Tag Archive for Tour de France

Closing arguments in Wray trial, double pro racing tragedies, 3feet2pass survives GOP opposition

Catching up on the week’s news after far too much bad news this week.


Closing arguments are scheduled for Thursday morning in the trial of Gordon Wray, charged with misdemeanor vehicular homicide in the death of popular local cyclist and scientist Doug Coldwell. The trial resumes a 9:30 am in the San Fernando Courthouse.

If you’re in the area and have the morning free, the lawyers I’ve talked to tell me it can help to have a room full of cyclists to let the judge and jury know we’re watching.


California’s proposed three-foot passing law took another step forward when the Assembly Appropriations Committee passed it on a straight party-line vote; next up is a vote by the full Assembly in August.


This week’s tragic news has spread from the South Bay to the world of professional bicycling.

Oceanside cycling coach Mark Whitehead, a member of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic team and holder of 20 national titles, has died while attending the junior track national championships in Texas; no details have been released the cause of death. As a coach, Whitehead mentored multiple world champ Sarah Hammer and L.A.’s own 2008 national criterium champion Rahsaan Bahati, among others.

And rising Aussie professional Carly Hibberd was killed when she was hit by a car while training in Italy. She was riding with training partner Diego Tamayo of Columbia; Tamayo escaped injury, while Hibberd died at the scene. The 26-year old cyclist was just three months from her planned wedding.


Red Kite Prayer looks at the recent Gran Fondo Los Angeles and says it needs a little work; directions to the post-ride festival my wife and I tried to attend to but couldn’t find until too late would have been nice, too.

I’m told that that Mayor of Beverly Hills gave a grand speech welcoming cyclists to the city. If only he’d do something to make us welcome the other 364 days of the year.


The recently anti-bike New York Times seems to be shifting gears more often than a weekend warrior testing out a new derailleur. Their latest reports indicate women in New York prefer safety and fashion over cycle chic, while an Econ professor writing for their business blog explores the many benefits of the bicycle dividend:

Major improvements in bike infrastructure wouldn’t just make it easier to get to work. They would also create work, a high priority in our high-unemployment economy.

Construction of bike paths offers more job creation per infrastructure dollar than investment in roads. (For more details, see this recent study by my University of Massachusetts colleague Heidi Garrett-Peltier, who analyzed 58 projects in 11 cities, using an input-output model to measure employment impact).


In case you missed it dodging cars over the holiday weekend, there’s a little bike ride going on in France for the next three weeks. And unlike most years, where there’s not much reason to pay attention before the race hits the mountains, this year’s Tour de France has offered some damn good racing going on from the non-prologue start, and more drama than a demolition derby.

American Tyler Farrar celebrates the Fourth with a victory in Stage Three, and dedicates his win to fallen friend and former teammate Wouter Weylandt. Formerly clenbuterol-tainted defending champ Alberto Contador finally makes a charge, but falls just short as Cadel Evans narrowly takes Stage Four. Stage Five turned into a crash fest as Cavendish takes the win, and Contador drops further back after riding into a ditch and taking it out on his bike; world champion Thor Hushovd leads by 1 second over Evans. RadioShack rider Janez Brajkovic was forced to leave the Tour due to his injuries, while Quickstep’s Tom Boonen escaped serious injury and will continue to ride.

Red Kite Prayer says the race could be wide open this year. And Frank Schleck manages to hold third place despite swallowing a bug and getting stung in the mouth.


Mayor Villaraigosa orders L.A. agencies to work together to implement the city’s new bike plan, and asks for your input on how to make the city more bike-friendly. Joe Linton says the city is already falling short. L.A. lifeguards call a 4th of July SigAlert on the Santa Monica bike path. LADOT Bike Blog updates the status of the city’s bike lane projects, as well as the latest BPIT (Bike Plan Implementation Team) meeting; evidently, this one was a little less contentious and things actually got done. Will Campbell takes a time-lapse ride on the other side of the L.A. River. A cyclist fights for his right to take the lane in Culver City and loses. Claremont pulls the brakes on the Amgen Tour of California for next year, but would welcome it back in 2013. A day in the life of professional cyclist Cara Gillis. A Laguna Hills bike shop now offers roadside service for Orange County cyclists. Bay Area bike commuters are facing major traffic jams on the Golden Gate Bridge. JustAnotherCyclist lists his favorite cycling blogs, which includes your humble host in some very good company. The Executive Director of the Sierra Club says it’s time to look beyond oil to other solutions, including bikes; what, you thought he was going to call for expanding the 405 even further?

