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Road Biking in Northern California’s Scott Valley

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By Howard Shafer — Scott Valley is an agricultural valley in northern California, about forty miles northwest of Mt. Shasta and just twenty miles south of the Oregon border. Its principle communities are Fort Jones and Etna. Even Google confuses this tranquil, mountain valley with Scotts Valley, a bustling city in the Santa Cruz Mountains a few miles north of Santa Cruz and south of Silicon Valley. Scotts Valley is crowded with mountain ridges, narrow gullies, redwood trees, and rush hour traffic jams. On the other hand, Scott Valley has broad meadows of hay and cattle and a notable absence of any automobiles at all. Its wonderful, traffic-free roads are perfect for bicycling.

I want to tell you about two trips my wife Jacquette and I have taken to the Scott Valley area. On the first trip, we took a two-day road bike tour on a traffic-free loop of spectacular scenery and fearsome climbs from Etna over Carter Meadows Summit and down to Forks of Salmon, then back over Etna Pass to Etna, 103 miles with 9000 feet of climbing. On our second trip, we enjoyed a scenic, easy sixty-mile loop around the perimeter of Scott Valley.

The Fearsome Forks of Salmon Loop Climbs

In the little town of Etna, California (population: 700; elevation: 2940 feet), once called Rough and Ready, City Hall charged us a small fee to camp in the city park and gave us a park restroom key. The park had green grass, cool groves of trees, and grazing deer, but no other campers. The weather was wonderful, and we left the rainfly off our tent. Soon, two stray kittens appeared and wanted to play. That night they were curled asleep against our tent when the sprinklers turned on, and it was like a cloudburst inside. We leaped up, ripped up tent stakes, dragged the tent to dry land, and climbed back into damp sleeping bags while the kittens ran pell-mell through the spray to reach us.

Downtown Etna. Photo by Howard Shafer
Downtown Etna. Photo by Howard Shafer

Ah, we thought, now for some blissful sleep. Then a new set of sprinklers turned on, water sprayed our tent again, and our sleeping bags got wetter. Once more, we leaped up, twisted the sprinkler heads away from the tent, climbed into our damp sleeping bags and tried, nervously, to sleep while the kittens snuggled down just outside the entrance.

The next morning a city councilwoman named Delta visited us. “Did you have a nice night?” she asked. We told her. She said she’d make sure sprinklers didn’t come on again. Next, Tom and Ray, the chief of police and the mayor, came by. Tom said he’d keep an eye on our campsite while we cycled, and he’d find the kittens’ owners. Ray welcomed us to Etna.

With protection promised by the Etna City Police Department, we loaded our panniers with food, warm clothes, sleeping bags, tent, et cetera ad nauseum and bicycled south on empty Highway CA3, which follows Scott River south toward the hamlet of Callahan (more about Callahan later).

Carter Meadow's Summit on the first day of the tour. Photo by Howard Shafer
Carter Meadow's Summit on the first day of the tour. Photo by Howard Shafer

Near Callahan, we tried to turn onto the Callahan-Cecilville Road, but a herd of cattle and cowboys (cowgirls actually) got there before us, and it took awhile to edge past the cattle to where the road became cattle and car free. Then we began the climb toward the 6146 foot high Carter Meadows Summit, gaining more than 3000 feet in ten miles. From the summit, we saw snow banks below us. We enjoyed a magnificent view back toward Callahan and began the descent toward the hamlet called Forks of Salmon, reaching a restaurant and a small cluster of houses called Cecilville in extreme heat, exhausted. Locals sat on the restaurant verandah while cool mist sprayed gently over them. They said it was over 100°F. We ordered pop and ice water and cycled on. Farther down the mountain, the road became one lane wide, snaking along a chasm that dropped to raging white water and deep still pools. No cars, but no shade either. We reached reached Matthew’s Creek Campground around 5 pm. It was deserted except for a trailer filled with yelping dogs. We ignored them, walked down to the river, and skinny-dipped breathlessly in icy water. Then we continued.

Thirty miles and 5000 feet below Carter Meadows Summit we discovered Hotelling Campground. We hadn’t reached Forks of Salmon yet, but after sixty miles it seemed like the place to stop. We set up our tent, strung our sweaty clothes over our bicycles and cooled off in the river. Dinner was last night’s cold spaghetti. It was delicious.

We got up early to miss the heat we’d put up with the first day, ate cold oatmeal and tried to find our gear. My helmet had traveled fifty feet, and something had chewed its chinstrap. Our bicycle gloves lay scattered far and wide, juicy with saliva. Damn deer chewed them for salt! We washed our helmets and gloves in the river before continuing the three miles downstream to Forks of Salmon, just a few old houses where the north fork and the south fork of the Salmon River meet. There we turned east and took Sawyer’s Bar Road along the North Fork back toward Etna. The narrow road rolled upward through pine and fir forests. The roar of the river was never far. The climb was moderate. There were no cars, and fortunately, we had shade.

Sawyer's Bar, on the North Fork of the Salmon River. Photo by Howard Shafer
Sawyer's Bar, on the North Fork of the Salmon River. Photo by Howard Shafer

We got to Sawyer’s Bar before noon, a picturesque string of aging houses squeezed along the valley. A little later, we passed the Idlewild Campground. It was 1700 feet above and twenty miles up the road from Forks of Salmon. We still had 3400 feet of climbing before Etna Summit ten miles away. The climbing got hard as the road climbed 2400 feet in four miles. That’s four whole miles with an average grade of 11%! The sun beat down. We dripped sweat. Our legs complained. Our bicycles groaned. We’d been told there was drinkable water in concrete boxes high on the pass. We found them and drank. We soaked our feet in a creek. A bear cub appeared above us. We looked nervously for the mother but never found her. When we reach Etna Summit at 5956 feet elevation, we were exhausted but elated! After that we rode steep downhills with lots of switchbacks. We flew past spectacular scenery but kept our eyes on the road.

It was after 5 pm when we reached Etna. Our first stop was a pharmacy on Main Street with an old-fashioned soda fountain. I downed a huge strawberry malted. Jacquette had an ice cream soda. We showered at the town swimming pool before eating dinner at a Thai restaurant. The food was delicious and the prices reasonable. Returning to the park, we staggered into our sleeping bags. The sprinklers did not come on that night.

