Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Dope Goes On

Well here’s a big surprise; Lance “I’ve never failed a drug test” Armstrong is scrapping his drug-testing program. As you will recall, Armstrong made a big fuss about how he was teaming up with a world-renowned drug tester (Don Caitlin) and developing a program that would ensure that he could prove himself to be racing dope-free. He stated that results of this testing would be made public. Elvis was suspicious from the start since the so-called expert would be on Armstrong’s payroll and therefore subject to whatever rules, testing, non-testing and overall direction that Armstrong was to give him (Read HERE). Hardly a platform for truth.

Now comes word that, “after months of negotiations” the program, “wasn’t workable”. Whatever that means. Read the brief article HERE. Weird how they made such a big deal about this at the outset. Don Caitlin, the supposed doping expert showing up around the world at Armstrong press conferences talking about how this would prove that Armstrong wasn’t doping. And somehow, now months later, they failed to “negotiate” a “workable” program? What a heaping pile of steaming crap! Either they lied then or they’re lying now; take your pick.

Speaking of lying - Here are two quotes from a New York Times article about the death of Armstrong’s super cool, super unbeatable, super way to show the world he’s not a doper testing program;

1) “Before the Tour Down Under in Australia last month, Armstrong said that his customized antidoping program was under way, but he began to back off his initial announcement to publish all of his biological data online. A news release by Astana on Jan. 18, the first day of the race, said that Armstrong would be tested about every three days by Catlin’s program. At that point, Catlin said, Astana had paid Catlin a “small contribution” to begin taking samples.”

Sounds good, right? But then we learn this;

2) “Don Catlin, the prominent antidoping scientist who was supposed to run Armstrong’s program, said Wednesday (Feb. 11) that they had decided earlier in the day to part ways, without Catlin’s analyzing a single blood or urine sample from Armstrong. The program was too complex and too costly, Catlin said, and the decision to terminate it was mutual.”

So which is it? Was Armstrong tested as he stated earlier but then didn’t like the results so they’re killing the program before the hole gets too deep? Or was he just lying though his teeth? Once again, take your pick.

Armstrong claims it was too expensive. Really? Even some semi-pro teams have drug testing. If they can afford it surely multi-millionaire Lance can afford it. And in what Armstrong obviously hopes us dupes out here will think is a show of good faith, he says that he’s going to post some drug test results on his web site. Read HERE. Whoop-de-doo. Seven test results will be posted according to Armstrong’s lawyer. Elvis will do Lance one better. Here are the results from the last EIGHT drug tests of Elvis Kennedy, as performed under the complete direction and control of Elvis Kennedy (so you absolutely know that they are valid, really);

Test One: Pass
Test Two: Pass
Test Three: Prohibited substance found. Medical waiver provided by Dr. Beverly Crusher (close personal friend of Elvis). Result: Ignore Findings - Pass.
Test Four: Pass
Test Five: Pass
Test Six: Prohibited substance found. However, ‘B’ sample chain of custody paperwork lost. Result: Ignore Findings - Pass
Test Seven: Pass
Test Eight: Anomaly, no wait... Pass


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Presidential Secrets

Speaking of Presidents, have you ever wondered what all of those extra SUVs are in the Presidential motorcade?  You know, the ones with blacked windows that no one gets in or out of. Well, wonder no more. Click the link below to see a video of the super-secret contents of those SUVs.  They contain a studly secret service guy manning a 6 barreled 7.62 mm mini gun. The gun fires over 4,000 rounds per minute and the wipers on the SUV need to be on to remove spent casings when the weapon is firing.  This video is from the company that tricks out the SUV.  The vehicle is also armor plated. Cubicle dweller caution: The Video Contains Audio. Open with care if at work.


Elvis can’t afford one of those which is why it’s rare to see Elvis out and about. The lack of security keeps Elvis indoors where it’s safe.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Thousand Words



Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Elvis Goes Hollywood!

Elvis Kennedy presents the first in a series of videos. Please respect the fact that Elvis travelled all the way to the French Alps simply to offer you, dear reader, the highest production value possible. (Unlike cycling buddy Darin, who, upon reviewing the video remarked, “Elvis is such a nerd!” To which Elvis replies, “I know you are but what am I?” ) Check out Elvis’ video tutorial on how to change a bicycle chain;

Changing a Bicycle Chain

Next time - Elvis goes to Italy to change a bottom bracket. Stay tuned!


Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Elvis Lives!

Life sure has a way of mucking up the fun things, doesn’t it? Work, responsibilities, bla, bla, bla. Not that any of that has changed for Elvis but I simply need to re-connect with you, my dear readers, if only to keep my sanity. I won’t bore you with the details - you’ve all been there.

I suppose we need to close the loop on Elvis’ 50% of the Miles 100% of the Effort Tour Challenge. Yes, Elvis completed it. Yes, it was the hardest Tour so far. If not for the spirit of my fearless crew the Tour would be lost. The Tour would be lost. (Elvis thinks Marie Ann is way hotter than Ginger) The Boss, Mike, Darin and Russ kept the dream alive by pulling Elvis along on the many tough days, as you can see here;

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I’d like to tell you that the Tour was three weeks of childhood wonder, riding carefree about the countryside soaking in scenes like this one;
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But the truth is, Elvis was ill-prepared for the mileage this year and mostly felt like this;
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What kept me going on those long hot days was the knowledge that soon enough Elvis would be sitting in a cold, dark room plunking away at the keyboard while the snow piled high outside. With the only relief being an hour going nowhere, slowly on a trainer.
Soon they’ll be complaining about a lack of open water

Speaking of cold and snow; does anybody really buy into that global warming crap anymore? For years Elvis has warned you that the Al Gore hype-terror machine was a big lie designed to enrich Gore, his buddies and the cottage industry that has sprouted up with “Going Green”, “Carbon Credits” and the rest of the Y2K-like garbage. I was dead on with the riches part (while the rest of us get poorer via higher prices for ‘green’ manufacturing and higher taxes to supplement ‘green’ initiatives that accomplish nothing) and it appears that Elvis was correct on the big picture too as you can read HERE and HERE. All of that scientist consensus garbage Gore flung around - lies. All of those pictures showing the ices caps melting away - Photoshop fraud. Here is one of Elvis’ favorite passages from the second link, “Why were predictions so wrong? Researchers had expected the newer sea ice, which is thinner, to be less resilient and melt easier. Instead, the thinner ice had less snow cover to insulate it from the bitterly cold air, and therefore grew much faster than expected, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center.” The next time you hear “researchers predict”, remember that. The simple truth is; no one knows how the universe works and no one can accurately predict the future. But that doesn’t stop the silliness. Although the polar bear population has literally exploded in the past three decades the US Congress has added them to the endangered species list. Why? To placate the tree-huggers who refuse to face the facts as well as the ‘green’ lobbyists who need such headlines to continue operating their green money machine. Dishonest though it is.
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Lance Armstrong - the most tested athlete in the history of the world. Don’t believe it? Just ask him.

