March 16, 2018 § 3 Comments
Justice continues to be meted out with a firm hand in the great sport of cycling. Cyril Fontayne, 43-year-old masters mechanical doper, was criminally convicted of misdemeanor attempted fraud and sentenced to sixty hours of community service. In addition to his criminal conviction and sentence, Fontayne was banned from competition for five years and ordered to pay fines and restitution of 89 euros.
Lance Armstrong: No fine, no criminal charges.
Alberto Contador: No fine, no criminal charges, allowed to come back and win the TdF.
Chris Froome: No fine, no criminal charges, no suspension. If found guilty of doping will still be allowed to keep all titles in between the time of the positive test and the finding of guilt, meaning if he wins the Tour and Giro in 2018, he will keep both titles if his case is not resolved before then.
Etc., etc., etc.
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Beat the rap
February 23, 2018 § 6 Comments
Have you been accused (unfairly!) of cheating? Learn from Chris Froome how to prove you’re innocent!
- Deny doing anything wrong. “I haven’t done anything wrong!”
- Promise to investigate. “We will get to the bottom of this!”
- Express shock. “I have no idea how this happened!”
- Delegate to your flak. “We will show through laboratory testing that Chris’s kidneys weren’t working properly that day he won the queen stage and the overall of a grand tour.”
- Show empathy. “I understand how this is upsetting to people.”
- Appreciate support. “I am so thankful that the other racers have been supportive.”
- Spend money. “I’ve hired Killum, Lyan & Cheate to represent me in this matter.”
- Talk about due process. “We must respect the system and the process.”
- Focus on training. “I’ve done 5,000 km last month and feel great.”
- Repeat 1-9 endlessly.
Feel free to add your own …
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Tom Petty wouldn’t, either
February 5, 2018 § 3 Comments
Chris Froome’s dope-em-up continues to whip the tifosi into an ever finer souffle, with silly pronouncements following ridiculous demands and culminating in today’s CyclingNews fanboy plea, “Froome should suspend himself for the good of the sport.”
I would like to direct your attention to a popular song written by the recently-departed Tom Petty: “I Won’t Back Down,” and imagine that it is being sung by “Puffer” Froome. Because he’s not backing down.
The gist of the CyclingNews fanboy piece is that Froome has a moral obligation to suspend himself for the good of the sport. Fanboy Whittle, author of this deep piece, urges Puffer to suspend himself so that he can be “on the right side of history,” presumably because 300 years from now when people are looking at the pivotal moments that decided the course of human events, all eyes will be turned on how Puffer behaved at this moment, like Sir Neville Chamberlain and “peace in our time,” or something like that. Heady stuff, that underpants-bicycling fake sport thing.
The Whittler concludes by making clear what the stakes are should Puffer not do the right thing: “If Froome competes and wins a Grand Tour only to be later sanctioned, then he and his team will forever be seen under the same dark cloud as those that came before them.”
Wow. I think if I were Chris Froome reading that I would dash out to the nearest UCI firing squad, pin myself against a wall, and take my medicine.
Just kidding, no I wouldn’t.
If I were Chris Froome I’d be doing what Chris Froome is already doing: Training like a MoFo and getting ready to win the Giro and his fifth Tour. “Being under the same dark cloud as those that came before them?” I think Fanboy Whittle means “doping,” and here’s why his entire argument is a floofy frumpum of whompynoddle.
Let’s start with rules and due process. Froome hasn’t suspended himself because he hasn’t committed a doping infraction, yet. Who set up the rules allowing Froome to use up to 1,000 mL of Salbutamol despite knowing that it is a proven doping agent, and has been used as such for over twenty years? Why, that would be the UCI.
Who set up the rules saying that testing positive for too much salbutamol didn’t require an automatic suspension? Why, that would be the UCI.
And now we’re supposed to believe that a guy who makes 4.5 million euros a year riding his bicycle is going to toss into the can the very protections created by the organizing body that is now going to have to give him due process? And his reason for that would be what, exactly?
Fanboy Whittle says it’s ethics and morals and the good of the sport and the stakeholders, a stinking smorgasbord of sweet-sounding piffle if ever there was one.