What if we treated motor vehicle deaths like any other preventable public health issue? Elly Blue concludes her groundbreaking series on Bikenomics by saying bicycling may not make us rich, but it creates a lot of well-being — and maybe that’s more important. Creating a circle of roadway courtesy. Recharge your iPhone while you ride. Steve Vance looks at the problem of construction detours that don’t consider or accommodate bikes, something that ticks me off on a regular basis. Yet another tragedy in New York, as the sister-in-law of famed attorney Alan Dershowitz is killed by a postal truck whose driver appeared to be unaware of the collision. CNN offers a positive look at the New York bike boom, but why does it always have to be framed as a battle between cyclists and drivers? Tennessee proposes a law requiring due care when passing a cyclist or pedestrian and eliminating the SMIDSY* defense, while Streetsblog offers a frontline perspective on the proposed law. A report from a Virginia TV station implies that cyclists don’t deserve protection on the streets because — OMG! — some of us break traffic laws just like drivers do; meanwhile, a fire truck strikes two riders in the same city without stopping. A cyclist’s guide to driving your bike safely; thanks to Dave Moulton for the link.

A university study says protein supplements may offer no benefit. London’s Guardian asks what’s the best way to stop an angry dog? A British driver walks free after killing a cyclist and claiming his sciatica caused it; a UK hit-and-run driver gets a suspended license and community service. This is what a bike theft looks like, while a teenager climbs three stories to steal a bike. Fighting poverty with bikes in sub-Saharan Africa. For the first time, Japanese police charge a cyclist with using a cell phone while riding.

Finally, advice for next weekend’s Carmegeddo, as a Chinese driver asks why sit stuck in traffic when there’s a nearby footbridge you can drive over?

*Sorry Mate, I Didn’t See You

Two-time Tour de France champ Lauren Fignon dies

Biking great Laurent Fignon passed away from cancer today.

Fignon was a two-time Tour de France winner, taking back-to-back yellow jerseys in 1983 and 1984; he could have easily won a third, losing to Greg LeMond in one of the most memorable races in Tour history.

In 1989, LeMond was attempting to make a comeback after a nearly fatal hunting accident, racing with 37 shotgun pellets in his body — including two in the lining of his heart. Fignon held a seemingly insurmountable 50-second lead heading into a final individual time trial; yet LeMond used an early aero bar to finish improbable 58 ahead of Fignon, winning the tour by the closest margin in TdF history.

BikeRadar quotes LeMond honoring Fignon as a great champion.

“It’s a really sad day. I see him as one of the great riders who was hampered by injuries. He had a very, very big talent — much more than anyone recognized,” LeMond told France 24 television.

“We were also team-mates, competitors, but also friends. When he lost the Tour de France in 1989 it was one of the few where I felt we both won,” said the three-time Tour de France champion.

“The saddest thing for me is that for the rest of his career he said he won two Tours de France, when in reality we both could have won that race.”

Lance Armstrong honored Fignon, the winner of 76 races over his career, as a “dear friend and a legendary cyclist,” and goes on to add “We will miss you. RIP LF.”

Fignon admitted to doping during his career, but did not know if they may have contributed to his illness.

He was just 50-years old.


Philippe Gilbert wins stage three of the Vuelta to claim the leader’s jersey; Joaquin Rodriguez moves to second as riders struggle with the heat of Andalucia. Temperatures cool slightly in stage four, as Igor Anton wins Spain’s first home-field stage victory and moves into second overall.

Thor Hushvold is the first of the former Cervelo riders to move to the new Garmin-Cervelo team.


