Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Oh Shit! Michael Rasmussen

Excerpt from an interview with  Michael Rasmussen

Hvad er der sket i senere år? - What happened in recent years?
»Doping er kriminaliseret i en grad, der er vanvittig. "Doping is criminalized in a degree which is crazy. En af de mest ydmygende situationer, jeg har været ude for, har været her i mit eget hus. One of the most humiliating situations I have experienced have been here in my own house. Jeg vågnede kl. I woke up at. halv otte og gik på toilettet. half past seven and walked to the bathroom. Umiddelbart efter kom der en dopingkontrollant. Jeg var i gang med at koge havregrød ovenpå. Immediately after came a doping inspector. I was starting to cook oatmeal on top. Jeg kunne ikke tisse. I could not pee. Jeg sagde, nu spiser jeg min morgenmad, og så må vi vente lidt og tage blodprøven først. I said, now I eat my breakfast, and then we wait and take the blood test first. Den store tysker – en pensioneret mand på 60, der kom fra Monaco – kigger på mig, mens jeg spiser morgenmad og begynder at kommentere indretningen af huset. The big German - a retired man of 60 who came from Monaco - look at me while I eat breakfast and begin to comment on the layout of the house. Jeg siger, nu skal jeg på toilettet: jeg skal ikke tisse, jeg skal skide, siger jeg. I say now I am on the toilet: I will not pee, I'll shit, I say. Nåmen, det er ikke noget problem. Naam, it is no problem. Han skal bare kigge på. He just need to look at. Det skal du bare ikke, siger jeg. It just does not, I say. Jo jo, jeg står herovre i døren og kigger. Well yes, I stand over here in the doorway and looks. Det er en af de mest ydmygende situationer. It is one of the most humiliating situations. At sidde og skide i sit eget hus og blive overvåget.« To sit and shit in his own house and be monitored."    Link to original article here.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Handlebar (road and track)

Seeing Cameron Meyer's 3T points-race specific track handlebar (The Sphinx) has really gotten me thinking about how significant a role that piece of equipment plays in the cycling experience. Yet I can't think of a single instance of a fellow competitor, coach or industry rep discussing handlebar selection with the same seriousness given to saddle choice and shoe fit. We all know that our anatomies are similar but different enough that there are saddles that are "right" for us and then there are saddles will feel like they could never fit. And everyone knows that feet come in different widths, and shoes have to be chosen as much for fit as they do appearance. Heck, an entire ancillary industry of orthotics manufacturers and cleat alignment specialists and pedorthists exists to help us find better "fits" for our feet. But what about handlebars? Where is the guide? Who has the information that will help new riders - or even established racers - decide what handlebar shape is best for them, based not only on their anatomy, but also the dimensions of their bike and the type of brake/shift lever they use?

3T's sculpted track handlebar, "The Sphinx" (c) 3T

Choosing handlebar width is easy - nearly a no-brainer. But beyond that, what? A quick Google search turned up this paragraph from a fairly detailed article on fit written by Peter White:

Handlebar width (road & ATB) and drop for road style bars

A few brands of drop style bars come with a choice of how much lower the drop section of the bar is from the top. Unless you are a track sprinter or a criterium racer, you don't need the very deep drop bars. Most bars come in a selection of widths. Most people seem happiest with their hands positioned on the bar at about the same distance apart as the width of their shoulders, so that your arms are roughly parallel when reaching to the bar. When determining stem dimensions, try the different bar widths available, starting with one that's the same as your shoulder's width. Then see which works best for you.

Again, width is almost a no-brainer - for most people a handlebar close in size to the distance between their "shoulders" is the best choice. But then what? Think of all the variables involved in the relationship between the rider's hand position and their ability to control the bike, operate the brakes and the shifting mechanisms and feel good doing so...

Manufacturers don't seem to offer much help, either! I've used the Deda Newton (anatomic) bar in width 44cm (measured by Deda outside-to-outside; in Cinelli, for example, I'd be a 42) for the better part of nine years. My Pinarello came with a more traditional round bar with shallow drops. The reason that I most like the Newton, and the factor that has kept it on all of my bikes for nearly a decade, is that it allows for the creation of a fairly flat, consistent platform at the junction of the "STi Lever" (aka shift/brake lever) and the bar - the hand position described as "riding on the tops" or "riding on the hoods." (I'll post a picture of what I'm talking about soon.) This certainly wasn't possible with the stock bars that came with the Prince. I did, however, like the fact that I had a variety of positioning choices while in the drops with the stock bars - something that really isn't possible with the anatomic shape of the Newton. I know Deda came out with a new bar based around what they call the "Deda Rapid Hand Movement (RHM) design initiative" but can I still create that level junction like I can with the Newton anatomic? Do we even have a language to talk about this?

The answer, of course, is who knows, because Deda doesn't discuss this in its marketing literature, and Competitive Cyclist's product verbiage doesn't include much on the topic (see below). Why aren't we talking more about different handlebar options? Or are people discussing this, and companies focusing on it - and I just can't come up with the info via Google. Thoughts? I've turned-off comment moderation in hope that we can get a discussion going on this topic. And please, by all means, if there is some rec.bicycles.tech archive or forum with a matrix comparing all of the market's current handlebars in scenarios with each of the three main STi lever shapes - Shimano, Campy and SRAM - please let me know.

2010 Deda Elementi Zero100 Alloy Handlebar product description from Competitive Cyclist:

"Maybe you've heard that carbon fiber is stronger than aluminum. But if you feel more confident with aluminum, we won't argue; we'll just show you this bar, the Deda Elementi Zero100. The Zero100 is the aluminum entry in the new Deda Rapid Hand Movement (RHM) design initiative. Deda noticed that more pro riders have been raising their saddle in relation to their bars. As a result, it seemed that riders were spending less time on their drops. So, rather than raise the bars, something a rider might be loath to do because she likes the position of the tops for climbing, they shortened both the drop and the reach of the bars. Shorter than a traditional shallow drop handlebar. The position is designed to allow for a super quick change of hand position from the tops to the drops.

This bar is an iteration of RHM that appeals to traditionalists. The drop is a fairly round curve, though the radius of the curve is tighter at the top and increases as it goes down. It isn't quite a traditional even radius that you'd find on Deda's deep or shallow traditional-style drop bars, but it is still fairly round. Like all Deda road bars, the Zero100 can have aero bars mounted on the center section. Deda only recommends use of their own aero bars, but others can fit. Deda would prefer people use Deda stems with their bars, but the warranty isn't contingent on the bars and stem being from Deda. They also say that even though Deda measures clamp area of the center section of their bars as 31.7mm, it is essentially identical to other manufacturers' 31.8mm (save manufacturing tolerances). Both are 1.25", just Deda takes the metric fraction 31.75mm and rounds down, while everyone else takes the same fraction and rounds up. The Zero100 has 128mm of drop and 75mm of reach. Both are measured outside-to-outside. The bar comes in 40, 42, 44, and 46cm widths, measured outside-to-outside..."

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Polish Dopers and What They Mean for my Saturday

Friday ends as the shittiest of shit days, only for Saturday to carry the dung right through to the weekend. I just came across the following quote from a Velonation.com article, which encapsulates perfectly the PTSD-like symptoms that will come to haunt the remorseful doper:

"Polish under-23 World Championship gold medalist Pawel Szczepaniak has explained the circumstances that led he and his brother Kacper down the road to a positive doping control for EPO at the World Championships in Tabor, Czech Republic. He insists that just weeks prior to the competition, where his brother finished just behind in second place, the brothers had yet to be involved with the seedy world of doping...