“Ethics and morals”? Most people would say that following rules put in place to give an athlete the chance to prove his innocence is both ethical and moral, and, as everyone knows but glosses over, legal as well. (Oh. Yeah. Right.) Froome may be guilty but he still gets to put on his case; stripping him of those rights or demanding that he forego them is the very antithesis of ethical and moral.
“The good of the sport”? What does that even mean? That Froome somehow sees cycling as a noble and divine endeavor whose integrity all good cyclists have a sworn duty to defend? The sport of professional European cycling has proven itself at every turn to be a mean, exploitative, drug-ridden, mafia-like cult that puts a few at the pinnacle, grinds up the rest and tosses them on the trash heap. Pro cycling was and is a doper shitshow, and even if there were something pure and beautiful about it, why would anyone expect Froome to know or care? He rides for Team Skye and David Brailsford. His job is to win races without getting busted, not to honor some silly ideal.
“The stakeholders”? Who in the world could this possibly be, except for the owners of the Giro and the Tour? These are the very two entities, especially the Tour, who have done so much to keep pro cycling a provincial, corrupt, balkanized fake-sport, preventing its growth, keeping the cost of entry out of reach, and ensuring that the racers are impoverished and desperate from year to year. Froome is supposed to care about them?
Whittle does make mention of the fans but wisely doesn’t go too far in their defense because everyone who follows pro cycling even casually and doesn’t know that the pro peloton dopes is an imbecile. Fanboy Whittle needs to reflect that he is writing thinly disguised ad copy for a sport where they just busted fourteen racers for EPO in a single race, more than a decade after the EPO era supposedly ended.
Consider his options: Give away a few million euros, lose the chance to race, and by sitting out admit to what everyone is saying anyway–that he’s a cheat. Or, stay in the game, collect a few more million euros, win the big races, run the risk that he’s retroactively stripped, and have people say what they are saying anyway–that he’s a cheat.
Contador faced this same choice and said “Thank you, I’ll take your money and my chances.” He lost the titles but kept the cash.
Froome will, too.
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About Cycling in the South Bay: This the all-things-cycling blog about cycling in the South Bay and cycling in Los Angeles, maintained and authored by me, Seth Davidson, Torrance-based bicycle lawyer, bike racer, and personal injury attorney.
Wankmeister cycling clinic #30: Descending clinic
July 28, 2016 § 6 Comments
My biggest goal starting Jan. 1, 2016 was to be a better decenter. But I still decent like crap. Some people on my club, Rawr-Rawr Roadies, tell me to lift my butt higher off the seat to decent better but that seems to wobble. Other people tell me to put my butt lower on the top bar but that hurts my balls and is more wobbly. Then I watched some videos with Sagan and Froome doing the top bar + peddle action. Is that my decent solution?
I see lots of idiots like you going downhill, a/k/a “descending,” with their asses up off the saddle, stuck high in the air like they’re trying to pick up a TV transmission or air out their peg-hole. Don’t do that. The way gravity works, when you stick a bunch of mass up high over a tiny bike, the two get separated really easily. So put your ass on the saddle where it belongs.
I see lots of other idiots doing the Sagz and Froome tuck. That is marginally okay when you weigh 48 pounds, you race for a living, and you can wheelie across the line after a stage in the Tour after throwing down an 1,800-watt sprint. But when you are a 245-pound Heffalump who couldn’t ride in a straight line when hitched to a rope, wedging your massive ass in between the saddle and the stem in order to get into a top tube crouch will:
- Shatter your carbon frame.
- Crash out anyone behind you.
- Get 12 billion YouTube hits.
So it’s a tough decision. Choose wisely.
I often get beat on long climbs even though I’m a really good climber. I’ll be going good and then *pop* I’m done and everyone rides away. What’s the deal? Is it my gearing?
No, it’s not your gearing. Or your cadence or even your power. There is a point in every climb where it is simply no longer efficient to pedal, and you can go faster on foot.
Next time you start to feel like you’re going to blow and come off the wheel, jump off your bike, hand it to your team mechanic or girlfriend and jog along behind the leaders. Pretty soon your heart rate will come down, the lactic acid will drain out of your epithelial scaphoids, and after a couple of minutes you’ll be able to get back on your bike and pedal away.
Working smarter not harder,
I saw this picture and I’m in love. How do I get to look like this?