Join the LACBC and get a free ticket to the Bicycle Film Festival. Gary offers a schedule of upcoming meetings about the Agensys bike path debate in Santa Monica; the first one is tomorrow night. The newly revitalized Streetsblog looks at the issue of bikes — folding and otherwise — on Metro trains. Ten places of worship along the CicLAvia route; identify the 10 11 mystery photos along the route and win CicLAvia T-shirt. An Examiner writer tells drivers we don’t block traffic, we’re part of it; thanks to @LosAngelesCM for the link. Giovanni Ribisi bikes on PCH in Malibu; I wonder if he jumped the lights? Someone steals a teenager’s bike while he’s trying to pawn a stolen violin. A frightening encounter with a knife-wielding man points out another risk riders face on the streets. A Chicago cyclist is killed riding the wrong way on a busy expressway where bikes aren’t allowed. Kailua HI begins the islands’ first year-round bike share. In an apparent repeat of the New York Critical Mass incident, a Boston CM rider is knocked off his bike by a cop, but may not pursue charges. Portland police offer insights on why stronger charges aren’t filed in some cases. A driver charged in a DC-area vehicular assault case is allowed to leave town and enroll in college, then charges are dismissed because authorities seemingly can’t find her. A Denton TX cyclist is intentionally assaulted by a hit-and-run driver. A Brit rider says she wouldn’t mind being a podium girl, as long as she gets a hot guy to kiss when she wins — and her sport gets the attention it deserves. Is a new congestion-free ad campaign to promote London cycling worth the £441,000 ($679,400) it cost? Seven mistakes cyclists make while riding. BikeRadar offers advice on the importance of avoiding skin cancer, something I can attest to.

Finally, a Colorado man faces trial for attacking a group of riders with a baseball bat; the driver claims self-defense, claiming one of the cyclists threw a bicycle at his car. Yeah, we cyclists are so crazy that we often get off our expensive bikes and heave them unprovoked at passing motorists.

Catching up with Le Tour, Box boxes LaBonge, surviving the dreaded death wobble

Overlooking a suddenly sand-free bike path; more on that later Wednesday.

Following a rest day in the Tour de France, it’s clear that Lance wasn’t the only one who took a spill on Sunday; Cadel Evans loses the leaders jersey after trying to ride with a broken arm. Andy Schleck is the one who ends up in it, taking a 41 second lead over chief rival Alberto Contador, as Sandy Casar takes Tuesday’s stage. Then again, maybe they should just give a trophy to anyone who survives to cross the finish line.

Lance shows he may be down but he’s not done. Meanwhile, a New York Grand Jury subpoenas his sponsor Trek, but NPR says his fans are unfazed. And Zeke just doesn’t get the glee some people seemed  to take in his misfortune.

Besides, between the cobbles and fractures and a falling Lance caught on video, this might just be the best Tour de France ever.


Bike activist extraordinaire Stephen Box announces his candidacy for L.A. City Council, preparing to butt heads against incumbent 4th District Council Member Tom LaBonge; LAist says the reaction has been mixed, but some seem more than open to the idea.


LACBC explains in graphic detail how to file a report with the LAPD. Walk and ride to a safer 4th Street on July 24th. A sweating Governator bikes the streets of L.A.; maybe it’s time to cut back on the cigars, Arnold. Our streets may have a lot of problems, but at least we don’t have to deal with rumble strips. I’m not the only one who had to deal with a basal cell skin cancer this year; the Springfield Cyclist went in for round two — as he suggests, consider sunscreen your most important safety equipment. A Miami driver is charged with murder after killing a cyclist in a hit-and-run. An insightful response to the standard argument that bicyclists should be licensed. Bicycling is transportation, even if you’re on your way to the airport, or maybe the train. Finding your bike community. The Chicago Bicycle Advocate explains why he runs red lights, saying we are traffic, but we are not cars. More on the anti-bike backlash in bike friendly Colorado. Surprisingly, most drivers really don’t want to kill you. Separated bike lanes are on their way in Vancouver. A controversial Portsmouth bike lane is put on hold. Two Brit riders are badly injured when they’re hit by a truck outside New Orleans.

Finally, the Claremont Cyclist fights to overcome the dreaded death wobble; something I never want to experience again.

Casual cycling fans can stop watching the Tour de France now

Stick a fork in Lance.

He’s done for what he says will be his final Tour.

