Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Lance Armstrong (interesting, well written article)

(By Scott Soshnick, courtesy of Bloomberg via Mohan the Great)

Lance Armstrong didn’t win the Tour de France, the grueling race he once dominated, the one jokingly dubbed the Tour de Lance. In prior years he pedaled and pedaled and pedaled until he was the last man standing on the podium. Past tense.

Armstrong has demonstrated, over and over, that mountains and preconceived notions of human capability can be conquered. He showed that cancer can be kicked. Armstrong won the Tour seven consecutive times, in 1999-2005. He retired, came back in 2009 after a three-year break and finished third. He tried again this time to no avail. Oh, how he tried to win a stage, just one stage. He sprinted toward the finish. Came close, but.

He finished 23rd in the race, which, for the third time in four years, was won by Alberto Contador of Spain.

Some in France have ridiculed this version of Armstrong, saying that a graceful champion knows when to quit. They lampooned Lance, all right, downgrading his status from competitor to tourist, someone out for a Sunday ride when it became apparent that winning wasn’t an option.

Don’t the castigators realize there’s something regal about a champion who isn’t afraid to fail, isn’t afraid to try all the while, deep down, knowing things have changed.

“Once you know you’re not going to be the best guy then I’m going to sit up and enjoy it -- look around, look at people, listen to people,” Armstrong said.

It’s hard to imagine any athlete’s vantage points being more different. Armstrong, the contender, used to rise from his seat, eyes narrowing, teeth clenched, too focused on breathing and screaming muscles to even notice the throngs lining the course. Winning mattered. Only winning.

Then there’s this guy. Same fellow, but different. He sits up straight, arms on hips, not the least bit concerned with pelotons, positioning or pedaling through the pain. This guy got to see and feel and interact with the folks who lined the course, some of them holding signs heralding hope.

A Helpless Hurt

Hey, Armstrong’s 38. Willie Mays was right. Turning old is just a helpless hurt. Seems time, not the Pyrenees, was Armstrong’s unbeatable foe, to borrow from Cervantes, who surely would’ve liked Lance, dreaming impossible dreams and fighting foes.

Speaking of fights and foes, here come the feds after Armstrong, who, depending on the outcome of the investigation, will be remembered as just another flawed athlete or the real deal, a bonafide hero. We’ll see.

One by one, the supernovas of sport have disappointed. Their seemingly superhuman achievements were a byproduct of talent and practice, yes, but magic potions and shortcuts, too. Barry Bonds. Mark McGwire. Marion Jones. Alex Rodriguez. There are more, of course. More cheaters and more questions, such as: Is there a teary eyed admission in Armstrong’s future?

Never Failed Test

Armstrong and his defenders note he’s never failed a drug test. Surely they’re cognizant that, in this day, and especially in this sport, not getting caught simply isn’t enough to sway doubters. Certainly not enough for cynical sports fans burned by believing.

Federal investigators have set their sights on cycling’s biggest pelt and his former U.S. Postal Service team amid allegations of, among other things, doping and fraud. Pointing the finger at Armstrong are former cyclists Greg LeMond and Floyd Landis, the latter a disgraced Tour winner who followed an all-too-familiar pattern -- deny, deny, deny, admit.

It’s an ominous sign that Armstrong last week hired a criminal defense attorney, saying that he’d cooperate with a “credible and fair” investigation -- not one that took on the tenor of a witch hunt.

Cooperation might not be his choice. Armstrong’s inquisitor isn’t former Senator George Mitchell, who didn’t have subpoena power while trying to unmask Major League Baseball and its culture of performance enhancers.

Novitzky Asking Questions

Nope, the man asking the questions will be Jeff Novitzky, a federal agent with the Food and Drug Administration who has been leading the government’s probe of illegal steroids in professional sports.

Any objective assessment would have to conclude that it’s hard to fathom how Armstrong, a native Texan, could’ve dominated a sport awash in cheaters without at some point having skirted the rules himself.

Then again, it gnaws at me that Armstrong accomplished all that he did after doctors gave him a 40 percent chance to live when testicular cancer had spread to his brain and lungs. The guy’s a fighter.

Physiologist Edward Coyle of the Human Performance Lab at the University of Texas in 2005 published a paper about Armstrong’s body. He discovered that Armstrong has an oversized heart that has grown to become 30 percent larger than the average man’s.

They say everything’s bigger in Texas. Lots of Armstrong fans sure hope that doesn’t apply to lies, too.

(Scott Soshnick is a Bloomberg News columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Challenging they said - madness more like!

Check out the bike course profile for next week's ITU Long Course World Championships in Germany. 2000m of climbing over just 130km. Madness!!! And I'm supposed to run a fast 30km after that - (I'm already in denial over the 4km swim that precedes it).


