Archive for September, 2013

link all’articolo originale

Se non avete visto il mondiale di ciclismo di Firenze e siete interessati, ve lo riassumo io.
Dunque: per i primi 240 kilometri come al solito non è successo una mazza, a parte che pioveva fortissimo e che i corridori continuavano a cadere. C’è stata la gara dura e la selezione, ok d’accordo, ma quello è normale, è un mondiale. Il mondiale, è così. Cosa è la selezione? Beh, la selezione è quando quelli forti vanno forte in modo che quelli che vanno meno forte si stacchino dal gruppo e rimangono attardati.
Andiamo avanti con il discorso, dicevamo, la gara è lunga 270 kilometri e dura più di sette ore. Per chi non lo sapesse nel ciclismo è solo al mondiale ormai che le gare sono così lunghe, quindi in realtà la gara in linea del mondiale è una gara a parte nel panorama del ciclismo professionistico, anche perché si corre per nazioni e non per team – lo dico per quelli che di ciclismo proprio non ne sanno – ma non divaghiamo adesso. All’ultimo giro – il mondiale in linea effettivamente si corre in circuito, non badateci – c’è stato un attacco di Scarponi che ha lanciato Nibali, che a sua volta ha preso gli avversari in contropiede sulla prima salita (quella meno ripida) e tutti i non-ciclisti davanti alla tv dicevano Vai Nibali alè alè, si urlavano da una stanza a un’altra della casa questi non-esperti che erano lì ancora svaccati sul divano dopo avere visto la MotoGP, Hei, veni a vedere – strillavano – c’è Nibali al mondiale che attacca.
E tutti gli esperti invece, incluso Cancellara e Sagan probabilmente, che erano i favoriti della gara, che dicevano Dove vuoi andare, Nibali, che la gara si decide sul muro di via Salviati? Il muro di via Salviati era il tratto più duro del percorso, 600 metri al 14% di pendenza. Tutti gli esperti pensavano che fosse una azione farlocca quella di Nibali e invece no, se ne è andato in discesa, è stato bravissimo, alla fine sono rimasti in 4: lui, due spagnoli – Rodriguez che aveva allungato davanti e Valverde che è un osso duro ma non è certo uno stratega del ciclismo – e poi Rui Costa, un portoghese che faticava a stare agganciato ma non mollava la ruota.
Hanno fatto l’ultimo strappo, quello ripido di via Salviati, poi Rodriguez in discesa ha allungato furbescamente un’altra volta e Nibali per andare a riprenderlo – a qual punto lo aveva quasi ripreso – doveva fare tutto da solo. Il ciclismo è uno sport bastardo, alle volte ti lasciano fare tutto da solo e poi ti fregano, bisogna stare attenti.

Comunque.
Valverde (uno dei due spagnoli) gli stava in scia, a Nibali, di aiutarlo non se ne parlava ovviamente. Mica poteva riportare l’avversario più temibile alle calcagna del suo compagno di nazionale, Valverde, no? anche questo lo dico a beneficio dei non esperti. Mi rendo conto che il ciclismo è una cosa complicata, comunque, dicevamo: RuiCosta aiutare anche lui niente, non se ne parlava, che non ne aveva più.
Insomma all’ultimo kilometro circa Nibali ha capito che Rodriguez da solo non lo poteva più riprendere, allora ha rallentato un attimo e ha fatto l’unica cosa che poteva provare a fare, si è fatto da parte e RuiCosta ha fatto il suo e finalmente si è messo davanti a tirare per giocarsi la vittoria o almeno il podio. Valverde invece che andare dietro a Rui Costa e cercare di staccare Nibali e poi fare la volata per il secondo posto o magari anche per il primo con il compagno Rodriguez, è stato a guardare. Non tirava. Nibali che non aveva forza per stare dietro a RuiCosta che scattava deve averlo guardato bene negli occhi a Valverde, come per dirgli A’Valvè, sei sicuro di non andargli dietro? è già la quarta volta che perdi un mondiale, ti sembra il caso? Valverde al mondiale è arrivato tre volte terzo e due volte secondo, un record. Comunque niente, non si è mosso. Ha aspettato, nessuno sa cosa. Senza offendere ma Valverde è risaputo che tatticamente è un po’ tonto.
Intanto Rodriguez pedalava, a 500 metri dal traguardo deve avere sentito uno alle sue spalle che arrivava, la gente a bordo strada che urlava e deve aver pensato Ok, il mio sogno mondiale è finito, ora cerchiamo di fare vincere la Spagna e Valverde e di salire almeno sul podio, sicuramente pensava che fosse RuiCosta ad arrivare alle sue spalle, con dietro Valverde in scia che a quel punto avrebbe dovuto scattare e fare secchi tutti, Nibali compreso se non lo aveva già staccato prima, con una volata super.
Invece si è voltato a guardare, Rodriguez, e dietro a lui c’era solo RuiCosta.
Come RuiCosta, cazzo?
Allora in televisione si è visto bene che Rodriguez si è tirato su e rigirato un’altra volta a guardare meglio dietro, ha staccato le mani dal manubrio e quando è stato raggiunto prima della volata ha anche parlato brevemente con RuiCosta, deve avergli detto Ma dove cazzo è Valverde, ancora una volta? E’ la quinta volta che Valverde perde un mondiale.
Insomma, hanno fatto la volata Rodriguez e RuiCosta e manco a dirlo ha vinto RuiCosta, porca zozza.
Porcas Zozzas, in spagnolo, ha detto Rodriguez
Rodriguez, secondo dicevamo. Terzo Valverde. Nibali quarto. Nibali era nettamente il più forte e tatticamente anche, il più forte dei quattro, il più intelligente. RuiCosta era il più stanco, il più sfinito, quello più andato. Come spesse volte avviene nel ciclismo, per via della tattica e delle scie e delle squadre, a vincere non è mica il più forte. E’ il più furbo. Il più coraggioso. Il più spregiudicato. Il più paraculo.
Cioè, il migliore. Al mondiale, quello che vince è sempre il migliore. Il migliore di quel giorno lì.
Ecco. E questo, per quanto riguarda la gara, mi sembra tutto. 