What’s with that knucklehead Lance Armstrong? Other than giving Elvis lots of fodder for the blog is there anyone on earth who needs his ego stroked as much as Lance? The only thing that’s a bigger joke than his comeback is his so-called “drug program” under which he is claiming that he’ll be tested at length and the results will be made public. Elvis sees many holes in this thing but the biggest one being the tests themselves. No where does Armstrong claim that the tests will be those which would catch him at his favorite game; blood doping. Anyone even remotely aware of drugs and cycling knows that there are numerous methods well-designed to get around or through drug tests. Hide a grain of laundry detergent under your finger nail and drop it into your urine sample to neutralize it. Time your EPO and testosterone injections so that there are no spikes in your history. Store pints of off-season blood to use during races, which is all but impossible to detect. Remember that Kazak cheater Vinokourov? The only reason he was caught blood doping is because some idiot gave him a pint of his teammate’s blood. Both he and the teammate were caught. If not for the error, neither would have been. And this, of course, is the genius of Lance. Every detail is checked and double-checked. That and he knows the press and public will print, re-print and believe all of his statements without challenge. Here is one that Elvis enjoyed, "We're going to be completely transparent. This is for the world to see. I am returning with a completely comprehensive programme and there will be no way to cheat." But wait Lance. You are involved in the decisions as to which tests will be done and when. That’s akin to making up the rules as you go. It’s not that there will be no way to cheat, but that under these circumstances there will be no way to get caught! It’s completely foolproof. And then you have the “leading scientist” who is running the tests on your payroll and under your complete direction and control. Genius! Why is the press and public buying this crap? It’s so obviously dishonest. Oh, that’s right, Lance Armstrong Foundation. Sorry.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Rest Day #1

Finally, a rest day. All that Elvis can say about those first 10 days is WOW! 562 miles!

Some folks might look ahead on a rest day but Elvis is going to look back. Not just back on the leg-breaking first part of this year’s 50% of the Miles 100% of the Effort Tour Challenge, but way back to the day that Elvis became a real cyclist. June 14, 1985. Elvis had spent plenty of time on bikes as a kid and had even done a couple of triathlons in the early 80’s. But on June 14, 1985 Elvis ordered his first real (and real expensive) bike. A 1984 Colnago Triomphe Saronni. This bike used a frame identical in construction to the one rode by Giuseppe Saronni when he won the World Championship in 1982 - just beating a young Greg Lemond.

The bike came stock with a Campagnolo Chorus groupo, new at the time, and a pair of Ambrosia Elite wheels. Elvis ordered it sight unseen from a bike dealer in Florida who had an ad in the back pages of Bicycling Magazine. Total price: $683.00. Plus $33.00 shipping. That was a lot of smack at the time. Over $1400.00 when adjusted for inflation. Elvis was a poor young man at the time and probably had to pay a few bucks a month for years just for the privilege. But what a privilege! An honest-to-goodness Italian racing machine!

Elvis even kept the sales receipt. It’s faded and a bit hard to read, but here it is;

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Over the years Elvis has tried a variety of bike brands but recently came back to Colnago. Four years ago Elvis found a used CT-2 frame (titanium) and three years ago a snappy carbon fiber C-50. Both the CT-2 and the C-50 are what Elvis uses today. Neither has ever let him down. Colnago’s are everything you have heard they are and more. The ride is smooth, true, fast and sublime.

The old 1984 Colnago has spent the last 20 years in a variety of basements, unused. Until today. Over the past few weeks Elvis spent some time cleaning, lubing and adjusting all of the original parts to get it road ready. And today he set out for a nice, easy recovery ride with his old friend. For the second time today Elvis could only say - Wow! What a ride! Elvis had forgotten just how smooth a high quality steel frame can ride. At first I forgot about the downtube shifters and would try to flick the brake levers. But when I remembered to use the downtube shift levers my brain remembered thousands of shifts from all of those years of riding 20 years ago and shifting was just as smooth as the new Dura Ace stuff; not one flubbed gear change.

It was as fine a summer evening as you could ask for; warm, golden light, light breeze. And riding along on some of the same roads that I broke this bike in on all of those years ago had Elvis feeling downright young again. And nothing, nothing beats looking down at a shiny chrome fork. Sweet!

Elvis will be doing a full review of this bike in the coming weeks. Maybe even a comparison of the 1984 Colnago to the 2005 version. In the meantime enjoy this quick peek;

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1984 Colnago. A true Italian stallion.

Mileage goal for today: 0. Miles ridden: 17.


Monday, July 14, 2008

Stage 10 - Steep and Deep

Another mountain Stage at the real Tour meant another ride in and around Holy Hill for the Tour Challenge.

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Today’s nemesis; the church atop Holy Hill

Elvis took the aptly named Hillside Road south from his castle and Darin took it north from his. We would meet somewhere and then head west for more hills.

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A sign of things to come

Up and down. Up and down. We decided that it would be a good idea to not only ride up Holy Hill, but to ride all of the way up to the back of the church where real, honest-to-goodness holy water springs from a cistern atop a hellacious little climb. People actually come from miles and miles to fill bottles full of this water in the hope that it can perform a miracle of some fashion. Elvis is dubious and is further turned off by the little signs asking for a donation in exchange for taking water. The signs lead to a moral issue; if the water is truly miraculous then a donation shouldn’t matter. Then again, what if I don’t make a donation? Will the gods extract revenge? And how much should the donation be? A couple of bucks to in exchange for getting a date with the cute chick at the end of the bar? A thousand dollars to get my ailing grandmother out of her wheelchair? Unfortunately, they don’t teach you this stuff in school - you are on your own. And here’s a tip for the managers of the holy water. Put some in a bottle, take it to the bank. You don’t need my measly donation. Use your head!

There is also a “shrine” of St. Mary at the top of the hill. But when Darin parked his new (and free) bicycle under her Elvis became confused.

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Which is the real shrine? Porcelain statue or shiny new (free) bike?

Many hot and hilly miles later Elvis’ Garmin 305 bike computer spit out this profile;

Stage 10
Sweet mother of Mary! That’s a hilly ride!

Today’s Mileage Goal: 49. Miles Ridden: 50. Over 1 mile of vertical climbing.


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Stage 9 - Windage

Elvis thought that yesterday was windy. Elvis was correct, of course, but today was WINDY! 25 - 35 mph of steady and relentless wind. Cycling buddies Mike and Russ were brave enough to gird their loins for today’s Stage.

It was so windy that there were numerous occasions when the three of us almost got tangled up into a carbon fiber mess when the wind would gust to some unimaginable level and suddenly push us into each other. Heading west we had to keep our heads down as far as we could. Heading north we had to lean into the wind. It’s a strange thing to be riding and leaning to the left. And it doesn’t help the saddle sores since it put’s enormous pressure on one side of your, um, arse. Saddle sore update: the chamois creme seems to be helping and the sores are not what they used to be (but don’t tell Mrs. Kennedy - she still thinks Elvis should sleep in the nude to avoid further irritation).

The real Tour has been a bit sleepy so far. Other than 10 seconds of excitement during the sprint at the end of each Stage it’s been uneventful. Elvis is still waiting for more hammers to fall due to drug usage. It is Elvis’ firm belief, based upon observations and a keen sense of the human condition, that most pro riders are on the juice to one degree or another. Elvis even has a ratio to estimate how many riders in a given race are using drugs. The Elvis Ratio. The Elvis Ratio states that for every rider who is caught using drugs in a multi-day race, there are 59 other riders using drugs. The ratio was determined by taking the following into account; the randomness of drug testing, only the winners/leaders get tested each day, the abilities of teams/riders to beat the system (some are good at cheating, some suck at it) and the fact that as more riders are use dope, more need to just to stay even. As of today, one rider has been caught which means that at least 59 others in the Tour are doping. We’ll see how many we end up with.

Speaking of cheating think about this; last year Alexandre Vinokourov was only caught doping because someone on his team made an idiotic mistake - the person gave Vino’s blood to one rider and that other rider’s blood to Vino. Testing caught this. This just shows you how stupid teams and riders can be. You would think that it would be all but impossible to make such a serious mistake. Under some conditions this could have killed both riders. That aside, had this mistake not been made Vino would NOT have been caught blood doping. Get that? He would NOT have been caught. Which means that the drug testing system does NOT work to the degree that we would like to think that it does. Teams and riders know this. Elvis thinks that the temptation is too great; blood doping works by making you stronger and faster, and done correctly, you won’t get caught.

