Le Tour: Week 1

I am no expert on professional cycling and I have not had the pleasure of watching this first week closely, but my observations, nevertheless:

  1. Sagan: Dude, what are you doing 40 minute back and not even wearing the green sprint jersey? To go from yellow to so far back in basically a single day… It’s like you’re not even competing. I don’t get it. 
  2. Great job Teejay to be right in the same spot as Froome and Nibali and Quintana at about 23 seconds back. Please don’t screw this up, ok?
  3. NBC: It’s sad you can’t even start your live stream in time to see the climb of the Tourmelet on today’s stage 8, but worse you can’t  even include a single mention of the highest-placed American rider in your coverage? Ever? If I wasn’t paying particular attention your coverage would lead me to believe there are no Americans in position for GC contention at this point and that’s just not the case. I understand the European coverage doesn’t care about American riders, but those of us in the US who pay $30 every summer for your coverage most likely do. 
  4. It was kind of Chris Froome and Team Sky to give us a nice week of racing where they didn’t dominate completely. It would have been nice if they would have waited another week to allow us to continue enjoying the fantasy that, maybe, maybe, someone else might have a chance of winning this year, but I guess that would be too much to ask. 

The 2010 Tour

schleck-tdfs15-2010.jpg

If you didn’t watch the Tour de France this year, this is really the image that sums up the whole race. From Bicycling Magazine:

After dropping his chain during an attack on the Bales climb, Luxembourg’s Andy Schleck tries desperately to chase Alberto Contador, Denis Menchov and Samuel Sanchez. At the end of the day he would finish 39 seconds behind and lose his yellow jersey by 8 seconds.

The reason this was *the* moment of the Tour is that Contador ended up winning the overall Tour by 39 seconds — exactly what he stole from Schleck in Stage 15.

Still, Contador is a strong rider who rode well and hard and deserved to win. It was an awesome Tour. I’m looking forward to next year. Was this Schleck’s peak or will he run away with it? Or will someone else emerge to dominate both of this year’s leaders? If you think cycling is not fun and exciting to watch, give the Tour a chance; it just might change your mind.

Contador seizes Tour de France lead from Schleck

Stage 15 today and what a stage it was! Did Contador play dirty when he took advantage of Schleck’s mechanical problem? According to the BBC:

Cycling etiquette says that riders should not attack the yellow jersey wearer when he falls or suffers a mechanical problem.

Hm. Bruce Arthur of the Canadian National Post also argues that Contador played dirty and I have to agree. Regardless, I hope Andy Schleck comes back and eats Contador’s lunch in the next few days. Sadly, that doesn’t seem likely. There are only two more mountain stages where Schleck could theoretically make some time up on Contador. After that, it’s flat and a time trial, both of which will favor Contador.

Today was not a good advertisement for the SRAM Red drivetrain on Schleck’s bike. Of course, I guess that’s what Contador is riding, too.

(btw, the Versus Tour Tracker has been totally worth it. It’s letting me really watch this race for the first time ever and I’m loving it. Highly recommended if you’re a fan of cycling.)

When the Cop Says Stop — you better stop!

Cycling lawyer” (um, can I have that job, please?) Bob Mionske relates the fascinating story of an out-of-control cop harassing two cyclists in Ohio. He appears to have tried to stop them for no reason, and when they wouldn’t stop he pulled his taser. One of the cyclists ended up getting tazed multiple times. Charges were eventually dismissed and the cyclists are filing a civil suit, but the story illustrates what can happen when men with guns and badges lose control.

Aside from the abuse of police authority, the story grabbed me because in the end, Mionske concludes that:

if the order is unlawful, the cyclist is not required to obey the order, and can’t be arrested for failure to comply. Now, this is the law in Ohio, but it is based on 4th Amendment jurisprudence, so the jurisprudence in other states should be similar. If somebody knows of contradictory 4th Amendment jurisprudence in another state, please let me know.

Um, well, my experience defending more than one obstructing charge is that, if the officer tells you to stop, you better stop. If you don’t, you could end up with an obstructing charge — or worse. Basically, if you disobey a police order — even where the order is unlawful — your ass is getting arrested. Sure, it might be sorted out later and the charges *may* be dismissed, but is it worth going to jail for the night or however long it takes to post bail? No. Just stop. The officer can be the biggest dumbass on the planet, but again, that’s something to sort out later. If the officer here had been our friendly neighborhood cop Johannes Mehserle who claims he confused his taser and his gun, these poor cyclists would be dead, not just dismayed.

As just one example of an illegal stop that escalates to legit criminal charges, see People v. Thomas, 198 Ill. 2d 103; 759 N.E.2d 899 (2001). There, Mr. Thomas was riding his bicycle while carrying a police scanner. An officer tried to stop Mr. Thomas and Mr. Thomas fled. Eventually, officers caught up w/Mr. Thomas and arrested him. They found drugs and he was convicted of possession w/intent. On appeal, the Illinois Supreme Court found that, although the officer’s initial order for Mr. Thomas to stop was not legal (b/c the officer lacked any reasonable suspicion that Mr. Thomas was engaged in illegal activity), the subsequent seizure of Mr. Thomas was legal because he fled and was seized after flight. The flight became a legitimate (legal, constitutional) reason for the seizure.

Following that logic, in the case of the Ohio cyclists, even though the officers initial orders for them to stop were ambiguous and clearly illegal, a court could have found that the subsequent actions amounted to resisting, obstructing, or some other criminal act. They’re lucky the prosecutor didn’t think of adding such charges or they might have been in a different position.

Police have far too much authority in our society, but that’s exactly why you better stop if an officer tells you to. Stop, cooperate, and figure out the legality of it all later.

Front wheel a weapon in Tour fracas

Excitement at the tour:

Video replays show Spaniard Carlos Barredo (QuickStep) taking off his front wheel and passing his bike to a team aid. Barredo then charges three metres at the startled Portuguese rider Rui Alberto Costa (Caisse d’Epargne), wielding the wheel over his head.

Video available here. I haven’t been following the tour closely; it’s hard to do because the stages all take place at about 8 a.m. my time and that’s not a good time to sit in front of a live video stream for a few hours. It sounds like there’s a lot of excitement this year, though. Lance Armstrong is sitting at 18th 14th overall, if you care about that.

UPDATE: If you don’t understand why people get excited about cycling, watch this video of the Stage 6 finish. Amazing strength, athleticism, and teamwork put Mark Cavendish across the line first. It’s fun to watch.

Tweet knowledge

Twitter is inane. It’s hopeless. But it can also be fascinating. Just look at what I learned on Twitter today:

  1. You can make a jacket with turn signals so you can signal your turns while biking. This requires something called a LilyPad Arduino, which is “a microcontroller board designed for wearables and e-textiles.” Way cool. Perhaps I need to learn to sew.
  2. Does Moby Dick have something to say about the BP oil spill? That’s what Randy Kennedy suggests in The Ahab Parallax: ‘Moby Dick’ and the Spill. I’m reading Moby Dick right now and I hadn’t noticed any parallels, but now I’ll be on the lookout.
  3. You can make Butter Chicken at home! Butter chicken is my favorite Indian food. Sooo good. I plan to try this recipe this weekend.
  4. Finally, this NYC townhouse is incredibly cool — two of the exterior walls are garage doors. You have to see it to understand how awesome this place is. (via boing boing)

All very random, I know, but interesting, yes?