Monthly Archives: February 2012

This Lance thing is Screwy

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The Department of Justice dropping the “Lance Investigation” out of the blue seems kind of screwy. So screwy that the Wall Street Journal and NPR did stories on the subject.

The subject of these stories was how surprised that the FBI, the FDA and the Postal Service were that the case was being closed and the notification period, which was supposedly 30 minutes, was nearly non existent.

I have a hard time believing that U.S. investigator Jeff Novitzky and prosecutor Doug Miller are that thrilled that their last year of work on the case disappears in a matter of minutes. It seems strange to me that there would be no indictment of anybody, considering that when those two guys went over to Europe last year, they got Italy and Switzerland involved too. And that they seized $13.64 million dollars from Swiss accounts that were supposedly for money laundering, fraud and doping. I wonder what is going to happen to all that money now? Supposedly $3.27 million of that is Denis Menchov’s. Maybe he can get it back now?

So now, the indictment against Lance seems small compared to the manipulation of our legal system. I am by far not an expert on legal processes, but this process, once again seems really flawed. The perception of manipulation is really bad, whether it happened or not. I would hope that the Department of Justice realizes that very fact and releases some more information about the whole affair. It makes our legal system seem corrupt. That may not be the case, but to a layman, it looks pretty bad.

I doubt any of this stuff would have went down if they had brought Perry Mason in on the case.

Leaving San Diego, heading to Wisconsin/Tyler Farrar Interview?

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I’m pretty sad to say it, but I’m flying out of San Diego and heading to Minneapolis today, to eventually get up to Cable to ski some. I had a great time in Southern California. The weather was beyond nice. And it is probably the best place in the world for me to train.

I’m not exactly sure how many miles I’ve ridden the past week, but it has to be close to 500. That is pretty great for this time of the year. I didn’t get to see a bunch of people that I’d hope to see this week, but that is how it goes.

Last night, Don and Sue took me out for a pre-birthday dinner. It was super enjoyable. We went to downtown San Diego and walked around. We went to three places, but I couldn’t tell you their names. All were great. There is incredible people watching there. There are a ton of street people sleeping everywhere, especially the sidewalks. I saw a homeless guy, laying next to his shopping cart, looking at a iPhone. Pretty nuts. Plus a ton of other stuff that seemed out of place.

Then we decided to go down to Mission Bay and do some stand up paddling. It was after midnight by the time we got the boards loaded up and drove down the hill. A few of the parking lots closed at 10pm, so we had to look around a little to park. I’d never done it before. It was memorable. The moon was nearly still full and the water was so still. I didn’t even get my feet wet. That wasn’t the case for everyone there. I plan to do more of it next time I’m out here.

I hear the snow on the Birkie trail is alright. It looks like it is going to be close to a 60 degree temperature swing from the high here in San Diego to the high tomorrow in Cable. Okay, it’s close to 3:30 am and I have to get moving to the airport in 4 hours. I’m lucky I sleep good on planes.

Did you happen to catch any of Tyler Farrar’s interview after yesterday’s stage in Qatar. “This team is a joke. Greipel’s team signs the best of the former HTC leadout train, including [Adam] Hansen and Hendy [Greg Henderson]. Eisel, who beat me to the line today is picked up for Cav, Boonen’s going like he’s back on coke again, and all these young guns are coming at me like a fucking tennis ball machine gone mad,” commented a livid Farrar.

When asked to clarify what signings were a joke, Farrar replied, “Bauer. Haas. Klier. I mean it’s a buffet of opportunists for the classics, not a group of guys who can deliver me to a finish line. Fischer is the best I’ve got? Seriously? C’mon, this team is a joke. Vaughters promises all sorts of shit, and then all he cares about is time trial crap because he thinks it’s all Salinger ‘pure’ and shit. Man, I gotta go to a new team that knows what they’re doing. I shouldn’t have flatted,” continued Farrar.

That might have been the worst interview I’ve every seen by a cyclist. He needs to go back to media training for sure.

Waves breaking near La Jolla this afternoon.

The strand in Pacific Beach.

Don and Sue's puppies, Ranger and Kaya.

A cake at the place we went to get dessert in downtown San Diego last night.

Sue and Don in front of the biggest door I've nearly ever seen.

80 Degree Temperature Swing

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I made it to Cable Wisconsin last night. My flight didn’t get to Minneapolis until 7, then we ate, so didn’t start the 3 hour drive back here until 9. It was snowing pretty hard the whole way, so we didn’t get up here until late. Today is my birthday. I kind of slept in and have to make my way through the woods over to Jeff Bradley and Deb Wood’s place for breakfast. They cook up a pretty country breakfast, good for stamina in the cold. It was over 70 degrees when I left San Diego and now below zero. Big swing. I’ll post more later as I get my wits about me.

