La Vida Wanker

La Vida Wanker

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Boys are Back in Town

Evanston is no cyclist’s paradise. The streets—if they can be called that—are mere meandering paths between potholes that stretch on in narrow, wind-blasted and uninteresting monotony. And don’t mention the cars.

But the North Shore does have its benefits. And while it may not be the best thing for my power to weight ratio, the sheer number of bakeries and restaurants is a wonderful thing.

In my absence from this blog, I’ve been doing some riding. I've also been writing and reading. Heck, I've found these things called people, and I've been spending quality time with them. Mainly, I’ve been eating. And I am happy to say I have found two gems: Baker Boys Bakery in Highland Park and Wildflour Bakery & Cafe in Lake Bluff.

On most every ride, I find someplace warm and stop for a meal. Maybe it’s the cold or my utter apathy for the bike, but nothing warms the soul like cheesecake and red velvet frozen custard on a cold day. And I’ve been stopping into both of those places rather frequently to eat out.

It’s often a nice change of pace to eat out. But eating out—after or during a hard ride—can be a rather trying enterprise. You want to go hard, but you don’t wanna get things dirty before you sit down for your meal.

More importantly, if you’re carrying out, you have to deal with your load of food. So utilizing strategies of protection is key. The right kind of protection allows you to go faster with less caution for longer. In other words, it protects your cupcake.

(Yeah, yeah. Mixed metaphors and crude sexual language. But come on, it’s my first post in a long while. Cut this wanker some slack.)

To protect my cupcakes I use small plastic containers suspended from my seat by electrical tape. The suspension absorbs vibrations and protects the frosting. And by keeping the cupcake out of my vision, it prevents accidental inhalation during the ride.

(Out of sight is out of mind.)

Sometimes though, you have to take protection into your own hands. If you forget the tape, you just have to carry the treat. In that case, a cardboard box is recommended. And I suggest stuffing the box with tissue to keep things tight. You don’t want the cupcake moving about.

But let me caution you: 30 miles carrying a box of cupcakes requires some legit core strength—something you're not likely to have if you're eating a box of cupcakes...

In traditional fashion, the above was just a big segue from the barren blog des(s)ert to renewed fertile blogdom.

Readers, I hope you haven’t lost faith. I’m back. And I’m dumber than ever.

Coming soon:

Papp, part II
Guest post by James Bird
Chicago Bike Racing commentary
Collegiate Cycling News news!

So stay posted and start checking out the blog again.

Rosey


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Pro Wanker Kits are Ready!

Wankers everywhere—it’s the day you’ve been waiting for. Finally, after much pause and procrastination, the Pro Wanker kits are ready to be purchased. It is time to send me your orders!

How this works:

1) You decide what you want to buy

2) You email me what you want to buy and include your sizing

(scottrosenfield AT mac DOT COM)

3) You write me a check for 20% of your order cost

4) We wait until the kits arrive

5) I mail the kits

6) You give me a check for the final 80% of your order cost

Main items for sale:

1) Jersey: $48

2) Bib Shorts: $72 (these cost so much because they charge $10 to provide extra material in the groin. Trust me, it’s necessary. Thin white bibs are not always what you want.)

3) Lycra booties: $20 (Note: these are a different material than last year. The Speed Lycra are a bit more expensive... by 18 bucks. But if we get 10 people who want that version...)

In addition, you can pick out other items from the Champion System website. (Scroll down to Order Form—USA) So long as we get 10 orders for one main item, all other items can be ordered 1 apiece. This does not include accessories such as gloves. (This link explains it.)

Note:

1) All orders are subject to a 2.5 percent Pro Wanker Junior Racing Tax. A 2.5 percent tax will be added to your order to help sponsor junior racing. The goal is to provide a damn big purse at Tour of America’s Dairyland for a junior omnium.

2) Unlike last year, I will not be paying for shipping.

Rosie

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Joe Papp Interview: Part I

In the mind of the public, doping is a dirty thing. We assign blame, claim righteous indignation and experience a visceral rejection to the cheating of our idols. So when our stars start to fall, we find pleasure in accelerating their descent.

Meanwhile, to the developing world―where conditions promote doping and ethical muddles―we show indifference. Viewing cycling, the sporting public sees doping as a test of morals rather than economic necessity.

And every year, another rider from a disadvantaged background emerges and shocks the world with his performance. For weeks, we are stunned by the talent. In the underdog, we have found a new idol.

Invariably, the star is soon found a fraud. One must only look to the 2010 Vuelta Espana for a current example. Ezequiel Mosquera and his teammate David Garcia da Pena tested positive for Hydroxyethyl Starch, a blood plasma expander.

Over four years ago, another rider tested positive for a different drug. In his case, it was for using synthetic testosterone at the 2006 Tour of Turkey. At the Landis hearings, this same rider provided testimony regarding the benefits of testosterone for cyclists. And earlier this year, he pleaded guilty to “conspiracy to distribute performance enhancing drugs.” As the Post Gazette reports, the plea agreement in the case is sealed. As of now, “it remains unclear if Mr. Papp is cooperating against anyone.”