Circumnavigating the Gentle Terrain of Scott Valley

For our second visit to Scott Valley, we opted for comfortable beds in Motel Etna. The sun still slumbered beyond the mountains to the east when we said goodbye to our room. It was barely six 6 am, and we were determined to avoid the astonishing 100°F weather predicted again. The air was clear, the dawn sky tinted red, and the fragrance of the clean valley air invigorating. Once more we bicycled south on CA3, which parallels Scott River and runs the full length of the valley. To our right: the Marble Mountain Wilderness of the Siskiyou Mountains and somewhere beyond, the Forks of Salmon. To our left: the fertile fields of Scott Valley. Across the valley, another range of mountains. As we rode south, the two ranges closed in on us, channeling us toward the hamlet called Callahan.

Early morning traffic near Callahan: cows and logging trucks. Photo by Howard Shafer
Early morning traffic near Callahan: cows and logging trucks. Photo by Howard Shafer

The road was car-free and the valley so quiet it almost hurt our ears. The only sounds were from songbirds and a few red-tailed hawks. The valley lay hazy in mist. We were climbing, but the grade was so gradual, we hardly noticed.

By 7 am we were in Callahan. The dusty, one block long town appeared so deserted it was spooky. The two-story Callahan Ranch Hotel, built in 1854, was boarded up, old paint peeling from its walls. The Wells Fargo Bank building, built to accommodate a nineteenth century gold rush, lay empty. In fact the whole town looked ready to crumble. Perhaps later in the day it would show a little life. It was certainly alive on January 6, 1947, when an African-American with a calfskin wrapped around his shoulders and his body full of bullet holes was found hanging from a telephone pole. That was California’s last known lynching, and it remains unsolved.

We did not idle in Callahan but instead turned north, first onto East Callahan Road and then onto East Side Road following rolling hills along the east edge of the valley. With the sun now up, we could clearly see the Scott River below us on our left, dredged into braided gravel bars during gold rush days, and now only slowly returning to life. On one high bluff with a view of the gorge containing Callahan to the south and all of Scott Valley to the north, we stopped and ate our breakfast burritos purchased in Etna the night before. Then we were off again.

We met a pedestrian as we emerged from some bushes after taking care of morning needs, but except for him, the valley appeared empty. Later, a few farmers appeared with tractors and mowing equipment. They cut geometric patterns through yellow hay fields leaving alternating green and yellow stripes across the valley. Deer nibbled grass next to the road. Jackrabbits bounded across hills. We had never seen so many deer or jackrabbits. When we reached Fort Jones 23 miles to the north, it was already warm.

Beautiful riding along the North Fork of the Salmon River. Photo by Howard Shafer
Beautiful riding along the North Fork of the Salmon River. Photo by Howard Shafer

Fort Jones is a sleepy little town of about 800 people at the north end of the valley, a few blocks of homes and businesses clustered along both sides of CA3. The town is a California Historical Landmark and is named after a military base that was once a mile to the south. Soldiers swarmed to its trading post, bar, and brothel. We crossed CA3 and continued west on Scott River Road. Between us and the river to our left, sprinklers mounted on long, pivoting arms irrigated green, circular fields half a mile in diameter. Mountains rose above us on the north, the south, and the west. When we came to a gap in the range to the south, we turned onto the Quartz Valley Road and began climbing.

We might have continued on Scott River Road to Highway CA96 on Klamath River and gone south to Salmon River Road and eventually found ourselves back at Forks of Salmon. This would have turned our one-day excursion into a spectacular but easy multiday riverside tour (until we had to climb the 5000 feet back over Etna Summit). Although friends who have cycled this loop recommend it highly, it would have added at least 100 miles to our ride, and this day we were not prepared for it. You can read about two young women travelling the Klamath River on horseback 100 years ago in the delightful “In the Land of the Grasshopper Song,” by Mary Ellicott Arnold and Mabel Reed (University of Nebraska Press, 1957). They had been commissioned “to teach the Indians,” which they did with enthusiam.

Jacquette riding through Quartz Valley, California. Photo by Howard Shafer
Jacquette riding through Quartz Valley, California. Photo by Howard Shafer

Quartz Valley Road follows Mill Stream upstream, climbing first south and then east through the Quartz Valley Indian Reservation. The climb is easy, and we were hardly aware of the altitude we had gained.

The excursion through Quartz Valley was well worth it. The mountain air grew cool. Wild roses grew in abundance in meadows as green as Ireland. Ponderosa pines dotted the hillsides. On the reservation, we passed an ancient schoolhouse and a few nineteenth century pioneer homes. A fast downhill brought us back into Scott Valley at Greenview, an unincorporated village of about two hundred souls. Their homes, clustered along a few yards of Main Street, consisted of tin-roofed shacks and tired, early twentieth century homes that reminded us of genteel ladies fallen on hard times. When we reached Greenview, the day’s predicted heat hit us full force.

Heading South on Highway CA3 in early morning. Photo by Howard Shafer
Heading South on Highway CA3 in early morning. Photo by Howard Shafer

At Greenview we turned onto CA3 again and cycled seven miles back to Etna. The fields shimmered in the 100°F heat, and a few cars zoomed past, but by one in the afternoon we were seated at Bob’s Ranch House a few yards from our motel, I, slurping my giant malted milkshake straight out of its big, metal mixing cup, and Jacquette munching salty sweet potato fries. We had ridden 61 miles and climbed a paltry 1300 feet. If you love climbing, you won’t find it on this ride, but if it’s gorgeous, bucolic scenery you’re after, then don’t miss it.

So you have a choice: Fearsome climbs or gentle valleys. You can have it all out of Scott Valley.

If you go:

Take Interstate 5 to Yreka and then head west on CA3. You’ll come to Fort Jones first and then Etna. Be prepared to maintain your own bicycles. There are no bike shops.

Etna has the most lodging. Etna Motel (530-467-5338) welcomes cyclists. Free camping is available at Etna City Park. Alderbrook Manor B&B has a Hikers’ Hut ($35 per person) as well as regular rooms (530-467-3917). RVers can try the Mountain Village RV Park (530-467-5678). Etna also has several restaurants.

Fort Jones has fewer options. Try lodging or gourmet lunch at The Gifted Horse Lodge (530-468-4438).

Along the Forks of Salmon loop, you can camp at the Matthews Creek Campground near Cecilville, or you can find other, unofficial campsites. You’ll find food at Cecilville’s Salmon River Saloon (530-462-4685).

Links:

Scott Valley Chamber of Commerce: http://www.scottvalley.org/

Visit Siskiyou: http://visitsiskiyou.org/

 

Nicole Cooke’s “The Breakaway” Recounts the Career of One of Britain’s Greatest Cyclists

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By Steven Sheffield — Few athlete memoirs are well-written, and fewer still are written at all by women athletes. That The Breakaway: my story, by retired Welsh cyclist Nicole Cooke, is both means that the time it takes to read it is definitely well-spent.

