September 4, 2015 § 11 Comments
Ol’ Cracks doesn’t call me often, but when he does I drop what I’m doing and take the call. Thank goodness I wasn’t holding my future grandbaby.
“How the hell are ya?” growled Ol’ Cracks, his Texas accent thicker than bacon grease on a Southern hooker’s shirt sleeves.
“Can’t complain,” I said.
“Yer a lyin’ sack of rotten oats,” he said. “All the hell you ever do is complain.”
“Now that you mention it,” I said.
“Now lissen up,” said Ol’ Cracks, which was not an invitation to flesh out my nascent complaint. “‘Cuz I got a story for ya.”
I moved from my office desk to my office bed and stretched out. “Shoot.” I knew I wouldn’t even need a notepad.
“You ‘member Gizzards?”
“Gizzards? Was he the guy who was blind in one eye and couldn’t see too well out of the other? Kind of rotund?”
“Naw, you got him confused with Big Piles.”
“Which one was Gizzards?”
“He was the dumb bastard.”
“That doesn’t narrow it down much.”
“Well anyhow, Gizzards got one of his buddies into cycling and started bringing him along on the Sunday Gutterfuck Ride.”
“How’d that work out for him?”
“We gutterfucked him coming out the dogdamn parking lot every time, but he kept coming.”
“Okay. So what?”
“Well, Gizzard’s pal’s name is Stumpnagel but everyone calls him Sags.”
“Hell, first off, his belly hangs down onto the top tube, so that’s your Sag Number One. And then when he gets tired, which is after the first five minutes, his head droops over the stem like the bend in a vulture’s neck. That’s Sag Number Two.”
“Sag Number Three?” I was almost afraid to ask.
“He’s allus the first bastard in the sag wagon.”
“Sag wagon? Since when did you guys start riding with a sag wagon?”
“Aw hell, never. That’s what we call the cars he flags down after we’ve gutterfucked him offn a ditch fifty miles from home.”
“Okay, so back to the saga of Sags.”
“So one day Sags and Gizzard come up to me and they say ‘Ol’ Cracks, how can we get better? You’ve been winning races for thirty years and you never train and you’re drunk half the time and you’re lazy as a post office supervisor. What’s the secret?'”
“What’d you tell ’em?”
“Same thing I tell everybody. I said, ‘Listen up you dumbasses, you suck and you always will. You’ll never win a race because you’re slow and stupid, in that order.'”
“They got all mad but next week they come up again and were just as sassy as a sixteen-year-old with big boobs and Gizzard says, ‘Ol’ Cracks we’ve signed up for Big George’s training camp in South Carolina and we’re gonna ride with some pros and get fast and come back here and stomp your ass.'”
“I bet you didn’t take that lying down.”
“No, sir, I did not. Told ’em they were just as slow and stupid as they’d been last week and that the only thing they’d get throwing money at a lying, cheating, doping ex-pro was poor.”
“How much did it cost?”
“Five grand for the first sucker, I mean trainee, and $2500 for the second one.”
“Big George has a good gig going. Ride around with a couple of hicks for $7,500 bucks? Hell, it couldn’t be any worse than riding around with you, which I do for free.”
“You’re just as big a fool as Sags and Gizzard. You think Big George rides around with these yahoos? He escorts ’em out of the parking lot to the base of a climb and leaves ’em at the rear like a dingleberry on a horse’s ass. Then five hours later he circles back to the hotel, pats ’em on the back, cashes another check, and goes home to his wife and EPO.”
“So they’re out there all alone?”
“Oh, no. Big George ain’t dumb. That’s what all those washed up pros and masters national champs are for. He pays THEM a pittance to ride around with Sags and Gizzards and change their diapers.”
“So what happened? They came back and kicked your ass?”
“You got a good imagination,” he said. “But not quite. On the first day Gizzard gets put in a lodge that has a housecat, and he’s deathly allergic to cat hair, and the housecat has layered the place with six inches of fur, so Gizzard swells up like a pumpkin and winds up in the ER on an inhaler.”
“Sags starts at the bottom of Big Corkscrew Mountain, a twelve-mile climb with sixty-three switchbacks and an average pitch of 23 percent, and when I say ‘starts’ I mean ‘almost tips over.’ His nursemaid is Cardboard Box O’Houlihan.”
