The End Of “Heroes”…The Persecution Of Lance Armstrong.

Came across the following story on MSN.com this morning;

USADA to ban Armstrong for life, strip Tour titles

After years of persecution, unannounced surprise testing (all which came back negative), various accusations by publications and individuals and a recent two year federal criminal investigation, which yielded no charges, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), which has as of yet produced no physical evidence and based on hearsay, will strip Lance Armstrong of his Tour de France titles and ban him from competing for life.

Though an eloquent man can express himself without vulgarity this is an instance where nothing drives the point home like the occasional 4 letter word…….

This is bullsh*t!!!!  Where is the “effing” physical evidence?? Does the “burden of proof” now fall to the accused??? Are we now all guilty, based on hearsay, until proven innocent????

“If I thought for one moment that by participating in USADA’s process, I could confront these allegations in a fair setting and — once and for all — put these charges to rest, I would jump at the chance. But I refuse to participate in a process that is so one-sided and unfair. Regardless of what Travis Tygart says, there is zero physical evidence to support his outlandish and heinous claims. The only physical evidence here is the hundreds of controls I have passed with flying colors. I made myself available around the clock and around the world. In-competition. Out of competition. Blood. Urine. Whatever they asked for I provided. What is the point of all this testing if, in the end, USADA will not stand by it?”

Lance Armstrong has had enough. The mental and physical toll of fighting all the accusations over all these years has finally wore him down. I wish the guy would continue the fight to clear his name but what kind of life is it where you work so hard to achieve something great but then constantly have to defend your accomplishments?

“The bottom line is I played by the rules that were put in place by the UCI, WADA and USADA when I raced. The idea that athletes can be convicted today without positive A and B samples, under the same rules and procedures that apply to athletes with positive tests, perverts the system and creates a process where any begrudged ex-teammate can open a USADA case out of spite or for personal gain or a cheating cyclist can cut a sweetheart deal for themselves. It’s an unfair approach, applied selectively, in opposition to all the rules. It’s just not right.”

The full Lance Armstrong statement can be found here; http://msn.foxsports.com/cycling/story/lance-armstrong-statement-not-fighting-us-anti-doping-agency-charges-082312

Why is it we can no longer believe in heroes? What is it in our beady little brains that, rather than celebrating the possibility of further greatness in human achievement and looking to someone as example of how good we can be, we instead look to that example as making the rest of us look bad….and follow the pack mentality of dragging someone down to wallow with the rest of us in the mud?

I am not a naive person. If there were a shred of conclusive physical evidence produced then verified by a second governing body I would accept that Armstrong did cheat. But this has gone on for so long and he has been investigated by so many different organizations. And he has passed through it all.

Yes, Lance Armstrong has made a lot of money from his achievements. But what has he done? He started the Livestrong organization to help those with cancer. And he has been an inspiration, not only for those with cancer. But for many who have a dream of accomplishing something. be it cycling or other challenges in life. Not the actions of a cheater.

Lance Armstrong has beaten a cancer that he was only given a 10% chance of living through. Why can we not believe that someone who worked to overcome such an event can apply the same discipline towards his sport?

He is a personal inspiration to me by what can be achieved through discipline and hard work, coming back from the very depths of struggle (near death) to achieve the pinnacle in the most grueling test of human fitness and endurance in the world.

You go on and believe that there are no more heroes….

Lance Armstrong will always be a hero to me.

 

A Mini Raving….Of Sorts. An Education On The Title “Skipper”

While reading an article about the changing of guard duties as Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba “GITMO” I came across the following paragraph;

‘To be sure, Guantanamo is still a Navy base — the oldest belonging to the United States overseas. A Navy captain, whose rank is the equivalent of an Army colonel, is the base commander. He’s known as the “skipper,” Navy lingo for the commander of a ship, which in this instance is a 45-square-mile corner of southeast Cuba that has a McDonald’s, public school, seaport and suburban-style housing for sailors who get to bring along their families.’

As a 20 year retired sailor, 1974 to 1994, I have a slight issue with the above statement……

The title “Skipper” is one that I believe has been bandied about lightly. Below is what I feel are the qualities that determine a “Skipper”.