Now the talented young riders have learned their lesson about doping the hard way, and realize that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. "My life is ruined and my brother too, " concluded Pawel. "Kacper hardly eats. All he does is sleep and stare straight ahead. We both go to a psychologist."


The anti-doping authorities need to wake-up and reshape their education modules to better reflect what resonates with and influences young riders so they won't dope. I'm telling you, it's not just appeals to fair play  that will stop doping. Szczepaniak's father earns 250 euros per month as a bus driver. Had the sorcery that led to victory not been discovered, the brothers' new contracts could have helped the family to increase its monthly earnings by an order of magnitude! But trotting out charts and statistics about long-term health risks and the unenviable possibility of becoming a uniballer before one's career is over are weak countermeasures. 

http://vvoice.vo.llnwd.net/e9/48658.28.jpgMorality and ethics have to be taught in the rider's home, and this must be carried over into his club and amateur teams. If, like Matt Decanio, a U-23 finds himself in a foreign country, isolated and lacking a support system and confronted with enormous pressure to begin doping under team orders, it's the moral guidance established at home that will help him to avoid the rot for as long as it takes to either arrange extraction or figure out how to beat the dopers at their own game (note: here's where I think Bike Pure adds practical value: it provides a means by which geographically-scattered riders who don't wish to dope but are confronted with the pressure to do so can connect with each other and others in the anti-doping community to gain support and find the strength to stay clean).

In the right here right now, trotting out casualties like Pawel and Kacper, and even me, for God's sake, and letting us tell our stories as we struggle to rebuild our lives has the potential to add a dimension - an element, even - to anti-doping education targeting riders who are already likely to have access to products like EPO and who might be considering actively whether or not to use. I'll admit that I haven't organized peer-reviewed research to test the effectiveness of dollars spent on different forms of anti-doping education, but I guarantee that unless radical changes (or AUGMENTATION of curriculum) are made in the content and the messaging, the same-old-same-old "I Compete Clean b/c..." and "Fair Play Matters" is NOT going to deliver the impact that our anti-doping education HAS TO PRODUCE for our INTERNAL CONSUMERS - the athletes whose minds we're trying to reach.

Sure, juniors and U-23's need to all receive a standardized anti-doping education that deals with such topics as the concept of strict liability, and advises athletes on how they can reach a drug reference line (should it be available in their country) to check the legality of medicines before they pop a pill or inject. Hit them with the feel-good, "Play Fair because Life's Fair and Better that Way" slogans. Whatever. But then drag before them real live, breathing, shattered human beings who - much like them - are only there in their disgrace because of the same kind of love of cycling that's driving the new riders. Make the kids uncomfortable - but make the penalty phase of doping something less abstract and much more real for them. Granted, the dopers whose stories you focus on have to be ones who have Phoenix's for cousins and are working to rise-up out of the ash of their doping disgrace - and it sounds like at least one of the Szczepaniak boys sees the possibility of a new future. Poor Kacper is still shell-shocked - but what, are you surprised? People dope because they want an unfair advantage that will let them ride their bike faster than their competitors, and in doing so obtain so benefit otherwise inaccessible. Doping comes with a cost, some obvious, most hidden, and unfortunately, anti-doping education is not as sophisticated as it should be in order to help our young athletes make the best long-term choices.

I hope that the powers that be will consider the most effective ways of changing the peloton's mindset when it comes to doping - not just what is safest, simplest or closest to the model designed by the fella who came before you.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Competitive Cyclist

It's been several years since I was first "wowed!" by the online and print advertisements for Competitive Cyclist, but I've finally had cause to do business with them. And I'm happy to report that the experience was wholly positive. I've often wondered who it was who wrote their two blog entries in which my name appears, because I would have loved to have chatted with him (or her?), but perhaps it was better going through the transaction anonymously - it gave me a true taste of the Competitive Cyclist (road) customer experience. If for some reason your needs can't be met by your local bike shop and you're thinking about making an online purchase (especially if you're considering a high-end road bike like a Pinarello, and you are determined not to buy it from a brick-and-mortar bike store) I recommend giving C.C. a whirl. If you call them for road stuff, be sure to ask for Andy. [Disclaimer: Ads for Competitive Cyclist have appeared on this website, though they were placed by Google without any feedback from me. Example below.] But before you call, how about a glance at a Pinarello Prince, in 2008 livery:

 (c) Competitive Cyclist

And below are examples of the ads that have appeared on Pappillon.

I know, I know...it's been a lean week for blogging. The good news is that an interview with Jesus Manzano is in the planning stages, and Pappillon contributor Duane Corbett reports that his interview with Michael Kalinski may be ready for publication by next week. We eagerly await it. Enjoy your weekend!
Last image: the actual CC website - rejoice!

So I was thinking of trying out the HTC HD2...

Based on a recommendation made to me by a loyal Pappillon reader earlier this year, I'd been thinking about trying the HTC HD2. Today, I received a text from a friend who manages a T-Mobile retail store, advising that the phones were finally in and he could hold one HD2 for me until Saturday. I'm impulsive and often push common sense aside when making decisions (see Feb. 2010 revelations...), but this time I  wanted to refresh my memory with some research and make an informed buying decision. So I hopped online, but - owing to post-concussion syndrome and general flittiness - decided to make a quick post here before I got stuck-in on the question of dropping mad loot on a Windows Mobile-equipped "smart-phone" (their words). After putting together a post concerning one of the most amazing crash photo sequences I've ever seen, this was the first ad that was served up to ME on my OWN BLOG:

Something similar happened previously with a Competitive Cyclist ad and a pair of Oakley's [Editor: And a priest and a nun? Just asking...] (see below), but this is different enough that I don't know if I should interpret it as a sign of impending consumer folly or a not-so-subtle nudge pushing me to spend my hard-won shekels (sheqel, Hebrew: שקל‎, pl. shekels, sheqels, sheqalim, Hebrew: שקלים‎) on a phone that one reviewer describes as (paraphrasing) the sexiest, most beautiful tragedy of a smartphone ever. Thoughts? (Besides that this post is much ado about nothing...)

  HTC HD2 - it's pretty freakin' hot for a phone

 The Competitive Cyclist ad - Hey I'm a Believer

If you made it to the bottom of the post, I just wanted to apologize for sucking you in on what was the blog post equivalent of the movie "Pearl Harbor" - a vapid entry that struggles to hang meat onto Pappillon's bones on a day without confirmed news of a major doping scandal (on the other hand, I've supposedly got at least 180 potential doping scandals brewing here, but, according to some, am the bastard of bastards for not posting what would basically be the raw material for my book (amongst other things, depending on who's counting) and starting to name names - pfft! Let's hope that the UCI kicks Swiss Federation ass and succeeds in completing their persecution of the hapless Jan Ullrich, who more and more to me seems like an East German version of the Michelin Man crossed with the Pillsbury Dough Boy - just leave him alone already...

Best Crash Photo Sequence EVER

Took this screen cap of what is by far the most amazing series of photos captured of a pile-up in a field sprint. Marvel at the ability of the neophyte racer to crash himself when not even remotely close to the action!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Why DHEA? "Recovery Cycles"

Three positive tests for DHEA in the last year, plus another for synthetic testosterone. There must be some connection, right? Maybe cyclists have been reading the same article, "Recovery Cycles" by Paul from Steroid Encyclopaedia...I'm reprinting it below (sorry, don't have the source link anymore), but note that this is for informational purposes only and is in no way an endorsement of the use of DHEA, testosterone or any performance enhancing drugs.

