Saturday, December 29, 2007
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Last week Cozy Beehive wrote about an interest in what the training diaries of famous professional cyclists might read like. I found the idea intriguing. Aside from the typical numbers, heart rates, and wattage, what other glimpses of their life might we gleen from their intimate writings? Might they spill the beans on late night trips to the fridge for secret ice cream and cookie binges or, possibly divulge something more sinister?
Fortunately, I've got a Way-Back machine to sort this curiosity out. Eddy Merckx was my first target, naturally. You might be surprised by what I've learned.
Maertens is a SHIT! I felt strong. The legs were good. I had a gap and then all of a sudden it's faggy Freddy smiling at me, telling me to ease up and he'll lead me out. The son of a bitch chased me down and has the nerve to say that bullshit lie? Goddamn am I pissed! That Shimano riding mother fucker is dead to me. DEAD! At least Felice won...and the next time some asshole tries to swipe my cap off my head he's getting a mouthful of broken teeth.
Went for a long spin with Swerts. 100km of which seemed uphill. The legs were heavy and felt like I was pushing a plow the whole way. Roger really cracks me up. Every time we passed a woman he'd put two fingers in the air and yell "Beeeeeeuuuuuoooooooo". I'm not sure what the hell he means by it, probably something perverted. It was hilarious though.
Motorpaced for 5 hours today. I only wanted to do 3 hours, but Jean tricked me into another 2 by getting "lost". I swear that guy is trying to kill me. I was really on the rivet the last 50km and was looking forward to a hot shower when I got home. Right when I walk in the door Claudine is on my ass going on about how I didn't take out the garbage this morning and when she did the bag broke and spilled all over the kitchen floor. I was tired, so I wasn't thinking straight and said it was because of those shitty trash bags she buys. Oh man, was she angry! I tried to apologize, but she wouldn't have any of it. Me and my big fucking mouth...
What a ride today! I did almost 300km with Swerts, Lievens, and Van den Bossche. I felt really strong and pushed the pace quite a bit. Lievens threw up twice! I rode a new bike Ernesto dropped off. It was pretty nice, not as soft as those Peugeots we used to have. The seat still seems to be a little low though... Gotta remember to do some measurements before we roll tomorrow.
Another long one today with Swerts and Van den Bossche. Lievens said he was sick and didn't come. What a pussy. We did the usual route and stopped for espressos at Johan's. I had a few cakes because Claudine didn't make breakfast this morning and I was starving. VdB got a flat on the way home and we had to wait twenty minutes while he fixed it. We started laughing because he's such a terrible mechanic, like a gorilla with no thumbs. With us watching him, he got nervous and couldn't do anything right. Swerts started calling him "Fartin Van den Douche", I laughed my ass off at that. Martin just got all red and silent. He was alright once we got rolling though. When we got home Claudine was yelling at Sabrina about something. I didn't ask. She's still hacked about the other day. I went in and checked on Axel. You wouldn't believe the shit he took! It was like a split pea body suit. All over the place. It was disgusting. Then, while I'm cleaning all the crap off, he starts making this sound "Beeeeeeuuuuuuooooo!" "Beeeeeuuuuuooooo!" Swerts must have taught him that when I wasn't around. I never laughed so hard changing a shitty diaper. I'm gonna really put it to Swerts tomorrow though...and the cakes are on him.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
"There are several vital points raised by the new revelations in The New York Times that "the N.S.A.'s reliance on telecommunications companies is broader and deeper than ever before" and includes both pre-9/11 efforts to tap without warrants into the nation's domestic communications network as well as the collection of vast telephone records of American citizens in the name of the War on Drugs. The Executive Branch and the largest telecommunications companies work in virtually complete secrecy -- with no oversight and no notion of legal limits -- to spy on Americans, on our own soil, at will.