Advertisements

from Cyclingtips
There’s a perception that elite cyclists (and indeed other sportspeople) reach their prime in their mid-to-late 20s after which they experience gradual but steady performance declines.
Most cyclists, it is commonly thought, aren’t up to the rigours of WorldTour cycling by the time they reach 35 and seeing anyone racing at the highest level beyond their 40th birthday is very rare. In fact, as far as we can tell, there are only two riders in the WorldTour this year that are over 40: Chris Horner and Jens Voigt.

The reality is that only minimal physiological declines occur before about 50 years of age, particularly when we’re talking about an athlete’s musculature. Any declines in athletic potential and performance that happen until that point are largely due to a drop in the athlete’s VO2max.
As a quick reminder, VO2max is the maximum capacity of an athlete’s body to transport and use oxygen during exercise, a quantity that’s normally measured in milliliters of oxygen per minute per kilogram of body mass. An average untrained male will have a VO2max of around 45ml/min/kg while the best cyclists on record have roughly double that.
Our VO2max is determined by a couple things:
– cardiac output, which is a function of how much blood your heart can pump per beat, and how many beats per minute your heart is capable of (maximum heartrate), and
– how much oxygen our muscles are able to extract from our blood and then use.
As we get older, our cardiac output drops. Our heart loses some of its strength and our maximum heartrate drops. This is the reason that simple estimations of maximum heartrate can be done (sort-of accurately) by subtracting your age from 220.
As Dr Andrew Betik told CyclingTips, that decline might well start as early as 30 years old but, importantly, “we don’t necessarily see a change of performance” as a result.
So if the physiological decline that happens by, say, 40 years old is only minimal, and if those declines don’t have a noticeable impact on performance, why don’t we see more 40-year-olds competing at the highest level of the sport?

Jens Voigt recently confirmed he'll ride on in 2014 despite turning 42 last week.

Jens Voigt recently confirmed he’ll ride on in 2014 despite turning 42 last week.

There are, of course, many factors at play here. One of the most important might be the impact of high-intensity training on older athletes.
We know anecdotally that recovering from intense exercise becomes harder the older you get but there’s limited evidence to show exactly why that might be the case. Dr Betik offered a couple of suggestions.
“[It could be down to] immune function that’s able to go in and clean up the damage from a previous workout. There is also protein synthesis which definitely goes down with ageing. [This is] the ability to have a damaged protein, clean it up and put out a new protein.”
In order to stay at the highest level of the sport cyclists clearly need to be training hard and training often. If recovery from that training is getting harder and impacting the cyclist’s ability to train, then it’s no wonder that many cyclists say that their body has had enough when they announce their retirement.
But as Dr Betik told us, there’s far more to competing as an elite sportsperson than simple physiology alone.
“What stops a lot of guys from riding until their 40s is not physical, but mental. Fifteen years of riding five hours a day, six days a week, counting every calorie you eat, and being on the road all the time has its toll on people.”
For many riders (and elite athletes generally) it seems that when they reach 35 years old or so, the life of a professional sportsperson starts to lose its appeal. It gets harder to recover from training, they might have a young family they’re looking to spend more time with, or they might be looking to start building a post-cycling career.
All of which makes the efforts of Horner (and Jens Voigt, who has six children to look after) all the more impressive.

