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:
- Robots. No one enjoys watching robots.
- Chris Froome. If you’re going to dope up a robot, make him handsome, like Eddy or Lance or Fabian.
- 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.
- 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.
- Power data. Use a power meter for three weeks and tell me how much it has increased the joy and spontaneity in your cycling.
- Freak show. We know they’re volcano doping because they’re riding faster now than they did in the EPO Era. Yawwwwwn.
- 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?
- France. We can’t stand another castle viewed from a chopper. We just can’t.
- 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.”
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- Black and red. Those are some winning colors. Black for “aggression,” red for “blood.”
- 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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July 1, 2015 § 6 Comments
Hair product manufacturer Alpecin, co-sponsor of the Giant-Alpecin team, announced on Tuesday that it has dropped its controversial slogan, “Doping for your hair” ahead of the Tour de France and for the duration of the race in order to make sure the focus stays on the team’s athletic efforts rather than their attempts to avoid doping controls, reported AFP.
Cycling in the South Bay sat down with Edward R. Doerrenberg who in addition to having a name that no one can say or spell properly is also the managing the director for the team.
CitSB: So, that’s a really hard name to spell.
ED: Yes, it’s given me trouble all my life.
CitSB: I bet press conferences in Japan are hell.
CitSB: So the team has decided to drop the “Doping for your hair” slogan for the Tour? What’s up with that?
ED: It was pointed out that “doping” and “Tour de France” might have negative connotations for some people.
CitSB: You’re joking, right?
ED: It took us by surprise, frankly.
CitSB: What were the specific concerns?
ED: There was concern on the part of the organizers that by using the slogan “doping for your hair” it was possible that some people might think that the riders were actually doping.
CitSB: For their hair?
ED: For the race. Doping for the race.
CitSB: Come on.
ED: I’m serious. That’s what the organizers were afraid of.
CitSB: Any thoughts as to why they were so prickly on the issue?
ED: It’s hard to say. One highly placed person with the UCI whose name rhymes with “Bookson” said that doping issues had negatively affected sponsorship.
CitSB: Hair doping?
ED: Performance. Performance doping.
CitSB: But isn’t Lance Armstrong riding a section of the Tour this year?
ED: Well, yes. But he doesn’t have hardly any hair left. So, no hair doping there.
CitSB: I see. And wasn’t Chris Froome pretty vocal about the absence of volcano doping tests at Tenerife recently?
ED: He did seem to think it was an issue.
CitSB: Got it. Volcano doping, bad. Hair doping, bad. Lance riding the Tour, good. Do I have it right?
ED: I’m afraid so.
CitSB: What have you come up with for a replacement slogan?
ED: We’re trying out a couple of new ones in focus groups right now.
CitSB: Want to share any of them with our readers?
ED: Sure, what’s the harm? The first one is “Doping for your muscles and cardiovascular system to illegally enhance athletic performance.”
CitSB: I kind of like it. It’s a bit long, but also succinct. Any others?
ED: “Doping in undetectable quantities to avoid detection by scientifically administered doping control.”
CitSB: Oh, that’s good. Any others?
ED: “Dope ’til you croak.” We were going to use that if they had Ventoux and the Simpson Memorial on the route. And there’s also “Just Dope It.” That was for a potential spot we were planning with Nike.
CitSB: Nice! Well, good luck, Mr. Dorkenberg.
ED: It’s Doerrenberg, atctually.
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March 24, 2015 § 35 Comments
The cycling world collectively shook in fear when retired NFL tight end Kellen Winslow, Jr., 32, announced that he was going to begin competing as a professional cyclist. Cycling in the South Bay met up with Winslow after his Tuesday meeting at Mast-Anon.
CitSB: So how’s your training going? I understand that you’re up to a whole 50-60 miles per day?
KWJ: Whatever it takes. 50, 60, even 70 miles at a pop, don’t mean nothin’ to me.
