Hello 2013!

Well, I have no excuses; no writers block, did not break any fingers, was not deported back to Italy or left for dead on the Koppenberg. I simply stopped writing this Winter off season to take part in more leisurely exercises such as wine tasting, cooking big meals, some mountain biking and most notably exercising my sweet tooth.

I did ride the Road bike, quite a bit actually but did not find the time to do much writing and plus, what would I tell you all about if I was not racing and traveling? How much weight I put on? 5 lbs. My favorite sweets? Dark chocolate and Dudley’s baked goods.

The good news, the really good news dear friends is that the racing has kicked off for me starting this past weekend with the Boulevard Road Race and Red Trolley Criteriums. No race reports to share here from my POV, so allow me to offer these insights from our weekend Winning team mates:

http://www.monstermediaracing.com/uncategorized/boulevard-35-road-race-by-gary-douville/

http://www.monstermediaracing.com/uncategorized/red-trolley-35-race-report-by-danny-kam/

And of course our amazing sponsors and wonderful people at MRI Endurance, who literally are making our dreams a reality with all of their support and quality care they take of us.

https://www.facebook.com/MRIperformance?fref=ts

I cannot wait to share my experiences with you again this season. In the meantime, hop on over to MRI Endurance P/B Monster Media Racing sites and spread some love, please?

U23 / Junior Team >> https://www.facebook.com/scvelou23?fref=ts
Masters and Elite Team >> https://www.facebook.com/MonsterMediaRacing?fref=ts

Weigh In: The news is Doping

It’s all the talk, it’s all the craze and it’s all for the World to see… and it’s all a damn shame for the sport of cycling. Finally wrapped up into one neat, spandex laden package of truth which is: our heroes were cheaters and there were a lot more of them riding around out there than we like to think. Most of us watching the sport closely going forward will question and hope no more; we will now suspect.

The latest and greatest of the United States based rider doping allegations are starting to bear fruit for USADA (United States Anti-Doping Agency) and some ugly truths about the sport. Ultimately this investigation is set to land onto the desks of the World cycling governing body, the UCI. More blood will be shed.

Now, teammates of the Seven time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong are purported to be “fessing up” to USADA. A tell-all, confession based exodus to USADA if you will. At least that’s how it’s been told by USADA, however most insiders agree that these cyclists, the team mates of Lance Armstrong during the highly doped up peloton of the 90′s and early 2000′s era of cycling, were more or less pressured to speak out and uncover the doping tactics of the US Postal Team and ultimately USADA’s #1 Bogey: Lance Armstrong.

OK, so there it is, but just a brief bit of background on what is happening today. But I feel it’s more important to ask about tomorrow! No one is really doing that, so I have some questions and thoughts of my own. Might I “Weigh In”?

- What good will all of this “outting” of the Dopers do for the sport of cycling? I’ve heard it will help clean up our sport. How? Begin now to define a plan of action that will tell a story of turning the wheels of the sport towards the right direction. Diverting the disaster into something productive, something positive might help narrow the chasm between good and evil in our sport.

- What future harm to the sport, if any, will all of this bring? Are USADA, USA Cycling, and the UCI ready to devise an action plan to create controls, programs, stricter rules and punishment, and so on that will restore some confidence in our bruised and battered sport?

- Does the punishment of these riders fit the crime? A ban from competition of 6 months?! In some cases allowing time served during the off-season? Is this setting a good example while sending a positive message about the implications of cheating?

- How, where, and to whom will any restitution money be paid? It’s my opinion that the teams and riders that profited by cheating should pay back to the new blood of the sport. The blood that is clean, the kids of today that are the future of the sport, the US domestic pro’s trying to earn a living and fulfill a dream. These are the guys busting their asses day in and day out, year after year racing in small corners of the US, sleeping in team vans or shitty motels, earning an income that is, on average, below the national poverty level. Yes they made the sacrifice and chose this profession, but the guys that chose to cheat and dope passed the others with ease and took away what the others fought cleanly for . Now to the Postal boys, you can pay it back in my “Help the Clean Blood Fund”. Support the teams and athletes that test clean and ride clean and send a message to our future cyclists that their winning at all cost attitude ended up costing much, much more!

