Just put your head down and everything will be okay
September 4, 2015 § 11 Comments
Ol’ Cracks doesn’t call me often, but when he does I drop what I’m doing and take the call. Thank goodness I wasn’t holding my future grandbaby.
“How the hell are ya?” growled Ol’ Cracks, his Texas accent thicker than bacon grease on a Southern hooker’s shirt sleeves.
“Can’t complain,” I said.
“Yer a lyin’ sack of rotten oats,” he said. “All the hell you ever do is complain.”
“Now that you mention it,” I said.
“Now lissen up,” said Ol’ Cracks, which was not an invitation to flesh out my nascent complaint. “‘Cuz I got a story for ya.”
I moved from my office desk to my office bed and stretched out. “Shoot.” I knew I wouldn’t even need a notepad.
“You ‘member Gizzards?”
“Gizzards? Was he the guy who was blind in one eye and couldn’t see too well out of the other? Kind of rotund?”
“Naw, you got him confused with Big Piles.”
“Which one was Gizzards?”
“He was the dumb bastard.”
“That doesn’t narrow it down much.”
“Well anyhow, Gizzards got one of his buddies into cycling and started bringing him along on the Sunday Gutterfuck Ride.”
“How’d that work out for him?”
“We gutterfucked him coming out the dogdamn parking lot every time, but he kept coming.”
“Okay. So what?”
“Well, Gizzard’s pal’s name is Stumpnagel but everyone calls him Sags.”
“Hell, first off, his belly hangs down onto the top tube, so that’s your Sag Number One. And then when he gets tired, which is after the first five minutes, his head droops over the stem like the bend in a vulture’s neck. That’s Sag Number Two.”
“Sag Number Three?” I was almost afraid to ask.
“He’s allus the first bastard in the sag wagon.”
“Sag wagon? Since when did you guys start riding with a sag wagon?”
“Aw hell, never. That’s what we call the cars he flags down after we’ve gutterfucked him offn a ditch fifty miles from home.”
“Okay, so back to the saga of Sags.”
“So one day Sags and Gizzard come up to me and they say ‘Ol’ Cracks, how can we get better? You’ve been winning races for thirty years and you never train and you’re drunk half the time and you’re lazy as a post office supervisor. What’s the secret?'”
“What’d you tell ’em?”
“Same thing I tell everybody. I said, ‘Listen up you dumbasses, you suck and you always will. You’ll never win a race because you’re slow and stupid, in that order.'”
“They got all mad but next week they come up again and were just as sassy as a sixteen-year-old with big boobs and Gizzard says, ‘Ol’ Cracks we’ve signed up for Big George’s training camp in South Carolina and we’re gonna ride with some pros and get fast and come back here and stomp your ass.'”
“I bet you didn’t take that lying down.”
“No, sir, I did not. Told ’em they were just as slow and stupid as they’d been last week and that the only thing they’d get throwing money at a lying, cheating, doping ex-pro was poor.”
“How much did it cost?”
“Five grand for the first sucker, I mean trainee, and $2500 for the second one.”
“Big George has a good gig going. Ride around with a couple of hicks for $7,500 bucks? Hell, it couldn’t be any worse than riding around with you, which I do for free.”
“You’re just as big a fool as Sags and Gizzard. You think Big George rides around with these yahoos? He escorts ’em out of the parking lot to the base of a climb and leaves ’em at the rear like a dingleberry on a horse’s ass. Then five hours later he circles back to the hotel, pats ’em on the back, cashes another check, and goes home to his wife and EPO.”
“So they’re out there all alone?”
“Oh, no. Big George ain’t dumb. That’s what all those washed up pros and masters national champs are for. He pays THEM a pittance to ride around with Sags and Gizzards and change their diapers.”
“So what happened? They came back and kicked your ass?”
“You got a good imagination,” he said. “But not quite. On the first day Gizzard gets put in a lodge that has a housecat, and he’s deathly allergic to cat hair, and the housecat has layered the place with six inches of fur, so Gizzard swells up like a pumpkin and winds up in the ER on an inhaler.”