Truth be told, it’s not that hard. I think if you put your mind to it you can get there in a couple of weeks; 20 pounds sounds like a lot but in reality it’s not. With some self discipline and the help of a nutritionist to make sure you’re getting all the right stuff, you can look like this quickly and not notice any big changes other than the fact that your clothes won’t fit like they used to — but that’s why we have department stores. If you turn it into a fun family or workplace challenge you’ll be there before you know it and you will feel 100% better about yourself. Watch your body image skyrocket; trust me, I’ve been there. Living in an unhealthy, ugly, and socially abnormal body isn’t good for your life in general, to heck with bike racing.
You’re talking about the photo on the right, correct?
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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:
- 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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Froome declines to ride ’15 Tour, chooses SoCal Cup crit series instead
October 23, 2014 § 11 Comments
2013 Tour de France winner and not-very-good-rider-in-a-pack cycling dude Chris Froome has announced that he may forego the 2015 Tour de France, whose route was announced yesterday.
“The team and I will have to give it some careful consideration before we make any commitments to which races I will compete in,” he said in at a press conference held at his nursery. “I see myself as quite a balanced rider and the SoCal Cup crit series with its inclusion of a bunch of short, easy laps around an arsenic factory, and tough finishes sprunting for water bottles make it a well balanced race which suits me well. If I did the whole series, including the races put on by Lotts, I may also be able to get myself back to top shape for Grand Park training races and go there with a realistic chance of aiming for the win.”
Incredulous journalists swarmed the Bottoms Up Nursery for interviews after being vetted by Fanny O’Cowlick, the head wet nurse. Jean-Francois Mitterand du Fromage Puant, noted notary public and bicycling expert, was filled with outrage. “Ee skeeps le Tour pour zees Creet Zeries? Mon Dieu! Quelle fou! Cherchez les femmes!”
Froome, however, calmly answered his detractors after Fanny removed his pacifier and changed his soppy didy. “There’s no two ways about it, next year’s Tour is going to be about the mountains. There’s very little emphasis on short office park crits, which means the race will be decided up in the high mountains by men with giant testicles, covered with thick growths of jungle-like hair. With six mountaintop finishes it is going to be an aggressive and massively demanding race,” said Froome.
“Not that I couldn’t hack it,” he added. “But after looking at the Ontario prize list and the chance to sprint against the Surf City train, it just seems like SoCal is the better place for me. Plus, I can always use a couple of new water bottles and gain experience by leading out Charon.”
Jan van de Ooperckx, another noted notary public and cycling commentator, posed a number of questions to Froome. However, Ms. O’Cowlick refused to let her charge take further questions. “He’s got a booboo on his po-po, and we gots to burp the little bugger,” she said as she deftly stuck a dripping nipple into Froome’s toothless gum and simultaneously scrubbed his ass with a wet wipe. “But I can answer for him,” she added.
“Thing is,” said Fanny, “Froomykins crashed out of the 2014 Tour before getting a taste of the pave but he actually quite enjoys the challenge of riding on the cobbles. It’s true he pooped a bit in his drawers and fell off ‘is bike a couple of times and got some more boo-boo’s on his po-po, but ‘e likes it when ‘e gets a spot of a spankin’, don’t you, Froomykins?” Ms. Cowlick then smacked her charge on the buttocks with a soup spoon as he wailed happily, in a sad kind of way.
“Now all you bad men go away, especially you smelly French ones,” said Ms. O’Cowlick. “It’s Froomykins’s bedtime.”
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The taco strikes back
September 7, 2014 § 9 Comments
I rode my bike to the Milt Olin protest ride on Wednesday. It was in Calabasas, a solid two-and-a-half hour pedal from the South Bay. Milt was run over in the bike lane by a cop who was texting on his phone and typing on his mobile computer. The ride was organized to protest the decision by assistant district attorney minion Rosa Alarcon not to file misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter charges against the deputy.
Even a slap on the wrist, apparently, was too much to ask.
There was a soul-sapping headwind all the way out the bike path. At CotKU, no one was waiting to join me, understandable since most people at 2:00 PM the Wednesday after Labor Day weekend are working. Coming into Santa Monica the most frightening thing in 32 years of bicycling happened.
