Tour viewership declines for tenth straight year

July 22, 2022 Comments Off on Tour viewership declines for tenth straight year

Interest in the Tour de France continues to decline as fewer television viewers tune into the world’s largest sporting spectacle. With 150 million viewers across Europe in 2021, the 2022 edition of the Tour will have less than 110 million people tuning in, according to Nielsen Global, a firm that tracks worldwide TV audiences.

“In 2012, when the Tour was won by Bradley Wiggins of the UK, viewership was at an all-time high, with more than 500 million viewers. Next year’s projections are for even fewer viewers than 2022,” said Lacey Throckmorton of Nielsen.

The UCI, as well as Amaury Sports Organization, parent company of the Tour, have been concerned about the spiraling value of cycling’s marquee event. A joint study funded by the UCI and Amaury revealed some surprising answers to the question, “Why are fewer people following the Tour?”

The first and by far most important reason is the continued string of non-doping offenses, and its corollary, the visible decrease in over-the-top-doping that took place from 1904 until 2012. Cyrano de Bergerac, head of the study, says this: “People are sick of all the non-doping offenses. It has made an impossibly boring sport even more boring, if that is possible, which I suppose it is.”

Statistics show that since the retirement of the last Big Juicer to win the Tour, Sir Bradley Wiggins, interest has waned. “Wiggins brought a lot of fans, people who loved seeing a 6’3″, 185-lb. track specialist get so sotted with PEDs that he lost 25 lbs., gained the physique of a Michael Rasmussen, and went from winning 5-km track events to 4,000-km endurance races. That was spectacle,” says de Bergerac.

“Once Wiggins retired, Chris Froome was unable to sustain the massive and obvious drug use, opting instead for small amounts of mostly-undetectable drugs, although he, too, went through the radical body transformation that Tour aficionados love,” adds de Bergerac. “But with each passing year the riders simply got more credible as non-offenses kept piling up. And who wants that?”

Wim van Wim, head of marketing at the UCI, agrees. “Look at 2022. We have one guy weighing in the 130’s and another in the 140’s duking it out for the yellow jersey. They are skinny and short, easily mistaken for a prepubescent girl if it weren’t for those tight pants. You’d expect people like that to climb well, sprint poorly, and have to race strategically to win, and they do. Fans can’t stand it.”

Van Wim pointed to what he called the “heyday of hay days,” when George Hincapie, at 175 lbs., dropped an entire breakaway of newt-sized climbers and beat uber-newt Oscar Pereiro to the HC mountain finish at Pla d’Adet in 2005. “This kind of absurd thing that boggles the mind, spoofs reality, and confesses to the pharmacopia coursing through the veins of the peloton, this is what cycling fans want to see,” said van Wim. “Not some clean, snot-nosed kids who believe in sportsmanship, whatever that is.”

Unfortunately, drug testing seems to be effectively deterring the most blatant violators, leaving the peloton with not much more than smallish, light endurance athletes who are evenly matched. The UCI has convened a new committee, the Working Group on the Restoration of Full-Gas Doping, to look at ways to remedy this threat to the existence of cycling’s most cherished event.

According to van Wim, though, all is not lost. “If you still want to watch freaks do freakish things with every doping product known to man stuffed up their butts, I’d recommend you start watching gravel races. There is some great shit happening there,” he said.

END

Colin Strickland, murderer?

July 5, 2022 Comments Off on Colin Strickland, murderer?

Whoever thought that gravel racing’s international limelight debut would be in the form of a killing?

The story pitched by the media is simple: jealous lover kills rival.

Justice will presumably be done. The suspected killer, Kaitlin Armstrong, could spend her life behind bars, or perhaps even get the death penalty. Mo Wilson, a rising star in gravel racing, will be eulogized and mourned for a life cut short at the incomprehensibly young age of 25.

Most meaningfully, Colin Strickland, the boyfriend-deceiver, will likely resume his over the hill cycling “career” as a “gravel professional” after the appropriate period of therapy and mourning. In due time he should be able to get back up to the big paydays of a gravel pro, which I’d guess are at least $50 and a BWR water bottle, maybe even a pair of matching socks.

But he will resume this stellar career minus his current stable of sponsors, although, true to form, Red Bull has yet to terminate his contract. This is the same company run by right-wing Austrian billionaire Dietrich Mateschiz who has long supported reactionary politicians, racist athletes, and who has targeted the young and the poor as prime consumers of an “energy drink” outlawed in several European nations.

But I digress …

Why has anyone severed ties with Colin Strickland? He didn’t shoot anyone. He isn’t a suspect. He’s not part of a conspiracy or even an accomplice. In the words of an unnamed source quoted by the Sun, “He’s a douche and a player,” and nothing more.

If being a douche and a player were grounds for losing sponsorship, the sponsored ranks of professional athletics and celebrity-dom would be slim indeed. I mean, “Stray Cat Blues” by The Rolling Stones is a song that literally glorifies the rape of homeless teen girls. And if that’s so socially unacceptable, why are good tickets for their 2022 tour upwards of $600?

