Everyone rides the Tour

July 16, 2017 § 11 Comments

It’s Turdy France time and everyone rides the Tour, as each group ride, for three short weeks, assumes the position of fake Turdy France stage. The Donut Ride was no exception, and it had been crowned the Fake Queen Donut Stage of the Fake South Bay Turdy France.

As with any fake Tour contender, I thought it meet to plan my strategy by picking the brain of ex-pro Phil Gaimon who, though he never actually rode the Tour, has read a lot of cool magazine articles about it. I’d heard that he was holding a book signing for his book “Ask a Pro,” and was also doing a sign-up for his yuge October Phil’s Fondue ride, so I sneaked into the book signing without an invitation.

“Hey, Phil!” I said as he was hunched over his stack of books, dutifully ginning out signatures like a pre-cryonics Ted Williams, while his manager hungrily eyed the sales receipts and swiped credit cards for the fondue registration.

“Yes?” he said.

“It’s me, Wanky! Yer ol’ pal. I had some questions I wanted to ask a pro.”

He pretended not to know who I was, which is what slightly famous people often do to cover up the fact that I’m actually more famous than they are. “Would you like to buy a book?” he asked.

“Nah,” I said.

“A grand fondue registration, perhaps?”

“Nope.”

He sighed. “How can I help you?”

“So you’re a pro, right? And you wrote a book called ‘Ask A Pro,’ right? Well, then. The Fake Queen Donut Stage of the South Bay Turdy France is tomorrow and I need some pro tips on how to ride it. So I thought I would ask a pro.”

Suddenly he got very busy but another guy who wasn’t a pro, and who didn’t really look like a pro, but who seemed more interested in me than the pro, chimed in. “Winning a fake queen stage? That’s easy,” he said.

“Really?”

“Sure. Don’t lose too much time. That’s the secret to stage racing.”

“That’s it?”

“Yes, and one other thing.”

“What’s that?”

“You know the guy in your group who always wins? Every group has one.”

“Sure. That’s Alx Bns.”

“Well, he’ll win the fake queen stage, too.”

I thought about this depressing little gem for a few seconds and how I’d been ripped off paying for it until I realized I hadn’t actually paid for it. I tapped on Phil’s shoulder. “Say, can you write up a quick training and diet plan for me while I’m here? I brought a few terabytes of power data I’d like you to analyze if you don’t mind. Since you’re already here, I mean.”

A few moments later Phil introduced me to a gentleman named Bouncer, kind of a weird name, who insisted on talking to me outside the event venue, onto the sidewalk, with my neck in a headlock. He didn’t know anything about winning queen stages, so I went home.

The next morning I got up to prepare for the queen stage. Preparation is key and I now had my mantra, courtesy of a guy standing next to pro Phil Gaimon. My mantra? DON’T LOSE TOO MUCH TIME.

I carefully went over each item of my Wanky Donut Gear. It is a high-tech bunch of stuff, loaded with lots of carbon that is 100% carbon plus everything is cutting edge and carbon. Speaking of cutting edge and carbon, Ms. WM and I got into it before I left because she was using my $500 carbon steel Japanese paring knife to scrape rust off the tea kettle.

“What the fuck are you doing?” I screamed.

“Itsa nasty gunkin’ so I’m cleanin it.”

“That’s my five hundred dollar paring knife!”

“Itsa cuttin good but not so good onna scrapin.”

“Of course it isn’t! It’s not a fucking scraper! You just ruined the blade!”

She was unimpressed and continued to scrape. In a sad panic I assembled the legendary Wanky Donut Gear. Below is an awesome fake Tour tech gallery that you can drool over. It is full carbon, all of it.

I rolled out of Chez Wanky, blood pressure still a tad high due to the ruined paring knife, and got to the sign-in area for the queen stage, which is the remodeled Riviera Village Sckubrats. A long time ago they named this part of Redondo Beach the “Riviera” because of the famed beaches and culture and high class of the French Riviera. I’m pretty sure they never actually saw the real Riviera before they bestowed the name, or they would never have called this run-down rat’s nest of beach huts and fake surfers the “Riviera,” but that’s another story.

This story is about not losing too much time and so one by one I quizzed my competitors about how they intended to strategify the stage. Each rider had a unique approach that centered on “don’t get dropped,” so I adopted that as my strategy, too. Only one rider, Englishman Alx Bns, had a different strategy, which was “drop everyone.” This bothered me a bit, but not nearly as much at the start as it did at the bottom of the Switchbacks, where he executed the strategy with the efficiency of Brexit. Okay, it was way more efficient than that, but equally ruthless.