"What?! One hundred dollars for the Hcg and Clomid that I would need to come off of this cycle? Na, I think that I will just tough it out."

These were the words of my good friend as he contemplated the end of his last cycle.

I encouraged him to at least go down to GNC and buy some Tribulus stack with DHEA by Twinlab, but he again frowned and said that he did not believe in the herbs enough to spend the $23.
Now don't get me wrong. I like this guy and he is a hell of a good lifting partner. He also has a wonderful family who has me over for Sunday dinners frequently. His wife is beautiful as are his children. His physique is phenomenal and he is 44 years old.

One day in the gym I heard a 25 year old guy comment to his girlfriend about my friend. He said, "Now there is the physique that I always wanted to have", to which his girlfriend quipped, "Yeah, me too!". Fortunately, the young buck had a good sense of humor.

So...the situation begs the question, "How can this guy (or any guy) not be willing to pay the necessary money to come off the cycle properly?".

This was his third 15 week cycle and I have seen it before with him: Two weeks out from coming off everything the fears of returning to midlife vitality begin to creep in, but the remaining enathate and cypionate keep deceiving him that everything will be ok.

The hormones are doing the thinking for him, and this is where the bodybuilder falls off the precipice into non-intelligent bodybuilding and supplementation.

Problems in the bedroom, on the job, and in life in general are just around the corner in this situation, but the Pharma-courage of the moment makes denial of this fact easy.

I remember my first cycle before I understood that there is a "cycle after the cycle". I had come off of a 12 week Androgenic/Anabolic cycle consisting of Test Enathate, Test Propionate, Proviron, Deca, and Winstrol. I used no testosterone recovery drugs at the conclusion of the cycle and as a result I crashed big time. I was depressed and lacking Libido so I resorted to an injection of Enathate to boost things and to be able to rise to the occasion in the bedroom. All this did was take me into another 4 weeks of testosterone usage in order to feel functional.

Of course, this is the pitfall that so many fall into, which can lead to non-cycling use of anabolic steroids and a severely dysfunctional endocrine system.

Finally, enough people who cared and knew what they were doing got me into some Hcg and Clomid therapy. I was then able to comfortably put down the Enathate and take a 12 week
rest from AS.

It is important for the reader to know that I typically use only about 400-500mg/week of Testosterone during the beginning 8 weeks of my cycle.

I will knock the Test down to 250mg/week the last four weeks of a 12 week cycle. This is in combination with 600mg/week Deca throughout the whole cycle, and then 200mg/week
Winstrol injection the last six weeks of the cycle. I also use Proviron 50mg/day throughout the schedule until I begin the recovery period.

My cycles of AAS use are usually 12-15 weeks in duration. The significance of this cycle information is that the reader should be aware that greater doses of Hcg and Clomid
therapy may be necessary when greater quantities of Androgenics have been used, or when cycles have been quite lengthy.

The reader will need to be the judge and adjust accordingly.

Typically, I will do the following recovery cycle:
1) One Month prior to last AAS injection I begin Twinlab Tribulus Stack at 2500mg/day split into morning and evening doses. I use this product up until I begin Hcg and Clomid therapy.

2) One week after my last AAS injection I begin Hcg and Clomid therapy. I do one 2500iu injection of Hcg and begin taking 50mg Clomid/day at mealtimes. At the same time as the
Clomid I also take 10mg Nolvadex. The Clomid and Nolvadex will be done together daily for the next 30 days from this day forward.

3) The following week I do another 2500iu Hcg while continuing with the Clomid and Nolvadex.

4) The following week I do another 2500iu Hcg while continuing the Clomid and Nolvadex.

5) The following week (fourth week) I continue with the Clomid and Nolvadex but use no Hcg.

6) The fifth week I conclude the use of Clomid but continue to use Nolvadex at 10mg/day. I also now add in the Tribulus Stack again at the same above dosage for the next 30 days, which would give me 8 weeks off the last cycle.

7) After the 30 days of Tribulus Stack and Nolvadex, I take 2-4 weeks off everything to prepare my body's receptors for another Anabolic cycle.

The rationale for the above recovery stack is as follows:
1) Tribulus is "herbal Clomid" in the way that it stimulates the testes. I simply use it to prepare the way for the Hcg and Clomid therapy. DHEA just gives it a little extra boost.

2) Hcg and Clomid both stimulate the testes to produce testosterone. Also, the clomid is an anti-estrogen drug, competing for estrogen receptor sites. They are added in close proximity to the last shot in hopes of waking up the testes well in advance of total evacuation of AS from the
system. My attempt is to overlap the startup of natural testosterone production with the last week or two of effects from the last AS injection.

3) Nolvadex is used during the Testosterone recovery period since it aggressively promotes the production of FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) as well as LH (luteinizing hormone), which in turn stimulates the Leydig's cells in the testes to produce more testosterone.

Nolvadex also works well with Clomid in regulating the estrogen used by the body as Hcg can cause increased levels of this hormone and the accompanying water "blow-up".

Since I began using Nolvadex during the recovery cycle I have appreciated a much harder look and continued vascularity well after discontinuing the main cycle. My fat burning remains higher as well with the decreased estrogen being recognized in the body.

4) I remain on the Nolvadex even after the discontinuation of Clomid and Hcg in order to continue to promote the Test vs Estrogen ratio and to avoid a serious estrogen "rebound" that may occur by pulling both the Clomid and Nolvadex simultaneously.

5) I add in the Tribulus Stack with DHEA again as it is more gentle on the system than Clomid, and the hopes are that it will continue on a more subtle level to promote my natural levels of Test to a higher level. This is another reason that I stay on the Nolvadex as DHEA has been known to show some increases in estrogen levels in men.

6) I know longer bridge with Primobolan or Anavar since contrary to popular belief, they have been shown to promote some shutdown of the pituitary-axis and suppress natural testosterone production.

Proviron is also a strong enough androgenic to effect the same responses from the system, and will not be a good supplement to be using at this time if one wants the maximum recovery in their natural production.

When my situation affords it I bridge with Hgh 3iu/day and Insulin 8iu/day split into two doses, along with the Nolvadex and Tribulus Stack. I have had nice results with this bridge and found that it allowed for good retention of mass and strength without affecting my testosterone recovery period adversely.

There have been times also where I just did the Tribulus Stack and the Nolvadex. Regardless of my bridge, I have been able to avoid impotence and depression when using the above recovery cycle.

For the female bodybuilders, I have seen women using the Clomid to bring their own levels of estrogen back into alignment after a cycle. It seems to work well in that department, whereas the Hcg promotes progesterone production and irritability in female bodybuilders.

The other supplement that I am aware of female bodybuilders using with regard to restoring estrogen balance is a soy product called Estroven.

Some ladies that I know swear by it in terms of reestablishing their own balance. It is added in at the end of a cycle much like the Clomid therapy in men. They are using double the doses on the box for the first week and then they follow the dosage on the box for the remaining 3 weeks.

The effects of the soy product are slow and gentle, and as a result water retention due to sudden resurgence of estrogen is rarely a problem.

There is a lot of intelligent bodybuilding going on by both men and women and I feel so fortunate to be a part of this era of the sport.

As we pursue our ambitions and goals though, let's not forget about the people in our lives that are there for us as we cycle on and off of the gear. In many cases they encourage and support us even when it may be hard for them to do so.

We not only owe ourselves the "cycle after the cycle", but we also owe our partners and family this informed way of transitioning out of a cycle in order to avoid lost intimacy, depression, and lost vitality. I have seen many lose their entire focus of optimism when not coming off properly.

