Tour of Qatar 2010
“It was a like a war zone and it was every man for himself.” – Steven Cozza, Stage 3 [CN]
Both the men & women’s versions of this year’s Tour of Qatar have claimed collarbones, pelvic girdles, and even a middle finger, or two. It’s a race that offers enough money, publicity, and UCI points that teams storm the thing like Lawrence of Arabia on crack.
But this deadpan flat race with demon hot crosswinds spews out a casualty list faster than camels spit at tourists … and there’s nothing to do about it but say ~ ‘such is the way of the bike.’
“Boonen’s computer registered a maximum speed of 72.8km/h and he described the sprint as one of the fastest finishes of his career” [CN]
Sweet mother of pearl … that is well over 45mph for us ameri-pedalers. 45 frickin’ miles per hour on the flats, without too much tailwind other than the blow of fear-driven testosterone. And there were boys falling in the final 500meters … that’s just sickening to think about.
Now ~ I’m not one to disparage other sports, or try and call-out one as being supremo to the others … and, there is absolutely no way i’d want to have some 300lb behemoth ram his helmet into my guts at full gallop. Buuuut … neither do i believe that many out there will want to get in their car, pop it into 4th gear, set the cruise control at 40+, open up the car door and … fall out in their underwear.
But that’s what these riders risk … every day they race, every day they ride.
egads ~ what are we thinking?
Amber Rais was an early casualty of Qatar this year, hitting a bot-dot pre-race much like Kurt Arvelson did on the men’s side. Damn shame, as Rais has a huge following of fans and we all want to see her healthy and performing in her own brave, elegant way.
Kat Carroll also went down in one of the mad crosswind sections, much like Steven Cozza … both sustained injuries, but hopefully both will be back and racing their bikes like the banshee riders they both are. These are two of the most courageous riders I’ve seen race their bikes in a long time.
… damn hard sport. damn hard.
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Cody ‘der’ Kaiser … man for the future
Internet cycling awesomeness – PodiumInSight -put out a nifty article about Kaiser a couple weeks back, and it was pure pleasure to read about how a family can fall in love with cycling.
“Riding a bike was a lot more fun than playing a 6-hour round of golf, so with that said I am now in the bike business and not in the golf business, I don’t play golf anymore. We just ride a bunch, it was all because of Cody.” [PI]
That’s from Cody’s dad, Bruce Kaiser ~ talking about how he started up a shop just south of Sacto in the Elk Grove area, Kinetic Cycles. I have been impressed with this family for a long time, as they have always promoted bike riding and racing in a healthy, community conscious way. Their connections with Ride for a Reason are long and strong, and the way this group conducts themselves on and off the bike inspires good vibes in all who come in contact with them.
From Cross to Road?
Cody has an obvious talent and enjoyment of racing in the dirt. But, whether he knows it or not ~ he also has all the makings of a phenomenal road stage racer. Racing the dirt is a barbarian’s endeavor at heart … filled with insane aggression and risk that brings out the yowling beasts in all of us.
But road racing is a thinking rider’s sport … and the best stage racers are those who can coldly calculate ~ only unleashing fury when it is called for, with discipline and absolute commitment. And cyclocross is the perfect breeding ground for such riders, in my opinion. As CalGiantBerries team director, Anthony Gallino remarked in the PI article,
“He’s so mellow, sometimes if he’s too mellow that hurts him, he needs a little chip on his shoulder, when he’s pissed off is when he rides the best.”
It’s that ‘mellow-ness’, his innate intelligence, and the freakish amount of sustainable power that this young man puts out that signals his high potential to be a road stage racer. The stage racer needs patience, intelligence, ability … and an iron will to suffer.
This young man has it.
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Ban the Radios … Enforce Intelligence
VeloSnews grabbed USAC’s Sean Petty to yak about the recent ban on radio use in cycling.
“The UCI did a lengthy study, and got input from teams and riders around the world. Basically the question was, ‘have there been fewer accidents with the advent of the radio?’ The answer was, no.”
I’m a fan of the opinions of Michael Barry and believe he lays out a number of strong arguments why riders should be unplugged. I highly recommend his words for reading … in all things cycling.
Safety is, or should be, the first barometer checked for decisions in bike racing & promoting. The argument that traffic hazards or dangerous conditions on the roads demands the use of radios is eloquently rebutted by Barry,
“Prior to radio use there was solidarity amongst the riders where they looked out for their common interests when their jobs or health were at risk. With a voice telling us what to do, we have lost our voice as we seem to constantly buckle when under pressure.”[VN]
When riders are free to ride – they are free to decide, learn, and succeed or fail as their talents and training dictate.
There is beauty in seeing the choices made by individuals in circumstances so unique and demanding, especially in a sport so essentially team-oriented.
I am glad to see the return of cycling to those who race it … not those who own it.
But as USAC’s Petty says … “we’ll see.”
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