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Letters for Friday

VeloNews.com welcomes your letters. If you run across something inthe pages of VeloNews, or see something on VeloNews.com that causesyou to want to write us, drop us a line at WebLetters@7Dogs.com.Please include your full name and home town. By submitting mailto this address, you are consenting to the publication of your letter.No more dope (articles)I love the sport of road cycling, and all the Zen it represents in myworld. I have a comment I would love to share with my favorite cyclingmagazine...Some Thoughts:1.  Why as nobody written about the still record VO2 Maxlevels Armstrong recorded

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No more dope on dope; More and more and more on yellow lines… and maybe the final word on the topic

VeloNews.com welcomes your letters. If you run across something inthe pages of VeloNews, or see something on VeloNews.com that causesyou to want to write us, drop us a line at WebLetters@7Dogs.com.Please include your full name and home town. By submitting mailto this address, you are consenting to the publication of your letter.
No more dope (articles)I love the sport of road cycling, and all the Zen it represents in myworld. I have a comment I would love to share with my favorite cyclingmagazine…Some Thoughts:1.  Why as nobody written about the still record VO2 Maxlevels Armstrong recorded as a 16 year old in Texas.An article discussing his genetically gifted body “pre” cancer talkingabout his early days as a your running triathlons, and oh yeah, winningthem.This guy has been training his body, and putting up numbers better thanthe rest before the doping scandals…2.  I ride constantly, and look to such stories as inspirationas many others do with regard to the miracle Armstrong is living. Here is an idea, lets celebrate the accomplishments, and focus on the geneticsuperiority…Doping articles are just adding “pee” in the fun pool of cycling.Thanks.John Riley
Cheshire, CTUhhhhh…. you might want to step out of the pool for a little while.We just posted anotherone. — EditorValley of the SunI have read all of the letters this weekend concerning the road raceat Valley of the Sun, and want to put my 2 cents in.Having been involved in racing on the promoter and/or volunteer endof things, I am well aware of the extra financial and manpower concernsthat come with conducting a rolling enclosure. Some places don’t take kindlyto the fact that you want to do this in the first place (remember the organizershave to get permission from EVERY town along the route in order to do this).And then there’s the extra manpower (volunteers at intersections, experienceddrivers, police, car officials, moto officials, medical, mechanical support).Most of this costs money; and if the promoter can’t come up with enoughsponsorship dollars to cover these expenses (you can’t cut corners on this),they can’t do it.Some promoters just choose not to do it because it’s more than theycan handle. Not having been to VOS before, I can’t say for sure in whatposition the promoters here were. But I know it takes a lot of effort,coordination, and $$$ in order to do a rolling enclosure on a road course.I have also officiated road races for the past four years.I’ve seen situations where the field size was just too big for the one-sideof the road, especially one that is narrow and has no shoulder. I had toshut down a race once when the field was so spread out that cars comingthe other way had no choice but to go into the ditch or the bushes besidethe roadway. Fortunately the rest of the races were not halted becauseof our decisive actions. Having been in that situation before, I can sympathizewith the officials; there were in a tough situation, and had to do something.Believe me, our move was lambasted on the local news groups that nextweek; but later on most folks understood and left it at that. As for thealleged verbal abuse by and disrespect from the officials, I won’t commenton that because I was not there. The choice of route to conduct the raceon needs to be decided by a number of different factors, including thesize of the road and how many riders in a bunched pack it could take.If the roads will be narrow, limit your field size. If you expect alot in one group, then get a road that will accommodate the pack withoutjeopardizing the safety of the riders or the race itself. Most road racerswill tell you that in fields about 75 riders and over that things get veryspread out real fast, especially during those tactical moments of a race.A small few do violate the rule blatantly, but most do not have a choiceif the riders to their right are spreading out because there’s no roomto go anywhere else.Yes, they can slow down and drop off, but do you realistically believethat will happen; it’s a race, not a parade. I feel for the riders whogot DQ’d at VOS; I know their pain. From an outsider’s perspective, I seethe VOS as a big-time event that starts the season for many top-level riders(including the pro teams). Not having been a first-time event, I wouldthink that the organizers would have an idea of how many riders they weregoing to get, and should have planned the courses and conducted them toaccommodate those field sizes.Nonetheless, if you plan to race you need to handle the circumstancesaround you and accomplish your goals without breaking the rules or puttingother riders in jeopardy. You can complain all you want about not havinga rolling enclosure, but when it comes right down to it you can choosenot to race. Most chose to race, so they need to accept what’s been affordedto them and compete within the regulations of the event.Alan Atwood