So, next time you plan your cycle, be generous when purchasing these "muscle-keepers" and view them with equal respect and importance as the Androgenics and Anabolics that you would give your left nut for (no pun intended). Although they may not be as dramatic in their effect, we need to remember that sometimes the smallest strokes of the artist's brush make all the difference in the total picture."

Hurricane Katrina Revisted - In His Own Words: Brian Williams

Hurricane Katrina of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season was the costliest hurricane, as well as one of the five deadliest, in the history of the United States. Among recorded Atlantic hurricanes, it was the sixth strongest overall.

Hurricane Katrina formed over the Bahamas on August 23, 2005 and crossed southern Florida as a moderate Category 1 hurricane, causing some deaths and flooding there before strengthening rapidly in the Gulf of Mexico. The storm weakened before making its second landfall as a Category 3 storm on the morning of Monday, August 29 in southeast Louisiana. It caused severe destruction along the Gulf coast from central Florida to Texas, much of it due to the storm surge. The most severe loss of life occurred in New Orleans, Louisiana, which flooded as the levee system catastrophically failed, in many cases hours after the storm had moved inland. Eventually 80% of the city and large tracts of neighboring parishes became flooded, and the floodwaters lingered for weeks. However, the worst property damage occurred in coastal areas, such as all Mississippi beachfront towns, which were flooded over 90% in hours, as boats and casino barges rammed buildings, pushing cars and houses inland, with waters reaching 6-12 miles (10-19 km) from the beach.

At least 1,836 people lost their lives in the actual hurricane and in the subsequent floods, making it the deadliest U.S. hurricane since the 1928 Okeechobee hurricane. Economist and crisis consultant Randall Bell wrote: "Hurricane Katrina in 2005 was the largest natural disaster in the history of the United States. Preliminary damage estimates were well in excess of $100 billion, eclipsing many times the damage wrought by Hurricane Andrew in 1992."

The levee failures prompted investigations of their design and construction which belongs to the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) as mandated in the Flood Control Act of 1965 and into their maintenance by the local Levee Boards. There was also an investigation of the responses from federal, state and local governments, resulting in the resignation of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) director Michael D. Brown, and of New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) Superintendent Eddie Compass. Conversely, the United States Coast Guard (USCG), National Hurricane Center (NHC) and National Weather Service (NWS) were widely commended for their actions, accurate forecasts and abundant lead time.

Four years later, thousands of displaced residents in Mississippi and Louisiana were still living in trailers. Reconstruction of each section of the southern portion of Louisiana has been addressed in the Army Corps LACPR Final Technical Report which identifies areas not to be rebuilt and areas and buildings that need to be elevated.

I tried to find a online clip of Spike Lee's "When The Levees Broke" by Spike Lee. Sorry I couldn't find more than this:

Sunday, March 21, 2010

UPDATED: Boonen Caption Contest

The best caption for this photo wins a pair of summer cycling gloves or something else from my kit bag (which, you'd be well advised to note, contains nothing on the WADA banned list!). Regardless of quality, if anyone submits an entry, I'll publish it below the "entry form," below. lol

I got a good laugh from:


Totally Politically-Incorrect, but...

Keep 'em coming!

Jobst Brandt - Interview

By now you already realize that not every post at Pappillon is an original work or independent commentary on the cycling news of the day. Sometimes we just like to pass along links to the work of others that we've found to be fascinating, such as this multi-part interview with Jobst Brandt, conducted by Cozy Beehive. Read and enjoy!

 Image (c) / sourced here

Video: 2009 Giro della Toscana

[Note: Check out CyclingFix's YouTube channel - it's chock-full of great race coverage in easily digested bits.]

Friday, March 19, 2010

UPDATED: David Clinger's 2-year sanction doesn't feel like a victory

David Clinger - reportedly a former Eagle Scout, for chrissakes - truly isn't a bad guy. But it's a shame he got himself into this situation. However, this should free him to tell all about his time at USPS, and Pappillon would be happy to give him the opportunity to present his full story here - including discussing the time he spent under the spell of Kayle Leogrande. David Clinger, if you want to talk, just let us know. You can have carte blanche on these pages. Regardless, good luck with whatever comes next, man.

Read the full AAA-CAS decision against David, here.

UPDATE: USADA and WADA TUE info re. male hypogonadism.

It's not easy to get a TUE for male hypogonadism. What follows are the USADA and WADA guidelines concerning the issue of male hypogonadism, followed by USADA's therapeutic use exemption (TUE) form. It is not a simple process to get one's endocrinologist to fill this out, especially if - as it seems to be in David's case - the diagnosis and treatment were based on a single blood test. Please download the documents and study them in detail - I hope you'll find them informative.

1. US Anti Doping Agency (USADA) TUE Application

2. USADA - Testosterone-Athlete and Physician Guidance

3. WADA - Medical Information to Support the Decisions of TUECs Male Hypogonadism

PA Rider Called out for Doping

Blogging about blogging might be risque, but this post by Burt Hoovis at Doucheblog Cycling was too interesting not to highlight for you all. If this was Twitter I'd have RT'ed it.

If I read this correctly, it sounds like Burt Hoovis is taking bets on whether or not a rider is clean or not. Wow!

Tony Kornheiser is Only Sorry that he got Busted Calling for the Slaughter of Road Cyclists

I'm not even a Lance fan but I'll jump on his bandwagon and post the "lost" audio clip of Tony Kornheiser calling for the intentional crashing of cyclists by motorists (note: the March 11 audio clip was removed from ESPN980's archive, but it lives on thanks to YouTube).

From the Washington Post: Lance Armstrong doesn't appreciate Tony Kornheiser's remarks about cyclists.

"Disgusting, ignorant, foolish. What a complete f-ing idiot."

-- "Lance Armstrong, starting a Twitter crusade against our former colleague Tony Kornheiser over the cantankerous radio guy's rant about cyclists taking up too much space on the road and urging his fellow motorists to give them a nudge. ("I'm not saying you kill them. I'm saying you tap them.") They made peace later Thursday, according to another Lance tweet, with an agreement to hash it out on Tony's ESPN980 show Friday."

Here's to hoping that peace only occurs when Kornheiser apologizes to every cyclist whose life he encouraged other motorists to put in jeopardy, and is then forced to ride a road bike for at least 30 miles as any road cyclist who so desires "taps" him with their car. I'm not saying you kill him. I'm just saying you give him a little love tap. To quote Lance, "Disgusting, ignorant, foolish. What a complete f-ing idiot."

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

UPDATED2: Reader(s) wonder(s) [about Alejandro Valverde] and/or what place the first clean rider placed in, actually, if not first?

VeloNews reports on the recently-concluded Tuscon Bicycle Classic:

"Working all day in a breakaway paid off for Fly V Australia’s Phil Zajicek, who grabbed the overall win at the Tucson Bicycle Classic by a single second over Jonathan Chodroff (Jelly Belly-Kenda). Eric Marcotte (Pista Palace) won the stage from the break, and slotted into third overall." Read more.


[UPDATE: This post is based on the musings of a reader, and is not an implication of anyone. That's why there is a poll, by which you can register your opinion. So that it's less controversial, we'll include a second poll, below...] Again quoting VeloNews:

The International Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has rejected Alejandro Valverde’s challenge to his two-year suspension from competition in Italy.

Valverde, who finished second in last week’s edition of Paris-Nice, may also have that suspension imposed globally if the UCI opts to pursue the case.
In May of last year, the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) imposed a two-year ban on the Spanish rider, barring him from competing on Italian soil until May of 2011. As a result, Valverde was forced to skip last year’s Tour de France, which briefly crossed Italian territory on the 16th stage. Valverde then went on to win the Vuelta a España in September.