Standouts included wet-behind-the-ears but stupid-strong-behind-the-legs Matthieu Brousseau, who despite his French-sounding name kicked almost everyone’s ass except Dan Cobley’s. My strategy of not losing too much time by not getting dropped (or gapped out as I prefer to call it), didn’t succeed too well. Towards the end I was passed by a fellow in a t-shirt and flip-flops who wasn’t even breathing hard. Thank dog it was my rest week.

But the really sad news is this. You remember Phil telling me about how the guy who was going to win was the guy who always wins? Dang it, that’s the guy who won.

PRE-RACE INTERVIEWS AT THE SIGN-IN FOR THE FAKE QUEEN DONUT STAGE

POST-RACE INTERVIEWS ATOP MT. SWITCHBACKS

 

END

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Review: 1982 Tour de France documentary

July 13, 2017 § 41 Comments

I just finished watching a documentary on the 1982 Tour de France called “Tour de Pharmacy.” It’s an HBO production that explores the issue of doping in one of the most controversial tours ever, the year in which an American, Slim Robinson, first wore the yellow jersey in Paris.

I dislike documentaries in general and cycling documentaries in particular, but this one did a pretty good job of pointing out the prevalence of doping in the sport before it was commonly known or acknowledged in the U.S. by general audiences. In addition to some fairly decent commentary by Lance Armstrong, there are a few interesting interviews with the head of USADA, who lists the banned substances commonly in use at the time. It’s a pretty amazing pharmacopia, and highlights how entrenched doping was even in 1982.

Tour de Pharmacy looks at the world’s biggest sporting event through the experiences of five riders, including one French rider who actually died during the race from a drug overdose. The transformation of an Austrian rider in a single year from pack fill to buffed-out “all rounder” who climbed faster than most sprinters closed the final 200m, was particularly impressive … and scary. Less interesting were some of the side stories, including a love interest, as well as the story of a rider who ultimately served jail time over a collision during the race that killed a sports commentator. These stories have merit in that they show how multifaceted the Tour is, but they detract from the focus of the narrative, which is about the normalization of drug use in the pro peloton more than fifteen years before Lance’s first Tour win in 1999.

As a cyclist you won’t help but notice the changes in equipment that have taken place in the last thirty-five years. Brake cables that come out of the hoods, downtube shifters, toe clips, and of course steel frames and no helmets dominate the visual effects. As the documentary shows, riders were more colorful then, used saltier language, and took things just a bit less seriously.

Tour de Pharmacy does an acceptable job of investigating how drugs operate beneath the surface to turn athletes into freaks, all for the vicarious pleasure of spectators and for profit. Another interesting aspect is the spotlight that the filmmakers shone on corruption at the UCI, and how collusion, fraud, and conspiracy at the top were what enabled such large-scale doping. Back in 1982, the UCI’s credibility was nil.

Sad to say, not much has changed.

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It takes work, dude

July 6, 2017 § 25 Comments

That’s what I want to tell Lance Armstrong after listening to his podcast covering Stage 3 of the Turdy France.

Several people told me I should “check it out” because “it was really insightful” and they admonished me “to listen with an open mind.”

Obviously, these were people who didn’t know me at all. The day I listen to anything with an open mind it will be due to a gunshot wound to the head.

That said, I did tune in and I was impressed. Impressed with what an impossibly lazy person Lance Armstrong is. Here is a guy with nothing to do. No job. No cancer to cure. No bike to race. Not even any poopy diapers left to change. At least he could put some effort into the podcast because, you know, if there’s one guy who knows how to race and win a Turdy France, IT’S LANCE FUGGIN’ ARMSTRONG.

Hello, ex-seven times consecutive Tour champion!! This is your turf!!

Here’s what I expected: A beginning-to-end breakdown of how the race unfolded, why it was significant (or not), in-depth looks at the protagonists and wankers alike, detailed analysis of the course, and detailed analysis of what was going on and why.

Why did I expect that? Because Lance knows this stuff. He is a bike racing computer. I don’t care about his drugscapades in that regard, he still had to know how to race and he had to understand what to do when. He was a savvy, smart guy on the bike.

But no. What Lance delivered was fluff, puff, and one particularly awful piece of near-slanderous misinformation. The fluff was about “why the yellow jersey was yellow.” Yawning, stream-of-unconsciousness observations about Tour history and stuff. Yo, Lance! We already have one babbling idiot in the commentator’s seat, and his name is Phil Liggett. You will never be as stupid or boring as Phil, so please quit trying.

