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1. Birthday Book Project January 29, 2010

Posted by wetalkhablamos in birthday book project, chechu, cycling fans.
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What is the Birthday Book Project:

We’re inviting Chechu’s fans to submit items to go into a Birthday Book for him.

We would like to collect general messages, fan art, poetry, or maybe even photos or anecdotes of when you met Chechu. Tell us about your cycling goals for 2010 or anything else you like!

In English or Spanish.

Every year, we create something special for Chechu. A present from his fans. We’ve done music – to warm up and down. A commemorative poster.

This year, we’re design book.

Stage 1. A page planner. Now we just need to scour the website, blog, Facebook and Twitter for content.

A lucky find! This will save money. We’ll insert the pages into this fab photo album cover.

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Campeonato ACP November 10, 2009

Posted by wetalkhablamos in chechu, cicloturista, spain.
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Chechu at the Campeonato ACP in León on Sunday 8 November. Photographs © Arturo Sintes Lluch.

More photos from the final Spanish cicloturista on Arturo’s Facebook.

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Comment is back November 7, 2009

Posted by wetalkhablamos in cycling fans, drug abuse in sport, giro d'italia.
2 comments

Nicky OrrPosted by Nicky Orr, co-editor, ChechuRubiera.info

If the story about Pereiro’s drug test in a Spanish restaurant is true, then something has gone badly wrong

I read with dismay the account of Oscar Pereiro’s random drug test in a restaurant in Santiago de Compostela.

Drug abuse in cycling – as in life –  is a degrading activity which inevitably hurts and humiliates. Teams, cyclists and fans suffer.

The authorities now take extraordinary measures to combat this abuse. Because – quite rightly – the cheats will and must be caught.

Yet, as a fan and a pen-friend, I don’t want Chechu to be violated as Oscar Pereiro seems to have been.

With his head and legs clearly visible to the restaurant’s customers behind the doors, Pereiro had to remove his trousers and underpants down to his ankles as the regulations demand, then take off his shirt and wash his hands so that he couldn’t manipulate the samples. Then he had to deliver the sample. That done, the testers carried out the blood testing procedure and put the samples in a mobile fridge they had carried into the restaurant.

What is missing in this ethical crusade is respect. The testers showed no respect for an athlete who has actually done nothing wrong. They showed little respect for his companions and the other diners either.

Sporting ethics is at the heart of the doping battle. But set aside respect for fellow human beings, and surely the battle is so much harder to win.

Giro d’Italia may start in Washington DC soon. It’s time the eco tifosi put their collective foot down

As globalisation of cycle racing has occured in recent years, the peloton has regularly criss-crossed the Atlantic and travelled en masse to the Far East and Australia.

We’ll never forget Chechu’s phenomenal climb on Mt. Hamilton in California  in February 2008 and this comment is not an attack on non-European racing.

However, we have to question the environmental cost.

At the start of this year, we decided to offset Chechu’s air travel to and from races in 2009 by making simple changes to our lives every day.

To kick it off with a certificate, we planted a couple of trees. Then we changed to A++ rated washing machine; installed an electricity cost monitor; composted; air-dryed clothes twice a week; cut down meat consumption; recycled paper and card, bottles, cans; recycled clothes; opted for paperless banking; painted with low VOC paint; used non toxic cleaning products; said no to plastic bags; pumped up tyres; turned off at the socket …

In January, Chechu flew long haul to Australia and we were already in deficit by 4,450kg. It didn’t get much better in February with his trip to California and by the end of April, the deficit was 617kg.

We were exhausted and, without serious help from other fans, we accepted that our goal simply wasn’t achievable.

So it wrankles when we read that Giro organisers want to fly the peloton to the USA.

In 2009, Team Astana required 16 team members at Tour Down Under. 18 teams travelled from Europe or USA. Assuming they had similar staffing, nearly 300 cyclists and support staff took long haul flights to Australia.

You can add the international media and photographers, team sponsors and manufacturers, and cycling’s officials. Plus a few fans, and it could add up to 500 long haul return flights.

Using a carbon calculator, return flights from Milan to Washington (business class) is 3,000kg x 500 peeps = 1.5million kg.

