My stance on cycle helmets can be summarised thus: pro-helmet, anti-compulsion.
The longer version can be found on Cykelhjelm.org, a new Danish website aiming to keep the lid on lid legislation.
This site is another in the growing website empire of Mikhael Colville-Anderson, the photographer behind cycle advocacy blogs Copenhagenize.com and CopenhagenCycleChic.com, two sites I can’t recommend highly enough.
I love Colville-Anderson’s metaphor of pro-compulsionists being closely related to religious zealots.
The Bike to Work Book is a print title but it will also leverage the internet to reach a larger audience than possible through traditional book publishing. The print version will be available on Amazon.com and other booksellers from mid-November but the book will also be available as a paid-for rich-media e-book and there will be a free, cut-down version of the book available as a PDF, sent via iTunes. The e-formats will be available earlier than the printed book.
The health and economic benefits of cycling are flagged on the book’s back cover.
Tour de France commentator Phil Liggett said: “This book could save you $3500 a year. And you’ll be lighter and stronger into the bargain.”
Transport psychologist Dr Ian Walker of the University of Bath said: “Cycling is an important life expectancy predictor. Because it becomes part of your daily routine, cycling to work helps you live longer. This book could be the most important you ever read.”
Dr Walker was the guest on the second BikeToWorkBook.com podcast. Click below to listen to it right here right now or get a regular dose via iTunes. A new episode will be recorded and published later this week.
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Caffeine is known to be a performance enhancing drug and, in bonkers quantities, was previously on WADA’s list of prohibited substances. Currently it’s on WADA’s ‘watch list’ but, clearly, preventing pro cyclists from taking on a double espresso or three at the Tour de France’s village depart is a big no-no.
Caffeine is not just found in coffee, it’s also now a staple in energy gels.
So, the BBC.co.uk report headlined ‘Caffeine use common in athletes’ is hardly ground-breaking stuff. The report is based on a study by researchers from Liverpool John Moores University, published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine.
“A third of track and field athletes and 60% of cyclists reported taking caffeine before competing.”
The BBC quotes Mark Stuart , a pharmacist for the Sydney Olympics, who said:
“There still seems to be some scope for athletes to exploit commonly available dietary supplements, such as caffeine, with minimal consequence.”
So, next time you pass a Starbucks at the start of a ride, keep on passing, the dope docs have got their eye on you.
And stop using energy powders in your water bottles. Maltodextrin is a performance enhancing substance and, to sports purists, really ought to be considered ethically unclean, and banned.
Kim Fournais and Lars Seier Christensen, the founders of Saxo Bank, praised Team CSC Saxo Bank at yesterday’s crowning of King Carlos.
“Watching Carlos Sastre in the yellow jersey and Andy Schleck in the white, side by side, armed with nothing but moral fibre and muscles, was amazing,” said Fournais.
“We are not only celebrating Team CSC Saxo Bank, I truly believe their victory is triumph for the entire cycling industry.”
Christensen went further:
“It is a lot like entering the financial markets. Now is a good time and if cycling stocks were available on the stock exchange, we would be the first ones to buy. We simply wanted to be a part of the future bull market of cycling. It is safe to say today that we made the right decision.”
Saxo Bank’s co-sponsorship runs to the end of this year, and on 1 January 2009 Saxo Bank becomes the sole main sponsor of the team that, from then on, will be known as Team Saxo Bank.
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For Tory leader David Cameron it’s probably a very close run thing.
Yesterday, just before his meeting with Barack Obama, Cameron was reunited with the bike he’d left lightly tethered outside Tescos on Wednesday. It woz the Sunday Mirror wot won it.
Journos from the tabloid did what the police could have done: they asked around the local area.
“While the Tory leader sat at home bemoaning his loss, we enlisted the help local community elder Ernest Theophile and his Rasta friend “KJ”, who used their street contacts to trace the bike.”
The bike is a Scott and was found minus its front wheel. The Sunday Mirror graciously replaced the wheel and handed the bike back to Cameron in time for a splash in today’s paper.
Cameron said: “Thank you very much indeed. I’m very surprised to have it back – it’s incredible. I never thought I’d see it again. It’s priceless to me.”
