Monday, October 25, 2010

Nelson Leaves Team Lipstick to Form NJ Venture

Fifteen-year veteran women's cycling and fitness coach Emma Nelson has left Team Lipstick to start her own venture, Team WE of Women's Edge Sports, LLC.

The company is based in New Jersey and has been joined by a business partner Griff Long.

Nelson had been working with Team Lipstick's Laura Cozik who had become the local name and face for women's triathlete training in the New York and New Jersey area.

"It was originally my idea to start the program in New Jersey," said Nelson who had added the chapter to the Lipstick business. "But I wasn't able to provide the flexibility of programming and pricing to my athletes under the Lipstick program, so I decided to go out on my own," she noted.

Nelson, who started the new venture in September, also wanted to provide a more fully-rounded coaching program and a higher degree of autonomy for her coaches.

“It's less about racing, and more about health, fitness, balance, and camaraderie,” she said.

Although she is a previous elite road racer, Nelson has taken the racing requirement out of the equation so that cyclists, runners, and swimmers can work towards their goals, but race only if they want to.

Cozik's swim coach Lisa Picek has also left Lipstick for the position of aquatics director at Team WE, whose coaching team includes Andy Nelson, Nelson's husband, and Mara Miller, a two-time national road cycling champion.

Though Team Lipstick did not invent or even re-focus the attention on women’s training—19-time national cycling champion Betsy Davis was doing that back in the 1990’s long before Cozik had ever raced a triathlon, Cozik had rekindled a local interest on women’s racing by building a business around them.

She also attracted attention to her program by training CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta and six other people for a triahlon (they finished.)

“She has definitely tapped into something unique," said Nelson, "but it was a temporary monopoly, and competition is good for the customer.”

Tara Cioffi said she couldn’t even clip into the pedals when she originally starting working with Nelson to lose weight. Her original goal was “just to finish a triathlon,” she wrote in an email.

But since completing the Diamond Girl Triathlon on August 28 she has lost 10 pounds and adjusted her point of view. “Initially I went into training thinking that I don't have to go fast, I just have to “go.” But that philosophy has changed: I know I can finish, [and] now I want to finish faster,” she wrote.

No doubt about it, triathlon racing has had a growth spurt that defies the recession of the last two years.

Annual membership in the USA Triathlon group that governs triathlon racing has grown from 19,060 in 1999 to 100,674 in 2007. And women who made up 27 percent of all triathlete members in 1999, now make up 37 percent. Races, camps and clinics have also doubled from 1,541 in 2004 to 3,115 in 2009, according to the organization.

Participation in triathlons has grown to 1.2 million Americans taking part in at least one on-road triathlon in 2009, 51.4 percent greater than in 2007 (798,000), according to a May 2010 study by the Sporting Goods Manufacturing Association.

The greatest growth among members and participants have been among the 35-39 and 40-44 age groups—prime ages for expanding tummy and hip lines, areas that women generally complain about when most of their exercise might be walking from their car, to their job, to their car again, and hitting the sofa at night to watch a bit of television.  Even New Yorkers in that age group see a rise in their tummy and butt lines that can be frustrating.

Team WE will now compete head on with Team Lipstick who says they are "New York City's largest and most successful all-female triathlon team,” according to their website.

The claim is hard to substantiate since Lipstick offers no explanation about how they arrived at it --no stats or race results are available to compare to other groups of racing women, though Lipstick’s "about us" page states that, "every one of our athletes had a strong finish line effort, with one placement on the podium."

The Century Road Club Association, the Five Borough Bike Club, the New York Cycle Club and several other New York-based racing and recreational bike clubs have many more female race members, often performing at high levels of competition, though those groups do not publish their statistics based on gender.

The focus on women is not new, though it is growing in importance. Other training camps, like Mike Fraysse Sports have been focusing on women since the 1970’s, and began focusing on triathlons in the last decade, said their president and previous head of the US Cycling Federation, Mike Fraysse. His camp has produced at least one Ironman winner, Barbara Buenahora, and Betsy Davis, once national elite coach for women, coaches for his triathlon camp in Argentina.

