Wednesday’s mailbag: Single-speeds, Sundt vs. Gaggioli, Bush vs. Kerry, Magnus and more

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.Class divisions out of hand, but single-speeds deserve theirsEditor:I think that you make some good points about the validity of a separate class for single-speeds. However, I am going to take the side of the single-speeders on this matter, I

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.


Class divisions out of hand, but single-speeds deserve theirs
Editor:
I think that you make some good points about the validity of a separate class for single-speeds. However, I am going to take the side of the single-speeders on this matter, I happen to be one.

I race in the single-speed class in the Arkansas series of mountain bike races. We have a good group of riders here, and there are usually 10 to 15 single-speeders per race, which makes it one of the largest classes at the races. So, I feel like we have the numbers to justify the separate class.

Furthermore, if the single-speeders were forced to matriculate into another class, most, I think, would choose sport class, and that would not be fair to the sport riders, as most of the single-speeders (not me) are quite a bit faster. On the other hand, if the single-speeders were to ride in the expert class, the opposite would probably happen.

I do agree with Mr. Juskaitis that class division is out of hand; in some cases you’d have to be racing your twin. But single speed is an open class where age, skill level, and even gender are irrelevant. So, I say let us have our fun, that’s what mountain bike racing is supposed to be.

Danny FitzGerald

Single-speed “racing?” Ridiculous
Editor:
Single-speed racing, in my opinion, is ridiculous. I love single-speed bikes. They are simple, light, quiet, and elegantly refined. They make mountain biking fun because it focuses on the ride, not the equipment. But, racing is about going as fast as you possibly can. Why in the hell would you want to handicap yourself? Single-speed racing seems like an oxymoron to me. Unless of course, you don’t race to win, but just to ride.

John Burke

Run what ya brung (or not)
Editor:
Hmmm. Let me be sure I understand this. AJ thinks mountain-bike races should be “run what ya brung,” but doesn’t think it’s okay if “what ya brung” is a road bike?

Terry D. Brown
Santa Barbara County, California

Single-speeders gobble up Cream Puff
Editor:
Single-speeders regularly place in the top 10 overall in Oregon’s Cascade Cream Puff 100. In 2003, single-speeders placed 10th, 11th (Joe Murray), 13th and 15th. Stella Carey won the women’s race on a single-speed, and four of the six women’s finishers were on single-speeds. Some other years and placements by single-speeders include:

2002 – placed third, eighth, ninth, 11th, 14th and 16th overall.
2001 – fifth, seventh, 10th and 16th, and second woman.
2000 – sixth, ninth, 11th and 16th.

Personally, I race in my age group (sport 40-49) on my Matt Chester single-speed. Two years ago I usually placed in the top three (sport 45-plus) and I placed second in the Bear Spring Trap race yesterday. I cannot keep up with the young single-speeders, who are among the fastest racers on the sport course.

Don Person
Race director, Cascade Cream Puff 100

Sundt vs. Gaggioli
Editor:
Wow, thanks for the insight on the Jonny Sundt-Roberto Gaggioli conflict. At the Nalley HRC crit following Anniston, I witnessed Jonny and Roberto in a parking-lot discussion. Both seemed impassioned in defending some altercation that I surmised happened the previous evening in Anniston. Now it all makes sense. Sid Carter
Atlanta, Georgia

Gaggioli’s aggression is nothing new
Editor:
I lived in Milwaukee back in the 80’s and Roberto still hasn’t learned. Anyone who knows him (even Mionski) has seen him throw punches. I remember a crit that Trek sponsored in Waterloo at Superweek in about 1992. The police had to break up fists at the end of the race because Rob was “shutting the door” in the corners.

Bottom line is this. Crit races in this country are what promoters want. I raced in France and Belgium and there are road races unparalleled to what we have here. Cycling will always be an esoteric sport here. Training rides as well as criterium races are a “F–k your friends” kind of ride. Remember Lance Armstrong’s brief comments after a stage of the Tour of Georgia when he said on OLN that the etiquette and peloton order are way out of control here, and he is glad he races in Europe where there is a hierarchy. This is why I don’t race the criteriums anymore. The guys who are racing never learned to handle there bikes and are crazy – like Roberto (who is from Italy, amazingly).

Promoters need to find ways of having larger circuit races that are substituted for crit races. Why do you think all the top Americans always go to Europe? Because there is order, pure and simple.

Take it easy out there, guys. The money isn’t worth it – especially if you don’t have health insurance.

Tim Hayden
Phoenix, Arizona

Officials should deal with hotheads
Editor:
Crits and hot tempers? No, say it isn’t so! Sounds like the symptom of a bigger problem to me. I have had words and postured a bit about riding style in races before, both as the accused and as the victim. I can’t say I have had a two-by-four swung at me before, but stranger things have happened.

I just think that in some circles the old dogs think that you should give them a wheel just because they are in the race – and while you’re at it, give them the clean shot to the line, too. After all, they have 200 victories and so they must deserve it. And who are you to take offense at their pushing, and shoving, and smack talk? They are champions, of something, you know.