“Cardboard Box O’Houlihan? Last year’s 35+ masters national road champ? The guy who lives in a … ”
“Cardboard box. Yeah, that’s him. So CB rides off and then about halfway up he stops to wait for Sags. Way off in the distance, here comes Sags, head down spinning at 4 or 7 rpm, tacking like a catamaran, all 235 lbs. of him grunting and groaning and grinding up that fuckin’ hill.”
“O’Houlihan’s phone rings and he pulls it out to see who’s calling. About that time Sags, whose head is still down, t-bones O’Houlihan at about 3 mph.”
“Thank goodness he was going slow.”
“You ever been hit by a piano going 3 mph?”
“Guess what? It fuggin’ hurts, especially when it lands on your leg, which Sags did, and it snapped O’Houlihan’s femur like a matchstick. O’Houlihan is writhing on the ground saying ‘You dumb motherfucker you run into me going UPHILL you dumb bastard!’ They fly him out or more likely drive him out in a pig manure truck.”
“Then what happened?”
“Sags comes home and I tell him man, you are one stupid sonofabitch. Couldn’t you make something up so’s you don’t look like such a brainless rhino? Running into a national champ going uphill? How the fuck does that even happen? And of course he says, ‘I dunno, but it was O’Houlihans’ fault.'”
“Yeah, for stopping on the side of the road, to which I said, you dumb bastard he stopped because he was waiting for you because that’s his fucking job!”
“So did his fitness improve?”
“I don’t know, he was only in town for a couple of days after that.”
“Where’d he go?”
“The Levi Leipheimer training camp somewhere in California.”
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August 23, 2015 § 18 Comments
The nomination period for the fantabulous 2015 South Bay Cycling Awards closed last week, but some folks who felt that they’d been wrongly left out or who had been nominated for the wrong category weren’t going to take it lying down.
Okay, some of them were.South Bay phenom and pro Kristabel Doebel-Hickock won a Wanky in 2013 for QOM, and another in 2014 for Best Female Racer, so it was no surprise that she found herself again on the short list for best racer after posting impressive results on the domestic and international road racing circuit.
What was shocking to me is that she felt so displeased with her nomination for Best Female Racer of 2015 that she decided to make a full-blown run at the 2015 Crashtacular Fred category despite an already strong field and despite the fact that the nominating period had closed. Keep in mind that this year’s nominees include some of the biggest crash dummies in SoCal cycling, to wit:
- Front-runner and heretofore shoo-in Jay Laplante, a/k/a Manslaughter. The nickname alone tells you that this is a legit contender, and over the years he has proven that he is a threat to crash every time he rolls out of the driveway. What’s so impressive about his crashtacularity is that far from being a poor bike handler, he’s practically a magician when it comes to threading needles on a bike. So why all the crashes? Obviously, he’s just nuts.
- Super heavyweight contender Chris Gregory. Chris never met a crash she didn’t like. Different from boring nominees who’ve tried to eke out a Wanky with broken collarbones, shoulders, hands, and traumatic head injuries, Chris took crash anatomy to a whole ‘nother level in 2015 when she fell on the bike path going 12-mph (10 points), flopped off into the sand (10 points), still doesn’t know why she crashed (10 points), and shattered her humerus in three places, a bone that, in more than 30 years of riding and racing, I’ve never heard of anyone ever breaking, even when hit by a car.
With this kind of competition it’s hard to see how Kristabel could have thought she had a chance, even though she also has a rich history of amazing fred-like bike falls, like the time this year she mowed down a pedestrian (10 points) while practicing her TT bike on the bike path (10 points) and cracked her femur (8 points).
Still, “Tink” as she’s known far and wide, wasn’t about to cede the field, as she still had something in her back jersey pocket: In 2014 she went from icon to legend when she actually crashed at the start of a time trial coming out of the starting house. No one had ever heard of such a thing and when the story broke many refused to believe it.