I was riding in the bike lane on Main Street, just north of Abbot Kinney, when a Range Rover going the other direction swerved over into my lane. Accelerating to well over 50 mph, the bearded psycho leaned out the window and spit at me. Unfortunately for him, the onrushing wind blew the spit back into his face. Nor could he hop back into his lane because he’d overtaken three cars traveling in his direction, so he went even faster.
When I turned around to shoot the bird, he jerked back into his lane so hard that he almost flipped his car. I imagined the headline: “Cyclist killed en route to memorial ride for killed cyclist.”
Farther along in Santa Monica I stopped at the Ocean Park toilets but no one was waiting there either, so I pedaled on. Ascending Topanga Canyon I was passed by Peppy, the British neo-Cat 4 who regularly drills, grills, and kills on the NPR. “I waited at the Ocean Park toilets,” he said. “Where were you?”
“I didn’t see anyone so I kept going.”
“Um,” he said, exacting his vengeance with a nasty pace all the way up the climb.
We reached the assembly point for the memorial ride. There was a helicopter, as well as news trucks from every major TV station. The assistant district attorney’s decision not to prosecute had outraged the bicycling community. “Rosa Alarcon licks balls!” said one angry cyclist.
We put on arm bands and rolled out at 4:30, heading towards downtown, a mere three hours distant, through the worst traffic in the San Fernando Valley. I only had one water bottle and it was empty. The air in the valley was wretched and loaded with marble-sized particulates. A hacking cough began and we caught every light, hundreds and thousands of them, all the way to downtown. At one point our group split in half when the leaders rolled through a yellow light.
We remnants didn’t know the route and the leaders vanished in the distance. A mad chase ensued, with me and Peppy doing a desperate time trail to bridge and alert the leaders that half the group was four stoplights and twelve light years back. The hacking cough migrated down to the lowest part of my lungs.
In Burbank we were joined by a rider who was wearing a Total Team Sky Outfit And Team Bike. He looked just like Chris Froome except for his backpack, in which he carried a portable, hi-fidelity speaker. It was connected to his iPod, and he blasted us with an endless stream of terrible music, including Elvis, the Beatles, New Age Christian, hip-hop, Frank Sinatra, and jazz fusion. The music was so loud that when it paused between songs the background noise of LA’s rush hour traffic sounded muted, silent, pastoral.
This lasted until 7:30, when we reached the LA County District Attorney’s office. The ride had swelled as we crossed the city, and a candlelight vigil was held in Milt’s honor. Marv, Don, Brendan, and JF had joined the ride after work, and these four South Bay riders, along with me and Peppy, headed back home on Venice Boulevard in the pitch black.
It might as well have been Venice-Roubaix, so cracked and scarred and chug-holed were the roads. We had lights, but speeding along in a pace line they only illuminated the ass of the rider in front. Peppy had bonked and I was dead, even as the fresh South Bay foursome laid down a grueling pace.
JF, who had been noticeably absent from the working end of the paceline, came to the fore at last and put in a mighty turn. Peppy had yet to take a single pull, and I was about to pop. Suddenly JF, forty whole seconds into his effort, shouted out “El Dolor del Estomago! The most famous taco truck in the city!”
Almost taking us all out with a might brake and swerve, JF zoomed into the packed parking lot, where fifty people stood in line for the best of El Dolor’s offerings. Half an hour later we were standing against a trash can, each polishing of a mound of chicken-and-habanero-bean tacos.
Whether it was the energy of the food or the roaring volcano in his bowels, Peppy came to life. Everyone else retreated the other way, towards death, as he dragged us at 30mph down the barely-lit, cratered asphalt of Venice Blvd. After several miles Brendan dropped off, pleading menstrual cramps. Marv spied a blinking light that said “Beer” and vanished. JF, whose idea the taco stop had been, metamorphosed into a rolling effluent pipe.
We all parted ways on the bike path, except for Marv, who had been smart enough to stop when he found an open bar. I made it to Malaga Cove at 9:30 and called my wife to pick me up. I’m sure I’ve felt worse on a bike, but it’s hard to pinpoint when. Then I thought about Milt Olin, struck down in the prime of life, father and husband, killed by a cop who was too lazy to pull over and text.
