The ugliest sport

August 18, 2013 § 30 Comments

I am an ugly rider. I bob up and down. I weave back and forth. I make unpleasant gasping sounds when going hard. My thin arms stick out at odd angles like a praying mantis. I have been called “Twigman,” “Mantis,” “The Human Loom,” and of course plain old “Wanker.”

But you know what? I’m an amateur, and not a particularly good one. My ugly riding style is just one more check-mark in the long list of qualities that define me as a weekend hacker.

What’s more than passing strange, though, is the ugliness of the professionals. Because you know, it didn’t always used to be that way.

The most beautiful sport

If you look at any of the classic cycling videos — A Sunday in Hell, or the 1973 World Championships in Spain — it’s impossible not to be struck with the smoothness of the riders. Of course each one is idiosyncratic; funny motions and unique pedaling styles make each rider as distinct as a thumbprint. But despite each rider’s individual style, the grace and smoothness of the riding is incredible, even over the rough and ragged paving stones to Roubaix.

Then, to see how far we’ve fallen, look at the Tour of 2013.

The winner is perhaps the worst example of ugly cycling to ever appear in the pro peloton. Froome’s ungainly, awkward, uncomfortable, and erratic pedaling make his riding ugly beyond belief, and the hilarious photo essay of “Chris Froome Looking at Stems” only proves the point: The head-droop that causes experienced racers to shout, “Keep your head up, dumbshit!” is emblematic of a man who just won the Tour de France. Yet he’s hardly alone. Jerky, forced, unnatural, uncomfortable riding styles abound. How did the beauty of 1973 become the unbearable ugliness of 2013?

Saddle time

The  biggest difference between then and now is that pro cyclists don’t race their bikes very much. In 1975, the year that Eddy Merckx lost the tour, he entered a staggering 195 races, everything from classics to grand tours to local criteriums. Nor was he the exception, because in those days pro riders made their money at the smaller events. Merckx has said that if he had been paid better, he would have raced less.

Chris Froome’s racing schedule in 2013 was comprised of the Tour of Oman (6 races), Tirreno-Adriatico (7 stages), Criterium Internationale (3 stages), Tour of Romandie (6 races), Criterium du Dauphine (8 races), and the Tour de France (21 races). His total race calendar for the year was a meager 51 races, and when you lop out the time trials and prologues it was even less.

From the perspective of developing good riding skills, the generation of racers who became professionals by racing their bikes rather than by doing specific lab, heart rate, or power-based workouts had countless more racing miles than modern Pro Tour racers. It’s my opinion that the huge number of races over so much different terrain — riders would often do track and cyclocross after the road season ended, in addition to muddy spring classics and summertime tours — made them smoother, more fluid, more skilled, and better riders.

Equipment and training miles

In addition to huge miles in training and racing, Ol’ Backintheday rode equipment that required skills. You had to reach the down tube to shift. You had fewer gears to choose from. Your bike was heavier. Your wheels were slower. Your feet weren’t very firmly bound to your pedals. Your shoe soles were soft.

Professionals had to be able to pedal and operate machinery that was more finicky than today’s push-button, wrist-flicking technology. The best example I can think of that shows how degenerate the pro peloton’s skills generally are is by comparing them with modern track racers, who still have the same bike handling limitations that they had fifty years ago.

The track is narrow and unforgiving. The speeds are high. The equipment tolerates little if any jerky, quirky, ugly riding, especially at the level of world class competition. The result? Elite track racers remain beautiful to watch, their efficient, measured, and controlled movements in complete harmony with the bike.

I’ll always ride ugly. But Chris Frooome and his cohorts could stand for a beauty makeover. It might make me forget about their volcano doping, if only for a little while.

Good ‘ol Lance

July 23, 2013 § 55 Comments

Does anyone know Lance’s cell phone? ‘Cause we need him bad.

