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Notes from the road: So sue me

I’ve got to admit, I’m a little on edge. After months of writing longingly about donuts, greasy spoons and the like, it suddenly struck me that I could become a target. What is it that has me worried, you ask? In California earlier this week, a public interest lawyer in San Francisco filed a lawsuit seeking to ban the sale of Oreo cookies to minors. The argument: Oreos contain trans fats, which, according to the suit, are too dangerous for children to eat. Stephen L. Joseph argued that the general public is unaware of the danger of trans fats, which are present in about 40 percent of the

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By Bryan Jew, VeloNews assistant managing editor

I’ve got to admit, I’m a little on edge. After months of writing longingly about donuts, greasy spoons and the like, it suddenly struck me that I could become a target. What is it that has me worried, you ask?

In California earlier this week, a public interest lawyer in San Francisco filed a lawsuit seeking to ban the sale of Oreo cookies to minors. The argument: Oreos contain trans fats, which, according to the suit, are too dangerous for children to eat. Stephen L. Joseph argued that the general public is unaware of the danger of trans fats, which are present in about 40 percent of the foods on grocery-store shelves, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Thankfully, the lawsuit has been dropped, with Joseph stating in a release that “[a]fter three days of incredible national publicity, everyone in America knows about trans fats, and if anybody doesn’t, I don’t know where on earth they’ve been hiding. The factual and legal basis for the lawsuit has totally disappeared. I certainly could not tell a court now that nobody knows about trans fat.”

Whew.

But all of this got me thinking. Could my weekly glorification of bad television and fried foods, many containing potentially dangerous forms of fatty acids, be construed in some way as influencing people toward a dangerous lifestyle? Is someone going to take me to court over their clogged arteries? Am I in danger of a class-action lawsuit? (Well, I’m sure it would take more than the three people reading the column to form a class action.)

Nevertheless, in the interest of covering my ass, I make some fairly obvious statements this week, so please bear with me.

Donuts: probably not very good for you.

Fried chicken (smothered in gravy) and waffles (covered in whipped butter and drowning in syrup): not very good for you.

Ninety-nine percent of that stuff in your snack box at work: not good.

Reality TV: definitely not good for you.

Breakfast at Waffle House after four hotels in four days in Georgia: priceless.

Go ride your bike. It’s good for you.

Now, in case any of my co-workers have any strange litigious ideas dancing around in their heads, I also want to state for the record: All those donuts I’ve brought into work over the years – I had intended to eat them all myself. I was in no way encouraging you to eat them. They were for me. Yes, I was going to eat that full dozen, if you hadn’t gotten your grubby little fingers into the box first.

Good to finally get all of that off my chest. Now, with a clear conscience, I can head out to Seven Springs, Pennsylvania, for elite road nationals. Can anyone out there recommend a place to eat?

* * *

It will be a busy week coming up on the U.S. road front, starting with the Tour of Connecticut, which begins tonight in New Haven and concludes with the Housatonic Valley Classic road race on Sunday.

The Tour of Connecticut takes the one-day Housatonic Valley Classic, and in its third year, expands it to a three-day stage race for the pro-am men’s field. In addition to the Friday-night criterium, the race will also feature a leg-breaker of a course on Saturday. The 4-mile course in Waterbury features 506 feet of climbing per lap, and the field will do 15 laps, for a total of just under 7600 feet of climbing in about two-and-a-half hours.

Throw in the beautiful, epic Housatonic Valley road race, and it’s a nice little weekend package.

Three days later, a number of top riders will be in Seven Springs to contest the elite national time trial championship. On the men’s side, look for the pro attendance to be thin, but powerful. Always a curious calendar stop for the pro men, since there’s no corresponding road race for them to contest (the elite men’s national road race is amateur-only), the TT nationals usually draws a small core of pros who truly believe they can win the event. That makes for some heated competition, and a title that’s still coveted, even if it doesn’t draw the same attention as the USPRO-only road race and criterium championships.

Look for Chris Horner and Tom Danielson to try to add another notch to Saturn’s belt. Likely challengers include former national champions Jonathan Vaughters (Prime Alliance) and Adham Sbeih (Sierra Nevada-Clif Bar), former world U23 champion Danny Pate (Prime Alliance) and 7UP-Maxxis’s John Lieswyn.

On the women’s side, Saturn will be contesting the Tour de l’Aude in France at the same time as nationals, leaving them with just Megan Elliot in the time trial, and Elliot and Laura Van Gilder in the road race. That should leave plenty of opportunity open for a strong T-Mobile squad back from Europe, especially in the time trial, while Diet Rite’s Tina Mayolo-Pic will try to improve on her third place from a year ago.

The Seven Springs course is a 34km out-and-back on rolling terrain that should select a worthy champion.

* * *

I’ve got to admit that I was flipping over to ESPN.com frequently this week to monitor the ongoing negotiations that could change the makeup of the ACC and Big East conferences. On one surfing excursion, I happened to click on a short commentary by Dick Vitale, in which he punctuated a couple of sentences with “baby!” as in, “It’s all about the cash, baby!”

Got me to thinking: How can a grown man actually punctuate his writing with “baby?” I mean, that’s crazy, baby! ’Course, then that got me to thinking: How great would it be to have Chris Horner writing a column, and ending every other statement with his trademark “huh?”

For those of you who’ve never heard him speak, Horner has a unique way of ending a statement with “huh,” but not really turning what he says into a question, as in, “That was a great course, huh,” or “I went hard though the turn and had a good gap, huh.” Not “huh?” Huh.

Chris, you’ve got an open invitation to write, huh. Just give us a call, baby!

* * *

Onto the straight news.

The Great River Energy Bicycle Festival will host a Women’s Cycling Summit Conference on June 14 in conjunction with the Nature Valley Grand Prix in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Sponsored by Yoplait Yogurt, the conference, according to a press release, “is a response to recent trends, including the loss of a number of major women’s races. The goal of the conference is to identify specific strategies to build women’s racing at both the elite and grassroots levels.”

Participants will include Robynn Browne (International Women’s Challenge), Jeanne Golay (1992 world champion and 1993 Women’s Challenge champion), Michael Aisner (Coors Classic), Tom Shuler (Team Sports), Gerard Bisceglia (USA Cycling), Rick Geist (The International/Tour de ‘Toona) and David LaPorte (Nature Valley Grand Prix).