Thursday, December 21, 2006

Public Access Closures And How You Can Help

Maybe this is a lame "blog" post but it's important so I'm sort of spamming it through all the means that I have. It's essentially a plea for help concerning access to our public lands. They are being threatened in a manner that appears to be environmental but is, in actually, an insidious threat to our environment and the animals it's supposed to be protecting. Please take the time to read and help out.

Over the years I've dealt with this issue quite a lot as a climber/activist. Every time I've developed a new climbing area I've approached the land use management of the area to secure our access to the cliffs involved. This has often, if not always, addressed the situation of the local bird species.

What we've found is that climbers--and other outdoor user groups, especially those that don't use motors--obstruct animal habitat very little, especially when compared to the natural impact of society via pollution, road and building development, and so forth (which is true even when development is adjacent to an area, such as National Forests). Even the motorized user groups, as well as hunters, do very little to negatively affect species when compared to the above.

In fact, when compared to urban spawl and other sorts of wilderness encroachment, it's can be easily argued the climbers, hikers, etc have an overall positive effect on the environment, especially the longevity of plant and animal species.

Furthermore, the only hope that we have of enacting truly protective legislation over time is by creating more public awareness (and, hence, votes). By closing access to our public lands we reduce our chances to create public awareness.
Exposing people to nature and wildlife is, by far, the most effective and powerful means of motivating people to protect our environment. This has been proven with studies using inner-city kids. It's an out of sight, out of mind mentality. But the vivid imagery of the wilderness stays in the mind long after one is exposed, leading to serendipitous environmentalists.

Our land use management has been under fire due to budget cuts (especially under the current administration) which has forced them into a reactionary status of involvement. The reason that they support these closers is simple; it's easy. It's also "safe" in that our legal and management system is messed up to the point that a ranger can be personally liable for non-protection of an area. If this sounds insane, well, it is. But we're dealing with this exact situation in the Angeles National Forest currently.

What this does is create stupid blanket policies to "protect" species which, in turn, lowers public awareness which, in turn, makes it easier for developers to ultimately get their hands on these lands. If you don't believe me just do a little hoof work to see how our lands are getting sold off to developers. It's insidious. It affects our lives, our children's lives, and threatens the very species of plants and animals that it is supposedly there to protect.

Thanks for reading. Now see below.

Hi Everyone,
This affects all of us. While it appears to be about San Diego county only, if it's allowed to go through it could set a precedent that could affect all public lands. Keep in mind that I'm a conservationist and would support legislation that would help animals. This, however, is just government being lazy and, in the end, will end up hurting the species. Feel free write me if you want more explanation about how (or maybe I'll blog about it.)Either way, read below.

Thanks for your time!

-- Instructions Below --

Deadline for public comment ends on January 12, 2007

The Cleveland National Forest in San Diego, California is about to impose access closures to ALL forms of recreational use at four National Forest areas: Corte Madera Mountain, El Cajon Mountain, Rock Mountain, and Eagle Peak. Very alarming is that this information is not available to the public via the Forest Service website, the Federal Register, or SOPA (Schedule Of Proposed Actions) as required within the National Environmental Protection Act of 1969.

These closures will ban ALL human activity within a "½ mile radius of any current or future golden eagle, prairie falcon, "or "other cliff-nesting species" nests, even though these "other" species types are not explicitly identified in the proposed closures. However, given that the closures are in part being based on the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1916, of the over 800 birds listed, many are quite common such as the swallow, hummingbird, and raven. The results could be catastrophic by not only closing local areas, but establishing legal precedent for widespread closures across all U.S. National Forest! These closures affect climbers, hikers, backpackers, mountain-bikers, horseback riders, and off-road enthusiasts alike, setting legal precedent to close off multiple recreational areas within any National Forest!!!

Join this important letter writing campaign (instructions at the bottom) and tell the Cleveland National Forest that you oppose all closures of this type! If no comments are received during the public comment period, the Forest Service will assume that we support their proposals and they will close our recreational areas.
Tell the Cleveland National Forest that you oppose these closures because:

These closures are inconsistent with the USFS multiple use mandate, "as set forth in law" to meet the diverse needs of people,รข€ and as such do not adequately take into consideration the unique value of climbing, hiking, backpacking, mountain-biking, horseback riding, and off-roading on forest lands.