This Wiggins-Froome thing has gotten totally out of hand. One day we were watching a doped up superman who boinked models and actresses and rock stars, who owned ranches and mansions and private jets, who was devilishly good looking, whose ego was bigger than Dallas and twice as gnarly, who ground people up into hamburger meat on and off the bike, who beat cancer, cured cancer, sued enemies into oblivion, had an entourage of global financiers, Italian dope doctors, starlets, drug mules, presidents and scientists and who, with only one nut still had bigger balls than the entire pro peloton, and then, BAM!

We were watching Chris fucking Froome, a human insect who can’t even pedal properly, a craven little wussmeister whose doping program is “marginal gains” instead of “ram the whole 12,000 cc up my ass,” an awkward, unappetizing robot who confirms what every motorist instinctively knows: Cyclists are contemptible arthropods deserving nothing so much as the heel of a boot.

Sure, I used to bag on Dopestrong…until I saw the last two years of Dopeweak. What happened to the drug-crazed cannibals of yore, handsome, muttonchopped, steel-willed manly men who ate raw meat with their fists and swallowed their cocaine-heroin-strychnine cocktails in one-pint tumblers? How could we have banished the lying, cheating, brash and big-balled Texan who rode a chrome Harley, threw massive charity balls, charged 100k to jocksniffing millionaires for a group ride appearance, won triathlons, raced marathons, conquered Leadville, and ruled the entire UCI with the iron grip of a drug kingpin, which he was, and traded him in for the sniveling, milquetoast, dainty British softmen who drink tea, slurp warm beer, and race like simpering weenies or, what’s infinitely worse, like British people?

Where is the wrath, the insane bloodlust fueled by too many drugs in the wrong combination, the tortured beastly exhibitions of athletic porn, the Texas gunslinger who rode over the bones of his challengers and fell as mightily as he rose, in full color on a giant screen surrounded by a frothing media scrum and presided over by the queen of daytime TV? I’ll tell you where: He’s been replaced by “champions” who are no cleaner but a thousand times less entertaining to watch, the insect class, the automaton class, the zombies of the road.

Please, if you have his number, call Lance for me and beg him to either come back or to give these pasty-faced cab drivers a few lessons in how to race like the future of the galaxy depended on it. I’ll take les forcats de la route over the zombies of the road any day.

Froome, mad after being sad, now happy

July 19, 2013 § 22 Comments

After his frightening brush with sadness on Monday’s rest day, Tour de France leader Chris Froome became very mad on Tuesday. Froome, angry about challenger Alberto Contador’s “dangerous” riding which forced him off his bike near the end of Tuesday’s 16th stage to Gap, was still stewing about the incident six hours later when he posted a tweet expressing his irritation.

“Yesterday I was really sad about all the volcano doping allegations,” said Froome. “But today I’m mad. Contador’s dangerous riding was really dangerous. It was extremely dangerous, so much so that I could have gotten really badly hurt. That just makes me mad.”

When it was pointed out that, generally speaking, two hundred cyclists crammed onto French roads no wider than a tampon while racing shoulder-to-shoulder downhill at speeds exceeding 100 kph was a fairly dangerous endeavor, Froome reacted angrily and with a lot of madness. “I have a right to be mad about this. I think Contador was taking too many risks and evidently he did go a little too fast, he couldn’t even control his own speed and crashed. That put me in danger.”

Spanish madly react to Froome’s anger

Contador rejected Froome’s concerns, appearing to be mad that Froome was mad at him. “He is, how you say in English, a big pussy? Is true, I made the crash in front of him going a little too much fast, no bueno. Now he’s crying about peligroso? It’s the bike racing. Que pussy.”

Soon-to-be-Sir David Brailsford, babysitter of Team Sky and curator of the team’s Hello Kitty collection, was also very mad, despite being sad only a day earlier. “This makes me mad. Chris could have lost the Tour. Do you know how mad he would have been then, not to mention getting very sad again? He has ridden an amazing race. The others should be giving up, not pushing the pace on the downhill and somehow trying to gain a time advantage which makes Chris awfully mad. We talked about this amongst ourselves, and the whole team was mad. Just really mad. Angry mad.”

Teammate Richie Porte, who is hardly ever mad, was hopping mad. “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more,” said Porte in his thick Australian accent that sounded like a cross between English and a throat disease. “G’day mate, shrimps on the barbie and all that. Just because I’m a banana bender don’t mean these bities ‘n bludgers can act like a bounce on me mate, eh?”