Nelson said she can also provide the right coaching attention to New Jersey residents because she lives there. Based on her contacts, several retailers including Park Ridge Cycle Sport, the Tenafly Bicycle Workshop, Albert's Westwood Cycle , and Strictly Bicycles in Fort Lee, NJ have offered support and discounts to her more than 20 team members.

Team WE is currently in the middle of their 10-week fall training program and winter training begins in December.  Prices start at $200 for 10-12 weeks for weekly coaching sessions, to $1500 for five coached sessions per week for a full beginner triathlon program.

Still competition in the women’s triathlon market could be stiff. In 2009 Cozik’s image soared when she became the Athletic Director for the CNN Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge. It was quite a sprint up to the top for Cozik, whose only previous experience was 10 years as a competitive ballroom dancer and finishing in her first triathlon in 2008, according to her website. An email  to Cozik for comment was not answered by press time.

If you were anywhere near Route 9W, a busy cyclist corridor from the George Washington Bridge, to Nyack, NY, you would see the team's ubiquitous orange, white, and black uniforms traveling north and south.

Nelson expects her team to be right up there with Team Lipstick, and perhaps to surpass it: "I am starting with New Jersey--who knows from there," she said.  Watch out, guys!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Cancer Organizer in Hospital as Cyclists Ride

Yesterday about 50 cyclists took to the roads to raise money for cancer research while in strange twist of fate, the leader and organizer of the event lay in the hospital with a spinal injury that he sustained while riding the same route only a week ago.

Pic: the group before the send off: and a facsimile of a contribution to the cause. (c) Benepe.

Two other bicycle accidents occurred during the actual event on Sunday, though in both cases the cyclists were not seriously injured.

Kenneth Youner organized the Spokes of Hope ride that took riders some 40 miles through northern New Jersey and New York City on Sunday with a message to help fund research that will cure cancer.

Meanwhile Youner lay in the intensive care unit of Hackensack Hospital, the first stop along the cyclists' route, with a damaged spine that he sustained when he ran over a loose twig that lodged in his wheel and caused him to fall.  The accident occurred at a spot that was along the same route to the hospital from Englewood.
BBB rode to the gathering spot at 8 am on Sunday, freezing practically to death bombing down Booth Avenue to Englewood Hospital in Englewood.  Other cyclists stood shivering in the early morning cold that soon became a day filled with sunshine and good spirits.

A hospital dog listens carefully to the speech by Dr. Forte. (c) Benepe

Youner's wife Cecile died of cancer in November 2008, but even before her death, the couple had started the Cecile and Ken Youner Cancer Foundation to raise funds for cancer research.

In a brief interview with Ken before his accident last week, he told BBB that the group gives money to doctors whom he believes are on the breaking edge of cancer research.
Below: registering for the event.
One of those beneficiaries, Dr. Francis Forte, was present at the parking lot to send off cyclists. Forte said he was involved in research in the use of a vaccine that could eliminate cancer in 72 hours.

That vaccine has already been through a mice-efficacy phase, but was now ready to be tested on humans who have been diagnosed with incurable cancer, but are strong enough to withstand a new treatment.

Bill Kennedy and his wife Diana Kennedy of Udderly Smooth, one of the event's sponsors handed out Cliff bars and samples of their skin moisturizers outside their truck which had been painted white and black to look like a giant cow.

Assemblyman Gordon Johnson who came to give a send off to the cyclists said he supports the foundation because, "I feel cancer can be cured with the right funding." Johnson's mother had breast cancer at age of 94, and he gets himself checked every year, he noted.

Pic: Nate Morgenstern who led the ride (c) Benepe

Nate Morgenstern, a friend of Youner's who had mapped the ride led the group at a quick "B" pace along the back roads from Englewood to Hackensack, a ride made all the more safe and pleasant by the presence of Englewood Police Officer Ronald Kalomeris who sped to intersections ahead of the group to block traffic.

Kalomeris who is a bike instructor in the Englewood PD said he was a rider last year in the Spokes of Hope ride.  As we passed through the intersections feeling safe and protected, cyclists called out their thanks to Kalomeris.
It was sheer joy to ride through those same intersections that I have driven in a car, and to learn how quickly and easily we reached Hackensack by bike. It pointed to the need, parenthetically, for safe bike lanes which at this time, do not exist on this route.

Dr. Forte speaks while Jason Youner, Youner's son, videotapes in the Englewood Hospital parking lot (c) Benepe.

