November 26, 2019 § 12 Comments
Last night I switched on the ol’ YouTube and watched A Sunday in Hell.
It’s good to remind myself sometimes about why I fell in love with bike racing.
If you’ve never watched this movie, please do. It contains everything you need to know about bike racing, the real kind.
I watch this movie every four or five years and each time I note how radically bike racing has changed since 1976. It would be a 10,000-word essay to chronicle all the changes. And as I age the movie’s hard reality is even more awesome, brutal, unforgiving, unrepentant, immobile as the giant paving stones along the cobbled sectors to Roubaix.
But the biggest changes? Muttonchop sideburns. In 1976 everyone had ’em. They were the coolest of the cool.
The other big change? Huge, floppy collars. Ordinary people who wanted to be fashionable had big, floppy collars.
Maybe the last, and the biggest change of all, is this:
Back then bike racers were tough.
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November 7, 2019 § 19 Comments
The Amgen Tour of California went belly-up nine days ago, and like Jesus, it’s not coming back.
The Occam’s Razor answer is “money.” ATOC cost a lot more to put on than it ever brought in … for fourteen years … with nothing but spiraling costs in sight. Sometimes called “bad business model,” sometimes called “changing financial landscape,” sometimes called “bankruptcy,” it all amounts to the same fuggin’ thing.
There is a good article in Bicycling Magazine that talks about what those cost dynamics were; here’s the link. Not discussed much, but key to the whole discussion, is TV revenue. Like excitement in bike racing these days, there was none. And sporting events without TV revenue are like swimming races in an empty pool. You hit the bottom quick.
Which leads to the obvious question that no one wants to confront, “Why is there no TV revenue?” Answer: Because no one wants to watch bike racing except for (a very few) cyclists.
Compare that to NASCAR, whose fans don’t race cars, or the NBA, whose fans are too obese to walk up the stairs, much less dunk, or the NFL. Successful TV sports all have something in common, and it is known as a “fan.”
Why cycling has no fans
Roger Worthington used to place the phrase “Stoopid Sport” on his jerseys, and that’s an obvious reason why people don’t like cycling. But all sports are stupid, and the idea of watching corporate America pitch bad beer to lazy people watching TV is the stupidest idea of all.
Is cycling even more stupid than the NBA? And if it is, is it that much more stupid?
Not really. Cycling doesn’t have fans because it is boring, and although that can be ameliorated, it can’t ever be fixed.
“But but but! There were millions of people on the road over the last fourteen editions of ATOC! Downtown Sacramento was always packed! Sagan!!!”
To which I say, “That’s nice, but those aren’t fans. Fans are people who sit on the couch and watch the event on TV. The NFL isn’t funded by people in stadiums or by kids who played Pop Warner. It’s funded by TV viewers. For example, last year the average NFL game had over 15 million idiots slobbering at a their TV while anonymous men in their underpants beat the living shit out of everyone except the quarterback.
The people who went to watch stages of the ATOC weren’t fans, they were cyclists. And cyclists, for the most part, aren’t about to watch cycling on TV, at least not for more than a few minutes.
Cycling doesn’t have fans in the U.S.A., never has, and never will. Here’s why:
- Cycling is boring. One of the sport’s longest traditions is its boring-ness. “Hey, Pascale, let’s race around France for a month.” This is the most exciting thing that cycling has ever had to offer. Riding your bike around France. For a month.
- Cycling is more boring than it used to be. Race radios, computers, and power data tell you the ending before the beginning. Fans don’t like to know the ending until that point in the event known as the “end.”
- Kids don’t ride bikes. Fans aren’t created by MAMILs. Fans are evolved from little kids who used to play baseball and are now fat and lazy and watch it on the TV.
- Wives don’t ride bikes. Fans are created by wives who, resignedly at first and later with great enthusiasm, wear giant, stupid football jerseys and get slushy drunk with hubby because it’s better than being alone.
- Hubbies don’t ride bikes. Fans are created by boneheads in pickups “rolling coal” who think they can race performance cars around a track even though they never have and never will.