The Forest Service is misinterpreting its legal authority to use the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), together with the Golden Eagle Protection Act, to close large tracks of our public lands for passive uses, be it hiking, riding, picnicking, or rock climbing. This is a radically extreme method to limit recreational use on our public lands given that the MBTA was initially entered into by congress in 1916 to prevent the over-commercialization of migratory birds.

In particular, the Corte Madera proposed closure is being based on the "historical" presence of eagles since golden eagles have not nested there for over 15 years. As such, this measure is extreme and onerous and based on unscientific reasoning.
The proposed closure limit distances are arbitrary because they are not based on exact nest locations, not accurately depicted from presumed nests on the USFS closure proposal maps, or based on sound scientific evidence.

The Golden Eagle and Prairie Falcon are not threatened or endangered species and therefore do not need drastic protection measures like these closures to breed successfully.

Climbers, Hikers, and other National Forest users have co-existed with wildlife peacefully for decades; therefore, among other factors, changing climate conditions and decline of natural prey populations are more likely to blame for any suspected loss in bird numbers.

These closures are inconsistent with bird closure precedent already established nation-wide.

Simply cut-&-paste the above reasons to TWO separate letters (added comments definitely help)

Title each of your letters separately (it is VERY IMPORTANT that the titles are accurate)

First letter -- Comments to proposed seasonal closures at Corte Madera Mountain & El Cajon Mountain

Second letter -- Comments to proposed seasonal closures at Rock Mountain & Eagle Peak
Send directly to the Cleveland National Forest at:

Kirsten Winter
Cleveland National Forest
10845 Rancho Bernardo Rd #200
San Diego, Ca 92127


If you e-mail your response and it kicks back,
your comment will not be recognized or counted...if this happens you
either MUST send in a hard copy, or forward it to
<> Attn. Kirsten Winter. This way if
her system crashes (I certainly hope it does), all your VERY IMPORTANT
comments will be saved, counted, and make a difference!

And hey, if their mailroom server crashes, all the better...annnnnnnd,
should this actually happen to you (wouldn't that be great...let's
shoot for it), please send in a hard copy letter anyway...I say we run-up the
scoreboard on this one!!!

Print tons of copies and pass them out to everyone you see over the

p.s. personally, I think a hard copy letter mailed in is always better
(heard once that agencies equate ten e-mails to one actual letter), but
whatever works for you, just please, please, please get those comments
in before January 12th!!!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

World's Qualifying Events

Thinking maybe I'll dust off the old time trial bike and get back to some racing this year. I never race too much but like 'em to matter when they do. Here are the Team USA qualifying events this year. Unfortunately, my best event, Short Course Du, would require me to begin training right now. Ah, I'm sure snowboarding will substitute just fine.

See you at the races!

Short Course Duathlon
Seven qualifying events for 2007 Short Course Duathlon World Championship in Gyor, Hungary, May 20, 2007

Qualification: 3 spots per age group- roll down to 10th place

Frost Yer Fanny Jan 21, 2007 Austin, TX
Desert Classic Duathlon Feb 25, 2007 Fountain Hills, AZ
Virginia Duathlon April 1, 2007 Virginia Beach, VA
Powerman Alabama April 15, 2007 Birmingham, AL

Long Course Duathlon
Three qualifying events for 2007 Long Course Duathlon World Championship in Richmond, VA, October 21, 2007
Qualification: 3 spots per age group- roll down to 10th place

Striders Duathlon April 21, 2007 San Angelo, TX
World's Toughest Duathlon May 20, 2007 Auburn, CA
Blackwater Traverse Du July 8, 2007 Cambridge, MD
Qualification: 6 spots per age group- roll down to 10th place
USAT National Long Course Duathlon Championship--Powerman Ohio
Sept 30, 2007 Mansfield, OH

Long Course Triathlon
Seven qualifying events for 2007 Long Course Triathlon World Championship in L’Orient, France, July 14-15, 2007.
Qualification: 3 spots per age group- roll down to 5th place

White Lake Half May 5, 2007 White Lake, NC

Qualification: 2 spots per age group- roll down to 10th place

Deuces Wild Triathlon Festival June 3, 2007 Show Low, AZ
Mooseman Triathlon- Half June 3, 2007 Waterville Valley, NH
Georgia Rock’n Roll Man June 3, 2007 Macon, GA

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Everything You Wanted To Know About Doping For Sports

Not exactly everything but I promised a long post about doping back during the Tour and, in the midst of all the controversy, decided to let it play out for a while. Currently, what we have is a quagmire of points, counterpoints, accusations, suspensions, and court cases. Basically, the situation is a mess.