The near-slander was egregious. At one point he talked about “trading favors” and insinuated that, for example, Team Sky gets on the horn and advises another team that it will “let” them win the stage, with the implication being that a favor will be returned later down the road … you know, “politics,” wink wink nudge nudge, otherwise known as collusion and sporting fraud.

Somewhat astounded, the other guy in the trailer pressed Lance for the physical mechanics of how that works. Phone call? Face to face? And Lance backpedaled like crazy. Doesn’t really know anymore, isn’t in the mix these days, can’t say, etc. etc. And then he finished off this rather explosive allegation by saying that it probably doesn’t really even happen much anymore.

Jeez, what a load of crap. Of course racers remember the outcome of one day, or who did what in a prior break, and of course they sometimes use it to trade horses during a subsequent race if and when advantageous. But the idea that Brailsford is on the phone with Madiot saying, “Okay, today you get the win, but in the mountains you owe me the GC,” is absurd. Even Lance recognized how dumb his premise sounded because he maladroitly transitioned into the history of the yellow jersey, thank you Wikipedia.

Armstrong could be a fantastic commentator. He knows a bunch. He’s done a bunch. He sees things we don’t. He has a very good commentating voice. He understands dynamics that are not immediately apparent.

But he doesn’t have a crystal ball, and in order to commentate he would have to do what first-class commentators like Craig Hummer do: Watch, re-watch, re-watch, and re-watch again. He would have to study, analyze, compare, interview, and bust his ass — all in a very short time frame because he’s doing same-day coverage. Instead of doing those things, which require hard work, dedication to a craft, and tons of practice, he picked up a mic and blabbered for forty minutes because hey, he’s Lance. Compare his shoddy, make-it-up-as-he-goes along podcast with Sean Kelly or Perico, and you’ll understand my rating for this horribly lazy fellow:

Ten thumbs down.

END

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Wiggins admits doping to negate unfair advantage

September 26, 2016 § 28 Comments

In a revealing tell-all interview surrounding Bradley “Bone-Idle” Wiggins’s use of banned steroids prior to his 2012 Turdy France victory, the cycling star sat down with Cycling in the South Bay to explain his use of triamcinalone leading up to the most important victory of his career.

CitSB: So it looks like the Fancy Bear hackers have nailed you to the floor on this one.

BIW: Not a bit of it.

CitSB: Here you are shooting up a performance enhancing, banned steroid before the only Turdy France you’ve ever won.

BIW: It wasn’t enhancing. It was dehancing.

CitSB: Dehancing?

BIW: Yes.

CitSB: Can you explain?

BIW: I’d love to. Leading up the 2012 Tour I’d won everything. Tour of Romandie, Dauphine, that kiddy race in Manchester where I got the tricycle and 14 Euro gift certificate. I was crushing it.

CitSB: Right.

BIW: So I sits down with Dave and the boys and we says “This is gonna be bone idling wankerdom if I hit the Tour with these legs, I’ll put an hour on the field in the first five minutes.” That’s how good I was going with marginal volcano doping gains. I was better than the rest of those bone idlers by so much. You can ask me mum.

CitSB: Your mum?

BIW: Yeah, that’s right. She’ll tell you how good I was going and all pan y agua, mate. So Brailsford and the boys were like, “Wiggo, you gotta slow down and give the other boys a chance, especially those whiny French bastards.” So we did what we had to do. I’m not ashamed of it.

CitSB: What was that?

BIW: We got on a dehancing program. Took meself a whole slew of steroids to slow meself down.

CitSB: Uh, don’t you mean “speed yourself up”?