Starting behind the 8-ball in the 2015 Wankies, however, Tink showed up three days ago at America’s premier stage race ready to do battle with the world’s best women racers, but more importantly to announce that she wanted a Wanky. As the video link above shows, it will be hard for anyone to beat her:
- No one to blame for taking her out or causing the crash (10 points)
- Crashed in America’s biggest pro race (100 points)
- Video proof (300 points)
- Crashed in the safest part of the race (400 points)
- Pulled an ultra-Fred move as an elite pro (500 points)
- Crashed by running into a sign that says “Healthcare” (12,000 points)
- Crashed while her start was being commentated by Phil Liggett (1,000,000 points)
- Got up, finished the TT, and the next day almost won the road race (1 billion points)
So although I don’t recommend this kind of extra-curricular lobbying and politicking just to get a Wanky, sometimes it works.
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July 7, 2015 § 12 Comments
As much as I try to ignore the annual pro-wrestling championships for skinny people, the Tour invariably impinges on my serenity. Here are the impingements so far:
- Cav is a d-bag. Sitting up in the sprint because he couldn’t win, letting Cancellara get third, and thereby depriving TEIMMATE Tony Martin of yellow? There is apparently a very large “I” in Teim, or rather a very large “Cavendish” in “douchebag.”
- Since the Tour no longer has 300-mile stages and it’s “short” enough for most riders to complete, and complete pretty tightly bunched, the challenging, cobbled, wind-swept, hardass opening stages are fantastic. Nice work, whoever continues to push for such stages.
- Tony Martin no longer has to drag his dick to the microphone and answer the German journalists’ questions about why he didn’t win stage one, why he didn’t win stage two, why he didn’t win stage three, why he didn’t win stage four and why in the world is he NOT in yellow?
- Enough with Astana and Boom’s doping. They all cheat, it’s pro wrestling for skinny people. Can we sweep all that under the rug for another few years until someone important dies? Thank you.
- Froome hasn’t fallen off his bicycle yet. Amaze-balls.
- In addition to boycotting the Tour, we’d appreciate it if Oleg Dickov would just boycott cycling and go back to making usurious payday loans to poor people. Oh, wait, he never stopped …
- There are three Americans in the Tour: Van Garderen, Talansky, and Farrar. Way to build the grass roots, USA Cycling! Perhaps they could work with Alto Velo to sue some more small pro teams and encourage promising riders and sponsors to quit the sport?
- Pro bike racing is more dangerous in terms of injuries per race than any motor sport. It’s no fun watching the yellow jersey swap shoulders because of crashes (Cancellara), or watching the whole event turned on its head because contenders crash out (Froome, Contador in 2014). It’s also no fun watching people get hurt.
- Trying to reach a cyclist on the West Coast on July late mornings is like trying to get a SoCal handyman when there is a good swell.
- It will be interesting to see how much, if any, Tour Fever has spread to Germany. It’s taken years for the cycling public to recover from Ullrich/Zabel Telekom.
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July 5, 2015 § 13 Comments
We overtook the Team Helen’s/Santa Monica BMW guys on Ocean and I noticed that in the midst of their stylish blue-white-red kits there was an orange helmet. The rider was rail thin and wearing an Optum kit. I checked his top tube and it said “Phil Gaimon.”
So I knew that the 2015 July 4th Holiday Ride was going to be hard.
It turns out that Gaimon, who’s one of the nicest people around, showed up to help the Helen’s guys retake their Mandeville KOM, formerly owned by local legend Tony Manzella and recently usurped by Nick Brandt-Sorenson, the infamous masters racer who received a two-year suspension after testing positive for naughty substances at masters nationals in Bend, Oregon in 2011, where he won both road and the crit titles and then de-won them after the pee-pee test.
To my way of thinking, Strava KOM’s are the one place that doping and dopers should be encouraged, since the whole compete-on-Strava thing is a totally bogus shit show to begin with, but whatever … my immediate problem was figuring out how a 51-year-old freddie would stay in the same county as the top pro road racer in the country.
The short answer, of course, is “ain’t gonna happen,” and it didn’t. But when we turned onto Mandeville Canyon Road for the 6-mile, 16-minute climb, it sure seemed like it might. Then Phil went to the front and five seconds later the dream died stillborn.
I was behind Frenchy the Younger, seven bikes back. In the rear I could hear the pounding and mashing of the massive fredoton which included well over 200 idiots like me who thought that we were really going to get a chance to ride against Phil Gaimon.
