Texting Driver Hits Cyclist and Just Doesn’t Care

Imagine this scenario.  A cyclist gets run over by a vehicle and is left with a broken back.  Allegations are made that the driver of the car was texting and/or distracted just prior to the accident.  The cyclist needs surgery and months of rehab.

That scenario plays itself out literally weekly, somewhere in the world.

What perhaps makes this situation slightly different is that not only was the driver clearly texting while driving, but that she was more put out by the fact that the cyclist had the audacity to cause some damage to her car as a result of the collision.

Here’s the backstory – Kimberly Davis, of Port Fairy, Australia, pleaded guilty earlier this week to dangerous driving as a result of her collision with cyclist.  Phone records showed that Davis had texted 44 times just prior to the accident (with a text message being received less than a minute prior to calling emergency officials indicating she had hit a cyclist).  The cyclist was critically injured and suffered a severed spine.  He spent three months in the hospital recovering from his injuries.  Davis was fined $4500 and lost her license for 9 months.

What makes this whole situation worse is that Davis had the incredulity to not show any remorse, and moreover to be upset with the cyclist.

Davis told police investigators, “”I just don’t care because I’ve already been through a lot of bullshit and my car is like pretty expensive and now I have to fix it. I’m kind of pissed off that the cyclist has hit the side of my car.”  She further went on to say, “I don’t agree that people texting and driving could hit a cyclist. I wasn’t on my phone when I hit the cyclist.”

There are a couple of issues associated with this that concern me.  The first is obvious:  distracted driving causes accidents.  The second is the clear lack of remorse that Davis had.

There’s likely nothing that can be done about the later concern, but there certainly can be things done relative the former.

First and foremost, distracted driving should be a primary traffic offense.  Police should be able to pull over and cite drivers for nothing other than distracted driving (texting, SnapChatting, Facebooking, even just calling).  In far too many jurisdictions, texting while driving is a secondary offense.  In Florida, for example, I can get a $30 fine for texting while driving (totaling about $100 when court costs and fees added) – but I can only get that ticket if I am pulled over for some primary offense – like speeding, careless driving, DUI, etc.  If state legislatures and governments pass laws or ordinances changing this offense to a primary offense and make the fine prohibitive, then there may be a corresponding decline in the incidence rate of drivers committing this act.

In my opinion, cycling can be tough enough of a workout.  We don’t need to continuously be on our guard for distracted drivers as well.

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#TBT: A Dear John Letter to Ironman

Throwback Thursday is an internet phenom right now.  It’s fun to look back at pictures from days gone by.  Seems like a fun concept to apply to blog posts, too.  

Back in November 2011, I wrote the following blog post, and it turned out to be one of the most popular posts I’ve ever written.  It’s been read more than 600 times (from my blog alone), shared on Facebook, Twitter & re-posting on other blogs more than 100 times.  I received more emails and feedback on this post than almost any other post.  So…I guess the sentiment expressed below struck a chord with folks.

Given the popularity of this post, I thought I’d post it up again for you to enjoy…

Dear Ironman,

You and I, we have a history.

I’ve sweated and swam, biked miles upon miles, and ran like Forrest Gump. All in an effort to overcome the races you’ve lain in front of me. Not just once, but several times.

Orlando. Panama City Beach. Louisville. They are familiar territory. A few good memories have come from my pursuits there. More of them have been ho-hum.

Once I was pleased to hear Mike Reilly proclaim that I was an “Ironman”.

But I’m over you.

It’s not you…..it’s all me.

I’m tired of swimming with two thousand friends. I don’t like drafting when I’m supposed to be racing. I don’t like feeling like a customer.

Triathlon isn’t about those things. At least for me, it’s not. Triathlon is about the challenge. Feeling like you belong at a race – regardless of whether you’re the first finisher or the last. I like spectacle and boisterous finish lines as much as the next guy, and while you’re good at that, others are equally good – if not better – at it than you are. I want to feel valued as an athlete. Part of the family. Cared about. Loved.

And you, well, you don’t do that anymore for me.

I’m just a tick mark on your headboard. Another zero on the balance sheet. Another person to sell logo’d merchandise to for too high a price.

We’re done. I know you’ll find others. People will constantly clamor for the “notoriety” that comes from doing one of your races. Good for them.

I’m in this for something more now. Good riddance.

I’ve got a new sweetheart. She may be a little younger than you, but she’s better in oh so many ways. Her name even sounds cooler……Revolution3. Change. New. She’s all that.

So we’re breaking up. Have a nice life.

Triathlon: Is it a Race or an Event?