A cool place to have a "sit down"

(Courtesy of Ian Hay)

This is a picture of a public toilet in Houston

Now that you've seen the outside view, take a look at the inside view...

It's made entirely of one-way glass! No one can see you from the outside, but when you are inside it's like sitting in a clear glass box!
Now would you... COULD YOU....???

Alternatively check out this amazing painted bathroom floor...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

How twins are made...

(Courtesy of my Mum)

I thought this was just plain cute.
So this is how they do it... One of life's great mysteries solved.

Only twenty years ago, no one would have understood this joke!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

My relationship with food by Dan Empfield

(Courtesy of www.slowtwitch.com)

When you and I were young we established our relationships. Not just with people, but also our relationships with alcohol, drugs, cigarettes—those to whom we're sexually attracted—as well as our relationships to bosses, employees, parents, religion, politics.

We also formed relationships with work and leisure time, with schedules, with hygiene, with our approaches to concepts like discipline, virtue, loyalty, steadfastness.

As we age, some of those relationships prove unhealthy or dysfunctional. Those who formed bad relationships with alcohol, for example, found they needed to redefine those relationships. I'm on my second marriage, and happily so. But in between my two marriages I decided to take a look at the way I approached romance: what I looked for in a woman, what sort of woman was best for me, and not only what I wanted in a woman, but what I was prepared to offer in return.

I think success and happiness requires a dose of luck, but depends more on our initial establishment of relationships, as well as our willingness to examine and redefine these relationships throughout our lives, as they are found wanting. Success is proportional to our abilities to self-correct.

Against that backdrop, I'd like to talk about my relationship with food and eating. Food is tricky. If you think about it, there are three possible relationships you can have with alcohol, and two are good. Not drinking, and moderate drinking, are each good. Only drinking too much is bad.

Food is different. Eating too much is bad. Eating too little is bad. Binging and purging is bad. Only eating the correct amount is good.

When I was young, I enjoyed the luxury of eating whatever and however much I wanted, and I stayed thin as a rail. That lasted until the age of 18. Since then, my eating habits were not in sync with my basal metabolic rate plus reasonable workouts. Only an exceptional amount of aerobic work over a fairly long duration got me to target weight.

The older one gets, the more difficult that calculus becomes.

Something happened last week. I contracted food poisoning, or, maybe it was the mother of all stomach flus. This sort of thing rarely happens to me. But something like it has happened to me several times in my adult life, and that is altitude sickness. It's the world's worst headache, with the world's worst stomach flu, all packaged for your pleasure.

I spent about 30 very uncomfortable hours last week, and this is the third time in the past year my entire digestive tract has been emptied, top to bottom. The other two occasions were voluntary: a nuclear stress test, and a colonoscopy.

The difference is, after my colonoscopy, I was ready to eat. After my food poisoning, I was not. I looked at food—any food, even food I was quite sure was good, healthy, clean—with suspicion. It was not the food itself, but my stomach's response to it, that caused my concern. My stomach has its own relationship to food, and in its traumatized state if it felt it wasn't ready for business-as-usual, whatever went it was coming right back out.

Then I thought: My relationship to food had changed (though only temporarily).

When I thought about my previous experiences with altitude sickness, these episodes always happened during peak training and racing season. I was training for something. That's why I was at altitude. It was always the going to altitude and working out too hard, too soon after arriving, that caused my altitude sickness.

And the occasion of already being in a desired training spot caused me to come back from a flat-on-my-back posture quickly. I was in God's country, so was my bike, I needed to get back on and go.

Because of this confluence of events—very bad GI distress and reticence to eat, followed by several more days of flat-out training—I always came back from these experiences fit as a fiddle and considerably lighter.

Now, don't get me wrong. I don't recommend a dose of food poisoning as a training tactic. Salmonella is not the new EPO. Rather, I'm simply relating a set of historical experiences that form a context for what I'm now writing.

But I must tell you that as I lay there in bed this past week, in the fetal position, or prostrate at the porcelain throne, I did think: I'm going to find the silver lining in this.

I took two days off during my illness, and I've just had my third consecutive training day. My workouts have been remarkably good considering how weak I felt. Yet I don't think a few pounds I might've lost over the past several days is the payoff. I think the silver lining ought to be more than just a hard-won half-inch lost on my waistline.

What I'm hoping is to hit the reset button on my approach to food. Rather than eating everything served to me; rather than ordering the "choice of three" rather than "of two," just to make sure I get enough food; rather than putting a bit more pasta into the boiling pot, out of fear I might finish my meal still hungry; rather than shoveling the food in until I'm uncomfortably full; I'm hoping to recalibrate my response and approach to food, so that none of the above describes my habits.