In a video on the Sunday Mirror’s website Cameron tells the paper’s political editor “We have to educate at all levels: nicking bikes is wrong.”
But Cameron could also do with some education of his own. It turns out the lock he’s using is a cheap and nasty cable lock and even though the bike was stolen by lifting over a bollard, it could also be half-inched in future by anybody carrying a pair of small pliers.
Finally, a company has had the sense to incorporate a zipper into a pair of cycling shorts. It’s what the world has been waiting for.
Selle SMP is famous for producing a hook-nose saddle called the Strike but if you thought that was odd, check out the company’s SMP4TheBike shorts.
“You can finally satisfy your physiological needs without having to undress. The central channel of the Selle SMP bib shorts features a zipper system in the lower part of the bibs allowing you to relieve yourself without removing your shorts. The hidden zipper does not rub or constrict your private parts. You don’t even realize it’s there until the moment of need… Great for long distant riding.”
Available for women, too. But dunno why she’s smiling, take a look at her handlebars.
Of course, as these shorts are designed in Italy, land of romance, perhaps they could be put to another, more amorous, use?
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According to Barcroft Media, a picture and news agency, 62-year old Vittorio Innocente broke his own world record yesterday.
At a depth of 65 metres he rode his customised bike along the ocean bed in Portofino’s maritime marine reserve for nine minutes and managed a non-EPO powered distance of 110 metres. The record has been recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records. Picture here.
Sadly, during the record breaking feat, two UCI commissaires drowned while attempting to measure Mr. Innocente’s top-tube.
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According to the BBC and other news sources, David Cameron has had his bicycle stolen.
The leaders of the Conservatives should have read this article on how to keep crims away from his “old friend,” which was attached to a bollard.
UPDATE: I’ve just had this email from the Dutch tourist board…
The Dutch Tourist Board would like to donate a brand new self-locking Dutch bicycle as a replacement for David Cameron’s bicycle that was stolen in London on Wednesday evening.
The Conservative leader says he left his locked bicycle outside a supermarket in West London while he shopped. On leaving the store, David Cameron then realised that it had been stolen.
Throughout Holland, travelling by bicycle is the norm. 16 million people own approximately 12 million bicycles and the Dutch use the bicycle as a regular means of transportation rather than just a recreational sport. You will find clearly marked cycle routes (direction pointers with red lettering on white) throughout Holland. There are many special lanes and paths for cyclists (with a total length of approximately 17,000 kilometres).
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First off, let me state quite plainly that I think doping in sport is wrong and should be weeded out. I won’t get into the messy business of asking why some man-made performance enhancers are ethically OK (vitamins and maltodextrin, for instance) but others (such as EPO) are deemed evil incarnate.
Society decides such things. Yet ’society’ is a bit flaky on such matters. Sleeping in tents that mimic high-altitude is currently allowed, even though it produces results similar to EPO-use. The World Anti-doping Agency - WADA - keeps looking at normobaric hypoxic tents and may one day ban their use, no doubt leading to a WADA-led witch hunt against any athletes who boosted their blood in this way.
Some sections of ’society’ used to believe training of any sorts was a sign of “bad sportsmanship.” The 1981 movie ‘Chariots of Fire’ is based on this very idea, demonstrating that in the 1920s, training for an event was a nefarious activity for some, wholly legitimate to others.
Fast forward to today. All athletes must be paragons of virtue. Boonen was prevented from riding this year’s Tour de France because he took drugs. Not drugs that would make him go faster, but recreational drugs. Sure, he was daft to snort the stuff but if the powder didn’t give him any performance benefit whatsoever, why fret?
Anti-doping agencies, on the other hand, are seen to be white knights, fighting the good fight. They can do no wrong. Mistakes? What mistakes? It’s not possible, we’re scientifically 100 percent sound, say the anti-dopers.
Jacques de Ceaurriz, head of the French anti-doping lab that leaks test results to L’Equipe yet is never sanctioned, once famously said the carbon isotope test, used to find synthetic man-juice, was infallible:
“It’s foolproof…No error is possible in isotopic readings.”
No errors possible? Ever? How many scientists in fields other than anti-doping would get away with such tosh?