- Universities don’t ride bikes. Fans are created by drunken youngsters screaming at the TV for one group of people on academic probation to beat up another group of people on academic probation for the glory of their university, a place of higher learning.
- High schools don’t ride bikes. Fans are created by boys charged with testosterone willing to do anything to get laid, including baseball.
- Parents don’t ride bikes. Fans are created by parents who are in ill health, out of shape, delusional, and so greedy for the unicorn pro contract/college scholarship that they will spend tens of thousands of dollars and hours schlepping/browbeating their kid to games across the state.
- Cycling is too complicated. How many “disciplines” are there in cycling? Stage racing, time trials, crits, kermesses, hill climbs, Madison, scratch, pursuit, omnium, ‘cross, BMX, single track, downhill, AND MORE. How many disciplines in football? One.
- Nothing happens in cycling. Racer pedals. Racer sprints. Racer gets dropped. Racer has bicycle falling off incident. Who fucking cares?
- Pro cyclists are ugly. Pro road racers are badly undernourished and they look it.
- Cycling’s heroes aren’t heroes. I was talking to a guy who just did the Japan Cup and I told him about the time I saw the world championships on that course, in 1990, when Miguel Indurain was there. “Who’s that?” he asked.
Wise elder statesmen of the sport, people like Jonathan Vaughters who have played a leading role in sucking the corpse dry, talk about the future of “gravel racing” and “fondos,” as if these incredibly boring events will somehow create fans because, hey, the cyclists who do them pay “huge” entry fees of $180 … and more!!!!!!!!!!! Has JV ever priced a Nascar fan outfit?
Talk to Phil Gaimon about all the money he makes off of his grand fondue, or talk to the owners of Dirty Kanzaa, who have become billionaires off of those entry fees. Haven’t they?
No, they haven’t. Grand fondues and gravel racing simply eliminate the single biggest overhead of road racing, which are road closures and the costs associated with shutting down roadways. The idea that filthy bicyclists on a dirt road in Kansas will attract or create fans is hocus-pocus and snake oil, which is about what you’d expect from ex-doper-turned-pro-tour-team boss Vaughters.
The problem with cycling has always been that it’s fun to do and ugly to watch, kind of like sex.
Could be worse.
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September 28, 2019 § 4 Comments
Dutch U-23 #fake world champion Nils Eekhof was astonished at being stripped of his #real world championship road win yesterday in England, a formerly great nation now being Brexited by Trump’s quarter-wit cousin.
CitSB sat down with Nils to discuss the travesty.
CitSB: So what happened?
NE: I won the title and the fraudsters on the race jury took it away.
NE: Cheating. Because I cheated, ferfuxake.
CitSB: Wow. How did you cheat?
NE: I drafted behind a team car for an hour.
CitSB: Impressive. And they dq’d you for that?
NE: Yes. I’ve already assembled a legal team.
CitSB: Can you share with us the plan of attack?
NE: Pretty simple. I cheated obvious AF and now they’re saying I cheated.
CitSB: Can’t get simpler than that.
NE: If they’re going to dq me for cheating, what will happen to all the cheating?
CitSB: What do you mean?
NE: The cheating in cycling. Drugs, sticky water bottles, cutting the course, motorized bb’s, illegal aero fabrics, 8-inch sock cuffs, team car tows, line changes in the sprint, everything.
CitSB: I hadn’t thought of that.
NE: Right? You take down one cheater and the other cheaters stop cheating. Then what do you have?
CitSB: A bike race?
NE: Exactly. You want to fuck up this beautiful commercial and computerized endeavor with bike racing?
CitSB: I’m not sure the fans could handle it.
NE: They couldn’t. They don’t want it.
CitSB: So you felt like your cheating was fair?
NE: It was very fair. I cheated 100% according to the rules.
CitSB: What will you do if the dq stands? Will you stop cheating?
NE: (rolls eyes) Oh, sure.
CitSB: Good luck.
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June 25, 2019 § 5 Comments
Perhaps the biggest news in all of professional sports broke a couple of weeks ago when it was revealed that several riders accused team manager Patrick Van Gansen of inappropriate behavior. CitSB sat down with “Boxers” Van Gansen to get his side of the story.