More than anything else, what these revelations highlight -- yet again -- is that the U.S. has become precisely the kind of surveillance state that we were always told was the hallmark of tyrannical societies, with literally no limits on the government's ability or willingness to spy on its own citizens and to maintain vast dossiers on those activities. The vast bulk of those on whom the Government spies have never been accused, let alone convicted, of having done anything wrong. One can dismiss those observations as hyperbole if one likes -- people want to believe that their own government is basically benevolent and "tyranny" is something that happens somewhere else -- but publicly available facts simply compel the conclusion that, by definition, we live in a lawless surveillance state, and most of our political officials are indifferent to, if not supportive of, that development."
Read more here.
"Who's Rockwell?" I hear someone ask. Boop.
Friday, December 14, 2007
Stay careful out there.
The victim has had little luck getting the police to act, even though he has the vehicle’s license number and its registered owner. But so far the driver’s insurance has failed to pay the cyclist’s medical bills and the police department is interested only in securing a conviction against the cyclist for the missing bell. They don’t seem to be bothered by the fact he was run down by a van and the motorist then fled the scene. A classic case of car-head.
The cyclist, of course, now regrets ever calling the police in the first place, telling a reporter “I can’t give you an example where the police have helped the situation in any cycling incident I know of.”
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
In light of the wintry mess of the midwest, when I pedal through the blackened snow and salt covered roads, I think of the 1988 Giro d'Italia's Passo Gavia.
Some have dubbed it "The day the hard men cried". It was a legendary stage where some of the premier greats of cycling were reduced to shivering masses of flesh and bone. Bob Roll said he stopped every ten or so minutes to run with his bike to get feeling back into his feet. Photos of that day are nearly whited out with vague figures in ominous silence. Erik Breukink won the stage. Andy Hampsten's second place paved his way to an overall victory adorned in the maglia rosa. Everyone suffered.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
And those eyes! That fixed gaze off camera was conquest in it's rawest form. He seemed to say "I will take this competition and shit it out my ass!" My long search for a role model had finally ended.
This was true poetry in motion. In my mind, the photo became a flowing canvas that was alive and strangely animalistic. It breathed, suffered, ascended, descended, sprinted, and won and lost. I wanted to be a part of that. I wanted to be like Maurizio Fondriest.
Maurizio Fondriest stunned the world in 1988 when he snatched victory in the World Championship Road Race ahead of a crash involving the two would be 1-2 podium finishers of Claude Criquileon and Steve Bauer. Regardless of where your alliances lie, Fondriest certainly wore his new stripes well in the years that followed.
If 1988 was a foreshadowing of things to come, 1991 was confirmation. That was the year Maurizio won his first World Cup. His consistency as a professional in the european peloton was duly noted and Fondriest found himself a marked man.
1993 Blessed Fondriest's palmares with a dizzying 23 professional victories including Milan - San Remo, Fleche Wallone, GP du Midi Libre (3 stages and overall), and a stage in the Giro d'Italia. His dominance that year was repayed with a second overall victory in the World Cup.
In 1995 Maurizio was at it again when he claimed victory in a Giro d'Italia stage and finished second in Ghent - Wevelgem, Milan - San Remo, Fleche - Wallone, and Tirreno Adriatico overall.
Fondriest was one of the classiest riders of the peloton and one of a handful that truly inspired me to ride my bike. For that, Maurizio gets Mad Props 2x.
Well, dear reader. Feast your eyes upon these photos. Everything that is old, is new again. These photos are of an approximately 40 year old Chiorda folding bike with one hell of a integrated crank/bb. This is Feeves' new emergency bike for his not getting any younger Nissan. Allez!
Monday, December 10, 2007
Back in the day, we'd tear open a bike box, peel off the cardboard tube protectors, cut the zip ties, build the bike, and roll it out onto the sales floor in hopes of a modest profit. These days, things are a little different. There's one extra annoying and shameful step. Peeling off a multitude of goddamn warning stickers.