And here is a tip for all of you pro teams and riders out there; don’t complicate the method in which you try to identify all of those bags of doped blood in your coolers. Two years ago in the drug ring known as Operation Puerto the doctors were putting things like “JU” on bags which didn’t take an Inspector Clouseau to figure out meant “Jan Ullrich”. Elvis is guessing that teams are now using somewhat random ID’s like “67382”. This kind of over-complication is probably what lead to Vino getting a bag of his teammate’s blood. Instead of having a fancy system to make the name or number on the bag non-traceable to a particular rider Elvis proposes this simple yet foolproof system; ID the the riders thusly; Lance1, Lance2, Lance3 and so on. Each team has nine riders in the Tour so you would have bags going from Lance1 to Lance9. Each rider knows his number and he can check the bag before getting the transfusion. Simple and foolproof. And free to those teams and riders smart enough to read the Elvis Kennedy blog each day.

Today’s Mileage Goal: 71 Miles Ridden: 57. Elvis is still has 19 in the bank.


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Stage 8 - The Blue Train

Windy again today. Long miles again today. But it was a good day because Elvis had three, count ‘em, three cycling buddies to ride with. Mike, The Boss and Darin. Darin had family business way up north and decided to ride his bike instead of driving a car in a gallant effort to save the world. Mike, The Boss and I decided to escort Darin on part of his trip. It was fun saving the world and sticking it to the Saudis all at the same time.

We once again rode north which took us through the town of Cheeseville. A couple of readers have questioned the existence of a place in Wisconsin called Cheeseville. The name is almost too good to be true. Why anyone would doubt Elvis I surely don’t know but here is a picture of part of a dairy farm slap-bang in the middle of Cheeseville;

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Cheeseville - It’s real

This northerly route also took us up and over the top of the monster climb referred to as The Wall. Elvis has done a good job over the past year avoiding The Wall and suddenly he’s climbed it twice in the same week. And during the Tour Challenge too. There will be heck to pay.

Today’s Mileage Goal: 54. Miles ridden: 61.


Friday, July 11, 2008

Stage 7 - Something Fishy

Elvis finally got a bit of sleep last night - about 4 hours. Still, it’s better than the past few nights and we can hope it’s a sign of better things to come.

Although I’m dead tired almost all day long I do put in special efforts to eat and drink. Past Tour Challenges have taught me that slacking in the calorie department can have serious repercussions on the road. I might be taking on a few too many calories since I weigh 3 pounds more than when this stared, although it’s down 2 pounds from the peak at Stage 4.

With legs still heavy from the last two days (134 miles) and no cycling buddies available to ride with I was not looking forward to today’s Stage. More rain this morning mixed with the hot July sun in the afternoon was turning this part of the world into a sauna. If the winds are out of the east it can be significantly cooler near Lake Michigan, so with that thought in mind I headed east with plans to ride south along the lake into Milwaukee for some urban cycling. The temperature dropped about one degree per mile and by the time I hit Lake Shore Drive it was a pleasant 63 degrees. The coolness of the wind offered much needed relief to my legs and lungs. The more I rode the better I felt. The only downside was the heavy smell that was coming onshore with the cool breeze: dead fish. Really dead. Really unpleasant.

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Be glad that you can’t smell it

With traffic lights every few miles and pretty girls running along the adjacent path it was a nice ride into the city. It was also nice heading back north with a slight tailwind. Just as I cruised out of the city limits I passed a group of 3 cyclists. We exchanged pleasantries and then I overheard one of them say, “He can be our carrot today”. I knew what he meant - they would let me get some distance ahead and then chase me down. As I rolled along this began to bother me, I hate being passed when riding a bike. After a few minutes I looked back to see them about a quarter mile behind and closing fast. Why there is an inherent competitive gene in every cyclist I don’t know. My legs were fried, I was tired and I still have more than two weeks left in the Tour Challenge. Did that suppress the competitive gene? No way! I knew I shouldn’t but I put my head down, clicked up to the big ring and began to increase my speed until I got into a groove at 25 mph. As difficult as it was it felt kind of good to be moving fast. On every hill and on the headwind sections I put in a little extra effort knowing that I was causing pain in the group behind. After five miles of this they were losing ground. At ten miles there were gone. And I was completely toasted. Not only for the remaining ten miles home - but for the rest of the night. And for what? They didn’t catch me. It was worth all of the pain.


I suppose you’ve heard about the latest doping scandal at the Tour de France? Read about it HERE. It sounds like there might be a few more cyclists getting busted soon since a number of them have “suspicious” readings as a result of blood tests. Does this surprise anyone? It shouldn’t. Elvis has maintained for years now that almost every athlete near the top of almost every sport is probably doping in some fashion or another. The free gains to be had by taking a little bit of this and a little bit of that are truly remarkable. And even if a certain athlete would prefer to remain clean he understands that his competitors are probably taking dope and that he will need to just to stay even. Even athletes in the paralympics succumb to the siren song of dope (read HERE).

What Elvis finds interesting about the latest cyclist caught doping is the relationship to Lance Armstrong. Yes, the guy so many people idolize for any number of reasons. Elvis does not like Lance because Elvis thinks that Lance only cares about Lance. Name one thing that Lance has done for the sport of cycling since he retired from racing? You can’t. Elvis believes that Lance owes much to cycling because he gained so much from the sport. He needs to give back. Take Bernard Hinault as an example. The man known as The Badger appreciates what the Tour meant to his life and what it means to others. He is on the podium every day helping the Stage winner don the yellow jersey. Could you see Lance lowering himself by standing behind another rider and buttoning up the back of that riders jersey? No way. Or how about this; just the other day some protester jumped onto the podium to complain about some socialist thing or another and what did The Badger do? He kicked the sorry arse of the protester off of the podium. Literally. Take a look at this picture of The Badger kicking arse;

The Badger - doing what he does best; kicking arse

Could any of us ever imagine Lance doing such a thing? Not a chance. Lance would have had his “people” whisk him off of the podium because Lance would have assumed that the protester was there because of Lance. In Lance’s head the whole world revolves around him. Every thing happens as a result of Lance. Read HERE how he states that the entire Astana cycling team was excluded from this year’s Tour for one simple reason; Lance. Not because of Astana’s history of fielding whole stables of dopers. Not because Astana has embarrassed the sport in general and the Tour in particular. Not because Astana has a history of standing behind it’s dopers. Not because Astana is backed and funded by the Kazakhstan government which has repeatedly turned a blind eye to doping in sport. No, the Tour excluded the team because it’s new manager once worked with Lance. Right.

Back to the latest doper and Lance. Manuel Beltran worked for Lance in 2003, 2004 and 2005 by pulling Lance up many of the toughest climbs in the Tour. Just had other riders like Floyd Landis, Tyler Hamilton and Roberto Heras. And what do those guys have in common with Beltran? Well, in addition to being Lance’s teammates they’ve all been busted as dopers and cheaters. Which leaves us with this to think about; almost every key cyclist that Lance has ridden with or against has been busted as a doper and a cheater. Is it reasonable to think that Lance was the only clean guy in the peloton? Is it reasonable to think that a clean Lance was still able to crush all of those other world class athletes who were aided by dope? I’m just sayin’.


Today’s Mileage Goal: 50. Miles ridden: 60. Elvis now has 25 miles in the bank.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Stage 6 - Found on Road Dead

Didn’t sleep a wink last night. Too tired to sleep. Legs hurt. Neck hurts. Back hurts. Feet hurt. Shoulders hurt. Butt hurts. Seems as if the mileage I’m pouring on is overwhelming Elvis’ old, out-of-shape body. But the Tour rolls on. It took every ounce of energy just to walk out to the garage to pump up the tires. This was not going to be a good day.