In my opinion, Colin Strickland lost his sponsorships because although he committed no crime, he clearly appears to be the person who set in motion the chain of events that led to the murder of one of the two girls he appeared to be stringing along, Mo Wilson. The fact pattern seems sociopathic and all too common: narcissist has relationship with woman which allows him to live the fantasy pro lifestyle that his meager sponsorships in a niche sport would never enable. Narcissist starts fucking woman ten years younger than his girlfriend. Girlfriend finds out and narcissist engages the tried and true “triangulation” of a narcissist, seemingly lying to both women, and appearing to use the new woman to destabilize the mental health of the other.

Narcissist keeps up relationship with younger woman while claiming to girlfriend he’s done with fling; that’s certainly how it appears. Girlfriend knows she’s being gaslighted but can’t prove it because THAT’S WHAT GASLIGHTING IS. Rather than take her rage out on the narcissist boyfriend, girlfriend focuses her anger on the younger woman, who also appears to be hoodwinked by the narcissist into thinking that she’s perhaps still in the running to be the real girlfriend … unless she isn’t … and could he please clarify? It’s all so confusing, which is the destabilized mental state of insecurity and doubt where narcissists do their very finest work.

Narcissist keeps triangulating, sneaks out to date younger woman, lies to girlfriend claiming “dead cell phone” and going to “drop off some flowers for Alison” as cover for swim date and destination burger with younger woman. Girlfriend finds out about it and is now the only suspect in the murder of the younger woman.

The person who’s most likely going to prison or to the gurney? The girlfriend.

The literature on narcissist men is so overwhelming that you couldn’t read it all if you tried, and I’m not just talking about the scientific research. The runaway success of general consumption books like “Psychopath Free,” “Becoming the Narcissist’s Nightmare,” and “Should I Stay or Should I Go? (Surviving a Relationship with a Narcissist)” testifies to the number of women, and some men, whose lives have been destroyed by this especial pathology. And the pathology is always the same: love bomb, withdraw affection, triangulate, then discard. The only aberration from the pattern is that Armstrong killed Wilson before Strickland could dump her.

The signs are all there in the Austin Police Department affidavit used as the basis for Armstrong’s arrest warrant and in news reports, so it’s easy to put together a map of the pathological abuse with which he targeted Armstrong.

  1. Lying about the relationship. Strickland said it was “platonic and professional” and he considered Wilson a “close friend” despite a previous romantic relationship with her. But an anonymous tipster to APD confirmed that the two had an “on again, off again” relationship, and Wilson’s texts to Strickland showed that she herself was unclear whether they were in a romantic relationship or “just friends.” Pro tip: a woman doesn’t usually wonder about whether she’s in a romantic relationship unless there is sex.
  2. Secretive behavior. Strickland lied to Armstrong about the swim + burger date, and took a circuitous route to Wilson’s lodgings in Austin, using an alley to get there and using an alley to go all the way to the main road of MLK East even though uncongested neighborhood surface streets were available. Strickland was probably doing everything he could to avoid private surveillance cameras or to avoid being seen by Armstrong in case she was in the neighborhood, which, surprise, she was.
  3. Secretly carrying on with Wilson while lying about it to Armstrong. Strickland admitted he had changed Wilson’s name on his phone to deceive Armstrong, who clearly suspected that Strickland wasn’t done with Wilson.
  4. Gaslighting Armstrong. Strickland admitted to a romantic relationship with Wilson in October 2021, but denied anything after that. Yet an anonymous tipster confirmed that as recently as January 2022, Armstrong suspected new infidelities. Wilson herself was questioning Strickland about their status long after the supposed one-week affair.
  5. Continuing to triangulate even after Wilson’s murder. Strickland continued to deny that the relationship with Wilson was ongoing when talking to police, even though anonymous sources, Armstrong’s behavior, Wilson’s text, and Strickland’s secret date showed that the relationship was more than platonic. The triangulation had already gotten so severe that Armstrong now owned a gun and was talking about killing Wilson.
  6. Distorting his own statements to police. Strickland, panicked by the arrest affidavit that correctly portrayed him as the manipulative cheater, issued a statement in which he claimed that he and Wilson had only seen each other in “public” settings since the October 2021 romance, even though he admitted in the affidavit that he lied to Armstrong to conduct a private swim and burger date with Wilson. The setting may have been public but the date was an arranged infidelity.
  7. Appealing to his fan base for his narcissistic discard of Armstrong. Even after Wilson’s death, Strickland was appealing to the public for exoneration. He said in a statement that “it was not my intention to pursue along an auxiliary romantic relationship that would mislead anyone.” This was contradicted by the text message to him from Wilson, by his lying about the swim date, and by third party tipsters. It was also contradicted by his statement to police that he was secretly texting Wilson using a fake name on his phone so she couldn’t be identified by Armstrong.
  8. More gaslighting that drives Armstrong insane. Armstrong was so tortured by the triangulation that she blocked Wilson’s number on Strickland’s phone, began cyber stalking her, got a gun, and made phone calls threatening Wilson to stay away from Strickland.
  9. Withdrawing affection/demeaning Armstrong. Strickland dismissed Armstrong as a mere “participant” in gravel, whereas he was a legitimate “racer.” Strickland admitted that when he rode with Armstrong and he dropped her, he got “grumpy” when he had to wait as she wasn’t at the level of a professional racer.
  10. Blaming the victim. Strickland, with the help of willing news media, characterized himself as blameless, allowing the news trajectory to focus on the trope that Armstrong was a crazy, jealous woman.
  11. Makes himself out to be the victim. After admitting his douchebaggery to police, Strickland issued a pious press statement saying “Moriah and I were both leaders in this lonely, niche sport of cycling, and I admired her greatly and considered her a close friend. I am deeply grieving her loss.” The real person who’s been hurt? Poor old Colin. Let’s give him some space to grieve, okay?

