Wednesday’s mail bag: Boycotts, Sheryl and technology wars

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.Study, study, study... and boycott, tooVeloNews,Regarding Burton Hathaway's letter, "Dumb Jocks versus law studenton a bike," (see "Monday's mail bag") I applaud your efforts, but it won'ttake you far. Concentrate instead on your second-year

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.


Study, study, study… and boycott, too
VeloNews,
Regarding Burton Hathaway’s letter, “Dumb Jocks versus law studenton a bike,” (see “Monday’s mail bag”) I applaud your efforts, but it won’ttake you far. Concentrate instead on your second-year finals.I am a UGA law grad (’00), practicing attorney and a “lawyer on a bike.”I can tell you that filing a complaint with the FCC may (in a very remotesense) net you the satisfaction of initiating a formal investigationand some civil penalties to fatten the FCC’s coffers, but most likely nothingmore.As for the allegation of incitement of illegal and dangerous acts, well,being a dumb DJ spewing hateful things simply isn’t enough for us to seeka civil remedy. Can you prove a causal link between the inciting speechand the resulting dangerous act? Hard to prove and rarely done in the historyof jurisprudence. I pray that such an act never occurs, and certainly notas a result of a DJ’s rants.The most effective way to get back at these ridiculous DJs and the stationsthat air their dumb rants? Boycott, boycott, boycott! Hit ’em where ithurts, in the wallet. Then the stations will listen and your voice willhave impact. Good luck on your finals; the bar exam is even more painful.
Joel Terwilliger, Esq.
Boulder, ColoradoJust as a reminder, our own two-wheeled attorney addressed the issuein his October 2, 2003 column, LegallySpeaking – with Bob Mionske: Shock jocks Sure they’re stupid, but are theyillegal? – EditorHey, maybe Sheryl can help
Dear Velo,
Having been a lifelong Atlanta resident I have for a number of yearsboycotted 99x because their morning show DJ’s have always been ignorant,loud mouthed, pricks and their recent comments towards cyclists just confirmthat belief. I encourage others to voice their complaints to the station.Will it help? Who knows?Coincidentally, one of the two idiots now shooting his mouth off abouthow “gay” cyclists are because of their shaved legs and how “no woman likesa guy who would do that,” has talked obsessively for years about his hugecrush on none other than Sheryl Crow. I guess he overlooked whoher boyfriend is.Hey Lance, ask Sheryl, the next time she comes to Atlanta to go to theother stations instead of 99x. Having a major artist that they haveplayed for years rail on them for endangering cyclists would sure be thekind of support we need.
Chris Rawls
Atlanta, GeorgiaIt really ain’t about the bike
Editors,
Re: Nolan Winkler’s idea (see “Technology sucks” in Monday’smail bag) of having one big race each year where everyone raceson identical steel bikes. It’s a fun idea, though it won’t change the outcome.We all need to remember that Big Money doesn’t allow its guys to winmore often because they have all the cutting edge stuff. Indeed, the UCIalready goes to idiotic lengths to make sure that doesn’t happen.Big Money allows its guys to win more often because it allows its guysto have equipment that arrives on time and works, with replacements andmechanics at hand if something breaks. Big Money wins more often becauseits guys get to sleep in comparatively decent places and travel in comparativecomfort and get meals and massages and paychecks at predictable intervals.But most importantly, Big Money wins more often because Big Money buysBig Money performers and good supporting riders. Pick your favorite cyclinggod: Fausto Coppi, Rik Van Looy, Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Roger DeVlaeminck, Francesco Moser, Bernard Hinault, Sean Kelly, Greg LeMond, MiguelIndurain, Johann Museeuw, Lance Armstrong….  