horner2

I asked Dr Betik whether he thought Horner’s win at the Vuelta rang alarm bells, given the American was five years older than the next-oldest Grand Tour winner, and eight years older than the next-oldest Vuelta winner.
“I think it’s absolutely realistic that Horner could have won it [clean]”, Dr Betik said. “I would suspect that his physiology and genetics … allow him to train the huge miles and huge
intensities that he was doing when he was 30.”
Dr Betik continued:
“We’re seeing more and more that there’s a genetic influence in everything: our predisposition to diabetes, to cancer, to elite [athletic] performance, even at a young age. So there’s no reason to think that there’s not some genetic component that allows this guy to tolerate the huge [training] volumes.”
It might be that 80 or 90% of professional cyclists start to see declines in performance and in their ability to recover as they reach, say 35 years old. But as with any type of exercise or training stimulus, there will be a percentage of people that decline slower with age than others and that can handle higher intensity efforts further into their career.
“It’s very possible that guys like [Horner], Jens Voigt, Stuart O’Grady etc are just part of the special 5% of people who are still motivated and can handle big training loads at those ages”, Dr Betik said.

So how long could someone like Horner continue to compete at the highest level? Well the American’s most immediate concern is the fact that he doesn’t have a contract for next season, given RadioShack-Leopard is about to become Trek and the team will be built around a focus on the Spring Classics.
But assuming Horner can find a team, he’s already said he’d like to keep racing for another two or three years, if he feels as good as he did at the Vuelta. And if he keeps winning races he’ll make himself pretty hard not to employ.
But to answer the question of “how long could he go on?”, it’s perhaps worth looking to this study published last year. In the study, the author put five-time Tour de France winner Miguel Indurain through his paces to see how ageing had affected his cycling performance in the 14 years since he retired.
While the study had a number of flaws — for a start it tried to make a statement about the effects of ageing in isolation when both ageing and a significantly reduced training load were involved — it showed that Indurain hasn’t lost much in the 14 years since his last race.
The 46-year-old’s maximum heartrate was still 191bpm (around 17bpm higher than you might expect for someone his age) and he was still able to put out an impressive amount of power. To quote the author of the study: “Indurain’s absolute maximal and submaximal oxygen uptake and power output still compare favorably with those exhibited by active professional cyclists.”
Could Indurain still be competitive at an elite level if he had the motivation to do so? Well, he’d probably need to lose the 12kg he’s put on since he retired, he’d need to significantly increase his training, and it’s highly unlikely we’d see him winning the Tour de France again, but there’s no reason to suspect that he couldn’t still be mixing it up in the bunch.
Or, to quote Dr Betik one final time:
“There’s lots of evidence that these guys aren’t necessarily done at 40. It’s just whether they choose to do it or not.”

IL BENE SI FA MA NON SI DICE

Posted: September 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

#Nonsolociclismo

BartaliGino Bartali è stato proclamato “giusto tra le nazioni”. La commissione della scuola internazionale di studi sull’olocausto del museo israeliano Yad Vashem ha voluto premiare il coraggio di un uomo che ha contribuito a salvare le vite di centinaia di ebrei durante l’occupazione nazista dell’Italia negli anni della seconda guerra mondiale.

Bartali corre ancora, ma questa volta sul filo della storia. Occupa le pagine dei giornali e i titoli breaking news in sovraimpressione. Le sue gesta ritornano e riaffiorano perché la storia è ciclica e noi troppo presto dimentichiamo. Desta stupore l’italiano Gino. Uno che mette in pericolo la sua fama e prima ancora la sua vita per salvare altre vite. Persone che non conosce e che non vedrà mai. Nel nome della giustizia e della libertà. Anche questo insegna una bicicletta: Amore e generosità. Bartali, spirito da capitano condottiero, spirito da gregario. “Il bene si fa ma non si…