Froome goes from mad to happy after Thursday’s queen stage on l’Alpe d’Huez

Despite being sad, then mad, Froome found himself feeling happy after Team Sky released his power data to Dr. Professor Jacques Tati, the respected French physiologist and comic film director. According to Tati, “Froome’s power profiles show what we would expect within the range of a human with a V02 max that is at the limit of what is possible for a human, although suspect for a gangly insect, which he may well be.”

Froome was very happy to hear Tati’s analysis. “I’m really happy to hear Dr. Tati’s findings and his take on it, and basically to back us up and say that these performances are very good and strong, clean, sporting performances. I’m not mad anymore, and I forgive Alberto. I am happy now.”

Dr. Tati pointed out that he had not concluded that the performances were clean. “I only said he was normal for someone who is completely abnormal. Whether he is clean or not, who knows?”

British cycling public slowly getting happy

As Froome’s lock on the 2013 Tour looks unshakeable, the cynical, sad, mad, and fundamentally grumpy British public has slowly shown signs of being happy about Froome’s happiness.

Nigel Rathbone, a waiter at the famed “Warm Beer and Fish” pub, was guardedly happy. “I s’pose I’m happy, yeh, if it means we beat the French at something. Yeh. Why not, eh?”

Cloretha Clammonger, a charwoman in the City’s toney central district, was also potentially happy. “I reckon I could be ‘appy, I could. I’d rather be grumpy, but you know Chris is just a South African, which isn’t really English, right? Now if he was a right good Englishman, I s’pose I’d be ‘appier than a whore at a cardinal’s convention, I would.”

Froome admits to “volcano doping,” WADA launches investigation

July 17, 2013 § 24 Comments

Lost in the press reports of rest day haircuts and predictions for the remaining stages, it took almost twenty-four hours in the news cycle for the World Anti Doping Agency to act on Tour de France leader Chris Froome’s shocking admission during a media interview.

When asked about the credibility of his ride up Mt. Ventoux, Froome said “My team-mates and I, we’ve slept on volcanoes to get ready for this.”

WADA officers immediately charged Froome with a “non-analytical” positive, a scenario in which a rider can be accused of doping based on circumstantial evidence, written or spoken admissions, or convincing evidence other than standard urine or blood analyses.

Jean-Paul Smails, Chief Inquistor for WADA, laid out the charges. “He’s admitted to volcano doping, which is a violation of Rule 2.281(a), Subsection 12, which states that ‘No athlete may sleep on or otherwise utilize volcanoes to enhance performance.’”

Team Sky boss David Brailsford reacted angrily. “You’re kidding me, right? There’s no way he volcano doped. He misspoke. They slept on a mountain, perhaps, but no one knew it was a volcano. We thought it was a large mountain. We checked it out with the Mallorcan authorities and they assured us it was a mountain, not a volcano.”

Froome also rejected the charge. “I’ll wait for the B sample to come back. There’s no way that was a real volcano, and if it was, it’s because someone slipped it into my meat. It was tainted Mallorcan meat.”

When pressed as to why he’d referred to it as a volcano if it really wasn’t one, Froome shot back. “‘Volcano’ is slang for ‘boner’ in the UK, maybe you Yanks don’t know that, eh? I was sleeping on my mate’s boner, which is like a mini-volcano, get it? Stupid Yank reporters, go learn y’self some English.”

The Mallorcan Meat Cooperative, a national meat marketing collective, angrily rejected Froome’s claims that its meat was tainted. “We handle our meat carefully, regularly, religiously almost. When our meat leaves our hands it’s guaranteed to be fresh, firm, and free from additives such as clenbuterol or volcano. Our legal counsel is looking into filing defamation charges against Mr. Froome for claiming that we mishandle our meat.”

