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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May 27, 2015 § 10 Comments
After the gripping queen stage of this year’s Giro d’Italia in which leader Alberto Contador extended his lead over a fragmented and broken peloton, team boss Oleg Tinkov vented his fury at the way the race played out. Oleg sat down with with CitSB on a pile of worthless Russian roubles to discuss.
Cycling in the South Bay: So you’re pretty upset about today’s stage?
Oleg Tinkov: Upset? I furious.
CitSB: Why is that?
OT: No respecting was shown on Alberto, they attack him when he stop for wheel change. This was mean, very much mean and impolite on Alberto, our great leader.
CitSB: But he added to his race lead, right? Isn’t he now four minutes up on second place?
OT: Winning of thing has not meaning. Katusha bragging about putting Alberto in pain, about making him on suffer. Where is respect on great leader?
CitSB: So you’re saying that riders shouldn’t attack the leader when he has a mechanical?
OT: They should not attack him ever. He is leader, great leader. What are they trying prove on him? I tell everyone before race that Alberto was winner.
CitSB: But what if some of the other owners were telling their team leader that he was going to be the winner? Wouldn’t they have to race to find out?
OT: They say this about Russian election but is false. Russian election not need voter to decide who is great leader. Russian election always 100% voting for great leader.
CitSB: And you’ve also gone on record saying that there should be no second place finisher on the podium?
OT: No second, no third, no nothing. Only great leader.
CitSB: What about the other 189 riders?
OT: They already vote Alberto is great leader, this they all tell me in private. Now we give them each big piece black bread and shovel to build strong economy.
CitSB: I see. So what’s on the calendar for the Great Leader for the rest of the year?
OT: First we get name, all name of disrespecter and we give name to police. If innocent, get big piece black bread and shovel, if guilty each disrespecter help build strong economy in Siberia paradise vacation rental with excellent rate in January.
CitSB: Well okay, but what about the Great Leader’s race schedule? Is he going to be ready for the Tour in July?
OT: This state secret.
CitSB: Oh come on. It’s no state secret whether or not Alberto’s riding the Tour. He’s Spanish anyway.
OT: Please give name.
CitSB: My name?
OT: Yes please and living place.
CitSB: Uh, Prez. Dave Prez.
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May 26, 2015 § 16 Comments
Team Sky leader Richie Porte retired from the Giro d’Italia today and offered journalists a personal tour around the customized motorhome that will drive him from Italy to his home in Tasmania, where he plans to take a well deserved rest from two grueling weeks of racing. As he piloted the posh Mercedes-Benz Panzer IV Kustom around the docks of Naples, Cycling in the South Bay took a moment to talk with him.
Cycling in the South Bay: So, what are you doing here in Naples?
Richie Porte: Well, I retired from the Giro today and am headed back home to Tasmania.
CitSB: But why Naples?
RP: Oh, I’m just looking for the bridge. It’s got be around here somewhere.
CitSB: The bridge?
RP: To Tasmania, mate. This thing don’t float, y’know.
CitSB: Right. So, what happened in the Giro?
RP: Well, this is a pretty cool motorhome, eh?
CitSB: It’s incredible. Really first class.
RP: That’s what you gotta have when you’re the team leader, mate.
CitSB: But there’s still another week left in the Giro, and the queen stage on the Motirolo is tomorrow, and, well, with the 27 minutes you lost yesterday, plus the four minutes in the TT and the two minutes with the wheel change and the other two minutes with the crash, you’re not really the team leader anymore, are you? Especially since you’ve, you know, quit.
RP: Oh, right, that. Hey check out this espresso machine. Soy out of this spigot, steamed milk here, whipped cream over here. Pretty cool, eh?
CitSB: Yes, it’s awesome. So what happened? Before the race when you were offering tours of the motorhome, there was criticism that you should be staying in a hotel like your teammates.
RP: Right? Hey, when you take a leak in the john be sure to gel your hands with that antibiotic cream. I don’t want to get sick, eh?
CitSB: Do you think being isolated from the team hurt you?
RP: I don’t think so, not at all. It was the team’s idea anyway, not mine.
CitSB: Really? Why did they want you to sleep out in the parking lot instead of in the hotel?
RP: Oh, it’s a little thing I’ve had since I was a wee ‘un.
CitSB: What’s that?
RP: It’s nothing really, just a bit of a bed wetting habit I’ve had for a while, since I was three, actually.
CitSB: And how did that affect the team’s decision to put you in a bus in the parking lot?
RP: Well, we sleep in bunks in the hotel, and since I’m the team leader I always get the top bunk. So y’know, the blighter down below gets rained on all night.
CitSB: That sounds pretty grim.
RP: Oh, it was. It was even worse when I rode for Saxo Bank and had to bunk with Sven Gunderhausen. He was a bedwetter too, and Bjarne was always trying to cure us of it, so one night he’d put me in the top bunk and the next night he’d put Sven in the top bunk, so one of us or the other was always getting a bit of a golden shower.
RP: Yeah, finally we took to sleeping in full rain gear, but on Sky it was just me, so the team voted for the motorhome. Hey, check this out.
CitSB: What is it?
RP: It’s an automatic wet wipes dispenser with a little reservoir here for baby powder you can put on your bum after you get wet.
CitSB: These motorhomes have everything.
RP: Yeah, they really do.
CitSB: Except for a pink jersey. This one doesn’t seem to have one of those.
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