBooks with a full rack of RAM and an AirPort Extreme Card, stereo/video gear, and just about anything else you want. It does not apply to things that she may want, including (but not limited to) cute outfits, shoes or hair/skin-care products that cost more per ounce than good herb.

Alas, I presently am running a massive trade deficit – I have threecyclo-cross bikes, a road bike and a time-trial bike, but have sold only one bike in the better part of quite some time – and harsh trade sanctions have been imposed by higher authority. Now, if I want to buy anything that costs more than a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon, I have to check The Weather Channel to see if Hell has frozen over first.

Just Do It. First promulgated by Nike, God of Shin Splints, this principle involves just buying the bicycle without consultation and sneering, “So? Whaddaya gonna do about it?” Be sure to have arranged beforehand for someplace warm to sleep for the next few years, because your garage probably doesn’t have a heater, and while a new bike may be pretty, it isn’t exactly cuddly.

One for You, One for Me. This one comes recommended by the president’s Council of Economic Advisers. You get the bike, she gets a diamond tennis bracelet or some other damn’ thing you don’t comprehend, and the crucial bicycle and tennis-bracelet industries record an uptick and commence a massive round of hiring and expansion. Before long, every American who wants a job has one. Except, of course, Howard Dean.

Patrick O’Grady
VeloNews editor at large
Colorado Springs, CO

And now, for something completely different
Andrew Juskaitis’s motorcycle revelation was quite useful and informative. If it were not for the innovations we have had from the motorheads, my aging and stiffening body would have been jarred off of my mountain bike years ago.

More people can ride on their own power off road (in an environmentally friendly manner) from what the bicycling industry has gleaned from throttle twisters. I need not recite the motorcycling greats that have contributed countless improvements to mountain bikes.

Keep up the enlightenment, and don’t let the puritanical purists get you down. BTW, Andrew, you certainly helped boost the economy south of the border with your trip. That was a worthy calling in and of itself to make your motor excursion!

Paul K. Nolan, MD
Columbus, OH

Lighten up
In response to Jordan Bishko: Lighten up. Bicycles are fun. Motorcycles are fun. And no zealot of any stripe should pass judgment on other people’s preferred (legal) pastimes – after all, there are people out there who hate bikes, too.

Besides, the article was certainly appropriate for VeloNews, because there has always been an intimate connection between bicycles and motorcycles. Most recently, motocross inspired the technological infusion that enabled the birth of “freeriding” and created a marketing boon that saved the bike industry’s bacon.

Suspension is a big part of the future of bicycling. It’s important to understand suspension in order to enjoy its benefits to their fullest, and it’s not evil just because it was derived from machines with engines.

When you think about it, bicycling shares a lot with its motorized cousin-disc brakes on touring bikes, downhill-tire designs, trials riding, land-access advocacy. Shouldn’t we be open to innovation, even if it runs on fossil fuels?

Bill Anderson
Chicago, IL

Improve skills before suspension
Speaking as a former dirt biker, unless Andrew was performing at a very high level, on the XR650, I don’t think the suspension would be a performance-limiting factor. I’m sure it provided material, for the article, but (after seeing motocross world champions blow away local pros while riding a “POS” bike) I believe bettering riding skills would be much more cost-effective. Alec Wheeler
Arvada, CO

And beware of the Zapata factor
Good analysis on the suspension savvy of moto-heads versus pedal jockeys, AJ. But, perhaps you shouldn’t delve too deeply into such things lest you end up in the marketing department at Trek.

Vic Armijo (a guy with a throttle in his hand back when you had a baby bottle in yours)
Humboldt, CA

Waah, waah, waaaaaaaah
Hey, Jordan, how can you be say the article about motorcycles was “a totally inappropriate article”. Hello? Did you notice that VeloNews is the “Journal of Competitive Cycling,” not the “Journal of Human-Powered Bicycles?” What’s next? Complaining about the Tour coverage because of the 50-something cars in the caravan polluting the beautiful French Alps?

Man, this country has turned into a bunch of whiners. No wonder we can’t figure out how to get our athletes to the Olympics.

Peter Lopez
Denver, CO

Try reading past the first few paragraphs
I am writing in response to Jordan Bishco’s letter of January 8. I am deeply saddened that blunt-minded individuals such as you still exist in the world. While Andrew Juskaitis’s article did reference his personal experience with his own motorcycle, it was still in keeping with the cycling theme of the VeloNews website. I gather that you didn’t make past the first couple of paragraphs of the article. I found the information on suspension tuning very informative and interesting to read. I am considering a full-suspension mountain bike (my first) purchase in the near future and I will definitely keep that information in mind when I do purchase.

Thanks very much for the entertaining rant, though. Andrew Walker
Alberta, Canada

Try opening up to new experiences
Jordan writes that “… it is completely unreasonable and irresponsible to offer writing on non-human-powered vehicles.” Did you read the article? The article was about how much mountain bikers could learn from motorcyclists on the topic of suspension. Want to know what’s cooler than knowing everything already? Being open to learning new ideas from people you never thought would have one.

Sentiments expressed in Jordan’s letter make cyclists look as rigid and closed-minded as all those people whom we claim to be so much better than.

Geoff Rapoport
San Diego, CA

It’s all recreational
Thanks to Jordan Bishko for pointing me to Andrew Juskaitis’s article. While I usually get my moto fix elsewhere, Andrew’s point about suspension tuning rang home – I was setting the sag on my newly built Trek STP400 just last week.

I see a lot of cross-over between bicycling and motorcycling (in my case, street riding and observed trials competition). Motorcycle trials has improved my bike handling skills on both powered and non-powered two-wheelers, and cycling has improved my conditioning and leg strength for trials.

I hate to remind Mr Bishko, but essentially all cycling in America is recreational. Racing is of course purely recreational. If I was forced at gunpoint to give up all my “recreational” two-wheelers, the street motorcycle I use for my too-long-for-cycling commute would be the only one left in the garage.

Eric Murray
Los Gatos, CA

We’re great? A brand loyalist speaks
You guys are great! I have been grinning for the past week. First I was in a pic from ‘cross nats in the latest VeloNews (page 16, that is me in the green). And that was a great article about brand loyalty! I started laughing out loud at work today. I had to write in and tell you.

I am known up here in Minnesota as a Mac geek. I heavy push Apple products as I ride around with my iPod and its little white headphones. I think I helped two or three people buy one this Christmas.

Keep it up. You guys are creating some brand loyalty of your own.

Dan Swanson
Medina, MN

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