Although a talented rider who raced on the U.S. National Team and represented the U.S. at the UCI Pan American Continental Championships, Papp was hardly a superstar in the mold of Alejandro Valverde or Alberto Contador. And unlike many other dopers, he was not running from abject poverty. His motivations are his own, and his comments cannot―as he repeated often―speak for all.

In the following interview, Mr. Papp discusses much. Over the course of more than two hours, we covered topics ranging from junior racing to doping in the Tour de France―to name a few. In a series of Q&As, I will publish his remarks. They are lightly edited to ease comprehension. Some lines are omitted, but only if they leave both the general message and literal meaning of the text unchanged. Additionally, my questions have been rephrased to guide your reading. Other than that, his words appear exactly as he spoke them.

Contador's Positive Test

PW: What was your initial reaction to the Contador positive?

JP: First reaction when I saw the headline was that it was a spoof. I couldn’t believe it. When I read it, it was horrifying. I cannot imagine Contador intentionally doped with clenbuterol. It’s a doping product that is not very effective; it produces horrible side effects, especially leg cramps and muscle cramps that are unbearable. [Clenbuterol is] not in the pantheon of doping products that any cyclist, let alone a Tour de France contender, would reach for.

PW: Beyond the sanctions Contador may be facing, what results could the positive have on cycling?

JP: I think it’s going to be terrible. We’re at a point here in the public and also with the media that the level of cynicism is off the charts right now. And the predominate initial reaction will be rolling of the eyes... “Oh those cyclists. always doped...they’ve been doped since 1900...” I don’t think many people will initially want to hear or really think it’s food contamination.

PW: Earlier this year, the Radioshack rider Li Fuyu tested positive for clenbuterol. WADA and the UCI were hardly lenient with him. What type of position does this leave both organizations now in dealing with Contador?

JP: They’re in a horrible position. I don’t even know what leeway―if any―they even have...

Unless they can find a piece of meat that came off the plate of the meat that supposedly contaminated his urine with clenbuterol, I don’t think there is anything they can do for him.

PW: So does the Contador case show the need for changes to the WADA Strict Liability policy?

JP: Absolutely. There has to be the provision within the code for the adjudication of the case of legitimate food contaminate in such a manner as to not penalize the athlete. If he didn’t do it―if he really had food contamination―he shouldn’t lose the Tour de France.

(Until the next question, the following material was lifted from a portion of the interview that occurred several moments later.)

Is that [the stripping of his Tour de France title] really the right thing, the right response? I don’t want him to be positive. I’m horrified.

I’d much rather him be positive for a blood transfusion, cortisone, EPO― a product that makes sense to use. In that case, I'd say he’s a dirty cheating scumbag just like I was.

Why do you take EPO? Because it really, really works.

PW: Can you speak to the improved testing methods and how they may have affected the Contador positive?

JP: If the labs are getting more effective and more exact in what they are able to screen for... let’s say they can find traces or metabolites they may not have been able to identify before because the quantity was too small. What if they start identifying clenbuterol in urine samples that is really from food contamination that they didn’t pick up before because their protocol wasn’t as exacting. It’s horrifying to think of that.

PW: Why do you think Contador did not use clenbuterol to improve his performance?

JP: The doping that takes place at the elite is pretty sophisticated, rational doping, and taking

clenbuterol during the Tour de France is not rational.

It doesn’t do anything. If you’re taking clenbuterol because you think it has an anabolic affect, it’s just better to take testosterone. And if you’re taking it because it has an anti-asthma affect, just take salbutamol which you can get a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) for.

I used clenbuterol and it’s horrible. I couldn’t wait to get that out of my system and to never touch it again. It goes against all logical thought. I can’t think of any reason why he’d take it at any point during the year.

(The following paragraph was added after email correspondence with

Mr. Papp.)

I can’t think of any reason why he’d take it at any point during the year, though there are riders – especially in Europe – who believe in the benefits of clenbuterol if taken during the off-season, or outside a period of heavy racing. I just think that there are drugs that do what Clen [clenbuterol] is supposed to do better, with fewer side effects and less risk of detection.

Doping in the Junior and U23 Ranks

PW: Following the positives of the Szczepaniak brothers, it appears that doping has reached the junior ranks. Can you speak to this at all?

JP: I think doping... has trickled down into the age group racing and the recreational racing. We know for a fact that it takes place at the junior level and certainly the u23 level in Europe. In Italy, for example, I can think of a few different instances where junior or u23 athletes have been doped by their coaches or doctors―typically often without their really knowing they’re really being doped. I haven’t heard of a case yet with a junior orchestrating their own doping program.

PW: What differentiates those countries from the U.S.?

