Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Trust Fox News to Smear Armstrong

Tyler Hamilton in 2007: He alleged
on 60 Minutes that he saw Lance
Fox News did it again. This time their target wasn't a liberal pol trying to save Medicare for the elderly. No this time their arrows are aimed directly at cancer-fundraising cycling giant and seven time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong.

In their usual slumming manner, Fox created a headline with the word "Tainted," for an article liberally sprinkled with allegations by a Fox commentator, in guess where, Australia, in a sad grab for eyeballs while throwing no new light on an ongoing Federal witch hunt of the embattled Yellow Jersey winner.

"The continual and damning allegations of doping levelled [sic] against seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong is tainting the present and future of cycling, Fox commentator Scott McGrory delcared," wrote Christopher Boyd for Fox.

The article also makes allusions without explanation to a supposed "heated" interchange in a Colorado restaurant between Tyler Hamilton, Armstrong's previous U.S. Postal team member who alleged on CBS-TV's 60 Minutes that he had seen Armstrong doping, and Armstrong.

Hamilton made the doping allegations at the same time that he was launching his new book. Fox News infers that the restaurant exchange was akin to witness tampering during a federal investigation.

The New York Times reported that Jodi Larner, the owner of the Cache Cache restaurant where Armstrong is alleged to have told Hamilton that his lawyers would make his life "a living hell," was being subpoenaed for a video tape from a surveillance camera.

Unlike the Fox News characterization of a vicious spat, Larner told the Times that the tape was not going to help the FBI much because the exchange occurred in the restaurant's bar area, and was a non-event, not more than a passing conversation.

"I wish I had the incident on tape, the whole world could see what happened between Tyler and Lance, and shut up about it already, it was a non-event," said Larner.  According to a more in depth story about the incident by ESPN's Bonnie Ford, there wasn't even an argument at all, and Hamilton's lawyers seized on the incident to create more PR for Hamilton in light of his new book release.

This kind of hogwash is what is to be expected of Fox News, but we never expected them to be so perilously close to a scandal rag like TMZ in their sports "coverage," if you can call it that.

Never mind that Armstrong has never been found to be positive for performance enhancing drugs or high levels of blood doping that the investigation by Federal dog sniffer Jeffrey Notvitsky is looking for.

Lance being interviewed in 2009 after Stage 4
of the Tour de France
Well Fox has that covered: According to McGrory, the testing wasn't so good in those days.

Doesn't that mean that McGrory, gold medal winner in the Madison track events of the Olympics in 2000, which is now 11 years ago, also was not subjected to the same lack of today's controls?

Not that we think McGrory was doping.  We do know he spent one year competing on the same level as Armstrong with the Mapei QuickStep team from 2001 to 2002, and never in a race the same level of the Tour de France.

Which is exactly the point.  If all the riders had the same access to the same drugs at the same time, and all of them weren't tested for those particular drugs, why is it that one man won, over and over again?

Said one cyclist I was riding with two days ago, "Lance went to every stage and rode that stage not once, but three or four times in preparation. Other riders didn't even ride the stage once, they just looked at the map."

What was Armstrong's reaction to Hamilton's public 60 Minutes allegations? "20+ year career, 500 drug controls worldwide, in and out of competition. Never a failed test. I rest my case," he wrote on Twitter.

Scott McGrory reporting (from Twitter)
Anyone whose has watched Armstrong ride a Tour has seen how he approached each stage methodically and strategically, staying back in unimportant stages, and pushing for distance at opportune moments, much like a chess player.

We are not saying that Armstrong never doped, and we aren't saying that he did. What we are saying is there is no evidence that he did, except some ex-cyclists with (unfortunately) lesser past and current careers who have been brought out like horses at an auction by the press.

What's more Tyler Hamilton failed doping tests three times,  in 2004 after winning the gold medal for the time trial in the Olympics, at the 2004 Vuelta a Espana, for which he was suspended two years, and then again in 2009, when he was banned for eight years from cycling competition, effectively ending his cycling career.

What's sad are the news organizations who are using these riders to "allege" while making no effort on their own to do real investigative stories.

And the final worse thing of all? Hamilton's PR folks who have failed to make a high ranking Google result for his new book--not to be found anywhere in the top 10.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Save an Animal's Life: Drive Slowly

A black furry rabbit at the farmer's market: yes, they
come in all sizes, colors and furs
It's summer now, and animals are crossing the roads in record numbers, hunting for food and water.

Many of them are being killed by automobiles. Yesterday as I was riding one of my favorite routes in the Catskills, I saw a bird on the side of the road struggling for its life.