On Saturday’s stage of the Tour de France, Quick Step’s Sylvain Chavanel reclaimed the yellow jersey after an all-day breakaway, just 11 weeks after fracturing his skull during the Liège-Bastogne- Liège classic. Lance Armstrong lost time but moved up to 14th in the General Classification, while Levi Leipheimer broke into the top 20.

One day later, Levi was in the top 10. And Armstrong’s chances of winning were finished, just 8 stages into the Tour.

After several climbs, Saxo Bank’s Andy Schleck outsprinted Samuel Sanchez to cross the finish line in first place, just 10 seconds ahead of a group that included Leipheimer, Alberto Contador, Ivan Basso and Carlos Sastre, along with new leader Cadel Evans, aka Cuddles.

Notably missing was Armstrong, following two crashes and just missing a third, which resulted in numerous cuts and a sore hip and back. After gamely trying to catch up with the leaders, he was spent before he hit the last climb — and his chances of contending virtually finished, nearly 12 minutes back in 61st place.

According to RadioShack Team Manager Bruyneel, “It’s the end of Lance’s aspirations to win the Tour. Everything went wrong.”

Or as Lance himself put it on Twitter,

When it rains it pours I guess. Today was not my day needless to say. Quite banged but gonna hang in here and enjoy my last 2 weeks.

So now Levi is the new flag bearer for RadioShack. And Lance is the Tour’s most overqualified domestique.

In other TdF news, Bicycling interviews the man behind the tour, and Bradley Wiggins’ secret weapon is between his legs.

Meanwhile, fallout from Floyd Landis’ accusations against Lance Armstrong continues to spread, as investigators look to talk with more riders, including close Armstrong associates Tyler Hamilton and George Hincapie.

But despite the bad news, some of us still love it.


Even in bike friendly Colorado, a backlash seems to be building against cyclists. And on the heels of the Black Hawk bike ban, a county in rural Missouri considers banning bikes from any two-lane highway without shoulders; Thanks to Jim Lyle for the link.


GT gets back on his bike, barely two weeks after suffering a heart attack. The Claremont Cyclist offers a photo tour of the San Gabriel River Trail from the Sante Fe Dam to Seal Beach and back; the upper section looks beautiful, though I could do without the concrete on the lower stretch. The RAAM rider critically injured when he was hit by a distracted driver plans to return to Spain this weekend, despite continued paralysis from the waist down; doctors say he will never recover 100%. A Chicago library on wheels is ordered to stop peddling. A Florida cyclist is killed while chasing after a getaway car carrying thieves who tried to rob his brother. The Wall Street Journal looks at stripped down bikes for rough city rides, and takes a break from covering Landis’ doping allegations to visit the Mecca of bike polo in NYC; thanks to George Wolfberg for forwarding the second link. A British group calls London Mayor Boris Johnson’s strategy to increase cycling fundamentally flawed and lacking in ambition; just weeks before his new bike share program kicks off, it faces a new lawsuit. As London removes guard rails, bike parking disappears too. A cyclist says London’s Critical Mass is just a critical mess these days. Thousands of Brits turn out to celebrate cycling. A tabloid style look at staying fit and feminine by biking. A look at how Flying Pigeon — the one in China, not NELA — is leading that country’s cycling comeback. Seven Singapore cyclists have been killed in just the first 5 months of this year. Two Kiwi cyclists are forced off the road and assaulted by a woman driver and her passenger, who drive off with a $12,000 bike.

Finally, proof some things never change. Consider this photo from Norwalk’s 1952 Bicycle Safety Week; thanks to Brent Bigler for the heads-up.

More Le Tour, upcoming events and enough links to fill your weekend

After winning Thursday’s stage, Mark Cavendish puts a troubling year behind him, then celebrates by winning Friday’s Stage 6 as well. Aussie Robbie McEwen is injured in a crash after the stage is finished when a cameraman blocks his path, and two riders come to blows at the finish.

The Christian Science Monitor explains the meaning of peloton. Backstage news from the Tour, including Contador gives a gift to Lance and that dog is recovering nicely, even if David Millar can’t tell chien from chat. Speaking of Contador, word has it he’s staying with Astana. A little liquid sealant might have saved Lance from that flat on the cobblestones.

And in the inevitable daily doping report, Jan Ullrich’s former mentor admits to organizing doping expeditions for the former TdF winner.