The body screams for rest. The mind screams for help. Swing a leg over the top tube. A gentle push forward. Slowly clip in. Start pedaling. Keep pedaling. It was a long, lonely and mindless ride today. I’ve not much to tell you other than when I looked up I saw a lot if this;

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And I felt a lot like this;

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I must, MUST find a way to get some sleep.

Only one good thing happened all day, and this was big - I saw a monster storm coming up behind me as I neared the end of the death march. I was able to muster just enough energy to get home and into the garage about one minute before the storm hit. Winds of 50 mph, sheets of rain, bolts of lightning and millions of pellet-sized hail. It would have been the end of Elvis had he been caught out on the road in this one. Here is what it looked like out the front door just as it started;

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The tree on the right is bent to the right by winds, the tree on the left it bent to the left by winds. All of the little white dots are hailstones. Yikes!

Today’s mileage goal: 61. Miles ridden: 60.


Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Stage 5 - Leg Breaker

Mommie! That’s what Elvis and his legs were crying for most of the ride today. 74 leg-breaking miles. The longest Stage of the Tour Challenge. Darn glad it’s over. Thank goodness Mike and The Boss were kind enough to join in for today’s activities. The wind was howling out of the northwest but good cycling buddies don’t let that deter them from helping out. Although they might think twice next time!

After meeting up we headed north and west to get the headwind sections over with. This took us through Newburg, Cheeseville, Fillmore and Beechwood. Curiously, a big Budweiser truck was sitting in Beechwood. I wonder if they drop their beer off for aging (Beechwood Aging?). This route also took us up and over a little section of road Elvis likes to call The Wall. The Wall is a terrible climb and the worst part is that you can see it looming miles ahead. It’s intimidating before you even get close. Hard on a normal day - brutal with a 25 mph headwind roaring over the top.

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The Boss and Mike staring down The Wall

By the time we hit the turnaround point we were wasted. 37 miles grinding into the wind. Sure, 37 miles of mostly tailwind was nice but with the energy already sucked out of our legs it was hard to enjoy much of it.

Elvis sure appreciates the efforts put in by Mike and The Boss. They did it because they love cycling and, I suspect, they love Elvis too. In that manly, don’t touch me kind of way. The feeling is mutual fellas. I could not have done today’s Stage without you.

Here is a typical Wisconsin scene that we passed today - tavern on the corner, silo in the background. And the slightly too clever name for the establishment.

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Say it out loud for the full effect, “Where the Fahgowee?” Good question.

Here is something interesting; Zipp has a new disc wheel; the Sub9 Tubular Disc. It’s a full carbon, full disc, dimpled, lightweight time trial wheel. But that’s not the interesting part. The claim that Zipp makes about it is interesting. According to Zipp, they were able to, “create the first wheel ever to show negative drag in a wind tunnel”. Get that? Negative drag. This would mean that by standing this wheel up on a flat road on a windless day it would start rolling forward on it’s own, like it was rolling downhill. This is not a breakthrough in cycling, this is a breakthrough in physics. They claim a -80g drag reading. Not that any of their potential customers have any idea what -80g of drag means specifically, but generally it would mean that this wheel would suck it’s rider forward. Better still, the more it rolled forward the faster the negative drag would suck you along. Put two of these on your bike and in a few minutes you would be setting new land speed records without ever turning a crank. How cool is that?

A guy could even use one as a generator for free electricity. Talk about going green. Imagine thousands of these churning out endless amounts of renewable energy. Somebody tell Al Gore about this. The horror of global warning is over!

Then the fine print; “At 15 degrees of yaw” this wheel showed the negative drag. 15 degrees of yaw means that the wheel is not rolling straight ahead, but is instead pointed 15 degrees to the left or right of the direction of travel. Elvis doesn’t think that this would work too well. Which begs two questions; 1) Why would you test a wheel under circumstances that do not exist anywhere but in a wind tunnel?, and 2) Why make a “negative drag” claim that in a real world setting is meaningless and non-existent? Elvis could not find anywhere on Zipp’s website the drag readings for this wheel when pointed straight ahead - the manner in which Elvis is likely to use such a wheel. I guess Zipp believes the old adage that a fool is born every minute. That probably tells us something about Zipp as a company.

Be sure to chain it down for storage or it will roll away

Today’s mileage goal: 72. Miles ridden: 74.


Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Stage 4 - LBS

The saddle sores flared up last night and now I’m faced with trying to manage the sores at the same time I’m logging big miles. This will be interesting. The lovely Mrs. Kennedy recommended that I sleep in the nude. For medicinal purposes, of course. So that my jammies don’t rub or chafe the tender bits. She’s so thoughtful!

Fortunately, today’s ride called for only 9 miles. I took this opportunity to ride to the closest LBS (local bike shop). Elvis is an infrequent visitor to local bike shops because he generally finds that the staff is less knowledgeable about stuff than Elvis is, they almost never have the desired item in stock and most importantly, Elvis can rarely find a good deal. And often finds a rip-off. The last time Elvis went to this particular shop was two years ago during the Tour Challenge when a chain broke. I like to keep a spare on hand but didn’t have one that day. After calling around to see who had a Dura-Ace chain in stock this place was the only shop that did. Elvis thinks that a Dura-Ace chain should be standard stock for any legitimate bike shop. Elvis gets to the shop only to find that the chain was priced above list price. Elvis spoke with the owner and suggested that perhaps it was a mistake. The owner looked at Elvis and said, and I’m not making this up, “The price is as marked. Do you want it or not because I’m busy here”. In that instance Elvis had no choice but to bend over - but Elvis remembers these things and hasn’t visited that shop since.

No comes the saddle sores and $4.00 per gallon gas. So off I went on my ride to the shop to see about some chamois creme. The staff was friendly and they had tubs of Udderly Smooth chamois creme. I paid their price and rode home. Then I did 20 seconds of checking online to find that I got bent over again. I paid $8.99 (plus tax) for an 8 ounce tub. has it for $4.69 (see HERE). Ebay vendors sell it for $4.49, and the list price is $6.50 (see HERE). There is simply no reason for a bike shop to sell a product at a 40% premium over list price. Imagine what a Colnago C-50 would cost at a place like that! Of course they don’t carry Colnago bikes, just Trek brands like just about every other shop in a hundred mile radius. Sheesh!

I often hear LBS owners crying over the loss of sales to on-line vendors. Well cry me a river. If the local bike shop hasn’t figured out how to compete in the new market and they continue to charge rip-off prices they have no business being in business - and good riddance to them. This is why Elvis spends most of his cycling dollars at places like There’s always a 10% coupon available, there is no tax to pay, shipping prices are fair and stuff arrives in 3 days. That, my dear readers, is how the new market works.

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The only redeeming factor is nearby coffee and wine

I took the scenic route home only to find that the scenic road had taken a severe beating during the endless winter we had. Not only was it rough on the saddle sores but I think I might have lost a dental filing along the way. The sign below echoes my sentiments. And no, Elvis was not responsible for the vandalism.

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The other LBS is pounds. Weight. Every year I expect to lose some weight during the Tour Challenge. And every year I am wrong. I figure that it should be all but impossible to keep up with the caloric expenditure. At Saturday morning’s weigh-in Elvis was 164 lbs. Today I had ballooned to 166. At this rate I might end up looking like that other Elvis that you may have heard about. Just another fat slob choking to death on a fried banana and peanut butter sandwich.

And why is the abbreviation for pounds “lbs.”? Turns out it comes from the Latin (go figure) for libra pondo, meaning scales of weight measuring one pound. The libra for the constellation Libra which looks like a scale. I just knew that you would find that information riveting.