Nicole Cooke is a strong-willed, outspoken iconoclast. Like many top athletes, she knows what she wants to accomplish, and is not going to let anything stop her from achieving everything she possibly can, even if she has to fight the system every step of the way. And fight she did, becoming one of the most decorated female road cyclists, not only in Great Britain, but in the world.

Ms. Cooke’s palmarès as a Elite/Professional rider include a win in the 2004 Giro d’Italia Femminile (becoming the first Briton to win a Grand Tour), wins in the 2006 and 2007 Grande Boucle Féminine Internationale (the women’s Tour de France, now defunct), two overall Women’s World Cup wins (2003, 2006), and several Classics wins in addition to her gold medals in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, the 2008 World Championships, and an incredible 10 British National Road Race Championships (1999, and then 9 consecutive wins from 2001-2009) generally racing as an individual against the entire British National Team whose singular goal was “Beat Nicole Cooke”.

One can only imagine what Ms. Cooke’s career would have been like had she raced with the full support of British Cycling, rather than having to constantly battle her national governing body.

The Breakaway: my story, published in the United Kingdom in 2014, chronicles Ms. Cooke’s career as a cyclist from when she first discovered the bicycle as a youth, as she and her brother accompanied their parents on various tours riding on the back of tandem bicycles, to her successes as a junior, and through her career and retirement as a professional at the end of the 2012 season.

Cooke first decided that she wanted to be a racing cyclist after watching Robert Millar chasing the King of the Mountains jersey on the Col d’Izoard and Isola 2000 in the 1993 Tour de France. Even though Millar was unable to win the stage that day, his fierce grit and determination served as an inspiration for the young girl, who would have to rely on her own determination to succeed when challenging the status quo.

Cooke’s first run-ins with the bureaucracy came at the age of 11, when she was denied the opportunity to race a time-trial because she was “too young”; the only way she was allowed to participate in that very first race was on the back of a tandem being piloted by her father.

At that time in the United Kingdom, juniors were not allowed to participate in a mass-start road race until they turned 17; so Cooke did what many aspiring pro had to do, by going to mainland Europe to race, initially in the Helmond Youth Tour in the Netherlands, a series of races designed purely to teach youth how to read a race and how to use tactics rather than just brute strength to win a race.

She learned her lessons well, winning many a Welsh championship along the way, but when applying for a grant from the British Cycling Federation (BCF) to help support her development, her application was denied because she “hadn’t won a BCF track or road championship,” despite the fact that at the time, there were no BCF track or road championships for junior women.

At the age of 16, Cooke was already well acquainted with the bureaucracy, but that didn’t stop her from taking on older riders who had the full support of the Federation, and beating them at their own game in the 1999 British Road Championships, her first of many to follow.

By 2002, Cooke was also beginning to discover that when it comes to racing, even on the continent, women were almost an afterthought, not a priority. What was supposed to be her first professional contract, with Acca Due O was rescinded in late 2001 before it could be signed, meaning that Cooke was left scrambling to find a team for 2002.

While she was able to sign for smaller Italian Deia-Pragma-Colnago team, it was for half of the original Acca Due O offer, and still without any support from the BCF who still wanted to control every aspect of training and racing for their supported riders.

It was also around this time that Cooke had her first encounters with the dark side of sport as well, first “ciclismo a due velocità” (or “cycling at two speeds”), when some of her fellow riders working with then team manager William Dazzani talked openly on training rides about what drugs they were taking, and then with unpaid wages as the team’s budget seemed to be backed with little more than air.

Year after year, Cooke kept having to battle the system, both in the UK and abroad in order to continue racing at the top level, and despite her successes, British Cycling kept trying to shoehorn her into their way of doing things, even though Cooke was and continued to be Britain’s most successful cyclist of the era. Eventually, British Cycling began to implement programs similar to Cooke’s methods, and has in recent years developed into one of the most successful programs in sport.

One can only hope that other national governing bodies, most particularly USA Cycling also learns by example, and starts to focus more on the development of women’s sport. Based on recent decisions coming out of the Springs, however, it would appear that USA Cycling still has a long way to go.

The Breakaway: my story, by Nicole Cooke, was published in the United Kingdom in 2014 by Simon & Schuster. It has not been published in the United States, but new & used copies in paperback can generally be found through Amazon.com or eBay.com.

 

Take Your Cycling to a New Level: Join a Club or Team!

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By Kelly McPherson — When I first started getting into cycling, one of the things that I realized very quickly was that I was going to need to surround myself with other people doing the same thing to make this lifestyle change sustainable. I needed people to ride with, people to learn from, people to push me out onto the road or to an event when I might otherwise not go. Little did I know, at that time, that racing in a group could mean the difference between winning and losing as well. Because of all of this, I decided to try to find a team or club to join.

Cycling teams and clubs come in all shapes and sizes and it is important to find the right one for you. Below are some questions to consider when deciding on what kind of group to join.

  1. What kind of a rider are you? This is important. Some groups are casual commuters. Some are racers only. If you get into the wrong group, you and the rest of the group are going to be frustrated.
  2. Does the group have rides you can get to? If the group doesn’t have rides that are on a date or time or location that you can get to, then you aren’t likely to get to too many of them and you lose many of the benefits of the group.
  3. How long has the group been around? Maybe you would like to be in on the development of a new group? Maybe you would like one that is established and already thriving? Whatever your preference, make sure you ask the questions you need to know what you are getting into.
  4. Are they open to new members? This one seems self-explanatory, but some groups, particularly competitive cycling groups are not open to new members or are only open to them at certain times of year.
  5. What kind of vibe does the group have? Some groups are good for mentoring newbies and some don’t want to waste time with that and just want to race hard, so keep up! Some groups are full of eco-warriors who don’t think anyone should even own a car, while others are all about what kind of rack they have on their car to haul their bikes to whatever ride they are headed to. Check out Facebook pages, website and talk with people about the team and see if their vibe is the kind that you want.

Joining Zone 5 Racing

After several years of floating from one team to another, I think I finally found the team that is right for me. For me, I needed a group that has competitive racers that I could learn from as well as non-competitive riders. I needed a group that is established and isn’t going to disappear in a year or two. I needed one that had team rides in my area on days and at times that I can get to. I also needed a group that could accept my lower skill level and encourage and teach me. For all these reasons, this year, I have chosen to join Zone 5 Racing.

The Zone 5 Racing group at their team camp in February 2017. Photo by Tim Boyd

If you have ever been to any of the local races, you know who Zone 5 is. They are a large group of super-fast racers in blue. They are somewhat intimidating. Currently, I am the only girl on the team, which is even more intimidating. Posting my weight in the team weight loss challenge has been an exercise in mental toughness.