You become a “Commanding Officer” by appointment through orders. “Skipper” is an honorific for a commanding officer who is addressed as such because he is respected, admired and appreciated by the men under his command. Not because of his rank or position, but, by demonstrating the same respect, admiration and appreciation for those he commands.

A fact that is highly overlooked these days but should be drilled into the head of every midshipman and officer candidate… RESPECT is EARNED, never given. It is a symbiotic relationship between officer and enlisted, where the success of the command, and the officer’s career, depends upon those he has been privileged and fortunate enough to be assigned to lead.

Just because the UCMJ binds me to respect the rank and the authority that goes with it, that does not mean I have to respect the person. During my career I “just did my job” for those I respected on the basis of their rank and referred to them as “captain” which, in the Navy, is not just a rank but also the title for the position as Commanding Officer of a ship or large installation. But I would work above and beyond WITH those I respected as a person for the success of the command. It was these individuals whom I was proud to call “Skipper”.

You can read the associated article here;

“Soldiers Relieve Sailors as Gitmo Guards”                                                                    http://www.military.com/daily-news/2012/08/21/soldiers-relieve-sailors-as-gitmo-guards.html?ESRC=eb.nl

In addition, the portion of the above comment concerning respect could also be applied to this article;

“Ship Commander Fired After Harassment Claims”                           http://www.military.com/daily-news/2012/08/21/ship-commander-fired-after-harassment-claims.html?ESRC=eb.nl

In conclusion, a salute to all the “Skippers” I was privileged to have served with during my career.

Captain Larry Davis, USS Groton (SSN694)                                                                     CDR Gary Francis, USS Baton Rouge (SSN689)                                                            CDR “Jack” M. Davis, USS Baton Rouge (SSN689)                                                                   CDR William Helfen, USS Phoenix (SSN702)                                                                            CDR K.T. Juroff, USS Cincinnati (SSN693)                                                                                                                            CAPT L.G. Vogt, Submarine Squadron Eight                                                                      CDR Dennis Jones, USS Birmingham (SSN695)                                                            CDR G.D. Hicks, USS Memphis (SSN691)                                                                      CAPT Collins H. Haines, USS Paul Revere (LPA248)                                                             CAPT E.M. Moore, USS Paul Revere (LPA248)

Additional Honorable mention and an additional salute to CDR Pierce “The Silver Fox” (he NEVER knew we called him that, he would have killed us all), Chief of Staff, Submarine Squadron Eight. And RADM Charles J. Beers who I never served under as C.O. but was the Executive Officer of the USS Memphis and, who I heard was an outstanding Commanding Officer onboard USS Minneapolis – St Paul (SSN708)

Gentlemen, It was my pleasure and my honor……….

USS Paul Revere (LPA248)

USS Groton (SSN694)

 

BBC’s Last Word: Deep Purple’s Jon Lord

Still saddened by the death of one of the worlds finest keyboardists, Jon Lord of Deep Purple, who passed away on 16 July 2012. In the 60’s and 70’s there was an emergence of great keyboard players. Tony Kaye, Patrick Moraz, Geoff Downes, Steve Winwood and others. But in my opinion there was a great triumvirate at the top of the rock keyboardist heap which consisted of Rick Wakeman, Keith Emerson and Jon Lord.

While Emerson and Wakeman were combining classical music and rock to create the genre known as “progressive rock”, Jon was incorporating the Hammond organ into hard rock and not as a backing instrument. Jon’s fast and furious solo’s brought the organ front and center, right along Ritchie Blackmore’s lead guitar. Listen to Deep Purple’s “Hush”. Nobody played the organ like that before or since.

Jon also forayed into classical music with his “Concerto for Group & Orchestra” which has  been performed twice at Royal Albert Hall. Once in 1969 with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Deep Purple and in 1999 when the London Symphony Orchestra and, again, with Deep Purple.

Jon retired from Deep Purple in 2002 and continued a solo career in both classical and blues music. The BBC recently released an interview conducted before Jon’s death featuring Rick Wakeman, Ritchie Blackmore and Jon. The link follows:

http://soundcloud.com/jonlord-org/bbc-last-word

You can also read more about this great musician at his official website JonLord.org

In today’s world of music sampling, dubbing and turning out one mainstream song after another musicians of Jon’s talent and stature are few and far between. The world is poorer at his passing…

 

 

 

Social Media Opportunity?