BIW: No, mate, you don’t get it, do you? Look here. I’m reading off the label for triamcinalone, just happen to have a couple of vials here: “Not for ophthalmic use. Systemic absorption may produce reversible hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis suppression, manifestations of Cushing’s syndrome, hyperglycemia, and glucosuria; when a large dose of a potent topical steroid is applied to a large surface area or under an occlusive dressing, evaluate periodically for evidence of HPA axis suppression and (Pediaderm TA/Spray) for impairment of thermal homeostasis. Application of more potent steroids, use over large surface areas, prolonged use, and the addition of occlusive dressings may augment systemic absorption. Signs and symptoms of steroid withdrawal may occur (infrequent) requiring supplemental systemic corticosteroids. Pediatric patients may be more susceptible to systemic toxicity. Chronic corticosteroid therapy may interfere w/ the growth and development of children. D/C and institute appropriate therapy if irritation develops. Use appropriate antifungal or antibacterial agent in the presence of dermatological infections; if favorable response does not occur promptly, d/c until infection is controlled. (Cre/Lot/Oint) Withdraw treatment, reduce frequency of application, or substitute to a less potent steroid if HPA axis suppression is noted. (Pediaderm TA/Spray) Withdraw treatment, reduce frequency of application, substitute to a less potent steroid, or use a sequential approach if HPA axis suppression or elevation of body temperature occurs. (Pediaderm TA) Sensitivity reaction may develop to a particular occlusive dressing material or adhesive; a substitute material may be necessary. (Spray) Flammable; avoid heat, flame, or smoking during application.”

And that’s not the half of it. Listen to this: “Causes burning, itching, irritation, dryness, folliculitis, hypertrichosis, acneiform eruptions, hypopigmentation, perioral dermatitis, allergic contact dermatitis, maceration of the skin, secondary infection, skin atrophy, striae, miliaria.”

Plus, it fucks you up if you’re nursing.

CitSB: That all may be true, but it greatly speeds recovery and enhances performance on the bike, and you took it when you would have needed it most.

BIW: C’mon mate, who are you kidding? Cushing’s syndrome? Glucosuria? It took at least 100 watts off me FTP. Plus, it messed with me lactation. The littl’uns went hungry for over a month.

CitSB: And that’s how you won the Tour?

BIW: You got me word on it, mate. Scout’s honor.

END

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Haters gonna love

July 11, 2016 § 20 Comments

In the past, if you googled “Chris Froome” and “panache” you would get articles about how “Froome has no panache.”

If you googled “Chris Froome” and “robotic” your computer would smoke, then break.

On the first mildly hilly stage of this year’s Turdy France, which included the Col d’Fuzzy, the Col Gate, and the Col d’Peine en la Sourde, Chris Froome, the eternal robot, the marginally gained volcano doper, the pre-planned, Excel spreadsheeted, laboratory refined, data driven starer-of-stems ripped a page from the actual sport of bike racing and won in glorious fashion, gloriously, with much glory.

He attacked on a crazy descent that hit speeds of up to 56 mph.

He descended on his top tube.

He pedaled like a bent cricket, or like PeeWee Herman –video courtesy of METAL  Andrew Danly And Never Middle Name Sadness.

He caught everyone with their pants not only down, but with their hands on their, uh, suspenders and their thumbs jammed up their, uh, noses.

Then he won the race, snatched a dozen seconds from his future podium mates, and pulled on the yellow jersey.

Not bad for a robot.

In fact, it was an incredible move. Froome had little to gain, and everything to lose. Seated in a position designed to maximize speed and minimize control while bombing a gonzo descent, had he flubbed a turn, had he rolled a tire (some riders rolled tubulars due to the scorching road temperatures), had he hit an oil spot, had he had a flat or a mechanical or a twig in his spokes or a kink in his pancreas, ANYTHING, he would have crashed out of the Tour.

And with that he would have become the biggest Tour Goat of all time. They would have to come up with a new Goat Jersey to commemorate the biggest smelly steaming lump of oatmeal ever to lose a bike race. No one would ever forget it, no matter how many wins he subsequently racked up.

To call it a big gamble doesn’t even begin to capture the gutsiness of the move. Perhaps tired of being a robot, he lashed out, took the risk of all risks, and pulled it off.

Keep in mind that this type of nads-out racing rarely even happens among racers who are behind the leader and who truly do have nothing to lose. It’s unthinkable for the guy who had the Tour won by simply following the competition and kicking butt on a couple of climbs and in a time trial or two.

Nice job, Chrissy. I sure wish your programmers would let you race your bike a little bit more often. Because when they unsnap the leash, you ride pretty damned good.

END

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Let’s put some spice in the oatmeal!

July 6, 2016 § 23 Comments

Le Turdy France has become a big, steaming pot of tasteless oatmeal. Average Joe thinks it’s boring and stupid. Hobby bicycle people think it’s boring and stupid. Profamateur Cat 4 underwear models think it’s boring and stupid. And now, in a new twist, even the riders think it’s boring and stupid.

This is like David Lee Roth admitting that he can’t sing. Everyone knows it’s true, but why’d ya have to come out and SAY it?