In upcoming events, the monthly Spoke(n) Art Ride rolls through NELA Saturday evening. The LAPD-escorted Tour LaBonge will be rollin’ on the river on Wednesday; LADOT Bike Blog has a conversation with host and 4th District Council Member Tom LaBonge.

Don’t miss the farewell celebration for the LACBC’s Dorothy Kieu Le on Friday, July 16th starting at 4 pm at the Far Bar in Little Tokyo; I’m not sure if I can make it there, but I promise you she’ll be very missed by everyone who’s had the pleasure of working with her. Or knowing her, for that matter.

Speaking of the LACBC, they’ll be holding the Coalition’s monthly board meeting at the Encino Velodrome on Wednesday the 21st. Like all of the board meetings, it’s open to the public, whether or not you’re a member of the Coalition. The meeting starts at 7 pm, but you’re encouraged to arrive early to meet the board members and discuss whatever issues are important to you.

Mark your calendar for the Walk and Ride for a Safer 4th Street to promote the proposed 4th Street Bike Boulevard on Saturday, July 24th.

And in one final LACBC note, they’ll be hosting a fundraising dinner on August 12th for the award-winning City of Lights program, bringing mobility and self-reliance to Spanish-speaking riders throughout the L.A. area; tickets are just $35. There’s no website yet, but contact the LACBC for tickets, or just email me at the address on the About BikingInLA page and I’ll forward it to the right people.


It figures.

I finally find out there’s a Class 1 bike path next to the 405 Freeway between Church Street and the V.A. that doesn’t show up on any bike maps — when they send out an announcement that it’s closing for the next several months.


More Santa Monica sharrows are on their way, this time on 20th between Pico and the Freeway. Courtesy of Curbed LA, a bendable bike that can tie itself to a post. Pedicabs come to Downtown L.A. Thousand Oaks police have issued 176 tickets to cyclists in the last year, most for riding on the wrong side of the street; cyclists in Austin TX can have theirs dismissed by taking a defensive cycling course. Dangerous riding conditions and anger at BP converge at a Bay Area Arco station.

The University of Arizona lights up hazardous poles at night to protect cyclists. A New York cyclist is killed by a garbage truck; police speculate the driver may not know he hit anyone. South New Jersey sees its third cyclist killed in the last 30 days. The problem with vintage bikes is finding and fitting parts; maybe they have that problem recycling discarded bicycles from the local landfill at the state penitentiary. Mississippi police catch the YouTube bike harassers they were looking for. Charleston SC sees a roughly 100% increase in cycling. Just one link missing from a continuous bikeway between Pittsburgh and DC.

An angry driver lets a rider know the road isn’t big enough for both of them; she convinces him he was probably right. For the next month, bikes fly free on JetBlue; maybe you should take one of the world’s most expensive bikes with you. Dave Moulton tells drivers to please just go around him, already. The next time you’re looking for cycling information, check out the new online library of bike safety videos. Great tips for how to have a better experience on your bike — including getting honked at is good because it means the driver sees you. A great new marketing campaign for People for Bikes; I love the ad with the women in pumps. Proper seat adjustment can cure a bad case of bikers butt.

A 7-time cycling medalist returns to this year’s Gay Games in Cologne, Germany. Very cool cycling illustrations from London’s Transport Museum. London’s bike share program is ready to roll. Comparing bike superhighways in London and Copenhagen. Bristol, England is replacing 12 parking spaces with bike corrals; the local paper doesn’t seem to approve. A UK cyclist who overcame a serious spinal condition is killed on a charity ride. Drivers don’t respect cyclists and pedestrians, even in Eritrea. A Vancouver woman asks a columnist for help with her bike-hating husband. The chairman of the Pedestrian Council of Australia says we were here first, so slow down or keep your damn bike off our shared pathways.

Finally, if I see one more article headlined Bike Safety is a Two Way Street, I’m going to scream. Seriously. I mean it. No, really.

On the other hand, this is funny.

Just the links — the Tour takes off, an unexpected heart attack, child endangerment in London

Lots of leftover links after a banging 4th of July weekend. So settle in to start your work week — or continue it for you unfortunate ones who had to work on Monday — with a little light bike reading.

