Top 10 climbs in Palos Verdes

May 13, 2012 § 14 Comments

The South Bay produces lots of riders who can absolutely smoke it on the uphills. This is due in part to the excellent climbing available on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. Below is my ranking of the ten best climbs. Route descriptions are referenced according to Strava.

1. Forrestal-Ganado-Domes: 3.4 miles, average grade 6.3%. The toughest climb on the peninsula. It begins on Forrestal when you turn off of PV Drive South, connects with Ganado, then takes Crest all the way to the radar domes. If you do “Segment Search” in Strava for “The Big One, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA,” you’ll find it. It’s a solid 20-minute climb. The first part of Forrestal is deceptively steep, and the rest of the climb to Crest is not deceptive at all. It goes up, and up, and up. The wall before Ganado is horrific, and Ganado itself is beyond horrific. This is as close to a pro climb as we have in the South Bay. Long, leg breaking, steep, lung busting, relentless, and ridden rarely because it hurts so much.

2. Anchovy-Friendship Park-Domes: 4.0 miles, 7% (est). This would be harder than Forrestal except that after you complete the climb above Friendship Park there is a substantial respite before you hit Crest and climb to the domes. Otherwise, it’s an absolute killer. It starts off as an 8.2% wall, climbs for half a mile, then finishes at 11.6% for another five hundred yards before briefly leveling out. You enter the park’s parking lot, pedal to the back, lift your bike over the barricade, and continue up the paved road for another .5 mile, averaging a solid 15% along the steepest part. Then you get another breather from Calle Aventura to PV East until you turn right on Crest and grind the final 1.6 miles at 5.3% to the radar domes.

3. The Switchbacks: The Strava segment is called “RPV Switchbacks.” This is the gold standard climb in the South Bay. 1.9 miles, 5.1%, and a mere 508 feet of climbing, it’s hardly a tough or challenging climb. You can big ring it or spin it…as you wish. However, if you want to crack the top three times, get ready to leave something on the road. This is the most popular climb in the South Bay; everyone’s done it, it’s drilled every single week on the Donut Ride, and although there are many harder climbs, there’s none that’s tougher if you’re out hunting a legit Strava KOM. Which I know you’re not. But just in case…

4. Calle de Suenos-Crest-Whitley Collins: 3.3 miles, 4.5% (est.) this is a harder, more interesting, and less common route than Hawthorne-Crest, which I’ve left off the list because it’s so ugly, boring, and such a wretched slog compared to Calle de Suenos. Hawthorne is slightly longer and slightly steeper, but this is my list. Sorry. The section on Crest after crossing Hawthorne is not steep but kind of a grind. The kicker is the back side of Whitley-Collins, which rips up at 7.8% and is gnarliest at the end…as it should be.

5. Paseo de la Playa-Via del Monte-Granvira Altamira-Whitley Collins: This is an amalgamation of several climbs, beginning at Paseo de la Playa in RAT Beach, connecting with Palos Verdes Drive Boulevard, doglegging through Malaga Cove to the Strava segment called Via del Monte Full, straight across Hawthorne to Ridgegate, right on Highridge, and then finishing with the front side of Whitley-Collins and its .2 miles at 9.9%. The entire climb is like a billion miles long, has one traffic signal and four hundred stop signs. You’ll have to decide for yourself what to do about them. This is a killer climb to do early in the morning, shortly after or just before the PV cops park their dummy patrol car with the blacked-out windows somewhere on Via del Monte. This climb has everything. Steep sections, 180-degree turn, flat spots, false flats, slight and brief downhill, long grinds…and it finishes with a leg-breaker. As it should.

6. Eastvale-Sunnyridge: This is a little-ridden extremely noxious climb that will completely crush you. It’s only about a mile long, but averages a solid 9%. The key is to bear right when Eastvale meets Sunnyridge. From there it kicks up and up and up. Take care descending Sunnyridge. It’s a residential street. This is certainly one of the nastiest climbs on the hill, and gets bypassed for that very reason. You pick it up on PV Drive North just past Crenshaw.

7. Crenshaw-Crest-Whitley Collins: In the spirit of miserable, dangerous, grinding, unpleasant rides with nothing to recommend them except length and dreadfulness, I bring you Crenshaw. If you begin it at PCH, it’s about 4 miles at 7%. The traffic is dense and fast and dangerous on the lower slope. The traffic is not as dense, but faster after you cross PV Drive North. However, the width of the lane makes it relatively safe. Relatively. After the light at Silver Spur, the road jacks up considerably and really sucks. You get a brief respite on Crest, and then pounded in the face with a brick when you hit the final .3 miles on Whitley-Collins. This climb is so miserable and awful that you’ll never, ever do it more than once.

8. Reservoir-Homes & Domes: This is the climb up Palos Verdes Drive East to Miraleste, down Miraleste, and up through the neighborhood back to PV Drive East, then up to the radar domes. It’s a terrible, dangerous climb up from the reservoir due to the traffic, narrow lanes, angry drivers on their way to church, and bad pavement. The climb is neither challenging nor particularly scenic. The Better Homes Section up Via Colinita is about .7 miles, fairly steep, pretty, but not otherwise notable. So why do this climb? Because it’s a standard.

9. Zumaya-Coronel: This is actually the name of the Strava segment; it’s 2.9 miles at 4.4%. It has a couple of steep sections and only two brief sections where you can catch your breath before it kicks up again. It includes the sweeping uphill grind on Coronel and finishes at a nice little grassy park. It’s often included at the end of the Donut Ride for those who haven’t left everything on the Glass Church sprint and The Rollers.

10. You tell me.

Hand job, or, health issues that affect cycling

May 12, 2012 § 5 Comments

For the last couple of years my right palm has been getting really callused. A series of hard lumps has formed around the base of my middle finger, lumps that are so large and hardened that they have made it impossible for me to fully open my hand.

Now I know what you’re thinking: “I bet his vision is worsening as well.”

It’s not, smartypants.

Wanky’s damaged palm.

Since I spend so much time typing, it made sense that this was  carpal tunnel syndrome, or probably, according to Dr. Google, “Trigger Finger.” I wouldn’t ordinarily have given much thought to it, since it never really affected me, but over the last two years it’s become harder and harder to reach the front brake lever. And when something starts jacking with my ability to ride…I pay attention.