What’s so horrible is the way that Strickland’s behavior has been glossed over by the media. Everyone points out that he’s not a suspect in the case, but no one is taking him to task for pouring oil on this conflagration that he himself is responsible for. And that’s partly because the pathology of narcissism is not well understood by the public outside of the word’s use as an epithet.

In fact, sociopathy, a/k/a antisocial personality disorder, narcissism, and psychopathy belong to a cluster of personality disorders that are well studied and well understood by medical science, known as the B Cluster of personality disorders. Although a person can have a variety of symptoms that make it difficult to label the disorder, i.e. narcissists share many traits with sociopaths, the salient fact is that certain combinations of certain traits lead to very predictable abusive relationship patterns. With the sociopath-narcissist-psychopath, the fundamental trait is a lack of empathy. The narcissist simply cannot put himself in the other person’s shoes, therefore he cannot understand why his behavior is wrong. Such people, not coincidentally, have an almost zero rate of “cure” and there is no known therapy or medication that can heal them.

It is this absence of empathy that is the cornerstone around which the narcissist’s main strategy is built. This is always the strategy of lying. The narcissist, in his pursuit of adulation as he hops from woman to woman, must constantly lie to everyone involved. Strickland certainly displays some faux empathy, another characteristic of narcissists, when he talks about how tortured he is to be so close to this tragic crime. But he never takes blame or responsibility for any of it, and never acknowledges that he has lost his sponsors because everyone can see how horribly he has behaved. His suffering is simply his proximity to the crime, not guilt at what he’s done. This is key because without empathy, you cannot experience guilt. He appears to be suffering when he looks at how this will affect his career, not at how the woman he presumably loved is a potential candidate for death row. As sponsors flee and people in the gravel world turn up their noses in disgust, everyone can see how badly he’s behaved. Everyone except him, because NO EMPATHY.

Strickland’s lies are so badly wrought and patent that it seems pointless to identify them. However, narcissists aren’t necessarily good liars, but they are always effective ones. By changing names, arranging clandestine dates, lying about whereabouts, manufacturing dead battery excuses, and always having a plausible explanation for the lie, the narcissist gaslights his victim. Armstrong was clearly so distraught by the dishonesty–is he cheating or isn’t he?–that she was willing to kill the other woman to resolve the uncertainty: you can’t have an affair with a corpse.

We don’t have the facts to confirm that Strickland love bombed Armstrong, the first step in a narcissist’s relationship, but she clearly felt a lot more for him than he did for her, and it’s not hard to imagine that she was lovestruck by his awesomeness on the bike, his reputation as a winner, and his 40,000+ #socmed fans. To underscore the disparity, Strickland says almost nothing post-murder about her. Nothing positive, nothing loving, nothing supportive. In fact, he runs as far as he can from the crime scene, doing everything in his power to wash his hands of Armstrong. He even “goes into hiding” out of fear. This too supports the narcissist’s relationship pattern. First he secures the victim’s love, then he withdraws affection. If they were together for three years and he can’t even bring himself to say she was a beautiful, wonderful person with whom he shared so much and he can’t understand how this happened … then there was something really, really wrong.

Contempt, the next phase of withdrawing affection, is evident in the affidavit when he disparages Armstrong’s cycling ability. Any woman who’s ridden with a stronger boyfriend or husband knows that it’s easy to have your self esteem attacked simply by getting dropped and having the stronger rider wait impatiently, which is precisely what Strickland admits doing. Moreover, his excuse, that she wasn’t a professional, is crazymaking. When had she pretended to be? When had that become a prerequisite for the relationship? He wasn’t a real estate agent with a job, either, and she didn’t lord that over him. When love bombing in the early phase of the relationship gives rise to contempt, disregard, and cheating, you can be pretty sure you’re dealing with a narcissist.

As far as Strickland is concerned, he clearly thinks he’s amazing, humble bragging about being called one of the greatest cyclists in the world (but somehow never having been good enough to ride the Pro Tour), and creating a #socmed image filled with self-love and self-adulation. His Red Bull videos are nauseating, so filled with pride at his ability to suffer, his “all body cramps,” his search to find his “breaking point,” and the fact that he’s such a “marked man” in the peloton.

In conjunction with the withdrawal phase of the narcissist’s relationship comes what’s known as triangulation. The love triangle is of course anything but. It’s a triangle of rage, hatred, and abuse, and it’s created by the narcissist in order to tear down the victim and prepare her for the final act in the tragedy, technically known as the “discard.” Triangulation always brings in a third person with whom the narcissist has had a romantic interest, with whom he may have an interest in later, or who is simply someone who can “objectively” testify to the victim’s unreasonableness/craziness and thereby further undermine her identity in preparation for the discard.