WADA investigation gathers steam

Officials for the French AFLD and WADA insisted that they would pursue the investigation, but the UCI remained skeptical. “We don’t believe he volcano doped,” said UCI chief Paddy McQuaid. “Although his team did buy us a new volcano testing machine to catch other lava cheats, that has had no influence on our posture in the matter. We don’t treat the stars any differently from the routiniers.”

Francois Vichy de Foiegras of the AFLD disagreed. “Ee eez vocano doping, n’cest pas? Why else he sleeping on ze volcano? Le Mt. Venoux est un volcano aussi, et we believe zat he gets un avantage avec zees volcano doping.” Later that evening the Team Sky bus was searched by the forensic unit of the French National Anti Doping SWAT Team, but no magma was found, although investigators were seen carrying large plastic bags of rocks off the “Froome Wagon” along with what appeared to be most of the team’s Hello Kitty collection.

Links to Italy?

Froome has worked with notorious volcano doping physician Michele Ferrari, although both deny that the connection involves volcanoes. “I use him for his training plans,” said Froome. “He is a good man. He’s taught me so much about how not to blow, but nothing that involved a volcano, I can assure you.”

Ferrari also denied helping athletes such as Froome volcano dope. “I don’t do such a thing, but if I did, so what? A bit of volcano is no more dangerous than a liter of orange juice. Except for when Pompeii was obliterated by Vesuvius or Krakatoa. But that is completely different.”

At press time, Froome’s team physician, Bugsy Malone, provided Tour de France officials with a prescription for volcano enemas, although it had apparently been backdated to precede Froome’s mountaintop trip to Mallorca. “Chris had terrible saddle sores and a bloody anus. I prescribed the volcano cleanse for him in order to stop the drip and reduce the swelling.”

Team Sky has scheduled a press conference for 6:00 AM tomorrow to explain its official position regarding these allegations.

Froome “saddened” by doping allegations, may leave Tour

July 15, 2013 § 40 Comments

Tour de France leader Chris Froome of Team Sky has admitted his frustration at constant questions about doping, according to the BBC. Froome extended his advantage with a stunning ride on Sunday but faced more doping questions on Monday’s rest day.

“It’s sad that we’re sitting here the day after the biggest victory of my life talking about doping,” said Froome. “Why can’t we talk about unicorns?”

Continued Froome: “This whole thing makes me sad. Really, incredibly, terribly, horribly, agonizingly sad. The sadness of being called a doper and a cheat and a liar and a fraud is so saddening, you have no idea. I’m just so sad. Sad. I’ve half a mind to leave the Tour, I’m so sad.”

Team boss David Brailsford hustled a visibly shaken and sobbing Froome off to the “Froome Wagon” before addressing reporters. “These doping questions make me sad, too, maybe even sadder than Chris. At least he got to win the stage. I have to stay back in the team bus washing dirty chamois and cleaning the insides of water bottles with those long spiky brushes that get the crud off the edges on the bottom but leave little bits on the very flat part. When is someone going to invent a bottle brush just for cycling water bottles? But it’s really sad, anyway. I’m so sad I don’t know what else to say.”

Richie Porte, the faithful domestique who blew up the field in a hard-charging effort reminiscent of the days when 200-lb. George Hincapie won stages normally reserved for 125-lb. veggie mites, was also sad. “Chris is sad? Dave is sad? What about me? I’m sad, too! A little bit pissed, but sad at the same time, kind of like when I used to get beaten up by my big brother. This whole thing is sad.”

Tubs McGillicuddy, the bus driver, although not visibly sad, spoke to the press about the sadness of others who weren’t necessarily there but who were likely sad as well. “Y’wanna talk about sad, d’ye? How’s about ol’ Wiggster? He’s the saddest of ‘em all. He’s sadder ‘n a sad sack. Sadder than a sack ‘o shit tossed out th’ window of a fast-movin’ train, I say. Aye, he’s one sad puppy an’ I ‘low we oughta take a minute of quiet time to be sad on ‘is behalf. ‘Tis a sad day, to be sure.”

Froome stuck his head out of the bus window and added, “My team-mates and I have been away from home for months training together and working hard to get here, we’ve slept on volcanoes to get ready for this, and here I am accused of being a cheat and a liar. That’s not cool. It makes us all sad. This is a sad day. We should be cheerful and happy but we’re not. We’re sad. So if you want us to be happy, please stop asking us questions designed to make us sad.”