CONI investigators had acquired blood samples seized as part of the ongoing Operación Puerto case in Spain and were able to compare DNA to another sample Valverde submitted to Italian anti-doping officials when the Tour visited Italy in 2008.
An analysis conducted on the blood seized in the Puerto case not only matched Valverde’s later sample, but also contained evidence of EPO use. As a result, the Italian panel imposed a two-year ban on the Spanish rider.

That suspension, however, has not translated into a world-wide ban. By upholding the Italian suspension, it’s assumed that Valverde will likely face a worldwide ban. The UCI already tried in vain to keep Valverde out of the 2007 worlds based on alleged Puerto links, but CAS ruled then to allow Valverde to compete.

In this latest appeal, the three-member CAS panel ruled that CONI had jurisdiction to impose the suspension and concluded that evidence presented in the case was not only admissible but also relevant and could reasonably lead to a two-year suspension. Read more.


UPDATED AGAIN: Thanks, Steve, who left the first comment, focusing on Valverde. I hope that there is someone who'll take the opposing position and debate him based on the facts. If not, you can read a spirited, 7-page Valverde discussion over in The Clinic at Cyclingnews.com Forum. And thanks to everyone who has voted thus far in both polls. I'll leave them up through the weekend for sure, just in case there are any developments of Friday-afternoon press releases that slip under the radar... I personally think Valverde doped, and that 1st ≠ 1st, but hey - why listen to me after all...

UPDATED YET AGAIN: Just saw the results of the third stage of the San Dimas Stage Race and thought another poll might spice things up. Enjoy (and congrats if you read down this far)!


Monday, March 15, 2010

Most Misleading Blog Headline Ever

Yes, it was a global conspiracy led by the French to deny America her 8th-consecutive Tour de France win. It wasn't really just a case of a guy leaving a testosterone patch on for too long, or spreading too much T-gel on his shoulders or abdomen.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Tyler Hamilton Training company is under way, would you want your kids coached by him?

Over on Facebook, Bike Pure asks: Tyler Hamilton Training company is under way, would you want your kids coached by him?

My thoughts: Geeze, holy insinuation of pure evil. Christ, the guy is entitled to make a living and he's not a child molester. If you're not going to allow him to work for his income, are you going to put him on the dole then? He's banned 8 years from holding any UCI/USACycling license, including a coaching one, can't utilize the Olympic Training Center, etc. What is it with the notion that once someone has been caught, sanctioned and served their suspension, they should be blackballed and blacklisted as if they were suspected Communists in 1950's McCarthy America and prevented from earning a living if it somehow involves a bicycle. By your implication, he shouldn't be allowed to work in a bike shop or be a bike messenger, either?

BESIDES, if you want to be pissed off at anyone, blame any PARENTS who would retain someone as their child's coach who you think is a bad influence.

At least Hamilton is out there trying to make a living - something not easy to do while battling clinical depression, let alone as an entrepreneur.

At the core the issue is that certain people believe that Hamilton must issue some David Millar-like apology before he can even be considered a legitimate human being entitled to be associated in any capacity, even an informal, unlicensed one, with competitive cycling. But just because he was convicted of doping doesn't mean that he has to proclaim his guilt - no matter how logical you would think that to be.

If he thinks he's innocent, or wants to continue to claim innocence even though he is guilty (if that's the case), then as distasteful as it is for certain people, you have to suck it up or get your government to pass a law mandating the kind of behavior you want to see Tyler forced to engage-in (public confession?).

Tyler got a second chance to be a UCI-licensed road professional. He blew that. But last time I checked, he wasn't advertising his services under the guise of the UCI, so why carp that he shouldn't be allowed to earn a living in the free market, and instead, why not educate parents about the dangers of doping so that they can include a chapter on the topic in the moral and ethical training of their children. Then they won't want to work with Tyler Hamilton or maybe they will because they'll engage in some difficult calculus that includes a variable on persecution.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Lance Armstrong vs. The World

A reader who wished to remain anonymous offered the following submission, and it being a slow night, we're happy to publish it, while also extending to any L.A. supporters an invitation to refute everything they disagree with, in the comments section. For the record, Pappillon has no personal knowledge of Lance Armstrong's ever having doped. The contributor whose words you'll read below, however, seems to imply otherwise... (s)He writes:

I mean everyone already knows this stuff, but look at these results. Armstrong dominated the day, but look at how many who were in the top 20 have since been caught or admitted to being on EPO. So Armstrong is not only claiming to be clean, but is claiming to be so much better than everyone else that he can dominate them when he's clean and they're doping.[Ed: Yeah, that's what leaves so many incredulous.]

SESTRIERE, Italy, July 13, 1999 - Results of 213.5 km 9th stage:
1. Lance Armstrong (U.S.) U.S. Postal 5 hours 57 minutes 11 seconds
2. Alex Zuelle (Switzerland) Banesto 31 seconds behind
3. Fernando Escartin (Spain) Kelme 1:26
4. Ivan Gotti (Italy) Polti same time
5. Manuel Beltran (Spain) Banesto 2:27
6. Richard Virenque (France) Polti
7. Carlos Contreras (Colombia) Kelme both same time
8. Kurt van de Wouwer (Belgium) Lotto 3:10
9. Abraham Olano (Spain) ONCE same time
10. Laurent Dufaux (Switzerland) Saeco 3:30
11. Daniele Nardello (Italy) Mapei
12. Giuseppe Guerini (Italy) Telkom
13. Angel Casero (Spain) Vitalicio Seguros all same time
14. Benoit Salmon (France) Casino 3:43
15. Bo Hamburger (Denmark) Cantina Tollo 3:46
16. Mario Aerts (Belgium) Lotto 4:24
17. Joaquim Castelblanco (Colombia) Kelme 4:34
18. Stefano Garzelli (Italy) Mercatone Uno 4:51
19. Roland Meier (Switzerland) Cofidis same time
20. Christophe Moreau (France) Festina 5:04

Pre-Puerto media coverage here. Non-Crystal Method accompanied video here.

Well, that's a significant number of convicted dopers and one clean American Hero. Oh well. Success sells. Having published that, take a look at Cozy Beehive's great post (referenced here at Pappillon once already, if not more frequently), "8 Things On Lance Armstrong From The "Other Side Of The Grass". CB's intro follows, but then click on the link to actually navigate to those eight interesting things...

A great person once said that history is written by the victor. The one who is smart and cunning, who wins and has the money, who is extremely powerful and has a throng of followers around them, who can literally decide your fate if you turn your back on them...these are the people who have the muscle to bend a true story to their liking and ultimately to their advantage.

It's all too easy to be star-struck watching the hundreds of video clips of Lance Armstrong on Youtube. Yeah, it looks all so cool and inspiring, no doubt. And its easy to buy a bunch of books written by him and his lieutenants and believe what he invariably asks you to slurp in. And it's easier going with the fan following based around him and his brand and do exactly what they're all doing.

But it's difficult to go out against the tide and exercise some independent critical thinking skills to challenge the root of the system. We're often times lazy to explore or plainly just narrow minded to accept the other half of the story. When we believe in something, we fix it in our world view and build castles around it to protect it. But if castles are built on loose foundation, like the story of the man who built his house on mud, it will topple sooner or later. When it crashes down, that will be a mind-blowing experience.