Mo Wilson was the perfect third side of the triangle. She was young. She was pretty. She was far more accomplished athletically. She was the darling of the sport. She was innocent. She had an engineering degree from Dartmouth. And she could be injected into the relationship sexually, via text messaging, via meetings at races, and via private dates so that Armstrong’s already crumbling self-esteem would be ground into dust. For her part, Wilson was likely receiving subterfuge from Strickland along the lines of “My girlfriend is crazy jealous,” and similar distortions of why Armstrong was so frantic. Armstrong seemingly confirmed this by calls to Wilson telling her to lay off. To Wilson, Armstrong might have seemed unhinged, but to Armstrong, caught between the triangulation, the withdrawal of affection, and the constant lying, things must have been falling apart through no fault of her own. This is how the narcissist works: inflict the damage and let the victim conclude that she’s to blame (not a good a enough bike rider) for the narcissist’s sudden interest in the younger, more athletic woman.

This process is called grooming, where the narcissist cultivates a relationship to land on as he prepares to discard the victim. Wilson, of course, is not privy to the gaslighting and triangulation, although she’s already experiencing some of its effects as Strickland keeps her guessing, sets up secret dates, is vague about their status, and likely disparages Armstrong to her. Strickland’s grooming of Wilson is obvious to anyone who knows what’s going on; he describes his relationship as simply “helping” her to get sponsorships and learn the ropes as a neo-pro. What a guy! Generous older man, wildly successful in his niche, kindly looking out for the eager, talented, bright-eyed up-and-comer.

The problem with his supposed kindly, disinterested generosity? The definition of betrayal is putting another person ahead of the person who’s supposed to be first. Whether it’s secret texting, secret dates, inside jokes, or sex, Strickland repeatedly betrays Armstrong without remorse, admission of wrongdoing, or intent to change.

That’s because the discard is coming. The only person who didn’t see it all along was Armstrong. The traditional narcissist’s discard is a horrible, identity-obliterating piece of cruelty. After all the love bombing, all the talk of soul mates, the joint business ventures, the promises of foreverafter and forevermore, the narcissist callously dumps the victim and gloriously sets forth on a beautiful and perfect life with the new victim in a whirlwind of publicity. #Socmed status is changed, loving date photos are posted, and the old victim sees her narcissist waltz off with a seemingly perfect, happy mate who gets all of the love and attention that she was supposed to end up with.

The discard is the most crushing moment in the trajectory of the narcissist’s relationship. The discarded victim is left with nothing emotionally, and often left financially destitute as well.

But in Strickland’s case, things got out of hand no thanks to the fake Second Amendment right of anyone to buy any weapon anywhere at anytime for any reason. Armstrong armored up and she didn’t wait for the discard. Instead, she discarded the innocent Wilson with a few well-placed rounds from a 9mm. Strickland may have lost a few sponsorships, but he literally dodged a bullet. Armstrong wasn’t the beaten down, destroyed woman that he’d hoped she’d become before he shifted gears full time to Wilson. She was abused, she was shaken, and her self-esteem had taken almost unbearable body blows, but she wasn’t going to let herself be discarded by Strickland. Had she known more about narcissism she might have been able to change the focus of her anger from Wilson, the next victim of Strickland’s, to Strickland himself.

By focusing on the jealous lover trope, the love triangle gone awry trope, the media neatly deflects a discussion of cause and focuses solely on effect. The dramatic escape of the suspect who absconds to Central America, her cosmetic surgery, the international dragnet that resulted in her arrest, and now, of course, the upcoming trial in which we’ll get to peer more deeply into the sadness and despair of a woman driven to murder another over some two-bit, over-the-hill, never-was-a-contender bike bum who wins races no one’s ever heard about.

What we won’t hear about is the cause, or at least, we haven’t heard about it yet. Strickland has done a great job of standing as far from the bomb blast as possible and most of the attention has been focused on the women, you know, the cat fight. If you could sum up Strickland’s media strategy it would be “Fuckin’ chicks,” with a sad shake of the head.

However, he’s not unscathed. It’s my opinion that his sponsors in particular and the broader public in general recognize him as a Class A scumbag, even though the news story has focused on the trope of the jilted lover. If he weren’t such a cretin, why would Specialized et al. have yanked his sponsorship? His behavior and his lies are so deplorable, made more despicable by his quotes about the “torture” he’s experiencing at his “proximity to the crime”–a tragedy that, in my opinion, he fucking caused. The general public may not know what a textbook narcissist is or how one operates, but they know a creep when they see one.

And since I’m a lawyer, I have a different take on this mess. In fact, here’s another Cycling in the South Bay opinion you can take to the bank: when Kaitlin Armstrong (what is it about that name?) seeks to prove she committed the much milder, second degree crime of passion rather than a first degree felony such as premeditated murder, her lawyers will marshal an incredible array of evidence showing what a manipulative, deceitful, sociopathic piece of shit that Colin Strickland is. His triangulation, his lies, his undermining of Armstrong’s identity even as he side-hustles Wilson … all these things are going to come out and they’re going to leave the jury wondering what too many women already know: how could anyone not lose her mind when subjected to this kind of sick, misogynistic gaslighting and sociopathy?

