Thursday, July 06, 2006


Since I'm writing this at the rather crazy hour of 5am, it seemed like a good subject would be the craziest rider in the peloton, Floyd Landis. I think going from a normal amount of exercise to heaps of exercise is wreaking havoc with my sleep. The last couple of nights I've woken up early, even though I'm quite tired. It's either that or the World Cup reverie in combination with the exercise. Still, I'm already over two hours behind my Tour challengers; nothing a couple of long days in the mountains can't fix.

I bring this up because as I'm laying in bed I'm wondering what Floyd might do, which is probably just get up and start training. With the top riders riders from last year's Tour all out due to retirement (Armstrong) or doping (Ullrich, Basso, Mancebo), or lack of a team due to doping (Vinokorov) along with the pre-race favorite (Valverde, crash), American Floyd Landis is now the odds on favorite to win the race. After years of calculated and professional behavior from the Texan, this may be just the shot in the arm (pun intended) that the sport needs. Landis couldn't be more different than Armstrong.

Raised in a Mennonite community he wasn't even allowed to wear shorts when he first began to race his bike. His parents, horrified at the thought of someone trying to race bikes for a living, gave him so many chores that he wouldn't be able to ride during the day. So he trained at night, every night, even during the Pennsylvania winter. He'd read that Tour riders training 100 miles a day, so that's what he did. He'd train during the snowy winters with plastic bags over his shoes wearing layers of sweat pants on a lousy bike until he left home at 17 and promptly became a professional mountain biker.

Thrust into the limelight, Landis has nothing to do with Armstrong's entourage or the Discovery team's clinical political correctness. He makes his winter home the Riverside country suburb of Murrieta, a place not exactly associated with the rich and famous. During the season, he lives in a dingy $700 a month apt. He's brash and says whatever's on his mind.

When Armstrong's association with Dr. Michele Ferrari came up in the book, Lance Armstrong's War, most of the Armstrong circle gave measured responses about the association, pointing to Chris Carmichael, OLN golden boy touted as the man behind Armstrong by the US press as an important component's. Ferrari, unquestionably one of sports most brilliant minds, was not the type of character American's wanted their hero associated with because he was open and critical about the UCI's doping policy and, essentially, pro dope, calling EPO under supervision "safer than orange juice." Landis, however, laughed outright when asked who Armstrong's real trainer was. "You've met both of them," he said to the author Daniel Coyne. "Who would you listen to?" a reference obviously pointing to Ferrari.

He's also tough as nails, once refusing to go to the hospital with a broken hip until it was apparent it would never heal on its own. Then, after having a bunch of bolts placed in his hip to hold it together, he was on his trainer the next week, and starting the Tour de France not long after.

One of my favorite Landisisms was his response to the cliche of giving 110%.

"Well, why not 112 percent?" Landis inquires, eyes widening with burning incredulity. "Why not 500 percent or 1,300 percent or 38 billion percent? I mean, if he can crank it up beyond 100 percent, why not? What's stopping him, exactly?"

Or on overtraining:

There's only one rule: The guy who trains the hardest, the most, wins. Period. Because you won't die. Even though you feel like you'll die, you don't actually die. Like when you're training, you can always do one more. Always. As tired as you might think you are, you can always, always do one more."

So there's no such thing as overtraining?

"If you overtrained, it means that you didn't train hard enough to handle that level of training," Landis says, his fingertip rapping the table for emphasis. "So you weren't overtrained; you were actually undertrained to begin with. So there's the rule again: The guy who trains the hardest, the most, wins."

And ther's plenty more where that came from. Check out this article, for starters. Go Floyd!

Oh, and btw, congratulations to France and Italy for reaching the World Cup finals.


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