My exhaustion evaporated and I felt grateful for being alive and angry at the kangaroo court’s cowardice. What happened to this kind and gentle man could happen to any of us, and on the way to the ride, in my case it almost did. Over a 150 people showed up on bikes and crossed the entire city to register their outrage and to demand justice for Milt, justice for every other person who dares risk death simply by riding a bicycle. With only three months left before the statute of limitations tolls, time is running out for the DA to do the right thing.
Won’t you take a few minutes out of your day to make your voice heard? The link is here with contact information and sample letters to email the DA. With prime time news coverage on every major news channel, District Attorney Jackie Lacey can be called to account only through the strength of your voice. Please help. Don’t give up.
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Froome out of Tour, vows he’ll be back “on Friday”
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!
10 reasons the World Cup is better than the Tour de France
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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The ugliest sport
August 18, 2013 § 30 Comments
I am an ugly rider. I bob up and down. I weave back and forth. I make unpleasant gasping sounds when going hard. My thin arms stick out at odd angles like a praying mantis. I have been called “Twigman,” “Mantis,” “The Human Loom,” and of course plain old “Wanker.”
But you know what? I’m an amateur, and not a particularly good one. My ugly riding style is just one more check-mark in the long list of qualities that define me as a weekend hacker.
What’s more than passing strange, though, is the ugliness of the professionals. Because you know, it didn’t always used to be that way.
The most beautiful sport
If you look at any of the classic cycling videos — A Sunday in Hell, or the 1973 World Championships in Spain — it’s impossible not to be struck with the smoothness of the riders. Of course each one is idiosyncratic; funny motions and unique pedaling styles make each rider as distinct as a thumbprint. But despite each rider’s individual style, the grace and smoothness of the riding is incredible, even over the rough and ragged paving stones to Roubaix.
Then, to see how far we’ve fallen, look at the Tour of 2013.
The winner is perhaps the worst example of ugly cycling to ever appear in the pro peloton. Froome’s ungainly, awkward, uncomfortable, and erratic pedaling make his riding ugly beyond belief, and the hilarious photo essay of “Chris Froome Looking at Stems” only proves the point: The head-droop that causes experienced racers to shout, “Keep your head up, dumbshit!” is emblematic of a man who just won the Tour de France. Yet he’s hardly alone. Jerky, forced, unnatural, uncomfortable riding styles abound. How did the beauty of 1973 become the unbearable ugliness of 2013?
The biggest difference between then and now is that pro cyclists don’t race their bikes very much. In 1975, the year that Eddy Merckx lost the tour, he entered a staggering 195 races, everything from classics to grand tours to local criteriums. Nor was he the exception, because in those days pro riders made their money at the smaller events. Merckx has said that if he had been paid better, he would have raced less.
Chris Froome’s racing schedule in 2013 was comprised of the Tour of Oman (6 races), Tirreno-Adriatico (7 stages), Criterium Internationale (3 stages), Tour of Romandie (6 races), Criterium du Dauphine (8 races), and the Tour de France (21 races). His total race calendar for the year was a meager 51 races, and when you lop out the time trials and prologues it was even less.
From the perspective of developing good riding skills, the generation of racers who became professionals by racing their bikes rather than by doing specific lab, heart rate, or power-based workouts had countless more racing miles than modern Pro Tour racers. It’s my opinion that the huge number of races over so much different terrain — riders would often do track and cyclocross after the road season ended, in addition to muddy spring classics and summertime tours — made them smoother, more fluid, more skilled, and better riders.
Equipment and training miles
In addition to huge miles in training and racing, Ol’ Backintheday rode equipment that required skills. You had to reach the down tube to shift. You had fewer gears to choose from. Your bike was heavier. Your wheels were slower. Your feet weren’t very firmly bound to your pedals. Your shoe soles were soft.
Professionals had to be able to pedal and operate machinery that was more finicky than today’s push-button, wrist-flicking technology. The best example I can think of that shows how degenerate the pro peloton’s skills generally are is by comparing them with modern track racers, who still have the same bike handling limitations that they had fifty years ago.
The track is narrow and unforgiving. The speeds are high. The equipment tolerates little if any jerky, quirky, ugly riding, especially at the level of world class competition. The result? Elite track racers remain beautiful to watch, their efficient, measured, and controlled movements in complete harmony with the bike.
I’ll always ride ugly. But Chris Frooome and his cohorts could stand for a beauty makeover. It might make me forget about their volcano doping, if only for a little while.