Thursday, April 21, 2011


Another sunny start to the day in Riva del Garda cooking my porridge in the YHA grounds after having the cappucino in the restaurant . This place has had a make over 8 years ago but the old fellow serving the coffee is as cantankerous as ever .

Start was near yesterday's finish so a long haul uphill which allowed me to make contact with a number of personalities before the start , which incidently was down the road to where i started the day. Rode alongside Popovitch for a while until he reminded me we met last year on the route of the Giro d Italia in this same region .He had just returned at that time from the Tour of California . Later stopped to chat with Garzelli and then Rory Sutherland . Like myself he has not heard of an Organisation of the same calibre as Help4Heroes of UK or Wounded Warriors of USA that operates in Australia .

Ledro has a tourist office where the character in the photo with me hangs out , he is representing the 5000 year old (skeleton that was dug up ?) found in the Otztal in recent times .

Short cut the course today by going through Storo and Tiene so as to arrive at the finish line well before the racers using some of the roads from 1999 routes . Probably as many kilos as the official route but the scenery was spectacular . No big screen to watch the action which is something the event needs to address .

Another tight finish with Duarte (94) crossing the line in front of Scarpone and Machado with the rest of the peleton following in their own time . Scarpone looked quite fresh as he passed into the ceremonial area as did Machado . As usual i got to meet some of the local political personalities to whom the journalists were able to explain the reasons for my prescense . Amongst others here , I was able to chat with Francesco Moser and Maurizio Fondriest several times during the afternoon . Most of the UCI officials supervising this Giro i have met at previous ProTour Events .

Tonight i am a guest of the Local White Cross that provides the Ambulance service in this area . Luckily for me the Ladies speak better English than my Italian . As usual the men are reticent to use their English for fear that they will make mistakes , little do they realise that i can't string two words together outside talking about bikes or food .

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Beautiful scenery and sunny weather is part of the scenario that you enjoy in the Lago di Garda area . Today i started out and came across Liquigas guys in the form of "Silvo Smzd and Vincenzo Nibali who were visiting a store that was showcasing the bikes they use . earlier i had been in the store with my bike as i needed to replace the "chain drop guard" that i had acquired which was too big to stay in position .

When i went in the store earlier with my bike i was told to put it outside ! Fat chance as i had already been told several "stolen bike stories" from that area and i needed the bike to show what i wished to replace had they the item in stock . On a scale of ten the shop scores zero and not being an Italian speaker the use of mime was the only alternative available .

Craig is the superlative mechanic who worked for Bjarne Riis's team before joining Radio Shack and when i showed him a squeak told me the solution . He also related several stories from his time with Linda Mac Cartney's Team and how Paul was also involved for awhile before that team folded .

Rode to the podium with Rory Sutherland and was told he had not met Tim Roe the other Aussie in this event . No doubt they will have met up during today's parcours .

Towards the end of the etappe the race passed through a couple of tunnels and as they were slightly uphil and the tank was about empty i was happy to get back out in the sun after 5 km of dismal lighting . Fortunately for me there was little traffic and i was only passed by a couple of cars in the tunnel . Returning to Riva del Garda after the finish of the race i passed a speed indicator that flashed up 68kph before the next vehicle moved through the sensor at 73kph . BMC's van showed no interest when i pulled alongside asking for a lift through the tunnel . Thus i pushed as hard as i could knowing that i had passed many vehicles in the 8 kilometres from the Arrivo . Those vehicles were now free to drive at the posted speed ( can an Italian drive below a speed limit ? ) now that they had a straight road after the switchback corners of earlier .

On the switchbacks i had managed to catch the Radio Shack Pullman that started at the same time and pass on the inside as he slowly rounded a severe downward bend . The driver may recall our previous encounter where i followed him from the Col Lauteret towards Bourg Oisans during the Dauphinee Libere and he only got away after passing the exit road to Les des Alpes and the road started climbing for a while .

Later i had to pull up sharply when the BMC bus was forced to pull over by oncoming traffic . After the tunnel the road continued downhill into Riva where traffic forced a dramatic reduction of speed .

Saw the sprint finish of the Etappe with Thoma Voeckler the winner and was pleased to see that he changed from the white uniform to his French Champion Maillot for the ceremony . Scarpone congratulated Thoma after they passed the line and i got to do a High five with Thoma as he returned towards the podium and collected his water bottle also . Bruno the speaker has difficulty pronouncing "Voeckler" , offering a variety of pronounciations in a matter of seconds , "vecler" being the most common .