Huntington, NYValley of the Sun ReduxSo far, in the Valley of the Sun stage race yellow line debate, I’veread arguments that fall into two basic categories:1) Yellow Line Rule Blows Chunks; so give me a rolling enclosureor else and2) A rule is a rule and you’ve got to follow the rule becauseit’s a rule, so follow the rule.Frankly, neither is very compelling or convincing.There are certain realities associated with domestic racing that bothcompetitors and officials (I’ll lump race volunteers into this category)need to accept. I’m guessing because many municipalities still don’t understandbike racing, getting permits to shut down just half a road for half a dayrequires some butt-kissing/arm-twisting acrobatics worthy of Cirque deSoleil. So for racers to demand rolling enclosures of local organizersis a little optimistic, narrow minded and maybe even selfish. However,officials need to recognize certain race dynamics (truths?) and take theseinto account when exercising their powers.Example 1: a long stretch of road, slight descent, course takesa 90-degree right turn. What happens? The pack moves to the left to setup for the SAFE and PROPER line through the turn. That’s Racing 101.Example 2: a long stretch of road, 60 plus riders are shoulderto shoulder. There’s a surge in speed, the riders at the front swing left,guys riding in the center of the pack to the yellow line can choose tohold their position and get stuck in with a face full of headwind (leadingto premature DNF–hate that) at best, or crash half the field at worst.Or…they could race with the flow of the pack.That’s Racing 101-Second Semester. Are officials going to DQ ridersfor these yellow line violations? For related topics see special lectureentitled: Professional at any Speed: How the PROs always start slow andhow the IIs (and/or IIIs and/or Masters 30+) will always catch the field.Look we’ve all seen jerks that blow the yellow line to advance their positionin the field, but it doesn’t seem like these recent disqualifications fitthat particular category. Maybe they do? I would be like to hear from theofficials from Valley of the Sun (or USA Cycling’s official statement).Valley of the Sun has been the unofficial start of the 2002 season forat least 4 years now, so maybe it’s time for USA Cycling to step in witha little muscle and a National Race Calendar designation to help the organizingclub get a nice lights and sirens rolling enclosure. In summary: Racers,do a little happy dance when you get a rolling enclosure (I recommend twoquieter state-side events: the Burlington-Wappello Road Race Memorial DayWeekend in the Quad Cities and Touchstone Classic up in Minneapolis-St.Paul), but sometimes you’ve got to get off your high titanium steed forjust a second and be thankful you’ve got a race (Killington, may we neverforget thee) to race–with or without an enclosure. Officials, DQ the jack-asses(I’ve got a list of my personal favorites), but more judicious use of therule book might help too.Marc Bertucco
New York, New YorkValley of the Sun re-ReduxI too have some comments to share about the Valley of the Sun stagerace.I am a Cat. IV who lives in Arizona, and this was my first stage race.Let me say that if all stage races I do in the future are as well run andorganized as this one was, then I’ll be a happy camper.I know a lot of the people that had a hand in the organization, andmany of the riders from the sponsoring club. They did an excellent job,and I could not be more satisfied with the race. Now down to the nittygritty…As for the centerline rule that has sparked such heated debate. I tooat the beginning of the race thought it was a little on the odd side fora race with so many competitors (my field had at least 80) to be forcedto ride on one side of the road. I also agree that because of the windconditions that the smartest thing to do race-wise for the pros was toechelon into the oncoming lane. But however this does not make it right.Rules are rules my friends and ultimately they are put there for a reason.Some of you insist that making the pros follow this rule is absurd.Do you also agree NASCAR drivers should pay no attention to speed limitswhen driving on the road? That would be chaotic and also endanger otherpeople; just like crossing the centerline could have endangered oncomingtraffic (on some parts of the course).To close, remember the past is the past. You can’t go back and raceagain so what’s the use whining about it.Ernesto Ramirez
Tempe, Arizona
Arizona State Cycling
