The cycling world was stunned to learn that superstar, doper, fashion criminal, tax dodge, race quitter, and flamboyant wife-beater Mario Cipollini, 52, died from an acute bicycle helmet-related illness yesterday in his hometown of Lucca, Italy.
We caught up with Super Mario after the interment to talk about his early demise.
Cycling in the South Bay: Dead at 52? Incredible. What happened?
Mario Cipollini: It is a rather uninteresting story. Can we talk about my 42 Giro wins? Binda only had 41.
CitSB: Sure. But first let’s talk about your death. How’d it happen?
MC: The doctors say it was helmet-related.
CitSB: How so?
MC: Before I turned pro I never raced with a helmet, and of course as a professional most of my career I raced without one until it became mandatory.
CitSB: I don’t get it.
MC: It’s cumulative. Sudden Helmetless-Induced Trauma hits you when you least expect it.
MC: Exactly. You never know when SHIT is going to hit the fan. In my case, I continued to not wear my helmet after I retired despite the advice of all the group ride participants and gran fondo riders. Not to mention hobby bicyclists who would pass me on the street and shout, “Where’s your helmet?”
CitSB: What did the doctors say?
MC: They said that SHIT is dangerous and that I could die without my helmet at any moment.
CitSB: Can you explain how SHIT works?
MC: The doctors don’t understand the mechanism exactly. They say it has to do with how helmets protect your brain from excessive wind flow outside of your skull. Once the helmet is removed for long periods of time, the molecules in the skin surrounding your skull degrade due to the wind, and then the skull itself degrades, imperceptibly, until finally the wind blows away your brain cells until there is nothing left but dust. And a little bit of cocaine residue, if that was your thing.
MC: For years the doctors thought that you could protect against SHIT, even if you didn’t have a helmet, with a large mane of rich, thick, luxurious, flowing hair.
CitSB: Which you have.
MC: But apparently over time even long, beautiful locks cannot protect against SHIT.
CitSB: That’s terrifying.
MC: So you can imagine how frightening it is for the average MAMIL, who doesn’t have much hair to begin with.
MC: Those are the deadliest. The doctors say that a comb-over, or worse, a little round patch in back like St. Francisco Xavier give a false sense of security. Such people must wear helmets all the time or they will be in deep SHIT.
CitSB: Any regrets?
MC: None, except for that time I rode for Rock Racing. What a humiliating end to a magnificent career.
CitSB: Yes, that was rather shameful.
MC: But SHIT happens.
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