JP: Where the economic opportunity is not very good for the majority

of the population, then the use of doping products at u23 or the junior level when competing for [the] World Championships becomes something plausible. It means the difference between 2000 Euros a month or a couple hundred Euros a month as a bus driver. You’re talking 10 times increase in salary. If you’re trying to help your family survive, it’s a different equation than if you’re an American kid trying to go faster on his bike. It doesn’t make it any less of a bad thing, but a bit more understandable.

The difference [is] in the importance that cycling occupies in different cultures in different countries. In the U.S., it’s almost exclusively a recreation pursuit. Anyone who goes into cycling that isn’t at the level of a Tour de France contender in the U.S. is going to be losing money if you figure what their opportunity cost it...

[However,] Cycling offers not just a way to make money, but a pretty fun exciting way to make money―provides travel and a whole host of opportunities that aren’t available if you’re just a laborer, if you’re working in your town... It’s a wonder that it [doping in poor countries] doesn’t happen more.

(Until the next question, the following material was lifted from a portion of the interview that occurred several moments later.)

As an aside, we’re not aware of the fact that doping is seen in a very different context in countries outside the U.S., Canada, Britain, Western countries, where really there isn’t economic opportunity. Where you’re really looking at making 200 Euros a month as an unskilled laborer. It really is a different calculus. People can try to avoid accepting that, if they want. But it still doesn’t change that it’s a different reality for the person on the ground...

PW: And how can juniors afford a doping program?

JP: The doping products themselves are not expensive. There are many countries in which you can buy steroids, testosterone, HGH (human growth hormone)―you can buy them over-the-counter without prescription and they don’t cost a lot...

PW: As juniors who dope leave the junior ranks, do they continue doping?

JP: They don’t give up the doping program. If they needed the doping program in order to progress to the level they’re at, they’re not likely to give it up just because they got to the level where they’re earning a wage. Bernhard Kohl is a good example of that. He basically explained that he started doping at the beginning of his career and each of his advancements, progressions in the sport, was connected to doping. When he got to the top, it wasn’t something he stopped doing...it was part of his preparation, part of his program.

PW: Considering that doping appears to be largely a socio-economic issue in the developing world, what can be done to clean the sport?

JP: (Until the next paragraph, the following material was lifted from a portion of the interview that occurred several moments earlier.)

The anti-doping education and the anti-doping effort in general need to be comprehensive and also flexible. Bend with the wind on the ground and take into account what the reality on the local level is. On the Internet forums, a lot of moral indignation and visceral rejection of doping [occurs]. Pretty harsh condemnation of the people accused or implicated in doping and that’s understandable certainly... But you wouldn’t hear it or get that same example in Uruguay or Argentina. It’s a different environment entirely.

PW: Other than economic and educational changes, what can be done?

JP: It would seem that a big problem is the ease of access to the pharmaceuticals... This is from personal experience: definitely eye-opening the willingness of medical professionals in these kind of countries to actively involve themselves in managing your doping program. The lack of fear. It was something very normal. If anything, they looked at doing you a service that you didn’t damage your health. Took pride in their involvement and helping their athletes to do the best job doping they possibly could...

It’s going to have to come from the state side and within the medical association in those countries... It’s a lot easier to condition behavior at the beginning than to change it after it’s established in a pattern.

PW: And what role does testing play in this?

JP: Anybody who thinks of it [that] we’re going to see radical change just from increasing vigilance over the athletes is―I think―going to be disappointed. We’re dealing with a 100 years of tradition and history here.

PW: Is there anything else you'd like to say?

JP: Scott, this was a great interview and I really want to thank you for giving me the chance to share my experiences and observations with your readers. I love cycling and I always have…I’m grateful for what cycling gave me, I’m remorseful for how I hurt the sport, but I just want to encourage you all not to give up on bike racing, either as fans or participants.

PW: In the days since I first interviewed Papp, Kirk O'Bee has been sanctioned for doping, Ezequiel Mosquera and his teammate David Garcia da Pena have tested positive for a blood plasma expander, and elevated levels of plasticizers have been found in Alberto Contador's blood.

Clearly, doping continues in the professional peloton, and for this, fans of the sport should be saddened. However, the current situation provides an unparalleled opportunity. For the first time in years, nearly the entire sport is implicated in fraud. From Alberto Contador down to domestic professionals, the veneer has been shattered. The truth is now visible for all to see—doping is endemic in cycling.

And this truth is almost too terrifying and horrific to bear. It threatens to destroy the love of even the most ardent fan. It shatters the idealism and beauty cycling is built upon. So in this trying moment, we must be strong. We must recognize the existence of widespread doping without abandoning the sport or losing hope. We must move past denial and fear to action.

As Adam Myerson wrote earlier this year, it’s time to clean house—fully. Let there be no doper left standing.

“So burn down Babylon. Burn pro cycling down. There will still be racing, there will still be races. Burn it down, so we can build it up again new. I condemn Landis' original decision to participate in a corrupt, immoral system. But I'll stand in front of the flames with him and watch it burn.”

Stay tuned for the final installments of the Papp interview.