If you were to pull out a new bike from the confines of its cardboard placenta, you'll usually find no less than four yellow and black stickers cautioning the daring new owner on the dangers of cycling in the modern world. According to the bike companies and their lawyers, we should be shitting our chamois' worrying whether all our bolts are torqued to spec, our frame has been properly inspected for cracks and defects, and our skewers have been properly clamped. If not, death may result from our inattention. Which of course would be our own damn fault because they warned us.
Aside from the patronizing way in which we're all assumed to be one eyed retards with wax in our ears and shit for brains, I find it discouraging to think that we're all perpetually bombarded with how terribly dangerous everyday life is. If it's not shrill warning labels on our bikes, it's vague assumptions of terror on our televisions and newspapers. A sampling of the nightly news indicates that I should be afraid of illegal immigrants because they're either deranged criminals or disease carrying lepers. Iran should be feared because they might gain the knowledge to build a nuke. I shouldn't wash my hands so much because it might actually make me more susceptible to "dangerous diseases".
To all that bullshit, I say "Shenanigans!" Pay attention to the man behind the curtain, because he's also got a great deal on some oceanfront property (in a gated community, naturally) with a fantastic ARM loan to help move you right in.
Back in the day we rode our bikes without fear of our wheels falling off because we knew how to work a quick release skewer. We rode without fear because although all the bolts on the bike might not be to torque specifications, they were pretty close, and that was good enough. We rode without fear even while not wearing helmets because we weren't so caught up in the horrors of what might happen, we were caught up in something else: Reality.
Saturday, December 8, 2007
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
There was a guy that used to come in the shop that said something to me that I'll never forget. He was a successful neurosurgeon and single so he was pretty well off. Being the dogged salesman I was at the time, I was trying to steer his interest toward a Masi Team 3v we had recently received.
Naturally, he was impressed with the sparkling silver machine. His eyes widened as I explained the build possibilities and glorious rides he would have on his new steed. I showed him saddles, hubs, and pedals. Handlebars, stems, and tires. I sensed his excitement and genuine enthusiasm. I had him hooked.
And then...he stepped back a bit, looked up and gazed away as if in deep thought. "No" he said. "No. I'm trying to be less acquisitive." He could see that I was a bit perplexed. I mean, this was a Masi Team 3v! With Record! And he had the dough to buy it right then and there. A drop in the bucket for him. He seemed to read my mind. He laughed to himself a bit and went on to explain that "to be acquisitive is to constantly, no... habitually acquire things. I'm trying not to do that anymore." He then walked around the shop for a few more minutes and finally left. I was still confused.
I thought about what he said for a long time after that. I thought about my struggles with money, debt, and perpetual desire for instant gratification. I realized that I was guilty of being a mindless consumer with a thirst that was never satiated. I understood. I agreed. I finally decided to follow that path as well. I paid down the credit cards and other outstanding debts I had accrued. Eventually I was no longer a captive of the "system". My father was right, but it took a near stranger to slap me the fuck out of my negligence.
With "Black Friday" on its way and stores preparing barriers and security forces for the onslaught of mass consumerism, I take solace in the fact that I know I don't need that shit anymore. I boycott "Black Friday" not only for the tremendous inconvenience it creates, but also for the twisted ideals it represents.
So if you find yourself on the ground being trampled by the zombies of consumerism making a mad dash for the limited supply of "must have" gadgetry. Think about what Mel said. It won't remove the Reeboks from your anus, but it will set you free.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Monday, November 12, 2007
It's Saturday night and Kazumi is driving us home from the theater. I've been down and out with the flu the past few days and was sawing some logs because I probably shouldn't have gone out in the first place (the things we do to keep the peace...). Anyway, I'm nearly in dreamland and I feel the car slow down, coast, slow down, coast, slow down. It was enough to rouse me from my slumber and find out what the hell was keeping me from my warm bed. First I looked over at Kazumi. She was leaning over the steering wheel straining to see something deep in the distance under cover of night. I followed the path of her gaze and squinted to locate the phantom that had slowed our progress. As we both gazed into the darkness, a shape clad in black floated into the pools of light thrown by our headlights. It was a dumb motherfucker on a beach cruiser weaving purposely down the center line of oncoming traffic. It's one thing to do stupid shit when it only hurts yourself, but to drag other people into culpability is fucking ignorant. So, Mr. Retardo, I put the heat of Charlie Bronson's cold stare on you.