CitSB: So it’s all out there. Sexual harassment. Fat shaming. Asking women riders to clean and cook. What do you say?
“Boxers” Van Gansen: This is all so what, no? But when they say I walk around the house in my underwear, I draw the line. I will make the strong defense.
CitSB: You’re denying that you walk around in a house full of young women in your tighty whities?
BVG: First of all, I do not wear the jockeys but the boxers. Second of all we had two rules in the house. 1) I never walk around in my underwear. 2) Unless the girls ask me to.
CitSB: And did they?
BVG: All the time.
CitSB: You’ve also been accused of fat shaming.
BVG: What is this?
CitSB: Humiliating a person because of their weight.
BVG: You are kidding, no?
BVG: I never do such a thing, only to the fat ones. And they are usually the ones asking me to walk around in underwear, by the way.
CitSB: Your accusers have also said that they weren’t paid.
BVG: This is true.
CitSB: Why is that?
BVG: As you know, they refused to cook and do the house clean.
CitSB: How has this controversy affected you?
BVG: As I have said in the interview with the CyclingNews, and I will quote, “Every day I receive messages from all over the world, telling me what a fat bag, dirty butt, bastard and so much more I am not.”
CitSB: Wow. A dirty butt bastard. People actually called you that?
BVG: Yes, it is true, they say such things but I am not dirty butt or bastard or fat bag.
CitSB: You say that your accusers were problem riders?
BVG: Yes, of course. They don’t like to ride in a little Belgian sprinkle. ‘It is too wet,’ they say. But I say ‘Get your fat ass out on cobbles and pedal, bitches.’ And for this they become angry and call me dirty butt bastard?
CitSB: Well, it is kind of strong language.
BVG: This you call strong language? Pfffft. It is little love whisper, my friend.
CitSB: How has your title sponsor, Health Mate, reacted?
BVG: They understand me completely, perfectly. They stand by me like big horse.
CitSB: Any concern that they may pull their sponsorship?
BVG: No, this good publicity for them. Excellent press coverage. Now whole world knows Health Mate is company that encourage women not to be fat.
CitSB: What about the formal complaints lodged with the UCI?
BVG: It is nothing. Trust me.
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February 6, 2019 § 2 Comments
After the bongshell announcement that former Tour de France ace and gadfly about town Floyd Landis had formed his own cycling team in cahoots with “Max Kash Aggro” beer peddler Roger G. Worthington, Cycling in the South Bay sat down with these two paragons of cycling wisdom and marketing wizardry to plumb the depths of their new plans to send cycling’s Ancien Regime up in smoke.
CitSB: You first, Floyd. What’s a nice boy like you doing in a shit-show like this?
Landis: It’s time to give back with more than just drugs. After getting that $750k from the Lance lawsuit, I wanted to help revitalize this sport that I love, or at least provide it with an alternative to opiates and manmade painkillers.
MKA: Hey, shut up, Floyd. It’s my turn to talk. Look, Wanky, your blog sucks, okay?
CitSB: We’ll get to you in a moment, little fellow. Floyd, you and Worthington have been friends a long time. How has that worked?
Landis: We go way back. Rog was one of the first people who believed in my innocence.
CitSB: One born every minute, right?
Landis: Pretty much.
MKA: Remember that time after you got banned that I had you announce at the Dana Point GP and you got hammered and sang all those Johnny Cash songs from the booth?
Landis: That was a gas, Rog. Good times! You are the best!
CitSB: Floyd, you’re on record as saying with regard to young people racing that “I would never encourage kids to get into it. It’s a catastrophe. It’s awful.” Has that changed?
Landis: Oh, absolutely. I totally encourage kids to get into bike racing now. It’s amazing. It’s fantastic.
CitSB: What’s changed?
Landis: The unicorns. They are everywhere now, with rainbow farts that smell like licorice and cetewale.
Landis: Middle English for “zedoary.”
Landis: Never mind.
CitSB: Okay. So back in 2017 when asked about the potential for change in cycling you said, “No, there’s no hope. There isn’t any. That’s just a fact. We can sit here and be pie in the sky, but they’re not changing.” And you described the U.S. governing body as “These are the same people, the same officials, the same USA Cycling. It’s all still just infested with disgusting people.” But things are different now?