Photos courtesy of Joe Papp

Monday, October 4, 2010

Fall Fling—Weekend Two

A post on Saturday's racing is coming. Until then, enjoy Sunday's race report.

In bike racing, one can inflict a tremendous amount of pain on his competition. But because people are fairly rational actors, it is almost always in one’s best interest to cause the minimum amount of pain to achieve his goals.

After all, the pain you impose upon your competition is a pain you too must feel. No matter how powerful you are, it takes effort to cause hardship. So ordinarily, there is no need to attack and sit up just to cause pain for your competition.

But as with most statements, the above is based on a simple assumption: people are rational actors.

And if you’ve met me, you realize the above is rather false.
Sunday is a rather clear example of this reality.

Going into the race, I was sitting either 5th or 4th overall in the 1/2s. My goals were to protect my lead, get the IsCorp juniors into a break and to leapfrog the riders ahead of me.

As things began, it was clear that the race was going to be a painful one. The wind was brutal. To ride outside of the draft was to tempt fate.

Somehow, a break made it up the road. The original break was small but dangerous. I tried several times to bridge the gap, but I was covered. Eventually, another move went—this one larger and even more dangerous. After a several lap chase, the field and I had managed to close the distance.

Naturally, when I relented and settled into the pack, the same group of riders attacked. Up the road, the race was riding away from me.

At this point, a rational actor would have made a decision: Try to bridge the gap, or focus on winning out of the remaining field. Naturally, frustration rendered such a decision moot.

Rather than break away, I began a policy of scorched earth. Attacking laterally, I would do a series of sprints to dislodge the weaker riders. Once up to speed, I would settle into an anaerobic pace. As I tired, I would get up to sprint again. For several laps, I continued this policy.

I was not attempting to break away. The initial accelerations were not violent enough, and the pulls were far too hard. Rather, my efforts were with a single intention: to cause the long line of faces behind me to grimace in pain.

Finally, the cards read three to go. My legs were dead from torturing the field, but I decided to make a final dig.

So I attacked. And this time, I did little looking back.

With the day over, my teammates and I discussed the racing. To my utter joy, they mentioned the field’s ire at my riding.

“Who’s this guy in a pink kit, and why the hell is he attacking again?”



Thursday, September 30, 2010

Fall Fling 2010

A year wiser?

One year ago, I penned my "famous" first foray into blogging. And in a single sentence, my style was captured: “The Fall Fling is maybe a brownie that was left over from last weekend’s party and is now a bit stale and hard with some random powdered sugar sprinkled on top.”

Instantly, my readers knew: I’m an idiot who’s obsessed with food and writes pretentiously with grand ambitious analogies that can be reduced to meaningless jibber. (Like this sentence.)

Well readers, little has changed—I’m still your favorite fat idiot. Except a year has passed. So while today marks 365 days since my first blog post, it also marks a year since my first full foray into the Fall Fling.

A year heavier!

Several pounds heavier and a category “better,” I entered this year’s Fall Fling with low expectations. Primarily, I was there to support the IsCorp juniors—Peter Davis, Kevin Lindlau and Kaleb Koch—and the new Northwestern cyclists.

Invariably, George Hincapie decided to rain on our parade. Not only did several of the NU kids fail to show (with legitimate excuses, of course), but the juniorfolk arrived with less than 20 minutes to spare.

As I rushed around doing nothing in particular, I realized my brakes were not functioning. Eventually, I found my worn down brake-pads were to blame—the shoes were gouging wonderfully circular cuts into my carbon wheels.

Thankfully, GH and I have a close relationship (after all, his brother makes my kits). In times of cycling crisis, I prevail. So the mechanical turned out to be no problem at all. I just raced without brake pads, right T-Peng?

Known Unknowns and Unknown Unknowns

As we lined up, the IsCorp super junior squad and I outlined our strategy: I would try to break away, Kevin and Petey would attack and try to control the field, and we’d lead Kaleb out in the event of a field sprint.

While things began predictably unpredictable, they took a turn for the unpredictably unpredictable when Petey snapped his chain. Thankfully, ABR has the unlimited free lap rule and he was able to find a similar size bike to race—which he did, and race the heck out of.

As Petey rejoined the pack, we realized a Kenda rider was in attendance. Things suddenly got more confusing. As is always the case, every rider in the field followed the one pro guy around expecting him to do all of the work. It didn't matter that there were around 100 other guys in the race. So long as there is one pro, nobody is required to do any pulling.

So when the break went and Mr.Kenda didn’t chase, the break was gone.

Naturally, when I’m supposed to be coaching the juniors, I make the biggest mistakes. As I began to patrol the front following great pulls by Petey and Kevin, I hesitated. Restarting the lead-out from the final corner, I swung right and was trapped between the curb and another rider. Naturally, there was nothing to be done. Kaleb had to go the long way around and was unable to win the field sprint. Good job, coach!