One of the goals I have for this blog is to create some income as it seems there are a lot of people who appear to have made some serious money online.  After all I have a 9 year old who wants to go to Disney World  and a wife who wants to go to England.

Consequently I’m researching various sites and systems for achieving this goal. One of the sites I’ve found that looks interesting, if not promising, is here:

http://xsocial.kajabi.com/fe/28651-3xsocial-video-1

I’ll be commenting on this revenue generating site, as well as others, in future blogs.

New Hope Classic Auto Show 2012

1964 Ford GT40 MK I …this one is an excellent Superperformance replica

This year was the 55th year for the New Hope Auto Show. The event, started in 1957, and held in New Hope Pennsylvania, is one of the premier events of the local  auto show season. Proceeds from the show go towards scholarships for the students of the New Hope – Solesbury High School, which is where the event has been held for as long as I can remember.

We went to the show on Sunday, 12 August, and, though the day was sunny and warm, it wasn’t hot and muggy, or raining, like it has been in recent years. All in all it was a fine day to go view some beautiful automobiles

1954 Jaguar XK120 Roadster

The show primarily features antique and classic cars. There are some muscle cars displayed however they are restoration projects as opposed to hot rods seen at other area shows such as the “Moonlight Memories” show held in Hatboro, PA third weekend in July.

I had written in the previous post “What We Do” about how the classic machinery, with its’ brass fittings, polished aluminum and copper tubing were like fine works of art or mechanical sculpture. Case in point are the engine work, interiors or dashboards of some of these vehicles.

1962 Triumph TR3A … 1991cc inline 4 engine
1957 Oldsmobile ‘Super 88’ convertable dashboard … there’s more controls on this than the Space Shuttle

The following is a gallery of  some of the cars at this year’s show…

1957 Porsche 356 Speedster

 

This vehicle has a racing pedigree…

victories

A beautiful 1969 Jaguar XKE Coupe

 

The heart of the beast……..the 5.3 litre V12

 

Some of the restored muscle cars at the show…

a 1969 Dodge Super Bee

 

with a 426 ci “Hemi” engine

the 1971 Plymouth Road Runner

with the monstrous 383 ci engine and 4 barrel carburetor

You may notice the designation “ci” after the engine size vice “cc” or litre.  “ci” stands for “cubic inches” In comparison, a 5.0 litre engine is 5 litres or 5000 cc’s which translates to 302 ci. A 5.7 litre is 350 ci.

I kind of feel sorry for kids these days, when I see them running around in there little Japanese pocket rockets with the annoying “Foster’s Lager” can exhaust that make the car sound like a fat angry bee with a flatulence problem. These are the cars we drove when we were teens. Big steel cars with huge engines, massive horsepower outputs and big loud rumbling exhaust notes … and totally inadequate suspension, steering and seat belt systems. These were great straight line machines, as proven on many a Friday night drag race up York road from Hartsville to Jamison. But don’t try to run a twisty back road or you may wind up in the woods or some farmer’s field. It’s a wonder a lot of us survived those years driving these beasts.

Some modern cars were on display from various dealerships. Porsche sponsored the event and brought their Carrera GT model:

The Fisker Karma was on display as well:

The wheels on the Karma are driven by individual electric motors. There is a 2.0 litre gasoline engine but this only comes on to maintain the battery charge. The roof has a solar panel which is used for running the cabin electronics, radio, heater and air conditioning fans, etc.  Pretty cool technology and the car is beautiful and sexy looking.

So, I think this show is one of the better events of the season. If you’re a motorhead, you’re into automotive history, you appreciate fine engineering, or, you just like good looking cars I definitely recommend you keep some time open in your August calendar to attend this event.

I leave you with a few last photos….

…the “Boy Racer” dreams of greatness…
at the wheel of a 2005 Ford GT

 

Classic Motorcycle Restoration and Repair. Collins Classic Cycles.

Restored 1975 Moto Guzzi 850 T-3 with Velorex sidecar

My father and I repair and restore classic British, European and Japanese motorcycles.

My father actually began the restoration work as a hobby, acquiring motorcycles and restoring them for his own collection. That collection includes the Moto Guzzi above, a 1955 Matchless G80CS and three motorcycles from 1966, a BSA 650 Spitfire MK III, a BSA 175 Super Bantam and a Honda 305 Super Hawk. He took on the repair work to cover the overhead for the garage.