Landis: Oh, absolutely.
Landis: Unicorns are in charge now and they are all eating Floyd’s Pot Shop cannabis products. Look! There goes a unicorn now!
CitSB: Where? Where?
Landis: Oh, dang it. You just missed it.
CitSB: Crap. Anyway, a couple of years ago you said, “In any case, the sport will never be clean and the guys who take the products will always be one step ahead.” Thoughts?
Landis: When I said “always” I didn’t add “and forever.” What I meant was “always” like “I will always love you, honey.” You know, one of those things no one believes. Come on. I was KIDDING. What I should have said is that the sport will never be clean until I and MKA get our own pro team and the riders are drinking Worthy Beer, the finest craft beverage currently produced in America.
MKA: It’s better than that!
Landis: You are the best, Rog. You rock, bro!
CitSB: A quick check of Beer Advocate has Worthy Brewing at 3.66 out of five. Just sayin’.
MKA: Those worthless sacks of shit at Beer Advocate wouldn’t know good beer if you poured it up their butts with a siphon.
MKA: It’s all a joke. Those beer rating things are scams. He who pays the most, wins! And I play to win. Our marketing budget for 2019 has quadrupled, with glossy back cover buys for 12 issues. That will increase our taste rating by a full point, you’ll see.
CitSB: MKA, in addition to your extensive background as a leaky prostate masters racer, what are you bringing to the effort?
MKA: I’m not a megalomaniac. I have, however, performed lung surgery, founded a Nobel Prize-winning institute that has cured mesothelioma and bunions, built a 50,000 square foot, zero-carbon footprint home in Bend, taught Chris Botti how to play trumpet, developed the best tasting beer hop on earth, won several football championships for Clear Lake High back in Houston, written a New York Times bestseller about hair regrowth in older men through pilates, recovered over $4,000 billion for deserving asbestos victims without ever setting foot in a courtroom, devised a plan to stabilize and re-freeze the Thwaites Glacier, mastered the comb-and-tissue paper, and personally delivered Christmas presents in a magical sleigh to over a billion people in Africa.
CitSB: So you’re thinking the bike racing venture should be pretty easy?
MKA: Who’s the winningest masters cycling team of all time? Labor Power, brought to you by MKA. Who’s the greatest brewer of all time? Worthy Brewing, brought to you by MKA. And who’s gonna win the Tour next year? Floyd’s Pot Shop, brought to you by MKA. I’m like Ceasar. I come, I see, I conquer. Got it?
CitSB: Yes, sir.
January 12, 2019 § 6 Comments
Local rider and professional cyclist Kristabel Doebel-Hickock, voted 2018’s Rider With The Hardest Name To Spell, stood on the podium at the end of Stage Two in the Women’s Tour Down Under yesterday.
Although she refused to credit her victory to her three or four rides with shadow coach Wanky, the editorial board here at Cycling in the South Bay was determined to take credit for her success whether it was due or not.
We called Kristabel in Australia, waking her up from a deep slumber a few hours before she had to get up and start preparing for the crucial Stage Three. “Who is this?” she asked.
“It’s me, your shadow coach.”
“How did you get my number? And why are you calling me in the middle of the night?”
“I wanted to interview you about how I trained you into the racer you are today.”
The line went dead, but I was not deterred, so I began calling my sources in the South Bay, riders who had played a pivotal role in developing Tink into one of the most feared riders in the pro peloton. My first call was to Chief, the man who had discovered Tink one day as she pedaled along the bike path.
“Yo, Chief, Wanky here. Did you see the story about Tink?”
“I did, indeed.”
“Could you say a few words about how you discovered her?”
“Sure. I’ll never forget it. She passed me on the bike path one day and I immediately recognized world class talent, so I rode up to her to give her some advice.”
“What was the advice?”
“I was going to tell her she was talented and should join a development club like Team Lizard Collectors.”
“Then what happened?”
“Nothing. I was breathing so hard when I caught up I couldn’t talk. She saw a greasy old man sweating last night’s hangover profusely out of every pore, and sprinted away.”