CitSB: And it sounds like you’re already seeing some good results?
KWJ: Good results? I’m killin’ this shit. A first and two seconds in my first three Cat 5 races, and a sixth in my first Cat 4.
CitSB: That’s impressive.
KWJ: Damn straight.
CitSB: How long are you giving yourself to go from Cat 4 to the pro ranks?
KWJ: I plan on doing it real methodical-like, I ain’t in no hurry. You gotta take time to make time. So I’m giving it six months to make sure my body fully adapts.
CitSB: What kind of adaptations are required to go from being a 10-year NFL veteran to a pro bike racer?
KWJ: The biggest thing is changing your body. My playing weight in the NFL was 245, that’s big for a pro cyclist. So I’ve had to lean up, drop a lot of upper body weight. I’m down to 215, which is really small, you know? Once I get down to 200, 205, I will sign up for the Tour de France.
CitSB: Sign up?
KWJ: Yeah. That’s how I entered all my races so far, with the online sign up thing. Pre-registration saves you, like ten bucks. Why I’m gonna give ten bucks to the promoter? This is all part of being a professional in any sport, planning ahead. You plan the work and you work the plan.
CitSB: So you have a bit of a history with doping bans and the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs. Do you think that will be a problem for you in cycling?
KWJ: Me? Naw. That was a set-up. I don’t know anything about that. It could have been anything, something spiked in my food or something. I use a lot of supplements to get fast, everyone does. And sometimes the manufacturer puts things in your supplement and you test positive, see? And if that happens to me racing bikes, well, it’s not the end of the world. What’s four races?
KWJ: Yeah, what’s four races, especially since they have several races in a week, or some races you can like do two races in one day.
CitSB: I don’t follow you.
KWJ: Dude, I got some bogus positive test in the NFL and they suspended me for four games. That’s a big deal in the NFL when you’re getting paid $50k per game. So I get some bogus positive test racing my bike and get suspended for four races, that’s not the end of the world, like I said.
CitSB: Gotcha. The old “four race suspension.” Now what about this public masturbation thing?
KWJ: Aw, man, that is old stuff. Why are you bringing that shit up?
CitSB: Well, according to the police report …
KWJ: Fuck the police report. What do you think I am, a pervert?
CitSB: It said you were whacking off in a Target parking lot with two open containers of Vaseline on the console.
KWJ: That’s just bull. I’m a K-Y man, anyhow.
CitSB: Okay, well, is there anything else you’d like to add?
KWJ: Yeah. How do you fill up these backpack water jugs in the Tour de France?
CitSB: Your team director will probably handle that for you.
KWJ: Okay, cool.
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October 10, 2014 § 15 Comments
The professional peloton was roiled by a news conference held by Andy Schleck, who announced today that he was “retiring from quitting.”
“That’s it,” said Schleck, who was visibly distraught. “No more quitting for me. I’ve quit my last professional race. I never thought it would end like this, having to quit being a quitter, but that’s life. Sometimes you just have to quit doing what you love, which for me is, you know, quitting.”
Older brother Frank Schleck, who confuses orthographers by sometimes writing his name with an umlaut and sometimes not, stroked Andy’s head while the younger brother sat mournfully in Frank’s lap. “Even though Andy says he’s done with quitting, we’re holding out hope that maybe next year he’ll be able to stage a comeback and quit again.”
CitSB caught up with several current and former stars, all of whom reminisced about Andy’s uncanny ability to give up when the going got tough, and often when the going got merely uncomfortable, or, most spectacularly when the going hadn’t really even gone anywhere yet.
“I’ll never forget when he quit the 2014 Tour,” ruminated Alberto Contador fondly. “He really went out on a high note, quitting with me, and Froome, and a bunch of other riders. The tenacity he showed in giving up … I’ll never forget it.”