Various reasons have been put forth to explain the mind-numbing boredom that sets in after just a few minutes of watching terribly underfed chickens, bones poking through their underwear, slam into motorcycles that have no business on the course. Here are the biggies that have oatmealized Le Tour:

  1. Robots. No one enjoys watching robots.
  2. Chris Froome. If you’re going to dope up a robot, make him handsome, like Eddy or Lance or Fabian.
  3. Radios. If you don’t think radios remove all excitement and fun, look at the average 8-year-old from a rich helicopter-parent family that controls his every move.
  4. Gore. Pro underwear racing is dangerous beyond belief. There aren’t enough sick people who enjoy bloodshed, closed head injuries, and Hoogerland meat-shredding in the general population (NASCAR excepted) to get pleasure out of this choreographed slaughterhouse.
  5. Power data. Use a power meter for three weeks and tell me how much it has increased the joy and spontaneity in your cycling.
  6. Freak show. We know they’re volcano doping because they’re riding faster now than they did in the EPO Era. Yawwwwwn.
  7. Dentist chair syndrome. What is already miserable is worse because it’s so long. It takes three weeks to find out which doper climbs one mountain faster than his podium rivals by two minutes? Really?
  8. France. We can’t stand another castle viewed from a chopper. We just can’t.
  9. Yellow. Check your comic books, especially anything with the Two-Gun Kid. Yellow is the color for chickens and cowards. “Why, you yaller-bellied varmint, I’ma gonna fill you plumb full of lead.”
  10. Names. Most Euro names are too hard to pronounce. No red-blooded American will watch a sport with names that don’t sound like “Ruth” or “Aaron.” “Gretzky” gets a pass because he was, you know, not bad.

So after reviewing these terrible problems, I’ve taken the old admonition to heart that “You shouldn’t raise problems if you don’t have solutions.” Here they are:

  1. Humans. Make the Tour open to actual humans. Hairy legged, pot-bellied, flatulent couch potatoes welcome! It will be awesome to watch your Uncle Fred out on his bike for the first time since 1973 struggle up the ONLY STAGE IN THE TOUR, L’Alpe d’Huez.
  2. Give Chris Froome his own race. He’ll be the only participant and he will win every year. We’ll call it the Tour de Froome. That way he can eat a few thousand cheeseburgers, stop volcano doping, and look human again.
  3. Coach ride-behinds. Don’t ban radios, but make the schlumpy DS’s follow along on their bicycles instead of in a follow car. If they still have the lungs to shout instructions from 30 miles back while climbing L’Alpe, more power to them. If half of them keel over, no worries. Your average DS can be replaced with a 3rd-Grade dropout drug addict dope dealer.
  4. Moto licensing. Require anyone who wants to follow or mix with Le Tour on a motorcycle to pass a certification test that involves wrestling hungry tigers. Survivors will be required to pass a crash dummy test where they are slammed into the back of a truck going downhill at 50. Successful applicants can safely follow the peloton from 100 miles back.
  5. Strava. Require all riders who use power in the race to post up better numbers than Thorfinn-Sassquatch. Those who fail will have their power meters confiscated.
  6. Bike motors. Since we’re letting Uncle Fred race Le Tour, which now only has one stage, everyone who’s not a doper or professional underwear model gets a bike motor. Who wouldn’t enjoy watching Nairo Quintana getting dropped by a fellow whose shorts stop halfway up the San Andreas Fault buttcrack?
  7. Cut Le Tour. One stage. 35 miles. Winner takes all. In alternate years it will be held around Chris Lotts’s parking lot crit course in Compton.
  8. Expand the meaning of “France.” The world has lots of cool places to see. In non-Compton years, stick Le Tour in guaranteed bike-friendly places like Palos Verdes Estates, San Bernardino, or Houston.
  9. Black and red. Those are some winning colors. Black for “aggression,” red for “blood.”
  10. Americanize. Remember how in your Spanish class in junior high Mrs. Simon gave everyone a Spanish name (mine was “Francisco,” and I loved it). Give all the riders American names. Peter Sagan is Pete Smith. Roman Kreuziger is Robbie Johnson. Fabian Cancellara is John Davis. Nairo Quintan is Bill Jones. Chris Froome is Suzy Small. You get the idea.

And yes, you’re welcome.

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Turdy France notes

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:

  1. 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.”
  2. 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.
  3. 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?
  4. 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.
  5. Froome hasn’t fallen off his bicycle yet. Amaze-balls.
  6. 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 …
  7. 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?
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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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