Common sense tells you that a triathlon is a race, right?  After all, there’s an overall winner, and there are people who win their age groups.  There are national championships, race series championships, and even world championships.  Some races offer prize money or goods for the folks who come in first.  There are trophies or plaques given to the people who cross the tape first.  All of that is evidence that triathlon is, indeed, a race.

Given the popularity of our sport, however, one might deduce that the sport is less about racing than it is about the event.

Race companies put on huge spectacles at their finish lines.  Race expos are huge.  There are events leading up to race-day for families to participate in.  In some cases, race festivities happen for a full week prior to the event.  Races, in and of themselves, are events.

There’s nothing wrong with that.  I love a great finish experience as much as the next guy does.  Personally, I think that many of the events and hoopla that accompany races make our sport more enticing and entertaining.  Many new athletes are drawn to our sport because of these very events, and so they are unquestionably good.

On top of the “event” nature of races, for lots of folks, triathlon isn’t about winning.  It isn’t about getting a Kona spot.  The reality is that the vast majority of us will never win an age group, let alone an entire race.  Lots of folks are quite genuinly happy with just finishing.

The Wall Street Journal recently printed an article that posited that younger athletes appear to be slower and less competitive than older athletes.  The author didn’t claim that we more mature athletes are defying the aging process and getting faster; rather the argument was that younger athletes just don’t have the competitive drive to make a race out of an event.

As evidence, the author mentioned some endurance type races where there is literally no timing done (the Color Me Rad type races and even some of the Tough Mudder type races were examples).  People participate just for the experience.  The fun.  But not to win.  The author then shared the fact that even though he finished in the top 15% of his Chicago Triathlon age group, that he finished in the overall top 11% for the entire race.  This bolstered his opinion that youngsters are slower than the oldies among us.  He claimed that his fact portends a major forthcoming slippage in our global competitiveness in sports in the future.

Bunk, I say.

First of all, what does it matter that older athletes seemingly are outperforming younger athletes?  Could it instead be a sign that we’ve learned how to better take care of our bodies?  That we’ve adapted training such that we can maintain high intensity well into our 40’s or even 50’s?  I just don’t buy it that there aren’t fast people who are younger than me.  I’m not worried that future U.S. athletes will be at a disadvantage down the road.

Secondly, I think that swimming, running, and biking are fun – and likely so do you.  Others, perhaps, aren’t quite as sure of that.  Maybe they find entering a “race” a little daunting or overwhelming.  It could be that an event that is “just” for fun might drive someone to get off the couch and stay off the couch.  Given the obese state of the majority of the country (alas, the world), turning a couch potato into a budding athlete is an exceptional thing.

Finally, it’s in a race organizer’s best interest to make their race compelling – not just for the person racing, but for their family and friends too.  People have to want to go to a race.  A boring race experience likely won’t invite returning competitors.  On the other hand, a super race environment might compel a non-participant in one year to actually sign up to race in the following year.

At the end of the day, triathlon (and other events be they running, cycling, swimming, stand up paddle boarding, kayyaking, etc) should be both a race and an event!

Ironman and the Secret Access Club

The Internet is burning. And, no, it’s not about Miley Cyrus’ twerking at last week’s Video Music Awards.

Some of the more well-known triathlon communities are up in arms over what they perceive as a slight by the World Triathlon Corporation with how registration for a new iron-distance race happened.

Here’s the backstory: MDot announced a new race location in Chattanooga, TN a few weeks back. They opened registration online earlier this week (I think it was Wednesday) at 12 noon ET. About three minutes later, according to the CEO of WTC, general entry to the race sold out. Subsequent to all that happening, news came out that Active.com, the online vendor WTC uses to process their registrations, went down during the heavy registration traffic, potentially leaving hundreds (or more) of potential registrants in a perpetual “hold” status. Later on, word came out that WTC opened pre-registration for the event to members of certain triathlon clubs, both in the immediate vicinity of the race, as well as nationally.

So what’s the fuss? Another Ironman race sold out quickly. It seems to happen all the time; why should this particular race be any different?

It turns out that some folks are upset that WTC offered preregistration to clubs. Moreover, WTC apparently had instructed the clubs that they offered this capability to not openly advertise or broadcast that this was being done. According to some, this is bad mojo and poor form. WTC, people said, was being deceptive, elitest, and driving a wedge into their potential customer base. People couldn’t believe that WTC had the audacity to pull a stunt like this. There must be some conspiracy or collusion between WTC and key triathlon clubs to corner the market on race slots! Other folks claimed that there must have been an agreement between Active and WTC to “pull the plug” on the servers once the race sold out so as to shut out some athletes.

I’m not sure I agree.