The Mandeville Canyon climb is very gradual, and never starts to hurt until the halfway point. We hadn’t finished the first quarter mile and over a hundred riders had evaporated into a mist of seized muscles and irreparably ruined (until tomorrow) egos. My legs hurt in that first quarter mile the way they usually hurt in the last.
After the white picket fence that marks the halfway point, U23 Hagens-Berman pro and Eagle Scout Diego Binatena leaped away from what was now a group of less than ten people. Phil took a breath, never bothering to get off the hoods, and gradually increased his effort by ten watts every thirty seconds. Diego returned to the fold and a couple of other riders popped like the gas-inflated stomach of a decomposing corpse that’s stuck with a shovel.
Now Phil had Diego, Matt Cuttler, me, Matt Wikstrom, Tony Manzella, and Stathis Sakellariadis on his wheel. All but Tony and Matt were young enough to be my kids, and all, including Tony, were just getting warmed up. The massive noise and carnage earlier in the ride had been replaced by the eerily quiet sound of spinning chains and labored breathing, which turned out to be mine.
With about half a mile to go Matt started to come off Diego’s wheel. “I’m done,” he muttered.
“Close the fucking gap!” I croaked, and miraculously, he lunged and did.
Shortly thereafter we both cracked. Tony, Matt, and Stathis came streaking past to close the yawning gap I generously handed them. Matt and I pedaled together briefly until I had to leave him in order to get caught up on some important reading material. When I hit the final wall, Phil had sat and was lazily pedaling. He had towed the group, I later learned, for the entire fifteen minutes at something around 430 watts.
Of course I sprunted by him and shouted, “Quitter!” as I beat the remnants of the softly charging fredoton, led by Derek B. and G$. Diego, Stathis, Matt, and Tony were finishing the business section of the Times when I arrived.
“Beat” of course is meaningless when all you do is finish ahead of someone, because the true tale of the tape is on the KOM leaderboard, where the computer gets to decide who’s the fastest of them all. Poor Phil Gaimon never had a chance against ol’ Strava.
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June 12, 2015 § 88 Comments
The handwriting is on the wall, it says “You are totally hosed,” and even Lance Armstrong can read it.
This is a moment to savor if you enjoy watching the mighty brought low. It’s a delicious experience like no other to read the lying, cheating, doping, scheming evildoer as he contemplates a most unheroic end, the end of bankruptcy, of utter ruin, of losing every single bit of his ill-gotten gains.
Betsy Andreu, the sworn enemy of the world’s most infamous cyclist, must surely have floating dinner reservations for the expected date of the jury verdict when Armstrong’s fraud case goes to trial. The case is so overwhelmingly against him that it’s hard to see any impartial jury finding in his favor.
He ripped off the government. He lied about it. He covered it up. Then … he admitted the entire fraud on television.
Juries are unpredictable, and of course no battle plan survives first contact with the enemy. Random chance may pull this one out of the fire simply because, as Mike Tyson famously said, “Everyone has a plan until you punch him in the face.” Maybe Lance’s lawyers will get in the first shot and it will be a haymaker.
Realistically, his fate in this case will be no different from his fate in the SCA Promotions fraud case. Judges and juries are repulsed by sociopaths when their lies are finally exposed, and the human instinct to punish the powerful is almost as strong as the urge to put them on the pedestal to begin with.
Of course, what’s happening to Lance is the grossest injustice, as the Ninth Circuit recently ruled in the case of another allegedly lying, corrupt, doped-up cheater who’s now a hobby cyclist by the name of Barry Bonds. The appeals court essentially held that a non-responsive answer to a question posed to a jock cannot be a criminal act. No shit.
By the time justice was served, Bonds had been required to do his time. So far, the Betsy Andreus of the baseball world are likewise smacking their lips in satisfaction, the joy of seeing evildoers punished. Unlike Lance, Bonds still gets to keep his millions, though.
Where Betsy and all the sanctimonious people “betrayed by Lance” have gone awry is by ignoring the ugly fact that the cheap actions of a self-admitted “dick” are the matters on which the criminal system devotes itself, when not one single person has seen a jail cell as the result of Wall Street’s takedown of the economy, its obstruction of justice, and its co-option of agencies created to protect the public from the worst criminals in our history–people who don’t pull triggers and who don’t shoot up elementary schools or movie theaters, but rather people who wreck the lives of millions and leave them to rot.