Valley of the Sun re-re-ReduxI have read the VeloNews summary of the Valley of the Sun StageRace in Phoenix, AZ and the numerous responses, and as a participant inthis year’s race I can say the road race was chaos!I do not see why full road closure was such a problem.  I thoughtthat was why the race was in the middle of the desert.  I do not recallseeing a single home along the course and I believe access to the surroundingareas could be gained via alternate routes, thus road closure should notbe a problem.  However, it must of been a problem.As for the center-line rule and clear instructions being given duringthe start of the race, many of us couldn’t hear the pre-race instructions. There were 100+ riders in my field all lined up like sardines on a sandand gravel driveway off the side of the road.   This is the samegravel and sand driveway where they placed the Hotdog/Hamburger vendorwho had a nice loud generator running making it impossible to hear thepre-race instructions.Not to mention that the sand and gravel made for an interesting startwhen many riders went to clip into their pedals.  Unless you wereat the front of the line on the roads edge you were standing in sand andgravel listening to the pleasant hum of a generator.  I am still tryingto figure out why they could not stage us along the main road.  Additionally,there was this huge concern and attention by the officials and race directorsto keep cyclists off the road during staging, but I saw no concern forstray motorists on the course during the race.At one point during the race on lap 4 a small group of us fell 50-100yards back from the lead back through the feed zone and motorists beganpassing us.  These were not support vehicles, just stray motoristsdriving along the course and the ironic thing is that I was told peoplegot disqualified for drafting vehicles.  I am not sure those peoplewere so much drafting as trying to get around the vehicles to join thepack.I know that I had to ride very close along side the vehicles so thatI could pass and rejoin the lead pack, otherwise I would have had to crossthe center-line and risk disqualification.  In closing the VOS isa fun event and I commend everyone’s hard work and efforts.  I highlyrecommend it to anyone looking for an early season event.  Howeverparticipation has increased significantly over the past couple of yearsand I think it is high time for the organizers of this event to decideif they want to grow up and be a national caliber race and put the appropriateamount of forethought and planning into the event, or remain the eventthey are today!Rob Selle
Cupertino, CACan’t we all just get along?Dear Editor and VeloNews readers,I have always felt that the majority of human beings are inherentlybad natured. I am reminded of this fact by the ubiquitous horror storiesfound in all of the mainstream media outlets, and now within the text ofthe letters to the editor at on-line VeloNews.Competitive cycling, relatively speaking, is an incredibly obscure competitivesport in America. Therefore, by definition the cycling community is goingto be small throughout the many regions of the United States.I always felt that belonging to a minority or misunderstood group wouldcreate a strong sense of camaraderie and solidarity. However, as I readthe letters to the editor segments I hear the voices of “spoiled brats”and other individuals with whom I would prefer not to be associated.Americans have the right to participate or not participate in nearlyall aspects of life. More importantly, we have the right to try and improveany situation we deem worthy. Therefore, if you do not like USA Cycling,do not renew your license, or make it a better organization.If you think VeloNews sold out to “corporate bottom lines,” thendo not subscribe, or send in better articles.Finally, for god’s sake, if you are afraid to race with the center linerule in affect do not freaking register, or stay on the white line andrace in the back. I guess what I am saying is that I wish all of thoseindividuals who feel compelled to complain about VeloNews, the Officials,the race format, or any other aspect of our small and comparatively unrecognizedsport would just shut up and enjoy racing and riding your bike. Look, thereality is that most of us will, at best, be a medium size fish in a hugepond.So have fun, enjoy the community you have chosen to be a member of,and make sure you have a back up idea to replace the thought that you willmake any money in this sport. And that is all I have to say about that!Thanks for listening, and as a true cynic, I look forward to reading yourcomplaints and criticisms about my letter in VeloNews.Best regards,
Tim Ellis
Tacoma, WashingtonAnd now a message from the lunatic fringeTo the editor:Regarding the letters about the Valley of the Sun and the numerous yellow-lineviolations therein: I can’t help but notice that these letters spread acrossyour entire Web page, forcing advertisers and links into the ditches on either side. This is clearly a menace to digital traffic, yet Rogene Killen and Susan Bookspan have failed to take strong, resolute action. Is there no end to this madness?Patrick O’Grady
Westcliffe, CO
 