(Not) Rushing to judgment

It usually takes me a long time to get to the doctor. For anything. The last time I had a physical was in 1997. I had a cold. The infection had traveled into my chest, and avoiding medical care allowed it to become full-fledged pneumonia in one lung. After recovering I went to the doctor, who took a chest x-ray and told me that I was in great shape.

Haven’t caught cold and haven’t seen a doctor since.

I don’t like doctors for the same reason I don’t like dentists. They hurt. When I was a little kid I had lots of bad doctor and dentist experiences. That, combined with a daily diet of beatings from my brother, didn’t make me tough. It made me weak. Weak and fearful. I remain that way today. As a result, I’ve never gone to get my trigger finger treated because Dr. Google said it would require minor surgery, and as everyone knows, surgery means needles and blood.

I don’t mind blood. Unless it’s mine. In which case I will do anything to avoid it. And when the only thing I have to do to avoid it is not call the doctor, it’s pretty simple, since I never call him anyway. Like I said, though, it has started to affect my cycling, so about a year ago I started making plans to get ready to prepare for perhaps getting in the mindset to be fixing to think about making an appointment with the hand doctor.

Yesterday I went to see him. You know how you always bust your butt to get to the doctor on time? And you know how once you get there you wait for an hour, which makes you wonder what in the world you were hurrying for? That happened. Filled out the forms (No, no STD’s. No, no heart disease. No, not allergic to any drugs. No, not currently pregnant. Last period? She was complaining about it a couple of weeks ago, but I don’t remember the date. What does her period have to do with my hand?)

And then…”Briefly describe your problem.” Wow. Briefly? I took a stab at it: “My problem is that I’m pretty fucked up because I’m from Texas.”

I turned the paper around and looked at it from different angles. Somehow it didn’t look right. So I added, “And my middle finger hurts and is callused and I can’t open my hand all the way.”

The French are watching you

If you were a cynical bike blogger who always made fun of the French and the Danes, what kind of disease would karma send your way? It would be a disease with a French name that was caused by a recessive gene among people of Scandinavian descent. Of course it would.

In came Dr. Slutsky. Yep, that’s really his name. And nope, I’m not going to make fun of it. What am I going to say that he didn’t hear every single day of his life the first 12 grades of school? Nothing, and I can’t stand not being original, unless I’m copying CapTaintBag.

Doc Sluts glanced at my palm, and said something that sounded like “De Pooter’s Contracture.”

“Huh?”

D-u-p-u-y-t-r-e-n-s Contracture. It’s named after the 19th Century French physician who first tried to treat it surgically, Dr. Baron Gillaume Dupuytren.”

“You kidding me? I got a French disease? How degrading is that?”

“Not exactly. The name is French, but the condition is genetic, most likely of Scandinavian origin.”

“Danish. Even worse. Dolphin-killing-inbred Viking disease named by some French dude. So you’re going to operate?”

“No. Surgery doesn’t really help. It’s incurable.”

“We have a cure for syphilis. For bad spelling. For small breasts and short penises. Don’t tell me you can’t cure this claw-hand deal.”

“Eventually your hand will contract so much that you’ll have great difficulty doing normal activities. Unfortunately, you’re right-handed, and it’s your right hand, and you’re young, which typically means a fast progression. We can do some surgical procedures later, but the problem is that the genetic defect causes uncontrolled Type 2 collagen growth. The collagen will come back even more quickly after surgery. It’s genetic. 100% rate of recurrence.”

“What does this mean for whacking off?”

“As long as it doesn’t spread to your left hand, you should be fine.”

“Left hand? I can’t use my left hand! It doesn’t even feel like me. And what do you mean ‘spread’? Don’t tell me this shit spreads.”

Dr. Slutty tells me that this shit spreads

“It can. Do you have any calluses like this on your feet?”

“I don’t know. They’re so gnarly I don’t get down there too often.”

“What do you mean, ‘gnarly’?”

“Oh, the usual. Stuff between the toes. Giant ol’ crusty yellow toenails that smell like dead eggs when you try and scrape ‘em clean underneath. Just not a real cool place to hang out, y’know? It’s one of the benefits of being tall. Your feet are a long ways off.”

“At this point all I can tell you to do is to keep an eye on it. Come back in about a year or so, or whenever your hand is so arched that you can’t lay it flat on the table.”

“I already can’t lay it flat on the table.”

“Hmmm. Yes. Well, there’s nothing for it as of now. And keep an eye on other body parts.”

“Whoaaaa—what do you mean ‘other body parts?’ You mean, aside from my left hand and my feet?”

“Yes. You want to make sure it doesn’t develop into Peyronie’s disease.”

“No! Not another French disease!”

“I’m afraid so. It’s another type of collagenic thickening.”

By now I could see the two little twins from The Shining covered in gore shouting “Redrum! Redrum! Redrum!” only it was worse than that. They were shouting “Sinep! Sinep! Sinep!”

I got faint and had to sit down, but I was already sitting down. So I lay down on his leather couch, and wondered why a hand doctor had a leather couch in his examining room. I slowly choked out the words. “So…tell…me…about…Peyronie’s thing.”

Doc Slutmaster tells me about Peyronie’s thing

“It occurs in the penis. The collagen lays down bands beneath the skin of the penis, causing it to curve.”

“This can’t be real. Anglecock? If you were doing a stand-up comedy routine I wouldn’t even laugh.”

“You don’t have it yet. It only occurs in a minority of cases of people with Dupuytren’s.”

“A minority? Dude, 49% is a minority. How many, exactly?”

“The penis develops a bend…”

“A bend? Like a river? You’re telling me my dick is going to look like a U-bolt? Good Dog, what’s gonna happen when we stop at the Ocean Park toilets on the Saturday ride? Everybody’s gonna laugh and say, ‘Don’t stand behind that dude when he whizzes!’ Can you imagine the nicknames? ‘U-Turn.’ ‘Double Joint.’ ‘Comin’ and Goin’.’ My Dog, this is the worst thing imaginable.”

“Not the worst,” Doc Sluthopper said. “The worst is that when the curvature becomes sufficiently hardened and pronounced, it can result in penile fracture during intercourse.”

By now I was softly sobbing. “Great. Fucking great. My pecker’s going to break off during sex. Then what? Call a tow truck to pull it out? And what happens to the stump? Do they put me on Dr. Phil to do a panel with that dude whose wife chopped his weenie off while he was sleeping? This isn’t happening. It’s not real. Tell me it’s not real. Please, Doc Slutbag.”

