Tuesday, 22 January 2013

lancing the boil

days now from the lance armstrong 'revelations' it appears that, as a result of the oprah interview, his popularity may have gone down. oh dear. what a shame. but, despite the spectre of ensuing legal cases, where companies that benefited for years from all the lance exposure, capitalise on the whole shenanigans rearing its ugly head again, getting more publicity and clawing their money back. cycling dirty? you don't say!

the oprah thing was about as predictable as it was likely to be and never that likely to go down well with a non-american audience. lance's continuing references to his 'flaws, the cloying nods back to family, oprah's long pauses and just that nagging ever present hello magazine style air of 'he's a (rich) celebrity' were all something that is mostly absent from that sort of interview here (see how it's done here).

or maybe not. in it. phil 'voice of cycling' and long time lance defender liggett wonders where all the drugs have come from. maybe he missed all those years commenting on the most dope soaked races ever run. honestly, phil, did you really believe people could cycle up those mountains at that speed and not even break sweat?

but here's a thought experiment for the likes of phil. hypothetically of course. once upon a time there's a guy called thom wiesel. thom's a cycling fan, such a fan he bails out usa cycling back in the nineties when they're having a bit of difficulty. thom's such a cycling fan he's even getting into sponsoring his own team. around this time he's also starting to invest in a new biotech start up. pop quiz cycling fans - can you guess what this company is going to produce?

yes that's right it's amgen and it's epo. now once the money starts rolling in the team that weisel is involved in sponsoring has a change of name. and sponsor. that's right. it's us postal! is it too speculative to be joining those dots yet? course there's a body that sorts out all that stuff, right? that. at that time was headed up by one hein verbruggen. now there have been a variety of accusations made about hein verbruggen but so far very few that suggest a conflict of interest with thom weisel handling some of his financial affairs.

now it could be that all of this is no more than internet smoke and mirrors. phil liggett's well respected and well loved around the world and maybe he just couldn't see what was going on for being too close. and now we're in an era of clean cycling. where things have changed. really? who's watching the tour of california this year? the amgen tour of california. the same amgen that puts profit before patients?

it seems in the wacky world of cycling that there's a blind spot when it comes to sponsors and money and a collective amnesia about the effect of business on racing. why it appears that even some of the most outspoken critics of drugs in cycling may have a teeny bit of a double standard when it comes to the blush of a dollar at the amgen event

you'd be forgiven for reading many of the articles and comment by fans re armstrong that the real issue is not epo/drugs and their association with cycling but the fact that armstrong really just isn't a very nice person. for comparison try - miguel indurain (lovely guy)/lance armstrong (dick). or alternately watch all those conveniently six month banned zabriskie, vandevelde, leipheimer types lining up contrite and fighting for the future of the sport' at the AMGEN tour of california. no irony whatsoever.

and talking about that institutionalised doping. what about them rabobanks? not quite such a news story without 'nasty' lance and complicated by most of it no doubt being in dutch or flemish, the effort of translating which precludes most english speaking cyclists from outrage. could it just possibly be that there's not just a problem with the riders, the institutions but with the fans themselves?

there's a rumour kicking about today that lance's 'people' have been in touch with no fuss to see if he can ride the tour de ben nevis. most likely bollocks but cue predictable outpourings of outrage from some members of the mountain bike community. it's amazing when there's so much poverty knocking about, the economy's down the toilet, wars are sparking up everywhere, just what it takes to raise the ire of a certain type of cyclist.

me, if you asked me to cycle like those professionals do you could pour drugs into me with a hose. come to think of it most days when i'm wheezing up some hill you could pour drugs into me with a hose! would it be worth it tho? having seen the lance machine ever so briefly up close i wouldn't swap a minute to walk in those shoes. but that's a lesson you can see not being learnt (more in road than mountain biking i'd speculate) every weekend at every race. too many people, well, men, taking it waaaay too seriously.

at the end of his interview lance gets asked the moral of his story (you what!!!). he doesn't know. well, lance, i'll give you a clue. winning at any cost has a price and now's the time to be paying. as to those outraged cycling fans. really? time to take some responsibility for having the blinkers on all those years. lance never made you put those on. you did that all by yourself.

*i should point out that where possible i've included links for any internet speculations re the above. as for the big pharma and epo cases kathleen sharp's blood medicine, while not the best book in the world, is as good a place to start as any. seeing what this crew have got up to and the amount of money involved puts having your cycling spectating memories ruined by some guy on a bike properly into perspective.

glencoe climbers

doubtless anyone who's watched the news in the uk over the weekend will know about the four people killed in glencoe this weekend. one of them, chris bell, wasn't known to me directly but that was mainly because any race i was in with him  he was always lapping me! and he was well known within that small community of online mountain biking people.

i saw his parents on the tv and they seemed, to me, to be responding with a great deal of courage but none of this can disguise the fact that there's four families who've lost their loved ones tragically early and another remains struggling for life in hospital. to those families, of tom chesters, rachel majumdar and una finnegan, my condolences and best wishes and a speedy recovery for the others

it seems they weren't do anything they shouldn't and they were well equipped for the conditions and that the avalanche they were caught in was one of those occasions where so many of us can say, there but for the grace of god...

should that be the case, and even if not, should the mood come upon you luke bradley (another one of those anonymous faces i don't know from the internet world) has set up a just giving page here

*luke, if you're reading this i hear you're burning the candle at both ends. last i heard you weren't so far away - if you fancy a bike/daunder get in touch

Monday, 21 January 2013

top drawing skills

me being ensconced in the drawing it's always nice to see what other people are doing and i'm very much liking the carne griffiths today. i like all the botanical-ness of it but i was particularly amused (if you follow the link) to note the use of a hairdryer in the execution. i thought it was just me!

Saturday, 5 January 2013

and then some irish

i'll leave it to irish people to argue different bit it often seems, from this neck of the woods, that the irish poetry scene is just a bit better than ours. or i could be wrong...

anyway, here's this as evidence. it seems to originate from some lovely people somewhere called kinsale (previously known to me only as a pub, t was maybe by it once) who will even send you a poem to your inbox should you wish it. lovely...

Friday, 4 January 2013

speaking the swedish

and now that it's the new year i'm back from spending the festives with my relatives including my now linguistically able niece.

i'd warned her mum and dad that i was coming with a range of swedish nouns but very few verbs and no grammar. they smiled indulgently in that swedish way, esp when they saw me trying to relate what i'd been listening to contrasted with the delivery of a two year old! a couple of days tho and we were well off the mark. there's nothing like a small child as a learning aid!

the plan now is get some consolidation done between now and the summer. one of the local papers was up last year looking for an interview so i'd like to be able to do at least a bit of that in swedish. plus i should, hopefully, be getting a bit of a look at some swedenlandish healthcare and it'd be nice to confound a few stereotypes about english speaking foreigners!

i think in the last post about the swedish i was complaining that i couldn't find a way into the language. now it's not so much the certain somethings i know and like about other languages that have opened the door but the actual speaking of it that is just so much fun. i can't wait to get back!