Once I heard a "testimony" from a young man talking about his past life with alcohol. He related how he became a heavy drinker in his mid-teens. He then discovered a life of sobriety. In his college fraternity days he resumed drinking, realized his error, and again chose sobriety. Then the rigors of work, the entertaining of clients, and the cycle of addiction and sobriety.

As he spoke, and as I did the math, I realized he was telling others about his success over alcoholism only a scant few months after his last fall off the wagon. There are likely more chapters to this story yet to be written, I thought.

I would think the same thing if I were you, reading what I'm writing here. Maybe in a couple of months I'll be ordering a double double with cheese, and fries... and another order of fries, just to be on the safe side.

Still, I think success not only relies on the wise choice of a set of habits and relationships, but the ability to choose again, when an earlier pattern of behavior requires a new approach. I've recalibrated before and it has stuck. Why not now?

As my best friends know, I have my soft underbelly, figuratively and literally. Place me in front of an ascent averaging 7 percent, with 6000 feet of vertical, and that I'm happy to contemplate. Place me in front of a bathroom scale, now that scares the bejeesus out of me.

And fear is really what it comes down to, isn't it? Fear of eating too little and the consequential hunger; fear of eating too much and the consequential weight gain. I eat like my dogs eat: The next kill might be three days off. I can't be happy going through life like that, can I? To be clear, my hope and goal is not to walk away from each meal hungry and miserable. Rather, to recalibrate what "satisfaction" at the end of a meal means. What I want it to mean is "enough" rather than "topped off."

Upon this ocean I set sail, like Columbus on the Atlantic, not knowing exactly how things will end up. Success for Columbus meant finding the Spice Islands and China. I'll be happy if I'm sprinkling Spice Islands over a little less food atop my china. When you see me at the races, you'll probably know how my journey is working out.

Simon says: -

Good article and yes I do think Dan will fall off the "eat right wagon", I have the same problem and regularly fall off. I used to binge drink but fixed that a few years ago and now usually drink in moderation but now and again I still fall off the "moderate drinking wagon".

Dan has hit the nail on the head when you say it's about habits and relationships BUT we are all human and many of us have self-destructive tendencies. Few can totally "fix" these traits and therefore I suggest that we need to develop a habit to manage them when they do happen.

What I do with great success these days (it's taken me 44 years to work it out) is to not beat myself up too much BUT don't wait until Monday morning to get back on the "straight and narrow wagon". Do it first thing in the morning. This way you never "let go" of your good habits/relationships for more than 24 hours.

Too often I was a "first thing Monday morning" kind of a guy but often by then my spirit and resolve was broken and it was often weeks or months before I re-established the commitment again. You can imagine how much damage and how much bigger the mountain is to climb again if this is allowed to happen.

"Tomorrow is a new day" - let this be your safety net and you won't fall very far.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Fabulous Tour De France 2010 Photos

(Courtesy of Chris Wayman and www.boston.com)


Sam the Roth-man

An email I received from Sam today regarding his experience at Roth. Sounds like an awesome race to do. Sam as you will read had a mishap before the race and it's amazing that he even started let alone finished. Amazing job Sam, well done.

Photo taken at recent KL Half Marathon courtesy of Mohan the Great

Sam says: -

"I am writing this at the bar of the hotel in Geneva airport after Carmen and I drove from Roth today. We head back to KL tomorrow morning.

The race was absolutely fantastic and lived up to its reputation by more than 100%. I have done a few IM’s around the world and before yesterday, I would have classified IM Austria as the best in terms of support and the friendliness of the crowds etc. However, Roth ‘takes the biscuit’ in that category.

The experience is out of this world and I enjoyed every minute of it. I knew that my prep was below par due to my shoulder (recovering from a broken collarbone), my busy work schedule and bronchitis so I was hoping for something that had 12 hours plus change.

Unfortunately, I twisted my right knee just as I was walking to the swim start (by foolishly climbing over a fence) and from that point on, I knew I was in trouble. The knee swelled up immediately and while it was manageable in the swim and on the bike, the pain became unbearable on the run. I had to walk the last 15k and even that was very uncomfortable. Anyway, I am not complaining. I went to take part and not to do a good time and in that respect, the mission was successful.

Carmen and I stayed with a German family (I got their name from the local tourist office) and boy, were they friendly and hospitable. We really lucked out there and it’s so much nicer than staying in a hotel at 60 Euros a night for the two of us.