Moral of the story

There isn’t one, except for his assurance that the Peyronie’s disease thing was unlikely, and I was probably just going to have my right hand turn into a deformed claw in the next five or ten years. So I have that going for me.

I was feeling pretty sorry for myself until I went to a party with King Harold, Roadchamp, DJ, Polly, Triple, and Bull. I showed them my hand and they immediately turned my deformed fingers into a gang sign…”The Claw.” And when they found out that one day I might have the dreaded U-dick, they made so many jokes and laughed so hard and came up with so many funny nicknames that I almost felt better.

And of course they all promised to take care of Mrs. WM for me if my pecker broke off. “We’ll make sure she’s taken care of,” they said.

These dear buddies helped me realize that no matter how bad off I get, they will always be there to laugh at me and steal my wife. That’s what friends are for. Cycling friends, anyway. Allez, allez.

You’re not in kindergarten anymore, Horseface

May 11, 2012 § 2 Comments

I swore I wouldn’t waste even a second of my time writing about “L’Affaire du Sprint” involving Ferrari, Horseface, The Anointed One, and the other riders who fell down in the gallop to the line at the end of Stage 3 in the 2012 Giro d’Italia. But then again, I’m an inveterate liar.

As is usual in such cases, the most eloquent explanations come from those involved. Before we get to that, however, let’s review a few basic rules of field sprinting in major races.

Rule 1: If you cross the line first, you win.
Rule 2: Everyone else doesn’t win.
Rule 3: If you fall down, you’re an idiot.
Rule 4: If you make someone else fall down, you might get punished. Or you might wind up with Rule 1 and a contract renewal.
Rule 5: Field sprinters win by sprinting in proximity to lots of other crazily flailing madmen. They take enormous risks to do so and invariably crash. It’s their job.
Rule 6: There is no prize for “Non-winner with the best excuse for not winning.”
Rule 7: Everyone is crazy mad dangerous can’t hold a fucking line in a sprint except you.

Recap: Roberto Ferrari swerved in the sprint and knocked down Horseface, The Anointed One, and a bunch of people who don’t matter because they’re not Horseface or The Anointed One.

This type of thing never happens in pro cycling, especially in big races, well, okay, it happens rarely, really rarely, like hardly ever. For example:

Stage 22, TdF 1991, li’l mix-up
Stage 4, TdSuisse 2010, Horseface brings down the house
Stage 11, TdF 2010, Whingey shows “respect” with head-butt
Schildeprijs 2009, uh, BAM!
Stage 1, Eneco Tour 2009, dude in orange “holds his line”…but the line is about 6-ft. wide
Stage 10, VaE 1994, Cipo changes lanes into barriers…oops
Stage 7, Tirreno-Adriatico 1999, shoulder check, launch, and bike toss

When I used to whine like this, I got a whipping

“Because things are changing in the peloton, there’s not the respect that there used to be. That means there’s a lot more crashes…a sprint team wants to stay at the front, and a sprint team is fighting with a GC team. If every team tries to stay together and stay at the front it becomes more of a stress.” Mark Cavendish

In other words, the sprint stages should only be contested by the “sprint” teams. The “GC” teams should leave Cav alone. It’s his stage, dude. Gots his name on it. Oh, and what exactly is a “GC” team? A team that shouldn’t be bothering with minor things like stage wins? And what about “GC” teams that also have “sprint” teams, like, uh…Horseface’s squad and Garmacuda? Or is this another one of those unwritten rule deals, where riders are just supposed to “know” when they can contest a stage? But it gets better…

“Since Highroad fell apart, there seems to be a lot less respect for each team during the leadout. On Monday we saw Sky try and take control and yet still there were riders coming underneath on the corners. When Highroad was in action, other teams would base their sprint on riding off the back of us and their tactic was to wait until the last minute. This year it’s a case of going to the front and if it’s detrimental to the team doing the lead out, then it doesn’t seem to matter.” Mark Renshaw

In other words, when Sky or Garmacuda or Rabobank goes to the front with a fancy lead-out train, sit back and let them fucking win. Just like last year. It’s called “respect.” What would these pathetic, cowering whiners have done if they’d had to face someone like Abdoujaparov? Besides poop in their shorts, I mean.

“Ouch! Crashing at 75kph isn’t nice! Nor is seeing Roberto Ferrari’s manoeuvre. Should be ashamed to take out Pink, Red & World Champ jerseys.” Mark Cavendish

Not ashamed to say “fuck you.”

Dangerous sprinting is bad, but dangerous sprinting that knocks down really important riders is worse, because, you know, they’re really important. Also, as the Red and World Champ jersey, he’s two people, so it’s like, doubly bad. Of course, nothing wrong with shooting cute little “victory fuck you’s” to your adoring public, sponsors, TV cameras, families with small children…nothing wrong with that.

“Is the team of Roberto Ferrari or the UCI going to do the right thing? Other riders, including myself, have been sent home for much less.” Mark Cavendish

Really? I Googled “Mark Cavendish expulsion/expelled/disqualified/disqualification/sent home” and found nothing indicating that he’d ever been expelled from a pro race. And what brand of crack is he smoking? People get expelled from the Giro for doping, like Pantani, or disqualified, like Contador. People get expelled for deliberate cheating, like Gerald Froome last year when he held onto a motorcycle to deliver him up to a feed zone. Dangerous sprinting gets you a relegation. Check this out from Stage 17 of the 2011 Giro, which involved actual one-armed punching and hitting in the sprint. There’s no “dual track,” where you get relegated for knocking down a domestique, but disqualified for knocking down Pink/Red/Rainbow jerseys.

Horseface would like different rules for himself…wouldn’t we all?

South Bay Rides

May 10, 2012 § 2 Comments

So you’re in the South Bay. Lucky dog! And you’ve got your bike…luckier dog! Here’s a list of the standard rides, including a couple of the “top-secret don’t fucking show up here” ones, which are, of course, the ones you should make a priority.

Dearly Beloved Clusterfuck Of The Ages: The Donut Ride

Begun a long time ago in front of a Winchell’s Donut Shop far, far away, the Donut Ride goes off every Saturday at 8:00 AM in the Riviera Village of Redondo Beach. 8:00 AM means “8:05 or 8:10 or whenever the group rolls out.” It NEVER means “8:00 AM.”