I think this enviromental cost is too high. Maybe it’s time to twitter Al Gore. I wonder if he speaks Italian.

Coincidentally, at the time of  this year’s TDU, Australia was suffering its worst drought in 1000 years, attributed to climate change. The water crisis crippled agriculture, environment, economy and culture.

Please note. This comment does not represent the opinions of Chechu Rubiera but is a discussion point written by the editorial team at ChechuRubiera.info. We welcome your responses below.

Cycle Museum at Drumlanrig Castle July 8, 2009

Posted by wetalkhablamos in history of cycling.
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I guess there are dozens of cycling museums around the world. Many will host the great machines of cycle racing history, as epic and triumphant as the men (mostly) who rode them.

We happened by chance upon a little museum on the west of Scotland, where there’s a replica of Kirkpatrick Macmillan’s ingenious velocipede.

This hand-cranked wooden contraption is reportedly the first mechanically propelled two-wheeled bicycle, which made its inaugural journey from Dumfriesshire to Glasgow in 1842. It was a round trip of 140 miles.

On arrival in Glasgow, the local newspaper reported that Macmillan was charged with riding along the pavement on a velocipede to the obstruction of the passage, and with having, by doing so, thrown over a child. The child wasn’t seriously injured and Macmillan was fined 5 shillings.

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Safe Cycling May 20, 2009

Posted by wetalkhablamos in cycling fans, giro d'italia, lance armstrong.
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Watch Lance Armstrong’s latest video message from the Giro.

A key element of cycle racing is competition as entertainment, and without the fanatics, aficionados and tifosi lining roads to shout, to run, to paint the tarmac, there seems less sense in the daily torture endured by professional cyclists.

Fans are part of the team and we have a voice. Sponsors, crucial to cycling, want to sell us something, and they care what we think. Well, we think, “Enough. Keep cycling safe.”

So … if you can, send an open message to @lancearmstrong, ask him how we can help.

Post a message here, with ideas on how to lobby those who can affect change. We’ll publish them.

Shout for Chechu May 12, 2009

Posted by wetalkhablamos in chechu, giro d'italia, lance armstrong, team astana.
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For the last few days, we’ve been blessed with daily updates and photographs from Christine and Roger in Italy. They’ve tracked Chechu and his team during the first four stages of the Giro d’Italia. They’ve even stayed in the same hotel.

What an amazing experience. Christine has just phoned from Padova. At the team bus, there was a big group of Spanish fans chanting Chechu’s name. For once, his support was louder than Armstrong’s. He’s a popular bloke, and the adulation is well-deserved.

Christine and Roger have earned their privileged insight over a number of years. They’ve worked to build friendships with cyclists and staff, even with partners and parents. A special door is open to them, it’s not going to be open to everyone. And don’t expect Chechu to invite you in. He’s working too.

At the Vuelta a Espana last year, we were spectators like everyone else. No special access, and so our experience was different. Still good, but different. We also hung about for ages, took photos and said hello to a couple of team staff. But I was just another fan and they were working. No time to chat. That’s fine.

We were at the finish lines, partly by design, part accident. If you don’t have passes for access at the start line, then do go to the finish line. At the Vuelta, there was no security cordon. I leaned against Astana’s very clean team bus for a while, watching and taking in the atmosphere.

I saw Chechu there and said a quick hello. Not for the first time, I’d travelled thousands of miles to see him, but in truth that’s all I hoped to achieve. But he was there, close by, our hero. It was good.

So my top tip. Get yourself noticed. For Chechu, wear a fan t-shirt or brandish an Asturias flag. Then he knows you’re there for him.

BRONX CHEER FOR BUST ECONOMY April 16, 2009

Posted by wetalkhablamos in Uncategorized.
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The Associated Press reports today that Kazakh sponsors of the Astana Cycling Team have fallen behind in payments of rider salaries due to financial hard times.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5igz6v9F0Gr5XtMl7cHpQ3sLmv_DQD97JFEPG1

According to the news wire, payments to the riders have been withheld for about a month, and one major sponsor, Air Astana, has discontinued its support.

