Monday’s mail bag: Men with sticks, Crit’s with gravel

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.Dear Editor:I found some of the opinions expressed in the June 4th Mail Bag regardingthe Gaggioli affair to be so misguided I felt compelled to respond. In the letter titled “SundtShould Get His Too”, Mr. Lechman wrote:“It takes two to tango;

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.


Dear Editor:
I found some of the opinions expressed in the June 4th Mail Bag regardingthe Gaggioli affair to be so misguided I felt compelled to respond.

In the letter titled “SundtShould Get His Too”, Mr. Lechman wrote:

“It takes two to tango; Sundt should be suspended as well.He is also a crybaby for lodging a complaint with USA Cycling. It shouldhave been worked out long before it got out of control. Sometimes the oldguys don’t get the respect from the young guys they deserve!”

What did Mr. Sundt do to deserve being suspended?  Was he found guiltyof any wrong doing in a formal hearing or court of law?  Did he attackanyone with a blunt object, weapon or fist?  Considering the factthat Mr. Gaggioli may have an anger management problem it just might bea little simplistic and naïve to say “It takes two to tango”

Would Mr. Lechman be a crybaby for filing complaint with the authoritiesif someone who doesn’t like cyclist tried to run him over with their vehicle?Yes it should have been worked out long before it got out of control butit didn’t.  It should have been under control before Mr. Gaggiolipicked up that 2 x 4 to use it as a weapon. As an “old guy” myself I wonderif Mr. Lechman thinks the young guys should soft pedal and leave a clearlane open for the old guys to come by so they can get the win they rightfullydeserve.  I suppose he thinks Cunego should have shown the old guyrespect by letting Simoni win the Giro. The opinions expressed by Mr. Lechmanmake me wonder if he thinks the members of La Cosa Nostra are honorablemen.

As it relates, in the letter titled “Whydid Mionske Take the Case?” Mr. Stork expressed his dismay regardingBob Mionske acting as Roberto Gaggioli’s representative. We should notforget that our system of law is in part base on the principle that weare all innocent until proven guilty.  Mr. Mionske took the Gaggiolicase because responsible lawyers understand that even the most abhorrentmonsters in our society must have representation in order for our systemlaw to function.

In the letter titled “ADefender Speaks for Gagg’,” Ms. Krueger wrote:

“I just have to chime in with my two cents about Roberto Gaggioli.He has stayed with us for many years during Superweek in Milwaukee, andwhile I’m well aware of his reputation, he is a fundamentally good person.If he was that angry, there was a reason.”

Being angry doesn’t justify attacking another person or their propertywith a 2 x 4.  There are millions of people in this country that arefundamentally good people that have serious anger management problems.
Best,
Marc Scime
Chicago, Illinois 

The art of controlled violence
Editor:
O’Grady seems to think bike racers should be more civilized (see”Friday’sfoaming rant: Wanna fight? Join the Army“). Ah, sweet naivete.Perhaps Fred Rodriquez should have been more polite and asked Robbie McEwento “Please be a good chap and move over so I can have a go at Petacchi’swheel, ay what?” Perhaps then he wouldn’t have had to waste his energyin the heated “debate” that followed.
When you factor in the adrenaline and intensity during a bike race,add a bit of rivalry here, a dash of grudge there, well, it’s not surprisingthat some of it can spill over after the finish on occasion. That’s neverpretty, even without weapons.

What’s truly amazing is that it doesn’t happen more often. We can alltake a lesson from the elite pros: Controlled violence in sport is an art.Unfortunately, few of us can be artists.
Pete Medek
Mansfield, Ohio

We think someone has anger issues
Dear VeloNews,
I have found myself on either side, in similar heated situations andSundt was wise to ask the ‘authorities’ to pass judgment and a sentencing,rather than choose to take matters into his own hands in the form of a2x4…or worse.

Sure, no one is perfect and we all lose our cool once in a while, butit’s how we express that anger that shows the kind of people we reallyare. Pushing the ‘hot button’ of your opponents on the playing field inany sport, is a tactic that many choose to use and some are quite frustratinglygood at. Maybe if Gaggioli had chosen to approach the USAC ‘before’ hedecided to attack Sundt with a weapon, then maybe Sundt would be the oneliving with a suspension.

Then again, maybe the reason Gaggioli didn’t approach the ‘authorities’beforehand, was because he knew they would not have found his ‘frustrations’merited. We’ll never know.

I am glad to see that he will not be (professionally) influencing anyyounger (more shapeable) minds for the remainder of the year. Maybe USACshould require him to attend an “Anger Management” course before he isre-instated and again working with young athletes.

Gaggioli may be a good rider and he may even be a good coach…but takingphysical action (with a weapon) against another human being, simply outof personal frustration or anger, which makes me question whether or nothe is a good person. To defend against this observation only necessitatesthe question.
Claire and Justin Klahn
Portland Oregon

OLN, imagine the possibilities
Editor:
Re: The recent Gaggioli versus Sundt gladiator contest.

Perhaps fighting is a viable way to obtain better coverage for cyclingon the OLN network. Imaging the possibilities: peloton-clearing brawlsthat would make an NHL team cringe. “Enforcers” like former PhiladelphiaFlyer Dave Schultz would rule the field, protecting fragile climbers andhard-to-replace money players like Armstrong or Ullrich.

The sight of a shaved-leg crowd in brightly colored lycra beating eachother senseless is reality TV at its finest. It could even convince yourbeer swilling couch potato to swap bullriding for bicycle racing, especiallyif it’s a French team getting its lights punched out. More viewers meansmore sponsors and more money.

With TV coverage of cycling harder to find than an Iraqi weapon of massdestruction, we gotta solve this problem. Fighting is a great way to buildcycling into a high-profile, manly sport to pit against the bullridersand trophy-gerbil hunters that clutter up OLN-TV every weekend. And whowants to watch TV all day waiting for someone else to catch a fish?

Let’s do it! Hand out those two-by-fours!
Khal Spencer
Los Alamos, NM

Meeting the trail-a-bike standard
Dear VeloNews,
The idea of forcing racers to use “mountain bikes” in a short trackrun on pavement, as some have suggested, is just ridiculous. I realizethe venue at Sonoma made it hard to make any other course spectator friendly,but who wants to see that anyway? (See “Decker,Dunlap take short track wins in Sonoma NORBA“)

Why not just call the race what it was: a crit with some gravel. Anddon’t try to give me the “we should all ride mountain bikes because it’sa mountain bike race.” I hate to jolt you out of your mental fog, but anycourse I could race with my daughter on the trail-a-bike ain’t a mountainbike course. And any promoter trying to bill a NORBA national short trackevent on such a course needs to go back to promoter school for some continuingeducation.

Now I am not saying such a race can’t be great, and I think it’s interestingto mix up the disciplines (which is the only real way to describe the Sonomaevent). But a critical part of racing a mountain bike has always been theequipment choices and how they may impact the race. Hard tail or full suspension?Disc or rim brakes? How much travel? Heavy tread or slicks? And now evenwheel size. I say set the course how you like, but let the riders picktheir bikes. Plus, you will get some feedback on the type of race it is.If it’s a mountain bike race (run on a mountain bike course), the winnerwill be on a mountain bike. And if a guy on a road bike finishes first,then that might be the clue phone ringing.
John Salmon
Lynchburg, Virginia


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.