Outside magazine, September 1999
Tour de Pharmacie
As a competitive cyclist in the United States, I was particularly impressed with John Brant's coverage of an almost decade-long scandal that has completely rocked the professional road-cycling world ("Playing Dirty," July). I agree with Brant: Though it would be easy to fix rampant drug use in elite racing by legalizing it, it's better instead to fight the problem by rewarding clean riders and continuing to finance government-run antidrug campaigns.
Park City, Utah
Cyclists, French fans, and the authorities all knew about doping prior to the recent scandal. The French police and government have just put on a show to let the world know how assiduously they're handling this "drug problem." Moreover, the drug-use discussion ignores other important elements of competitive cycling. Long-distance racing is more a mind-and-willpower game than a test of physical prowess. It's about being constantly alert for trickery. It's about unselfish support and sacrifice for one's team. Virenque rides again! I hope he wins.
I was thrilled to see the beauty, complexity, and discipline of competition aerobatics covered in your June issue ("I Am Elena. You Will Fly Me Now"). I take exception, however, to Peter Maass's statement regarding aerobatic pilots being "better fliers" than fighter jocks—an assertion I doubt would pass muster with any F-14 or F-16 squadron. The g's that fighter pilots pull are sustained g's rather than the short-duration g's that competition pilots endure. I've known more than one aerobatic pilot to pass out in a fighter jet from the g-forces produced by a two-minute turn.
St. Augustine, Florida
The Writing on the Wall
You miscaptioned one of the photos in your July Dispatches item "Wall-to-Wall Walls" by five letters. The climbing wall identified as being at Ohio State University, in Columbus, is in fact at Ohio University, in Athens.
Hallelujah, I'm a Fan
I've come to expect excellent writing from every issue of Outside, and Mark Jenkins's "Hallelujah, I'm a Fool" (The Hard Way, July) was no exception. His testament to the dregs of everyday life that even the most adventurous souls must reckon with was both telling and inspiring. Mr. Jenkins, I thank you.
Kurt D. Peterson
Boone, North Carolina
I thoroughly enjoyed Mark Jenkins's account of his expedition up Mount Waddington. It reminded me of some of my own treks that, though less adventurous, seemed to start out as disasters and wound up as miracles. Which is among the good reasons why some of us have to get out of our own skull and see our hometown as one of many fading lights in the rearview mirror.
Daniel Christopher Barr
I strongly resent David Roberts's disparaging characterizations of the Dr. Frederick A. Cook Society and Dr. Cook himself ("A Long and Brutal Assault," June). We try to communicate our topics in an objective and nonoffensive manner. Mr. Roberts, however, could have offered a few positive credentials when describing Cook's life beyond that of a dreamy-eyed, lisping lover of solitude. What about his medical and ethnological achievements? What about his first circumnavigation of Mount McKinley in 1903 and his undisputed attainment of an altitude of 11,400 feet?
Warren B. Cook Sr.
President, Dr. Frederick A. Cook Society
Mahwah, New Jersey
Correspondence may be sent by e-mail (email@example.com) or addressed to the Letters Editor, Outside, 400 Market St., Santa Fe, NM 87501. Please include your full name and address.