Friday, November 9, 2007
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Our first day was spent in Madison, home of the Badgers and a cycling friendly downtown area. Good food, good coffee, and nice people. Madison also flaunts several bike shops. We went to Yellow Jersey out of convenience.
As you walk in, you are treated to a colorful archway of various new and used frames. Many of which cater to the needs of the fixed gear crowd. A fixed gear trend in a big college town... go figure.
Also serving as greeter at the front door is a case full of vintage collectibles. One can peer through the glass longingly at leather Binda toe straps, Superbe Pro calipers, and Nuovo Record hubs to savor the sweet taste of yesteryear, when riding bikes was "purer" and "harder".
A plethora of tubulars were strewn about haphazardly. Many popular, and exclusive brands available for the novice on up to the world cup bound uber crosser.
The Nagasawa caught my eye. It was a beautifully brilliant red with silver sparkles. I'd read about them online and seen many photos. Yet, as most of you know, photos and copy fail to capture the essence of a bike. So, I took advantage of the opportunity to study this one with my own eyes.
The Record group was a good choice. It would have built up equally well with Dura Ace, Force, or Red. Though, I wish all manufacturers provided a top shelf polished alloy crank as an alternative to the prevalent carbon models. When I see chromed stays and/or lugs I think the polished parts complement the frame in a much more desirable way.
The lug work was classy as expected. I also like the fact that the cheap looking black Record calipers weren't used. The steel fork is pretty much dead these days, the flat crown steel fork is even deader. I'm glad it's not more deader than it already is.
AACK!! WTF? What's with the baby-turd looking stem? That damn thing belongs on a Trek 720. I didn't see a sold tag or anything. There was a price on the frame. What gives? Why not finish the job with a fine looking stem? Or, at the very least, one that's proportional? That's ten demerits, Yellow Jersey! Regardless, you've got a fine shop with a history rich atmosphere.
The next day we went out to Barefoot Beach State Park near Lake Geneva. I have to admit, I was a bit suspicious about what this place had to offer as far as hiking and cycling when we rolled in. It looked like a big ass parking lot. I pulled the bikes off the roof and rolled around looking for entrances to some trails. I'm happy to report that we discovered some nice stuff to roll around on. It's got fine terrain for a cyclocross bike, if a bit flat. In an homage to the victory salute post, I can be seen above doing the reverse one armed salute. Surely a move best left to the cocky self assured rider that wants to denigrate the sorry efforts of the defeated. I think I saw Cipollini do this once. He was worthy of it. It is pure fantasy (note the lack of defeated riders to denigrate) for riders such as myself.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Thanks to Drunkcyclist for the link.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
I'll probably ride the Steelman tomorrow. It's seven speeds more fun now. I also found a silver 3t Synthesis that will go on this spring since I have new tape and still need some 26.0 bars.
Anyway, the ride was a quick run with Michael along the route known as "Fruit Loop". We named it as a sissy version of "Lemont Loop" a long time ago with the original "Dr. Giggles". And as most rides these days, it was better fifteen years ago when there was that quiet stretch where parking lots and cul-de-sacs seemed far away. Yet, as always, we enjoy the ride despite the creeps. Most days at 7AM.
Riding at Oury's house is great stuff. Kinda reminds me of Ballak's in Plainfield where we both ate cinders and cold, damp winds for breakfast. Now that the corn has been harvested, I expect the same from Oury's. If you haven't been out there, give us a shout and we'll roll.