Finally, the TT

Sunday brought its own surprises. With the failure of my SRM to work and my front wheel still flat from the ABR TTT, I was hesitant to race. Naturally, TTs are my strength for when equipment matters more than talent, I find success. Sadly, my equipment was not up to par.

And after having to move and park three separate times, I managed to get on the bike with just enough time to get nice and cool before my start. Regardless, I still threw down a somewhat respectable time.

In comparison, the juniors all rode great races. Kevin blasted through the course and Petey rode very well on his road bike.

One weekend down. One more to go. Watch out world—Kaleb returns. And this time without an idiot lead-out.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Upcoming Papp Interview

Laptop on legs, he sits on his bed—his flabby form contained by nothing but well-worn tighty whities. Surrounding him, spilled coke mixes with Cheetos crumbs

In other words, it’s just another night for just another blogger.

Breaking the silence, his inbox suddenly reads: One New Message. And just like that, he has a real story. He has a lead.

And assuming the blogger can actually write coherent sentences, this single email transforms him from overweight deadbeat into dignified journalist.

Well folks, I don’t drink pop, and I rarely eat Cheetos. Also and rather unexpectedly, I don’t think tighty whities look too bad on me. (Just ask Axie, Will or Ian.)

But my inbox does read 1025 new messages...

Anyway, on the urging of a Mr. Mark French, I contacted Joe Papp about an interview. Mr. Papp has agreed to speak with me. The focus of our discussion will be doping and junior/u23 racing.

This—the junior/u23 racing—will be a Pro Wanker exclusive interview. Yep, the pink and white has just made the bigs. (hahaha. Yeah right!)

As part of the interview, I would like to take questions from my readers for Mr. Papp. So readers, feel free to post your question in the comment section of this post or email them to me: scottrosenfield AT mac dot com

Yours,

Rosey

Monday, September 20, 2010

Bright Lights, Big City

For years, the same faces have won the same races. There has been little suspense. The winner always comes from a small pool of people. For the US Pro TT, he is DZ. For the RR, there is no victor other than Hincapie, Hamilton, Leipheimer or Fast Freddy.

While Hincapie and company were once young, promising talents, they are no longer. Their best years are behind them. Tour or Roubaix glory becomes more and more unlikely with each passing dope-tainted year.

A look at this year’s Tour de France appears to be a confirmation. American riders were announced as potential winners, yet they failed to deliver. And as a rule, they were part of the old guard.

And for a time, it seemed like little would disrupt the state of affairs. While the Pharmstrong boys may not be speeding up, they are still fast enough. Who would challenge their reign?

The first shadow of insurrection appeared at the Criterium du Dauphine. A then unknown American from HTC managed to ride within himself and contain the attacks of Contador in route to a third place. Despite his foreign name, Tejay Van Garderen was soon an American cycling idol.

Next, larger cracks appeared at the Tour of Utah. In the form of Taylor Phinney, Levi was defeated in the TT. Yes, Phinney had a skinsuit and Levi did not. And yes, differences between skinsuits can amount for more than a handful of seconds. So compared to a jersey and bibs, the gains are enormous. But the boy still won.

And in the climbing stages, Ian Boswell surprised. Climbing like few other riders his age, he managed to stay with the big guns on the hardest stages.

Even more impressive, 2010 l’Abitibi winner Lachlan Morton riding for Holowesko Partners (Garmin’s junior racing team) managed several respectable placings on the intense climbing and TT stages.

In Spain, Van Garderen later followed through on his Dauphine promise. While he eventually fell out of the top 15, he fought valiantly and was within striking distance of the top ten for most of the race.

But compared to this weekend, the results in Spain and Utah were nothing but blips. In two days of racing, the old guard has been destroyed.

Again, the defining shot came from the young Phinney. Narrowly defeating Leipheimer, he posted a time over a minute faster than the third place finisher in the USPRO TT.

A day later, Ben King rode to one of the most impressive results in years. Going on an audacious breakaway and then attacking the group on the Paris Mountain climb, King soloed to the win.

Some will say the wins of King and Phinney are tainted. Riding for Trek—Livestrong, they are assumed to be recipients of the RadioShack doping program. However, we can hope they are not. The results of King and Phinney have followed a linear path. From their youth, they have excelled.

Rather than with doubt or anxiety, the results of this weekend should be welcomed. On their own roads in their favorite races, the old guard has been defeated. Ready or not, American cycling is entering a new era.

For one, I hope it to be a cleaner, more competitive and entertaining one.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Dopage

Hopefully, this post will be read. Likely, it will languish on the interwebs unnoticed and lonely. In the off chance that you are a real human and read this post to its conclusion, I'm interested in your opinion and feedback. Disagree with me? Think I'm a misguided? Let me know in the comments section. And please, make your comments anonymous.

Motives

I’ve largely kept my head out of the doping game. Yeah, Pharmstrong jokes are easy to make, but I like to leave the accusations to the Cyclingnews.com forums. Reputations are too important to impugn on heresy and Internet innuendo. However, the recent Chicagobikeracing.com posts regarding an impending drug bust have aroused my interest.