Trudi and Bromont just got back from snow shoeing in the woods. I hadn't even made it into the cabin yet.

-10 and 42 km to go

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Talk about going from one extreme to another. This, now closer to 90 degree, temperature swing is harsh. It is -10 right now on the thermometer. I’m doing a 42 km ski race this morning. I haven’t skied since last January, nearly 13 months ago. I have no idea how this will go. Plus, I woke up this morning with a bunch of gunk in my throat, feeling all weird. Not a good thing.

I’m sort of a hacker skier, so I don’t have any idea how I’m going to do. The race is the Pre-Birkie. It is usually kind of a big regional race, but I think that there are a lot more good skiers showing up this year, so I won’t be skiing with the front guys at all.

Yesterday I went over to OO and skied an hour with Jeff Bradley and Tommy Matush. Both Jeff and Tommy have been skiing pretty seriously this season, so I think they have high expectations. I have no expectations. There was 4 inches of new snow on the ground, which hadn’t been groomed, so it was pretty slow going. Tomorrow it is going to be super fast I think after they get the big grooming machines out there tonight. That is not a good thing for the home team. I’m much better in slower, more stable conditions, not fast, slick stuff. Whatever, I’m not a ski racer, much, so it will be memorable.

Last night we went over to Cable and had dinner at the Rivers Eatery. It is super good stone oven pizza. It is sort of becoming a tradition celebrating birthdays there now it seems. It was pretty fun, we’ll probably go back there again tonight.

I’m heading out in just a little while. I haven’t entered the race yet, so have to get there a little early. I’m not going to ski an inch before the start. The race starts on Lake Hayward, which is not good for me. I don’t like skiing on lakes. I don’t like planting my poles on ice. Plus, it is pretty sketchy, which isn’t good for me. I’m going to get slaughtered off the line and have to play catch up all day.

Okay, I gotta get going. This is going to be an experience, if nothing else.

At the Rivers Eatery with Beth, Mick and Libby.

Skiing in new snow with Tommy and Jeff.

Jeff and Drew Holbrook discussing how to apply $300 worth of wax to my skis.

The birthday cake from Heather at the Brick House in Cable.

This chalk board doesn't apply here today.

Pre-Birkie Yesterday

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Okay, my website was down all morning and now I’m somewhat lacking any motivation to post. I just got back from a nice 1/2 hour walk in the woods with the dogs and feel a little bit better. I’m on a downward slope sickness-wise. I woke up yesterday feeling pretty bad and haven’t gotten any better the last 24 hours. Worse actually. And Dennis is sick now too, so I don’t think I’m just being overly paranoid.

The race yesterday was a chore. I had no nervousness because I had no expectations. But things went pretty badly. I had horrible wax. Sorry Drew, but I thought it through and my skis were beyond bad. There is a section coming back to OO towards the end of the race that you go down and a pretty steep downhill and do a sharp right hand turn, that usually I have trouble negotiating because I’m going so fast. Yesterday I had to pole going around the turn.

So, bad skis were a real problem. It was pretty hard keeping motivated when everyone blows by you on each and every downhill section. Plus it is a ton more work everywhere else. The second issue was I put on nylon wind pants over thin thermal underwear to start. It around 0 at the start. I was way overheated the whole race. Like so overheated, I would have taken my jersey off if I could have. I took my hat off and dropped it when I was trying to put it in my pocket. I went back and got the hat and skied the rest of the day bare headed. And I was still roasting. I could feel the sweat running down my legs into my socks and shoes.

And on top of all of this, I was completely physically challenged skiing. I did start getting better and skied okay the last 8 km. But by then everyone else was pretty worn out and I was still going my slow and steady pace.

I really wasn’t too tired when I finished. I’m going to write a whole thing, probably tomorrow, about cross country ski racing. Some observations from a novice or something like that. Right now I think I’m going to go over and watch the finish of a classic race held in Cable today and get a bowl of soup at the Rivers Eatery. I’m going to try to ski for a while later this afternoon when it gets a tad warmer.

The complete results from the race are here at itiming. I was 106th.

The entry form for the race was the easiest entry I've had to fill out in recent memory.

600 people lined up on Lake Hayward.

Before the start.

Disclaimer: I am a Cyclist

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The title above pretty much tells you from what perspective I’m coming from with the thoughts below. I am a cyclist, not a nordic skier. I ski some, but I am not a skier. I really don’t know much about the sport. I do know more than 99.9% of the population, but nothing compared to the people that would put, I am a Skier on the title of their blog post.