So what is the other half of the story for those of you who haven't heard at all? Join in this post as I amass together a few facts, figures and audio clips that are absolutely critical if you are to have a "balanced knowledge" of the persona of Lance Armstrong. Some of these I collected over from some who were bold enough to only share, talk and write. By all means, this is a re-pollination of facts but done so as to never let people forget the past. So get yourself a cup of tea or coffee and focus for a while from the 'other side of the grass'.

1. "LANCE ARMSTRONG'S DOPING HISTORY" : This 50 page report challenges us to think about the curious holes in Lance Armstrong's story and his strange attitudes towards doping in general, especially given his stature in the sport. You'll be going "But Why" in little-time. Read on...

Charlie Brooker - How to Report the News

H/T Flick.

Overheard on the Train

"I've been waiting my whole life for something spectacular to happen, thinking once it did, well, everything else would become perfect. Now I realize that something spectacular has been happening this entire time: MY LIFE! I spent so much time being pissed-off about not being happy because nothing spectacular was going on, that I never realized that everything I ever needed to be happy was, in fact, already in my hands. I already have everything I could want or need."

Bravo, Sir. And who says people talking on cellphones in small, enclosed public spaces is totally horrible?

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

UPDATED: The pot calling the kettle black...Ball, Landis, Pevenage, oh my!

From the recent Neil Browne interview with Michael Ball comes this gem:

VN: What about Freddy Rodriguez and Floyd Landis?

Ball: Let me tell you something about Floyd. I like the guy, but his idea of business dealings were not a lot to be desired. It didn't work out in the end because I couldn't take his word, so it ended. I'm fine with that. It didn't end in a bad way, but didn't end in a good way.

Of course, further down the same continuum you have Rudy Pevenage, former coach to Jan "Hijo de Rudicio" Ullrich, complaining about not being paid several months' salary by Ball's Rock, moaning, "There were huge promises, but they were never fulfilled."

Ahhh, cycling. Where we all seem to deserve each other.

UPDATED: Later during the interview (not in part 2), Ball shows that he plays no favorites with his American riders, saying basically that Fred Rodriguez, who - to the best of my knowledge - never courted scandal or a bad image in the press, was such a douche-bag that no one on the team wanted to race with him.

VN: What about Fred Rodriguez? He has been with you since the beginning.

Ball: "I have to be honest with you, no one wanted to race with Freddy. The other riders did not want to race with him. He is a great guy, great athlete, but very difficult. What am I supposed to do when they [riders] are saying they do not want to race with him? You have to have the team dynamics. It's unfortunate, he is a great athlete and great guy, but I can't pay him for nothing..."

I personally always thought it was a shame that Fast Freddy had to return from the Continent, where he raced alongside some of the greatest names in cycling and three times wore the jersey of US Pro Champion, to finish his career in obscurity. It's not an end befitting such a champion and I'd like to see Ed Hood or Lucho interview Rodriguez so that we can learn what the real story is. UPDATED: It would also be nice to see Floyd Landis demonstrate to everyone that his word is his honor. I know from personal experience that it's not easy, but it's liberating - the truth will truly set you free.

Monday, March 08, 2010

UPDATED: Is Rock Racing the latest Noble House?

While not a tragedy, the disintegration of the dream of Rock Racing is nonetheless a bitter, disappointing moment. For a US-squad that employed a roster of riders and support staff drawn at times from some of the best teams in the world to be denied a professional license in 2010 is earth-shattering. We're talking about a team that at one time or another counted the likes of Mario Cipollini, Tyler Hamilton, Ivan Dominguez, Fred Rodriguez, Victor Hugo Peña, Baden Cooke, Francisco Mancebo, Oscar Sevilla, José Enrique Gutiérrez, Frankie Andreu, Rudy Pevenage, Laurenzo LaPage, and even me as riders and staff! Michael Ball might cry out that, "Rock's Not Dead!" but those who've seen it all before might have a different perspective. In fact, if your knowledge of US domestic professional cycling team scandals goes back this far, ask if Rock Racing might not be a more evolved version of the Noble House stillborn team-that-never-was.

I've mocked Rock many times since my first profoundly negative experience with them, when, after a very successful Redlands Classic (where Kayle Leogrande won the sprint competition) Kayle and I got a phone call as he was driving me into LA to sign my contract that informed us that there was in fact no contract nor had there ever been one. While previously Ball had been only too eager to discuss with me Redlands and possible off-the-bike strategies and tactics for enhancing the team's performance, after the riders delivered the goods (results - the validity of I leave for others to discuss) with me behind the wheel of the team Cadillac,  he adopted the tactics of Stalinist Russia and had some underling on the line repeating a set of stock phrases thanking me for my efforts and wishing me safe travels - and this is while Kayle, one of the team's most high-profile riders at the time, is driving the car in which the guy he'd invited to rent space from him when in LA is being told that he basically doesn't exist any longer. I doubt I was the first, and I certainly wasn't the last...

But I digress. Noble House. Rock Racing. There are grounds to analyze and compare the situations (though we'll save that for a later-post). Please take the time to read this recent Neil Browne interview with Michael Ball "No Apologies, No Regrets," and then come back and read John Foster's exposé of the Pennsylvania Pro Team that never was - but which snagged its own all-star cast in a web of lies and deceit built on the hopes and dreams of respected, established pro's and eager-beaver rookies.

One of the many "insiders" with whom I regularly discuss the state of the sport and what goes on in public and behind closed doors wants to emphasize that both Rock Racing, and Noble House before it, were overstated pipe dreams created by narcissistic megalomaniacs. But that in and of itself is less interesting and compelling that the fact that in both cases, the fraud being perpetrated upon the cycling community - everyone from the professional who found out they held worthless contracts to fanboys who'd dropped $300 on race-day team replica kit - was painfully obvious to anyone who bothered to look, but so uninteresting to major media that   the fraud continued. When these fraud were being committed, guys in the position of Tyler, with little employ-ability elsewhere, would be welcomed; same in the case of Noble House and some local cat 2) having no other option and nothing to lose...sure, why not, "Where do I sign?" It's not that behavior that is telling. Rather, it's the decisions made by guys like Michael Creed, who had multiple options to race elsewhere, but stared transfixed at the salary figures promised by Ball to his Rockers and said, "Of course I'll sign."
"There's a weird desperation about the sport from some of its most accomplished competitors." = Flickstong

Too Good To Be True?
The story behind the Noble House Cycling Team
By John Foster, for cyclingnews.com

Since the first rumors of a new US-based pro cycling team called Noble House began swirling in the summer of 2000, the most repeated remark was that the team sounded too good to be true. A brand-new organization, a multi-million dollar, multi-year contract, health insurance for team personnel, and signing bonuses for the riders were all assured by the team's management. The team's first press release said that it was "sponsored by Noble House International, a financial firm that facilitates major monetary projects world-wide" and that the team was the "centrepiece of a five-year, multi-million dollar cycling program that is aiming at a ride in the Tour de France in 2005 – and at revolutionizing the way teams are run along the way."

After a hectic winter – where some riders received offers from Noble House that were double that of other squads – a 15 rider team and 7 person staff were announced on December 6 with a press release to the cycling media from team managers Dennis Penny and Russell Blake, both residents of Lancaster, PA. On paper the squad was a strong one, with seasoned European racing veterans like Marty Jemison and Jonathan Hall alongside fresh talent like Dominique Perras and Erik Saunders. Most in US cycling were pleased that so many deserving riders were given jobs and an opportunity to race. But exactly the opposite has occurred: no riders have received paychecks, travel plans or anything from the team. The team (and its non-existence) has been a sad joke within the circles of US cycling. It would be easy to laugh at were it not for the riders and staff whose lives were flipped upside down by the experience.