When i crossed the finish line an hour earlier Bruno was kind enough to give the audience a few words about my being the Australian that has come to the "Trentino" for the past 13 years but failed once again to let them know the "raison d'etre " , that i am doing this for "Challenged / Disabili Sport" ! Bruno's wife is English so have had the chance on Tuesday to remind her to relay the message so i guess he is another guy who fails to listen to his wife ?

Not looking forward to riding uphill to the start in the morning at Molina but will enjoy returning to the area of Madonna which was where Pantani finished his Giro d'Italia riding in 1999 by pulling out of the event .

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Controversy at the finish of the Time Trial left Kloden bewildered and frustrated amongst others. Standing opposite the electronic screen i was able to watch Andy cross the line and saw the result flash up showing him as No 1 at that time . Several more racers passed through to finish the day's action and by this time i had moved to the back of the ceremonial area and had greeted Paulo Bettini amongst those waiting to go on the podium . I had hoped to see Francesco Moser there but so far he is a no show although the "Official Race Brochure" has several items about him and his growing interest in Hospitality and Wine production .

Eventually we saw Andreas Kloden pull on the winners shirt but then Vincenzo Nibali and some others took shirts also . Paulo Bettini is obviously popular with "Bruno" the speaker since there were several requests to applaud him . My Italian is virtually non existent so i can only conclude that his Olympic exploits were amongst the items relayed to the audience .

This was my 11th appearance at this 4 day event and the weather was exceptionally warm reminding me of previous years that i have enjoyed the area and scenery . It is easy to see why Lago de Garda is so popular with the tourists from all over Europe , and with a Sailing Dinghy Competition and a Musical Event in the Congress Hall the area is bursting at the seams . End of April also has a Bike Festival run by a German Magazine and thus there are plenty of mountain bikes to be seen and i am sure some here will be preparing for those events .

Earlier in the day i found myself following Garzelli and Codol around this 13km course as they were reconoitering a course which they are very familiar with from previous visits. Not difficult to keep up when they were just loosening up but later when the wind sprang to life i found the course much more challenging even though it was as flat as a pancake . Impressive stuff to see average speeds in excess of 51 kph on the results board .

Coming across country from Treviso i passed through a variety of places that the Giro d'Italia has taken me to over the years . Marostica , thiene and Schio on the way to Rovereto the road passes over a Pass i don't recall ever cycling let alone following the route markers . Looks like a challenge worth vising on another occasion since it was a series of sharp turns on a narrow road with grades of 12 & 14% both up and then down and with several false flats also. Lack of parking places may have discouraged it's use for the Giro d'Italia .

Tomorrow is a series of loops throughout the area so the teams will enjoy staying in the same hotels for another night and i will have the chance to short cut some of the route since i have seen most of it in previous years .

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

CNF once again

THIS is the latest of the CNF conspiracy threads that i have come across and it makes me wonder about the lives that the "Top racers" are supposed to be living IF all that they are speculating about turn out to be the true state of the Cycle Race scene !

Following material copied from Cyclingnews Forum ;

Originally Posted by Merckx index 
Maybe. But LMG, you were the one who pointed out to me that riders could start in the off season with very small amounts of blood withdrawn/transfused, and work up. 3% of total blood volume is 150-200 ml., one could certainly begin with that or less. One could also get a significant PE effect with volumes on that order.

If it is a game-changer, I think it will catch riders not during the off-season, but when they transfuse before a major race or GT stage, without an immediately preceding withdrawal. I think that's when they're most vulnerable.

But also keep in mind that riders are strongly opposed to this CO test, they claim, correctly or not, that it may be detrimental to their performance. This test has been around for a long time, I think they need a better one.

i resisted responding b/c it's hard to do so without getting into the nitty gritty of how i think autologous transfusions occur and that would turn this into the longest post ever. you are correct, i implied that if you were exercising extreme caution (not necessarily the case) you could begin an autologous transfusion cycle with small amounts but the goal would still be to pair withdraw/reinfusion/dilution/microdosing in such a way as to avoid detection and gradually build up banked blood volumes of a full unit or more. IOW, always withdraw slightly more than you reinfuse and correct a little quicker with microdosing - if you do it right there aren't any big withdraws to cover up and there's hardly even a need to dodge DCO's. 

tHb-mass makes reinfusing that banked blood in larger amounts during a peak/priority event nearly impossible - not the case at present.

