Paul Andrews

Posts Tagged ‘cycling’

Kate Hudson can ride a bike as she well pleases…

In Bicycle advocacy, Bicycling on February 12, 2010 at 10:50 am

The girl can ride

Kate Hudson seems to be the real deal, a celeb who loves to ride a bike. Catch the name of her son: Ryder, the best cycling name in the world. But we take issue with a couple of characterizations online. We would not call her, in the words of Celebrity-Gossip.net, a Bicycle Babe. The current argot, sanctioned by Luna, is “Bike Chick.” And in any case, Kate is no spring chicken. I guess Bike Mom doesn’t carry quite the allure, though.

The other nit we would pick involves Kate riding in a dress. Now normally we find ourselves in wholehearted concurrence with our friend and colleague Yokota Fritz over at Cyclelicio.us, but in this case we must express high dudgeon. Or at least medium dudgeon. High might be a bit excessive, but hear us out.

Needs to cover up...

Also needs to cover up...

The photo shows Kate’s dress “billowing” up as she rides along on her Electra Super Deluxe street bike. The always helpful Yokota says there’s a solution to this: a garter clip which, when fastened to the hem of the skirt, keeps things from going all Marilyn Monroe.

Does not need to cover up

What are you thinking? This is Kate Hudson, not some prune-faced Republican blue nose like Michele Bachmann. We’re not talking Miss Piggy or Her Majesty the Queen. If Kate Hudson wants to ride with her dress splaying out, I say more power to her. She’s just exercising her God-given right to ride whatever way she pleases. Cocktail dresses, full-length gowns, coulottes, mini-skirts, we don’t care. We don’t even object to flip-flops and plunging necklines. Or no helmet. In the case of Kate Hudson, we will make an exception to any cycling rule we have ever advocated.

Besides, I don’t even think that Kate is, as Yokota puts it, “struggling to stay covered” as she rides. Hell no. She’s just out there hammering! And who can blame her?! When you’ve got it, in the immortal words of Max Bialystock, flaunt it, baby, flaunt it! Ride on Kate! We’d love you even if you rode a fixie!

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If it was wrong, it was done by a “cyclist”

In Bicycle advocacy, Obama Bikes on January 14, 2010 at 2:47 am

Two of today's most famous motorists

“That was no lady — that was my wife!” goes the old joke. We think of it sometimes when we read yet another news report identifying an errant rider of a bicycle as a cyclist.

You know how it goes: Cyclist Robs Bank. Cyclist Charged With Indecent Exposure. Authorities Say Cyclist Killed While Turning Left in Front of Truck (Police continue investigation).

And why not? Labeling someone a cyclist is simply a shorthand reference point. It’s quick and easy. It fits in headlines better. No harm is intended.

But harm is conveyed. By indiscriminately labeling every human on a bike a “cyclist,” media (and police, whose reports often initiate the description) lump real cyclists with yahoos who haven’t a clue what they’re doing. By doing so, they provide an easy excuse for marginalizing, ridiculing, hurting. killing and even hating cyclists.

They also deprive conscientious cyclists, the class of rider deserving of the label, of the ability to be taken seriously. Laws protecting cyclists become harder to pass. Courts side with anyone, even drunk drivers, over cyclists.

It’s classic stereotyping, as with race, gender, religion, sexual preference. It’s even a way of profiling: When someone, especially a cop or a motorist, sees someone on a bike, he or she automatically assumes the rider is going to do something wrong, crazy or stupid.

Case in point: The recent death of a 68-year-old man on a bike in San Mateo CA. Nearly all news reports termed him a “cyclist,” but we noted one account with interest: “At the time he was hit, the man was wearing a dark blue jacket,  dark green pants with a brown belt, and brown shoes.”

Not exactly riding gear, would you say?

And how about this article, where an 8-year-old boy is identified as a “cyclist”? The boy is nearly killed when his father’s attention wanders while the offspring rides into a crosswalk. The “cyclist’s” sin: He remained on his bike.