We were greeted by the staff at Englewood hospital with water and more Cliff Bars. Dr. Michael Harris, head of the oncology unit for pediatrics and Dr. Anthony Mato, member of the Lymphoma Division were there to give a cancer pep talk.  The doctors joined Morgenstern in a trip upstairs to the ICU to report the success of the ride to Youner.

Deb Gemmell had traveled all the way from Waterloo, Ontario Canada with her husband Jonathan Pearce to attend the ride. A breast and lymphodemia cancer survivor, Gemmell said she was here "to support Dr. Youner."

Gemmell and Pearce before the start of the ride (c) Benepe

Because of her cancer, Gemmell is unable to lean forward on a regular bike, and uses a recumbent bike with an electric assist motor mounted in the back for steep hills.

Also among us was 13-year-old Andrew Gates who rode his skateboard effusively and with great strokes of energy around and through the much older cyclists. "He's going to beat us there," said one.

As we turned back towards Englewood, and then Manhattan, cyclists joked that they were going to lasso themselves to the back of Gemmell's bike once we reached the steep and unrelenting hill that would take us from Englewood to Route 9W.

A few deer jumping across the road gave us some nice suburban competition. The group then took the George Washington Bridge across the Hudson River to the west side Greenway, and proceeded down to Mt. Sinai on the upper east side in Manhattan. After returning to Englewood, those who made a donation of $120 were treated to a kosher meal at the Youner household.

As of press time, still no word on whether Youner is still in intensive care, nor of his medium term prognosis.

More pics posted on Flickr.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Weekly News Roundup: The Spanish Doping Scandal Explodes

Thursday, October 7, 2010
Spanish Doping Scandal Now up to 9th Rider:  Spokes of Hope, and Blasphemy on the Pages of the NY Post
The Spanish anti-doping machine has gone into high drive, announcing that five other cyclists--besides Contador--and three others--are now suspected of doping and are being investigated.

Albert Soler, the Director General of the Spanish Sports Council, said at a conference on doping. that five Spanish cyclists are now facing a higher degree of control than the others because of a "series of unusual parameters."

“We have five Spanish cyclists who we suspect may be in a dangerous situation,” he said.

Soler did not name the five other cyclists but noted that Contador was not among them.

And he did not mention the two Spanish riders who actually were suspended last week, Vuelta a Espana runner up Ezequiel Mosquera, and his teammate David Garcia da Pena, which BBB was one of the first to report last week when all were caught off guard agog about the Contador news blast.

Add to that, a third, Margarita Fullana who was provisionally suspended after testing positive for banned blood-booster erythropoietin (EPO), news that hit on Saturday Oct. 2.

Then of course, add the fourth (actually in this case the first): On Tuesday, a urine sample taken from three-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador showed abnormally high levels of plastic residues indicating the possibility that he had taken a transfusion of his own blood during this year's Tour de France, a person with knowledge of the test results told The Associated Press.

Notwithstanding the obvious spate of drug findings Lissavetzky Spain’s secretary of state for sports, said his country's doping issues are “not greater or smaller than in the rest of the world”. Umm, now they are.

Pic right: Margarita Fullana

“It is a global problem,” he told the conference. “There is a political will, a real desire to continue the fight against doping (in Spain).” Umm, well, now there is, now that Spanish officials are putting all their PR machines into motion.

So that actually now makes nine (count them, 9) Spanish riders being called out onto the anti-doping carpet in less than 7 days.  That's faster than the beginning of the world, and is likely causing slam-dunk, "I told you so" schmojournalists like David Walsh to slobber at the bit for their next scandnovel about doping in cycling.

It's amazing how some real negative tests can take the news focus away from the witch hunt dogging Lance Armstrong--which so far has not yielded any hard evidence.

Still, that hasn't stopped amateur cyclists who have no real measure of whether doping is rampant, intermittent, or simply a game of catch the mouse from saying that these developments "prove" that Lance was not doping in this year's TDF because he was so behind. Oh okay, he only crashed three times in the beginning of the race, making it impossible to catch up, and he's well, "an old guy," like you! Nothing proves nothing, folks, let's wait for the hard info to come through.