3% increases are seen over a longer timeline - not suddenly right before an event or in the middle of a stage race. i would think that when cross referenced with retics, 150-200 mL of whole blood (approx 30g Hb-mass) would be enough to get you into trouble.

could a rider transfuse less than 150 mL and get away with it? possibly. would that result in noticeable PE? yep, some. would a talented athlete unwilling to take those measures now be able to compete? maybe, but we're getting a lot closer. it's reasonable to think that risk reward will shift in a measurable way and the graph below (from OP SoS articles) suggests that the even small innovations can act as an effective limiter. mass measurements force some to think about whether or not the benefits of such small transfusions are no longer worth the risk.

also, tHb-mass irregualarities are a stronger and more defensible position for authorities pursuing a case of ABP abnormalities than we have at present. based upon the independent observer report last summer i'd say that the UCI is stuck in no man's land at the moment. they're commited to the ABP but not nearly enough for it to make a profound difference. new and better parameters are needed and sampling is too infrequent and predictable. at the same time they appear to have diverted resources away from testing blood and urine for specific substances. some see it as convenient negligence but it might just be a difficult period of transition. i honestly don't know.
"In great attempts it is even glorious to fail" -V Lombardi

Last edited by lean,mean,&green; Today at 17:08.

What is going to happen in the Giro & TDF this year ?

Friday, April 1, 2011

COURAGE in the face of Lung Cancer !! Revisited

Karen's ride from Adelaide to Melbourne was well supported and had a few diversions as a result of flooding in Victoria . Had requested a link to her blog so that it would automatically appear amongst the blogs that i follow but as yet this has not come about . YOU can go through this link to her website and make your own arrangements : There have been a number of interesting events take place in support of her campaign and make interesting reading , certainly the 500 event was well worth visiting and i congratulate those that took part .

Courage comes in all forms but this story affects us all !

I never was a "Marlboro Man" but had the few puffs at a younger age like most have done in their journey through to Adulthood . Even had a puff or two on Cigars but decided not for me .

CANCER strikes in all forms but if there is a way to avoid Lung Cancer most of us decide that it is by not smoking or giving up the habit through Doctor's advice or seeing the effect of illness on others . Site to visit Not so though !

Came across this item on SBS/CyclingCentral , here below are the links :

When i had the Pumonary Embolisms after the 2009 TDF i was tested and prodded extensively , including a MRI scan then and again after the 2010 Giro d'Italia , so hope that recent aches and pains are only the onset of old age protesting that the 65yo body doesn't wish to respond to the urgings of a 25yo mindset .

Hopefully people will follow today this young Lady as she rides home to Melbourne. Worldwide we all face the same health hazards and there is a growing "No Smoking" movement but for many regretably it is already too late.

Wearing the "Ribbon" for Cancer Awareness is also becoming more visible ! There are over 70 million "livestrong" bracelets out there and there are reports that "Livestrong " has raised in excess of $325 million to fund their activities !

SENT THE FOLLOWING COMMENT TO RADIO SHACK, did not go through though :

"Communication is an important part of the team's equipment and UCI are trying to send Cycling back to the dark ages when Adam was a boy !
Training is also a key ingredient to success as demonstrated by my bumping into Wayne Rooney & Wes Brown as they were leaving the training ground near Manchester this morning.
Sunday and two of the top flight Soccer players were demonstrating their commitment to maintaining the supremacy of their team in the English Soccer Premiership !

Checkout my thoughts on the importance of Race Radios by this link: like Horny was back at the car for his Mars Bar supply ! "

Follow my blogging with or facebook (skippy Mc Carthy) where blogs are advised as they are published

Matt White revisited

On the road he was the support rider for people such as Francesco Casagrande, Lance Armstrong and the Australian Olympic Cyclones. If he had been treated more fairly and given more of the opportunities that his talent deserved he would have been a world and Olympic Champion . I voiced this opinion after I met him as a “Directeur Sportif”, he rounded on me and asked if I was criticizing his career, as he was proud of what he had achieved. For a while after this he ignored me as my choice of words were picked up by him in another context. At the 2009 tour he autographed “Skippys Legacy” so I hope that we will enjoy chatting once again.

As a Directeur Sportif he has had outstanding results with his athletes and leads the team from the front gaining podium results for his Sponsors.

I first met Matt at the 1999 Tour de Suisse which was a new event for us both. As he was an Aussie I had gone looking for him. The smaller tours were a good place to get close to the riders. At the Giro I was given accreditation so I was able to mix fairly readily with all concerned. When I presented at the Suisse the Media head told me I would not be given this accreditation as he said “the only time I see you in the press centre is “when you are eating or drinking”. Days later on the Saturday etappe on a mountain pass he sat as a passenger in a Mercedes coupe crawling up the pass with me continually overtaking him. A couple of times he made remarks and finally I lost it and said “the only time I see you is when you are sitting on your butt annoying cyclists and offering opinions above your pay scale and abilities!”