But be sure to do your reading before or after you ride.

Not during, like the guy I saw surfing sites on his iPhone as he rode down Santa Monica Blvd over the weekend.


In Tour de France news, Sunday’s crowds and banging in the peloton took down several riders; Monday it was the slippery descents that brought down riders including Lance Armstrong and the Schleck brothers. Meanwhile, Italian sprinter Alessandro Petacchi wins Stage 1, and Frenchmen Sylvain Chavanel wins Stage 2 to claim the leader’ jersey. Armstrong’s crash drops him to 5th place over 3 minutes behind, 5 seconds ahead of chief rival Alberto Contador in 7th.

Ten things to watch for in this year’s Tour. Before Giro could build Lance a helmet, they had to build a better Lance; or at least another one. NPR looks at the first weekend of the Tour, with Armstrong predicting there will be carnage.

Evidently he was right, as top sprinter Tyler Farrar of the Garmin-Transitions team broke his wrist Monday, while team leader Christian Vande Velde is out with two broken ribs; Irvine’s Felt is their bike sponsor for le Tour.


An L.A. cyclist and bike blogger who could ride just about any of us under the table ruminates on the aftereffects of an unexpected heart attack that woke him from a sound sleep about 10 days ago. Take it as fair warning — if something like this could happen to a serious and seriously in-shape rider like GT, it could happen to any one of us.

This is one of those rare times when I really have no idea what to say — except to offer my prayers and best wishes to a great guy. Hang in there and keep getting stronger, GT, and we’ll look forward to reading all about getting on your feet and back on that bike soon.


If you think somewhere is too far to bike, you’re probably wrong. A bike-centric photo tour of the 4th in Claremont. L.A.’s KABC7 reviews Consumer Reports search for the top two bikes, while the L.A. Times discovers the new sharrows in Santa Monica. Another day, another bike-riding bank robber is caught, this time in Santa Cruz; thanks to TC for the heads up. A Reno cyclist is critically injured after being rear-ended by a Sheriff’s SUV. DOT Secretary Ray LaHood looks at the U.S. Bicycle Route System. Does a website that allows you compare stats with other riders encourage dangerous behavior that led to a rider’s death? It was a rough day for riders in Western Colorado, as two bicyclists are injured in separate hit-and-run incidents. A pair of 16-year old riders look back on a crash last month, caused when a distracted driver looked away to reach for a cigarette. The mayor of Elk Grove, IL takes a header while training for a race, and credits his helmet for his survival. Illinois celebrates the 4th with a new bike safety law, including penalties for driving recklessly or too close to cyclists. Commuting by bike since 1969. With no bike lanes in the current plan, it’s no wonder Memphis is one of the three worst cities in the nation for cycling. A Florida pedestrian is killed in a collision with a bike; very rare but it does happen. An Aussie rider looks back on being dragged under the car that hit him. Debating New Zealand’s mandatory bike helmet law. A peer-reviewed study shows that the health benefits of riding outweigh the risks — and it’s good for the community, too. Cyclists are raising donations for the Benin National Team. Israel is becoming a nation of peddlers.

Finally, a London couple could face action from Children’s Services for the “irresponsible” crime of letting their children bike to school, allegedly putting them at risk from traffic and other children. London Mayor Boris Johnson more than weighs in on the subject:

They have taken the sword of common sense to the great bloated encephalopathic sacred cow of elf (Ed: self?) and safety. And for this effrontery they are, of course, being persecuted by the authorities…. Their vision of urban life is profoundly attractive – a city so well policed, and with so strong a sense of community, that children can walk or cycle on their own to school. Instead of hounding the Schonrocks we should be doing everything we can to make their dream come true – in every part of the city.

Update: A reader from the UK corrected my guess at the word “elf” in Boris Johnson’s statements above, indicating that it refers to health, as in “health and safety.” Just another example of two great countries divided by a common language.

Riding through the pain

I remember watching a live broadcast of Lance Armstrong in the Tour de France.

I don’t recall what year it was, maybe his third or fourth victory, perhaps. This particular day, the course went over one of the great mountain passes; as I recall, it may have been the Croix de Fer, or possibly l’Alpe d’Huez. Or maybe it was some other steep mountain pass, I really don’t remember anymore.