View original post 256 more words

Caught in the Hipster Trap

Posted: September 18, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , ,

 
By

AFTER resisting for years, I finally gave in and began wearing glasses, mostly when I watch movies or drive (the rest of the time I go around in a tolerable fog). More upsetting than this small sign of physical decay was the acquaintance who took note of my newly bespectacled profile and said that I looked like a hipster. Mind you, the glasses are ordinary brown frames, not retro black. Architects would scoff. Yet I’d been linked to the tattooed, headphone-clad, hirsute rulers of youth culture, and insulted, because anyone who believes he is genuinely cool would never want to be called a hipster, that slavish adopter of trends. 
My initial surprise was replaced by a stark realization: as a 30-something skinnyish urban male there’s almost nothing I can wear that won’t make me look like a hipster. Such is the pervasiveness of hipster culture that virtually every aspect of male fashion and grooming has been colonized.
Take footwear. Never mind that it’s largely about comfort. Every time I lace up a pair of Adidas or Vans, I might as well be saying I’m one of those hipsters with a closetful of retro ’80s street wear. Top-Siders paired with an Lacoste shirt are the realm of Vampire Weekend-type preppy hipsters. Any kind of heavy boots smack of up-with-the-working-man proletariat hipsters.
I don’t have a beard or mustache, but if I did, I’d instantly signify as the rugged breed of hipster who stalks the mountains and hollers of Williamsburg and Silver Lake.
For years, I wore a knit cap, starting early in the fall and extending late into spring, because I get chronic sinus headaches made worse by the cold. Now I can’t wear it without looking like the idiotic young-Hollywood hipsters whose wool beanies rest on their tousled heads year-round in sunny California.
Thirty years from now I’ll be able to un-self-consciously wear a cardigan and a tweed cap or fedora, because there is an age limit for being seen as a hipster, but, at the moment, hipsters have geezer style locked up.
Even the basic building blocks of a wardrobe have been hipsterfied. Jeans, especially slim-cut denim, are a hipster essential. So are white T-shirts, leather jackets and hooded sweatshirts. I could wear suits. But they would have to be boxy styles from Men’s Wearhouse, because anything slim or tailored is the province of high-fashion hipsters.
Hipsters have the market cornered on vintage and irony, so I can’t raid the back of my closet for the 20-year-old Smashing Pumpkins concert tee I bought at an actual concert, 20 years ago. Not content with irony, hipsters have also co-opted authentic heritage brands like Woolrich and Gant.
The only way to safely avoid looking like a hipster, so far as I can tell, is to dress in oversize mesh jerseys bearing the logos of sports teams. Or to wear the blandest, baggiest, beige-est clothes possible, like a middle-aged tourist. Oh, wait. My girlfriend read a draft of this story and told me mesh jerseys “are kind of hipster now.” The Rick Steves look is next.
But hipsterification is a fast-moving, all-encompassing beast that goes far beyond urban fashion.
Want to take up a pastime? Cooking, farming, knitting, woodcraft, photography, beekeeping and bicycling are considered hipster hobbies.
Hipsters love their iPhones, yet swoon over antiquated technology like typewriters and record players, so Luddites can’t even stand apart.
Has there ever been a subculture this broadly defined?
Not long ago, I was visiting a big city, walking in what is considered a cool neighborhood, dressed in jeans and tennis shoes and carrying an old 35-millimeter camera. My father’s camera, in fact. I felt like such a trend victim I wanted to stop passers-by and plead, “I’ve used this camera since 1991. Please believe me that I’m not a hipster.”
Or am I?
My friends and I express scorn for the way hipsters try too hard to look cool and continually take on new careers, interests, musical tastes, hairstyles and wardrobes in dilettantish fashion. But underneath it lie uneasy feelings about our own identity and individuality. I live in Brooklyn, work in a creative field, have shelves of vinyl records, dress in vintage and designer labels. So what if I grew up not far from the Woolrich headquarters in rural Pennsylvania? Dining at a locavore restaurant on Smith Street in my buffalo plaid shirt, I’m indistinguishable from everyone else wearing the uniform of the freethinker. If it looks like a hipster, walks like a hipster and quacks like a hipster…
A friend of mine said he used to get embarrassed when a long-cultivated aspect of his personal style became popular with the masses. Now he doesn’t care, secure in his own tastes.
I’m not that evolved. What keeps me going is the belief, deluded though it may be, that there are a few clothing styles or other forms of self-expression that haven’t yet been co-opted by hipster culture. What they are, I’m keeping to myself.

Steven Kurutz is a Home reporter for The New York Times.
original article

The Problem With Chris Horner

Posted: September 14, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,
from INRNG

Some are having trouble enjoying Chris Horner’s ride in the Vuelta this year. The 41 year old is riding high in the Vuelta. It’s attracting attention and praise but also questions because of his age and he seems to be performing at a level higher than before.