The next day I spoke with Matt before he made the Time Trial run. He was one of the first racers away on the course , so until near the end his time was the bench mark. Afterwards when we spoke I asked him how he felt about being on the Podium and said that I would like to see him on the top step in the next days. At that time Matt was in a cleft stick as on the previous Friday he had been told there was no Tour de France that year since Casagrande was “Persona non grata with ASO” that year because of his activities and suspicions relating to his "health", unproven of course .

Monday evening found us in Lichtenstein with Matt on the stage as victor. Whilst waiting for the presentation I found the local folk band and as they knew “Waltzing Matilda” I had them strike up whilst he was being presented on the stage to the crowd. Before he went on stage I gave him my “Aussi Cricket team cap” to wear but he had to wear the “Vini Caldarola cap”. I never got the cap back , it I was told was at one time worn by Alan Border. It had been given to me by the Aussie Rowing team at Leverkusen World Rowing Champs the previous October . Matt it was only a loan, mate and I would love to get it back!

Over the years I have enjoyed watching Matt in action. One of the last was disappointing as I thought when he passed through Bellinzola on the way to the finish at Lugano with Mick Rogers, Commesso and Freire that he might just podium once more. It was not to be as Oscar bunny hopped the median barrier and smoked them. Commesso sat up and so the three of them lost the initiative and whilst the Italian scored 7th place the Aussies were absorbed by the sprint.

These past months I have enjoyed seeing Matt voicing his opinion regarding a variety of cycling subjects.

Good luck to Matt and Garmin team in 2010.

Since this posting Matt has had a run in with Jon Vaughters at the Tour Down Under and is currently working with the Cyclones and there are reports he will be involved with the new Aussie Cycling Team , Greenedge , which is gearing up to enter the 2012 season as a "Protour Level Team" . With Matt's and Shane Bannon's race experience there is a good chance of their early success !

El DIABLO !! Revisited

"El Diablo"is one of the standout personalities of the TDF . Over the past 12 months or so this post has been popular with many people and i have noticed a few spelling mistakes and a few items that could be clearer . Hopefully i can add a few more stories to the post .

First encountered “El Diablo” at the 1998 Tour de France on the Friday of the first week as i was riding the etappe La Chatre to Brive . I was being accompanied by the TF3 broadcast crew who were recording my activities that day. I had passed him on previous days and seen some of those activities that you see on TV. Normally as I ride the route several hours in front of the race I will find him around 25km before the finish . He will be meeting and greeting the public and “Sponsors’ Personnel” as they pass along the race route. Generally he is bare-chested whilst hanging around his van and trailor if he is towing one of his “bikes”, although he will put on the shirt and skullcap to oblige those looking for photos.

Some Sponsors drop off food and drinks as well as “gadgets”. So I have come to expect that he will oblige when I arrive in need a cold “coke or other fizz drink” as I pass. I recall on the Giro in the earlier years arriving at the bottom of a climb a few kilometres before the hill town finish, that I was about done energy wise. He gave me a “power bar gel” and after a chat i not only rode the bike up the hill but then continued along the following circuit as well. Coming onto the climb for the second time I was caught by the Peleton so had to get off the bike and watch as the first racers went by. The people there had a BBQ going outside their Wine shop so I was invited to join in and a couple of the racers commented on my luck as they passed. In fact I then started passing out water as some of the back markers passed.

The 2009 Tirreno-Adriatico Time Trial route passed this way on the Sunday but there was nobody there this time , I guess it was their day off. I still found a gathering to join, the Italian hospitality is one of the things I have come to enjoy at the tours. Families think nothing of inviting people , even strangers to tuck into their feast which generally is a competition by the various ladies to provide the best of their cooking and baking. At various tours I have come across Anzacs on the side of the routes because these people have told me of them. When they do this I ask if they would like to invite them to join the party. I have had many emails from both hosts and invitees about how they enjoyed their day. I on the other hand usually have to head on down the road to the finish in most cases.

These days whenever he is in or around the “Tour Villages” he has his Journo mate with him as he seems to be the PR element but on some occasions he has his lady with him. He gets to go inside the village from time to time at the expense of some of his “Sponsors”.