Colin Strickland is hopefully sweating bullets as he awaits the subpoena that will put him on the witness stand and reveal him as the sick, rotten misogynist that he sure appears to be. It won’t bring Mo Wilson back to life, but hopefully it will keep Kaitlin Armstrong off death row.

Thankfully, the neo-fascists at Red Bull may still be willing to sponsor him, since “misogynistic narcissist” is probably italicized in Red Bull’s corporate charter, and also thankfully, Strickland will receive the dollars commensurate to a great gravel racer, an amount which, in Austin’s housing market, should enable him to live in one of the city’s very finest shelters for the homeless.

And who knows? His personality disorder may even qualify him for a job at the bike shop partly owned by Austin’s other legendary cycling psychopath. What was that guy’s last name again?

END

UCI discusses elimination of “chick races” from new Covid-altered calendar

April 16, 2020 § 2 Comments

Union Cycliste International, the world’s governing body for the sport of Cycling (men) and for the sport of WDGAF (women), announced new dates for Cycling’s biggest events and indefinite postponement for WDGAF events.

Cycling in the South Bay caught up with UCI boss Yves-Baptiste le Chauviniste at his favorite strip club to discuss these changes.

CitSB: Big changes?

Yves-Baptiste: Oui, oui. Très big.

CitSB: How so?

YB: We must move Le Tour until August; incroyable.

CitSB: Très choque-ing. What will happen to the women’s races?

YB: Comment?

CitSB: The women.

YB: Ah, oui, oui. Cherchez les femmes!

CitSB: Non, non. The races for the women. What happens to those?

YB: Les quoi?

CitSB: Pour example, La Course, a race pour les femmes.

YB: (laughs) Les femmes are ici, cher ami.

CitSB: Oui, but what about the women’s races? When will they be rescheduled?

YB: Les chicky-chick races? Je ne sais pas.

CitSB: If you don’t know, who does?

YB: The chicky-chicks will get to do their little play race sometime, don’t worry, cher ami.

CitSB: How can the world governing body simply blow off the needs of women racers?

YB: Comment?

CitSB: How can you blow them off?

YB: (smiles) Ah, le blow job? Oui, oui, one can obtain it here.

CitSB: Not, not blow job. Blow off.

YB: We give the chicky-chicks some play dates, but with the virus … (shrugs). C’est la vie.

CitSB: So what happens when all of these women are thrown out of work because you won’t calendar their races?

YB: I am not sure, but you know, here at this establishment …

CitSB: Yes?

YB: One is always hiring.

END


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Cycling in the post Covid-19 world

April 9, 2020 § 10 Comments

We won’t be sheltering in place forever, and our bikes won’t be propped up against the wall, lonely and unridden, forever.

I hope!

But when restrictions ease, either mandatory ones or the voluntary restraints you’ve put in place to decrease the rate of infections, and when you venture out into the new landscape, it’s going to look different.

  1. Consumption. Expect to not care nearly as much about the newest and latest gear. After an extended period of wondering whether you’re going to eat or how you’re going to wipe your butt, the latest ceramic bearings will mean nothing to you. Expect to shut down the bulk of your gear purchasing, especially things like clothing, when you look into your closet and realize that you absolutely, unquestionably, do not need another kit.
  2. #fakeriding. Expect Zwift and its analogues to be a permanent part of what you call cycling. For many, expect it to be the only thing that you call cycling. Germaphobia is real and there will be many people who simply conclude that reducing physical contact is good and desirable across the board, pandemic or no pandemic.
  3. Smaller group rides. Expect group riding to have lost much of its sheen for many cyclists. In tandem with becoming accustomed to spinning indoors and not being so enamored of contact with others, even people who still want to pedal outside will be thinking long and hard about whether they want to do it in groups. Expect everyone to feel more vulnerable, more fragile, less willing to dive headfirst into the fray of the competitive group ride.
  4. Iron stake through the heart of road acing. Having been on a ventilator for years, sanctioned road racing cannot survive this. Expect even the diehards in the biggest racing demographic, the 60+ category, to finally admit that it’s not worth it and that it’s time to do something else. Expect the trickle of new, younger racers to completely go away.
  5. #fakeracing. Expect pro and amateur events to begin offering indoor spinning that coordinates with or wholly replaces actual races on the road. Expect “sportif” versions of the TdF, Flanders, and Roubaix to offer simulcast races where you can plug in, log in, then clip in along with the professionals as the virtual supplants the physical.
  6. eDoping. Expect more and more riders to eDope through statistical manipulation as well as the old-fashioned chemical methods. Expect no one to really care anymore.
  7. Off-road cycling. Expect even more people to transition from the road to off. The isolation, the smaller groups, and the absence of cars will all dovetail with the new reticence that people have to be around others unless they can maintain a safe distance.
  8. Virtual shopping. Expect bike shops to begin offering shops where you can click on an icon and, like Zwift, use your avatar to enter a shop, be met by a shop avatar, and walk through the store picking and choosing items while talking with staff about the product.
  9. Video links to everything. Expect Zoom connections in bike shops where you can click on a link and be instantly patched in to someone who can talk to you; not simply a chat or an email.
  10. Increased use of bikes for transport. Expect huge growth in bikes as transport as opposed to recreation. People stuck at home during the quarantine will realize how completely driving sucks and many will conclude that riding a bike, especially one with an electric motor, is simply a better way to get to the office.
  11. Increased use of bikes for recreation. Although transport uses will dominate, many quarantined people and their families will turn to bicycles as their primary form of getting outside together. Once the shelter in place orders are lifted, many of them will remain committed to riding. Millions of others will be unemployed and will find that pedaling is a great way to handle the stress of doing nothing. An entirely different group will be cut loose from their offices and will become home-workers permanently, now having the time and motivation to ride that they never had before.
  12. Reduced exotic bike tourism. Look for fancy Trek Travel-style luxury bike trips to wither and die as people are increasingly broke, cash strapped, and unenthused about potential exposure to disease in foreign climes–whether those fears are rational or not.
  13. Expanded local bike tourism. Expect people to embrace day trips or multi-day trips based out of nearby locales as they embark on exercise, relaxation, and discovery closer to home.