The calculus involved in doping must be complicated. As one contemplates injecting himself with the product, he likely weighs the health risks, expected performance gains, monetary costs and odds of getting caught. Some might not even pause, but I’d like to think most do.

For the pros, the decision likely becomes a monetary one. And as is so often the case, greed rules the day. For the master cyclist, I’m not so sure what the thought process is. Perhaps ego is the motivating factor. Maybe it’s fear—of aging and finally slowing down.

Catalyst

Regardless of my rambling, it looks like USADA is acting on the confession of former pro cyclist doper turned pusher, Joe Papp. In coming months, expect a number of pro, elite, and masters cyclists to be busted for doping on behalf of Papp’s testimony.

(Papp is highly active on the Cyclingnews.com forums in the Clinic section. He also posts regularly to Twitter.)

Papp himself has an interesting story. In 2007, he was suspended for using synthetic testosterone at the 2006 Tour of Turkey where he won several stages. At the famed Landis hearings, he provided testimony regarding the benefits of testosterone for cyclists.

Explaining why he testified a the Landis hearing, Papp said, “By testifying here outside of clear conscience, and helping next generation of riders see that they have a choice. I don’t gain anything and I lose a lot.”

In reality, it appears Papp’s motives were not completely pure. Earlier this year, he pleaded guilty to “conspiracy to distribute performance enhancing drugs” while he was offering information against other athletes suspected of drug use, according to Cyclingnews.

As he claimed to be helping to rid cycling of dopers, Papp was actually providing riders with drugs—something few articles explicitly mention. They ignore the timeline, making Papp a hero. The reality is gray. Like with all men, the truth goes beyond hero or villain.

One Race, Two Wins

But the Papp story gets even more complicated. And it takes another turn for the confusing with the lifetime ban from cycling semi-local hero/villain Duane Dickey recently received.

On Chicagobikeracing.com, an anonymous poster with the handle "VeloDoc (Project 5)" writes “sucks when it happens to a genuinely nice guy.” All over the Internet, praise is heaped on Dickey. His doping conviction is ignored, rationalized, or dismissed with the anonymous clicking of keys.

I cannot comment on Dickey’s innocence or guilt. USADA claims he possessed and used EPO, possibly supplied by Papp. Additionally, he refused a sample collection. If USADA cannot be believed, then all sports—not just cycling—has an issue. So for the sake of this article, I will assume USADA’s claims have merit.

(And I realize the issues that this assumption brings.)

What is most disturbing about this case is the phraseology of "VeloDoc." “When it happens” implies Dickey was forcefully injected with EPO. That doesn’t seem to be the case. Dickey, like the rest of us, has free will. He chose to posses and take EPO.

And this statement is about more than Dickey.

On Free Will

Perhaps USADA is totally wrong. Maybe this is all one big mistake. Regardless of that, doping is a choice. And if Tyler Hamilton taught us anything, it’s that being a nice guy has nothing to do with doping.

Heck, if Cyclingnews.com’s Clinic forum is to be believed, Hamilton’s wife arranged the doping logistics and then may have had a fling with Lance. But hey, that’s Cyclingnews.com’s Clinic forum. So Tugboat, I’m sorry if the above turns out true.

(Sorry, I'm not providing the link to that one.)

Who Will Be Busted Next?

To return to the Papp situation, one should doubt his testimony. If history is any guide, he is an opportunist. However, his evidence should not be disregarded if it can be corroborated. I, for one, hope it isn’t. Likely though, it has been. And it appears to have great relevance on American racing.

Tweeting about the 2010 Tour of Utah, Papp wrote that McCarty had earned a 5th place. On the stage, he had actually finished sixth. Ahead of him were Levi Leipheimer, Francisco Mancebo, Ian Boswell, Darren Lill and Phil Zajicek. Papp’s Tweet (screw you NYT, I’ll use Tweet as a word) implies one rider who finished ahead of McCarty was a doper.

Again on Cyclingnews.com’s Clinic forum, Papp points toward Zajicek and Lill as the likely dopers. According to speculative posts by other members, Leipheimer and Mancebo are assumed to be part of more sophisticated doping programs. Ian Boswell is assumed to be too young to dope. Lill then becomes a suspect, but is ruled out based on the timeline of Papp's pushing. This leaves Zajicek, who is claimed to have been busted at the “Tour of Qinghai(?) [sic] when he took a legal decongestant (not on the banned list) which metabolizes in the body into an illegal substance that was detected in a test,” poster “Rupert” wrote.

Again, the above is pure speculation by a potential random Internet waco. However, the claims on the Cyclingnews.com forums have often been substantiated. And Papp’s commentary seems to support the above quotation.

Let History Be Your Guide, Lemmiwinks

The year is 1998 and the Tour de France is in shambles. The discovery of doping products in a Festina team car leads to the reopening of an investigation into the TVM team. Before the Tour is over, the existence of a systematic network of doping is revealed.