But don’t worry, because those same criminals have re-made their billions with taxpayer bailouts and with a surging stock market, recouping their losses in the “free market” and taxpayer-funded one. What’s that? You didn’t get rich during the bust? There’s a word for people like you, friend. It’s called “sucker.”
Hanging Lance from his ball passes for justice because it is great theater. It’s easy to hate the guy many used to love; it’s impossible to hate a Harvard MBA at a bank you’ve never even heard of. It’s easy to hate doping cheaters; it’s impossible to hate people who cheat with things you only vaguely even understand like mortgage backed securities and default credit swaps. It’s easy to put the “little” millionaire’s ass in a sling; it’s impossible for the entire SEC to win a single case against banks worth hundreds of billions.
Sports make great entertainment and greater crime. Think O.J., Lance, Barry, Marion, and now the granddaddy of them all, FIFA. Of course the targets in the FIFA investigation include people from wretchedly poor countries such as Bolivia, Trinidad and Tobago, and Nicaragua, corrupt and bribery-prone third world countries where the petty graft from FIFA is huge money. Not a single person from Switzerland, though …
These sporting crimes, on a global scale, are meaningless in the context of institutionalized money laundering and tax theft in corporate fraud havens like the Cayman Islands.
“I’ve heard of FIFA! Go get ’em!”
“The Cayman Islands? Where the hell is that, and why are you wasting my tax dollars on it?”
The hallmark of justice is not its ability to punish wrongdoers. Any fundamentalist crazy from ISIS with a Koran and a sword can do that. The hallmark of justice is refusing to exact total retribution on the small criminal while the big ones go free. When “No one is above the law” comes with the asterisk “Except the richest,” then you’d better take care, because your neck will soon be on the chopping block, too.
Betsy may have made dinner reservations for twelve in joyful anticipation of the final ruinous act in Lance’s tragic opera, but the satisfaction of revenge doesn’t make it just.
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June 4, 2015 § 18 Comments
Sir Bradley Wiggins, a Tour de France winner, four-time Olympic gold medalist, and member of the Royal Order of Knights Who Say “Ni” will attempt to break the hour record set on May 2, 2015 by Alex Dowsett this coming Sunday at the London Velodrome. The venue sold out thirty minutes after tickets went on sale as British cycling fans went on a purchasing rampage to get seats at what promises to be a historic ride.
Nigel Sagbottom, a lifelong cycling fan who had queued up the night before to get a ticket, was euphoric. “I love cycling, it’s my life, and this is going to be exciting beyond words, really. The entire nation will be holding its breath to see if Sir Wiggins can, you know, get up the mountains in less than an hour.”
Gertrude Appledore, another excited ticket holder, was similarly enthusiastic. “We’ve been following Sir Wiggo’s career since his first cycle races as a lad, I believe it was the 50cc class that he started out in, and now the chance to see him win on a superbike at the track is once in a lifetime, really. He’ll be running a 1000cc with a four cylinder, I hear. So yes, we’re thrilled.”
The British public, long fixated almost exclusively on football, has taken to cycle racing with intense passion, and Wiggins’s continual media exposure through the SKY media network and his own unique brand of lethargic charisma has brought the sport to unparalleled heights in this football-crazed nation. According to David Dongle, sports media analyst at Britties Love Footy, a cable sports channel in West Anglia, much of the groundwork is owed to super sprinter Mark Cavendish.
“Before Cav,” says Dongle, “the average Briton didn’t know a cycle race from a menstrual cycle. But now that’s all changed. After Cav won that ‘ere Tour, and Wiggins won that ‘ere other ‘un, and then when they was teamed up with Lance to cure Betsy’s cancer, it sort of caught on, almost as big as the time Liverpool’s Traore catastrophically back-heeled the ball into his own net to gift Burnley a shock victory at Cardiff.”