Oh, boy! When I start writing paragraphs like that last one it can only mean one thing; I’m over tired and should head straight to bed. And why not? Mrs. Kennedy wants me there - and in the nude! That’s reason enough for this Elvis!

Mileage goal: 9. Miles ridden: 17. A few more in the bank.


Monday, July 07, 2008

Stage 3 - iElvis

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That cool picture of Port Washington (above) was taken after Elvis rode the torturous climb up the bluffs overlooking the port city. As today’s Stage was a solo ride by Elvis he can say, in pirate, “I hammered me bike to the top all by me onesy. Arrrrgh!”

Arrrrgh is right - 66 solo miles really took it’s toll today. Thunderstorms in the morning had Elvis very concerned about getting a big ride in safely, and with no further damage to his naughty parts since the saddle sores are still hanging around. As soon as the rain stopped I hopped on the bike to see how many miles I could log before the next storm rolled through. These last minute departures mean riding solo since most of Elvis’ potential riding partners aren’t typically waiting around for the hot phone to ring with Elvis on the line demanding, “Are you ridin’ or are you hidin’?”.

As the storms dissipated the wind and humidity began to rise. The ride went north through Jackson, Cheeseville and skirting West Bend. A turn east on a specific road ran through Random Lake. Continuing east until the road ended at Lake Michigan and then south through Belgium, Port Washington, Grafton and eventually, home. The wind, humidity and heat sucked all of the energy. By the time I rolled back into the garage I was dog meat dead. Thank goodness tomorrow’s Stage is a short one.

Take a close look at this sign (below) that was noted during the ride. What do you suppose is meant by, “Odds & Ends”? Since Wisconsin is home to both Jeffrey Dahmer and Ed Gein, I wonder. And that “Live Bait” business doesn’t make me feel any better about it either. The phone number is listed on the sign for those of you curious enough but if you choose to call, Elvis would recommend blocking your caller ID, you know, just in case.

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Long solo rides can become mindless slogs. Elvis has been known to say, “90% of cycling is psychological, the other half is in your head”. Elvis fights this by using technology. And the perfect gadget for this in an Apple iPhone. I know, lots of Mac haters out there want to poo poo this thing but let me explain why it’s a perfect companion to a cyclist;

1) It’’s an iPod. I don’t recommend listening to music while cycling. This requires that you wear some sort of device in or on both ears. This in turn removes you audibly from your environment. You will not hear danger approaching. What Elvis does is listen to spoken word programs; podcasts, books on tape, The Elvis Kennedy Podcast. This way you can have something in or on your right ear, leaving your left ear clear for the sounds of danger. This is a great way to catch up with the news or read that book you heard about. Elvis once listened to an Earnest Hemingway book on tape - that guy was good!

2) It’s a phone. Big miles require big blocks of time. As astounding as this sounds, the world does not wait while Elvis rides. During short stops for water and food Elvis can check his voice-mails and text messages. He can also make calls or respond to text messages. This keeps Elvis in the loop and more importantly, gives others the illusion that Elvis is sitting at his desk. It’s also handy if you get separated from your riding buddies or if you need to call for assistance.

3) It’s a computer. Sending and receiving emails is simple and another great way to give that illusion of being in the office. Today, Elvis used the internet feature to track rain and storms by viewing a real-time weather radar. You can even get lives updates of the Tour de France!

4) It’s a camera. Not a high quality camera but nice to have in a pinch.

5) It has GPS-like functionality that uses cellular phone towers to triangulate your position. Elvis has used it and it’s pretty accurate - to within about 100 feet. Good enough if you’ve lost your way. And it will give you turn-by-turn directions to the nearest Starbucks or other source of caffeine.

6) It’s small, thin and lightweight. Slides into and out of a jersey pocket easily.

And finally, it can be used to keep the dear readers of the Elvis Kennedy blog updated - LIVE! That’s right folks, Elvis Kennedy is announcing that as of today, followers of Elvis’ Tour Challenge can get live updates during the Stage rides. LIVE UPDATES! See photos of the Stages HERE (, and messages HERE (

What’s really cool is that you can subscribe to both feeds and each time Elvis sends a live photo or text message you will be notified (via email or text message). On the photo site simply click on the “Subscribe” button. On the text site you’ll need to get an account (free) for the live updates. Or you can simply bookmark both pages and check-in periodically. Wow! The things that Elvis does for his dear readers!

With all of that - Elvis is tired. Time for bed. Good night.

Mileage Goal: 65. Miles ridden: 66.


Sunday, July 06, 2008

Stage 2 - Who Are You?

I enjoy watching the Tour on the Versus Network but it’s annoying that they run the same handful of commercials over and over. This year there’s an ad for some financial business in which a guy is chasing someone who has “stolen his identity”. Elvis has always thought that this ‘identity theft’ business is silly. It’s become so silly in fact, that our own government states HERE that, “as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year”. Really? Nine million people out there who are no longer who they once were? Silly. If someone takes your credit cards that’s credit card theft. No one can steal your identity. But Elvis likes to imagine what life would be like if it could happen; “Hey boss, did that guy who stole my identity come in for work today”? When the mortgage banker calls you just inform him that you are no longer you so the banker will need to look elsewhere for the payment. Those felonies? Gone. Pesky ex-girlfriends? Gone. Weird family? Gone. Talk about freedom! Which makes Elvis think - that guy in the commercial who is chasing the thief; why? For heaven’s sake let him go. You’ve got a brand new lease on life my friend.

But back to the matter at hand; today’s ride called for 51 miles, so I called for help from Darin and Mike. They stepped up to the plate in a big way by meeting Elvis early and pulling him around the countryside. North out of Germantown we headed to Saukville and Lake Michigan. A more spectacular day we could not have had. Once again it was beautiful, clear blue skies, light wind and mild temperatures. Light traffic and not too many other cyclists to get in our way. The only thing that slowed us down was a many mile long freight train which caused a minor traffic jam (see photo, below).

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Since this is Elvis’ fourth go ‘round with this Tour Challenge thing you’d think he would have learned a thing or two. But yesterday I made two big mistakes; I didn’t drink enough on the bike and I didn’t shower immediately after the ride. The first caused a headache that I couldn’t shake and the second has caused what could be the genesis of a saddle sore. Stupid!

I guess I fell victim to complacency. We all know the need to keep hydrated when exercising. My usual rule is to hyper-hydrate to avoid this issue - drinking water until my pee is clear. In fact, I once developed a guide so that you can easily tell if you’ve been drinking enough simply by looking at the color of your pee. For your convenience I reproduce it here;

pee color code.001

As for the saddle sore, I’ll start by cleaning the suspect areas with antibacterial soap multiple times per day and I’ll also start using a saddle cream during rides. Let’s hope that does the trick or it’s going to be a very long 3 weeks!

Mileage goal for today: 51. Miles ridden: 55. That puts another 4 miles in the bank. Check the “Tour Mileage Chart” tab at left and you’ll see that this Tour thing is already 10% over. I’m not sure if I should be happy or sad. Then again, maybe someone else has become Elvis Kennedy via that identity theft thing and it’s not my problem anymore.


Saturday, July 05, 2008

Stage 1 - Alpha

Elvis couldn’t ask for a finer day to begin this year’s 50% of the Miles 100% of the Effort Tour de France Challenge. Cloudless skies, light breeze, warm but not hot temperature and good cycling buddy Darin at his side.