Skiing sucks in many respects. Not only racing, but just having the sport as your sport. For me, there are way too many problems with the sport to make it a sport that I’d ever put a ton of effort into. There are so many conditions that have to be somewhat right to even do the sport.

The sport is super dependent upon the weather. That is needless to say. You pretty much need snow and somewhat cold temperatures to ski. And here in the US, there aren’t that many places that have enough snow, for a long enough period, to ski for a good period of time. And there are fewer places that have that weather pattern and also have a large population. Here in the US, Americans tend to not live where it is snowy and cold for most the winter months. So, where there is usually good snow and conditions for nordic skiing, there aren’t a lot of people around to take advantage of it.

So, the sport is limited to people that live or have the ability to travel and stay somewhere there is snow for months at a time during the winter. And even then, the season is usually 4 months or less, depending upon where you go or decide to travel. That leaves 8 months of training or I should say, cross training, for the 4 months of maybe competition or participation.

That is the general weather. So then we get to the specific weather. There are so many days during the winter, even though there is snow, you still can’t ski. Too much snow is a problem. If it snows a foot and a half tomorrow here in Cable, it would be a couple days before the skiing would be good, even if they got the big machines out pretty quick and get it packed down. The grooming is super temperature dependent whether it sets up good or not. Then too cold, something below 0, the snow gets slow and it’s difficult to ski for a long duration. Then if it’s too warm, the snow gets slow again.

That gets us to the equipment it takes to make the trail to ski upon. It takes a ton of expensive equipment, and people running it at the appropriate times, whether it’s the middle of the night or anytime during the day, to keep a ski trail in good shape. So as an athlete, you are dependent upon the organizations and others who groom, to be able to ski.

Then there is the equipment you need to ski. It isn’t expensive compared to cycling. But if you want to have the best equipment for each and every condition, plus the right wax etc. to go fast each time you ski or race, it is super expensive and energy intensive. I’m not that that into a sport that is so dependent upon equipment, even though it might seem like cycling is. It isn’t compared to skiing. You can miss the wax so badly at a ski race it would be equivalent of starting a road race on a MTB with low pressure. The best guys probably never have that happen, but it makes a huge difference. There isn’t something in cycling that is close to as important equipment-wise as having the proper skis, with the right structure, with the perfect wax on race day. Races shouldn’t be decided on equipment.

So lets get to being the athletes. Here in the US, there is a pitiful amount of support for the elite nordic skiers. That is compared to cycling. And cycling is a pitiful sport for financial support compared to the main US sports, baseball, baseketball, football, golf, tennis, etc. So that makes the support for nordic skiers seem that much more minimal. It is wrong. I know lots of elite skiers and those guys definitely train as much, if not more than most elite cyclists. And their compensation is usually nearly nothing. There are a scattering of programs, like CXC, that do a excellent job of giving their athletes opportunities to compete on a high level, but it isn’t common.

What set me off on this “rant” was that after the Pre-Birkie on Saturday, we went to the Rivers Eatery for pizza that night. The guys that got 1st and 2nd place in the 42km race, Santiago Ocariz and Eric Wolcott, were working there. Wolcott was doing dishes and Santiago was making pizzas and clearing tables. I was amazed, not in a good way. Dennis told me the 3rd place skier, Waylon Manske, was for sure working that night at Telemark Resort. It is crazy. The Pre-Birkie isn’t huge race, but it was a pretty big race this year. I can’t image going down to Tulsa Tough or Nature Valley and working after racing any of the stages. I’ve never seen it happen in cycling. At least not on a planned or constant basis. It just doesn’t work. And this is business as usual for these guys.

I had the pleasure of talking to Santiago for a few minutes that night. He is a super nice guy and obviously a very good athlete. He and his wife both ski for CXC and both work during the season. And off season. I’m not sure how our country is going to develop world class nordic skiers on programs like this. I know there are a handful of nordic skiers that are making pretty okay money. Okay money compared to working at McDonalds, not okay money compared to real money. But still, it’s not even close to cycling. I have to be realistic here, cycling is a niche sport, worldwide, if you use compensation to the athlete as a gauge of success. So, skiing would be miniscule then. It seems so unfair.

So, there you have it. I’d never be a full time skier. I think it is a beautiful sport and I love doing it, but on a limited basis. I am so fortunate that I picked cycling, or maybe cycling picked me. And it’s great that cross country skiing has those same fortunate people.

Santiago, on his feet for hours, just after he won the Pre-Birkie.

With our new weather patterns, etc. this corduroy isn't that easy to find nowadays.

My favorite place to ski, over the high point on the Birkie trail.