You have your own Donut Ride wherever you live, and this one is no different. Slow start, hammer up a hill, hammer on some flats, hammer along some some rollers, hammer up a hardass motherfucking 8-minute climb (“The Switchbacks”), stop, preen, let the wankers catch up, roll down the hill and then either climb back up from the other side or call it a day and hit the coffee shop.

This super-rad video was taken by local hammer Derek Brauch, beginning near Trump National and going all the way to the top of the Switchbacks. Watch ‘em pop and fry!

Pluses

  • It can be an absolute beatdown, especially when local pros Sergio Hernandez, Rudy Napolitano, or visiting beasts like Mike Friedman or Tyler Hamilton show up.
  • In good weather, which is most of the time, it’s a huge group with lots of places to suck wheel and cower from the front.
  • After ascending the Switchbacks, there are numerous ride variations tailored to your level of wankerdom, including a hard climb up from the Reservoir + Homes & Domes + Glass Church hammer & sprint + Via Zumaya. You’ll be crushed if you eat the whole Donut. It’s never sugar-coated.
  • Best scenery of any Saturday ride, anywhere.

Minuses

  • It can be a total wankfest if the fast dudes are all off racing somewhere and nobody wants to pull.
  • Stopping and preening is pretty stupid and cools you down prematurely.
  • The LA Sheriff’s Dept. and PV cops sometimes harass and endanger the group in the name of “safety.”
  • It’s no fun getting kicked out of the back at Trump and flailing all the way to the top by yourself with some fat dude wearing sneakers and carrying a floor pump.
  • If you’re one of those people who thinks that everyone’s shit smells bad except your own, it can be a real downer riding with ordinary humans, sitting as you are atop UCI world rankings.
Twice-Weekly Ballbuster Before Work: New Pier Ride a/k/a NPR

This was originally the worst ride in the South Bay. It went along the bike path, meandered through parking lots, wandered over narrow bridges, perambulated along jogger trails, then turned into a series of mad, pell-mell dashes through a deadly gauntlet of traffic lights, stop signs, destroyed roads, and horrific morning traffic. That was the Old Pier Ride.

The New Pier Ride starts at the same place, the Manhattan Beach Pier (a/k/a Center of the Known Universe, “CotKU”), every Tuesday and Thursday, and rolls out promptly at 6:40 AM. “6:40 AM” may mean “6:38″ or “6:39.” If you show up at 6:41, be prepared to chase and chase hard. The ride now skips the bike path, rolls through an alley of death for a mile or so, pops out onto Vista del Mar, keeps a fast tempo all the way to Pershing, and then is a complete hammerfest with four laps around Westchester Parkway. Don’t ever do this ride and say “It wasn’t very hard.” That will prove you were nowhere near the front.

Pluses

  • Distinguish yourself here, and you’ll likely get mentioned on the most influential bike blog in the universe.
  • Guaranteed to get your heart rate up, and then some, before work.
  • Huge group on most days, 70-80 riders, so lots of places to suck wheel and cower.
  • No big hills, just one small bump on Pershing and on the Parkway.
  • If you get dropped you can pick up the pack when they come by in the other direction. And get dropped again.
  • Pros like Rahsaan Bahati, and local beatdown artists like Greg Leibert, Harold Martinez, Eric Anderson, John Tomlinson, Aaron Wimberly, and others will usually show up wearing their best pair of stomp boots.
  • The post-coital coffee chill at the Center of the Known Universe, a/k/a the Starbucks at Manhattan Beach, is the apogee of all that is fun about being a marginally employed bike wanker. We sit. We joke. We check FB updates. We delay going to work. We soak in the sun. We slobber as the local talent slinks by. What’s not to like?

Minuses

  • Distinguish yourself here, and you’ll likely get mentioned on the universe’s most influential bike blog.
  • Too many places for the frail and the infirm to suck wheel and cower.
  • Too many sprunters sit in and do nothing the entire time, then spank everyone in the sprunt.
  • Unclear finishing line. Is it the beginning of the third traffic island? No one really knows, so it’s usually a case of “raise your hands and declare victory wherever your legs give out.”
  • If you break free, there are numerous riders who never seem strong enough to go with you, but are always strong enough to chase you down.
  • Occasional near-death traffic experiences.
If You Show Up Uninvited You Will Be Crushed And Destroyed: The REMR (pronounced “reamer,” a/k/a Really Early Morning Ride)

This ride leaves every Thursday from the Center of the Known Universe at either 5:30 or 5:45. No one will tell you when. It will be dark. The other riders will materialize out of the shadows and grimly nod to one another. No one looks happy. That’s because no one is.

The best reason to crash this ride is that, even though you’ll be squished like a bug, you’ll be squished like a bug even if you are invited. It’s hosted by the South Bay Royalty, presided over mainly by Jeff Konsmo and Dave Jaeger. Unless they tell you before the ride that they’re going easy, they will crush you like a tin can. The ride rolls crisply out to PV, buries it up the Reservoir climb, crushes it up Better Homes, then squelches the life out of you up to the radar domes on Crest. When the king and queen are preparing for states/nationals, they throw in a handful of additional brutal climbs at race pace. No matter how good you think you are, you’re not.

Pluses

  • None.

Minuses

  • Pain beyond your wildest fears.
  • Darkness.
  • Being dismembered by the fang and claw of nature.
  • Failure.
  • Collapse.
  • Doom.
  • Defeat.
  • Once in the office you will stare at your computer screen with a befuddled gaze until it’s time to go home.
The Biggest Wankfest Of The South Bay: The Kettle Ride

Ride leaves every Sunday at 7:00 AM, or 7:05, or whenever, from the Center of the Known Universe, across from the Kettle Restaurant from which the ride got its name. It is the United Nations of South Bay Cycling, attracting all manner of biker. It can be a big ol’ group when the weather’s nice and junior’s Little League games are done for the year, or it can be tiny when it’s a horribly frigid SoCal winter day, which can mean an unendurably cold 63 degrees and a light drizzle. As C.U. Tomorrow says, speaking for thousands of South Bay cyclists, “I don’t touch my helmet ’til the thermo hits 75.”

The group stops at the “Knoll Loading and Unloading/Pick-up Party Area,” or KLAUPUPA [Pronunciation key: “Clow-poopa”], a/k/a public toilets at Ocean Park on the bike path in Santa Monica. Aged prostates are relieved and the group continues on to PCH, where all heck breaks loose. There is a mad slugfest for 6 or 7 miles to Cross Creek in Malibu; midway some riders turn right to climb Topanga or choose a hillier route. Huge sprunt finish at the bridge in Malibu. Most riders turn around and go home, others continue up PCH for more Sunday frolic.