Darin is an interesting fellow. He is riding a brand new Trek Madonne bicycle and brand new Bontrager Race X Light wheels, that he got free. All of it. Free. He tells a rather mysterious tale of cracked chain stays and micro cracks near the spoke nipples on the wheels. Something about Trek telling him too bad, Darin not accepting that answer and suddenly he gets his new stuff. Further, Trek originally sent him a frame without a fork since Darin had not said anything about cracks in the fork. Since the new frame did not match the old fork something had to be done, according to Darin. Trek obliged by sending out a brand new (matching) fork. Weird. I’ve never heard such a wild tale ending so splendidly for the protagonist. But kudos to Darin for getting bicycle giant Trek to stand behind their stuff. Next time I’m in the market for a new frame I’ll be going over every millimeter of my old one with a scanning electron microscope and then providing the details to Darin so he can contact Earnesto Colnago on Elvis’ behalf.

Today’s stage took us northwest out of Germantown, into Slinger and then west to Rubicon. Nice country roads the entire way. Farmers were out cutting hay and the sweet smells made Elvis smile. That and the light breeze. This is the first day in months that the winds haven’t been blowing somewhere between 15 and 45 miles per hour. If Elvis had any extra cash he’d invest in a wind farm. It’s been so windy that severe weather alerts like the one below have been commonplace;

wind advisory

From Rubicon we turned south, skirted the town of Hartford and soon found ourselves climbing up and over the Holy Hill range. Today’s route had a bit too much climbing for an opening stage and I hope there is not a high price to pay.

Elvis has spent so little time on the bike that he forgot to bring the camera - a mainstay during Tour stages. Fortunately, he did have a cell phone with a camera and was able to capture this moment - Darin rolling past an outhouse in the middle of nowhere. Must be a government installation of some sort, since the rest of us would just pee in the woods. Darin could roll confidently by since he has read the now classic, Elvis Kennedy’s Guide to Peeing While Riding a Bike.

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By the time we arrived back we had put in 62 miles. One more than needed. Elvis is already ahead of schedule. Good thing too, since there lots of long days ahead. All in all, a good day.


Friday, July 04, 2008

Let's Get it on!

It’s Tour time and Elvis is back for the Fourth Annual 50% of the Miles 100% of the Effort Tour de France Challenge. To keep tabs on Elvis’ progess click on the “Tour Mileage Chart” at left.

Elvis is in just about the worst shape of his life and has not spent much time on the bike this year. One of the coldest winters on record, one of the coldest springs on record, record snowfalls, record rain in June - conservatively put; the weather in Wisconsin has sucked more than usual. Global warming - where are you?

This means that Elvis could use your help this year. If you’re anywhere near Southeastern Wisconsin drop Elvis a line if you can put in a few pulls on one of the stages. Really.

To get you all jazzed up for the Tour take a look at this video - A highlight reel of the 2008 Masters 4/5 Race of the Giro de Grafton.

And here is a nice photo of Elvis’ cycling buddies Russ and Darin after the race;

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Be sure to check in here each day to see if Elvis is surviving. Elvis will also provide his usual insights on that race in France that you may have heard about, cool new bike gear and of course, Elvis’ calling out of the dopers who are killing our sport. First up this week; Floyd Landis. Thanks to the correct ruling from the Court of Arbitration for Sport, Landis is now a three time loser and still insists that the world is out to get him. "I am saddened by today's decision," Landis said in a statement. "I am looking into my legal options and deciding on the best way to proceed." Hey Floyd, how about going away?

Another new feature this year is the poll which you can participate in. Look in the column to the left on this page and/or the Elvis Kennedy home page.


Friday, February 29, 2008

Thank God It's (the last) Friday (of February)

Today is the last day of this god-forsaken month of February. Good riddance! Now if only global warming would kick in and melt the 6 feet of snow that blankets Elvis' part of the world so that he could actually get outside on his bike.

Elvis would comment on the first big cycling race of the year; The Tour of California, sponsored by the makers of EPO - but nobody cares. The Spring Classics are just around the corner and the VS. Network will be there to cover it all via their "Cyclism Sundays" (Caution: Audio!). Elvis can't wait.

In the meantime, here is an interesting video to watch (Caution: Audio!);

And Elvis thought that the Wisconsin Cat. 4 races were tough!


Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Dream Within A Dream

Wow! Has the weather been crappy! Elvis has not been on a bicycle outside since Thanksgiving Day. That ride saw the Boss take two tumbles on ice cover trails, temps in the 20's, and these two guys right on our trail;

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They look too young to be wielding a gun that size and what on earth were they doing on a hiking, horseback-riding, bicycling trail? Nothing bad could happen in that mix, could it?

Most of the glorious State of Wisconsin has seen seasonal records for snowfall and February isn't even half done with us (nor is winter itself). All of this has Elvis in an exceptionally cranky mood. How would you feel after looking at the dank basement walls while riding nowhere for three straight months knowing that there could be at least one if not two more months of the same? Every time I hear some lackey earnestly mention that non-sensical, fear-mongering, global warming tripe I want to take that gun away from those two kids and... Well, let's just say Elvis has had better winters. Let me just point this out to you folks that buy into Al Gore's Incomprehensible Truth; the projected deaths caused by a few degree upturn in temperatures pales to the number of deaths attributed to icy roads and bitter cold temperatures. Read HERE how it has affected the homeless, HERE regarding the 25,000 souls lost in the winter of 2007 in England alone, and HERE to learn that cold weather related deaths exceed deaths due to leukemia, liver disease and MURDER combined. So if a person really, and I mean really cared about humanity in general (and homeless in particular), that person would stop worrying about global warming and start considering a move to warmer climes, which, according to the last article linked, would give you a 4-7 percent increase in life expectancy. Warmer temperatures equals longer life spans? Hmm... Why don't the global warmers ever mention that fact?


Due to all of the indoor riding Elvis has had the opportunity to follow the drug scandal currently enveloping American baseball. It's a lot like the cycling stories except that it's on television. Yesterday was a particularly entertaining day as NY Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens testified before Congress while sitting at the same table as his former trainer who claims to have physical evidence proving that Clemens took human growth hormone and some other crap. Clemens had spent the previous week canvassing members of Congress in an unseeingly manner. Going door-to-door trying to plead his case. It apparently worked as numerous Congresspersons were very sympathetic to Clemons' claims that what he took was vitamin B12, not the other stuff. They also seemed to buy into his claims that the sworn testimony of other baseball players who stated that they knew Clemens was on the juice were simply, "mis-recollecting" when they made those statements. What? That's the kind of thing we hear from the likes of Lance, Tyler and Floyd. Who could have known that Major League Baseball would take the lead of professional cycling.

Similar to many cases in cycling, there is physical evidence that can provide the truth. In the Clemens case it's needles that were used to inject him with HGH. And just like the cycling world there is an awful lot of "Bla, bla, bla", going on when all we need is the lab to take a blood sample from the guy claiming to be innocent and compare it to the evidence. Simple. Oh, that's right -- it would be a violation of human or constitutional rights to take the blood. Leaving us to wonder why guys who go on tours to talk about their innocence never offer to take a simple blood test.


Astana out of the Tour? It would seem so according to the report HERE. This would leave two of the top three finishers from last year's Tour out of the running. A stunning turn of events indeed. However, if you look past the headline and think about the background maybe it makes sense. The Tour desperately needs a clean race in 2008. With all of the doping problems in the last decade cycling it about to become the laughing stock of professional sports and sponsors are running away as fast as they can. Astana had numerous doping problems last year, most notably one of Elvis' former favorite riders, Alexandre Vinokourov. It turned out to be a team wide problem with the team trying to protect riders even after they were caught. And while the team management has changed since last summer some things remain the same; a Kazakhstan government not overly concerned with drugs in sport, a new manager, Johann Bruyneel who has nurtured far too many dopers, and current riders implicated in drug scandals, '07 Tour winner Alberto Contador, to name just one. Elvis' take is that all of this would be a good thing if it holds out to be true. But with the formal team invitations not due until February 29th and almost five months until the start of the Tour lots of things can change. In the meantime, you can read Astana's reaction HERE. And wasn't Bruyneel the guy who jumped off the Discovery ship because he said that he needed a few years off only to show up a few weeks later at Astana? Maybe the Tour directors don't like guys who lie. Or maybe he'll come up with another one to get Astana in the Tour.