The AP:

 “Astana receives most of its financial support from Kazakh state holding company Samruk-Kazyna, but the Central Asian nation’s economy has been badly hit by the ongoing global financial crisis. While Samruk-Kazyna has pledged to continue its support for Astana, which is named after the Kazakh capital city, state carrier Air Astana has stopped sponsoring the team.”

Don’t worry for now, the riders will soon be able to collect their checks. Nicolai Proskurin, a high-ranking officer in the Kazahk Cycling Federation said, “We started receiving the first payments yesterday … and now that money will be forwarded to the team.”

But in the long term, is our sport in danger?

Cycling is a relatively cost-efficient sport. While logistical requirements are onerous, rider salaries are modest compared to those of other athletes, infrastructure (stadiums, for instance) is minimal, and most events are free to the public.

In contrast, it costs more than $400.00 US for a family of four to see the New York Yankees play a regular-season game at their new stadium. No wonder. One player alone, star third-baseman Alex Rodriguez, will be paid $33,000,000.00 US for 2009.  Compare: a Tour de France winner makes something like one-tenth as much, spread over two or three seasons.

A couple of dozen guys riding bikes for a year could be funded by one night’s hot dog sales in the Bronx.

Cycling is not at the top of the food chain, in terms of public preference or corporate backing. What can we expect for the sport as the global economy struggles?

ZZZZZ… March 25, 2009

Posted by wetalkhablamos in chechu, lance armstrong.
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It seems we’ve been snoozing on the job. It’s time to catch up on lost time, we’ve missed you.

Chechu’s 2009 season has started strongly. A good result in Australia was followed by a terrific result in California. Finishing 10th overall, he climbed, chased and yes, sprinted brilliantly over a tough parcours. He’s racing in Spain this week, supporting Leipheimer and Contador in Castilla y León.

And then there is Lance Armstrong.

On the wall of his parents’ bar in Baldarnón, there’s a huge photograph of Chechu on a climb at the Tour, with Lance on his wheel. I asked Chechu when it was, he couldn’t remember. It was USPS, so maybe 2003. Or 2002. Perhaps 2001.

And in his home gym, there are the framed maillot jaune, signed by Lance. There are at least two of them, casually propped up against the wall.

Chechu talks about those USPS days with energy and sparkle. His relationship with The Boss keeps delivering for him. Lance was instrumental in Chechu signing with Astana last year, and the key motivation for racing one more year.  The loyalty has brought Chechu overwhelming fan support in the USA.

Chechu is a consumate team-player, and he’s at his best working with other people. Even his Barlata is a collaborative venture. Yet what an asset he is to his partners. Good words flow naturally from him. He finds the positive in disappointment or calamity. Loyalty is instinctive.

Loyalty has been endangered in recent times. Our economy, based on greed and self-interest and so very fragile, is mocking our lives. We look back to past times, searching for values like integrity and gratitude which once worked so well.

There’s more to be said about this, but for the moment, let’s be thankful for Chechu Rubiera, who is gracious and good.

And also for Lance Armstrong. Always.

DIFFERENT COLOURS, SAME LOYALTIES March 25, 2009

Posted by wetalkhablamos in Uncategorized.
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Stage 8, Tour of California 2009.
Photograph © Doug Pensinger/Getty Images, zimbio.com

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Col de Madeleine, Tour de France 2002.
Photograph © Gaston Hoffman

CHECHU TALKS ASTURIAN January 15, 2009

Posted by wetalkhablamos in asturias, chechu.
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In this video, Chechu says,

“Hello. I’m Chechu Rubiera. I’m a cyclist. Prevent its death. Because it’s our language. Asturian official language!”

Leading Asturians have joined this political campaign to prevent the Asturian language dying out.

Although the official language of Asturias is Spanish, the language spoken by many locals is Asturian. Now protected by law and offered as an optional language in schools, supporters of Asturian claim that, because it is not officially recognised, it may be a dead language within two generations.

Chechu describes Asturian as “a dialect of Spanish, and very similar, although unfortunately it’s becoming obsolete and only a few words are still used between Asturians.” He has even taken to the streets to support his local language.

In 1994, there were 100,000 first language speakers of Asturian, with 450,000 able to speak or understand it as a second language.
doilacara1flickr

photo source:  flickr.com