As for the race, I had a nice and easy swim. The canal is clean and it’s not cold. The bike course is undulating with about three hills of any significance. All of them had hundreds of supporters lining the road and the best had to be the famous Solar Hill where you have to ride TdF style through an avenue of supporters who are shouting and supporting you up the hill. The experience is the best! The run course is mainly along the canal path but at each U turn, the course goes through a village where the ‘umpah’ bands are playing and atmosphere is akin to Oktoberfest.

The finish in Roth is also another feature where you run into the finish area which is built like an arena. The red carpet is laid out in a U shape so you have to run down one side, along another before turning towards the finish arch. I tell you, the organizers think of everything to get the most out of the Roth experience for the athlete. It’s brilliant!

Anyway, we have a long day of travelling to KL tomorrow which is quickly followed by PD tri next Sunday. I will have to see if my knee calms down before then but Carmen is up for it, big time.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

New England kit - New sponsors

(Courtesy of Paul Hobbs)

The Football Association today proudly unveiled Total, FCUK and UPS as the new sponsors of the England football team.

"The combination of these three corporate giants perfectly captures the ethos of the England side" said an FA spokesman. "After all, they had nothing in the tank when it counted, and they've proved themselves to be a bunch of expensive posers who always fail to deliver."

The announcement followed the news that Nationwide building society would be ending its sponsorship of the national side after the FA rejected its pre-World Cup offer of a new £20m deal. "Not so fcuking cocky now, are you?" said Nationwide in a prepared statement yesterday, before respectfully suggesting that the FA "Can shove its sponsorship deal right up it's a@se".

Pundits noted that if the FA followed Nationwide's advice, it would be the second time in a fortnight that England had been laid wide open at the back.

The new shirts come in a range of bright 'easy to spot' colours after claims from some England players that the old kit was painted in "magic invisible ink" which made it impossible to pick out an easy and obvious pass to a team mate.

The new shirts are also made of a super lightweight material, unlike the old tops which were apparently made of extra-heavy chain mail which left the Premiership stars lumbering around looking exhausted and unfit.

However, one criticism has been made of the design of the new England kit with claims that the neck hole was inexplicably too small for the heads of the Premiership stars.

Players say this will make it very hard to pull the shirt off during any over-exuberant goal celebrations, but a spokesman for the kit manufacturers said "We don't envisage this being a problem"

Wednesday, July 07, 2010


Taken from our Company website - today's motivating quote of the day. I don't think I need to add anything - it speaks for itself, ENJOY:

Commitment is the willingness to do whatever it takes to get what you want. A true commitment is a heartfelt promise to yourself from which you will not back down. Many people have dreams and many have good intentions but few are willing to make the commitment.

David McNally

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

The Bike Bandit - Awesome

(Courtesy of Bry Baby)

Is this the best thing you've ever seen? Had me cheering out loud in my office.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Alistair Brownlee wins European title in Athlone

(Courtesy of the BBC)

British triathlete Alistair Brownlee followed up his victory in Spain last month with a win at the Athlone ETU European Championships on Sunday.

The 22-year-old from Leeds finished 40 seconds ahead of defending champion Javier Gomez of Spain.

Brownlee has clearly fully recovered from the stress fracture of the leg which he suffered earlier in the year.

Gomez and Slovakian Richard Varga took the lead in Ireland but Brownlee reeled them both in.

By the time the breakaway group entered the first transition they were 20 seconds ahead of the main pack, which included Russia's Dmitry Polyansky.

High winds made for difficult cycling conditions and the organisers agreed to shorten the course by two kilometres.

Brownlee charged to the front at the start of the 10K run and while Gomez kept close for a few kilometres, he gradually slipped back.

As Brownlee increased his lead his younger brother, Jonathan, faded badly as Frenchman David Hauss came on strong with a late run, ending in third place.

Afterwards Brownlee said: "When I was injured earlier this year, this was what I was aiming for. That is the biggest number of high fives I have ever done coming into the finishing straight."


Sam, Chris, Bryan and Simon all took part in the Marmotte yesterday. It's a stage of the tour d'France that is super hilly (read mountainous), literally thousands of people take part. Here are a few pictures that Sam took.

Having done this climb a few times myself I can tell you it's a beast, how anyone can go up in 37 minutes is a mystery to me. I think I was up in a little under an hour.

Sam looking very happy on one of the ascents.

Bryan, Simon, Chris and Sam - all looking cheerful chappies just before the last ascent of the day Alpe d'Huez.

I am green with envy - lucky buggers.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Random funny photos

(Courtesy of @SexCigarBooze via twitter)

A few random piccies for your Friday entertainment.

When do you know when you've reached the pinnacle of fat and lazy!


Fattest I know but there's nothing worse than a reformed smoker or a PFG (Previous Fat Guy). Run fatboy run!

If he had a face we know it'd be smiling.