[Editor's Note: This article was originally written in 2017. Zone 5 Racing has significantly increased the the number in its women's contingent since that time.]

Team Training Camp

Back in December, Zone 5 announced their team camp to be held the end of February in St. George. Knowing that I would likely still be the only girl, I was hesitant to go. These guys are fast! I am not even the fastest girl! Then reason won out. I realized that if I wanted to receive the full benefit of being on this team, I needed to get integrated into it. The best way to do that would be to join as many team rides as I can and to go to camp. I decided to commit fully. I got a spot in the team house and prepared to go.

Knowing that my speeds would not be nearly as high as the rest of the team, I came prepared to ride by myself a lot and to take care of any mechanical issues I might have. I didn’t want to be “that girl” who couldn’t keep up and demanded that everyone ride her pace or “that girl” who couldn’t change a flat and needed help. Best case scenario, I would hold onto a wheel for a while. Worst case scenario, I would get dropped and spend a lot of time riding on my own. Either way, I would be totally happy.

Camp started with an intense ride out towards Sand Hollow. I had made the mistake of not eating lunch on the way down to St. George and so started in a nutritional hole. I did not make that mistake again. It was a tough ride with fast paces in some very strong winds. This is where I got my first smart riding lesson as one of the more experienced riders ordered me to practice finding the draft and staying in it. It is a good thing that tandems have really big drafts!

After the ride, we headed to the team house. I had come prepared to be independent and not need any help, but when one of the guys offered to switch rooms with me so I could have my own bathroom and not have to share with six guys, I gratefully accepted.

This is where my education on what cyclists eat began. Just so you know, they eat very well, for the most part. Some of them needed ice cream in the evenings, but most of them ate mostly nutrition packed foods that they prepared themselves. It was kind of fun being in the kitchen in the mornings while the guys cooked eggs, oatmeal and even a little broccoli and sliced mangos. I had brought lots of healthy food with me. I figured that I was going to need all the nutrition I could to keep up with the planned riding schedule. I was right.

I began to get to know the guys a bit and to put a few faces to the names that I saw on the team Strava page. They spent quite a bit of time just talking cycling. I did a lot of listening.

The next morning was cold as we headed up Snow Canyon. We divided into three groups, A, B and C. The C’s, including me, started first and then the B’s and then the super-fast A’s. I am still a little heavy and so quickly got dropped off the C’s on the climbs in Snow Canyon. As the other groups passed me, I got lots of encouragement from the riders. It was fun. One of the riders rode with me and a couple of other slower folk all the way to Veyo where we stopped for pie and warmed up with the space heater in the bathroom.

That night was the team pizza party and I am somewhat embarrassed to have had quite a few guys pile into my mom-mobile of a minivan to get there and back. Think of an old minivan that has almost 200,000 miles on it carrying 5 kids and a dog. It’s gross. Sorry guys! The party was fun and I enjoyed attempting to recognize riders in regular clothes.

After we got back to the team house, we spent a lot of time just sitting and talking. I was doing a lot of listening and learning and even dared to ask some questions, which they answered without making me feel stupid. This was good! It is helpful to know that it is possible to burn up my first new set of carbon wheels on a descent like Butterfield. Yikes!

The final morning was the team race to Zion. We started in Hurricane in the same pattern of letting the C’s go first. I rode with the group to the gas station in LaVerkin and was taught a better way of cresting a hill so that I still have some momentum to get over it. After the gas station potty break, there was a long, steady climb. I can climb, just not quickly. As I rode, I had several guys give me a little push. It was fun! I learned to not jump out of my skin as hand after hand was placed on the small of my back and I was given little pushes up the hill.

At the top of the hill, the race began. The C’s started out first, once again and were followed at intervals by the other groups. Once again, I fell off fairly quickly. Determined to do my best, I got into my drops and TT’d it towards Zion Canyon. As the groups passed, they cheered and encouraged me by name, as by now, most of them knew it and am so easily recognizable. I’m the one with the red pony-tail. I dug in and pushed as hard as I could. This was a race and I was going to leave it all out on the road even though I knew that I would be last.

The group, a mass of blue jerseys, was getting ready for a picture in front of the Zion National Park sign, when I finally cruised in. They let out an excited cheer and insisted that I place myself front and center in the picture. After the picture and the group started to break up, some to go into the canyon and some to head back to the cars, one of the guys turned to me and told me that my determination was impressive and that I had probably worked harder than anyone there and that they were glad that I was there. That meant a lot.

It says a lot about the character of a group when they can so readily accept someone who is so different from them.

Yes, I think I have finally found the right group for me. I think that as I ride and associate with them, I am going to learn a lot and will be taking my cycling to a whole new level. I am really excited to see what this team can accomplish this year and have no doubt that it is going to be incredible.

I would really love some ladies to ride with … so if any of you girls want to join the fun, I would greatly appreciate it.

For more information on Zone 5 Racing, see the club guide or visit: http://zone5racing.com/

 

Cavendish’s At Speed is a Good Read From Inside the Peloton

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By Bruce Ewert — The latest book by champion sprinter Mark Cavendish picks up after his first book. Starting with a thrilling prologue describing winning the World Championship in Copenhagen in 2011. The intensity of this event comes through as he writes of the incredible strength of Wiggo burying himself on the front for a huge, long pull in the final kilometers. Of knowing who his main rivals were, and watching and measuring them. Feeling the wind in coming from the right and knowing they would drift left near the finish, leaving room for him on the right. Finishing first, thinking “I am the World Champion.”

At Speed by Mark Cavendish

From that high point Cav delves into the start of a season that would be nearly lost due to not taking care of a dental issue in a timely manner. This led to being sick before the classics, losing training time, and playing catch-up the whole year. Even though I follow cycling pretty closely, I never knew how much Cav had struggled in 2010. Then he unwisely made some critical comments about his teammate and fellow sprinter Andre Greipel to a reporter from the British newspaper “The Guardian”, which ended up causing a stir and some bad blood between Cav and Greipel and HTC team owner Bob Stapleton.

The book follows Cav’s path with teams HTC, Sky and QuickStep. He also details the Olympics in London, where he and David Millar, Brad Wiggins,Chris Froome, and Ian Stannard attempted to bring the gold medal home. Unfortunately their goal went unmet as break stayed away, enabling Alexander Vinokourov to win.