Let’s not kid ourselves…the race was most likely going to sell out. There would be people who would not be able to register for the race because it would sell out before they could get through the system. MDot’s CEO claimed in a post on Slowtwitch that by offering preregistration slots to clubs, they were working to drive the growth of triathlon through clubs. Okay, maybe that’s the truth. Perhaps it isn’t. I have no idea.

To me, this all boils down to market economics, and ultimately, how a firm manages supply and demand. Right now, MDot is enjoying a period of super-high demand. This is really clear given the fact that virtually all of their races sell out quickly. Many “bucket listers” want nothing more than to cross off the list that they did an “Ironman”. So long as that is a prevailing attitude, we’ll continue to see WTC’s races sell out. All MDot did by opening preregistration to clubs was offer an enticement to a targeted, captive group. It isn’t a bad business play, at the end of the day.

And for those that think WTC colluded to pull the plug, well I can’t see that as being true either. There’s some amount of negative publicity that WTC received from both the Active snafu and the whole preregistration for clubs thing. I can’t imagine that any company focused on building brand would purposefully set themselves up for negative publicity. Well, maybe getting negative publicity would be a good ploy for an on-your-knees, about to crumble company, but I don’t recall ever learning anything about that back in B-school.

At the end of the day, what happened is that a race company announced a new race, opened registration, and some people got in while some people didn’t.

I suspect that most of the people complaining about all of this just happen to fall in the later category, and not the former.

NormaTec MVP versus Recovery Pump: A Product Comparison

Over the weekend, I received an interesting blog comment.  Actually, the comment was more a question about NormaTec’s MVP system and Recovery Pump’s compression system:

Comment 

What a good question! 

So…some backstory.  In 2011, Team Trakkers/Rev3 was sponsored by Recovery Pump and they supplied each member of the age group team a compression system to use during the season.  In 2012, and again this season, NormaTec has sponsored Team Rev3, and has supplied us with with their MVP system.  I have used both of these systems extensively during the past three years.

You can read a product review I wrote about the Recovery Pump here.

I also wrote an “initial thoughts” post about NormaTec’s MVP, but as of yet I haven’t done a full product review.

There’s an interesting (and lively) thread on Slowtwitch debating the differences and similarities between NormaTec and Recovery Pump (and a few other systems).  Full disclosure – probably half of the posts to that thread are from folks who are/were sponsored or associated with one of the respective companies.

So in the interest of full and transparent disclosure, right now I have and use a set of NormaTec MVP boots that they have provided me with.  They sponsor me, and I get the benefit of using their system.  The thoughts I will share below are, however, my independent thoughts.  I’ll share with you specific things I like about both the NormaTec and Recovery Pump systems, the costs, any drawbacks I’ve noticed, etc.  This is not a scientific study of these two systems; I will not be rendering any input in terms of medically or scientifically which system is better….quite simply because I’m not qualified to to that.  At the end, I’ll tell you which system I personally prefer, and why.

What are these things and how are they different from each other?

For starters, both NormaTec’s MVP system and the Recovery Pump system are mechanical compression devices.  Basically, they use forced air to inflate leg sleeves to help flush waste products out of your cells and back into your bloodstream and lymphatic system so that your body can process those products.  Both systems got their start in the medical industry.  Recovery Pump is a lymphadema press – basically a device used to reduce swelling after certain medical treatments or surgeries.  NormaTec’s MVP system is a variant of the lymphadema press – basically re-engineered and developed to use a different inflation approach than the Recovery Pump.

Recovery Pump uses something called sequential intermittent pneumatic compression.  In English, this means that the Recovery Pump inflates several chambers in the leg sleeves/boots in order moving up your leg from your feet to your thighs.  Each chamber stays inflated as the next one fills until you have a “full leg squeeze” thing going on.  Then all of the chambers release the air, hold empty for a certain amount of time, and then start reinflating.

NormaTec’s approach is called peristaltic pneumatic compression.  They actually named their approach Sequential Pulse Technology.  This approach is a little different in that instead of just squeezing your leg; the compression pulses as it inflates.  The system inflates one chamber and then holds that chamber static as the next fills.  Then, as the inflation moves up the leg, the chambers farthest away from the inflated and squeezing chamber are released.  NormaTec describes this approach more similar to a massage and says that this type of compression more mimics how our leg muscles actually work.

OK, NormaTec MVP and Recovery Pump take different approaches, but do they both work?

The short answer here is, sure, both systems work to flush out the bad goop from your legs and help you recover.  Based on my experience with both products, I have found that I felt significantly better after a long run or ride when I used these two systems.  I have found that using either of these systems helped me recover faster, feel like I could go hard again sooner, and not become fatigued as quickly compared to instances where I worked hard but didn’t use a mechanical system.