The attitude of ‘we’re always right, you’re always wrong’ is one that pervades anti-doping science. Precious few journalists question whether the anti-doping labs might sometimes be wrong. False positives and false negatives exist in the world of medicine but not, apparently, in the world of anti-doping, which uses the exact same scientific tests.
Too often journalists swallow what WADA tells them and it doesn’t trouble them when WADA is caught telling mistruths, yet the slightest misdemeanour by an athlete is reported on at length.
It’s been widely reported that WADA is getting ahead of the game and is working with pharmaceutical companies to place marker molecules in the latest performance-enhancing drugs of choice.
Wow, goes the man in the street, WADA deserves all of the massive funding it gets from governments around the world, it’s catching the cheats with clever tricks.
The man in the street moves on to another news story. Shamefully, so do the majority of journalists. WADA got a lot of global press coverage for its work with Roche to place marker molecules in CERA, the so-called ‘Super-EPO’.
John Fahey, the president of WADA, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp that Roche Pharmaceuticals had placed a special molecule in CERA when it developed the drug:
“In the development of [Micera] close cooperation occurred between WADA and the pharmaceutical company Roche Pharmaceuticals so that there was a molecule placed in the substance well in advance that was always going to be able to be detected once a test was undertaken.”
Well done, WADA.
Except it doesn’t appear to be true. The WADA boss got it wrong. Martina Rupp, a spokeswoman for Roche, told Bloomberg News: “The information that a special molecule has been added to Mircera is wrong.”
So, have journalists widely reported on WADA’s economy with the truth? Of course not. The International Herald Tribune carried the drug company’s denial in the middle of a long article about the Tour in general but the multitude of news sources that rapidly spread Fahey’s molecule claim have been strangely silent on the Roche rebuffal.
UPDATE: Cyclingnews.com isn’t one of them, it has today carried news of the “mistake”. Naturally, WADA is allowed to make such mistakes, just as WADA-accredited labs can break all sorts of rules without being sanctioned. But when an athlete, by mistake, chooses a US version of Vicks thinking it’ll be just the same as the UK version, he’s hauled over the coals and loses his Olympic medal.
AFTER SIX WEEKS of deliberation, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has decided to confirm the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board’s decision to disqualify Alain Baxter from the men’s alpine skiing slalom event at the Salt Lake City Winter Games.
Baxter finished third in the slalom and was awarded the bronze medal, but a subsequent doping test revealed traces of methamphetamine in his urine sample – a stimulant on the IOC’s list of prohibited substances.
Though Baxter maintained that the US Vicks nasal inhaler he used prior to the slalom race contained levmetamfetamine – a non-performance enhancing isomer of methamphetamine – the CAS ruled that the anti-doping code of the Olympic movement prohibits all forms of methamphetamine and the presence of any prohibited substance results in automatic disqualification, whether or not ingestion was intentional.
“The panel is not without sympathy for Mr Baxter, who appears to be a sincere and honest man who did not intend to obtain a competitive advantage in the race,” the tribunal concluded.
“Alain has paid a most severe penalty for a modest mistake and it is clear that the principle of strict liability under-scored this decision,” added Simon Clegg, Chief Executive of the BOA.
“I know that I can continue to look Alain in the eye with confidence that he did not knowingly take the US Vick’s inhaler to enhance his performance.”
WADA can make mistakes, athletes can’t. Athletes can be banned under the ’strict liability’ rule, but WADA and its accredited labs can mess up left, right and centre and only a tiny minority of people seem to care about such lop-sided justice.
Sure, the anti-doping science will catch a lot of cheats and, when proved, the cheats should be hung out to dry, but the science will also finger some innocent athletes. That’s not me being naive or ’soft on drugs cheats’, it’s a plain scientific fact.
Ah, but the innocent will always be proven so, you might think. Not on your nelly. The system is rigged against athletes. Many of those who claim innocence are guilty as sin. But some of those who claim innocence, truly are. The appeals system, as it stands, is a sham.
One good way for the anti-doping system to be brought up to standard would be for performance-enhancing drug use to become “sporting fraud”, as has happened in France. That way the police get involved and they have to provide genuine evidence to convince prosecuting authorities. Accused athletes would then truly get “their day in court” and anti-doping labs would have to prove their methods and their ISLs (International Standard for Laboratories, PDF) were up to scratch.
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