Shaming the Badger

October 22, 2014 § 24 Comments

I just finished reading “Slaying the Badger” by Richard Moore. It is the most gripping, exciting, blah, blah, blah, blah about cycling that shows the drama, intrigue, and gritty blah, blah, blah of the human blah. Every time I finish reading a book about bicycles I smash out the windows, kick the dog, and swear that I’ll never, ever read one again. Until the next time.

Then I pass it on to a close friend as the ultimate measure of passive aggression.

Anyway, “Slaying the Badger,” which is well written and not completely uninteresting, reveals some shocking, little known facts about Bernard Hinault and Greg LeMond. For example:

  • Hinault was not a nice person.
  • LeMond was a whiny little bitch.
  • Winning the Tour is hard.
  • Cycling is hard.
  • Hard races are won by hard men.
  • Hardy, har, har

The book was so successful that ESPN made it into a full-length motion picture of 30 minutes, which is 29 minutes longer than the attention span of the very smartest football fan. So basically, now that it’s a video, no one will ever read the book.

My biggest criticism is that the author left out my own experiences with Hinault, which confirmed that which no one ever doubted: He is truly an asshole. However, sometimes a monstrous, self-absorbed asshole runs up against an equally monstrous, equally self-absorbed asshole, and that’s really where the fun begins.

It was at the last stage of the 1985 Coors Classic in Boulder, a crit. Since Hinault had spanked LeMond in the Tour, he agreed to ride for him at the Coors Classic. Greg had it sewn up. Before the race Greg patiently stood in front of an endless line of fans and signed autographs. I waited and he signed a piece of paper for me.

Then I watched the race. Somebody went faster than everybody else and was declared the winner. Immediately after the race, the Badger peeled off the course to head for the hotel. I was standing right next to him as he slowed to about 5 mph. “Monsieur Hinault,” I said in my best French. “Combien pour vos sous-vêtements?”

He snarled just as I realized that I’d asked him how much for his underwear. Then I corrected myself. “Puis-je avoir un autographe?”

“Non,” he snapped, and nastily pedaled away.

Five years later I was an official interpreter at the World Road Race Championships in Utsunomiya, Japan. It was Sunday, September 2, the day of the pro road race. Part of my duties were to secure the entrance to the VIP grandstand. Tanaka-san gave me explicit instructions. “Do not let anyone in here before 8:00 AM.”

“Anyone?” I asked.

“Anyone,” he confirmed.

“Okey-dokey,” I said.

About an hour later the coach of the French national team came up with a couple of other French flunkies. The coach looked suspiciously like the Badger. He was snarling something in such an angry voice that it made spoken French sound like the language of the body snatchers. Hinault barged his way up to the entrance gate, where I stood.

“Move,” he said in English.

I stared down at his tiny smallness. From far atop the mountain of my towering six-feet-two-inches of height I spied the tousle-headed little newt far below me. He craned his neck up and thrust out his chest, which had bristly spines of curly hair angrily poking out from his unbuttoned golf shirt.

“Nope,” I said in French.

“I say move!” he ordered again, this time taking a step forward, grabbing his plastic ID badge with his name on it, and pulling out the lanyard until the badge was stuck under my nose. “You know this, eh?” he snapped.

I slowly read his name out loud, taking my time while he steamed like a clam. “Bernard He-nalt,” I said, giving it my best Texas accent.

“Now you move!” he said, inching closer.

“Look buddy,” I said. “I don’t know who you are, and don’t care if you’re a five-time winner of the Tour de France. Nobody gets in before 8:00 AM. Especially no short people.”

I braced myself for the punch, certain that he’d understood enough to be thoroughly insulted. His face turned bright red and I kept looking at him with a relaxed smile on my face, thinking about that autograph and underwear sale he’d denied me five years earlier in Boulder.

Then the Badger did the unthinkable. He turned on his heel and stormed off. I almost shattered my rib cage from holding in the laughter.

Top that, ESPN.

END

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Turdy France predictions for Stage 3

July 2, 2012 § 9 Comments

Stage Three of the 2012 Turdy France is shaping up to be the most interesting one since Stage Two, which was stupid and boring beyond belief unless you enjoy watching colorwheel puree roll in a big sausage clump until the last ten minutes, when it strings out into a line of testosterone and EPO and the lazyfucks who’ve done nothing for twelve hours dash to the line, cop a pose, and pretend that their win is somehow similar to anything ever done by Merckx or Gimondi or Coppi or Anquetil or Hinault or Lemond.

About the stage

The race begins in Orchies, a French city better known for its two cobbled roads that are used in Paris-Roubaix, the “Path of Prayers” and the “Slaughterhouse Road.” Orchies comes from the Latin word for “testicle,” as the rough roads, paved with giant cobbled flagstones from the days of the Roman Empire, would result in a punishing beating to every man’s testicles who crossed these roads in a wooden cart.

With the advent of Paris-Roubaix, early participants suffered severe testicular torsion from the battering atop the cobbles, and it was not uncommon for physicians traveling with the race to perform lateral “orchiectomies” in the field, often without anesthetic, before putting the hardmen back on their bikes to continue on to Roubaix. Thus the town of Orchies has contributed much to medical terminology and to the lore of the sport.

The stage finishes in Boulogne-sur-Mer (“Baloney on Toast” in English), where the riders will face a series of tough finishing climbs designed to weed out Horseface and Humpty Ugly, while still giving a chance to gritty workmen like Fabs and Jensy.

Note to douchebag wheelsucker Sagan: Don’t even fucking think about it.

The Badger’s picks and pans

This stage won’t win the Tour for anyone, but it will be the death knell for several, as the time gaps at the end will show who’s on form and riding smart and who’s a pudgy wanker now paying for all those donuts. This page of the official Tour site has an excellent analysis by Bernard Hinault. My translation is below:

Riders nowadays are pussies. This stage will strip away the pretensions of the manorexic little body-waxers and beat them into submission. Look for Monsieur Mullet to do something stupid here and miss the break or crash out. The narrow roads and succession of hard climbs at the end while much of the wankoton is still fresh will test not only his ability to follow complex drugs protocol, but his ability to maneuver in tight places. I fully expect him to deflate or miss the key move. If I were still racing, this is the stage where I would attack, take the jersey, and then beat up a few socialist women protesting for equal pay.

Wankmeister calls ‘em

Horseface will cling tough like a dingleberry, but ultimately be wiped off when the toughest climbs stare him in the face. Humpty Ugly? Hopeless.

Darkhorse whose day has arrived: Few people other than his mother and aunt Sophie know the name of Jean-Christophe Peraud, the routinier from Ag2R La Mondiale, and indeed, we have to go back to 2010 for his best result, a case of septicemia that developed after a crash. Tomorrow Peraud will inflame the peloton like his very own bacterial blood infection and lay waste to the weak and the infirm. Watch for a solo glory finish. And yes, I guarantee it.

Odds on fave you all wish would win: Fabs has everything in place to win this sage. He has the fitness. The experience. The cute mangled English tweets on Twitter that keep @mmmmaiko all hot, bothered, and sleepless in Seattle. But you know what? He’s gonna lose. Peraud will follow Fabs after he accelerates away from the field. They will trade pulls to the end, when Peraud drops him with 3k to go. Now shut the fuck up. It’s gonna happen, I’m telling you.

Best of the rest: Sagan, followed by Yauheni Hutarovich of FJD-Big Mat. Why Hutarovich? Because of how much fun it’s gonna be watching Phil Liggett try to pronounce his name.

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