Friday’s mail welcomes your letters. If you run across something inthe pages of VeloNews, or see something on that causesyou to want to write us, drop us a line at include your full name and home town. By submitting mailto this address, you are consenting to the publication of your letter.Friday's mailApples, Oranges, Campy and SimplexEditor;Just got the latest print issue of VeloNews and loved the retrospective.But I had to take exception to your comparing the Peugot PX-10 to the latestand greatest from Specialized.My first "real" race bike was a

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Bikes, decoder rings, dope, dopes on bikes welcomes your letters. If you run across something inthe pages of VeloNews, or see something on that causesyou to want to write us, drop us a line at include your full name and home town. By submitting mailto this address, you are consenting to the publication of your letter.Friday’s mailApples, Oranges, Campy and SimplexEditor;Just got the latest print issue of VeloNews and loved the retrospective.But I had to take exception to your comparing the Peugot PX-10 to the latestand greatest from Specialized.My first “real” race bike was a 1972 Colnago Super with full Campy Recordcomponents. A far far cry above the French swill on the PX-10.I bought the bike used so I can’t speak to it’s original wheels butwhen I raced it, it weighed well under 20 pounds (with the Fiamme yellowlabels, silks and all, of course). It also cost a whole bunch more thanthe PX-10, which I guess, is the point. There were very nice bikes still(with the friction shifters on the downtube, screw on freewheel et al…)that cost a lot closer in 2002 dollars than the PX-10.Not a fair comparison. Fun to remember though! And I never even gotto try the Liotard pedals.Chris HarrisYeah, it was admittedly an unfair comparison, but we picked themfor two reasons. One, the Peugeot PX10 was about all most of us could affordback in ’72. (These days, we are all a bit richer and quite a bit older.)Two, this particular PX-10 was brand new and original — all the way downto the bar tape! We couldn’t pass that one up. — EditorTexas tornadoes and … and … huh?Dear Velonews:In reference to “Eurotrash and the Texas Tornado” by Bob Roll (VeloNews,March 18, 2002, page 106), I enjoy Bob Roll’s off candor comments as muchas the next guy. However, next time you might want to include the Bob Rolldecoder ring so the rest of us can figure out what the heck he’s talkingabout.Regards,
Colin Turner
Glen Ellyn, ILDopers as thievesDear VeloNews,I’m writing you to express my disgust with some of our “professional”cyclists. After reading repeatedly about doping scandals among cyclistsin your publication and after recently watching the recent winter Olympicswhere several cross country skiers were found to have been dopers, …Ihave reached a point of disgust and anger in some sense. I used to do somerecreational racing and enjoyed the competition. However, I now hear manyrumors that even some of our local USCF cyclists are using banned substancesto enhance even their performance. This made me remember the hard workand time I spent training as only a recreational racer and it made me thinkof the complete devotion and time commitment of those professional cyclistsand Olympians that aren’t dopers.In my opinion, our lives and time on this earth are the most valuablethings we have as human beings. My point is that dopers are effectivelystealing the lives of nondopers because the nondoper’s time (i.e. partof their life) has been wasted. Murder is the extreme example of the deliberatetaking of another person’s life. In my mind the doper takes/steals partof another person’s life and there should be much stiffer penalties forthose dopers that are caught with conclusive evidence of doping. I believethat a convicted doper should be banned for life from their sport and anyother sport as a professional. In addition, I also believe that if a teammember, doctor, and/or coach aided in this doping, they should also bebanned for life from their sport and all other professional sports. Thesewould be the minimum penalties for doping. I also believe there shouldbe some penalties for nondoper team members if they don’t turn over individualson their team when they have specific knowledge of the illegal activity.Thieves are not excluded from fines and imprisonment. Dopers are thieves,… they steal the lives of others with their illegal activities. MaybeI’m being too extreme with the thought of imprisonment for a short durationbut I think you get my point. Dopers and those that aid them should findother careers. They have no right to participate in a sport, they ruinthe meaning and essence of competition.In addition, the dopers are ruining their sport. I find that myselfand others are almost to the point where we don’t care about followingthe sport. If dopers aren’t eliminated from competition due to their fearof being banned from what they love to do (in addition to further stifferpunishment), they