“Got it.” Next I phoned up the rider who had taught her more than anyone, Team Lizard Collector’s legendary Dear Leader, G3. “Yo, G3. Tink killed it at the Tour Down Under yesterday. Any quotes about how you taught her everything she knows?”
“Of course, of course. First I put her on a rigid schedule. Mondays off. Tuesdays LT efforts for 2 hours. Wednesdays big ring intervals up Via del Monte. Thursdays NPR with sprints. Fridays easy spin. Saturdays Donut Ride. Sundays 2 x 2 pacelines to the Rock at 75% of threshold.”
“And then what happened?”
“I dunno. She did the Monday day off that I advised and then got a coach. I only rode with her a couple of times after that.”
“And is that when you shared your wisdom with her?”
“Sort of. But she kept dropping me so I couldn’t really talk much.”
“Check. Thanks, bro.” Next I called up Psycho Mike. “Yo, Mike. Wanky here. Didja see the news about Tink?”
“Any choice quotes about how you helped her become the great rider she is today?”
“After the restraining order I couldn’t really help her that much.”
“Oh, right. Thanks.” Finally I rang up G$. “Yo, Money. You see the news about Tink?”
“Can you give me a coupla quotes about how you trained her to be one of the world’s best?”
“Wanky,” he said. “Genes.”
December 24, 2018 § 1 Comment
The UCI published its list of reforms designed to make racing more exciting for spectators, more profitable for sponsors and investors, develop new events and markets, maintain success of the historic races and organizers, and provide financial security for racers. CitSB sat down with UCI president David Lappartient to discuss these breakthrough developments.
CitSB: Let’s start with your reforms to make racing more exciting for spectators.
Lappartient: As you know, racing has become a dull, predictable, stupefying exercise where doped up automatons are told what to do over a radio.
Lappartient: As a result, riders take no initiative, have no need to think or ride tactically, and worst of all, spectators hate it. Imagine, the sport that once boasted Bernard Hinault now has as its frontispiece … Christopher Froome!
CitSB: It is dreadful.
Lappartient: So we have taken the major step of creating a new logo for Pro Tour teams, a little badger designed by the famous designer Sanrio who does Hello Kitty and such. Each rider must wear the Hello Badger icon on its left rear butt panel. Can you imagine the excitement?
CitSB: I’m trying. What about a business model that allows sponsors and investors to stay in the sport for the long term?
Lappartient: This has been the biggest problem and we have worked the hardest to resolve it. As it now stands, ASO controls everything.
CitSB: Many say that as a Frenchman you are simply their puppet.
Lappartient: Those are vile members of the Gilets Jaune.
CitSB: So what is the reform?
Lappartient: Beginning in 2019, no team owners will be required to kiss the signet ring of Jean-Etienne Amaury. Henceforth, we have abolished all bowing, speaking with averted eyes, and ritual suicide for those who have displeased Jean-Etienne.
CitSB: Um, okay. What about development of the sport?
Lappartient: Cycling will die if it does not have youth who are excited by their heroes, who do not dream of one day becoming the next Chris Froome.
CitSB: Excuse me?
Lappartient: Cycling has grave difficulties because the network of smaller development races at the local level has disappeared throughout Europe, to say nothing of the United States and other traditionally weak nations.
CitSB: And the plan?
Lappartient: We have a new cycling cartoon called Comme les Garcons, “Just like the boys.” It features our Sanrio character, Hello Badger, as he plays a cycling video game and fights an evil animal called Kong Donkey. He will be dressed like a cute Italian-French plumber.
CitSB: This is going to revitalize local racing?
Lappartient: Our marketing department is certain.
CitSB: Are you concerned about any trademark/copyright issues there?
Lappartient: What do you mean?
CitSB: Oh, nothing. What about rider security?
Lappartient: This is the simplest of all. The riders deserve more money. It is that simple. Pay them and they will stay. So we have tripled their salaries, effective January 1, 2019.
CitSB: Wait a minute. How much do they make now?
Lappartient: The current average annual salary is $5.89. Why?
CitSB: Never mind.
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