 Letters For ThursdayIf the enclosure doesn’t happen, neither should the raceI agree with John and Richard, If they can’t get rolling enclosure thenthe race should not be put on…You want to attract professional ridersthen the race needs to be professional…the center line rule is a jokeand never can be enforced fairly and it’s dangerous, I would not like tosee someone die..like someone won’t cross that line, I think it is absurd.I hardly believe that Gord spoke to the official in the manner described,I’ve watched him hold his cool in some much more difficult situations.Regards,
Suzanne Sonye
Saturn CyclingIt’s all about R-E-S-P-E-C-TTo whom it may concern,I would like this email to be directed to someone who would be concernedabout the treatment of cyclists at races.My name is Chris McDonald, a Category I cyclist, and I recently participatedat the Valley of the Sun stage race.  The officials and organizersof this race treated the professional and elite cyclists with absolutelyno respect over the weekend.  I cannot say that they treated the othercategories in the same manner, but I am willing to bet that they did.I was one of several cyclists disqualified in the road race stage forhaving crossed over the yellow line.  I have been competing at thisrace for four years now, and this year they decided that we would be warnedon the start line that anyone crossing the yellow line would be disqualified.In years past, there would be time penalties, but not this year. I was disqualified for having crossed the line with the entire field, despitehaving tried to stay on the right side of the road during a heavy surgein speed.The wind prevented several of us from riding out of the pack, so weall rode into the field for protection.  When I moved over to thefield, that is when they took my number down, and I was informed the nextmorning that I could not continue in the race.  I was outraged, butI was a lone ride there, and would not have any way of pleading my case.I talked to the professional teams who were there and they said theywere all protesting the actions of the officials in the road race. I would hope that the organization that I have been a member of for 10years now (i.e. USA Cycling, Inc.), would be able to take some kind ofaction on the race organization that puts on the Valley of the Sun stagerace.  It was unfair for them to disqualify us for having followedthe field.  They should have just cancelled our race if they werethat serious about the yellow line.  I truly hope that the other teamsthere, such as Mercury, Saturn, Prime Alliance, etc. will write USA Cycling,Inc. and USPRO expressing there concerns about this past weekend, so thatsomething can be done to prevent this kind of treatment from happeningagain.  I thank you for your time.
 
Sincerely,
 
Chris McDonaldValley of the Sun, from a volunteer’s perspective I would like to thank the organizers of the VOS race for yourhard work and efforts in putting on a fantastic race.  It was veryspectator friendly!  I volunteered at 2 of the stages, as wellas registration and enjoyed it tremendously.  I am troubled to readsome of the letters regarding the center-line violation from people whoclearly didn’t follow the rule.I am not a racer, but a social rider; however volunteer at many racesto do feeds or support riders by manning a wheel vehicle.I am aware there were over one hundred people that entered in the profield of the race.  I believe it was somewhere around 120.  Iwould like to congratulate the 80-90 Pro/Cat1 riders who followed the center-linerule, which was clearly announced at the start of every category of therace. I am very happy to see that there are CAT. I and Pro riders who understandthat rules are designed for their safety. The old, “Everyone else did it”argument doesn’t work (as most people realize by the time they exit gradeschool).I also am excited to report that there were many riders from many differentnations that I met at the registration, as I registered the CAT. II racerson Thursday night!I am glad you have participated in cycling in America and hope you understandthat our communities and public, in general, are only recently becomingaware and enthusiastic of cycling mainly due to Lance Armstrong (and USPSriders) and the wonderful marketing that has been done in support of hiscomeback!I wish we could have enough support to have people lining the streetsand communities rallying to support rolling closures, however the realityis that we are not yet there in most cases, and may not be anytime soon. We are working on it, and the way to continue to work on it is to get morepeople involved in racing and continue to support local races that tryto promote cycling not only for the pros, but for the masters, Cats. 1-5,juniors, all women, and spectators. Yes, you do race forus…as we buy the products you endorse and that pays yourrent.Furthermore, if you are a pro, it is my opinion that you should be accountableto the rules of the road and how to handle your bike so that you are notin a position to be forced over to the yellow line (like the 80 or so ridersthat weren’t DQ’d).I understand this is at times difficult and unavoidable.  It isall part of racing (and life in general).  I do believe the officiatingcan be harsh, but a rule is a rule.   