will continue to be dopers. Eventually the fans may becomeso disgusted that enough of us stop supporting the sport and the sponsorsmay listen to us.What action can concerned fans take to influence the proper authoritiesabout the seriousness of this issue? It’s too costly to come up with allof the new tests required to detect the new drugs and test everyone forthose and all of the older drugs. Because of that, it appears that stifferpenalties that are enforced may be the only option to deter this epidemic.I would also like to thank and congratulate those individuals that don’tparticipate in doping. Thank you for allowing the fans to enjoy the intentof pure sport and for setting an example for future generations. Pure sportand the admiration of your commitment and exertion can move one to tearsand we fans appreciate that feeling when watching you compete.Hats off to you!!! For the rest of you dopers, … get lost and finda new job, we don’t want to see you anymore!!!Sincerely,
Keith P. Seymour
Louisville, KYThere was at least EPO as it was intended to be usedIn response to Eric Harvey’s “Just Speculation” letter of March 7, 2001Eric writes:
“2) At no time has Lance Armstrong indicated he was administered EPOduring his chemotherapy treatment. I have never heard him confirm it, norhave I heard him deny it. He was very open about his treatment in his book,but then again I could see why he might not want to admit to having beenadministered EPO (if he was).”I’d like to refer Eric to the April1998  issue of Outside magazine(please note, thiswas published BEFORE the 1998 Festina Scandal).And I quote:It was after the third round of chemotherapy that Armstrong reachedhis lowest point. He was fatigued, dizzy, nauseous, vomiting. He lost allhis hair. His hematocrit, the percentage of total blood volume comprisingmature red blood cells, fell to less than 25 (46 is normal), an alarmingdrop for any patient but one that had special implications for Armstrong…. Armstrong’s oncologists gave him Epogen, a brand of EPO, to raise hishematocrit, knowing that this use of EPO, which is banned by the UnionCycliste Internationale and the International Olympic Committee, mightraise suspicions if and when he returned to racing, though Armstrong himselfhad no qualms. “If anything, I’ve got a manhole cover attached to me,”he says, dismissing the notion that his using Epogen might give him anunfair edge. “A year of chemo and platinum is hardly a boost.”Does this mean that Armstrong’s three consecutive Tour wins were drug-enhanced?No … but it doesn’t mean that they weren’t either. I am one of the manywho prefer to believe that Armstrong is racing “clean” (relative to manyother professionals). His Hct levels are artificially elevated, but throughthe use of a hypobaric chamber to simulate altitude training … thus far,this has not been banned.It may be ethically suspect, but it is currently legal. If Armstrongresorts to these means of gaining an edge on his competition, there isabsolutely no reason to suspect that he isn’t using other means as well.Despite any of allegations, however, drugs still can’t turn a donkeyinto a thoroughbred. Armstrong definitely puts in the work training andfocusing on the Tour de France. He has that additional edge over his competitionno matter what else may be going on.Steven L. Sheffield
Salt Lake City, UTYa gotta believe!I read with much dismay those letters about doping and Lance Armstrong.I feel sorry for those that see only with suspicion what I see as greatness.I feel sorry for one who is so cynical, who thinks he is being real, whenin reality he is only espousing the anger and cynicism in his own heart. I recently watched “The Spirit of St.Lous” on TV and on the morningof Lindbergh’s departure a lady was in the crowd who gave him a mirrorfrom her purse that he mounted so he could read his compass. He asked herhow long she’d been standing in the rain, and she replied “All night.”He asked where she’d come from and she said “Philadelphia.” Evidently thereare some people who know greatness when they see it! I know this:
1) The French officials are champing at the bit to find any way toenhance the chances of a Frenchman winning the Tour.
Disqualifying Lance because of doping would go a long way in that direction.I think they are checking and rechecking his urine and blood.2) The French paparazzi also want a Frenchman to win and so they arescrutinizing Lance far more than the authorities ever will, far more thanthe cameras that caught that Italian in last years Giro. I doubt that Lancedoesn’t make a move anywhere that isn’t caught on film during the Tour,including probably going to the bathroom. If it were possible to find evidenceof doping they would have I feel.3) Consider the ridicule and disdain Lance would incur if he were caughtdoping.Better to be the “Lantern Rouge” than to have to go through allthat!
 Relax. Watch greatness in action. And do yourself a favor. Believein what your are seeing!Chris Claflin
Jacksonville, Fla.
