Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Trifecta Complete

So we won our 3rd straight National Title. This one was the hardest, with last years elite silver medalists racing Masters this year. It was odd since everyone raced Masters the year.. 7 teams in our field beat the winning elite time.

It was also nice to see the Moab team get crushed. It's nothing personal, it's just that all the trash talk (and not by them, but by a lot of other "real mountain bike teams) about how weak Nats was and how if a real team showed up we'd get our asses handed to us proved to be a lot of whinning.

So at this point, if you post that you could win Natz because it's a soft race well.. maybe you should shut up and show up instead. My guess is that any of the top 3 teams would beat you.

I do want to say that for the 3rd year in a row I am trully impressed with Dan Norton. Every year the racing gets harder, his team gets faster but comes up just short. But he never gives up, never surrenders and never makes excuses. He's a tough cookie who races you tough and respects hard riders.

Those S&M guys impressed me too. I was amazed at how smoot they were. We'll fully admit to being strong riders with limited technical skills. Those guys may not have been as strong power wise but they were pretty close and there was no drop off in the skills. The difference was organization.. we didn't make any mistakes. But purely on the course they were the stronger team. Lucky for us 24 Hour racing is more than just on the course. My hats are off to those guys. I suspect they'd win 2 out of 3.

For me, this may be my last hyper-competitive 24 Hour event. I will probably do more, but not full-on. I can't say I enjoyed knowing I could put in a 56 minute lap and still lose time. I'd prefer to be able to enjoy it a little more. Last year I think I went faster with the skills/strength I had. This year I went faster but didn't quite race my potential.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Kirby Wilbur: Weasel

As I was driving home from dropping my son off at daycare, I chanced upon Kirby Wilbur. Talk Radio drives me up the wall, because with only a couple exceptions there seems to be a almost proud disrespect for the truth. I've often heard the excuse "we are entertainers" as hosts spout off retoric.

He had a guest on discussing the contested election trial and immediately made the bullshit statement that Way never answered the Republican question of "who changed the ballots". Why is this a bullshit statement? Because the question implies that it is a given that ballots were changed and that the question is who changed them. In fact, the issue being discussed was not any change to the physical ballots. Way's testimony largely revolved around how King County tabulated the statistics on the King County absentee-ballot report that was provided to the county canvassing board before the board certified the initial tabulation of the Nov. 2 vote. Although conservative's outside the court have freely stated that there would be explosive evidence that somehow ballots were changed fraudulently changed, so far no evidence has been presented to support that. In fact, the judge has warned them against throwing around the fraud word.

My guess is that there will never be any real evidence of ballot box stuffing or manipulation of ballots. If there was, there would be no need to engage in the weasel words that Kirby uses. And let's be clear: even if you did not say it yourself Kirby, you provided the guest with a venure and clearly agreed with him. You aided and abbetted the perpetuation of a statement that is not true and you know it.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Truth vs. Lies

One of the most annoying things to here is that the GOP and the Democrats are exactly the same. No they aren't. I adhere to the definitions of lying vs. bullshitting. Democrats do lie. But as a famous author pointed out, liars share an important charactaristic with truth tellers: their lies are grounded in reality. When someone lies or tells the truth, we take for granted the underlying facts of the statement. "Bob stole the cookie" revolves around the truth that a cookie is gone. So regardless of whether the statement is true or false we intuitively accept the premise that a cookie is gone as true.

The GOP bullshits. And bullshit is fundamentally more dangerous because it is not grounded in reality. When the bullshitter says "Bob stole the cookie", he is misleading us in 2 ways. 1st, by accusing Bob of taking the cookie. And 2nd by implying that the cookie is even gone. And that's important to understand. Because the real dishonestly is the implied suggestion that the cookie is gone, which is then accepted. And also keep in mind that because the underlying foundation is not true, the 1st mislead is also never true.

Keep that in mind when the GOP claims anything in the election dispute. They are throughing out accusations they know are not true, because they also know that even if the statements are disproven, people will natural assume that the implied underlying statement is also true. And that is their real goal.

So far, *none* of the GOP's claims have been substantiated. But their true goal is not to prove that Gregoire "stole" the election, it is to leave the impression that the election process is unfair.

That is not true. The reality is the election system is not f*ed up. The election was simply close enough that the GOP had an opening to suggest that normal gliches were somehow larger than they were.

In contrast to Ohio, were there was a clear pattern of legal if unethical election manipulation it shows the GOP to be the trully cynical of the 2 parties.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Mission Accomplished

Sometimes a sense of overwhelming confidence is more inportant than actual ability. My legs felt lik crap but I still managed to take out a 2 -up sprint for win #1 of the season at Ohop Trophy. It also moves me up into 1st overall for the Washington Cup. Masters 30+ category. Although I am beginning to feel a bit like a sandbagger. I raced the Cat 1/2 as well, but since only 3 of us actaully showed I can't brag too much about that. I think Chris was more worried about dinging his new cranks than racing and Kerry showed us what years of riding a 53/9-12 gearing will do.