Shleck’s first pro contract was with Velo Roubaix when he signed under legendary director Cyrille Guimard. Guimard recalls the moment when he realized that Andy had what it took. “It was a sunny day, rare for northern France in early winter, and Andy had just joined us for his first pro training camp. We were, oh, fifteen kilometers into the ride and he sat up and abandoned.
“‘What’s wrong?’ I asked from the team car, and without missing a beat he said, and I’ll never forget it, ‘My knee is sore and I have a cold and I’m wearing the wrong base layer.’ He pulled over and quit and dared anyone to make him continue. That’s when I knew he was in a class of his own.”
Cadel Evans, who won the 2011 Tour by ripping the yellow jersey from Schleck’s back in the final time trial, was even more effuse. “Andy wasn’t just a quitter. He could crumple, fold, and give up even when he had a race sewn up. I’ll never forget taking 2:31 out of him in Grenoble, it was like winning a World Cup final by thirty points. He didn’t simply throw in the towel, he had a way of rolling over and dying that was truly epic. His ability to fling himself into an abyss of hopelessness and defeat was incredible.”
At the end of the press conference in his living room, after Frank had dabbed away Andy’s tears, the younger Schleck put on a brave face and smiled wanly for his fan. “Don’t give up on me,” he said to Darcy McIntosh, who had traveled all the way from the end of the block to lend her support. “I can quit this on my own.”
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July 10, 2014 § 25 Comments
After Wednesday’s stunning reversal of fortune that saw last year’s Tour de France champion Chris Froome fall off his bicycle three separate times, the stem-gazing Man Of Something Not Quite As Hard As Steel announced that after falling and getting an “ouchie” he would not be starting Thursday’s stage. Cycling in the South Bay caught up with Chris and director David Brailsford aboard the team bus, now affectionately known as the “Froome Wagon.”
CitSB: So, what happened?
Froome: Aw, it was fuggin’ awful, mate, a bloody shit show. Rain, cobbles, traffic furniture, 190 idiots trying to squeeze onto a cow track, y’know?
CitSB: Cobbles got the best of you?
Froome: Well, it was the pre-cobbles.
Froome: Yar. I sort of hit some wanker’s wheel and fell off me bike.
CitSB: Did you break your wrist in your first pre-cobbles bike-falling-off incident, or the second?
Froome: The second. It’s not quite broken. But it’s very sore. Incredibly hurty sore. I couldn’t continue.
CitSB: What’s the current Dx?
Froome: Oh, it’s very painful and hurts. The riding and such and the rain and the other people trying to beat me and the stress made it very ouchy and hurty, eh? Tough day in the saddle for us hard men, that’s for sure.
CitSB: When did you know you wouldn’t be able to start Thursday’s stage?
Froome: Right away. I hit me hand and scratched it pretty bad like. The doctor put on three Band-Aids and a cold pack, y’know? It was super hurty ouchy. I can really relate to what Johnny Hoogerland and Tyler Hamilton went through. But it’s a tough sport and not to brag, but we’re tough guys. Hard men.
CitSB: What does this mean for the rest of your season?
Froome: It’s not too bad, actually. I plan on grabbing a couple of pints down at the pub tonight with Cav and Millar and maybe Wiggo. We’ve got a little support group going, eh. Rooney may show up, too. I get to rest all day today and all day Thursday, then I’ll pick up where I left off on Friday. It’s a stage that’s not too bad.
CitSB: Excuse me?
Froome: The Tour’s a three-week race, mate. What’s a day here or there? I’m surprised more guys don’t do it. Take a couple of days off and then come back sharper than a needle, if you know what I mean.
CitSB: So you’re going to just hop back in?
Froome: Yeah. Why wouldn’t I? I ain’t no quitter, mate.
CitSB: Have you discussed this with anyone?
Froome: Oh, sure. Brailsford’s on board with it. Right, Dave?