 And to think the guy has a daughter…In the true confessions department, I do occasionally read competingcycling periodicals. A recent English magazine that I’m sure lots of folksreading this post will have seen (see Pro Cycling – March 2002)had a big spread on VDB and his plan for a triumphant return in 2002 toDivision I cycling with Domo.As a father of three girls aged 3, 2 and 1, I got a real kick out ofa big picture of VDB in full team gear, heading out for a ride with hisyoung daughter by his side with her own bike (complete with handlebar streamersand training wheels). Of course, within days of reading the story and admiringthis photo, VDB got pulled in for his drug arrest and kicked off his team.I felt sick, because: (1) unless his arrest is based on a “mistake” ora “set-up”, it seems a pretty reckless way to behave, especially when youconsider that he’s putting at risk something that is even more importantthan his health (none of us is immortal) — the love/admiration/respectof his daughter, to say nothing of his wife, parents, siblings, friends,etc.; and, (2) of my own continued naiveté regarding pro cycling.It’s a maddening sport to follow, because you just don’t know who to admire for their accomplishments.I came to enjoy cycling after years as a competitive swimmer. Therehave been some letters to the effect that as long as money changes handsin racing, there will be dopers. I have to admit that there is a paralleldynamic in swimming, especially of late. Even during the so-called “amateur” era, you could cash in if you hit it big at the Olympics with some medals and the resulting commercial endorsements. So, drug controls have been needed in swimming as well for many years. I would submit, however, that the commitment of the governing federations makes all the difference.FINA used to hand out half-hearted penalties, and then they were finallypersuaded that they’d been had by the East Germans, the Russians ’70’s-’80’s)and the Chinese (’92 – Barcelona). Under pressure, they went to out-of-competition tests and we-really-mean-it penalties/suspensions. No big shock, then, that the East Germans and Russians are no risk to return to their former status in the sport. No big shock, either, that the Chinese, most of whom were banned for red-handed violations in the years leading up to ’96-Atlanta were almost a non-factor in those Games. Of course, ’96 gave us the “revelation” of Michelle Smith, the swimmer from that hotbed of aquatics — Ireland — whose Belgian husband/coach/trainer had once been banned from field events (shotput) for doping. Of course, when Ms. Smith (no relation) later refused to report for or cooperate with FINA officials in administration of out-of-competition dope testing, she was suspended and then didn’t even bother to show up for Sydney. UCI and the other big administrative bodies (i.e., national federations and stage race organizations) could clean upcycling if they really wanted to, but…I guess that’s the point; they don’t really want it bad enough. We wouldn’thave as much guesswork to do as fans if they were more vigilant with regardto testing and then enforcing the rules for violators. What resolve isshown when joke suspensions are handed down to admitted cheaters like Virenque?Stan Smith
Vienna, Virginia
 Thursday’s mailIt’s naive to believe in a clean sportI just got finished reading some of the letters written to VeloNewsregarding drugs and cycling, and it was quite a laugh. There are actuallypoor souls out there who think that some riders are actually clean!The simple fact is that all professional athletes, no matterwhat the sport use drugs. Whether it be for performance enhancement, orrecovery, or a saddle sore, it is the only way to survive the rigors ofbeing a pro.As far as the debate on Lance, it is because of drugs that he is alive,and also why he dominates the Tour. It is also why Barry Bonds goes from37 home runs in a season, to 73 the next. It is the same reason Mark McGwiredid the same.To think anything else is just being naive.Reginald Caselli.
 Non-dopers flounder at the backTo all cyclists,I just finished reading an article regarding the Giro organizers planningon educating young and aspiring riders regarding the disadvantages of druguse and what not. I thought it was rather silly for them to do that. I’mpretty sure that everybody concerned or interested about professional cyclinghas been bombarded with information regarding the advantages and disadvantagesof using performance-enhancing drugs in the last few years. In my opinion,no matter how much you teach people about the pitfalls of using drugs,they will still do it. Why? Simply because of the money involved in racing.Management is spending money on their riders and they want results.The pressure received by many riders to come up with results is so enormousthat many are left with only two options: use drugs and keep your job,or stay clean and either lose your job or stay at the bottom of the totempole.Myke Veeno
Bellflower, CAStrong words and no proof from all sidesEditor:I  number of comments:1. “always,” “never,” “everyone,” “no one.”  These are great wordsthat rarely apply in real life.  They are just too broad to be trulyuseful and realistic.  The facts of the matter are that some peopledo drugs, and some do not, and we don’t know which ones until we catchthem.2. Just because some frustrated pro rider was not successful in hiscareer, doesn’t mean it was because he was the only one on the planet thatdidn’t do drugs.  It might just mean that he wasn’t good enough. I love to ride, but I can’t compete on a pro level because I am just notthat good.  I can live with that.  Get a hobby or something andlearn to live with it.3.  I have heard arguments that Lance Armstrong would never dodrugs because of his cancer.   I had testicular cancer and wastreated by the same doctors, and I did a lot of stupid drugs that werea lot worse, so that argument doesn’t really hold water with me. What does make sense and is really a stronger argument is that he has nomotivation to do them.  