END


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Tour un-canceled, new format revealed!

March 24, 2020 § 5 Comments

French Ministress of Sport, Roxana Maracineanu, announced today that yesterday’s cancelation of the 2020 Tour de France had been reversed, and that a stripped-down version of the event would go ahead in a revised format.

When asked what the stripped-down format would entail, she quickly answered, “Strippers. We will have many of the, how do you say, dances on the pole?”

Critics such as five-time Tour victor Bernard Hinault were critical of the “Tour at all costs” approach being taken by the government and ASO. “Yes, the Tour is important, and yes, it is the only place left where I can still punch people in the face and throw them off the podium onto their teeth. But we must think of people’s health.”

Maracineanu took issue with Hinault, from a safe distance. “Monsieur Hinault is entitled to his opinion, but we have a format that will protect the health of our television revenue absolutely and the health of the riders and public, somewhat.”

Detailed plans, leaked to CitSB by a letuary at Amaury Sports Organization, show that the 2020 Tour will feature radical departures from past versions of the event. First is the new “Six Feet for Safety” rule, which will be employed throughout each race, requiring riders to maintain six feet between themselves at all times.

CitSB reached out to Patrick Lefevere, boss of team Quickstep, to find out if this were feasible.

“Absolutely not,” he said in an email. “In Europe we only use centimeters; no one will know how far these feet are. What if someone is a size 45, or dog forbid, an English size 11? It will be too confusing.”

In addition to the Six Feet for Safety ordinance, riders who saw the plans questioned how it would work in a bunch sprint. Ministress Maracineanu was adamant that “Although I am not a rider of the bicycle, we can imagine the sprinting as a fashion of gentlemanliness, where riders of bicycle can offer one another to proceed before, as when a gentleman opens a door for a lady.”

More explosive than this complete reconfiguration of pro road racing was the plan’s designation of a “cordone sanitaire” that would allow racers who have been exposed to the novel Covid-19 virus to take rest breaks at health stations along the route, deducting the time spent at aid stations from their finishing times.

Maracineanu: “This seems extremely complicated even to me, a Romanian Frenchwoman, but we must understand that in truth only the few people understand workings of the Tour anyway, like woman’s anatomy. Complex, mysterieuse, tres jolie, but also filled with pleasure and desire for all to experience. The Tour must be plunged deeply again.”

END


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Elder abuse

March 12, 2020 § 10 Comments

The first Telo of the year went off without a hitch on Tuesday. There were seven riders; Raul Vasquez-Diaz, Kristie Fox, Marco Cubillos, Jon Petrucci, Ivan Fernandez, Chad Lucius, and I. Joe Cooney had shown up to take photos, which was really nice of him.

Many riders stayed away because of the rain. Cyclists don’t like to ride in rain as a rule, and they really don’t like to race in the rain. In lots of place, there’s not much choice, but in SoCal if it is rainy you can wait a couple of days and it will be sunny. There is little motivation to race in the rain, especially when it is a #fakerace anyway.

Of course the weather forecast here is rarely correct, and people know that. They can also look out the window and see whether or not it’s raining. On Tuesday afternoon the skies were sunny and clear, and when Telo began the streets were bone dry, but still …

Jon started with a brisk tempo that rode everyone off his wheel except me and Ivan, so it was going to be a three-man rotation for 50 minutes until they began attacking me for the win. It didn’t turn out that way. After about ten minutes, Ivan attacked. He and Jon are teammates and my presence was unwelcome.

I chased and Jon countered. I chased and Ivan countered. I chased and Jon countered. Our three-man rotation had become a series of sprints, with me sitting Jon’s wheel and responding. The net effect was that they both got really tired. Finally Jon turned to me. “This is a weird dynamic,” he said.

I wasn’t sure if he meant that it was weird for two guys in their 20s to be mauling a 56-y-o grandpa, or if he meant that it was weird that they couldn’t drop me. Or both.

“I’m not pulling as long as you guys keep attacking me.” Sometimes I have to state the obvious, especially with younger riders.

“Let’s just ride a rotation and race it out at the end,” Jon said, which meant “We’ll tag team you again when you’re a bit more winded.”

“Okay,” I said. In a 2-on-1 scenario on a flat course with two fast riders, both of whom can sprint plenty fast, my options were none and none.