If you take the phrase, "A dream within a dream" and rearrange the letters, anagram-style, you get, "What am I, a mind reader?". This is the kind of hidden indicator that is essential to a human being's understanding of life. Unfortunately, I have no idea what it means.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Review: Positively False by Floyd Landis

To get to the review click HERE


Friday, August 10, 2007

Disco is Dead

The cycling headlines this fine Friday are as follows;

1) 2007 Tour de France champion Alberto Contador held a press conference to deny that he ever used dope. Read HERE.
2) Discovery Channel Cycling Team has disbanded due to lack of sponsorship. Read HERE.

Let's first dispose of doper Alberto Contador. If you watched the Tour this year you were amazed that a 24 year old kid riding in his first Tour de France was kicking everyone's butt in the mountains. Other than a known fellow cheater, Michael Rasmoosen, and suspected doper Levi Leipheimer, no one could stay close to Contador in the hills. Right after the mountains he rides one of the fastest time trials to secure the yellow jersey. Fun viewing, to be sure. But could it be real? Most young riders drop out of their first three or four Tours. Even super doper Lance Armstrong failed to complete his first few Tours.

OK, superstars do exist in real life and maybe, just maybe Alberto Contador is one of those once in a generation guys. But then you have to look at the fact that his name is listed as a client of the cycling witch doctor Fuentes. This Fuentes fellow is a physician who helped numerous pro cyclists with their doping programs. Tyler Hamilton, Ivan Basso and Jan Ullrich, to name a few. However smart Fuentes was with developing doping protocols he apparently is an idiot when it comes to labeling blood bags, faxes and doping schedules. This moron was putting the riders initials on this stuff. Like we could never figure out who "JU" was. How hard would it have been to assign a generic name and number to each rider so that it wouldn't be so obvious? Something like; Lance 1, Lance 2, Lance 3, Lance 4, etc.

Anyway, Contador, in the classic Lance Armstrong way of deflecting the truth and making statements that are designed to impress the press and confuse the public says that he will offer his DNA as proof that he didn't dope. But here's the problem; he wasn't using Dr. Fuentes for blood super-charging, he was using him for a recovery program. Steroids, testosterone and the like. Why is this important? Because Contador would not have given blood to the doctor for these purposes. Offering his DNA as a sign of proof of his innocence is just more dishonesty. He knows that there is nothing for the authorities to compare his DNA to. It may sound like he's just trying to help but all he is doing is tossing out a red herring. There really is a reason that they call this stuff dope.

Contador refused to take any questions after reading his prepared statement and quickly exited the room when his speech was complete.

Just one thing Alberto, you mentioned in your statement that you would seek legal action against anyone making defamatory accusations in the future. To that I say this, "Alberto Contador is a liar. A cheater. A doper. His existence in the pro peloton is bad for the sport of cycling. His willingness to cheat clean riders out of their opportunities and then to lie about his cleanliness makes him a jack". The future is here my friend, sue me.


Ahhhhh! Lance Armstrong's Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team is dead. And now I will kick it. The list of riders that went through the Discovery team and were later found to have doped is almost too long to list. Hamilton, Basso and Landis are the names that everyone recognizes. Lance Armstrong was found to have used EPO when he won his first Tour in 1999 and although EPO wasn't well enough known to be on the prohibited substance list it's use proves that Lance was a cheater. That he didn't win fair and square. This became standard operating procedure for the team.

Team manager Johann Bruyneel, if he wasn't intimately involved with his cyclists doping programs surely knew of their existence. He did nothing to stop or prevent doping on his team and he profited by it. In many respects his culpability is greater than that of a young cyclist who seeks advice from his manager. An impressionable 24 year old cyclist has little choice but to dope if a cycling head-of-state like Bruyneel tells him that to ride on a pro team you need to dope. Where Bruyneel could have had a positive impact, he failed. Contador is just the latest in a long list of riders that Bruyneel ruined. Bruyneel failed his riders, his sponsors and the fans. For the sake of the sport let's hope that no other team hires him.

Here is my question regarding Discovery's failure to secure a new sponsor; why couldn't the cache of Lance Armstrong at the helm get this done (Lance is part owner and face of the team's management firm)? $15 million per year is peanuts to major corporations. They spend this much advertising during one Superbowl. The US Postal Service, when they were the sponsor had an annual budget of $66 billion dollars. $15 million was nothing. You would think that having Lance walk into the board room at a potential sponsor would seal the deal. Could it be that his reputation as a doper has finally caught up to him? Could it be that his personality gets in the way? in any event, the name Lance Armstrong, once an asset, has apparently become a liability.

It has been my contention for some time now that Lance Armstrong cares about one thing; Lance Armstrong. He gives lip service to the sport of cycling but does nothing to support it. Just think what a grand ambassador for the sport a 7-time winner could be. Here is his comment on the failure of the team, "Things need to improve on many levels, with a more unified front, before you would see us venture back into cycling". What the heck does that mean? Typical Armstrong gobbledygook. It seems that he is suggesting that the sport of cycling is not worthy of the participation of his team. Things need to improve. Before we venture back. What crap! Once, just once I'd like to see Armstrong speak the truth about something. Apparently it's too hard for him to say things like, "As hard as we tried, we just could not find the right sponsorship for our team". Or better yet, maybe he should keep his mouth shut.

As for my part I think this is a good thing. If the team that produced eight wins out of the past nine Tours de France can't find a sponsor other pro teams are certainly struggling to stay afloat. The sport is in shambles. Maybe we are finally going to hit bottom. Why is this good? Because nothing changes until the money runs out. If money goes away because sponsors are afraid to align with the dopers that make up the sport of pro cycling maybe the culture will change. The cycling community can no longer turn a blind eye on the doping problem. Or maybe the cyclists should unionize, ala American baseball/basketball/football, so that they can dope at will with no regard for rules.

All of that said, it remains true that the US Postal and Discovery years will be remembered fondly. Our friends and families had at least heard of the Tour de France, thanks to Lance Armstrong. And cyclists are no longer looked at as a bunch of fags riding around in lycra. We can shave our legs and be proud. We can don garish clothing and hop onto fifteen pounds of carbon fiber that cost $4,000.00 and not be ashamed. It's OK to stand around the office water cooler and discuss the merits of Powerbars, recovery drinks and clipless pedals. Thanks to the resurgence of road cycling the amount of new and improved equipment available to us mortals is astounding. Even Wal-Mart sells hand built Italian carbon fiber bicycles now, see HERE. July was the best time of the year thanks to Postal/Discovery. Watching the Tour de France was pure entertainment.

It was a fun ride Discovery Channel, but with all of the cheating and fraud it was more akin to an action film than it was to real life. Thanks for the memories. I miss you already.


Sunday, July 29, 2007

Stage 20 - It is Finished

Darin, The Boss and John joined me for this year's swan song ride. What a beautiful evening it was! The wind had died down (finally!), the temperature was 80 degrees and the sinking sun cast a warm and wonderful glow on everything. I frequently complain about the weather in Wisconsin (because mostly, it sucks), but the weather this evening was nothing short of spectacular.