I know. I know he wants to win.  Butremember, no one believed he would ever ride again anyway.  He couldhave walked away and not one single person would have thought the worseof him, or called him a quitter.  He had money, his life, he is abright guy and has stated many time that he ENJOYS cycling, but it is notthe only thing in his life.  When you recover from something likecancer, you go through a lot of weird moods, and if you read his book hetalks about that, and I know it’s true from own experiences.I did drugs, he played golf and drank beer.  Once you move throughthat phase you really gain a new insight on life, and that is what makesme believe in him, because I have been there and back and know where heis seeing the world from, and doing yourself potential physical harm towin a trophy, even a big one, makes no sense from that point of view. The fact of the matter however, is that there is only one person who reallywill ever know the truth, and that is Lance Armstrong.  You have tochooses whether to believe or not for yourselfThose are my rants, and I know this is too long and will probably notget posted, but I hope someone reads it and gets something positive fromit.Joe Marino
York, PAJust speculationWith respect to Graham Hill’s letter (“Don’tlet hero worship blind you” March 5, 2002) a couple of points needto be clarified:1) EPO was not developed specifically for cancer patients.  Itwas developed primarily to assist patients in renal (kidney) failure. Some, and I stress *some*, cancer patients receive EPO to help boost theirblood counts during chemotherapy.  I do not have exact numbers, butit is likely less than 15-percent of all chemotherapy patients who receiveEPO.2) At no time has Lance Armstrong indicated he was administered EPOduring his chemotherapy treatment.  I have never heard him confirmit, nor have I heard him deny it.  He was very open about his treatmentin his book, but then again I could see why he might not want to admitto having been administered EPO (if he was).I’m not in hero worship denial either.  Lance Armstrong has convincinglywon three Tours, with zero positive drug tests or abnormal hematocrit results.These are the only facts out there and anything else is pure speculation. It is a shame that speculation can tarnish the reputation of a man whosecontribution to the world extends well beyond his sport and his victories.
 Eric Harvey
White Rock, BC
CanadaWe win self-respect for one thing, KlausIn response to Klaus Zoller’s letter  “I’lltell ya what they win.”Dear Klaus:Do you think that cheating to their competitors and the tests is a honestway to make money?Do you think that I race my bike for a living  because of themoney?Do you think that risking their health and life is worth it?Wake up and use some logic yourself.With a big smile
Jimena FloritRoll, dudes, tornadoes and EurotrashDude!  I feel the love when I ride, write or read magical proselike Bob’s column (see “Eurotrash and the Texas Tornado” VeloNews,March 18, 2002 – page 106).If words are wheels, Roll writes like an Alpine descent in a cold rain,spewing a stinging spray and blinding the Hessians off his wheel.Spinning out down the mountain, full bore through the fog, on the edgebut upright and feeling the love.  Bob, thanks for the mega-dose of‘licious you gave the Texas Tornado.  You helped him feel the loveagain and put on a star as new sheriff of the peloton.  We feel ittoo.!Robert Ramirez
Irving, TexasWhy no coverage?What happened to the coverage on the Mclane Pacific road race?Ruben VillarrealUhhh… we dropped the ball? We will have something in the magazine.– EditorWhen is big too big?Hello,I have a question; I weigh 220 lbs and am 5′ 11″. I am quite musculardue to weight training and was wondering who the heaviest rider in theNorth-American pro peloton is? The reason being that I’d like to race again( I stopped racing 8 years ago) but am worried that I might be too heavy. Can anyone help? I feel that I am in really good condition but am worriedthat I will not be strong enough to overcome my weight discrepancy comparedto other riders, especially on the climbs!Also, I’d like to see more training tips in VeloNews. I really enjoyreading detailed articles; especially scientific ones that are geared towardhelping athletes understand what processes the body undergoes during training.Perhaps you could convince some pro like Jonathan Vaughters to contributearticles.
Thanks in advance for any help.
Dave Leboeuf
Montreal, Quebec, CanadaWell, one sure way to get beat on the hills is not to race. Go forit! You might be pleasantly surprised. You might find that you are supertime-trialist, or find your niche on the track. Either way, good luck andlet us know how it goes. — EditorWe see the benefits, but what tools do we use?I enjoyed your recent articles on training with power, including theresearch profile of Allen Lim(see “Art and science hit the road” VeloNews,February 25, 2002 – page 50).A valuable follow-up article would be a review of power-training devicescurrently available on the market. Both bike-mounted devices like PowerTap, SRM, and Polar, and indoor trainer devices like Computrainer, Taxci-Magic, Tacx Excel, etc. Description, likes, dislikes, price, etc.–justlike your normal “Gadget” reviews, preferably written by somebody likeAllen Lim with experience in power-training. I think many of your readersare like me in being interested in this new direction in training, butunsure of where to start, and daunted by all the gadget options.Thanks,David Greenblatt
Ithica, NY

Archived letters:March4 – 6, 2002Friday — March1, 2002Thursday — February 28, 2002

February 26 -27, 2002Monday, February25February 21 – 22,2002February 13 – 20,2002February 8 -12, 2002

An American in France

What’s it like to be an American cyclist living in France? Watch to get professional road cyclist Joe Dombrowski’s view.