July 21, 2012 § 8 Comments
This dude I’m not friends with on FB posted the results of the USCF national individual time trial championships from 1982. I was eighteen, had not yet started college, and had not yet bought my first road bike.
Scanning down the list was awesome. Names from the present were right up near the top–Thurlow Rogers, Steve Hegg–and other, less famous names of people I knew well and/or raced against stared were there as well. Texans Stan Blanton, Terry Wittenberg, and Lone Star transplants Bob Lowe and Andy Coggan were all on the list. Each one of those guys was tough, and fast, and tough. Did I mention they were all really fucking tough?
It didn’t take long for my eye to wander over to the winning time, 55:10.52. In 2012 the USA Cycling national ITT winning ride was by Dave Zabriskie, 40:41.44 over a shorter 35k distance in a race that was contested by US professionals racing for UCI trade teams. Those 1982 guys included the top US amateurs, but no UCI professionals.
In thirty years the races couldn’t have become more different. That event in 1982 looked nothing like the one in 2012 in virtually any respect.
Compare that to the 10k distance in track. In 1982 Alberto Salazar held the American record in the 10k at 27:42. Today, the American record is held by Galen Rupp, at 26:48, a thirty-year improvement of less than four percent. Those apples can easily be compared to the apples of 1982.
My first contre-le-montre
In 1984 I did the Texas state ITT west of Houston, and turned a 1:04. I flew out into the tailwind, blew up after the first ten miles, then slogged back into the headwind, a textbook case of how not to ride a time trial. Even so, there were plenty of people who went a lot slower than that. I still remember the guys who could break an hour were demi-gods. A time trial bike meant one without water bottles in the cages, or 32 spokes instead of 36.
In 2005 I did another 40k ITT, this one also outside Houston, in Katy. I still had the same bike configuration from 1985, but everyone else rode full TT everything. I turned a 1:05 or maybe it was a 1:04. Compared to the people I was racing against this was so slow as to merit incredulity. It didn’t make any difference that in twenty years I’d not lost much, perhaps because there hadn’t been a lot to begin with.
I’m afraid it’s mostly about the bike
A winning state TT time over 40k these days can be expected to break 56 minutes. Although drugs unquestionably play a role, what remains to explain the newfound speed is aero technology. The cumulative effects of disc wheels, slippery clothing, helmets, shoe covers, tire technology, aerodynamic frames, and radically improved body position mean that people go faster today because they have, quite literally, purchased the speed to do so.
Of course the people who win still have to suffer like dogs.
Looking at those results from 1982 made me think that there is something more impressive about a 40k ITT with minimally aerodynamic equipment than going ten minutes faster with all the trick stuff. Andy Paulin smashing into the wind, all six feet five inches of him, without a helmet or disc to help with the effort…something about that makes you admire the man and covet his ability rather than making you want to purchase his rig and his wheelset.
Which, frankly, is how it ought to be.
July 5, 2012 § 19 Comments
De Telegraaf dropped an evening bombshell, just as we were all wrapping up a long day of July Fourthing and holiday ride badassing, in which USADA named the five heretofore unnamed witnesses to the Lance Drugstrong doping case. The five are Jonathan Vaughters “We Fired Rasmussen Today for Doping Violations,” Levi Leipheimer “Been Busted Before, Will be Busted Again,” George Hincapie “Could 17 Tours Be Wrong?” Dave Zabriskie “The Vegan Doper,” and Christian Vande Velde “Needles.”
Drugstrong fired back immediately. The combined press release from his attorney Bulldog Jones, his press agent Smarmy Goodfellow, and Timmy Dinkins, Cancer Survivor, is printed in full below.
Lance Drugstrong is the most tested athlete in the history of sport. With the exception of the drug tests that he has failed in the past, he has never failed a drug test. Drugstrong has built his career on creating awareness of, and hope for, cancer victims.
It is with profound regret that Vaughters, Leipheimer, Hincapie, Vande Velde, and Zabriskie have chosen to sell lies under threats from USADA in exchange for sweetheart deal doping bans. Drugstrong has raced with each of these athletes, put them on the map so to speak, and made them profoundly aware of cancer. Due to the despicable witch hunt propagated by USADA, these former friends have chosen to become cancer lovers and tell fibs about Drugstrong.
Drugstrong has been tested more than anyone ever, and as a cancer survivor himself and cancer awareness benefactor promoter, it is absurd to think that he would ever subject himself to the risks of illegal doping just to win seven straight Tours and become a millionaire and global celebrity who boinked one of the Bobbsey twins and Sheryl Crowe, whose ass, by the way, was so flat that when they had sex his one good ball kept hitting against the sheets.
Lance Drugstrong intends to clear his name and to vindicate his reputation among the fans who don’t care whether he doped, and to aggressively defend himself on Twitter.
- Power Tweet #1: I refuse to be distracted by
@usantidoping‘s antics. It’s 2012, I’m gonna continue to lead @LIVESTRONG, raise my 5 kids, and stay fit!
- Power Tweet #2: I’m gonna keep saving lives!
- Power Tweet #3: Thanks to all my cancer supporters! I’m there for you 24/7!
- Power Tweet #4: Have any of my followers out there ever been to prison, and do you know if they generally have a pool?