I: "Oh yeah, without a problem."

This team's problems began in January, when riders did not receive their first paychecks from management. Those paychecks were supposed to be large – the team made no secret of the fact that they intended to pay riders a living wage, and that no one would receive less than $20,000 per year. Penny and Blake discouraged the team's newly signed riders from working over the winter, so their training would be more effective for spring races. When the first paychecks did not arrive, riders were told that the checks were just a bit late, and that they would be send via FedEx within days.

In February, team member Aaron Olson left Noble House and signed with Prime Alliance. "After a month and a half of broken promises about getting paid, no equipment from the team and watching the team morale go down, I have signed a new contract with another new team for 2001, Prime Alliance," wrote Olson in an e-mail. "Now, I can concentrate on doing what I do, helping the team win races, no more details to work out behind the scenes, thanks to Kirk and Roy's belief in me as a rider. Best of luck to everyone on Noble House who has had to deal with the run around."

In February Penny claimed that all was well and that the team finally had finances in place to take care of its months-late UCI registration. "Oh yeah, without a problem," he said. "We have forged through those money problems, which was something between the sponsor and one of his money holders. It was all Bush's doing – he came in and all the interest rates plummeted so you can thank Mr. Bush for all of those problems."

When asked about the possibility of the team's funding not coming through, Penny replied "Our sponsor is 100 percent behind it. He has given his word that he will do it [fund the team] and he is legally bound to do so." Penny was also asked about rumors of the team's imminent demise. "The rumors about this team have been started by people in the Lancaster area who don't want to see Russ and I succeed. Some of that does go back to last year to some of the young kids who rode for us." (Penny has not made himself available to me for a second interview)

II: The rockets' red glare.

The 2000 team Penny refers to is the Red Glare Cycling Team out of Pennsylvania. The team was an amateur one founded by Penny and Blake with the promise of a $50,000-plus budget from Noble House International. In an interview with the mid-Atlantic region website Velospeed, a team manager (it is not clear who was interviewed, Penny or Blake) was asked: "Are the allegations true that the Red Glare team was supposed to have a large budget (by amateur terms) in 2000 but the money never came?" The response: "Yes, those allegations are partially true. We had been working with (Mike) an associate of Gary [Coleman], from Noble House International, who is no longer with the company… So as a result, we indeed ran into a hiccup for the 2000 season. Everything has been straightened out and now we're dealing with Gary, the CEO."

I interviewed four riders from the 2000 Red Glare team and in separate interviews done via phone and e-mail, each rider described the same incident that occurred in March 2000.

The team held a weekend training camp, staying at Penny's house. On one of the days they rode to a country club, where the riders met Gary Coleman and had an opportunity to thank him for sponsoring the team. "He called it 'My cycling team'," said former Red Glare rider Elliot Faulkner.

"We met Gary Coleman and I'm positive he knew that he was sponsoring the team," said another former team member, Fred Billett. "The day after we met him at the country club, Gary Coleman was supposed to come over and give us an oversized check and it was supposed to be televised. We were told that the team would be receiving around $60,000 from Noble House, plus funds from other sponsors totalling an additional 10 grand," wrote Billett in a follow-up e-mail.

"The only glitch was that according to the representatives from Noble House (and Denny himself) we had to wait 'until a deal was done in Europe' for the team to receive the funding. Finally after a couple of months, we got word from Denny that he "saw the check" and it would be presented at our mini-training camp in front of local TV cameras," said Billett. "Well, the team showed up… but, no check. According to Denny and the Noble House representative we wouldn't be getting the check that day because an even bigger local station was going to cover the 'handing over of the money'. "

Billett continued: "Denny reiterated that we had the money – that night the team even had a champagne toast in Denny's basement to celebrate the "real" beginning of the team. The next day there was a huge campus fire at a central PA university, so all the local news stations were there covering it. According to Denny, we couldn't get the check that day because of the lack of media coverage. Once again, however, Denny stated that he saw the money with his own eyes."

The money never came despite year-long promises to the contrary, and that hit team member Ron Zurinskas the hardest. When a pre-season clothing order had to be paid, Zurinskas shelled out $5000 of his own money to cover the cost, having been promised that the team's budget would soon arrive. Over a year later he has still not been paid. "I've always been promised my money back," wrote Zurinskas in an e-mail. "Otherwise Denny tells me I'll be getting reimbursed this week, but then again I've seen that movie before."

III: The house with an unstable foundation.

But where is the sponsor in all of this? What of the Noble House name that is stickered on helmets still used by team members from last season who have removed the "u?" Despite repeated attempts at contacting Mike Schivone, I was only able to confirm that he no longer works with Gary Coleman or Noble House. According to Bill Laudien (a US Cycling Federation board member), Schivone was a driving force behind Pennsylvania cycling throughout the nineties, before he went to work for Noble House and tried to help put together a cycling program with that company as the sponsor. Despite repeated requests through friends, Schivone never made himself available for an interview. Two different sources claim that Schivone left Noble House when the budget for a cycling program never materialized, and said that Schivone warned others that it never would.

Six months ago I was able to speak at length with Gary Coleman. A self-proclaimed former national-level gymnast and martial arts expert, Coleman has felt the pressure from his company's involvement in cycling. "My Board of Directors looks at me like I'm not right in the head for doing it," he said back in February. When asked about the team's late funding, Coleman replied, "Unfortunately, when you are dealing with a large corporation there is a lot of stuff to overcome. But we're ready to start moving with it. We've been scrambling to cross all the "t"s and dot all the "i"s, but we've got a lot of surprises ahead. We're ready to blitzkrieg."

One of the drawbacks to such late funding is the dire financial situation of the riders – one rider missed the first mortgage payment on his new home. Coleman claimed to have no knowledge of the financial bind his late funding had caused team riders, and seemed shocked by the idea. "If any rider had come to our offices we could have made other arrangements," he said. "We are not a heartless corporation. Our riders are going to be the happiest out there."

Riders on the Noble House roster were surprised by Coleman's surprise. Many of them claim to have spoken to Coleman, inquiring about the team's late funding, only to be given the same promises that it would arrive "soon". Those riders claim that Coleman absolutely knew about the financial difficulties his lack of sponsorship had caused riders.

Coleman claims that Noble House is an international lending source that specializes in loaning money to corporations that have exhausted traditional lines of bank credit. In press releases, interviews and negotiations with riders, Noble House has been portrayed as a large, international corporation. When a multi-day, detailed search of financial magazines and the web failed to turn up a single mention of Noble House International, (other than a web site for the company that offers little more than the logo) I sent an e-mail inquiry to Tim Mekeel, the business editor for the Lancaster New Era Newspaper. He had never heard of Coleman or Noble House, and a search of his paper's records found little: The only reference to Noble House International was in April 2000, when it was included in a list of companies with recent business filings. The only reference to Gary Coleman in the New Era (other than the former child actor) was a listing of members of the Manheim Township Republican Committee in January 1995.

A check with the Pennsylvania Department of State – Bureau of Corporations found two listings for Noble House. One was for an incorporated business with Gary Coleman listed as vice president and a man named William Lavan listed as CEO. In Pennsylvania, an incorporated company operates as its own entity, as though it were a person, thus making such companies less manoeuvrable by their owners. Noble House International, INC filed its articles of incorporation with the state on March 16, 2000 – many months after the company first agreed to sponsor the Red Glare cycling club. I was never able to contact the same William Lavan as identified on the articles of incorporation.