But what if the anxiety and suspicion expressed by some say more about the sport and how fans are still struggling to believe what they see, a mirror to reflect the viewer rather than the rider?

 

I get “is Chris Horner doping” emails but how am I supposed to know? It’s the same and only answer available for any rider. Earlier this year I wrote we can never know as a piece to frame a stock response to these emails. But back to the Vuelta and in the trial of Chris Horner the case for the prosecution is rather simple: he’s 41 and has never ridden as good as this before. Interestingly this time we’re not seeing as much analysis of actual performance, for example comparative times on the climbs or discussion over Watts per kilogram ratios. Maybe that’s just the Vuelta and fewer people are following?

The Man and not the Athlete?
Perhaps Horner has not helped his image with supportive quotes for Lance Armstrong, for example here is one from cyclingnews.com:

Look, I’m certainly old enough and wise enough to understand the magnitude of the situation, but in the end he’s still getting prosecuted with no positive test. A lot of guys say they saw him and a lot say he did this and he did that, but I look at it and say: ‘USADA, WADA, UCI, they’re saying that the tests are worthless.’ So do you take all the tests, 500, 1000, I don’t know the number I’ve done in my own career and you basically say, that you took them for no reason?

But he’s given other quotes where he’s raised doubts about doping and the practices of some teams, telling the same website in 2007:

It is impossible to ride the front with your whole team and get to the final climb with most of your team still on the front — and be ready to come back and do it day-in and day-out

In other words what we saw from some teams was “not normal”.

What would you say?

Some say Horner should state out loud that he’s riding clean, apparently he hasn’t said this. But he could shout this out loud from the top of the Angliru or write it down 100 times on paper and some would retort that “he would say that, wouldn’t he.” Words can help but the risk is this becomes a test of personality, articulation and verbal dexterity rather than substance.

The Winner’s Curse
The problem with some people’s doubts over Chris Horner is not really for Horner or the race, it’s become a systemic issue with the sport where some feel unable to trust the anti-doping controls. It happens elsewhere and particularly during a grand tour. You’ll remember Chris Froome got the treatment on a much bigger scale. But we had the same in the Giro where Vincenzo Nibali’s dominance got assessed by Andrew Hood on Velonews.

It’s understandable in the context of history where riders have aced anti-doping controls for years and if past precedent isn’t convincing enough we know that it’s still possible to microdose with EPO or use blood doping to evade detection. Worse there’s the simple matter of timing where concern over the likes of Mauro Santambrogio or Mustafa Sayar proves to be a matter of time. Cyclists risk being treated like politicians where many assume they are lying.

Is Age an Issue?
Amid the subjective matters of performance or media quotes Horner’s age is the one certainty and at 41 he is old enough to have fathered several of his rivals in the top-10. But surely the date of birth is the only factual element? If it’s unusual for a forty-something rider to do this we should be careful with assumptions that it’s impossible. In a large population it is still possible for someone to perform at a later age. Of course in a population of pro cyclists its possible for other factors to explain this.

The Problem is Your Problem
The more you look at it the more it’s your problem. If you are surprised by a rider’s improvement or even their age then you’re then left make up your own mind because there’s nothing else to do. In fact it’s like a mirror, as any suspicion and doubt reflects your view of the world rather than the truth. You could be right, you could be wrong.

Conclusion
Got a problem with Chris Horner? If so then it’s your problem. It might also be a collective challenge for the sport to restore faith so that racing can be enjoyed. But there’s not much Horner can do about it.

The past goes a long way to explaining the present day suspicion directed to those leading a grand tour, especially as the pendulum is swinging back. Chris Horner is in the hotseat of suspicion but others have been before. Take whatever view you want on Horner or any other rider in the Vuelta but it has to be just that, nobody can prove anything. The only safe prediction is that this phenomenon will continue in 2014.

It's time fot grape harvest for the Mosers'

Vento / L'italia in bicicletta lungo il fiume Po

Mondadori pubblica una lista di 10 libri per chi ama andare in bicicletta
http://www.inmondadori.it/13/06-bicicletta-libri/?referrer=socitfcb130619&utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign
Immagine

Ne aggiungiamo qualcun altro, anche non Mondadori
Diari della biciletta, di David Byrne
Giallo al Tour, di Gianni Mura
Pedalare! Pedalare! di John Foot
The Death of Merco Pantani di Matt Rendell

si accettano altri consigli!

View original post