Pluses

  • Big ol’ group of wankers, and wankers are fun.
  • Nice warm up and chance to chat with friends if you’re planning on doing one of the hillier routes.
  • Great ride if you just want a brief paceline interval.
  • Beautiful scenery.
  • Excellent beach talent on the bike path return; most sightings of the first thong of spring occur here.

Minuses

  • The ride’s too easy, especially since MMX moved off to North County San Diego.
  • PCH can be hairy and dangerous.
  • The non-climbing route is pancake flat and boring.
  • That fat dude with the sheer, all-white kit two sizes too small sometimes shows up, and you can wind up having to stare down the hairy brown eye of death if you’re inadvertently on his wheel.
  • Shakes the Clown makes this a regular ride of his.
The Secret Saturday Ride For The Anointed: The Nameless Ride

The Nameless Ride is the Saturday alternative to the Donut. It leaves CotKU at 6:00 AM and comprises the aforementioned royalty along with their retinue. No fucking around. The ride goes north and does a handful of hard climbs. Wankers will be ostracized and dropped. All participants required to know the secret handshake. No one will wait for you after you’ve been cracked on some lonely canyon in the Santa Monica Mountains, as vultures circle above and hungry coyotes eye your wretched, stringy body as you lie writhing in the ditch. The ride is as short as 70 miles and as long as 100; 120+ if you’re coming from Pedro or PV.

Pluses

  • None.

Minuses

  • Feeling inadequate.
  • Being ignored.
  • Getting dropped.
  • Crying.
  • Death.
  • All of the above.
The Best Ride In America: The Wheatgrass Ride

The Wheatgrass Ride rolls out from Malaga Cove Plaza on Sundays just after 8:00 AM. It’s a short, 1.5 hour romp around the PV Peninsula that goes up the Reservoir hill, Homes & Domes, Glass Church, long climb up Hawthorne to PV Mall, and a post-coital discussion of various things while quaffing coffee, Jamba Juice, and wheatgrass. The ride was started by Iron Mike Norris, a/k/a the Mayor of the Hill, or just plain “Dad.” He provides wheatgrass for all participants at the end as punishment for not going to church.

The scenery is spectacularful. There’s regrouping at the radar domes. The pace is only as hard as you want to make it. The group is very welcoming. No one gets snobbed on or ostracized, even Bike Toss Mike when his lechery gets the better of him. If you want to race like a madman with Stathis the Wily Greek or G3 the Mad Scientist, you can. If you want to test your mettle against Tink (and have your mettle wilt like a butter pat in the sun), you can.

Best of all, Wheatgrass is the ideal place to make your blogging debut. Something funny’s sure to happen, and you’ll be surrounded by the legends of the Hill. Iron Mike, Sunshine Rich, Big Bowles, Junkyard, New Girl, Pilot, Canyon Bob, Carlos, the Godfather, Vince di Draftlio…they’re all there. Most awesomely, you’ll get to meet Fussy, the human encyclopedia on everything that has ever happened in the South Bay. You’ll hear about the dude who used to take a mannikin to all the races and dress it with his jersey so his number would be pinned on perfectly, and that’s just the beginning. More funny stories per minute will be told than anywhere since Abe Lincoln was a circuit lawyer.

Minuses

  • The ride is short.
  • No matter how hard you go, it’s not that hard.
  • Tink will drop you and step on your manhood.
  • You’ll be forced to drink wheatgrass at the end. Unless you’re Pretty Boy.
  • You won’t be able to brag to your SO that you “did a hundred.”

Pluses

  • The ride is pure fun.
  • People treat you like a real person.
  • Everyone’s welcome, even Crazy George with the gym shorts, the saggy socks, and the rock collection he carries in his backpack.
  • Someone will always stop and help you change your flat. Or your diaper.
  • You’ll feel like one of the group your first time out.
  • Nothing is as much fun as a sunny Sunday morning catching some rays, spreading some manure, and enjoying some post-coital smack talk with like-minded friends.
Doin’ The Double: TELO Tuesday Training Race

After doing the NPR on Tuesday morning, you have the evening option of the TELO Training Race, which goes off every Tuesday at 6:00 PM from the spring time change to the fall time change. It is named after Telo Street in Torrance, a feeder road that leads into a lovely little office park.

The first lap is neutral, and the race lasts for an hour or until an errant vehicle takes out the field, whichever comes first. Packs are as small as 30 and as large as 60. As recently as a couple of years ago the pattern was this: Fast pace for a few laps, slow down, hard attack establishes break, pack chills for the rest of the race, breakaway hammers it out for the win. This rarely if ever happens anymore. The pace is so fast that breaks just can’t make it. There’s almost always a bitter headwind on the back half of the course, which is two long sides with a chicane and two short sides. Sprinter wheelsucks are always waiting in the wings.

Pluses

  • Super fast, super hard way to end your Tuesday.
  • Close to South Bayers and free.
  • Great way to get in a double workout if you do the NPR in the morning.
  • Generally very safe racing. Crashes are rare, traffic knows about the race and is generally very considerate.

Minuses

  • It’s a crit. Yawn.
  • If it comes down to a sprint between you, Aaron Wimberly, Paul Che, and Christian Cognigni, there’s no fucking way in hell you’re going to win.
  • Wheelsuck sprinters who treat training races like the real thing. Yawn.

No, Virginia, Halloween isn’t a holiday: The Holiday Ride

When there is a national holiday, whichever day it falls on is the Holiday Ride. This often creates confusion on the part of most people in Manhattan Beach, and quite a few others in the South Bay who don’t really have jobs, and for whom every day is a holiday. So I get emails and texts from them like, “Hey, is there a Holiday Ride tomorrow?”

“Tomorrow,” of course, is usually Halloween, or Gothic Rune Day, or National Prayer in School Day, or the day We Honor Our Teachers but Still Pay Them Shit Day. These are not national holidays, however much you like to use them as an excuse not to finish those three shaping orders that have been 80% completed for the last six months, and therefore, no, there won’t be a Holiday Ride.

If it’s Christmas, New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving, MLK Day, 4th of July, etc., everyone meets at CotKU at 8:00 AM and leaves super promptly at 7:59. You’ll never catch if you show up late. If the weather’s sunny expect 200+ idiots.