The second listing with the Bureau of Corporations is a limited liability company, this time called Noble House International Limited. The only officer listed is Gary Coleman. Such a corporation provides some advantages over a regular corporation, providing the same liability protection while having the flexibility of a simple partnership. The only curious thing about this company was the date on its articles of incorporation: February 20, 2001. That date is months after the team was supposed to receive its money, but just two days after my only interview with Gary Coleman.

IV: Who is standing guard?

The problems of the team and its sponsor have made for a strained relationship with USA Cycling. Tara Morris is the pro team liaison for USAC, and helps teams register with the UCI. As of Wednesday, February 23, USAC had received a $5000 check from the Noble House team to cover the cost of their UCI registration, but had not received the required bank statement guaranteeing 10 percent of total salaries in case of team insolvency.

In an e-mail sent to me on February 17, Russ Blake wrote, "We sent the registration fee via overnight on Thursday night with USPS. They didn't receive it due to bad weather, but Tara Morris has a copy of the registration check as well as the tracking numbers for the package, so that was done in good faith and will arrive there on USA Cycling's next business day. The bank guarantee was sent yesterday via fax right at the close of business hours. Gary Coleman, the sponsor informed us that he got the bank guarantee and faxed it to them at our time 6:30, which was right at the close of business. Tara Morris is going in to the office tomorrow to make sure that the account numbers arrived. The UCI will update their site next week with us involved."

Morris confirmed that no bank guarantee was sent that week, nor was it sent in the first days of the following week, or any week. She said that the registration check had not been cashed and would be returned. Regardless of whether the Noble House team ever turns a single pedal stroke, the entire situation raises serious questions about how professional cycling teams are formed.

"Maybe we should crack down," says Morris. "But if we are cracking down, are we going to limit the number of teams? We've talked about what we can do and it would mean intervening between the teams and sponsors – however, we're definitely looking in that direction. We've never before said that we need to see an actual contract between the team and the sponsor."

Not actually seeing the contracts between team and sponsor – and between team and rider – makes national federations powerless when it comes to enforcement. Tara Morris told me recently "If they [the Noble House Team] have been known to go back on their word then we'll have to consider some kind of sanction. But it seems like they just had some bad luck with the sponsor."

The aforementioned Bill Laudien wrote multiple messages to USA Cycling, telling them about past history with the team and the sponsor. "Listen, I know that if USA Cycling were very strict there would be half as many pro teams," says Laudien. "They are very accommodating and rightly so. But they knew from early October what was going on with this particular team."

Should teams be allowed to sign riders before they have a budget in place? Should registration deadlines be extended, as has been done for the Noble House team numerous times in the past months? Should UCI and USAC be more restrictive in who can run teams, who can found them and which companies can sponsor them? "If we restrict it," says Morris, "That could be even worse for riders."

Bill Laudien finds that outlook frustrating. "If anything, USA Cycling has helped prolong this problem. Someone in the office needed to step up and say 'This isn't going to happen.' Maybe that responsibility isn't in the bylaws but they still failed. It's disappointing to me."

And it's disappointing to the riders because they have to choose between two things: never signing a contract, or signing a contract for money that never comes. As one of the Noble House riders said, "It sucks, because my whole life for the last four months has revolved around what this one guy [Gary Coleman] wants to do."

What is most telling is how many of the riders and staff remained (and remain) convinced that the money is still coming through. "Denny's heart was in the right place," said the team's would-be manager, former US professional Skip Spangenberg. "I don't think he could have been more meticulous – he just chose the wrong sponsor." Spangenberg said that even up to August 2001, Penny and Blake were promising the riders full funding for the team. "Supposedly we were waiting on two projects that were based on unbankable loans Gary was putting together – something to do with the IMF," he says. "They kept saying 'The money is coming, the money is coming.' I heard a whole multitude of excuses. I don't really know what they were doing but something wasn't right.

"Coming from a sports angle," continued Spangenberg, "it would be a good thing for the team to come through. But after being in the sport long enough I've seen these kind of people. They beat their chest and think they will change the world. The local scene is the extent of their lives. If they had received that money it would have been like the fat girl at the prom."

The entire situation and its ramifications are best critiqued in an e-mail from Noble House assistant manager Russ Blake, that was posted on the website ProCycling.com in February 2001:

In response to your request for opinions on the UCI and the Linda McCartney situation, my opinion is that the UCI did enough within their confines of their regulations as is. Through our own situation of dealing with registering for the 2001 cycling season, Alain Rumpf has always been helpful and understanding of the demands and setbacks that occur during the formation of a professional cycling team.

… When did Linda McCartney foods inform Julian Clark that they were not going to give funds for the 2001 year? If this was done at a proper time, Clark should have been selling the team to other sponsors, while at the same time keeping the riders informed. It is not any wonder that Kevin Livingston went elsewhere, something wasn't right in the money situation there. Who has ever heard of having a sponsor's logo put on a jersey, doing a press release on it, and yet not even having a contract with that sponsor, especially for a professional team? It is a tragic situation, but one that could have been alleviated if the Linda McCartney riders, other management, and people in British Cycling would have known about the situation. Now, established professionals like Max Sciandri, Dave McKenzie, Inigo Cuesta, among others are scrambling for a ride, while former junior world champion Mark Scanlon is wondering if his pro career will ever get off of the ground. What is called for is complete honesty. Did the riders know that they were not an officially registered team for 2001? Probably not.…

In this case, [the UCI] did almost everything that they could do. Their flexibility on the registration is appreciated by newly formed teams such as our own, but with an established team such as Linda McCartney, well Mr. Clark should have known the true regulations and been more forthcoming with his employees. Just my two cents.

Russell Blake
Team Manager
Noble House Pro Cycling Team

V: Past history IS indicative of future results.

What's most unfortunate is that this is not the first time this has happened in US racing. US teams that ran out of money (or that never had it in the first place) were the very reason for the UCI's rules about funding and bank guarantees. And despite those guarantees, riders are still powerless. Division one team Mercury/Viatel stopped paying riders earlier in the summer and those riders had no choice but to wait it out, since multiple riders tapping into the bank guarantee would have meant the end of the team and no possibility of a contract for the next season. Noble House riders were told that if they left their contract to sign for another team, they would forfeit any rights to whatever money came later, including money from a lawsuit.

Riders are not the only ones so easily bullied in such situations. Bill Laudien has been very vocal and public in his criticism of Penny, Blake and Coleman. They responded by repeatedly threatening Laudien with lawsuits, and at one point attempted to have him sanctioned by USA Cycling and removed from his position on the USCF Board.

Threats of lawsuits have been thrown back and forth throughout the last year, but the latest threats are coming from the team's riders. Marty Jemison has retained a lawyer for a possible suit. In an e-mail to an involved party, Penny wrote that he didn't have the $2500 needed to file a class-action lawsuit against Coleman and Noble House on behalf of the riders.

For most people involved, there is nothing that can be done. "Who are you going to sue, Monster Sports [Penny's company] or Noble House?" asked Spangenberg. "I don't see any apparent wealth. Who are we going to sue?"

The person who puts it best is Ron Zurinskas, still without his $5000 for clothing he paid for that advertises the Noble House logo. He writes: "In hindsight, albeit I'm a victim, I am also guilty of believing in something that had no economic reality. What does a company that operates on the business model of the Money Store [a US lending company] gain from sponsoring a cycling team?"

"I also spoke to Russ," writes Zurinskas. "And he's not riding at all, something about not wanting to until this whole thing is sorted out."

Related story - Noble House's Original Unveiling

UPDATED: Related Document -Desist and Refrain Order (for violations of California Corporations Code)