I had to stop some commuter last week and fix her front quick release for her. Nothing that scares the crap out of me more than seeing someone with the lever in the wrong position, poised for a nice little whoopsie. I’ve seen the aftermath of what happens when a front wheel drops off and it is not. at. all. pretty.

This should make the essential point:

If that still wasn’t clear, read this.

This is Bike-to-Work Week (and if you can only make one, Friday is Bike-to-Work Day) in the US. Let’s do it, folks!

It ain't about "deserve"

December 13, 2010

GMP has a, well, spirited post up lamenting the seeming fact that awards in science breed their own success. Creating an “Accolade Magnet”. Meaning that once some investigator is blessed with “Promising Young Investigator Eleventy!!!11!!!!” of Society for the Hopping of Bunnies, she then goes on to win accolades from her University, another three or four societies, segue into the Mid-Career Investigator (Eleventy!!11!!) awards, etc.

What aggravates me is that I know this person well and I have never been dazzled by their techical brilliance or originality. However, AM is the nicest and most pleasant person you are ever likely to meet (on the outside of course). Always upbeat, with a megawatt smile as though you just made their day just by showing up, perpetually supportive of students even when they act as procrastinating asshats, just being an annoyingly calm, collected, friendly person. I, personally, want nothing more than to punch that fake smile off AM’s face.

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RIP Fig Newton!

August 31, 2010

The great French cycling champion Laurent Fignon has died at the age of 50 from cancer.
As Velonews notes, he was French National Champion in 1984, took the Milan-SanRemo in 1988 and 1989 and Fleche Wallonne in 1986.
Fignon won the Tour de France in 1983 and 1984 and the Giro de Italia in 1989.

Ciclismo-Campioni-Laurent-Fignon.jpg
1989 Tdf, final stage (source)

Great rider, very classy.
He also had the honor of participating in one of the very best moments in sport, ever. The final day of the 1989 TdF found Fignon ahead of Greg Lemond by 50 seconds. That year the final day was a 25 km time trial- single riders against the clock, no drafting involved. Watching that stage coverage was certainly the greatest moment in sports that I have ever watched. Lemond beat Fignon by 58 seconds to win the 1989 Tour, as it happens, but Fignon was visibly battling the whole way. It was epic.

Dopes

July 13, 2010

Are we going to get to the bottom of the doping scene in US professional cycling? The FDA is on the case

George Hincapie (BMC) and Tyler Hamilton are among the riders who have been asked to cooperate with the federal investigation into doping practices in American cycling at large and the US Postal Service team in particular, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The criminal investigation, led by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) special agent Jeff Novitzky, is focused principally around Floyd Landis’ recent allegations of systematic doping practices at the US Postal Service team.


BikeMonkey Guest Post
ESPN is reporting that Floyd Landis, previously a world-level professional cyclist, is now admitting to using performance-enhancing drugs for “most of his career”.
You will perhaps recall that the Landis case has appeared on the DM blog a time or two before.

In a brief fan’s overview for those too lazy to Google, steadily improving journeyman* / domestique Floyd Landis started to show some real prospects as a Big Tour winner with some big performances as a super-domestique in 2004, and an initial foray as team captain in 2005. Landis was showing excellent signs of class in the early 2006 Tour but the usual Tour deal-breaker of a few great performances from competitors and one bad day had Floyd on the ropes. Stage 17 saw Floyd come out and just slay the competition with an all day break to put himself back in the race he would eventually win. It was a great stage to watch. A desperate attack in the early going which was surely doomed to failure. (This is a common rhythm for the bigger bike race stages- one man is usually unable to hold off the peloton until the finish if the teams are determined to catch him.) Yet Landis did. Despite the fact that the main General Classification teams knew he was riding back into and possibly away with the entire race. They couldn’t catch him. Floyd just kept hammering away the kilometers, obviously suffering like a dog and continuing to pour on the power. It was amazing.

He tested positive for testosterone doping in samples collected after that fateful race day. Given that this is a substance to be found in humans anyway, the conviction hinged on analysis of the ratio of carbon isotopes in the detectable testosterone. This ratio analysis indicated the presence of exogenous testosterone- i.e., that not manufactured naturally by Landis’ body.
Allegedly, anyway. Landis fought tooth and nail to overturn the conviction. The reporting from ESPN gives us a little clue as to why a now-admitted long-term doper would have fought so hard in that particular conviction.
He didn’t do it.

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“I am not a victim. It was my decision to dope. I can assure you, I have never told by a boss to dope, but I have also never experienced a rider being asked why he suddenly became so fast,”


BikeMonkey Guest Post
The latest pro-cycling cheater is one Thomas Frei, recently of the BMC team. He was caught using EPO, unceremoniously dropped from his team and spoke to the press. His comments are refreshingly honest.

“Of course I would have gone on doping. The money tempts you, it is the same for everyone,” said Frei in an interview with Swiss website NZZ.ch.

Ahh, the fight for glory, right?

As for himself, he said that he started his pro career clean. “Then came the hard stage races, and I learned that infusions were used for recovery. Everything was legal, but I still didn’t want any of it. But at some point it started [for me], because everybody does it. The doctor gives you the first shot, and then it isn’t long until you give yourself the first illegal shot.”

There’s the rub. It ain’t physiologically possible to do that job, even just the job of domestique, on pasta. They all know that. We all know that. The circumstances are ripe for doping just to survive. Just to have a paycheck. Just to have a team slot for the next season.
There couldn’t possibly be a lesson for science careers in here anywhere.

"The Redneck"

January 5, 2010


BikeMonkey Guest Post
PalMD came up with a reflection on just what bothered him about the recent debacle in which a beloved and bucolic icon who practically defines “Minnesotan” (not to mention upper-Midwesterner) appeared to be an antiSemitic idiot. PalMD was previously a fan of Garrison Keillor and felt included in the folksy community of Prairie Home Companion and Lake Wobegon. Keillor’s blatherings were, from appearances, received as a chest push and door slam accompanied by “Wait, not you Jewboy!”.
This let me crystallize my discomfort with another cultural icon, albeit one considerably less famous than Garrison Keillor.

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