What I do remember, though, is Lance starting his climb at the base of the mountain as the best riders in the world were spread out in front of him. One by one, he caught each of them on that ascent. And one by one, they struggled to keep up with him, before each one cracked and fell hopelessly behind.

Of course, some people looked at performances like that and assumed he must be doping, like so many others. Others said it was his muscle structure, that he somehow had more strength and endurance than anyone else on that course.

But the best explanation I’ve heard is that he was simply willing to endure more pain than anyone else. It wasn’t that he didn’t feel it; it’s just that he didn’t let it stop him.

And that makes sense to me. You see, I’m the same way.

I suffered a serious knee injury when I was just a kid in junior high school. Unfortunately, surgery didn’t fix it, ending my football career and leaving me with a trick knee that had me in almost constant pain.

For the next few years, I had a standing prescription for pain killers, as I tried to convince someone — anyone — that there was still something wrong with my knee. But the orthopedist who did my surgery couldn’t admit that he might have failed; instead, he told my mother that I was faking it to get the pills.

Fortunately, she didn’t believe him. But that night, I went home and handed her my bottle of pain medication. And I never took another one.

Not a few years later, when another orthopedist finally fixed the problem my first doctor had insisted didn’t exist. Not in my 20s, when I fractured my back — without causing any permanent damage, thank God.

Not a decade later, when I misjudged a corner while riding through a high-speed turn, and ended up with severe road rash from my ankle to my chin. Not over the past decade or so, when that first botched operation resulted in a severely arthritic knee.

And not this past year, when a freak beachfront bee encounter put me in the intensive care ward for a couple days, and on a long, hard path to recovery.

It’s not that I don’t feel the pain. I’ve just learned to ignore it.

When I stopped taking pills for that knee, I had no choice but to learn another way to cope with then pain. Eventually, what I learned was simply to tolerate it.

Just focus on something else, and get on with my life.

It’s not like I’m a superhero or some bizarre freak of nature. It still hurts. It’s just that I made a conscious effort not to think about it. And eventually, that just became second nature to me.

Of course, that doesn’t work with everything. A sharp, unexpected pain — such as a back spasm, or a sudden injury — always breaks through whatever defenses I may have, and gets my immediate attention, just like it would anyone else. And emotional pain, like losing a loved one, can bring me to my knees.

But chronic pain, or pain I can anticipate, like the kind you experience on a hard ride, I just don’t think about.

And that’s made me a better cyclist. Because it’s given me the ability to just keep going, no matter how tired I am, how strong the wind or how steep the hill. As long as I have the strength to keep going, a little pain won’t make me quit.

Like back when I was first leaning to ride hills, for instance. I realized that I could spend my entire riding career confined to flat courses, or I could just suck it up and learn to climb.

It wasn’t easy, as any beginning climber can tell you. But eventually I was able to ride every hill on my usual riding routes, no matter how long or how high.

So I set out to conquer the ultimate challenge.

There was a hill in a nearby state park; not that long a climb, really — maybe a half mile or so. But the road was so steep, most cars struggled to get over it, and I’d never seen another cyclist even try to ride it.

And that, to me, made it irresistible.

One bright sunny day, after a good warm-up, I started up the base. I only made it about halfway up before I cracked. But I kept going, inching along, already down to my lowest gear, pedaling one stroke at a time. By the time I was 3/4 of the way up — where the hill really got steep — my legs were nothing but rubber, and my heart felt ready to burst.

But I kept going.

Finally, about a hundred yards from the summit, with the road so steep I still couldn’t see the top of the hill, I was so far past the breaking point that I could barely turn the pedals. So I started thinking to myself, “Don’t quit.”

Each time I pedaled, every time I turned the crank, “Don’t quit.”

“Don’t. Quit.

Or at least, I thought I was thinking it. But I must have been saying it out loud, because when I finally topped that hill, about a dozen people standing at the top broke out in spontaneous applause. I caught my breath, waved and rode off, embarrassed as hell.

But I realized in that moment that I could accomplish anything I wanted on my bike, if I was just willing to work hard enough, and accept the pain that came with it.

Which is just as true for life as it is for cycling.