The ride goes north to Santa Monica, turns right on San Vicente Blvd., makes another turn or two and then hits Mandeville Canyon. From the light at Mandeville, it’s game fucking on. The speed instantly snaps the mob into a single file line of death. If you think you’re a contender (you aren’t), don’t be more than ten wheels back.

People begin frying and charring immediately. It’s an endless climb, never very steep except at the last few hundred yards, where it turns into a wall. The finish rarely includes more than two or three people. The remaining 200 or so are flogging the little meat in ones and twos all the way back down the hill.

Pluses

  • It’s the ultimate “see and be seen” ride
  • You get to see all the rich folks’ houses in Brentwood, or at least the ones you can see with your fucking face plastered to the stem, your eyes watering like a firehose, and sheet snot pouring out all over your face
  • The climb up the canyon is intense and humbling
  • It’s always a full-on beatdown

Minuses

  • Too many idiots
  • Angry canyon residents have tried to kill cyclists using “their” road
  • It’s always a full-on beatdown

Pro Cycling: a sponsor’s dream come true

May 9, 2012 § 2 Comments

By now you’ve saved up a few dollars in your company’s bank account, or squirreled away some cash as a result of your recycling business. So you’re thinking about expansion. About marketing. Fact is, you love cycling. It’s your passion. Why not marry Peter with Paul? Or, ah, Peter with Suzie if you’re in North Carolina?

Maybe now is the time to bring your brand recognition to the next level by sponsoring a pro bike squad.

But first, let’s do a little research. Below is a list of the sponsors for teams entered in the 2012 Giro d’Italia. Take the quiz to get an idea of how well cycling sponsorship dollars correlate to improved brand recognition, and then make your sponsorship decision accordingly.

1. Lampre-ISD. Years as a pro sponsor: 21
Lampre’s primary business is…
a. Lamprey eels
b. Semiconductors
c. Prefinished steel sheet materials
d. Blood doping products

2. AG2R La Mondiale. Yeas as a pro sponsor: 12
AG2R La Mondiale’s primary business is…
a. Agricultural “twools”
b. Euro bailout funds
c. Insurance
d. Moondials

3. Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela. Years as a pro sponsor: 12
Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela’s primary business is…
a. Secret Service hookers
b. The “Chavez” style hairpiece
c. Toys
d. Doping products

4. Pro Team Astana. Years as a pro sponsor: 6
Astana’s primary business is…
a. Doping products
b. Doping products
c. Doping products
d. Doping products

5. BMC Racing. Years as a pro sponsor: 6
BMC’s primary business is…
a. Bicycle frames
b. Bowel Movement Calipers
c. Tissues and diapers for Cadel Evans to cry and poop into
d. Multi-angle mirrors to make Taylor Phinney appear small enough to win a Grand Tour

6. Colnago-CSF Inox. Years as a pro sponsor: 30
Colnago-CSF Inox’s primary business is…
a. Bike frames/Industrial valves
b. Bike frames/Industrial centrifuges
c. Bike frames/Industrial whinges
d. Bike frames/Vacuum cleaners

7. Euskaltel-Euskadi. Years as a pro sponsor: 11
Euskaltel-Euskadi’s primary business is…
a. Telecom
b. Pharma
c. Vacuum cleaners
d. Orange

8. Farnese Vini-Selle Italia. Years as a pro sponsor: 4
Farnese Vini-Selle Italia’s primary business is…
a. Wine/Bike seats
b. Winemaking barrels/Bike seats
c. Wine drunkards sniffing bike seats
d. Doping products

9. FDJ-Big Mat. Years as a pro sponsor: 9
FDJ-Big Mat’s primary business is…
a. Gambling/”Big” porn
b. Gambling/Plus-sized yoga equipment
c. Gambling/Building materials
d. National Excuse Infrastructure Development to Support Hypotheses Why the French Can’t Win Real Bike Races

10. Garmin-Barracuda. Years as a pro sponsor: 6
Garmin-Barracuda’s primary business is…
a. GPS devices/Security-networking-storage-cloud services
b. StageOne moving billboards/Eating little fish
c. Anti-doping products/Anti-doping PR services
d. Sideburns/Vests

11. Orica GreenEdge. Years as a pro sponsor: 1
Orica GreenEdge’s primary business is…
a. Blowing shit up
b. Dastardly chemicals
c. Adjunct products for strip mining
d. All of the above

12. Katusha Team. Years as a pro sponsor: 4
Katusha’s primary business is…
a. Promotion of Russian cycling
b. Defending Antonio Colom’s analytical positive
c. Defending Christian Pfannberger’s analytical positive
d. All of the above

13. Liquigas-Cannondale. Years a pro sponsor: 14
Liquigas-Cannondale’s primary business is…
a. Licking gas products/Bike frames
b. Liquified gas products/Bike frames
c. Hair care products for Ivan Basso/Bike frames
d. Oakley frame designs/Bike frames

14. Lotto Belisol. Years as a pro sponsor: 29
Lotto Belisol’s primary business is…
a. Gambling/Door and window frames
b. Gambling/Tanning booths
c. Pine-scented cleaner for large bellies
d. Doping products

15. Movistar. Years as a pro sponsor: 2
Movistar’s primary business is…
a. Movie stars
b. Telecom
c. Residential and commercial moving services
d. Doping products

16. Omega Pharma-QuickStep. Years as a pro sponsor: 9
Omega Pharma-QuickStep’s primary business is…
a. Doping products/Laminate flooring
b. Doping products/Dance lessons
c. Doping products/Total Domination of the Spring Classics
d. Doping products/Doping products

17. Rabobank. Years as a pro sponsor: 17
Rabobank’s primary business is…
a. Usury
b. Contract bank robbing services
c. A long history of organized doping
d. A place where busy, upwardly mobile, professional single men and women can meet for lunch without committing to anything more than a casual meal and a blowjob in the bathroom

18. RadioShack-Nissan. Years as a pro sponsor: 2
RadioShack-Nissan’s primary business is…
a. Gemcracky crap/Gemcracky cars
b. Cancer awareness programs/Cars that wish they were still called “Datsun”
c. Hideously ugly team kits/Sushi
d. DOPING! DOPING! DOPING!

19. Sky. Years as a pro sponsor: 1
Sky’s primary business is…
a. Blue sky
b. Satellite broadcasting
c. Brad Pride Parade organization and logistics
d.  Yawn. Doping.