Snake got a bike today. Nice looking green Schwinn. I forget the model...maybe Super Le Tour. Probably early 80's. Looks new. He seems excited to ride, so hopefully he'll wake up early and start riding with us. We rolled by the wine store where I found some average Italian red and Wild Bill. They were having a party there. I saw lots of ladies in fancy hats and a gruff gentleman sitting away from the calamity up front and alone. The lady behind the counter was a bit prim, but sold to me anyway. After Wild Bill was done licking the glass, we rode toward home. The weather was about perfect.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
As we all know It's not easy to constantly pull off the dashing photographs that make advertisers beam and hearts palpitate. Thus, it is extremely important that at the moment all eyes are on you, you don't go and fuck it all up. You must be prepared for your dig at greatness. Like you've been expecting it all along and all should take notice of this crystalizing moment in sports history. Because as all champions know, glory is a fleeting thing.
I should know, my lone triumph in the racing scene was disgraced by a photo op that showcased my complete lack of awareness for the finish line. It may as well have been lap seven, because you'd never know by looking at my reaction, which was a cross between squeezing out a turd and a late night of bong hits and tapioca. I failed miserably in an embarrassing showcase of confusion and dishonor. I never won again. Now, as recompense, I want to spare all the racers out there a similar fate.
You can't go wrong with the "One Armed Salute". It works well in tight finishes and has a gallant look about it. Merckx pulled this off flawlessly and Miguel Indurain made it his trademark in the 1990's.
"Angel" is a fine choice for young riders. It serves as a metaphor for the ascent to the ranks of greatness. Note the confirmatory salute of Piepoli here. If you're close to a winning teammate at the finish, there's no rule that says you can't enjoy some of that victory pie as well. Not only does it showcase the strength of team unity, it also displays the unselfish character of a noble domestique. Bravo!
"Scanners" isn't very popular, but that doesn't mean it isn't provocative. This conveys a sense of uncontrollable exhiliration. So much so, that your head might explode. There's no denying this salute shows passion. You can't fake passion.
"Christ" is a favorite of the tifosi. Who better to emulate in your moment of glory than the good lord himself? It's often said that one can hear the trumpets of angels softly playing in the wind when this particular salute is given.
"Rocky Balboa" is a popular classic that is also a favorite of marketers around the world. It paints images of goals achieved, opponents vanquished, and victory attained. This salute strips the rider to the bare emotional essentials. It's a triumph of spirit. Nothing sells crap better than that.
The "V" has a storied history and is probably the most common salute. And why not? It's brash without being arrogant and shows sponsor's logos well. This is without doubt the textbook salute. If you can't think of anything, this will surely suffice.
"Piss Off" probably isn't what you'll want to start your racing career with, but for old dudes that don't give a shit, it's a great way to publicly rub salt into your detractor's wounds. Journalists on your case? Team didn't renew your contract? Fuck 'em! Let your actions speak louder than any words possibly could.
"Cowboy" is a celebration best served with a sizeable lead over the peloton. It's a pretty ballsy move that not only shows just how much energy you had left, but how far ahead you were of the pathetic losers behind you. This salute is also extremely effective on video.
"Working Man" is humility in a golden wrapper. This is another fan favorite because of its inspirational overtones. Facial expression is crucial, it should say "Boy, that was hard. Look, I can barely extend these heavy arms". It makes the slowpokes and dreamers feel that they too can be champions. Pull this off and you may well achieve the status of "people's champion".
"Cyrano" is a surefire way to the hearts of the elusively fickle female fan. Who wouldn't want to catch a kiss thrown by a champion as he nonchalantly rolls across the finish line? I know I would. Note the use of a prop in the photo above. Props used to be taboo, but, like black socks and radio communication, the stubborn old ways of the past are giving way to new blood. A good prop should be poignant. "Merci Roubaix" was a genius nod to this great race by Mr. Ballerini here. Though I'm not a big fan of them, the pacifier, or "dummy" was popular with some Spanish riders who wanted to honor the birth of a new baby.
