November 28, 2015 § 25 Comments
Claudio Chiapucci, the retired doper and Francesco Conconi protege, recently raged against the pro peloton, claiming that only Peter Sagan has character, and that the rest of the riders are “dull machines.” One of the peloton’s dull machines, Phil Gaimon, showed his dullness by penning a riposte that displayed humor, humility, and a sharp fucking pen–but I guess having a brain doesn’t cut it for Claudio, who claims that the lack of exciting, dynamic, aggressive, attacking riders (i.e., Claudio) is a big reason why the public is no longer enamored with the sport.
This raises an important point, however: The public isn’t enamored with Pro Tour cycling because it is beyond boring to watch. It’s the only event where hours pass and nothing ever happens, at least nothing that anyone would care about who wasn’t in the race. The phrase “He’s taking a dig now” says it all. A dig. He’s taking one. Kind of like what that woman behind me in her SUV was taking out of her nostril when I checked my rear-view mirror.
And then of course there is the “thrilling” sprint finish. Well, it is thrilling … but only if you’re in it. How many times has this happened with your S/O as she’s staring bleary-eyed at the television at 6:30 AM?
“Okay, here comes the sprint!”
“There! All those guys bunched up! See? There’s the red kite! Patrick Brady’s nowhere near! Now they’re stringing it out! The lead-out trains are forming!!”
“The lead-out trains! There’s Team Pooky hitting the front!”
“Team Pooky in the orange-black-red-green-purple-hexagon kits with the brown stripe down the back and the lightning bolts! Their guy McDingleberry has the green jersey and he’s fighting for sprint points with Van der Anus, who is seven points down in the sprint classification!”
“Which one is that? They’re all clumped up. It looks like a big mess.”
“That’s because they’re sprinting! Oh my dog, look! Look! Here comes McDingleberry up the left-hand side!”
“Which one is he? Everyone’s on the left side. And why is everyone falling down?”
“Oh shit! Van der Anus has crashed and taken out half the peloton!”
“What is going on?”
“Seamus Uff wins it! Holy cow! Not Uff! Here, honey, let me replay that for you. Wow, that was the most exciting sprint ever. Oh, man.”
“Is it over?”
“Yes. I mean, no. There are still eighteen more stages.”
“Wake me up in August, okay?” S/O says as she staggers back to bed.
Maybe Claudio is right. Maybe what cycling really does need is more guys like him, guys with multiple doping positives, guys with no tactical brains, and guys who only made the big time under the tutelage of the godfather of EPO doping. Maybe dullards like Mark Cavendish, Fabian Cancellara, and Tom Boonen have killed the sport with their thrilling and tactical racing. Maybe we just need to get Tommy D. one more season back in the pro ranks.
But I don’t think so.
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September 11, 2015 § 16 Comments
In a surprise move three days before the end of the 2015 Vuelta a Espana, organizers of the three-week grand tour announced major changes to the historic event. According to Sancho Panza de Huevos Grandes, spokesman for the Vuelta, “In 2016 we’re shortening the race to one day.”
At a hastily called press conference journalists sought explanations for the radical change. “Well,” said de Huevos Grandes, “it’s the most boring sporting event on earth. Curling looks lively in comparison. It’s like having a three-week root canal with no anesthetic, and frankly we just couldn’t stand it anymore.”
In the past the Vuelta has experimented with moving its calendar date, but de Huevos Grandes emphatically denied any further attempts to reschedule the grueling race. “You can put lipstick on a pig, but when you fuck it, you’re still fucking a pig. And that’s illegal in every U.S. state except Arkansas and Texas.”
When asked if the decision was being made for financial reasons, de Huevos Grandes groaned. “Of course it’s for financial reasons. You think we’d shorten it if we were making money? Fact is that bike racing is super boring, and stage racing is a super boring subset of an already boring sport, and the Vuelta is the most boring of the super boring grand tours. It’s like having to watch a 65-plus masters racer trying to set an hour record for three fuggin’ weeks. After five minutes you want to hang your brain on a nail.”
De Huevos Grandes explained that the new format for the Vuelta would be much simpler. “A 60-minute crit,” he said. “Throw up some porta potties, throw out some cash primes, start at noon and be home in time for dinner.”
Billy Bunny, a reporter and noted notary public from Velosnooze, asked de Huevos Grandes about attendance, television rights, and whether or not he thought that the Pro Tour would turn out in force for such an event.
“Who cares?” was de Huevos Grandes’s reply.
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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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