20. NetApp. Years as a pro sponsor: 1
NetApp’s primary business is…
a. Cross-domain analysis and advanced analytics to help customers manage, optimize, and plan performance and utilization across their data center infrastructure
b. Two variants of Data ONTAP; Data ONTAP 7G and a nearly complete rewrite called Data ONTAP GX, based upon grid technology acquired from Spinnaker Networks; software product lines comprising one OS-Data ONTAP 8, which will fold Data ONTAP 7G onto the Data ONTAP GX cluster platform
c. Headaches galore
d. A bunch of Sunnyvale tech geeks who get dropped on the local Saturday ride and want their revanche as owners of a UCI pro team

21. Saxo-Bank. Years as a pro sponsor: 5
Saxo-Bank’s primary business is…
a. Saxo-Usury
b. Saxo-Thuggery
c. Saxo-Fraudery
d. Saxo-Dopery

22. Vacansoleil-DCM. Years as a pro sponsor: 4
Vacansoleil-DCM’s primary business is…
a.  Luxury camping holidays/Farm supplies
b. Luxury auto rentals/Farm animals for “niche” videos
c. Poverty camping holidays/Farmers’ daughters
d. Poverty ocean cruises/Dolphin Care Mannequins

Well, how’d you do? Ready to sink some money to increase your brand recognition?

Tuesday’s NPR round-up: Cheaters never win, but they sure have FUN!!!

May 8, 2012 § Leave a comment

I don’t know who coined the phrase, “Cheaters never win.” It was obviously someone who was never elected to office, never practiced law, never worked in banking, never submitted reimbursement requests to MediCare, never was married, or never won the TdF.

To make it strictly accurate, the phrase should be re-worked to say, “Cheaters didn’t win on the NPR today.”

We had a huge group at the Pier including the usual suspects: G$, Mighty Mouse, New Girl, Bull, Heeleys Dad & Jr., USC John, Fireman, Suze, Cary, Scott Apartmentsyndicate, Gooseman, Chris D., Kramer, Wolfeman, Lisa C., and guest appearances by Roadchamp, DJ, Damien “The Omen,” and on and on and on. And on.

Everyone began yelling “Bike path!!” on roll-out, so we stomped up the hill instead and took the Alleyway of Death just to be contrarian. The usual barely-caffeinated drivers backing out of their garages, runners stepping off curbs, huge potholes, and blind roadway entrances kept things lively until we hit Vista del Mar. As the nice 2×2 formation gradually ratcheted up the pace, G$ rolled to the fore and ordered that the pace be cut so that people could catch back on.

I hung my head, scolded, and retreated towards the back. It was a big-ass group.

It’s a new sport called Dodgecar

The mechanics of the NPR are kind of funny, because in addition to picking up people along Vista del Mar, once we bend right to go up Pershing there’s always a big group of 20-40 people camped out in the parking lot waiting for us to come by. They are stopped. In a parking lot. Unclipped. Around a blind corner. At the bottom of a hill.

We are single file. Coming down a long, fast grade. Through a green light. At about 30.

If we hit the red light, it gives the campers a chance to adjust their maxi-pads, apply the final coat of lip gloss, clip in, and then get started up the hill so that when our light turns green they can meld with the group. If we hit the green light, there is pandemonium worthy of a soccer match between pre-schoolers. Leaping on bikes, flailing cleats clicking into chains instead of pedals, curses, shouts, wobbly starts in the wrong gear, swerving bikes at 5 mph veering out of the parking lot into the middle of the 30 mph swarm…in short, it’s the kind of early morning clusterfuck that makes you glad you’re on your bike, and makes you determined to be the clusterfucker rather than the clusterfuckee.

This morning, having been relegated by G$, I nosed towards the fore as we approached the light. Red. Just before I touched the brakes…hallelujah!!…GREEN! I mashed it hard as a lumbering SUV in front of me turned on its right-hand blinker. So far so good, but there was nowhere for it to turn, except into the parking lot of campers, who were now wildly flailing to exit and hook onto the tail of the missile.

I easily cruised around the car, but it scrubbed off the 60 or so riders behind me except for Roadchamp and Bull.

Vapor, rolling out of the parking lot at a standstill, was none too pleased. “Hey, wankers! Be careful! And quit attacking while we’re stopped!”

Don’t piss off the dude who rides tempo at 32

By the time I got to the top of the small hill, I’d been joined by Roadchamp, Bull, Seanergy, and Suze. The Sho-Air dude from a couple of weeks ago was parked on the side of the road, glumly eyeing us as he changed a flat. We pounded on.

At the overpass, the pack was in another county. Roadchamp and Bull were taking gnarly pulls from hell. Seanergy was working. I was wondering how they had spotted my testicles lying in the road while we were going so fast, yet still managed to stop, pick them up, and them stuff them down my throat. Which made breathing hard.

When we hit the Parkway, Sho-Air Shawshank redeemed himself, and then some. He began pulling so hard that our tiny group could barely rotate around him, much less match his speed. Shawshank now had the bit between his teeth, and we had a breakaway. As with other completely futile fantasies grounded in an unfirm grasp of reality, we thought it might stick. No break has ever stuck from the beginning of the NPR.

Come on baby, light my fire

Meanwhile, back in the pack, Vapor was pissed. We’d blitzed him by surprise (though in my own very, very weak defense I always mash it up Pershing) and now we had a huge gap with some horsepower. Vapor began taking pulls that were so fast and sick that Fireman reported entire lungs being coughed up from those unlucky enough to be on his wheel. If you’ve ever done Tim Roach’s Hour of Power at the velodrome and had Vapor show up, you’ll know what this was like. The dude can go harder and faster and longer than anything without an internal combustion engine. And when he decides to pour on the coal, the combustion is what happens behind him.

Fortunately, our little cadre of cheaters was soon joined by other cheating wankers. Tree Perkins, who’d been out toodling around, hopped into our group and took a couple of pulls. Adam Tattooed Leg Dude got overhauled, hopped in, and helped out for a lap. Big fat Equipe wanker out for a Parkway pedal joined our team and almost sort of halfway kind of thought about maybe taking a pull before he quit.

And the entire way Roadchamp, Bull, Shawshank, and Seanergy were flogging the big meat harder than a teenage boy on his first visit to pornhub.com.

All good things must end. Bad things, too.

Just before the light at the beginning of the third lap, we all came together, ridden down by the efforts of Vapor and sub-efforts by some of his lieutenants, including G3, Austin Heeley, USC John, and G$. “Cheaters never win!” he yelled.