You will find Didi at the World Road Championships and occasionally at the Giro d’Italia and Tour de Suisse usually with the van. When he flew into Sydney on the Friday afternoon of the opening of the Olympics , he walked the 15km from the airport to the opera house and settled down for two nights in the botanic gardens which border on the Governor’s home. Didi had welded five fixed cog wheels into the “Olympic symbol” to hang around his neck. Dressed in his costume he was the usual familiar sight, but to the security guards he was an intruder , well , they chased him out of the gardens several times as a danger to the public.

Sunday morning I was riding Centennial Park with Jeannie Longo when I saw the trident chalked on the road, , seeing some people sitting there , i asked about who put them there . I discovered that it was a “crazy man dressed in red and black carrying a rubber fork”. Pretty obvious who it was to us cycle fans, so I tried cycling around hoping to find him. After about an hour I asked some cycle cops and ambulance personnel if they had seen him and gave my mobile number for them to make contact. I had been told about his nocturnal activities so I went down to the security post and explained who he was. They thought the cogs were “ninja rings” but were surprised to hear he was in the “Guinness Book of Records” for several of his inventions . In fact they asked me to send him back so that they could get his autograph for their families . Later that afternoon I got a call from the ambulance cycle guys saying that Didi (they had another name) was seen sleeping in Hyde Park near the memorial, so I went over there.

When my shadow dropped on Didi he opened his eyes and went “Skippy”! Apparently I was the first person he had come across who knew who he was. Didi speaks no English , so could get no help with taxis, accom or eating and he had a small soft backpack with change of underwear,etc apart from the Plastic Trident that he carried with him. Talk about travelling light ! I decided the best plan was to get him to a German speaking situation or someone who could translate and thus arrange matters for him. Getting him to come with me to Central Rail Station a short distance away , was a chore , as he didn’t want to leave the city but I dragged him with my bike down the road. Seeing him with a cyclist and bike caused the penny to drop for some people as several people stopped us and asked for a photo and autographs .

On the train to Stanmore and the Concordia club we were surrounded by Cycle Fanatics who were grabbing autographs and photos. When we reached the Concordia club the manager proved to be a real fan as he gave Didi a bed in his own home which was near Centennial Park. Next day , Monday I saw Didi with Ron Niewand walking the park and on the Tuesday I took him out on “Big Foot” the boat I was living on during the Sydney have all seen Didi leaping in the air on land, well the Wednesday edition of the SMH has his photo with him airborne on water! From then until he flew out on the weekend he was the star once again. He wrote an interesting story of his Sydney visit, class it as fiction!

During subsequent Tours Didi has carried my bags and given me rides when the Peloton has passed . One occasion was a Sunday in 2001 out of the Maurienne valley towards Grenoble where the rest day was to be on the Monday. I was at the hotel when Lance arrived from the race, amongst those waiting was a couple who had visited George Hincapie at Bollene on that year's Dauphine Libere. On that visit I received a bottle of their wine and was lucky enough to have a repeat donation on this occasion. Their vineyard is on the slopes of Mont Ventoux and it was a very nice wine. Looking forward to renewing the friendship but George will have to give me their email address. On the Tuesday we had the ITT to Chamrousse which I had ridden several times in years past. Chamrousse is a favourite ski resort from earlier years when i had occasion to stay in the area with family friends .

This year , 2009 , Didi was parked on the last climb to Gran Bornand ,the Col de Columbiere . Arriving at his van after passing through a severe wind and hail storm I was able to grab a welcome refresher. At that time there was still a strong headwind as the van was parked on an open slope but a little higher up the wind moderated and at the top the rain had stopped . The Gendarmerie blockade was in place, and no one was alloowed to pass on the road so through the mud to the back of the control and on the bike for a rapid descent and warmer weather the further down I went. By the time I was stopped at the 1km mark corner I had dried out and was presentable enough to catch up with Nicolas Sarkozy at the finish after the Arrival formalities were completed. President Sarkozy was in his car about to leave when he must have seen the Tricot in the air. He got out of the car came over shook hands , signed the "Skippy's Legacy" tricot exchanged a few words then returned to the car for the hasty trip to the waiting Air Transportation .

I saw Didi during the climb to MT Ventoux on the saturday , but that day I was in a hurry to get over the top before the Gendarmerie started imposing order on the awkward visitors who thought this old fart should be walking the climb like they were.

I let my feet pedal , as if you can walk it you can ride it, but there are many times in many tours where people have to get out of their car to walk in to a viewing spot. Because of this they then treat the amateur riders with a lack of respect! How can you go to watch the “profis “ in action and treat the “amateurs” with disrespect, it’s beyond me!

Didi’s winter exploits continue in the photo!

More will be added at a later date ! Meanwhile enjoy visiting the other blogs and for reminders of further posts follow