The beat down at the bistro

The ongoing Tyler Hamilton/ Lance Armstrong “beat down at the bistro” story does not want to die. As you probably know, Hamilton bumped into Armstrong at the Cache Cache restaurant in Aspen, Colorado. According to Hamilton, Armstrong berated him and said his legal team would destroy him and make Hamilton’s life hell. However, Cache Cache co-owner and friend of Armstrong, Jodi Larner said the whole incident was a “non-event.” While she didn’t hear the conversation between to the two ex-pros it didn’t look to be as aggressive as Hamilton had said. Okay, fair enough – two enemies bump into each other in public there’s going to be tension, but from there it depends who you believe: Hamilton or Larner.

Naturally I went to Twitter and blasted off a few snarky comments never thinking it would go too far from there. Then the next day the story got more traction as Hamilton’s lawyer alerted the authorities to possible witness harassment charges against Armstrong.

“Would you feel threatened if someone said to you, ‘We’re going to destroy you on the witness stand and we’re going to make your life a living hell?’ ” Hamilton’s lawyer told the New Your Times. “Not a lot of shades of gray there.”

Now I got interested.

So with a quick Google search I got the restaurant’s phone number as well as some background information on the chef and co-owner Chris Larner. In 2007 he was the recipient of NORML’s Cannabis and Culinary Award. With an award like that I’m sure he was the commencement speaker for the graduating class at his former culinary school. But what’s NORML?

To quote from their About page NORML is “a nonprofit public-interest advocacy group, NORML represents the interests of the tens of millions of Americans who smoke marijuana responsibly.” The buzz kill is that because of the “The Man” donations are not tax deductible.

Leave it to Twitter, someone found a YouTube video from a 2009 NORML party and on the menu are two types of desserts baked by Chris: normal and an abNORML. I have a feeling that by the end of that evening the desert wasn’t the only thing baked…

So now the recent evening takes on a hugely ironic flavor. Hamilton, a doper, is eating dinner at a restaurant owned by marijuana dopers and is being accosted by a guy who is being investigated for doping. Jesus….what type of place is Aspen? From the sound of it, this mountain town blows Venice Beach out of the water!

Armstrong racing at the Nevada City Classic
Cache Cache must have been busy because when I called the phone rang numerous times before someone hurriedly answered and asked if I could hold. Before I could reply he was gone. I didn’t mind holding, but one bit of advice to Cache Cache – get some “on hold music.” I was chilling for almost four minutes and started to wonder if they’d forgotten about me. As I waited it gave me a chance to peruse the restaurant’s home page which proudly boasts, “attributes the success of the restaurant to these faithful patrons who have supported Cache Cache for so long.” Apparent three-times-a-week regular Armstrong is one of the a fore mentioned patrons.

After almost four minutes a male voice apologized and asked what he could do. I quickly introduced myself and asked if Jodi Larner was available.

“She has the night off.” Smart move by Larner.

So I asked if he could tell me about the Hamilton/ Armstrong incident and was it Armstrong that asked for Hamilton to be removed?

After a pause he said, “We have no comment on this matter.”

I pushed on and asked if there was anyone else that might be shown the door at Cache Cache. Instead I got a quick, “Thank you,” and a dial tone. Damn! My next question was could they ship their wildly popular NORML brownies out of state?

I had my entertainment for the day and thought the story had played out. Once again I was wrong.

The F.B.I. has taken a shine to the bistro blow-up and has subpenaed the surveillance tapes from the restaurant with the hopes that it will show the confrontation between the two cyclists at the bar. However, it looks like Cache Cache surveillance videos were set up by the Pakistan intelligence service because, according to Jodi, they only face the kitchen area. You’d think that a restaurant would have a camera facing the bar all the time – where all types of nefarious activities going on such as under-age drinking and employee theft.

But I got to thinking – cameras only in the kitchen area and not the bar? Is there something abNORML being baked behind those swinging doors? And now the F.B.I. wants to take a look at those tapes? I hope it’s only the “Loch Duart” Scottish Salmon that is being cooked back there. Maybe there’s more to the ingredients of the French onion soup than just onion?

In the YouTube video below guest speaker Allen St Pierre thanks Chris and his co-workers for the delicious meal. Could the owners of Cache Cache have the camera on the kitchen to keep an eye on their staff ensuring that no one pockets a few of the ingredients? Hmmm…

The end result of this kerfuffle puts another black-mark on cycling. This made the front page of main stream news sites only further injuring the sport’s reputation. The repercussions of this incident for Armstrong, if witness tampering is determined to have occurred, is the eight-year statute of limitations gets reset. This means the clock isn’t ticking so loudly for the investigators and they have more time to dig. And who knows what they’ll find on the video tape…

Full disclosure: While I don’t smoke the “ratty tail” I do believe that marijuana, in certain amounts, should be de-criminalized and I can appreciate NORML’s legal efforts.


  1. From all the reports on line which are almost all 2nd or 3rd hand, I doubt what happened would come close to a legally sustainable case of “witness tampering”, but if it gets some traction it will provide the Justice Dept. with a larger window of time to investigate as it could move the statute of limitation time period end date from years ago to last week. The meeting/confrontation is a dumb move legally, a further black eye for Livestrong and as you point out more bad press for cycling. I assume LA’s talented legal team had advised him to stay away from any witnesses and to keep his mouth shut.

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