A spirited discussion between him and Roadchamp ensued. As the cheater-in-chief, I thought it best to keep rolling lest the donkey tail get pinned on me, where it mostly belonged. I glanced around and people looked destroyed. At that moment Mighty Mouse roared to the fore, and I could tell that she’d worn her very best dick-stomping boots to the party. Whatever sausages hadn’t been speared and roasted, she proceeded to stomp to a fare the well.

The end was predictable. I made one last flailaway attempt that never even gained separation. The group was shot to shit, and hardly anyone had any gas at all in the finale, except for Vapor and Motorhead. Motorhead took the sprint with what looked like a nice lead-out from Vapor. I was so far back that the only way I got the results was from smoke signals.

Moral #1: Don’t piss off Vapor with a sneaky, cheapass move and expect to stay away.
Moral #2: If you’re hoping we’ll start easy at the bottom of Pershing, you might be disappointed.
Moral #3: That taste of puke in your mouth at 7:30 AM? Well, it beats sitting in traffic.

Giro d’Italia 2012: Cav penetrates mystery of Elia, reclaims heath

May 7, 2012 § Leave a comment

Stage 2 of the Giro began in Herning and ended in Herning. Herning? What the fuck kind of name is that? Some ancient Viking king who plied the sea lanes between Scandinavia and England, plundering the hapless forebears of Wiggins who cowered, britishly, under the wrath of the ruthless, fork-bearded marauders?

Uh, no.

Herning was originally a heath, which is a barren wasteland. The heath accounted for millions of acres of land, all useless for agriculture, and all created as a result of the complete deforestation of the primeval forests by the Vikings, who clearcut the entire nation to build their ships. What they left behind was the medieval Superfund site otherwise known as Denmark.

In the 1860’s, when Denmark’s population began to explode, which is to say sometime after the Danes had been beaten to a bloody pulp by the Germans but before the discovery of porn, the starving and ill-tempered Scandinavians decided to reclaim the heath. “What we lost without, we will build within!” was the rallying cry.

Herning is one such reclamation project, created in the 1800’s, literally springing out of the waste of the earth.

That was then. This is now.

Not surprisingly, one of pro cycling’s biggest waste reclamation projects, “Mr. 60 Percent” Bjarne Riis, hales from Herning. A confessed drug cheat, architect of the T-Mobile systematized team doping program and general scallywag, it is only appropriate that the Giro would pay homage to its doping roots by kicking off 2012 in Mr. 60 Percent’s hometown.

Fortunately, Mr. 60 Percent and his Saxo Bank squad have put the terrible doping excesses of the 2000s, 90’s, 80’s, 70’s, 60’s, 50’s, 40’s, 30’s, 20’s, 10’s, and Aughty-Aught’s behind them, and have turned a new corner with clean cycling, except for the team’s star rider who is languishing under a doping ban for tainting his meat with clenbuterol and who was stripped of his 2011 TdF title and forced to write “I am a doping cheat” ten thousand times on the blackboard. But that is all ancient history.

The second page in the new history of clean sport and fair play from this year’s Giro was written by none other than Mark Cavendish, chubby sprinter dude who ate donuts and sucked wheel while the ten fastest guys in the pro peloton did all the work for 199k during Stage 2 and then delivered him safely to the last 200m, where he showed the power and speed of a smallish, angry, well-rested lardball that had been shot from a cannon.

This and other similar pre-arranged, predictable, stable return on investment-type finishes are programmed for the Giro’s entire stay in Denmark…or are they?

Elia, Ingvar Cronhammar, the Inverted Vault of Doom and the Danish Curse of “This is Bullshit”

Just a short distance to the east of the Master Start in Herning is one of the world’s great mysteries, rivaling Stonehenge, the Great Pyramids of Cheops, and Mitt Romney’s stance on healthcare.

It is Elia, the brain child of Ingvar Cronhammar.

Shaped like an inverted volcanic caldera, this hollow semi-sphere rises 30 meters out of the heath, where its top is punctuated by four massive steel cylinders. A furnace buried within the belly of the beast belches fire at random intervals, and the cylinders are made to especially attract lightning bolts. The acoustics of the beast’s empty bowels are such that they throw the growls of thunder back in the face of the gods from whence they were uttered.

The awe and majesty of this extraordinary “living” sculpture is captured on countless YouTube videos, where bored tourists and their colicky children can be heard off camera saying, “Is this it? We traveled all the way to fucking Denmark for this? This is bullshit!”

This, of course, is exactly what anyone looking for an actual sporting event is saying after a mere two days of Giro racing in Denmark.

Americans get all misty-eyed, the British stiffly shake hands, everyone else rolls their eyes

If you ever doubted the complete sporting fraud of modern pro cycling, Stage 2 didn’t even bother to hide the sham. Cav’s post race commentary said it all.

“[Teammate Ian Stannard] did 150 kilometers alone reeling in the break – he did incredible.” So pleased to know someone else did all the work, Mark.

“I was really looked after at the finish and kept sheltered. Geraint took me perfect and went exactly when he was supposed to. I was able to come off him and win the stage so I’m very, very happy.” So pleased to know that your race strategy consisted in being looked after. Did they warm your bottle and burp you prior to the lead out?

However, before Dick Fitzenceider sends me a snide comment reminding me that THAT’S CYCLING, it bears remembering that this awesome display of laziness and sloth by the reigning world champion is only a prelude to his true race strategy…pick up a few more wins and then quit.

“If Mark is thinking on the Tour and on the Olympics afterwards, as it’s the case, I think he will not finish the Giro.” Suspended meat-tainter Alberto Contador, on Cav’s near-certain withdrawal from the race.

The Manx La-Z-Boy rushed to his own defense in a roundabout way, claiming that Contador had been misquoted but then failing to confirm that he’d ride the race beyond the 13th stage, when the Giro goes from a donut feast to a force-feeding of nails and broken glass.

“I’ve planned to stay until the end. I never want to stop a race and leave the team.”

Check back on Stage 14 to see if “planned to stay” and “never want to stop a race” has equated to “willing to bust my ass for 22km up the Col de Joue and 27km more up to the finish at Cervinia at the end of a 205km stage.”

Wankmeister predicts that by the time the 14th stage concludes, the Manx La-Z-Boy will be sipping tea and chomping donuts back home in the Isle of (Not Quite) Man. Bets, anybody?

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