In one race, the veneer of plausible deniability is shattered.

The year is now 2010—12 years since the Festina scandal. And cycling is still plagued by the dopage. But is seems that the basic issues still remain. Dopers, when caught, deny and fail to implicate the networks. The anti-doping organizations are not trusted. Fans believe in cover-ups and some of their fears appear to be founded.

Meanwhile, bloggers write about theoretical limits on performance (FTP must be less than 6.2 watts/kg, for example). Yet their numbers are flawed. They fail to take into account the climatic conditions and weight difference for each rider. (According to Andrew Coggan and others.) In one swoop, an entire cadre of riders is assumed guilty. Perhaps some are clean?

Tolerance Camp

There is no easy way out of this quagmire. And if I knew the answers, I sure as heck wouldn’t be blogging about them. But some things clearly have to change in cycling. That much I can say.

For starters, dopers must be stigmatized in the style of The Scarlet Letter. The attitude toward them cannot be “oh, he’s a nice guy.” Frankly, it doesn’t matter if he’s the nicest guy in the world. He’s a doper. Ergo, he’s a cheat. Cheats don’t deserve respect or inclusion. Look what baseball did to Pete Rose after what he did to the sport’s integrity.

(Please, don’t get into the whole baseball doping thing. I’m speaking only of this case. And don’t bring up his one night back into the field. That was a poor decision.)

USADA/WADA must have credibility. When another Landis gets busted, there can be no question to the integrity of the system or the tests. A doping positive must be difficult to dispute. The organizations must be impartial and trustworthy.

USADA/WADA must have some accountability. At the CAS, athletes should be able to dispute cases and actually win—if their arguments merit victory. As much as every cheater should be caught, nobody should be falsely banned. So this means no more leaks to the L’Equipe.

Catching dopers must go beyond urine and blood tests. Clearly, they are easy to defeat. Informants should be used. And doping cases should be investigated by the police whenever and wherever possible.

The networks must be taken down. Behind every doper, there is a pusher. The people who supply the drugs must be found and stopped.

I’m no fool. (Well, I actually am.) I know my recommendations will not be easy to implement. In fact, they may be impossible to achieve. But as more doping cases are announced, the future should be on our minds. Our actions should be guided by our vision and values, not retribution, fanaticism or revenge.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Little Red Nightgown

Pro Wanker Kits
Reader, the deposit has been placed. The proofs have been sent in. And the Pro Wanker kits are being approved by Champion System as I type! Expect to see the final and gorgeous design in two weeks. If interest is high enough, I’ll leak some spy shots before then. Anyway, expect to be filling out order forms in about 2.5 weeks.

The ABR Tour de France (Fall Fling)

It's that time of year again. (No, Scott hasn't been hospitalized for gorging himself on butter...hibernation listed as the excuse.) Fall is here. Yeah, the cold sucks. And school is back in session. (Not for me, suckers!) But ABR is putting on their best weekend(s) of racing.

Distributed over two weeks to allow for recovery, the Fall Fling has two circuit r
aces, a crit and a short TT. I highly recommend you come out and race. The Northwestern Cycling Team will be there. And so will I. What more could anyone want? If you're a collegiate racer or junior folk and need lodging, hit me up.

Sadly, the first weekend falls over collegiate track nationals. So I may only be racing the final weekend. Decisions. Decisions...

Tour de Donut

It is with great regret that I must miss the Tour de Donut. As I wrote and say on a daily basis, the race sounds genius. Sadly, it falls on Yom Kippur. For all of you heathens out there, I will be fasting that day and praying for my atonement. That makes eating donuts a but difficult. However, I exhort all of you other wankers out there to go!

Star Sight, Star Bright

I was out driving instead of training. As I motored through Ft. Sheridan, I noticed a gaunt figure in Kona kit. On a whim, I pulled up besides him and started a conversation. It turns out he's Barry Wicks, and he lives in Evanston. He's a pro CXer. Hopefully, he'll hook up with Northwestern Cycling for a few rides sometime soon.

My Milkshake...



Monday, September 13, 2010

Small Stones

This Year's ABR TTT did not go according to plan. 60 k TTTs require luck—something we had none of. Regardless, I will be back next year.
The Start

To shift down, first shift up. In fact, shift up twice. Then shift down once.

No, this isn’t retreating to move forward. And no, you don’t end up where you started.

This is riding my TT bike—one without basebars, skewers or fully functioning brakes—at 35 mph with a screaming tail wind while only inches away from three other riders.

And at these speeds, time reveals its fluidity. Minutes seem to drag on for hours only to snap and disappear with the speed of seconds. On a good day, your body begins to pedal to a beat. Every action and movement goes according to script. It's part of the TTT time bending magic.

And things were musically magical. We were cruising in the low 30s after the first turnaround. Rounding the s-bend, we hit the long crosswind stretch before the final turnaround. Our echelon was perfect. We were down a man, but riding possessed. Victory was within grasp. We were pedaling to a beat.