You should also be awarethat race organizers do not control the officials, nor can they overturnthe official’s decision.  The officials enforce the rules for yoursafety so people don’t get smacked head on by a semi going 65 mph. That is a tragedy we all wish to avoid, and because rolling closures arenot well received by communities we have to be thankful our officials arelooking after the safety of our husbands, wives, friends, children.I like to judge a person by the content of their character and not theCategory they ride.  I know few pro names (mainly those you hear fromthe Tour de France).  Quite honestly I believe all riders should betreated equally no matter what Category they race. I can tell you of aCat 1 women’s rider that was one of two women who were DQ’d for centerline violation and she, in my opinion, showed incredible content of character. She stated she was forced on the line by circumstances beyond her control,however admitted she was on the line and the rule is the rule. She wasn’thappy about it, however she was over the line and the officials saw it. She is an incredibly dignified woman.Finally, the VOS race directors and head of registration turned downmany people because the field’s filled so quickly.  If youbelieve that it is wrong to be held accountable to the rules of the roadbecause you are a pro and break rules that are clearly stated at the beginningof your race for your safety and the safety of others…. then I encourageyou to consider whether you should race VOS.  If you want to enjoya great race in some beautiful weather with top-notch organization, competitionand volunteers, then we’ll be happy to see you when you come back nextyear!  The more interest you bring, the more support we may receivefrom communities, and maybe, just maybe, rolling closures won’t be toofar out in the future!Thanks VOS staff and officials for keeping my husband and friends allsafe and sound. Not one person was hit by a car at the road race (evenwithout rolling road closures)…….you must have done something right!Tracy Mulvaney (aka “Tracy Feedzonie”)
Phoenix, ArizonaWill ride for…Ummmmm, anyone notice what happened to the Dual Slalom format when thepro’s whined too much?  They cancelled it!As for the Valley of Sun organizers. It’s their race, their rules. If you can do it better then, by all means, start organizing a race.In the meantime, thank you to all the hard work to the VOS volunteersand organizers.  Maybe next year you can drop the pro’s and send allthat extra money into the other categories.While that is happening, maybe the pro’s can go out and get a job.Joe Bates
 Uhhhh…. you’re leaving more than just footprints, KathrynIn response to a letter by Kathryn Graves( see “Probably not a MountainBike UK subscriber, either,” Lettersto the Editor — February 13 – 20, 2002) : Like Backpacking doesn’tdestroy the environment?Please.I have backpacked since I was a kid in Scouts and was a fanatic aboutit, including trips to Philmont, upstate New York, the Boundry Waters areof North Minnesota leading into and going into Canada, and many other “untouchedareas” for over 30 years now. I have seen the results of those who camein, and left their garbage, ground fires, tent sites, and Lord only knowswhat else.  That’s why today in places like the Texas State Park system,when you go to camp, have a designated “primitive area” where backpackersgo and it is hardly pristine.  That is why in this day and age, therule of thumb taught to anyone is “never, ever drink out of an stream withoutpurification/filtration”.  As I boy, I can remember drinking out ofstreams in primitive areas, and it was an accepted and safe practice. In this day and age, you would be a fool to do so.Like anything else, those who are irresponsible and or unknowledgeablecause more damage as a minority than those who understand the impacts oftheir actions on the environment and nature.Perhaps your literary efforts would be better spent, and the environmentbetter served by you devoting your time to education of those individualswho simply do not know any better rather than casting a pointed fingerat the population, who as a majority, seek to minimize impact by ridingon established trails and legally improve them, and their activities.Gregg Smith
Mountain Biker and BackpackerOn a more positive note:For immediate release:Bici Michelangelo, a new Boulder-based custom bicycle company is seekinga total of ten athletes (preferably 5 male and 5 female) to sponsor acrossthe U.S. for the 2002 season. Road and track cyclists, duathletes and triathleteswill be considered for the nine remaining slots. Boulder, Colorado, triathleteJonathan Modine has received the first sponsorship slot.Sponsorship will be awarded based on a combination of factors including:involvement with the growth of your sport, recommendations, ability torepresent the company in a positive light, geographic location and racinghistory.For details and sponsorship application please see Bici Michelangeloon the web at www.fasterisbetter.com.Applications are due by March 31st.Lance Johnson
Owner, Bici Michelangelo
Boulder, Colorado
 
 Archived letters:February 13 -20, 2002February 8 -12, 2002