Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Hooray for BuBi!!!

And no, that's not some cheap adolescent humor about women's breasts! Get your mind out of the gutter!!!(Although blog entries around the Interwebz seem to be quick to make bodily puns with the name...)
Anyway, hooray for BuBi is, in fact, elation at the fact that two things I have a strong personal interest in are coming together!
The two things? Budapest, where my grandfather was born and where he immigrated from, is setting up the first public bike sharing program in Hungary!!!
I should have a different way to get around downtown Budapest if I go back again! :)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Wind, anyone?

Some days are better than others for riding. This week has generally been beautiful riding weather. It's been unseasonably warm - warm enough even to forgo the fleece I normally wear for a little added warmth on my morning rides to work and instead wear long sleeve tee shirts in the morning and short sleeves even a couple of the afternoons.

Today is no exception. The weather this morning was gorgeous. Temps in the mid to upper forties for the ride to work. Highs today expected to be near 70. It was a little breezy on the way in to work, but only pleasantly so.

And then... I get to work and see the rest of the day's forecast. I'll let the pirctures do the rest of the talking. Suffice it to say, I'll be dealing with quite a headwind heading home!!!

Mashup image of the forecast conditions for today from the National Weather Service website.

This will likely be me this afternoon going home from work...

Thursday, February 16, 2012

In honor of Black History Month

Marshall "Major" Taylor

Before Jesse Owens, before Jackie Robinson, there was Marshall "Major" Taylor.

Who, you might ask?

Only perhaps the first athlete to challenge racial boundaries and participate in the mainstream of an American sport. The sport was track cycling, which was big at the turn if the twentieth century.

Major Taylor's story is a compelling one, as he fought through prejudice, injustice, and actual physical assault to compete, and win on a rather regular basis, in the sport of track cycling. According to his autobiography, he apparently had some very conflicted feelings about writes, harboring disdain (understandably) for those competitors who games up on him to try to keep him from winning only because he was black while at the same time crediting other whites for making his career possible. Sadly he passed away, largely forgotten at the young age of 53 during the Great Depression.

I recommend everyone look through his bio and a little about him on Wikipedia. There's also a Major Taylor Association with lots of resources and info, including information about the statue of him in his home base for racing, Worcester, MA.

As we take time this month to remember specifically the contributions of African Americans to our society, it's worth remembering Major Taylor.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Contador Stripped of 2010 Tour de France Title

It doesn't get much bigger than this, folks. First, there was Floyd Landis, whose 2006 Tour de France title was taken from him after the fact for having injected testosterone.
Now, the "heavy hand" of the law (in the form of the Court of Arbitration for Sport) has come down on Alberto Contador. His 2010 Tour de France title, mired in doubt for years due to a positive test for a substance called clenbuterol, has now officially been stripped and he will spend most of this season serving out the remainder of a "backdated" two-year suspension, set to end in August of this year.
Not sure what a "backdated" two year suspension means, but it seems basically to boil down to a 6 month suspension, since Contador's actually been racing the whole time this case has been in the various courts and panels and appeals in the governing bodies of cycling and international sports. My initial reaction, based on the information I've seen so far, makes me think to myself, "why not just call it a six month suspension", but maybe backdating it even though he was competing has other ramifications I'm not aware of.
Of course, losing his 2010 Tour title is already a huge blow. As for Contador's reputation, I think that those who doubt the validity of the charges against Contador will continue to do so, and those who feel he doped intentionally will feel affirmed in their opinions. I've been on the fence about it much of the time, but this kind of ruling lends credence to the validity of the charges. So maybe people like me will be able to lean off the fence a little more, if not just get off it entirely.
What does this verdict mean for pro cycling? Kind of a double edged sword, I'd say. It shows that cyling is a sport that will police its own, even the big names. On the other hand, it's another sign of the deeply rooted issues involving doping and perfromance enhancing drugs that cycling has to confront. If one in every four champions of cycling's highest profile event is going to be diqualified for doping, it certainly casts a shadow of doubt over any stellar performance in the race.
For me, I love pro cycling and I will continue to watch it regardless of this decision. In some ways the possibility of doping is just part of the mental equation I calculate when watching the peloton flow through the hinterlands of France and disintegrate when they hit the hard climbs of the Alps and the Pyrenees. It would be nice if they could clean up the sport and make it so that one can be more sure that only chemicals influencing the outcome of the race are the blood and adrenalin naturally coursing through the riders' veins, though.