In which I am very, very late, otherwise known as "hey, the Tour de Fleece starts on Saturday - want to spin with me?"

The last 6 weeks or so have been a completely ridiculous blur of very long work days, coupled with trying to get fibre club out the door and keeping up with a bunch of tech editing that all seems to have landed at once. In other words, complete chaos.

But this morning (a full week and a half after finishing the work thing that took over my life), I finally felt like I had a) some breathing room, and b) had recovered enough to be able to think a bit about other things. Imagine my surprise when I realised that the Tour de France starts in a mere five days! So I've started the Team Porpoise Fur 2017 thread on Ravelry, posted to the wildcard thread in the Tour de Fleece group and spammed the Yarn in the City group hoping to drum up some team mates. 

The whole thing is very simple: set yourself a challenge for the duration of the Tour de Fleece/France (1st July - 23rd July) and go for it! Some people pull vast piles of fibre out of their stash and commit to spinning pounds of yarn, some people challenge themselves to learn a new technique or try something outside of their comfort zone, some people aim to spin a little bit every day. Whatever is a challenge for you is all good!

Once again this year, my Tour de Fleece is going to be somewhat impaired by a bit of travelling, but my goals are as follows:

  1. Spin the four exclusive TdF colourways from this year
  2. Spin up at least four of my oldest Hello Yarn Fibre Club offerings
  3. Spin at least a little bit every day

If you'd like to get some of this year's TdF colourways, this is your last chance! The pre-orders are supposed to close today, but given my lateness, I'm going to leave them open until the end of the day tomorrow, 27 June. You can find them here, and all the details on the inspiration here.

I can't wait to start!!!!

Tour de Farce*

* with thanks to NPR's All Things Considered for the title

I got sucked in to cycling when I moved to Tucson when I finished grad school to wait for then-only-boyfriend IronMan to finish his graduate adventures. He was doing a lot of road riding at the time, and if ever any place was made for cycling, it’s Tucson, so after a half-hearted attempt to go my own way, I succumbed. I joined a team, I did a bit of racing, and then got in to triathlon, but still kept road riding. One of the highlights of every summer was following the Tour de France as it unfolded. This was in the heart of the Lance Armstrong years, and besides being a fantastic story about overcoming cancer, watching him basically win at will was almost incomprehensible, even though we were watching as it happened.

And now I don’t think I want to follow pro cycling ever again. It started off this spring when several of the major contenders for the overall classification were linked with a doping scandal, and were not allowed to race. A former Tour winner admitted to doping to win the race. One of the sports best sprinters tested positive in the Giro d'Italia (but was later cleared). Then the race started, and riders started dropping like flies. A member of the T-Mobile team was found to have had an elevated testosterone level in a previous test and was not allowed to start. A rider who many expected to be on the podium was kicked off his national team for failing to keep the national doping agency informed of his whereabouts last month. A well known, well respected rider won a time trial one day, lost major time the next day, and then won a mountain stage on the third day, only to be found to have blood doped – he and his team left the race. Then yesterday, another rider and team withdrew after a high testosterone test. Even worse then that, late yesterday the current overall leader Michael Rasmussen (rider previously kicked off his national team), after winning the toughest stage of the race and virtually locking up victory for his team, was suddenly fired and kicked out of the race. I am just amazed.

I’m torn between being glad that the authorities in pro cycling are (maybe) finally getting tough on doping, and being concerned that this is a witch hunt that is tarnishing the names and reputations of innocent people. All of these expulsions have come before confirmation of the test results using B samples – if those samples come back negative, then the original conclusion of doping has to be thrown out since it can’t be replicated. And there are always questions about chain of custody and what lab is doing the tests and who they’re linked to that might influence events. As a scientist, I’d like to believe that there isn’t any issue with the actual tests being run or the way experiments are done, but that hasn’t always been the case in the past. I'd also like to believe that the riders are smart enough to know that these tests are out there, the authorities are out to hunt down the dopers, and it makes no sense to blood dope (for example) when you will get caught. Particularly if you win a stage! Maybe I’m just being stupid to think that all these protestations of innocence from the riders aren’t lies, and maybe they are all doped to the gills, and the ones that don’t get caught just have better doctors. It’s a sad state of affairs that the strategies for doping in cycling (and triathlon for that matter) are far ahead of most of the available tests to detect doping.

I don’t know what the answer to this problem is, but I do know that I’m very, very, very disappointed. And not very interested in participating as a spectator any more.

ETA: Oh, this just keeps getting better!