- Conspiracy alert: Why were doping controls not enforced? If in fact the allegations of a conspiracy at the highest levels of the sport are indeed true, where were the team managers/directors, cycling officials, doping control personnel, and other sanctioning bodies when they were needed?

- Have any of these riders publicly apologized to riders they competed against that chose not to cheat? Or has the tribal council spoken that they were all cheats? I’m confused on this point and call me an optimist but I have to think there were some clean guys out there scrapping for results. Don’t those guys deserve more of a nod than the flood of press covering the guys who took drugs? Maybe it’s time to re-list those results or use the famous * next to their names.

Lot’s to think about and more to do and I can only hope the powers that be will make the right call to move in the right direction. Focus the talk and all the craze towards tomorrow and the meantime, I’ll be pedaling my bike and enjoying the sport I love so much.

TD Bank Mayors Cup – Boston, CA

The last and final race of my season took place during a vacation I took to the East Coast to visit friends and family. The TD Bank Mayors Cup is an NCC (National Criterium Calendar) Pro and Cat 1 race held in downtown Boston during the last week of September. The criterium race courses through the downtown streets of Boston’s City Hall district and along the historic “Fannuel Hall” on Congress St.

This race has been on my radar since 2010 and this year I finally made it happen. The course is a basic D-shaped, clockwise configuration. Going into the first corner, we descend slightly down the long stretch and pick up speed very quickly, through a fast second corner and down the long backstretch – where the road is not the smoothest, but I’ve raced on much rougher surfaces before. Going into turn 3, the corner gets tight quickly and then the road pitches up as a false flat, big chainring hammer-fest into a sweeping final corner and 250m + sprint to the S/F line.

So my girlfriend Jess and I packed the car and headed North from my Mom's home in Connecticut with Mom and Dad in tow. A two hours drive to Boston and once we arrived, I could see the race promotors had their shit together. A parking garage dedicated to the racers, basically free of charge parking and free access to the Boston Athletic Club for shower facilities afterwards. Nice. Racing in style in Boston!

The race got underway at 4:30 with a total race time of 60 mins. If you've never heard of a Criterium cycling race, just think 'Nascar meets cycling'. It's time to do some circles!

Lining up, there were the usual NCC crit suspects along with some long time pro's in the McCormack brothers and UCI Pro Ted King from Cannondale Liquigas. These guys are hometown Massachusetts heroes so the crowd of close to 10,000 went nuts for these guys during the call-ups along with other local pro's Jesse Anthony of Optum and the 47 or so Keough brothers. As for me, this Cali boy may as well been from another planet racing on the East Coast, but I could hear my Dad barking his ass off each time we came ripping through turn three. This was the first time he had watched me race and he was definitely pumped!

A break of six got off the front early and the pack was content to let them roll, waiting for guys like Anthony and King to do some chasing and of course the big blue train of United Health Care to set up their sprinter Hilton Clarke. As for me, I felt great and had good legs but honestly, I was there to just enjoy racing in Boston in front of my family and friends with no pressure of getting results. I joined in with a few riders mid way through the race to give chase to the breakaway. Then took a solo flyer off the front to make Mom proud, flashed a big wide smile as I passed her, but I think poor Mom was looking somewhere's else- confused on all the action going on.

Once we were brought back, the race was close to over with about ten laps to go. United Health Care did what they do so well in each race, and as everyone had been suspecting, they lined up five guys and brought the break back with about three laps to go. From there, it was the Sprinter’s turn to take over and I sat in about 20th or so and let the big dogs battle it out for position. In my mind, I was just starting a vacation and had no desire to mix it upon the last lap, in the last race of the season. Just stay upright and call it a day.

I did however stay fresh enough for Italian food and good wine in the North End district of the city- home to Boston’s “Little Italy” neighborhood with family and a buddy from San Diego. Nice bonus to the day and a great way to end a long, fun, and successful racing season!

Where it all begins…

Today’s the first day of my new blog “Bicycles In A Bullring” (BIBR). I invite you to read and follow along with me because you have enjoyed the stories I have been telling on (and off) the bike.

BIBR will keep up with all of the bicycle racing action week in and week out and it’s also the place to be to learn about cool places to travel, eat, and drink on your next cycling journey!

I hope that you enjoy and I welcome your posts, comments, and suggestions.