He shows his frustrations as well, such as riding the Tour with Sky when Brad Wiggins was contending for the yellow jersey. Especially after he was left by Sean Yates after a flat, not even getting a tow back up to the peloton in a stage that would end in a sprint. This 2012 Tour was the one when Froome was accused of accelerating away from his leader Brad Wiggins, a show of power that would presage Froome’s dominance in future Tours.

And then there is the chapter on doping in cycling, on how he was able to win clean coming out of the British cycling program.The disappointment he felt when Lance admitted to doping on Oprah, and of a time when he watched Lance, once the patron of the peloton, pull over for a nature break in the Giro and the peloton never even slowed down for him. He wasn’t that guy anymore.

All in all, another good read from the inside of the peloton. Worth the read when the weather gets grim, it will motivate to get out there and turn the pedals in anger.

At Speed: My Life in the Fast Lane

Mark Cavendish

Paperback with color photo section | 6″ x 9″, 288 pp., $18.95, 9781937715045

Velopress, 2013.

Bicyclists and Head Injuries – What You Need to Know

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By Russ Hymas and Ken Christensen — As bicycle accident attorneys, some of the most common injuries we see are orthopedic in nature – shoulders, knees, or wrists. But one of the most serious injuries in cycling, and the one that gets overlooked the most, is an injury to the brain.

According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, cycling accidents played a role in about 86,000 of the sports-related head injuries treated in emergency rooms in 2009, making it the top sport for head injuries that year! Football, a sport notorious for concussions, only accounted for 47,000 of those head injuries.

It’s a shocking statistic that leaves one wondering … If head injuries and cycling are so intertwined, how and why might they be overlooked?

We believe that sheer grit provides part of the explanation to that question. Anyone who has watched the Tour de France or other professional cycling races has seen wrecks where cyclists pick themselves up with broken collar bones and road rash and finish the race. This kind of mental resilience is borne out of intense training designed to help cyclists ignore physical pain and symptoms (think of Jens Voigt’s quote, “Shut up legs! Do what I tell you to do!”).

While this fortitude is admirable, it can often cause a cyclist to discount or disregard symptoms following an injury. This is particularly true with head injuries, where symptoms are often subtle enough to be missed by the cyclist, his/her family or friends, and even doctors.

It’s also common for cyclists to overlook a head injury because their concern about the damage to their bike overshadows their concerns for their own health. Cyclists spend countless hours on their bikes, and have invested precious time, money, sweat, and tears into their two-wheeled friend.

One of our past clients fractured his thumb and tore several ligaments in his shoulder when a car turned in front of him. Yet he was so concerned about the damage to his bike that he would only agree to take an ambulance to the hospital if his bike could come in the ambulance with him!

What’s more, even when a cyclist is diligent about seeking medical care after a wreck, brain injuries are still frequently missed. In the case of a mild traumatic brain injury, commonly referred to as a concussion, a brain MRI or CT scan will often show everything is “normal.” Such a result requires that the doctor look to other symptoms such as headache, difficulty thinking, memory problems, mood swings, and frustration in determining whether a concussion is a proper diagnosis. Often, though, these types of symptoms do not surface (or are not recognized) for days or even weeks, when the injured person attempts to return to work or their normal activities and notices that something isn’t right.

So what should a cyclist with a suspected brain injury do? First, take head injuries seriously. Even though this type of TBI is called “mild,” the effect on the family and the injured person can be devastating. Seek medical care as soon as possible, and don’t hesitate to return to the doctor if your symptoms are persisting – even if you have already been “checked out.”

In addition, cyclists – as well as their family members and close friends – should be aware of the common symptoms of concussions. These include:

  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Visual disturbances
  • Memory loss
  • Poor attention/concentration
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Dizziness/loss of balance
  • Irritability/emotional disturbances
  • Feelings of depression

Because the symptoms above are subtle and can be associated with other stresses in life, an injured person may simply feel frustrated at work or when performing household tasks or other activities. Take time to review the list of symptoms and consider the possibility of concussion. And remember that family and friends will often notice changes in behavior before the injured person realizes there is a problem.

Ken Christensen and Russ Hymas are avid cyclists and Utah attorneys at UtahBicycleLawyers.com. Their legal practice is devoted to helping cyclists injured in collisions with motor vehicles. They are authors of the Utah Bicycle Accident Handbook and are nationally recognized legal experts on cycling laws and safety.

Triple Bypass Announces 2021 Plan, Returns to Vail

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EVERGREEN, Colorado (November 18, 2020) — The Triple Bypass Ride (a Colorado-based cycling event, presented by Team Evergreen) is pleased to announce an exciting development to its legendary course. It will celebrate its 32nd anniversary ending in the iconic and welcoming Town of Vail, CO on August 21st, 2021.

Above the treeline at the Triple Bypass. Photo courtesy Team Evergreen

No stranger to the Triple Bypass Ride, the Town of Vail has historically been the last stop before riders roll into Avon. This year Vail will host nearly 5,000 riders as they cross the finish line and celebrate their accomplishment. The Town of Vail provides excellent lodging and activities should riders wish to extend this event into a vacation.

Hit The ‘Refresh' Button

The Triple Bypass Bicycle Ride is recognized as one of the premier cycling events in the nation, so the promoters knew they needed to keep “the spirit of the Triple” but hit that much desired “refresh button” after 2020.

Riders on the annual Triple Bypass Ride, one of Team Evergreen's major fundraising events. Photo courtesy Team Evergreen

“It’s safe to say we’re all looking for something fresh and new for 2021,” said Jen Barbour, Executive director of Team Evergreen. “In light of that, we’re rolling out some fun twists for all Team Evergreen events. Whether it’s a long-established ride like the Triple Bypass or a first-year umbrella event (such as the Beti Bike Bash or the Co2uT/Desert Gravel race) our goal is to make 2021 better than any year to date.

We navigated a very challenging year with the help of our loyal members, event registrants, sponsors and the cycling community. We were taken aback by the overwhelming support and understanding. It’s time to say ‘thank you’ by knocking 2021 out of the park. The Town of Vail is ready to help us do just that.”

Vail Welcomes Riders

Vail’s Mayor, Dave Chapin added, “We’re so pleased to take part in announcing a new date for the Triple Bypass and to host the finish back in Vail. Cycling has been part of Vail’s fabric for decades and we look forward to welcoming the athletes as they meet up with their friends and families to celebrate completion of this spectacular ride and the beginning of a wonderful experience here in Vail. We are grateful for what will be 32 years of creating memories for riders and supporters alike, and for the fund-raising support this event has provided to deserving non-profits across the state. We look forward to welcoming riders to Vail and to a strong and safe Triple Bypass in 2021.”