Vroom, vroom, Froome!

July 12, 2013 § 44 Comments

Newsflash! Chris Froome is on drugs!

Newsflash! Yawn!

Newsflash! So am I! (Beer’s a drug, right?)

Several different methodologies have pointed out the obvious: When the Froomster’s time on Ax3 beats Lance and others in their doping heyday … it’s pretty plain he’s doping! This story in Outside confirms what everyone knows and no one cares about. The Tour de France is athletic bike porn.

It’s not real. The performances are not real. Everything is staged. It is as comparable to the sex you have with your wife as the stuff they show on http://www.superpornstaraction.com.

The problem with the Outside.com analysis is that it involves numbers. I hate numbers. I still don’t know who got to the town faster, the man driving x miles per hour at y velocity, or the train that left the station at time z going speed f divided by the number of apples in a bushel.

What I do know is that the dude who took the most drugs clandestinely is winning the Tour. How do I know? I know because of Wiggins.

The Wiggo factor

Was I the only one who noticed that the defending Tour champ abdicated shortly after winning? And that’s like, the only time that’s ever happened? And, it’s, like, incomprehensible? And what’s more bizarre, he didn’t even retire, he just said that next year it would be the Froomster?

What the fucking fuck?

Then I thought about it, and now I can explain it, especially since Wiggo has vanished from the scene. Here’s what happened.

Wiggins was put on Brailsford’s plan of “marginal gains.” This means microdosing and evading detection by training in Mallorca, where the testers can’t surprise you. Wiggins, who is an alcoholic nutcase, was driven to the brink of insanity because he had to go from a track rider/stage race flailer to Tour contender. The insanity was caused by his fear of getting busted; Wiggins has shown in his autobiography and elsewhere that he is a very fragile mental case.

Froome, who was an absolute nobody before Brailsford got him on the drug program, could have won the Tour in 2012. This would have been uncool, because Wiggins was winning sprint finishes, destroying all preparatory stage races, and on track to win the Tour in Britain’s Olympic year.

Brailsford therefore cut a deal with Froome. Wiggins would win in 2012 and the Froomster would win in 2013. The parties essentially agreed to this in public when Wiggins said that he wouldn’t defend his Tour title but would focus on the Giro. This is like someone saying they weren’t going to defend their NCAA baskeball title but would instead focus on the NIT.

Man of his word

Wiggins went from being unbeatable in 2012 to Mr. Nobody in 2013. He flailed and bailed in the Giro, and distinguished himself in the build-up races by being completely indistinct. He faded from the scene, and, trust me, you will never hear from him again. He is a fragile crazypants who cannot cope with the cheating and lying required by the Brailsford doping program. His pro career is over, and we should thank him for contributing “bone idle wankers” to our lexicon. 

Froome, on the other hand, has all the qualities of a top-tier level doper. He boldly proclaims his cleanness. He destroys his rivals by massive margins. He throws out wattage — 6.3 w/kg and more — that are impossible in an undoped state. Best of all, he is backed by the drug enabling quotes of Brailsford, who tosses off bizzaricisms like “At some point in time, clean performances will surpass the doped performances in the past.”

What?

That’s like saying, “At some point, Formula 1 cars with no aerodynamic fairings and design will go as fast as those that are wholly aerodynamic.”

It makes no fucking sense at all, based as it is on neither data nor science, but merely on the assertions of someone trying to defend an obviously doped stable of athletes.

Thankfully, VeloNews and other lickspittle cycling magazines have accepted this at face value because their advertising depends on the deluded and jaded readers who either don’t know or don’t care that everything produced by Team Sky flies in the face of reality and fairness. The pedestrian, non-superhuman times turned in by those who are racing against the Froomster show that although the peloton is cleaner, top honors still go to the cheater who goes biggest and who dares anyone to bust him.

At least with Lance, the winner had a cool name, attractive wristbands, and a series of good looking women permanently attached to his arm.

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