“Sags starts at the bottom of Big Corkscrew Mountain, a twelve-mile climb with sixty-three switchbacks and an average pitch of 23 percent, and when I say ‘starts’ I mean ‘almost tips over.’ His nursemaid is Cardboard Box O’Houlihan.”
“Cardboard Box O’Houlihan? Last year’s 35+ masters national road champ? The guy who lives in a … ”
“Cardboard box. Yeah, that’s him. So CB rides off and then about halfway up he stops to wait for Sags. Way off in the distance, here comes Sags, head down spinning at 4 or 7 rpm, tacking like a catamaran, all 235 lbs. of him grunting and groaning and grinding up that fuckin’ hill.”
“O’Houlihan’s phone rings and he pulls it out to see who’s calling. About that time Sags, whose head is still down, t-bones O’Houlihan at about 3 mph.”
“Thank goodness he was going slow.”
“You ever been hit by a piano going 3 mph?”
“Guess what? It fuggin’ hurts, especially when it lands on your leg, which Sags did, and it snapped O’Houlihan’s femur like a matchstick. O’Houlihan is writhing on the ground saying ‘You dumb motherfucker you run into me going UPHILL you dumb bastard!’ They fly him out or more likely drive him out in a pig manure truck.”
“Then what happened?”
“Sags comes home and I tell him man, you are one stupid sonofabitch. Couldn’t you make something up so’s you don’t look like such a brainless rhino? Running into a national champ going uphill? How the fuck does that even happen? And of course he says, ‘I dunno, but it was O’Houlihans’ fault.'”
“Yeah, for stopping on the side of the road, to which I said, you dumb bastard he stopped because he was waiting for you because that’s his fucking job!”
“So did his fitness improve?”
“I don’t know, he was only in town for a couple of days after that.”
“Where’d he go?”
“The Levi Leipheimer training camp somewhere in California.”
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The coming confession
October 17, 2012 § 186 Comments
Lance is getting ready to confess. He’ll make the announcement in the next few days, or he’ll wait until the UCI strips him of his titles and announce it then.
I’m predicting the former.
Armstrong is the ultimate in realpolitik. He showed his hand when he walked away from the arbitration hearing, betting correctly that there was no way he would beat the testimony of his closest confidantes.
Like an expert chess player losing pieces as strategically as possible to slow in the inexorable march to checkmate, Lance first lost the cycling world, then the triathlon and running worlds, then the sponsored spokesman world, and finally the queen on his chessboard, the chairmanship of Livestrong.
When Nike announced that Lance had misled them for over a decade, and that it believed he cheated to win, the game unofficially ended. Trek, HoneyStinger, Anheuser-Busch, Radio Shack all bravely reversed course after defending him to the bitter end. The only pawn left to mop up is Oakley. They’ll walk when he confesses or when the UCI strips or when they’re the last sponsor standing, whichever comes first.
The text of his confession
What’s most predictable is the text of his confession. He will admit to breaking the rules. He will admit to using performance enhancing drugs. He will apologize for having misled fans.
However, like Leipheimer and Hincapie, drug addicts whose entire careers were built on cheating, he will never admit that his actions were morally reprehensible. He will insist that he had no other choice. He will justify it with the oldest line of all: “If you weren’t there, you’ll never really understand it.”
He will never apologize for tearing down those who opposed him or who rightly tagged him as a drug cheat. He will never say he’s sorry for the damage he did to Emma O’Reilly, Betsy Andreu, Paul Kimmage, David Walsh, Greg Lemond, Tyler, Floyd, or any of the others he tarred as disgruntled liars, media hacks, serial perjurers, prostitutes, and worst of all, as ugly fat people.
There will absolutely be mention of his family, and of the difficulty he had in speaking about it with them. And there will be a brash, unrepentant sortie into the guns of his accusers with a bold statement about his real life’s work–curing cancer and helping those affected by it–and how nothing will ever stand in his way of fighting to achieve these things until his dying breath.