The British man on the street, although unable to afford the tickets which were fetching up to $2.99 each, expressed the nation’s fascination with the sport of cycling when Smugsy McStains, a Manchester pipefitter, said this: “Boik racin’s for fuckin’ pussies, mate. If I wanted to watch skinny fellas ride around in their bloody underpants I’d sure not do it in public, y’know?”
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June 2, 2015 § 16 Comments
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry broke his femur yesterday while training for the 2015 Tour de France outside of Geneva, Switzerland, putting his 2015 Tour campaign in doubt.
“According to my team boss Jonathan Vaughters, I was always on the bubble but with the compound fracture it’s possible I’ll sit out until 2016,” said Kerry through a spokesperson. “But I’ve got three purple hearts and I’m not giving up yet.”
Garmin-Cannondale owner Vaughters did not immediately confirm Kerry’s statement. “Well, uh, yeah, I know the Senator, he’s a great guy, we’ve done a few rides together, he’s strong as a horse, I mean, a 71-year-old horse, but this is the first I’ve heard about him doing the Tour with us. Isn’t he like the Secretary of Parks or something? Doesn’t he already have a job?”
The accident occurred at the bottom of the Col de la Colombière, a 16.3-km climb that has featured in the Tour twenty times, most recently in 2010. Although short, the steep 10.2% section at the end of the climb often weakens riders prior to the finish of the stage, which typically ends on a more challenging col such as Morzine, La Plagne, or Alpe d’Huez.
Kerry, who describes himself as “More of a 265-lb. rouleur to help with the sprint train than as a weapon in the high Alps,” had been in Geneva negotiating the final text of a nuclear arms deal with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif. John Kirby, a State Department spokesman, denied that the high level talks would impact Kerry’s training for his Tour campaign. “Not in the least,” said Kirby. “He’ll be back on the trainer in two weeks. He’s let his staff know that Job One is preventing loss of muscle mass. The centrifuge inspection thing can wait.”
Zarif was less sanguine. “What is, how you say in English, the fuck up with this? He is riding bike while we are doing bomb Israel plan? This crazy.”
Kerry emphasized his Tour readiness by pointing to public statements made by Vaughters, who described him in an interview with the Wall Street Journal as one of the best American road riders in his age group. “I’d be top ten at nationals, easy,” said Kerry, “if I raced.”
When asked how many 71-year-olds typically compete at nationals, Vaughters said that it was, “Uh, like, seventeen or so, I think. So I can confirm that from what I’ve seen he’s definitely top ten out of most of those seventeen. Ten of them, anyway.”
Kerry’s grueling schedule as America’s top diplomat has not interfered with his mission to get a pro contract, ride the Tour, and make $12,000 per year. Since his presidential bid in 2004 Kerry has evolved from what Boston regulars called “A complete Fred, just another rich dick with too much money and not enough mirrors at home to show him how he looks in spandex,” into “A completely delusional masters racer who, like all true profamateurs, doesn’t bother to race. Think Robin Williams without the jokes.”
The accident occurred at the beginning of the climb, when Kerry, one of the most powerful people on earth, ran into a curb and flipped over the bars like you might have done in Third Grade. Phillipe Patek de Nutella, the governor of Haute-Savoie in France, had accompanied Kerry with his security detail when the accident happened. “I no know what passed, n’est-ce-pas? He riding, comment dit-on ‘Fred’ en anglais, as a Frederique with wheel not straight and overlapping rear wheel rider in front. Then turn to whistle at girls and boom-boom he hit curb and bam-bam down like old cheese.”
Photos show that at the time he fell Kerry was wearing a pair of floppy yellow arm warmers that have not yet been released to the general public by Ugg Cycling as it transitions from women’s footwear into cycling apparel.
Kirby, the State Department spokesman, was upbeat about Kerry’s recovery, although he conceded that dealing with the crisis in Burundi, Boko Haram, the collapse of Iraq, Islamic State’s control of Syria, the outbreak of war in Yemen, the strong likelihood of armed conflict between Saudia Arabia and Iran, Grexit and the collapse of the euro, China’s aggression in the South China Sea, and the deaths of thousands of Rohingya as they flee brutal oppression in Myanmar may have to take a back seat for a few months.
“We’re confident that we can rebuild him stronger than he was before. And if he makes the Tour squad this year, at least he’ll know a critical part of the route.”
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