Brailsford: Absolutely. He’s prepared all year for this. A lot of guys would quit with a big nasty ouchie like that, but Chris is no quitter; he’s more like a pauser. He lives for the Tour. And for stems. And as he says, by Friday he’ll have recovered enough to have another go. We don’t expect him to pull on the yellow jersey until the mountains, though.
CitSB: Uh … don’t you guys know that, uh … never mind. So, have you had any second thoughts about Wiggo?
Froome: (laughs) Yeah. Our first thought was that he’s an arse. And our second thought is that he’s a hole. (guffaws)
CitSB: I mean, does your accident make you regret having left him off the team?
Froome: Not at all. Why would it?
CitSB: Well, if Wiggins had been selected he’d be able to lead the team now.
Froome: (suspiciously) What’s that supposed to mean? I told you I’m comin’ back on Friday, didn’t I? I’m the leader of this team, that’s sorted. And if I’d had me way I wouldn’t of rode today anyway. Stupid stage, like I said. I’m a bike racer, not a rock climber. I think next year we’ll do a bit more stage recon and skip the ones that ain’t a good fit.
Brailsford: We’re still planning on using Wiggins, actually.
CitSB: You are?
Brailsford: Yes. We’re saving him for a couple of key mountain stages. When everyone else is tired he’ll be fresh as a new blood bag. We’ll send him in to set pace for Chris. We figure that’s the best way to burn up Contador. Then we’ll rest him for a couple of stages and send him in again.
CitSB: Kind of like a pinch hitter in American baseball?
Froome: Yeah, exactly, without all the chewing tobacco.
CitSB: Any thoughts on the withdrawals of Andy Schleck and Mark Cavendish? They both went down in crashes, too.
Froome: (laughing) Them wankers ought to learn how to ride a bike!
June 27, 2014 § 21 Comments
CitSB sat down with Trek Factory Racing team manager Luca Guercilena to talk about the team’s 2014 TdF roster, announced two days ago.
CitSB: So it looks like Trek will be pinning its hopes on the single biggest bedwetter in pro cycling, his doped up older brother, and an over-the-hill-doper-who-never-got-busted?
Guercilena: That is outrageous and insulting. I wouldn’t call him a bedwetter. More like a nervous tinkler.
CitSB: Most observers agree that this is the team’s weakest Tour lineup ever. What gives?
Guercilena: Well, when we saw Team Sky drop Wiggins even though he had won the Tour of California, done well in Roubaix and Flanders, and had committed to help Froome, it was pretty clear.
CitSB: What was?
Guercilena: That to manage a winning pro cycling team you must be a complete idiot.
CitSB: But even with a colossal, hopelessly stupid person such as yourself, how can you expect to win with the Schlecks?
Guercilena: It will not be so difficult. Andy has been building since his Paris-Nice DNF in 2012. He had a very strong ride in the second stage that year, finishing 113th. It was impressive.
CitSB: It was?
Guercilena: Yes, especially when you consider how he followed it with his DNF in the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya. Let’s remember that he came in 104th in the first stage before giving up and quitting.
CitSB: I don’t think we’ve forgotten.
Guercilena: Then he continued his build with his 2012 DNF at the Brabantse Pijl. In this DNF he fought with great courage before throwing in the towel at Mile 45, and he followed it up with his amazing Stage Six flop-n-drop in the Criterium du Dauphine. When he quit that race it was a victory; his fans were thrilled. As William Stone reminds us, it is not winning that makes a winner, but rather a juice box and the courage to not admit defeat even when, in the face of defeat, you are soundly defeated.
CitSB: Is that when they started calling him The Bedwetter?
Guercilena: No, that was before. A few days after the Dauphine he confirmed his promise with a strong DNF at the Binche-Tournai-Binche/ 3rd Mémorial Frank Vandenbroucke. It was impressive the way he sobbed and hit his handlebars in frustration. The fans went wild at this display of raw competitive emotion.
CitSB: Yes. Yes, they did.