With one lap to go Jon attacked and rode away. Ivan outsprinted me at the end, but I was still pleased. There are not a whole lot of races left in my life where I’ll be riding in a break for 50 minutes with a couple of fast guys under the age of 30 who are trying might and main to get rid of me.

In many ways it was my favorite kind of Telo, long and grueling, tiny group, windy, nowhere to hide, and bitter fireworks followed by a truce followed by a hard rotation concluding with a fight to the death. I think the riders who stayed home because they didn’t want to get wet in the sunshine made a mistake, and it’s similar to the way people have reacted to the coronavirus.

I am not sure if I’ve had it, but when I got back from Turkey I was sick for two weeks. I rarely get sick and when I do, hardly anyone hears about it because I recover quickly. Not with this. I had all of the symptoms, especially the cough. Whatever I had was virulent and not taking “no” for an answer.

As bad as it was, it went away, and I can see how that if you are elderly AND weak, it could kill you, the same way that many types of illnesses can exploit existing problems to create a death cascade from something that a healthier person would shrug off. On the other hand, mass hysteria doesn’t seem to be the right answer, either, kind of like the nearly uniform reaction to the possibility of rain at Telo.

Racing in the rain isn’t for everyone, but everyone who does it gets better. Lower your tire pressure, go a little slower, take the turns less aggressively, give yourself a little more exit room, and things are going to turn out fine. Probably. If not, at least you’re going to slide rather than skid on dry asphalt.

The other great thing about racing in the #fakerain is that the group is small, which is safer, especially when it’s going fast.

Glad I went. Getting third out of three finishers is still a podium.

END


Disrespect Your Elders

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Telo rules

March 10, 2020 § 2 Comments

Today is Tuesday, the first Tuesday after the time change.

I did my first Telo in 2007, which makes this my 14th season. I’m not the oldest guy out there. I think that distinction goes to Ramon Reynaga. Nor am I the person who goes back farthest in Telo annals and still rides it.

Jason Morin was doing it back in the 90s and he was racing it as recently as two years ago, and Marc Spivey showed up for a couple of Telos year before last. Marc, I believe, did Telo in the early 80s. Still, I’ve done Telo enough to know the rules. Not everyone does. Here they are.

  1. Telo begins the first Tuesday after the time change. If it’s raining, you get wet. If you don’t go, you miss the first Telo of the year.
  2. The first lap is non-neutral “neutral.” Most people prefer to take the first lap as slow as they can to delay the inevitable, and it’s common for the group to assent to whomever leads with a slow start. But Telo has no neutral laps.
  3. Telo lasts 50 minutes plus five laps. It’s not 45 minutes plus five laps, or 48, or even 51. It’s 50 minutes plus five laps. Why? Because it takes about two minutes per lap, and 50+10=60, which is a nice round number.
  4. Telo has no owner, only, as Bob Frank said, “caretakers.” Who come and go.
  5. Unlike the beginning of the series, Telo ends when people stop showing up. For many years that was after the time change in fall. Recently it has been the end of August.

That’s all there is to it. Telo has survived near-annihilation and it has survived burgeoning popularity, when you could always count on 40 riders or more to start every race. As long as riders in the South Bay want to test themselves against other actual humans in the flesh, Telo will be there waiting for you. With jaws open wide.

END


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Aaron Wimberley, Ivan Fernandez, Eric Anderson, Overall 2019 Telo Podium I mean curb.

Tales of the big ring

October 23, 2019 § 2 Comments

I got an email from some dude named Ramy Khalaf.

“Hey,” it went, “I found you on the Internet and I’m making a video about rides in SoCal can I come to your office and make a video?”

“Sure,” I said, knowing I’d never hear from him again.

A couple of weeks later Ramy showed up with a world of legit cameras and equipment. Thankfully, I’d bathed that morning. You can’t always count on that.

Ramy has a YouTube channel, Bar & Pedal, where he combines amazing video skills and a love of cycling into some fantastic stories.

I would tell you about the video, but then I’d be telling the tale twice.

Click on the link. It’s a goodie!

END


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Poke the bear

October 11, 2019 § 6 Comments

There are lots of rules in cycling. One of those rules is, “In the sprunt, get out of the way.”

This is the rule for 99% of riders. If you are not leading someone out or getting ready to unleash your killer sprunt, you are in the way. You are a “clogstacle.”

As a career clogstacle, I understand how this works. On the last lap of the NPR #fakerace, I tenaciously grab the wheel of EA Sports, Inc. People try to horn in but I elbow them out of the way.

With 1k to go the pace goes from torrid to unbearable. People are now fighting like mad for any shelter from the wind and are ready to kill in order to latch onto the wheel of EA Sports, Inc.

This is when I stand up, take my briefcase off the overhead rack, and quietly shuffle to the back of the bus while the real racers do their thing, i.e. risk death and catastrophic injury for the massive jolt of hormones that are released when you kill the mastodon with your sharpened stick.

Fortunately, there is constant churn at the #fakerace, and someone is always having to learn the Rule of Clogstacles. Last Tuesday the scholar-in-training was Aaron Somebody in a USC team kit.