“The easiest and safest option would have been to direct the child to walk his bicycle across the intersection. This would have made the child a pedestrian and given him the right of way afforded by the crosswalk…”

So, to clarify: If you ride a bike in a crosswalk, you are a “cyclist” and can therefore be mowed down with impunity. If you walk your bike, you are a “pedestrian” and are afforded the full rights and protections thereof by the state.

One might argue that every rider of a bicycle is by the mere act itself a “cyclist.” We beg to differ:

It’s also clear that media conveniently omit the bicycle as an identifier in cases where it would have the dangerous side effect of promoting cycling’s cause. One can Google all one wants and never find, “Cyclist invents theory of relativity.” Or “Cyclist Elected President.” (Actually, in the case of avid mountain biker George Bush, we’ll take a pass.)

There are signs of progress:

“SUMTER, S.C. — Authorities say a 49-year-old man was killed when he was struck by a truck as he … was riding his bike southbound on the northbound shoulder of S.C. Highway 441.”

A true cyclist would not be riding against traffic on a highway shoulder.
.

And in this case, the individual of interest was a suspected felon on a bicycle, not a “cyclist”:

“The clerk at the Spinx store told deputies a man came to the store on a bicycle and loitered in the parking lot for some time …”

Perhaps it’s asking too much of the non-cycling world to identify only people acting responsibly while riding bikes as cyclists. Pending such enlightenment, and in an effort to expose and underline the imbalance, we will adopt a policy of referring to everyone who drives a vehicle as a “motorist.” To wit:

“Motorist cheats investors of $50 billion in history’s biggest Ponzi scheme”

“Motorist drives SUV into rock after wife attacks vehicle with golf club”

“Motorist denies soliciting undercover cop for sex in Minneapolis airport men’s room”

Kind of rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?

This Day in Doping: Joe Papp on Cozy Beehive

In This Day In Doping on January 12, 2010 at 2:20 am

Over at Cozy Beehive, former pro cyclist Joe Papp unveils the secrets pros use to defeat anti-doping controls. It’s a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the cycling world’s subterfuge.

One point I’d like to see Joe or someone else close to pro cycling address: Just how much looking the other way goes on. I’ve discussed this before, that even if Tour officials found Contador or Lance doping, would they take action? The consequences to the sport would be beyond devastating. Better to just look the other way and beat up on the smaller guys in an attempt to 1) show you’re doing SOMEthing about doping and 2) present an illusion of cleaning up the sport.

We remain convinced that doping is a political and financial, not physical or athletic, issue, and must be dealt with on those terms.

This Day in Doping: Kenny Williams joins the fallen

In This Day In Doping on November 16, 2009 at 9:02 pm

So now the doping scandals are making their way into the amateur ranks. Kenny Williams, a household name in Seattle-area cycling for years, a cycling instructor and top Masters competitor, is caught using DHEA and owns up to it (be sure to read comments queue).

What to say? There’s no point in being naive or righteous about doping at the amateur level. Anyone who goes to a high school football game these days knows that performance enhancers are as easy to find and ingest as a double cheeseburger with fries. Drugs permeate our culture, to the point where enforcement has become so politically manipulated and selectively rendered that any deterrence factor is utterly lost.

Kenny’s heartfelt apology, in this context, is pointless. No one with any experience in the sport will take him at face value. See comment queues in Drunkcyclist and Papillon. Cyclists testing positive these days have only two credible options: 1. To own up to all their past misdeeds while noting, as Bernhard Kohl did, that in order to win these days you have to dope. We repeat, you have to dope. 2. Or to just STFU, serve their time and let the chips fall where they may.

Denial is ludicrous. Abject admission in a context of greater denial — the Kenny Williams path — invites scorn, cynicism and disbelief.

Williams has been a role model and comported himself well by all accounts over the years. It’s sad to find him in these circumstances. But shock and outrage serve no point.