Riding this Tour thing the past two years has given me the experience to be able to handle the psychological part of the non-stop riding fairly well. That's a good thing because I've always said that 90% of competitive cycling is psychological - the other half is in your head. But my goodness! The high winds these past three weeks has really made this difficult on the body. Push, push, push. If it is true that 70-90% of the resistance of moving a bicycle forward is wind resistance I would estimate that the difficulty of riding this year's Tour was 20-30% tougher than normal. This is why I need a PowerTap. Instead of estimating degree's of difficulty and comparing one ride or one Tour to another, we'd have an accurate measure. And as you know, Elvis would also use the tool for the benefit of readers by delving into the science, research, testing, and reporting of the world of watts, joules and power. Simply put, Elvis on a PowerTap would move the sport of cycling forward. When is someone going to step up to the plate and give a loaner PowerTap? The world awaits.

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Along today's route John ask me why I do the Tour Challenge every year. This is a tough question to answer since I don't really ride for any specific purpose. It's not to raise money or awareness for a charity. It's mostly just a good excuse to ride. But of course it's more than that. It's a way to celebrate the return of summer. To enjoy the long, warm days. It's a way to celebrate the friendships made through cycling. These friendships are unusual in a way; you ride out of your garage and your home life into a completely different world filled with different people. Sometimes families meet riders but more often than not the two worlds never collide. Mrs. Kennedy knows my best cycling buddies but that's only a handful out of the dozens of riders I see on a regular basis. This is neither good nor bad - it just is. And when the snot-filled, heart racing, wheel-to-wheel, testosterone draining riding is over, you roll back into your garage and step into your house as if nothing happened. For the most part our families have no idea what goes on out on the roads. Sure, they hear that this guy was killer tonight or that guy got dropped, but they cannot know the exhilarating thrill of riding in a fast pace-line. The excruciating pain of a big climb. The unexpected burst of energy at mile 72. Or the feelings of utter exhaustion and true happiness wonderfully wound together when nearing the end of a good, hard ride. Life at it's fullest and finest.

And that, I suppose, is the answer. The Tour de France Challenge is a celebration of life. 21 days. 1,120 miles of riding. The journey was the reward. What's beyond the next ridge? I don't know. Let's get on our bikes and find out.

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Saturday, July 28, 2007

Stage 19 - Bomb's Away!

After yesterday's grueling ride my legs were trashed. Sixteen hours of resting, stretching and re-hydrating was not enough time for recovery. Makes you wonder how a slightly above average pro rider at the end of his career, say a guy like Levi Leipheimer, could win the toughest mountain stage of this year's Tour de France (he effectively won Stage 16 after Rasmoosen was kicked out), and then come back three hard days later and ride the fourth fastest time trial in Tour history. Really, doesn't that make you wonder?

For me, today's ride was not the fourth fastest in the history of Elvis' 50% of the Miles 100% of the Effort Tour de France challenge. Not by any measure. After three weeks of heavy riding my entire body is stiff and tight, my legs are swollen and weak and there can be no doubt that my hemocrit level is depressed. Sustained and repeated hard physical efforts can deplete red blood cells. This is one reason why in the pro cycling community clean guys are harmed in ways beyond the obvious. Clean riders have to expend enormous amounts of work just trying to keep up with the dopers. Every day is an over-extension of their abilities. This daily grind depletes their red blood cells and then their ability to output power is diminished. At the same time, the dopers are getting re-charged with new blood and/or EPO. This is why you will see the clean teams finish grand tours with few remaining riders, and those remaining riders have little energy in which to win stages - and dirty teams, of which I believe Discovery to be one of, finish three week races by having riders scorch the time trial course with four of the fastest seven times. Four of the top seven from one team? Makes you wonder.

Near the end of today's ride I hear a low flying jet. Really low. Sounds like a big jet going slow. Odd for Door County which is not on any major flight path. The sound is getting really loud and as I begin to think that something is amiss the sun is blotted out. I'm in a big shadow for a second or two. I look up and see something that I've never seen before, an Air Force B2 bomber cruising along at about 3,000 feet. It's a startling sight to be sure. Don't let those Al Qaeda videos fool you; when they talk tough about not being intimidated by American firepower they're lying. The B2 that I saw was a friendly and I didn't have to worry about daisy cutters dropping on my head - and it still made me shudder. Had it been a foe I would have dumped the bike and cowered in a ditch somewhere.

Here is roughly what I saw when I looked up;


And here is a glamour shot;


Turns out the Air Force was doing a couple of demonstration fly-by's at the Experimental Aircraft Association's fly-in that's held in Oshkosh, WI every year. I'm glad that there was a simple explanation for this unusual event. The mind can reel with unexplained alternatives.


Friday, July 27, 2007

Stage 18 - The Hard Road

The good news was that I found myself in beautiful Door County for the start of the week-end. The bad news was that the wind was whipping at 30 mph right out of the north. Since Door County juts out into Lake Michigan at a northeast angle it was difficult to find a stretch of road that wasn't either into the killer headwind or through a nasty side-wind. Although I was in one of the most beautiful areas of America's midwest, today's ride ended up being a solo 66 miles of mind and leg numbing madness.

Some of the roads here are unfamiliar to me and as I neared the turn-aorund point I found a road that appeared to point towards home. I had been head down and pushing for almost 30 miles and the short reprieve from the headwinds was going to feel good. And it did as I spun easily over some rollers and into a State park. Unfortunately, the road was a big loop and before I knew it I was facing the gale and going back the way I had come from - away from home. By the time I got back onto the main road the frustration of having to double-back combined with the unrelenting wind almost had me in tears and ready to call for the broom wagon. I suppose the three weeks of non-stop riding had finally weakened the body. And the three weeks of windy weather had finally broken the mind. The road home was a death march. My legs cried out in pain, my mind cried out in agony. The worst ride of my life.

Even scenes like this couldn't raise my spirits;

_TJK8506 - Version 3

After rides like this it's easy to see why professional cyclists fall into the doping trap. No matter how fit you are, a three week stage race will get the better of you at some point. You'll have at least one bad day and in a race like the Tour de France one bad day will end your chances for a podium spot. The human body simply can't recover and get back into top form day after day.

I found it interesting that the VS. announcers, Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwin spoke about the obvious cheating of Michael Rasmooosen; obvious by the way he climbed in the mountains. With 20-20 clarity they thought it obvious that Rasmoosen's repeated good days was a tell-tale sign of doping. But they said nothing about the near identical climbing abilities of Levi Leipheimer and Alberto Contador. The two Discovery boys finished neck and neck with Rasmoosen on the mountaintops as the three left all other riders miles behind. Why didn't anybody point out Rasmoosen's questionable abilities before he was kicked out and why doesn't anybody question the other rider's questionable abilities now?

It's also prudent to mention that Michael Rasmoosen did not fail any of the drug tests that he underwent during this year's Tour. 18 in all. Nor did he fail any drug tests in any other events over the years of his cycling career. Since the cycling authorities saw fit to yank this guy out of the Tour while he was donning the coveted yellow jersey we must surmise that there is more to the story than an odd missing or incorrect date on his itinerary. Officially, he was kicked out because of the suspicion that if he was not where he was supposed to be during some period of time this past Spring he must have been hiding from the dope testers. This is likely true but if cycling kicked out every rider simply for suspicious behavior there would be no one left to ride in the races. Therefore, the truth of his being kicked out is hidden somewhere in all of the noise. But the overall point remains - he was kicked out for cheating yet he did not fail a drug test. Meaning that systems and substances are readily available so that the riders can avoid any detection of their cheating. Keep that in mind when you hear guys like Lance Armstrong drone on and on about how they have never failed a drug test. It's a meaningless statement. Although it may suggest something about the character of the individuals that hide behind it.

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