Other New Details

In addition to moving the finish line, this year’s Triple Bypass course promises other new details. “Riders will still be promised a gorgeous tour through the heart of the Colorado Rocky Mountains starting in our team’s namesake city, Evergreen, CO,” Barbour elaborated. “To accommodate varying abilities, we’ll have different distances to choose from in 2021. The standard Triple is 110 miles over Juniper, Loveland and Vail Passes and we’ll also offer a shorter 64 mile Double Bypass leaving from the historic town of Georgetown. Also, for those wanting an extra challenge, we are excited to offer a Gran Fondo timed option on the 110 mile ride. The motto of Team Evergreen is ‘You Belong Here’ and we’re proud to say the 2021 Triple Bypass embodies that.”

General registration for the Triple Bypass will open in early January. Team Evergreen members will have the option of pre-registering in late December. All interested participants can sign up to be notified when registration opens by clicking here to be added to the Triple Bypass e-newsletter.

Strength Training For Endurance Athletes

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By Art O’Connor with Mark Deterline — The most common question I get is, “Should I be weight training as an endurance athlete?” I usually answer it with the following questions:

Can you:

  • Deadlift 1.5x your body weight?
  • Do 10 pull-ups as a male, or 5 as a female?
  • Do 20 push-ups in a row as a male, or 10 as a female?

If the answer is no to any of these, then you should get in the gym ASAP.

Josh Whitney demonstrates a Turkish Get Up. Photo by Art O'Connor
Josh Whitney demonstrates a Turkish Get Up. Photo by Art O'Connor

These standards are all achievable assuming no pre-existing injuries, and are really bare minimum standards to being “strong enough”.

All of the athletes I work with have hit the deadlift standard with most at 2x by the end of a 12-week cycle. The pull-up standard is debatable for the pure road cyclist, but each will benefit from the shoulder stability and injury prevention that will be by-products of the strength needed to achieve them. We are training to be endurance athletes, not power lifters, so building strength much beyond these levels will usually require more specific training that will take away from bike or run time. Masters athletes, who by the cruel process of aging, start losing muscle after age 40, and female athletes of all ages, in particular, benefit greatly from a well-structured strength plan.

Being strong is never a bad thing. Endurance athletes in any sport will benefit from a well-designed strength training plan.

There are 3 populations in particular in which strength training should be mandatory:

  • Masters athletes, who start losing muscle after age 40. Study after study confirms that the only way to slow this process is with resistance training.
  • Use it or lose it. Female athletes naturally do not have the same amount of muscle mass or natural strength that their male counterparts have. Women do however possess a natural edge when it comes to endurance. Throw in some strength training and now you have an optimized athlete who is not “strong for a girl” — they are flat out strong!
  • Finally the time crunched athlete (likely everyone reading this). If you are riding 20+ hours a week then fitting in a dedicated strength plan, it becomes more of a challenge of recovery and time management. That said, even professional riders are now doing some form of gym work, at least in the off season. For the rest of us, we simply can’t develop the specific strength needed to become better athletes on an 8-hour training week. You need to get as strong as possible in the gym to get the most out of your available training time.

Team Sky is famous for its marginal gains approach to racing. Strength training is a perfect example of this. I wish I could say that a 2x body weight deadlift will translate in to a sub-50 minute time up Snowbird, but it won’t. What added strength will do is make you more efficient at getting power to the pedals when you really need it.

Alex Grant rehabbing his broken foot. Photo by Art O'Connor
Alex Grant rehabbing his broken foot. Photo by Art O'Connor

Most reasonably fit people with no weight training experience could get in a leg press machine and press 300lbs. Our legs are crazy strong, but most of us can not apply that strength.

Take that same 300lbs on a barbell and try to do a squat. If you even got it off the rack, you would likely get hurt very badly if you attempted to squat it, right? That is because you have not developed the supporting musculature to effectively use the natural strength in your legs. When you are in a leg press machine, your legs are isolated and you are pressing against a stable platform. On a bike, you have to create those platforms through your connection to the bike (grip) and your core strength. The stronger they are, the more power you will be able to put into your pedals.

Jeff Bender crushing the deadlift. Photo by Art O'Connor
Jeff Bender crushing the deadlift. Photo by Art O'Connor

See a theme in the exercises above? Dead lifts and pull-ups both demand (and build) a bone crushing grip and a rock solid core. A stronger athlete will tend to be more durable as well. Nino Schurter and his strength coach do a lot of structural work on the shoulders to help keep them intact during the inevitable crashes a MTB racer will have.

The next thing I get is, “I don’t want to bulk up”. If only it were that easy.

Even people who lift to try to bulk up have to work very hard to gain mass. Most weight gain I see in the off season is due to curls of the 12-16oz kind and too many visits to the dessert tray. If you are still riding and your diet does not go off the rails, you will not be bulking up. The goal of a well-designed strength plan is to get you as strong as humanly possible at the same body weight (or ideally lighter body weight). This is where program design comes in.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that your gym time is not a conditioning plan. That is what your bike or runs are for. You are at the gym to get strong – in and out in under an hour.

The idea that endurance athletes should do low weight/high reps is fundamentally flawed. Pedaling a bike is a low weight/high rep workout, running is a low weight/high rep workout. Doing the same thing in the gym is just piling on volume for no reason. We are training for absolute strength and power in the gym.

After a 4-8 week transition period of training to get our joints and connective tissue ready for the real work, we then start to train with the same principals Olympic weight lifters use. For reference, Olympic lifters compete in weight categories and unlike fighters they do not cut weight before competition. As a result, their goals are similar to a cyclist’s in the gym: Get very strong and don’t “bulk up”.

How do we do this? Extremely heavy weight, low reps, and long rest periods between sets.

A typical session will have one main complex lift like a front squat or a deadlift. Weight will be 80% or more of an athlete’s 1 Rep Max (RM) for 3-5 reps, with sometimes as much as 5 minutes rest between sets. Once this is completed, we move on to the supplemental exercises to complete the session.

For the novice lifter, I highly recommend seeking out a qualified coach to teach you these lifts and methods. Due to the heavy weights involved, your technique needs to be flawless. Done right, they are powerful tools that can make you a better athlete. Done wrong they can end your season before it even starts.

Safety note: Beginning lifters should never test for a 1 Rep Max. The risk-reward-ratio is just not there. I use an estimated 1 RM based on 3-5 rep tests. Only when I am 100% confident of an athlete’s technique will I let them try a 1 Rep Max test.

See you in the gym!