I'm going to provide a lot of links. If you're not up for reading, I'll also summerize. But if you're truly interested in the details of sports doping I encourage you to read through everything. Particularly these LA Times articles:

Cyclist Blames Flawed Tests (on Tyler Hamilton)

The Innocent Often Pay A High Price

Are Appeals Futile?

The Times stories scrutinize the testing processes and many flaws are exposed. Tyler's case is particularly interesting because the testing procedure used to "bust" him had only recently been established and not really substantiated. Furthmore, it was done by an Australian university on a $50,000 grant--hardly enough money to come up with an iron clad testing procedure. At the Olympics, where Hamiltion first tested positive, many officials had protested the use of the testing procedure saying "it's not ready for prime time." Furthermore, the way his positive test was revealed would not yield him any performance enhancement. The case is even more bizarre because only one other positive test has ever been made and this happened during the same race as his second positive (the Vuelta a Espana). That rider, Santi Perez, has claimed he was innocent but said he didn't fight it bascially because he couldn't afford it. This last bit is not in that article but similar cases are revealed in the other piece.

The next two articles basically analyze the problems in the system, how doping cases can happen with over the counter medications and result in bans, mainly against athletes that can't afford to fight them.

"'It wiped out my life savings and my college savings,' Zach Lund, 27, a world-class skeleton sled racer from Salt Lake City, said of his effort to clear himself of doping charges."

We know that athletes are doping but more and more it looks as though WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency), and particlularly its chairman, Dick Pound, are on a bit of a witch hunt. In a doping seminar I attended last year I was particularly un-impressed by the answers I got about problems within the system.

"If athletes dope, we will catch them," was the message given. However, I--and many others in attendance--know of athletes who've doped and not been caught. And there are many cases of others who have not been doping and have been caught. Clearly, we've got issues.

Public Perception

When George Bush claimed that doping in sports was one of the major problems in our society he was clearly blowing a smoke screen at the public to cover our problems in the Middle East. The problem is that most people don't know this, creating an image that scientists are creating Fraken-athletes in order to achieve all-important victory. This could not be more wrong and it's created an alarmist tone to which society is forced into a reactionary state. Orgainizations like WADA are then forced to get "results", even if they are wrong. Who ends up getting hurt, more often than not, are the "little guys" like the amateur athletes in obscure sports who can't afford to defend themselves.

For example, no one has had more doping accusations surrounding them than Lance Armstrong. A lesser-funded athlete would have little chance against such pressure but the Armstrong machine--which is vast--has been able to deflect all criticism and win again and again in court. Armstrong himself is probably worth more money than WADA's entire budget and they probably stand little chance in court against his lawyers.

Who doesn't, however, are athletes like Rachel Burke:

"For people who have never had to deal with something like this, it's hard to grasp what it takes away from you," says Rachael Burke, 23, a swimmer at the University of Virginia, whose urine sample turned up in May 2004 with a trace of boldione, an obscure steroid, possibly from a contaminated nutritional drink. Burke had never had a positive result in any other test in more than a decade of competitive swimming.

"You have no idea what happened," she recalled in an interview. "You have no control over the fact that they are going to announce to the entire public that Rachael Burke, this girl that everyone has seen grow up in the spotlight, has tested positive for steroids. The next day, you have to walk on the pool deck and people are saying, 'I wonder if that's why you were so good when you were 8 years old.' You're accused and convicted without a chance to defend yourself."

What we really need to understand is her point about an 8 year old's talent. 90-some-odd percentage of an athlete's ability they are born with. Doping is a very very small piece of the pie. Most of us could dope to the gills and never even hope of riding in the Tour de France. Athletes are born, then made. But mostly born. It's estimated that the advantage an athelete can gain by doping is 3%. An athlete like Armstong is born with more than twice the average V02 Max of the average person. (For example, he crushed the field in his first race as a kid, when he certainly wasn't doping.) Other factors, like aerobic capacity and efficiency can be increased to 12% or more through training. Diet can further add to this. Therefore, doping is a problem in that it's an unfair advantage over similarly-talented athletes who've already maximized their talent and nutrition, but it's hardly one of the greatest problems in our society.