If I were him, I’d take the BikePure pledge and really truly mend my ways (which would undoubtedly mean a fall from the top ranks he’s dwelled in over the years). Go on the lecture circuit about the poisoning impacts of drugs on health, self-respect and sports.

It’d be a departure from the norm. I can’t think of many banned athletes who have fessed up and crusaded on doping, because let’s face it, they want to get back to the top once their suspension is served.

But it’s the only path that would allow Kenny Williams, who raised the hopes and fed the dreams of so many fellow cyclists, to live the rest of his life being able to look others straight in the eye.

Notes:

How bad is doping corruption in cycling? So bad that Team Elk Haus’ manager, noting that the taint from doping kept his team from finding sponsorship, suggests cycling should simply look the other way like swimming, football and other sports. He has a point: No steroids user, even those admitting it, has ever been penalized in baseball, and the last time I checked two of the most famous juicers just led their team in the World Series. But is covering it all up really useful — or sustainable?

Joe Papp lays it on the line about his own doping, the way a true confession should read.

BikePure teams up with a BMX bike maker to get its point across. Not a bad idea — reinforce the anti-doping message with the younguns when it can still make a difference.

This Day in Doping

In This Day In Doping on November 10, 2009 at 3:27 pm

Alberto Fernandez De La Puebla Ramos, whose name in Spanish means “I didn’t do it that’s my story and I’m sticking to it,” is suspended for failing a doping test.

102, 103 & Counting: Hot ridin’ in the old town

In Bicycling on July 29, 2009 at 5:50 pm
Not even the high for the day!

Not even the high for the day!

Wife: “Where are you going?”

Me: “It’s Wednesday. You know I go to the Wallingford Farmers Market on Wednesdays.”

Wife: “You’re going to take your bike?”

Me: “I always bike to the farmers market.”

Wife: “Are you crazy?! It’s going to hit 100!”

Me: “We cyclists are tough.”

Wife: “There is such a thing as heat stroke you know.”

Me: “Cyclists don’t get heat stroke. They create their own breeze.”

Wife: “I can see the headline now: Avid Cyclist Suffers Aneurysm In Heat Wave”

Me: “Miraculously Rides Through It and Arrives Home Safely.”

In happier times...

In happier times...

And so it goes in the World of the Misunderstood Cyclist. When you love to do something like ride, little things like heat waves don’t get in the way. Heck, if torrential downpours and freezing whiteouts and foot-deep snow and roadways full of black ice don’t stop us, why should a little extra sunshine? Besides, we’re doing our part to reduce global warming and climate disruption so this kind of thing — the hottest day on record in Seattle history — won’t happen for future generations.

So don’t call us nuts. Call us responsible. Call us sensible. Call us on our iPhones…

You can’t win at pro level without drugs

In Bicycle Racing, Bicycling, This Day In Doping on May 26, 2009 at 12:36 pm

That’s the lament offered by Bernhard Kohl, an Austrian cycling star and last year’s Tour de France king of the mountains winner, as he departs the sport after being banned for doping:

“I doped voluntarily in a system in which you cannot win without doping. The weeks after [being caught] were tough for me. But after discussions with friends and family, I realised that a return to professional cycling was a return to a life of doping and lies… Somewhere along the way, talent, training and tough discipline just aren’t enough anymore.”

All this, at age 27.

What it suggests is even more depressing: That the pro tour is still driven by drugs, that enforcement is a sham, that Big Money from sponsorships and residuals promotes and perpetuates a system of deception, fraud and illegality.

In other words, the whole sport is gamed beyond redemption.

The situation calls out for an independent investigation, or at least investigative journalism along the lines of a cycling Seymour Hersh. Otherwise we’ll never know whether to believe Kohl or just pass it off as sour grapes. Certainly he has an axe to grind. But there’s abundant evidence, including a growing number of cyclists stepping forward with painful but cathartic admissions, that what he says is true. It’s obvious that cycling cannot police itself. It’s been trying for more than a decade, with nothing but scandal after scandal to show for its efforts.