Assistant editor’s note: It’s worth mentioning that the author wrote his own bio for the article, which follows. We thought it made sense to leave as-is to show the author’s personality:

Art O’Connor is a cycling and strength coach in Salt Lake City with a degree in Exercise and Sport Science from the University of Utah. He won a few big races back in the day and now won’t shut up about it. [email protected]

Find out more at wukarfit.com

Study: Scofflaw Bicycling: Illegal but Rational – Why do Cyclists Break the Rules?

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By Charles Pekow — How many of us cyclists can honestly say we've never cruised through a stop sign? Probably about the same percentage of drivers who never exceeded the speed limit or pedestrians who haven't jaywalked. Breaking the rules saves time and energy and isn't deemed a safety violation if no one else is coming. And we don't face much chance of getting prosecuted. And even if we do, we know we're not going to get the death penalty.

A recent study of bicycle rule-breaking has found that though they technically violate codes, “far fewer bicyclists than expected fit the stereotype of the rude and reckless bike messenger.” Many flaunt the law because they perceive it to be safer to break the rules than to comply with them, researchers from the universities of Colorado and Nebraska found. They also want to save energy by not having to stop and restart.

The project surveyed 18,000 riders online. Scofflaw Bicycling: Illegal but Rational found that “younger people and males tend to exhibit higher levels of illegal bicycling behavior….” But local traffic conditions and culture played a more important role in determining who breaks rules than demographic or income factors, says the report, published in the Journal of Transport & Land Use.

“100% of our sample population admitted to some form of law-breaking in the transportation system (i.e., everybody is technically a criminal),” including walking and driving violations, the report says. But the reasons differ by mode. The vast majority of drivers speed and pedestrians jaywalk mainly to save time, respondents acknowledged.

But more than 71 percent of cyclists, cited “personal safety” for breaking the rules. “Saving energy came in second for bicyclists (56 percent) followed by saving time (50 percent).” “Increasing visibility” came in fourth, cited by 47 percent of bikers.

The authors also suggest that cyclists “feel marginalized,” even in the most bike-friendly cities. Take Boulder, CO, for instance. The League of American Bicyclists awarded it platinum status, the highest level awarded as a bicycle friendly community. And Matador Network named Boulder the second most bicycle friendly city in the USA (after Chicago) saying it “seems like a cyclists' utopia” (https://matadornetwork.com/trips/8-bike-friendly-cities-america/).

But bike lanes still amount for only 12 percent of Boulder's vehicle infrastructure. The authors say that many people still look down on bicyclists and complain that “the transportation field continues to co-mingle bicycling and walking despite their distinct infrastructure needs and safety issues (which) further suggests a disregard for bicycling.” Efforts to increase bicyclist visibility, such as Bike to Work Days can backfire as such activities “can seem more like institutional consolation prizes for disenfranchised groups.”

But the authors also warn that “one popular opinion is that if bicyclists want to be taken seriously as road users, they need to obey the rules of the road like anybody else.” On the other hand, they note that drivers violate rules more, figuring that running a red light or parking in a bike lane doesn't impede safety.

But while we might not realize it, we could instill anger in drivers when they see us run a red light.

One question not addressed: Do cyclists who break the rules also do so when they walk or drive?

Find the report at https://www.jtlu.org/index.php/jtlu/article/view/871

 

Salsa Cycles Recalls Cutthroat Bicycles Due To Injury Hazard

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Recall Summary

Name of Product: Salsa Cutthroat Bicycles and Forks

Hazard: The bicycle’s fork legs can crack or break, posing a fall hazard to the rider.

Remedy: Replace

Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled bicycles, contact Salsa Cycles, and bring the recalled Salsa Cutthroat bicycles, framesets, and aftermarket forks to a Salsa authorized retailer for inspection and free installation of a replacement fork.

Consumer Contact: Salsa Cycles toll-free at 877-774-6208 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. CT, Monday through Friday or visit www.salsacycles.com click on “Safety and Support” then “Recall” for more information.

Recall Details

Units: About 600 (In addition, about 100 were sold in Canada)

Description: This recall involves 2020 Salsa Cutthroat series bicycles, including: Salsa Cutthroat with model names GRX 810 Di2, GRX 810 1x, GRX 600, Apex 1, framesets, and Carbon Deluxe V2 aftermarket forks. The model name is printed on the frame of the bicycles. The bicycles are sold in a variety of different colors and sizes. This recall involves only Cutthroat bicycles, framesets and forks in which the fork serial number contains the letter G. A Cutthroat fork serial number is visible when the fork is removed from the frame.

Salsa Cutthroat GRX 600
Salsa Cutthroat GRX 600

Recalled 2020 Salsa Cutthroat Model Names

  • Salsa Cutthroat GRX 810 Di2
  • Salsa Cutthroat GRX 810 1x
  • Salsa Cutthroat GRX 600
  • Salsa Cutthroat Apex 1
  • Salsa Cutthroat framesets
  • Salsa Cutthroat Carbon Deluxe V2 aftermarket fork (Matte and Gloss)
Salsa Cutthroat Carbon Frameset
Salsa Cutthroat Carbon Frameset

Incidents/Injuries: Salsa Cycles has received seven reports of cracked forks. No injuries have been reported.

Sold at: Salsa authorized bicycle dealerships nationwide from September 2019 through September 2020 for between $2,700 and $5,800.

Importer: Salsa Cycles, a subsidiary of Quality Bicycle Products, of Bloomington, Minn.

Manufactured in: China

Review: ESPN’s 30 for 30: LANCE

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By Don Scheese — Why another film about Lance Armstrong?

Since Armstrong's fall from grace in 2012 there have been a number of films, mostly documentaries (The Armstrong Lie, Lance Armstrong: Stop At Nothing, The World According to Lance), and one fictional treatment (The Program). So, what new details and perspective could possibly be provided in such a short period of time?

Lance Armstrong talking to media. Photo by Elizabeth Kreutz, courtesy ESPN

The answer may lie in the latest tour Armstrong has embarked upon: a Tour of Redemption. As ESPN writer Bonnie Ford stated in this 30 for 30 documentary directed by Emmy award winning Marina Zenovich, “Lance always tries to shape the narrative about him.”

Since confessing to doping in 2013 in his infamous interview with Oprah, Lance Armstrong has been literally traveling the globe apologizing to various people whom he wronged over the years: former soigneur of US Postal Service Cycling Team Emma O’Reilly, former racer Filippo Simeoni, former teammate Frankie Andreu and his wife Betsy, among others.

And as an indicator of the success of Armstrong’s attempted recovery from disgrace, during last year’s 2019 Tour de France, NBC Sports invited him on air as an occasional guest commentator during its coverage.