He will thank those who stood by him, without naming names due to their upcoming arbitration hearings and/or possibility of criminal proceedings in their home countries.
He will mention the doping culture in which he developed as a racer, without calling it a drug-crazed free-for-all that, at his apogee, he directed and ruthlessly managed for extraordinary personal and professional gain.
He will, if he’s the Lance of old, possibly issue a call to arms to clean up the sport once and for all, and name himself leader in the fight.
And if the captain’s Tecate is plentiful enough, he may even ask that those who so strenuously oppose doping take a hard look at all professional sports, and see if it’s any different from cycling.
He will reflect proudly on his victories.
He will make reference to the fact that without the drugs he would have won anyway.
And then he will tell everyone to get out of his way so that he can go fight some more cancer.
The end game
Lance’s dilemma is unique, because being branded a doper exposes him to significant litigation and because it chokes off the revenue from his nonathletic endeavors, which are vastly more important than his sporting income.
He knows all of this, and by now he’s simply reviewing the numbers. Mark Fabiani and Tim Herman have told him point-blank that it’s over, that no one who matters believes him anymore, and that soon, the people who matter least of all–the cancer patients, hobby triathletes, and Livestrong Kool-Aid freaks–won’t believe him, either.
“How much is my exposure to SCA?”
“Potentially ten million, without punitive damages. But there’s no guarantee you’ll lose at arbitration, and most importantly, that exposure is there whether you confess or not.”
“Payback to sponsors for breach of contract, fraud?”
“They won’t want the bad publicity of having blindly supported a drug cheat. Minimal risk, but, as with SCA, that exposure exists whether or not you confess.”
“Same. They’d have huge statute of limitations problems and would be open to equitable defenses like laches and unclean hands.”
“You’ll make less since you’re no longer the chairman. But you can still charge the foundation for appearances and the usual stuff. However, there’ll be less of it the longer you hold off on the confession. Nike’s statement that they’re dumping you but keeping Livestrong may be the way forward for a lot of people on the board, and you need to stop that before it starts. You do not want the organization to conclude that it doesn’t have to have Lance to thrive. The longer you deny, the more uncomfortable the foundation will become as people begin asking THE question: ‘What’s the board’s position on his drug use, and why is a career cheater sitting on the board?'”
“Bottom line: What’s my financial risk to confessing now versus confessing after the UCI strips me versus not confessing at all?”
“Confess now, earn a little goodwill, take the heat off your supporters who are having to defend you against popular opinion, facts, and common sense. Active damage control and repositioning can begin immediately. Levi and George are still getting love even within the cycling community and are being called ‘brave’ and ‘courageous.’ Confess after the UCI strips and you’ll look like a shotgun groom. Don’t confess at all and you’ll look like a sociopath. Your value will go to near-zero. You’ll be marginalized, then pushed off the board. And that last part may happen anyway.”
How can you be so sure, Wankmeister?
I’m sure because the only two alternatives don’t fit the facts or the history. The first alternative is that he will never admit the truth because he’s a sociopath in denial. This looks like a good fit at first until you understand that he’s trying to minimize damage. A sociopath such as Bruyneel or Ferrari would have fought the charges in arbitration.
The second alternative is that he’ll never confess because he’s principled. We saw how that played out when he copped to USADA’s claims by abandoning his right to arbitration.
Most importantly, doping in cycling at such an advanced level raises questions about other sports, and the involvement of Nike and the whispers regarding its having acted as the conduit to pay off the UCI’s cover-up of Lance’s positive test in the 1999 Tour mean that real journalists–the kind who rarely cover cycling–may take the same kind of vigorous approach to football, soccer, and track and field that Paul Kimmage took to Lance’s shenanigans.
In short, the most expedient thing for him to do is to stop the bleeding and reassure the world that this kind of stuff only happens in cycling.
And nowhere else.
You got that?