Officials at races are there not only to rule on who wins, but on how they did it. I can not comment on the races Sundt and Gaggioli were at, but I know that in some places, bully tactics in the field will be tolerated and at others they won’t. I think this can be the outcome if racers aren’t relegated for tasteless tactics in the race. USCF officials should be quick to yank the racer who thinks he is too good to race with others.. Ben Suttlemyre
Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

Gaggioli had been scheduled to argue against a year-long USCF suspension on Monday. His hearing was postponed to give his lawyer more time to prepare his case, according to our man Neal Rogers. – Editor

Can’t we all just get along?
Editor:
Is the cycling community going to rise with synergy or melt like Chernobyl?

With all the negative comments and bashing of fellow cyclists it’s no wonder the industry is suffering. There is no one to blame other than the current cycling community for the unstable platform of its own industry. Instead of promoting the sport and increasing our cycling community we are constantly having to defend ourselves. Instead of heralding cycling as a great sport and introducing other like-minded athletes to the sport, we have to turn our heads away from the bad seeds that plant themselves in our cycling orchard.

We should all think more about when we were kids riding our bikes with our buddies racing to the next stop sign. That was good ol’ competitive nature, with a smile on our faces not worrying about anybody’s business but our own.

Next time you have the time to rant about more negative cycling hearsay or grapevine news take some advice from your own mother and think before you speak.

Zach Moore
Wrench Science
Berkeley, California

Better biker: Bush or Kerry?
Editor:
Is John Kerry or George Bush the better bike advocate? That is my question to decide the election. Both have tumbled, Bush on May 22, at his Crawford ranch, on his mountain bike; Kerry on May 5, on the mean streets of Concord, Massachusetts (my brother lives there; awesome riding). My hat is tipping towards Kerry at this point with his custom Serotta roadster, and willingness to take his steed on campaign trips. Anyone have info on Bush and what he rides? And does he like Sheryl Crow?

Gary Lardizabal
Seattle, Washington

What’s the real story on Bush’s biff?
Editor:
The AP report on Bush’s mountain-bike injuries leaves some questions to be answered and most of the press is bicycle-illiterate. I thought VeloNews could further investigate and report on the real facts.

The AP report says, “Bush was wearing his bike helmet and a mouth guard.” I’ve been mountain biking since the mid-1980’s and I’ve never heard of a single person using an actual mouth guard. He couldn’t have been wearing a full-face helmet, because the pictures on the Internet show cuts to his chin and nose. Is there some new equipment on the market we should all be aware of, or is Bush getting his equipment advice, say, from the same group that told him about WMD in Iraq?

The article also quotes a White House spokesman as follows: “It’s been raining a lot and the topsoil is loose,” Duffy said. “You know this president. He likes to go all out. Suffice it to say he wasn’t whistling show tunes.” But earlier in the article the AP stated “The Secret Service offered to drive him back to the house.” Perhaps the president wasn’t really mountain biking? It sounds like he was riding on a dirt road with the presidential limo following him. Any idea what the terrain is like at Bush’s ranch? Perhaps VeloNews could score an exclusive ride on his test track.

By the way, if the president was wearing a mouth guard, he couldn’t have whistled show tunes if his life depended on it. And what bike brand, model and size does Bush ride?

Mark Schroeder
San Jose, California

Mark, Gary, we phoned the White House press secretary’s office, which kicked us over to the media-affairs office, where a pleasant young woman told us after inquiring, “You work for what?” that the person we needed to speak with was on the phone and would call us back. Soon as we know, you’ll know. Any guesses out there? Send ’em to webletters@insideinc.com.–Editor

More on Magnus
Editor:
Just wanted to let you guys know how much I’ve been enjoying the “Magnus Opus” features. Magnus sure writes well and it’s been fun reading the stories from ‘inside’ the peloton. I’m still bummin’ that he abandoned but am happy to hear that he will write during the Tour de France in July.

By the way, I’m so thankful for your live web coverage of each day’s Giro stage. I’m at work by 8 a.m. MDT and am glued to your live update page until the end of each stage. My productivity is definitely suffering.

Keep up the good work and please let Magnus know that we really enjoyed his diary entries and wish him well in Le Tour.

Craig Maxwell
Colorado Springs, Colorado

America’s “Smiling Assassin”
Editor:
Andrei Tchmil may have retired, but the U.S. domestic scene has its own “Smiling Assassin” in Chris Horner. As the heavens opened up with five laps to go on the finishing circuit at the Housatonic Classic, Horner rode alone with his ever-present little smile, the same look I saw on his face the day before in Watertown as I watched him churn laps up the hill that had shattered most of the field.

I couldn’t imagine many things worse than looking over in a race and seeing his smiling face while struggling up a hill. He certainly made it look easy yesterday. Kudos to Chris.

Brian Kirby
Meriden, Connecticut


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.