My Story

A pebble stares at me. It’s round. Maybe the size of a acorn. It poses no harm. It’s perfectly smooth. In the face of this feeble "danger," I do not veer from my path.

I have minutes to change course. But this pebble can do no harm. Without doubt, the impact is devastating. Releasing all 120 psi in a second’s time, the tire deflates. A perfectly round body has slashed my sidewalls.


A pebble has ruined my day. A pebble has ruined our race.

The Build

The wind blows a warm breeze. Looking out from my six foot three window, I see acre upon acre of corn. The plants ripple in the wind.

But I stand still. I am besides the road. Somehow, the bike's top tube is supporting my impressive weight. I rest and wish I had brought with me some water on this too warm day.

Reeven rides past. I exhort him on. Another team goes by.

Finally, Lowell appears. I raise an arm, signifying my front flat. As Mr. Koch runs out of the car, I yell for my Y-tool. My super duper aero skewers take minutes to remove.

The Chase

Back on the road, I settle into a fast rhythm. For seconds that last minutes, I dream of catching the team, taking a long pull and propelling us to victory. But this does not happen. Unlike Lance, I don't believe in miracles

Up the Road

The remaining three power on. As they hit the tracks, their speed suggests a time capable of winning the race. Despite my flat and them needing to wait for Reeven to latch back on, they’re flying.

And then Kyle hits something. Out goes his tire. So he slowly rolls in.

The Finish

At the car, we trade frowns. Naturally, I curse Hincapie. Brach claims the name of our team is to blame. (We registered as IsCorp/Pro Wanker.) Someone else blames the team Canadian.

I stick by my guns: The Hincapie giveth, the Hincapie taketh away.

The Other Guys

Thankfully, the IsCorp juniors pull through. As has become habit, they dominated the junior event with a blistering time of 1:20 for something around 60 k. (It is ABR, afterall. Don't expect exact distances.)

(Pictured from left to right: Petey Davis, Garrett Roth, Kaleb Kock and Kevin Lindlau)

The Real Story

For once, the above is true—mostly. Regardless, I must praise this event. The prize-list may be small. But honestly, few of us race for the cash. It's about the fun. And the stupid. And ABR has both of those bases covered.

So if you're free next fall and want to suport what bike racing should feel—if not be—like, come out and race the ABR 60 K TTT.

Rosey




Friday, September 10, 2010

Jerry...

Note: If you know how to add captions to photos, please let me know. Also, I'll be revealing the Pro Wanker kit design this week. And finally, some Gateway Videos will be posted this week. Stay posted, Wankers.
I’ve slept in an assortment of odd places—on a shelf, in a closet, in a bed with two other guys, in a bed with two guys and a girl, and on many a floor. (Heaven praise the collegiate season.)

However, I’ve never slept in a place quite as seedy as the Day’s Inn off of Lindberg Blvd, STL.

Imagine for you a moment you’re a pedophile. In looking for a hotel, you’d want to keep your drugged and kidnapped child somewhat amused. (You don't want him calling the cops, do you?) So a kid-friendly pool would be nice. And so would be a jungle gym. You’d also want your privacy. So the place would be easily accessed without arousing suspicion.

Well, pedophiles, the Day’s Inn Lindberg, STL has all the above and more!

Easy entry? With no external doors—check! Child amusement? With a full size pool and arcade—check! Privacy? With soundproof cinder block walls—check!

Thankfully, I’m over 18 and no pedophile. So while the Day’s Inn may be many a boy’s night
mare, it was just another motel for me.

But was the Gateway Cup just another weekend of racing?

As has been repeatedly said, bike racing’s beauty lies in the carnival. From
the staying in shitty motels to the pinning of race numbers and kisses from overweight "podium" girls, bike racing is about the process, the carnival.

As a member of IsCorp, I’m thankful to be part of the wildest carnival around. Between Tom Petty (JoKo), our resident Canadian (Josh G), Jesus (Jon Cook), the Brach (Brian Rach) and Weisenhoofen, something stupid is always going on. And when you throw me and a team junior in the mix. Well, heaven save us.


But beyond the regulars, Gateway was great. Seeing the Aussies is always solid. Despite the fact Owen has yet to return my final pair of Pro Wanker booties, I can’t help but love him. And Wez—he’s always a pleasure to see.

Mainly though, this weekend was made wonderful by our resident Hill Billy, Colton Barrett. Need more be said?

Ok, it wasn't all that great. The final
crit course had upward of a thousand turns—and many of them were right turns, the most difficult for me. And Sunday's course had an uphill tailwind section. And heaven knows I hate uphill headwinds. But really, since when have I gone to a bike race to actually race my bike?

Mainly, it’s still hard to believe summer has reached its inevitable end. But as a member of a slowly and painfully dying profession (journalism, wankers), it is nice to see something go out with a bang, rather than a whimper.

So summer—it was great knowing you. And Gateway—you were a great way to end the season.