I picked it up, hoping to save it from death by giving it water. Little did I know it had been hit by a car, and its neck was broken. I watched the poor animal struggling for life, gasping for breath, opening and closing her beak noiselessly, evidently in huge pain, in shock of the state of pain it was in.

Then she quietly died in my hand. She stopped opening her beak, her small eyes closed slowly, and her head slumped to the side. Small gray thing, it hardly knew a year of life.  I laid it down in a soft, safe spot by the side of the road, in a small garden.

A month ago, I was riding along Piermont Road just about to enter Sparkill, when a small squirrel ran out and just barely was hit by my wheel.

But driving swiftly on the other side of the road was a large SUV. He didn't even slow or brake as his wheel crushed the skull of the squirrel. I saw her face, in the moment when he crushed her, of pain, surprise, shock.

Another cute bunny: please save their lives and drive slowly
The driver wasn't even looking. Nor was the driver behind him. Both of them were speeding on this small road teaming with wildlife. Even though I had screamed and motioned for him to slow down just as he was approaching, and after he killed her, the driver didn't slow or stop.

I stopped my bike, went back and found the squirrel on the side of the road. I found her in the final moments of life. Her breasts were full--she was leaving behind an entire family of babies.  Like the bird, she struggled in the last gasping moments for another breath of the only life she would know. Was she thinking of her babies or just in excruciating pain? Hard to say.

It never ceases to amaze me in this society how little animals seem to count to the general population. Animals are routinely raised and killed to serve our massive appetites for meat, most of which we really don't need. Their minds, hearts, feelings, and lives mean nothing to us as we pick up slices of their carcasses on the meat shelves in the supermarket.

And don't kid yourself, if you eat meat from the farmer's market, it's still a life that went to feed your mouth.
This fawn was killed on Rte. 9W near state line in 2010. Its
carcass lay by the side of the road for days.

That insensitivity extends to our roadways in the cruelest way, because the animal's death is not being used to sustain another life. The senselessness is lost on most drivers, who believe that it is their right to drive as fast as they want to make it --minutes? maybe seconds? earlier to their next appointment.

Here in the Catskills, as in Sparkill, drivers routinely speed along roads their music blasting, their motors roaring, where deer, opossum, squirrels, rabbits, birds of all kinds, turtles, and scores of other animals routinely cross the roads hunting for food and water.

The manufacturing of vehicles into bigger and bigger monstrosities, higher from the ground, to help the driver imagine that they are lording over the road, stretches the distance even further from wild life who are trying to cross. It also makes their lives more foreign to drivers, and in many cases, makes them less visible as well.

So many times when I drive down roads, and birds dip quickly in front of my car, I have time to brake. But not if there is someone behind me driving five feet from my back wheel.

So dear readers, please consider for this summer, a slower and more gentle approach to the road for our dear friends, animals, living creatures, feelers of pain and pleasure, essential creatures to our habitat.

Please consider them and drive slowly.

Too Hot on a Bike

Pin up girl on bike painted by Harry Ekman in the 1960's
A few days ago the Gothamist published a story about a visitor from Holland who was allegedly warned that she would be ticketed for wearing a skirt on her bicycle.

A photograph showing her in a very short, flouncy mini skirt suggested that when riding, there would not be much to the imagination--i.e, either full crotch-shot whether wearing under garments or not.

So I am afraid in this matter, we have to side with the police---I mean what was she thinking? After all he didn't give her a ticket, but maybe he saw her riding with full crotch in view!

Unfortunately city code states that indecency whether off or on the bike will not be tolerated. Such as walking down the street in your underwear, a public offense.

I mean what if it was a guy wearing a skirt and flashing his underwear?

Well, we really don't agree with the police. However, it does stand to reason that a little modesty is expected either on or off the bike.

What if you walked down the street letting the wind blow your dress up over your hips every second, without trying to hold them down? It's likely soon someone would be asking you to come home and pose for their new found passion for porno photography.

Still, let's be reasonable folks. That girl was pretty tame if we compare her to other examples in history, like the one above. This rendering is by artist Harry Ekman who painted renderings of pin up girls mostly in the 1960's offers a lot more to think about, (thanks to a posting in Facebook by Ana Amelio Martino.) And we like the bike a lot more too.

While we are at is, we just thought we would mention this site we stumbled across thanks to a Tweet pick up.

On the RidesABike blog you can see all kinds of famous people riding bikes. For now, this is to give cycling legitimacy.

In the future, cycling will give people legitimacy. In fact, that line is already being blurred as we speak.