My anecdotal findings – and those shared by multiple athletes, professional and amateur alike, is that using mechanical compression devices makes you feel great.  I’m not going to lie – chilling out after a hard workout and using compression like this feels awesome.  It’s like having a personal masseuse at any time you’d like.

So they feel great.  What’s different between the two?

We’ve already talked a little about the differences between NormaTec’s MVP system and Recovery Pump’s system in terms of how they compress your leg.  That being said, there are differences between the systems that aren’t just related to sequential versus peristaltic compression.

The Noise Factor:  I’m going to be honest with you:  neither system is silent.  NormaTec’s MVP is MUCH QUIETER than the Recovery Pump, though.  In fact, by comparison, Recovery Pump sounds like Darth Vader having an astma attack.  There’s a quite pronounced sound as the system inflates, and there a very loud hissing as the leg sleeves deflate.  By contrast, NormaTec’s system really doesn’t present a lot of sound during inflation.  There are some random clicking noises from the pump when it cycles, but overall it’s not too bad.  There are two ultimate tests in regards to the noise factor for these units:  (1) the TV test – can I watch TV while using the pump and not have to blast the volume in order to hear the dialogue, and (2) the sleep test – can I use the pump in the bed at night and not wake up my wife.  I’ve actually done both of these tests with both units.  NormaTec’s MVP wins both tests hands down. 

Feeling the squeeze:   It’s pretty obvious that both of these units squeeze your legs.  One difference that I noticed is that the amount of control you have on how hard the units squeeze is pretty significant.  Recovery Pump has a dial that allows you to increase the level of pressure on your legs, up to 80 Mg of pressure.  NormaTec’s MVP system has seven settings of increasing pressure.  I don’t honestly know what each level means, but I suppose that each level equates to a certain pressure setting.  The bottom line, though, is that I could tolerate the highest setting on Recovery Pump without any discomfort at all – and frankly, there were times where I wanted more pressure.  In contrast, I have never set my NormaTec MVP higher than setting five…I can’t handle the pressure.  Plus, one key difference is that the MVP system allows you to boost the amount of pressure on a specific zone or chamber.  So, for example, if I want additional pressure on my quads or calves, I can tell the system to “squeeze harder” there.  I really like that feature quite a bit.

The cost factor:  Here’s the deal.  These systems are not inexpensive.  Like all things triathlon, you’ll spend quite a lot of greenbacks to purchase either of these.  You can purchase NormaTec’s MVP system for $1750.00 on their website (www.normatecrecovery.com/mvp.aspx).  Recovery Pump sells for $1495.00 on their website (www.recoverypump.com). 

The pro factor:  Let’s face it:  some people will base their decisions solely upon who uses a particular product.  Think Michael Jordan and Hanes t-shirts.  Both of these products sponsor a bunch of triathletes, runners, etc.  For what it’s worth, it seems like NormaTec has broader appeal to professional athletes outside the realm of triathlon…NBA teams, pro cyclists, skiers, Olympians all use NormaTec. 

Portability:  Neither of these systems is small, but ultimately both are portable.  NormaTec’s MVP is designed as a cool-looking toolbox with a handle on top, making carrying easy.  Recovery Pump looks more like a medical device and doesn’t have a handle for carrying.  Both will fit into a suitcase fairly easily – but neither will fit in a transition bag if you have your “normal” race stuff in there (like a wetsuit, shoes, helmet, etc).  I’ve traveled to races with both units before, and quite frankly, if you buy either one of these, you’re going to want to take them with you to a race for both pre and post-race usage.

Which device would TriMadness buy?

Here we are, down to brass tacks.  As I said above, I really liked the feeling that I got out of using both of these systems.  Both products made me feel like I recovered faster after a hard workout or race.  I am a believer in mechanical compression as a recovery modality, and would suggest that if you have the means to purchase one of these products, you should.  There is, however, one product that I would personally prefer to purchase, were I about to spend my own hard-earned money.  That product is NormaTec’s MVP system. 

Why NormaTec?  It essentially boils down to just a few traits for me that sealed the deal:  MVP is quieter than Recovery Pump.  It’s not as disruptive for my family compared to the Recovery Pump.  I don’t have to turn the TV up to be heard over the unit, and my wife can sleep next to me if I’m using it in bed.  I also really, really like the fact that I have the ability to target a specific zone with the MVP system.  I often feel like my quads are trashed after riding hard or going on a long run, so I really like to focus there and have the MVP system squeeze harder there.  I don’t know if it flushes out more crap that way, but it feels amazing, and I feel like I’m better recovered.

Good luck if you’re thinking about purchasing a mechanical compression system.  I think you’ll find that this type of recovery is fantastic and really facilitates getting back at it fairly quickly.  If you have questions about either of these two products, please leave a comment or send me a note via the “Contact Me” page.