Just Williams recommends Cyclecraft, the U.K.’s official bible for all things cycling — and questions why it teaches cyclists to take the lane, but the country’s driver’s manuals don’t teach drivers to expect it. Good question. Town Mouse discusses her E-number, while raising her count for roadkill and arseholes encountered while cycling. Evidently, it’s not just cyclists who have to deal with arseholes, and not just in the U.K. According to Streetsblog, Metro wants to reconcile with cyclists. Will-I-Am (the other one) spots a semi heading upstream to spawn. I wonder how many lives this could save here — and how many battles could be avoided in the ongoing war between cyclists and drivers. A writer in Petaluma questions if more bike lanes are making the roads more dangerous. Finally, the Irish Times — no, not the pub on Overland — questions whether a more Continental approach would encourage more cyclists. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to get on my bike and ride until my legs fall off — not literally, I hope.

Use your head.

Let’s talk common sense.

Yes, the Tour de France kicked off on Saturday, but let’s face it — nothing significant is likely to happen until tomorrow’s time trial, at the earliest.  But if you’re just dying to know the latest results, you can check out the official site of Le Tour (U.S. version), as well as the Versus or  Bicycling sites.

So until things heat up a bit, I’m still thinking about a group a bicyclists I saw yesterday.  Three riders in shorts, t-shirts and sneakers, cruising down Olympic Blvd in West L.A. on their single-speed cruisers at about 5 m.p.h.  One of them was even smoking a cigarette as they rode side-by-side, sans helmets, sharing a traffic lane with cars whipping past at over 50 m.p.h.

Yes, the speed limit there is only 35.  But that’s L.A. for you, where most traffic laws are considered mere suggestions.  And yes, they had every legal right to be there, since California ‘s motor vehicle code gives bicycles full access to state’s the roadways.  And Olympic even used to be a posted bike route, until someone in L.A.’s Department of Transportation finally sobered up.

But riding one of the city’s busiest, high-speed streets is idiotic, at best, especially when there are a number of much safer side streets that parallel it on either side.  Doing it on a slow bike, without helmets — and while smoking, for Pete’s sake — is just suicidal.  Even for an experienced rider like me, let alone a bunch of biker’s who clearly have no idea what they’re doing.

Then again, anyone who rides without a helmet is risking their life.  I’m always amazed at how many seemingly experienced riders I see on high-end racing bikes, whipping in and out of traffic with their bare heads blowing in the breeze.

Sure, I know what they’re thinking, since I used to be one of them.  They think they know what they’re doing, and won’t need a helmet, because they won’t have an accident.  But speaking of Le Tour, Fabio Casartelli was a better rider than you or I will ever be.

Let’s face it.  Everyone hit’s the pavement now and then, no matter how good you are.  I did last year, in a freak, solo slow-speed accident on what should have been one of the safest pieces of asphalt in Southern California.  And one thing the ER docs made very clear was, if I hadn’t been wearing my helmet, I wouldn’t be typing this now.

So use your head.  Put on helmet on it every time you hop in the saddle.  And maybe you’ll be able to keep using it once you get home.

Say it ain’t so, Floyd

Today’s word that Floyd Landis lost his appeal before the Court of Arbitration for Sports just 6 days before the start of this year’s Tour comes as a disappointment.

But not a surprise.

While Floyd’s side made a good case for incompetence at the French lab that found the positive test results, the odds were always against him. In today’s world, anyone accused of doping is guilty until proven innocent. And positive findings are seldom, if ever, overturned — especially not in high profile cases like this.

The simple fact is, they were never going to rule against their own testing procedures, and throw the entire process in doubt. Not gonna happen, no matter how good a case he built.

And let’s be honest. While I was impressed with the irregularities his lawyers’ demonstrated, as well as the scientific evidence resulted from his wiki approach to researching testosterone doping, I keep coming back to one thing.

I was watching that day when he made his big comeback in stage 17 to win the tour. And I’d watched the previous stage, when he suffered such a total physical collapse that he seemed to have lost any hope of finishing the tour — let alone winning. I remember thinking as I watched Floyd demolish the rest of the field that he had to be on something, because no one comes back that strong after bonking that badly.

So I might be disappointed. I might be heartbroken.

But I’m not the least bit surprised.

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