Amgen Tour of California Cat 3 Road Race
May 16, 2012 § 5 Comments
I recently upgraded to Cat 3 and am pretty fucking proud of that. Participation in all those races was hard. So I showed up at the start in Santa Rosa for a same-day race reg, and guess what? Douchebaguettes wouldn’t let me enter. “No registration on race day,” or some bullshit. There wasn’t even a sign-in table for pre-regs.
Like I said, douchebaguettes.
But I didn’t go down without a fight. I got hold of the race director dude. “Yo, race director dude. How come there’s no race-day sign ups? This is bullshit.”
“Sorry. It’s a UCI invitation-only race. But there is an event for cyclo-dorks like you to ride around the course and feel like you’re racing.”
“Fuck that shit. I came to race. This is the fucking perfect Cat 3 race for me. A couple of these races have my fucking name engraved on them. I could upgrade to Cat 2.”
“Uh, this is a UCI pro race. Ever heard of Tom Boonen? Levi Leipheimer? Chris Horner? Peter Sagan?”
“They’re doing this race. It’s not a Cat 3 race.”
“First off, you’re a liar. Carl Sagan is dead. And he’s an astronomer.”
“Peter Sagan! The pro!”
“Peter, Paul, Mary, Carl, who gives a rat’s ass? It’s a fucking Cat 3 race and I want in.”
Security tries to stifle my First Amendment rights
Anyway, they didn’t let me register. Since getting released from the facility, though, I’ve been following the race real closely. And let me tell you, it’s a fucking Cat 3 bike race if there ever was one.
First off, the same wanker has won every stage. Ever see that in a good Cat 2 race? Nope. So it’s a Cat 3 race from that standpoint.
Next, it’s total Cat 3 road racing. Ride flat for a hundred miles. Go over two hard hills. Everybody sprunt together. Now sure, most Cat 3 road races aren’t a hundred miles long, but they always stay together and end in a big ol’ sprunt. If it was even a half-assed 45+ RR, fuckin’ G$ or DQ Louie or THOG or DJ or Roadchamp would be cracking ass and spitting the wankers out on the first climb.
Next next, it’s total Cat 3 faux stage racing. Cat 3 stage races have a crit, a TT, and a RR. The winner of the TT wins the whole thing. Okay, you’re gonna be like “This is EIGHT stages!” and “There aren’t any CRITS!” Awright, douchebaguette, so instead of a crit it’s got seven “road” races. But just because you add a fake pair of tits and butt implants don’t make you a chick. This Cat 3 ATOC deal is gonna come down to the TT. You watch.
Lookit this fuckin thing. Three stages over all these supposedly hilly routes that are supposedly gonna bust up the whole race and supposedly make it a thriller and there are still like 400 dudes contending for the win ’cause they’re only 30 seconds back. I’m telling you this is Cat 3 shit.
Now, next next next, it’s fucking Cat 3 from top to bottom because if there’s one thing you know about Cat 3 racing it’s fucking sandbagging. There was never a sandbagger who sandbagged like a Cat 3 wanker. And what do you have here? Dudes who fucking won P-R, and all kinds of badass Euro shit, instead of manning up and riding the Giro which is a real fucking race, they’re douchebagging it in Cali, tweedling through the fucking desert and along the coast and up the anus of the Central Valley and through the rectum of Palmdale, getting their nutsacks licked at night by the fangirls and getting their nuthairs combed by the fanboy bloggers and charity riders I mean if you wanna talk sandbagging douchebaggery these dudes are Cat 3 all the way.
I’m gonna be there on Friday and Saturday, though. If it’s anything like a Cat 3 CBR crit, after they have a few off-the-backers and no-show-losers and got-a-booboo-on-my-elbow quitters, they’ll see me flash my $35 and I’ll have a number pinned to my ass quicker than you can say “Bag of pistachios to the winner of the next lap!”
Don’t look for me at the front, though. I’ll be sitting in for the sprunt. Cat 3 all the way, baby.