Thursday, May 31, 2007

Confession Is Good For The Soul

But can it make you a better rider?

Cycling Freakonomics

I remembered reading an article some time ago that discussed doping in cycling from a statistical point of view. I looked it up and it turns out that it was not an article on cycling, but a four-paragraph introduction to a review of the book, Freakonomics. The book was written by a University of Chicago economist, Steven Levitt, and Stephen Dubner, a journalist. The review was written by Dr. Michael Shermer, a former professional cyclist, prolific writer, speaker and educator. Dr. Shermer discusses how one might apply economics to the idea that gains in professional cycling performance may not just be due to improvements in equipment and training and changes in the race itself. Interesting start to an excellent review of a fascinating book.

Funny thing. Here's a quote from the first paragraph of the review:
A friend who knows my penchant for exposing fraud suggested I track the winners’ speeds from the Tour de France to note the increase after 1991, the year he says EPO was introduced. Since my friend won the Tour three times, I figured it was worth checking.
I believe that friend is none other than Greg LeMond. I don't believe that any additional statistical analysis was ever published following up on Dr. Shermer's ideas, but I do know that LeMond continues to claim that all pro cyclists dope.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Bike Drive Photos

I am in the process of learning how to use Flickr to post pictures on the web. The Bike Drive photos I took are all at this address. I posted all the raw shots I took and the ones I edited with Photoshop. You can post comments there or here.

UPDATE: I'm still practicing on Flickr. I really didn't mean to use groups to sort the photos. I deleted the group and moved the WB photos into a set. It's all very confusing.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

You May Already Be A Winner

There's this movie, King Ralph, where, after a mishap during a family photograph, the entire British royal family is comically killed (it's a movie) and there is a search for an heir to the throne. That heir turns out to be an American lounge singer.

Bjarne Riis just admitted using performance-enhancing drugs to win the 1996 Tour de France. He is the first Tour winner to admit using PEDs. This means that the top three finishers of the Tour that year have been linked to doping (Richard Virenque was involved in the Festina scandal and Jan Ullrich has been linked to Operation Puerto although AFAIK he has never tested positive).

With all the admissions of using PEDs in cycling coming out now (Basso, Papp, Zabel, Aldag...) and the potential for more with Operation Puerto, perhaps one of us might find ourselves declared winner of the Yellow Jersey. Unless Dick Pound gets to test our urine...

Friday, May 25, 2007

Another Bike Drive

For those of you who missed the bike drive last Sunday, there will be another one on Saturday, June 23 at Lake Forest Hospital from 10:00 - 3:00. There are other bike drives all around the area. Visit their web site for more information. Info on other ways to donate here. Drop off locations are listed here.

More Pictures From The Bike Drive

Here are a couple more shots I took during the Bike Drive.



Thursday, May 24, 2007

Rolling Rock Beer

I just found this out. The beer I used to enjoy in college and have fond memories of drinking is no longer brewed in Latrobe, PA. And it's owned by Anheuser-Busch. Sure, it isn't great beer. It isn't even very good beer. I just liked the name and bottle and the kind of home team spirit I felt when I started my drinking career. And now, I learn that Samuel Adams beer will be brewed at the former Rolling Rock facility. Next thing you know, someone'll tell me that Motob├ęcane bikes aren't made in France anymore.

Landis Hearing - LNDD

The hearing is in closing arguments now. I understand it will be a couple of weeks before a decision is announced. Then there might be an appeal to CAS and there is also the AFLD (the French Anti-doping Agency which is also the parent of LNDD) case in France. Some other things that stood out about the test. LNDD tests come up with an AAF three times more frequently than all other WADA labs. Does this mean that the population of athletes (primarily French?) that they test are three times more likely to dope or is there something wrong with their equipment, personnel or procedures that leads to false positives in two of three AAFs? I believe that what we have seen in this hearing would lead one to believe in the latter conclusion.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Bicycle Film Festival

I went to the Bicycle Film Festival last summer and had a great time. Saw A Sunday in Hell and a series of shorts including Yogurt vs. Gasoline. No firm info yet on BFF Chicago. This link is provided as a reminder. You're welcome.

Even More Art

I gotta add one more (OK, I'll add more as I hear about them). Terry Rose has created a lot of sports art which you can view at his web site. There are four cycling posters there. I think this is my favorite (this is a close second). Oh, yeah, I also kinda know him.

Route Mapping

This is a great tool for route mapping. That is all.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Floyd Landis Hearing

Something big (if I understand this right) just happened at the hearing. Over at TBV the testimony of Dr. Simon Davis looks very bad for the lab. Dr. Davis, who was, among other things, Isoprime development project leader and was present during reprocessing (b samples?) has testified that the lab results at LNDD were "totally unreliable" (I am quoting TBV who is live blogging this, so this may not be Dr. Davis' exact words) for a number of reasons. It gets technical, but one thing that stands out is that there were magnets out of place on the unit which will screw up the results. All of a sudden, it appears that the Landis case can be attributed to a false positive. Wow!

More Art

Renee Haddad is a photographer in Chicago, and will be part of the Bike Art II show at the Altered Esthetics Gallery in Minneapolis. She'll be displaying four photos she took of bicycles at the Working Bikes Cooperative storefront. The show will run from June 1-28.

Her photo series is entitled "Re-Cycle: The Working Bikes Cooperative" and she'll be donating the proceeds from sales of the photos to Working Bikes.