Guercilena: And how can we forget the cherry on top, the icing on the cake in 2012, the cornerstone of his preparation, when he bailed during Stage Six at the Tour of Beijing after strong placings in the previous stages of 137th, 132nd, 137th, and next-to-last? He quit that race with gusto, let me tell you! The Chinese government released 4 gigatons of coal smoke in celebration. It was beautiful!
CitSB: Fans went wild again, I’m guessing?
Guercilena: Oh, absolutely, the ones who didn’t die from the smoke. And the one pretty girl in Luxembourg sent him her 76th wedding proposal, a fitting end to a great year. And 2013 continued his march, building his momentum even stronger. He began with a powerful DNF in the Santos Tour Down Under, followed it with a devastating DNF in the Tour Méditerranéen Cycliste Professionnel, crushed the peloton with a masterful quitting performance in the Strade Bianchi, and culminated his March training block with an unbelievable DNF at Tirreno-Adriatico.
CitSB: Why was it unbelievable?
Guercilena: You jest, no? He grimaced, he suffered, he endured, he wrecked himself until he could do more. It was beautiful suffering. And then halfway through the first stage there was no more, he was spent, he had given all he had. How you Americans say? He left it all on a toad.
CitSB: The fans went nuts again, right?
Guercilena: Yes. The girl from his home country (her name is Hilda) sent him flowers and a certificate that she was also a 17-year-old virgin, Luxembourg’s first.
CitSB: Then what?
Guercilena: The rest has been history “writ large” as they say. Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco, DNF. Amstel Gold Race, DNF. GP Oueste Plouay, DNF. Grand Prix Cycliste de Quebec, DNF. Grand Prix Cycliste de Montreal, DNF. Milano-Torino, DNF. Il Lombardia, DNF.
CitSB: Pretty amazing palmares.
Guercilena: And let’s not forget that as the team’s most highly paid stage racer he finished an impressive 20th in the Tour that year, 40th in the Tour de Suisse, 25th in the Tour of California and 35th in the US Pro Challenge.
CitSB: Sounds like he’s peaking for 2014.
Guercilena: Exactly, and his schedule confirms it. With a DNF in the Criterium Internationale this year, a DNF at Amstel Gold, a DNF at Flèche-Wallone, a DNF at Liege-Bastogne-Liege, a DNF at the GP du canton d’Argovie, and a stunning 29th place at the Tour de Suisse, no one can say that he is not poised to do what he does best.
Guercilena: We can only hope.
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June 20, 2014 § 26 Comments
Now is the summer frenzy held once every four years when British people remind us that it’s called “football,” when British people remind us that they invented the world’s most popular sport, and when British people quietly make their traditional early exit from the World Cup tournament grumbling “Wait ’til next time.”
Still, despite their national love affair with a sport they’re not very good at (something the French share with regard to cycling), after catching a few games on TV I’m convinced that World Cup soccer is way better than the Tour de France. Here’s why.
- To compete as a masters racer in cycling you need tens of thousands of dollars in equipment. To play World Cup soccer you need a pair of legs. And a ball.
- The winner of the World Cup is never determined two weeks before the tournament ends.
- The same team doesn’t win the World Cup seven times in a row and then have its victories nullified because of cheating.
- Chris Froome.
- The Tour may be the hardest sporting event in the world, but World Cup soccer displays the most athleticism — running, jumping, kicking, twisting, tackling, throwing up your arms in shock that you’ve been penalized for chopping an opposing player in the throat, and of course flopping.
- When you fly halfway around the world to watch a World Cup soccer match, you get to watch it live for more than 2 or 3 seconds.
- Soccer may not be as exciting as, say, snake tossing, but nothing is as boring as watching skinny people in their underwear pedaling bikes. Nothing.
- “Teamwork” never means “Everyone sacrifice everything for that one dude who is the only official winner.”
- You can start an argument, brawl, or minor riot in any bar in any country on earth by discussing the World Cup.
- When you talk about the World Cup winner, no one ever says “Who?”
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