There were a mere 400 meters to go and hardly anyone was left in the tattered front group. EA Sports, Inc., was locked onto the wheel of Dante Young as Davy Dawg wrapped it up so that the tires were whining like a cur getting beaten with an iron rod.

At this very inopportune moment, the USC rider decided that where he really wanted to be was where EA Sports, Inc. was, and physics not readily allowing two bodies to occupy Dante’s wheel at the same time, USC Boy did what any self-respecting sprunter would do. He leaned into EA Sports, Inc. to nudge him off the wheel.

Unfortunately, dense masses of muscle and ice cream do not nudge easily, and EA Sports, Inc. nudged back, sending USC Boy off on a somewhat different line of travel.

Undeterred, USC Boy came back to the buffet line to see if he could get another helping. This time the nudge was more of a hard bang, but dense muscle and ice cream and a 20-lb. weight advantage and a 150-lb. meanness advantage weren’t impressed.

EA Sports, Inc. moved his bars forward and then drifted back a few inches so that now the two gentlemen’s handlebars were locked together. “What do you think you’re doing?” EA Sports, Inc. politely inquired.

“That’s my wheel,” USC Boy said.

“I don’t see your name on it,” EA Sports, Inc. replied.

As the speed hit the mid-30’s and the actual sprunt was about to occur, and as EA Sports, Inc. was in the clear position to slightly twiggle his bars and send USC boy somersaulting atop the pavement, USC Boy relaxed on the pedals, the bars unhooked, and EA Sports, Inc. went flying around Dante for the immortal, unforgettable, legendarily mythic NPR #fakerace #fakewin.

I quit observing, folded up my Hubble telescope, and caught up to the scraggle at the light. EA Sports, Inc. and USC Boy were having what is often called an animated discussion but in cycling means “almost coming to blows” about who did what when how and why.

USC Boy tried to explain that he wanted to improve, that he was seeking instruction from the master, that he only wanted to rectify misunderstandings, but at the same time was insisting that EA Sports, Inc. had opened up a bit of a gap that he was merely trying to exploit.

“Dude,” EA Sports, Inc. said, “there was a massive gap all right.” He pointed his thumb at me. “But it wasn’t at the sharp end of the spear.”

USC Boy considered that for a moment, nodded, and went off to the university for what was presumably his second round of schooling for the day.

END


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World destroyer

September 30, 2019 § 3 Comments

The playground is a good place to look at the future. I was there yesterday with my two grandsons; talk about future shock. The parents are all in terrible shape, without exception. One grandmom was so handicapped with her weight that she couldn’t lift her toddler up to the water spigot.

There was exactly one dad, a Brit, huffing and puffing as he tried to follow his toddler through the playscape. In the space of five minutes I counted him saying ten times, this: “That’s great honey! That’s great! Let’s go get lunch now, okay?”

Lunch.

Which means beer and fooball.

The half-dozen moms were glued to their phones, showing their stuff in impossibly tight workout clothes that, I can assure you, had never seen any work. The other kids had nannies. One boy, eight or nine years old, continually tried to get his nanny to engage with him at all. Sorry, dude, because phone.

My first reaction to all of this was disgust, especially as I was sprinting through the playscape, chasing my grandkids around the park, waving my arms in the air like a madman (like?), bombing down the slide after them, and generally behaving like, well, a kid. That’s what playgrounds are for, right?

But on reflection I didn’t feel so good, and not just because I slammed my ribs into a steel bar and crumpled up in a ball for a bit, providing lots of entertainment for moms and kids alike. No, the real reason I felt bad is because I was playing with my grandkids at all.

At a playground filled with kids, why weren’t the kids playing with each other? Why weren’t they chasing each other? Fighting with each other? Laughing with each other? The more I looked at it, the more bizarre it was. An entire park filled with kids, each kid paired with at least one adult if not two, and no kid able or willing to play with any other kid who wasn’t a sibling.

Kids who can’t play with kids, and grownups too lazy and unfit to meaningfully engage with their own kids? It’s not looking good, folks.

And then I saw the news …

Megan Jastrab won the juniors world road race!

All of my fear of the future dissipated, or at least most of it did. Here is a young woman who has been a stand-out on the bike since she began racing it, a young woman who went to Europe, snagged a world title in the Madison with Zoe Ta-Perez, and then ripped a rainbow jersey from the jaws of the continental best on their own turf.

How much more impressive does it get? This the title that Greg Lemond won, heralding his entry into the elite amateur ranks and foreshadowing his reputation as the greatest U.S. cyclist ever after Major Taylor.

Reading about the race gave me chills, and not just because it took place in brutal weather that dampened Megan not one whit. It gave me chills because when you read her comments about the race, you see a brilliantly strategic mind, one molded to win bike races after the likes of Coryn Rivera, the only American to ever win one of cycling’s monuments.

Megan’s dominance on the bike across multiple disciplines harks back to the lineage of great women bike racers who hail from the USA, including Connie Carpenter, Rebecca Twigg, Sarah Hammer, and Kristin Armstrong, women whose combined Olympic and world title exploits dwarf those of their male counterparts. Of course there’s many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip, but Megan’s thumping of the world’s best this past weekend gives cause for hope.

Lots and lots of it!

END


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