To understand doping on its most basic level, here's an article I wrote:

Drugs, Food, and Supplements

Operation Puerto

On the eve of the Tour de France, Operation Puerto was revealed to the world, which led to accusations of doping against 58 pro riders and many riders being banished from the race, including the four favorites. None of these riders competed in the Tour but, over time, almost all of Puerto's evidence has been discounted. Still, many of these riders are under fire and have had their careers damaged.

Cycingnews Puerto Archive

This is one of the craziest sports scandals of all time. For Americans, imagine half the teams getting kicked out of the NFL playoffs and banned to two seasons for doping, only to be reinstated in July because the evidence was un-sound. This is essentially what has happened. Would you say there is a problem with the system? Um, likely.


Adding to the irony was that the eventually Tour winner was then kicked out for doping. And after the fact as well. His appeal looked absurd at first but has picked up steam, and mainly because they've proven that the lab used poor procedure in handling his urine sample. If nothing else, his case has further proven that the situation is a mess. WADA does not catch all dopers. From scuttlebutt ones hears at the fringe of sports--where I reside--it appears that they catch very few offenders. It's also clear that "catch" quite a few non-offenders.

The Solution

Here's where you've got me. I truly have no idea. It's a problem in sports, for sure. But is it worth all our time and effort to uncover? I don't know. Here's what I do know.

Doping ain't what it once was. Back in the day of back alley steroids and random EPO injections it was dangerous. Nowadays, it's generally doctor administered and could be argued, as was the case in the Puerto incident, that's it makes the athletes healthier. Back alley abuses among amateurs still exists but, let's fact it, it always will. These people will take anything at all to enhance performance and don't really care about health implications. And you can kill yourself, quite easily, with perfectly legal supplements and foods if you try hard enough. For example, I deal with clients who OD on junk like Red Bull, et al, regularly and all they're trying to do is look good at a family reunion.

Doping doesn't make athletes. Like I said before, you can only improve so much. If you didn't run away from all the kids at grade school, no amount of dope is going to help you win even a high school championship, must less get you to the Olympics.

Dope is expensive. Down in the alley they can afford meth, bathtub anavar and other goofy concoctions but nobody at your local cat 4 crit is doing EPO. The reason, it's about a grand per dose. Only very well funded athletes can afford scientific doping.

A simple solution is to take the money out of sports. This would take the doctors out. Once the doctors were gone we could easily control doping because back alley doping won't avoid detection. This, however, is not going to happen anytime soon.

Another possibility is to legalize doping and limit spending on it. Teams would then have to record what they used and when and all abuses and health problems could be revealed. It would also limit the temptation of school kids to dope becaue they'd see that it doesn't change an athlete all that much. While not perfect (because it can be cheated--what can't?), this option might be the most realistic. But when the President of the United States is calling sports doping more important than a war in the Middle East, who's going to stand up and make that call?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Birthday Challenge Report Is Up

Finally got my birthday challenge report up and, man, is it ugly!

Here ya go:

This Is Gonna Hurt

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

E-Coli Outbreak

E-Coli Outbreak
It's interesting how many people wrote to me after my Fast Food Nation articles wondering if I had stock in the movie or made other accusatory remarks that assumed I'd have no other reason to dis the fast food industry. But when your job is to make the world a healthier place, how can you not?

Case in point:

E. coli outbreak in N.J. is linked to 3 Taco Bells

Associated Press Writer

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, N.J. (AP) -- An E. coli outbreak that has sickened at least 22 people - two of them seriously - was linked by health investigators Monday to three Taco Bell restaurants in New Jersey.

Meanwhile, an outbreak of E. coli also sickened more than a dozen people on Long Island, including several who ate at Taco Bell, prompting officials to ask that eight of the fast-food restaurants there be closed. It was not immediately clear if the Long Island E. coli is related to the outbreak in New Jersey.

All of the people who fell ill in New Jersey had eaten at Taco Bells between Nov. 17 and Nov. 28, authorities said. Two employees also tested positive for the bacteria. But exactly what food was contaminated was still unclear.

"We have to find the food they all had in common," said David Papi, director of health for Middlesex County.

All but four of the victims are under 18, authorities said.

Five were in the hospital Monday, including a 10-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl who were diagnosed with hemolytic uremic syndrome, which can permanently damage the kidneys, officials said. The boy was still in serious condition, while the girl's status had improved to stable, said Stephanie Brown, the Middlesex County epidemiologist.

Twenty-two of those infected, including two restaurant employees who tested positive for E. coli but did not get sick, ate at a Taco Bell in South Plainfield; another ate at a Taco Bell in Edison, and one ate at a Taco Bell in Franklin Township, authorities said.