It doesn’t matter. Thetruth is ultra-high-zoot gear was never the reason for their wins (okay,Greg and his tri-bars in ’89 aside, but even that was set up by stunninglyhard work and smart riding) and ultra-high-zoot gear could not prevent,or even delay, their inevitable declines.Gino Bartali was still winning races on a cambio aftereveryone else was using derailleurs. Ditto Sean Kelly and his clips-and-straps.Now you can’t take this too far, of course – a domestique on today’s equipmentwould go faster over the Galibier or the Stelvio than, say, a Garin or Petit-Breton could ever hope to match on their mounts. But the differencebetween this year’s maillot jaune and lanterne rougewill have nothing to do with steel vs. carbon fiber and everything to dowith legs, lungs, head and heart.Incidentally, Nolan, the Tour did exactly what you suggest in the 1920’sor 1930’s in one of Henri Desgranges’ regular fits of pique. Desgrangesgave it up after a year or two. The race needed the sponsorship money fromthe bike producers.
I’m with you all the way on the wooden tennis rackets, though.
Richard Shearer
Moraga, CaliforniaThe rules already do that
Dear Velo,
Nolan Winkler writes that there ought to be a race where everybodyrides a steel bike to see just who the fastest is on equal equipment. Ihate to defend the UCI (I really do), but isn’t that sort of what they’vedone by setting a standard design, minimum weight, etc. Everybody is freewithin the completely arbitrary, but rigid rules to build whatever theywant so that the only variable is the man on the bike.I would bet that every bicycle in any race except for the cobbled classicsweighs in at the absolute minimum, even if they have to add weight (likeCannondale in the last Tour).Moser, Indurain, and Rominger all raised the hour record, but they hadtechnology that Merckx never had. Boardman rode the “same” equipment thatwas available to Merckx and just barely beat his record. That was a testof the man, not the track bike.That comparison seems harder to do on the road: does anybody want towatch a race with 5-speed blocks, down-tube shifters and toe clips? Thatwould just let you compare riders across equally arbitrary technologicaleras. I think we’re still looking at man-to-man comparisons in this dayand age precisely because of the UCI’s design rules.
Michael Schlitzer
Sterling, VirginiaWelcome to  the IROBG
Velo,
In response to Nolan Winkler’s letter and his suggestion based on JohnMacEnroe’s wooden tennis rackets idea reminded me of the IROC auto racingseries. For those readers not familiar with IROC, the idea was to issuea bunch of Chevrolet ZR Camaro (set up to be identical) to invited driversfrom different auto racing disciplines to compete on several types of tracks(oval, road, etc.).As the race evolves, driver to driver, wheel to wheel, the winner shouldbe the driver who is truly the best with all other factors being equal.Great idea for auto racing. But a bad idea for bike racing (and maybe tennis,too).In my opinion, in sum here is why having all the riders switch to steelbikes for a race is not useful. As with tennis, a better athlete can over-comehis equipment, if the tools used are within a percentage of the bettertool the competition has.Consider that most Division 1 teams are using bikes that are up to datetechnically, both for the frame and components, weighing around 16.5 to17 pounds. Just as in tennis, baseball, basketball, track and other sports,everyone has pretty much the same equipment. Take a motivated competitorwho has trained well and is acclimated to his equipment and any equipmentvariables are more or less minimized. So the end result is that the racingwe see really is athlete to athlete.What I think Nolan really wants to see is a twist on horse racing appliedto bike racing. This would entail adding weight to riders deemed to haveadvantage. Example: “Lance, you’re all set for the Alpe d’Huez TT! Don’tforget that we had to add five pounds of weight to your frame.” Or, “Jan,baby! You get to subtract six pounds of the bike today! Go kick some butt!”I’ll bet this would add a new dimension to the sport as we know it.Weights could change daily based on the betting line, on the type of terrain,weather, UCI points, so forth. You then might really see who the best ison a given day after the handicap has been applied.Of course, those great fellows at the UCI would over see this handicappingsystem to make sure there was no doping, er, cheating! Not that cheatingwould ever happen, right?
Cheers,
Bruce Lee
Redmond, Washington


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.