To see the photos, go to her web site and click on the Chicago Gallery.

Bike Art

Check this out for some cool bike art. If you follow the links to their 2006 show, there are pictures of art from their show last year. Some really great stuff.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Bike Drive Results

It was cold, windy and we got some rain. Even so, the bike drive was a success. We collected a total of 60 bikes including a DeRosa equipped with 8-speed Dura-Ace, a carbon frame Trek 2100 with Rolf wheels and a Specialized Rockhopper. Thanks to Brian for getting the truck to me bright and early and for driving to the warehouse and to Al for his help during the drive, for bringing the banner and for helping me load the bikes. Kudos all around to Working Bikes for making it easy for me to do some good with my time. Finally, thanks to The Art Center of Highland Park for use of their lawn, table and chairs.

Here's a picture.

Friday, May 18, 2007

USADA vs. Floyd Landis

I've been following this case over at Rant and TBV somewhat obsessively (is that an oxymoron). My thinking is that the only reason that USADA had Greg LeMond testify is that they a) know their case is weak on the science and there are problems with the lab results and b) wanted to take advantage of the fact that the hearing is open to the public. Their case should simply be 1) There was an 'A' sample that was positive for high T/E ratio and then positive for synthetic testosterone 2) the 'B' sample results matched the 'A' sample. 3) Both samples are from Floyd Landis 4) Prove chain of custody. That should be it. Landis' defense has to be either to demonstrate that the lab results are inaccurate due to faulty procedure or equipment, the chain of custody can't be proven or some other related problem.

So why add LeMond to the mix? The only reason I can tell is that up to that point the testimony was technical (and in Landis' favor, I believe) and would not make for an easy sound bite for the news. However, a stunning revelation by the first American to win the Tour de France coupled with his accusation that Landis is guilty will get press, is a quick sound bite and will stick in people's minds. Never mind that their phone conversation (which took place 9 months ago) was not recorded and there is no proof what Landis said or in what context he said it. In addition, (perhaps the primary reason) his testimony gives the arbitrators cover to find Landis guilty. They can reason that even if the science is questionable, and/or the lab made mistakes, maybe enough so that in an open hearing it would be difficult to find against Landis, that since LeMond says that Landis admitted guilt then no one will care enough about the science to question a guilty verdict. And Will Geoghegan's behavior the night before make that even easier.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Wear Your Helmet

"It feels really strange to have a truck run over your head."
In Madison, Wisconsin, a cyclist was run over by a truck. Actually, it appears that only his head was run over. It crushed his helmet, but he only suffered a concussion. Check out the picture and see if you don't agree that the helmet saved his life. And, oh, yeah. He's studying medical physics.

Merckx vs. LeMond

Martin Dugard agrees that he would rather have Eddy Merckx testify on his behalf over Greg LeMond. The group I ride with has a joke (for which I claim authorship) that every time we pass a LeMond bicycle we hear a distinct whining noise. And yes, I plan to keep my day job.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Greg Lemond and Eddy Merckx to Appear

According to the AFP at Yahoo News, Greg LeMond and Eddy Merckx are going to appear in the arbitration hearing of Floyd Landis. The report says that Merckx is on a list submitted by Landis' legal team and LeMond is on the USADA (US Anti-Doping Agency) witness list. I imagine Merckx is on the list to testify, if needed, that Landis' stage 17 performance was not unexpected for a rider that had cracked the previous stage. Indeed, I've read that it was because he had cracked that he did not have to recover as much for the next day. LeMond, who I greatly respect for his ability and cycling achievements, has been increasingly vocal over the past few years accusing, without specific knowledge, other cyclists of doping. My guess is that his testimony will go something like this:

Mr. LeMond, how do you know that Mr. Landis doped?

Because he is faster than me.

No further questions.

Thought for the Day

Shaved legs just don't get along with microfiber pants.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Donate Your Used Bikes

A bike drive will be held at The Art Center Highland Park, 1957 Sheridan Road, on Sunday, May 20 from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. All bikes are accepted, no matter what condition they are in. Bike donations will benefit Working Bikes Cooperative, a nonprofit organization that recycles bicycles in the Chicago area and ships them to countries throughout the world to provide sustainable development. The event, which will feature informational material, is open to the general public.

Floyd Landis

The public arbitration hearing of USADA (United States Anti-Doping Agency) vs. Floyd Landis begins today at Pepperdine University School of Law. The Trust-but-verify blog is possibly the best resource for information on the case. Info on the hearing video stream is here. Finally, my favorite blog with commentary on this is Rant Your Head Off (great name, that). I'm inclined to believe that Floyd won without doping. First of all, I believe in innocent until proven guilty (call me an idealist), then there's been too many things that USADA and WADA have done to demonstrate that that they want to convict Floyd at any and all costs and not find out what really might have happened. The most recent of these is not having an independent lab test the additional 'B' samples they got permission to test. Instead, LNDD got to test them without Floyd's observers present during the entire test (that's actually two problems--Rant did an excellent analysis of this here.)

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Wines

Some wines with great looking (read cycling-related) labels.
Cycles Gladiator
Red Bicyclette
PennyFarthing (no website yet, pictures here)

I know little about wine quality or taste, I just liked the labels.

Let me know if you find others.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Oxygen Debt


Had a great ride this morning. Near the end of it, we race up a hill for bragging rights. Today, I've decided to sue my lungs for usury.