1966 Honda CB77 Super Hawk 305 in optional roadracer configuration

I have a love/hate relationship working on these machines. I love the classic lines, the exposed motors and mechanicals. On the older bikes the polished aluminum cases, copper oil lines, brass fittings and classic graphics like the Matchless wreath or winged “M” make these bikes more mechanical works of art than just simple machines.

the 1955 Matchless G80CS 500cc single….the “CS” stood for “Competition Special” as the bike was built for racing….. Headlights were optional.

Modern motorcycles have fairings covering the mechanicals and have all these angular shapes….more like rocket ships or jet fighters. Big cruisers have the engines either painted black or chromed to the hilt. A little ostentatious for me.

2012 Yamaha 600R

Older motorcycles were pretty simple to work with as well. Yes, bikes back then had tool kits in them. But they were so simple to work with that, if you broke down alongside the road, you could fix the problem or at least repair the bike to get you back home.

Today’s motorcycles with their modern Electronic Fuel Injection systems and onboard  computers if the bike dies on the side of the road you’d better have a friend with a pickup truck. In addition you won’t be fixing that bike in your garage unless you have a diagnotics machine that can talk to the onboard CPU.

However a lot of the bikes people bring in to us they’ve picked up on eBay or Craigslist for cheap thinking that they have a deal. The motorcycle was stored in a barn or shed or worse…outside under a tarp. Nobody knows the last time the bike was running or remembers the symptoms that were present when the bike WAS last running.

This is where new bikes have the advantage. You can hook one of them up to that diagnostic computer and know what is wrong in about 5 minutes. With an older bike you have to troubleshoot the old fashioned way. Starting with the battery (the mechanical equivalent of the age old electrical troubleshooting first step “is it plugged in?”) working your way through the coils, plug wires, points, timing, carbs, etc.

Finding shop manuals for these older bikes is the first time consuming part of the process. We conduct an extensive search of the internet for original shop manuals. Though Haines and Clymer both provide manuals for older motorcycles I’ve discovered inaccuracies and discrepancies in both so we get the originals if we can.  For some bikes we can’t even find manuals.

In addition, remember the simplicity of repair I mentioned earlier? Well when these classic machines were new, if they broke down it was usually due to only one issue. Fix the issue and you were golden. These bikes are 20 to 40 years old. We usually find one item and repair that then discover something else affecting the performance.

You have to be extremely cautious when working on older bikes. There is nothing like gingerly trying to disassemble an engine and have a cylinder head stud snap off as you’re trying to remove the rusted nut holding the thing together. Let’s not even mentioned tiny springs that go flying across the shop or miniature carburetor jets that roll off the bench and under the tool box. When you break or lose something you may not be able to get a replacement.

If you’ve never cursed you’ve never worked on motorcycles….

Sometimes you will have everything you need for the bike to run properly, good compression, good spark, timing on the money, good fuel flow from gas tank to carb float bowl and the bike still won’t run. It’s at times like this that I bang my head repeatedly against a work bench and blame gremlins….

Consequently that $500.00 “deal” you found in somebody’s shed may end up costing you an additional $2500.00 just to get it running properly.

This is why a lot of dealerships will not work on older bikes. Modern shops make their money on how quickly they can turn around a machine in for repairs and how many bikes they can do in a week. They can’t turn the older bikes around quickly enough due to the extensive troubleshooting and repair process.

New bikes are blazingly fast pieces of modern technology. You can pretty much buy one and go straight to the track. You can use a laptop to map out the bike for existing temperature, humidity and atmospheric pressure for the track that day. Old bikes required some individual tuning and innovation to get them race ready.

Modern Racebike

I’ve heard some young guys make light of older racers accomplishments because the modern stuff is so quick. I would challenge these modern day racers to try and go as fast as the old guys did on these machines with the limited engineering, suspensions and technology THEY had at the time.

a brace of Triumph racers circa 1960’s

That being said however, in my opinion there is nothing like the pride and novelty of having a beautiful, well running piece of motorcycling history. These bikes have character and are unique. You can restore them to original condition, build them into cafe racers and bobbers  or build your own piece of rolling artwork.

1955 Triumph T110

Triumph 650cc custom