Furthermore, he has launched a pair of popular podcasts, one called The Forward, in which he interviews a variety of personalities from world of politics, entertainment, art, business, sport and more, and another called THEMOVE, in which Armstrong, along with former teammate George Hincapie, and occasionally former director Johan Bruyneel talk cycling & other issues—more proof that his stock may again be on the rise in the fickle minds of the American public.

As such, this latest documentary may be—and has been perceived by some—as yet another attempt by Armstrong to revise people’s opinions about him. One thing that cannot be denied: whether loved or hated, respected or reviled, Lance Armstrong is hard to ignore.

For cycling aficionados and followers of Armstrong’s ignominious rise and fall, inevitably there is a fair amount of familiar territory covered in this documentary: the cocky youngster raised in Plano, TX by a young determined single mom; the kid no good at stick-and-ball sports who proved to be a prodigy at endurance activities like swimming, running, and cycling; the strict disciplinarian of a second father; the meteoric rise in triathlon competitions and then the professional cycling world, achieving a world championship at age 21; the miraculous cancer survivor and budding philanthropist; the Miracle Comeback Kid who went on to win seven consecutive Tours de France and became a global celebrity; the ill-fated comeback from retirement in 2009 which ironically resulted in his downfall; then the USADA investigation and now infamous confession to Oprah.

Yet one of the fascinating aspects of this most recent film are the new voices inserted into the narrative, witnesses not heard from in previous films. I was very interested to see Armstrong’s mother Linda come before the camera and talk about his upbringing; his stepfather Terry Armstrong admitting to his strict disciplinarianism and regret over not telling his adopted son he loved him enough; his former trainer Rick Crawford revealing how undisciplined and bully-like the teenage Armstrong was; his director sportif Johan Bruyneel discussing the culture of cycling and why the team could not take back Floyd in 2009 because he was “radioactive” after his getting busted for PED’s in 2006; and Armstrong’s children Luke and Grace as well as present partner Anna Hansen revealing how they felt about the doping revelations, his former girlfriends, and trials and tribulations as Armstrong’s life and lies slowly unraveled in the 2009-12 period.

Perhaps the most powerful and interesting point of view is provided by former teammate Floyd Landis, the person who more than any other was responsible for bringing down Armstrong back in 2010 when he revealed to various media outlets and authorities the shocking extent to which Armstrong and his teammates—including Landis himself—had engaged in systematic doping to win all seven Tours de France. “It’s always all about Lance,” states Landis.

Of course, familiar faces and voices are included too: Betsy Andreu, Greg LeMond, Tyler Hamilton, Christian Vandevelde, George Hincapie, Emma O’Reilly. These folks do not add to so much as repeat and reconfirm already established facts and insights into Armstrong’s saga and personality.

We know that he tried systematically to destroy the careers of Frankie Andreu and Greg Lemond. We know that Tyler Hamilton readily participated in the sophisticated doping program of US Postal, before becoming a key rival.

We know that Armstrong went into “full-on denial” when confronted with the investigations first by Jeff Novitsky of the FDA, then Travis Tygart of USADA, and subsequently went into a deep venomous funk after suffering his “tragic” fall from grace and stardom.

And we know that Armstrong, in typical “Attack Mode,” slandered Emma O’Reilly by calling her a “whore” after her tenure as one of the team’s soigneurs during the glory years—one of the actions he most regrets, he reveals to the director, when she asks “What’s the worst thing you ever did.”

This is one in a series of revelations that occurs during the documentary. In Armstrong’s attempt to tell, “not the whole truth, but My Truth,” as he says at the outset (italics mine), he unapologetically proclaims, after his near-death experience with testicular cancer, that no, it wasn’t hard to take EPO again because EPO is “one of the safer drugs you can inject into your body.” Or that, despite all his lies, denials, and counterattacks against those who dared tell the truth about his doping, he has “no problem looking into the mirror every morning” and that he “wouldn’t change a thing” about his fall—because from it he emerged a better person, more humbled and forgiving, as a result.

Lance Armstrong and Jan Ullrich riding up mountain. Photo by Elizabeth Kreutz, courtesy ESPN

Supposed proof of this New Lance comes near the end of the 2-part documentary when he discusses his relationship with his greatest competitor during his 7-Tour run, the German cyclist Jan Ullrich. Armstrong visits him in Europe after Ullrich experiences his own tragic fall from grace: his doping bust in 2006 as part of Operation Puerto, his subsequent confession to using PEDs during his career, his marriage breakup and failed fatherhood, his consorting with prostitutes and arrest for violence to women, and his own attempt at recovery. Armstrong actually tears up and reveals that “I love him” when referring to Ullrich’s situation, perhaps seeing his own fall echoed in his former rival’s life and fate.

Then comes for me what I find the most telling moment of the entire film. In a series of flawed comparisons, Armstrong asks rhetorically, “Why does Italy glorify [former doper] Ivan Basso, yet disgrace [1998 Tour winner] Marco Pantani? Why does Germany idolize [former doper] Erik Zabel but disgrace and destroy Jan Ullrich? And why does America idolize George Hincapie but disgrace and destroy me?”

If Armstrong cannot honestly answer those questions, then I have to wonder: how much has he really changed, to what extent has he really been transformed?

“I could be Floyd Landis, waking up a piece of shit every day,” he says earlier in the film. “There will never be a relationship with Floyd Landis,” he states when asked if he has reconciled with his former teammate. “He is not forgivable.” But all Landis did was (eventually) tell the truth. Granted, he did it out of revenge, for being blackballed in a sport he felt was hypocritical and that had betrayed him.

If Armstrong is indeed grateful that he was brought down and became a changed man, then why wouldn’t he be able to forgive the person most responsible for his downfall? If it’s because he thinks Landis is a rat for snitching on him, what about Tyler Hamilton’s allegation that Armstrong, in a fit of jealousy and competitive rage, ratted him out to the UCI for doping when Hamilton beat him in the time trials at the 2004 Critérium du Dauphine Libéré?

Just like the Old Lance, the New Lance appears to believe there are two sets of rules: one for him, the other for the rest of the world.

I think that while this latest treatment of the greatest fall from grace in the history of sport has its merits, it fails to ask the really tough questions. After an introductory anecdote supposedly revealing, in his own words, the New Lance, the director opens with the same question to Armstrong, Hincapie, and Dave Zabriskie, “When did you start doping?” All are a bit taken aback by the seemingly blunt hard question right at the outset of each of their interviews.

But from then on, Armstrong does what he does best: shape the narrative.

Note: LANCE can be live streamed on ESPN+.

Don “Seldom Seen” Scheese lives and rides in New Mexico, always in search of new adventurous routes, especially on gravel roads.

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