In a statement Monday, Taco Bell president Greg Creed said the company was working closely with health officials. The company is "very concerned about the well-being of all those who have been affected by this incident," he said.

Creed said as a precautionary measure, the company closed one New Jersey restaurant - in South Plainfield - and four in New York's Suffolk County.

The South Plainfield restaurant was closed last week, 48 hours after the first E. coli case was reported, when health officials first started to suspect the infection might have come from there.

All three New Jersey Taco Bells are owned by the same person, Papi said.

It was not until Monday that suspicion fell on two more Taco Bells in New Jersey and that news of the Suffolk County closures became widely known. Creed did not specify when the New York Taco Bells were closed.

At a news conference Monday, New Jersey health officials said they were not aware of the Long Island E. coli infections, but said they were working closely with officials in neighboring states as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

State health officials also gave slightly differing numbers regarding how many people were infected and over what time period. According to Deputy State Epidemiologist Christina Tan, officials were investigating 37 cases, 25 of which were confirmed E. coli cases. Officials also said they could trace 20 of the cases back to one of three Taco Bells. The infections were reported Nov. 20-29, they said.

New Jersey Health and Senior Services Commissioner Fred M. Jacobs on Monday described the E. coli infections as "a serious outbreak," but said the threat seemed to have passed.

"There has not been an outbreak since Nov. 29, so I think that whatever happened went through already," Jacobs said.

E. coli, or Escherichia coli, is a common and ordinarily harmless bacteria found in the feces of humans and livestock. However, certain strains can cause abdominal cramps, fever, bloody diarrhea, kidney failure, blindness, paralysis, even death.

Most E. coli infections are associated with undercooked meat. The bacteria also can be found on sprouts or leafy vegetables such as spinach. Earlier this year, three people died and more than 200 fell ill from an outbreak that was traced to packaged spinach grown in California. The bacteria also can be passed from person to person if they do not thoroughly wash their hands after going to the bathroom.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the dangerous E. coli strain 0157:H7 infects about 73,000 Americans a year and kills 61.

Symptoms usually show up three to four days after a person eats contaminated food, although in some cases it can be as long as eight days. Officials said anyone having symptoms should immediately contact their health care provider.


Additional reporting by Rebecca Santana in Trenton, N.J., and Frank Eltman in Garden City, N.Y.

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Friday, December 01, 2006

Unbelievable Sentencing In Cyclists Death

What the hell is happening to our country? It seems like everyone has some sort of God given RIGHT to drive, no matter how many people they kill. In Salt Lake a drunk guy ran over a 7-year old kid on a bike in a crosswalk and killed him after having his licsense re-issued after he'd run over a group of people during a prior bender. Next, the old guy in LA--with a horrible driving record who's family used to joke about him hitting things--doesn't go to jail for slaughtering a bunch of people at the Santa Monica Farmer's Market. Now, apparently, we can just kill people and say, "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to," and it's okay?

This person is rehabilitating in traffic school with a bunch of people who rolled through stop signs. Incredible!

Here is the actual sentence:

The maximum sentence of six months of conditional discharge a form of probation without reporting to an officer a $1,000 fine and traffic safety school.

Plus the source article:

From the in Illinois:

URBANA – Jennifer Stark wiped away tears and nodded that she understood the maximum sentence a Champaign County judge gave her Wednesday for improper lane usage.

The 19-year-old Urbana woman appeared in court, flanked by her parents, to plead guilty to a petty offense and be sentenced for actions that led to the death of Matthew Wilhelm.

The 25-year-old former Champaign resident, a University of Illinois mechanical engineering graduate working for Caterpillar in Peoria, died on Sept. 8 from head injuries he received Sept. 2 when Stark hit him with her car because she was downloading ring tones to her cell phone instead of paying attention to driving.

Mr. Wilhelm was bicycling north on Illinois 130 east of Urbana when he was struck from behind about 7:15 p.m. Stark was so far off the road that she hit Mr. Wilhelm from behind with the driver's side of her car. He was wearing a helmet.

"I can only apply the law I have in front of me, not as I wish it would be," Judge Richard Klaus told Stark and the approximately dozen others who had gathered to see her sentence. They included the parents of Mr. Wilhelm and other friends and relatives of the Wilhelm family who have mobilized forces to try to get the law changed regarding distracted drivers.