Of course I promptly caught a nice infection Thursday and haven't ridden since. Pacific Raceways will be my first ride since then. The team had a nice weekend: Michael won the Washington State Masters Omnium Championship and Andrew got 4th or 5th in the Pro-1-2 event depending on who is actually a state resident. And Big Doug Reid of Old School S3 is back and riding for us. Finally someone who can sprint :)

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Now it's my turn

Well, I attacked as per me plan. Over and over again. I lasted just under half the race which isn't great but it was in plan. I spent about 3/4 of the first 2 laps off the front. I don't know if it hurt anyone (I doubt it) but it hurt me. I would have liked to go longer but I did what the team needed and after that it didn't matter much. And I saved my energy for my personal target: Ohop Trophy. It's my race (I promote it) and it's my kind of race. Short (90 minutes is my guess) and Flat with kinder-block. It isn't a fast race, just a hard race. If I have the legs I had today I think I can win. Of course luck is a big factor. I've placed 2nd and 3rd on the course earlier in the year with much less fitness but a lot of luck (no flats or mechanicals). I think technique plays a huge role on a course like this but sooner or later I will have a flat.. no matter how well i ride the kinders I can't go flat free forever.

State Road Race Championship Jitters

In 30 minutes I am off to the Washington State Championship Road Race. Per usual I have no idea were my WSBA # is. I am sure I put it somewhere completely logical. Clearly, losing my number the day of the race is some psychological twitch.

It should be a fun day. On paper, last weeks Masters State Championship was harder. The talent was deeper and the course much harder. But that could easily change depending on who shows up unexpectedly. The only heavy hitters I know will be there is Benaroya Research Institute. Russell and Chad are always strong, but so far their season hasn’t been as good as last years. But, as many teams learned, that may not mean anything. We kept a low profile waiting to strike when it mattered and they could be doing the same thing. The Valley seems to have a lot of riders going to Columbia Plateau so may not have the depth to match their talent. And who knows about First Rate. If Ronnie shows up or Carlton gets fast like he can…. And Ben has a motor if he makes the right break.

Our plan is simple. Attack. We are the team least interested in a spring finish so it’ll be up to us to make the race. I’ll be on early patrol so if I can survive past the ½ way point I’ll be happy. If all goes well we will have 2 guys in every move. And my money is on Andrew this week, since Michael should be heavily marked out.

Well, it’ll play out on the road.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Doping and sports

I recently sent a letter to Velonews, taking issue with the test used to justify Tyler Hamilton's cycling ban. The most common response I got was "why are you defending Tyler, you know he;s guilty. They all dope".

To clarify, I think there are 2 issues. One is whether Tyler doped. I have no idea if he did or not. The second is how we choose to deal with doping in general. So let's talk about that, using Tyler only as an example rather then the subject of the discussion.

First, let's lay out the facts of how these bans are working.

The approaches: The UCI has historically taken the position that a rider can only be banned if there is proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the rider is in fact guilty. The practical implication is that very few riders have actually been banned from cycling and those that have had pretty strong evidence against them. WADA (and the USADA) have both taken the *stated* position that a rider can be banned based on preponderance of the evidence. This means that there only needs to be a 51% probability in the eyes of WADA or USADA for a rider to be banned. The practical implication is that it is very easy for a rider suspected of doping to be punished because the burden of proof is effectively on the rider to prove he did not dope and it is very, very hard to prove a negative.

The tests: I have taken a lot of crap from people for saying this, but the test being used by WADA for blood doping is junk. That's not an opinion, it's a fact. It is important that people understand that the scientific method is not an abstract concept. In order for a test to be considered valid it must meet scientific standards. Studies must be done on valid sample sizes. Controls must be established. It must be replicated. The list goes on. Here's the bottom line for this test: it had no control group, the sample size was not valid, and it hasn't been replicated. In fact my understanding is that WADA won't even allow the study to be fully available for independent review. Wanting the test to be valid doesn't make it valid. WADA has claimed that the test is reliable because it is based on proven technology. That is an absolutely false statement. There is no transitive property of science. We use proven tests and technologies and facts as a basis for trying to develop new theories. But we still have to conduct studies and validate before those theories become accepted facts.

Definitions: Whether the test is valid is an important point. If you are accused of blood doping and the test is validated then it is accepted that either you did not actually dope and the test failed (false positive) or you did dope (either knowingly or unknowingly). In Tyler's specific case many people pointed out that his reason for a positive test (the vanishing twin) had little evidence and he didn't provide any evidence that the test was a "false positive". However, the problem for Tyler's defence is that the test was not validated and therefore they had no way to show how the test may have returned a false positive for blood doping if he in fact did not dope. All they have is factors that can explain why his blood was doped. To go further, they have no way of knowing if he in fact did effectively have doped blood (if untentionally) because the test is not validated. The only scenario they could explain would be intentional doping not because the test proved it but because Tyler would know he did it.

Keep in mind if you read USADA's ruling that the 2 "guilty" votes refused to question the validity of the test. They were reviewing the case strictly from a legal point of view, not a scientific one. The burden of proof is 51% probability.

What does this mean? I don't know. I will fully admit that in the "old days" it frustrated me that the UCI didn't do anything. Riders who we "knew" were doped would never get caught. Those that did seemed to get caught by the police. To make matters worse the political agenda of the UCI didn't seem to be "cover-up" not "clean-up". And when USADA cracked down on certain track and field athletes we all knew were doped to the gills based on preponderance of the evidence well I admit to applauding. But as more athletes got caught and the level of proof got closer to that 51% I started to get worried. Finally, when WADA started using tests that were unvalidated to get their 51% I started to get worried.

The reality seems to be that if we require proof positive then doping will always prevail because testing is always a step behind development. But what's the point of stopping doping? To me it's to reward riders who are clean. But a burden of proof of 51% doesn't really do that; in fact it makes it (in my mind) only slightly less likely you'll get banned if you are clean than if not. And frankly, this blood test seems to me (and this is opinion) more of a test designed to provide that extra umph in convicting riders WADA thinks is guilty than actually, really proving anything. And that worries me. Even if Tyler is guilty, I don't know that the ends justify the means. To me that's the real debate.