If you didn't catch the full news, Contador was provisionally suspended by the international cycling federation (UCI) last week after a small amount of Clenbuterol was discovered in his A and B samples by a laboratory in Cologne, Germany. The Spaniard had said in a press conference last week that bad meat taken over the border from Spain to France which he ate on Sept. 21 was the cause.

But the lab also found plastic traces that might turn up after a transfusion of blood from a plastic bag, according to the person who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity. A report in the New York Times said that the amount found was 8 times the normal and allowable amount.

The investigation of Contador's possible doping and blood transfusions, both of which are banned under UCI rules and regulations, is ongoing.

Local Goings On: The Ride for Cancer by a Passionate Guy

Spokes of Hope chieftan Kenneth Youner is putting together a big ride this weekend to honor his wife Cecile Youner who died of cancer. Although Younder started planning this ride without the support of Livestrong, it is now connected to the Livestrong anti cancer group started by Lance Armstrong.

Youner's experience watching his wife suffer from the dreadful disease is not unique, but it is very personal. He's brought that personal touch to his passion for cycling and for his wife's memory.

It's also the outgrowth of a greater community that has its origins in on-line support community called “Cyclists Combating Cancer." "Connected through the internet, cycling and cancer," the group was founded in 1999 by Damon Phinney, father of Davis Phinney, Olympian and winner of a road stage of the 1986 Tour de France and his grandson, Taylor Phinney World Champion and

Phinney believed that "cycling greatly extended his life and more importantly his quality of life, after being diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer in 1987," said Youner.

The money he hopes to raise at this bike ride will go to scientists and doctors that Youner deems fit to research the causes and cures for cancer.

Though it is hard to measure how well those scientists match up against let's say, the major organizational heft of Livestrong, Youner's passion makes a compelling argument for showing up. I mean he really makes you feel if you don't come you're slighting your best friend.

The ride is on October 10, and starts at 8:30 am at the Englewood Hospital in Englewood, NJ and is about 40 miles to and from Hackensack. For out of towners who don't know the way, travel from the GWB to the big turn down to Englewood at Palisades Ave., go all the way down the hill, turn right onto Engle St. and ride about one mile to the hospital on the left.

Registration costs $40 but if you want to chow down afterwards for a kosher meal, and get a bike jersey too, that's an additional  $80.

Blasphemy on the pages of the NY Post

And they call themselves a News-paper? Another schnews attempt by the Post, intercepted today merely because I happened to leaf through it at Bunberry's in Piermont.

Headlined "Handle "Bars": Cyclists out of Control," and reported by AMBER SUTHERLAND and TOM NAMAKO, the article says that a study recently completed by NYU's Medical Center concluded that drinking and pedaling were the "reason" that cyclists were hurt while riding in New York City.

NYU researchers examined the victims of 143 bicycle accidents who were brought to Bellevue Hospital's emergency room from December 2008 to December 2009 and found that 76 percent had not been wearing helmets, 13 percent had consumed alcohol and 5 percent had been listening to music.

It is not only outrageous that the Post would therefore conclude that "most" cyclists are therefore "out of control." Though we have not seen the study ourselves yet, it is also a ridiculous sham to conclude that because they weren't wearing helmets they were hurt.

They were hurt because they were hit by cars, 2 and 3 ton vehicles made of steel and other hard elements going much faster than they were, most likely cutting them off, or hitting them from the side or front. To conclude, that since they were "not wearing helmets" they were hit by cars, is ridiculous and shameful.

Add insult to injury, they posted a photo of Critical Mass riders, as if they were the ones doing the helmet-less and drunken riding.  Time for a little slander lawsuit, dear TimesUP!

Let's get our hands on this bull-s-t study and see it for what it is. In the meantime, dear NY Post, I hope some of your reporters ride to work, then you can get the real story. Or should I say get off your fat butts and do some real pedaling!

More News, Some Silly

One rider known to some of us in Bergen County has submitted his dog for the "cutest" pet contest. Among the pics, two rabbits, a bunch of very cute and not so cute dogs, cats, and what looks like a raccoon.

Here is what Jon (owner of no. 31) says: "For anyone who missed the opportunity to vote for Wilson, he is entered in the Bergen Magazine Cutest Pet Contest.  He is #31.  Please vote for him.  The other contestants look like a bunch of dogs........."