"Footloose" is a great way to showcase your sense of humor and handling skills. It emotes the feel good vibe of Kevin Bacon that is both contagious and unexpected. As all professional handlers know, to be seen goofing around on the bike is an effective way of proving that you aren't just a frankensteinian winning machine, but a great personality that folks would love to go drinking with. A great side effect of this is that the drinks will be on them.
Should you ever have the misfortune to do the "Preemie", listen closely, because it is the sound of your palmares being forever scorched by the branding iron of history. The only emotion this sad display evokes is pity. No matter how many victories follow, this tragic mistake will haunt you for the rest of your life. It may be buried but never forgotten.
Anyway, I built up a mammoth cruiser/commuter out of an old Schwinn Le Tour Luxe frame. Lots of donated parts, fenders, lights, rack, and enough steel to make Grant Peterson's nose twitch. It's a big, heavy, beast of a bike with a wheelbase that has more in common with a Cadillac than a humble bicycle. A friend said I'll never crash on it. I hope to live up to that, because I'd need a few samaritans around to help lift the thing off me if I did. And, samaritans seem to be in short supply 'round these parts, so I'd probably end up decaying with the opossums and squirrels on the side of the road as a testament to the foibles of two wheeled locomotion.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
The organizers of the Worlds in Stuttgart are shrinking the list of people they officially welcome by the minute. Already the previous ambassadors for the Worlds, Erik Zabel and Rudi Altig, were asked to step down. Later it was Gregor Braun who stepped down. The winner of the last Worlds in Stuttgart, in 1991, was also not invited. And now the organizers announced that Belgian legend Eddy Merckx is not welcome, either.
The organisers said that "we have to be a role model," while Merckx found the organizers to be crazy, as Sporza reported on its web site. He bluntly added that "dumb people are everywhere, even in Germany."
In a world where "New!" is more popular than "Refined!", headsets these days are long on the dollar and short on design. If you've spent time trying to get the lower race off your "Carbon Fork con Gordo" and even the usually trusty Park CRP-1 won't work, you've surely raised your fist to the air cursing the dirty sunuvabitch that drew the plans up for that goddamn headset. That being said, it's not surprising that Chris King made this first.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
First Impressions: Wears Spiderman underwear on lazy Sunday mornings, LOVES chocolate, gets a crimson moustache when drinking juice, has a wife that LOVES chocolate, always cleans his plate, walks bike across streets and intersections, knows a guy that has a friend that "raced" with Lance, favorite movie is Look Who's Talking.
Opening Line: "I have to go potty."
First Impressions: Reads the Wall Street Journal, has a bra on the front of his SUV, drinks a skim, extra whip, triple pump, double shot, caramel macchiato with four sugars, refers to his bike as "she", pays a guy to mow his lawn, doesn't own any tools, will be in the hospital in three weeks because he "never saw that fucker coming", favorite movie is Die Hard
Opening Line: "On your left!"
First Impressions: Virgin, has a bad case of the Powerbar shits, has lots of excuses for lack of results, chain has 10,000 miles on it, 30 minutes to change a flat, never buy a bike from him, bitches about his sponsor's lack of charitable swag, wore Crocs "way before anyone else", impressed by anyone with an SRM, favorite movie is The Fast and the Furious.
Opening Line: "Can't talk. Training."
First Impressions: High school physics teacher, still wears the shorts he bought with the helmet, will only fix bike with found parts, wears sweatpants when cold, wipes nose with nasty old handkerchief, has business card with the title "Tinkerer/Inventor", hangs out with other bearded folk, favorite movie is Back to the Future.
Opening Line: "I bought this a long time ago and it still works."
First Impressions: Dines regularly at Old Country Buffet, has a saddle bigger than most 5 year old children, really likes the idea of a recumbent, wonders why more people don't put flags on their bikes, rotates helmet backward to protect the back of the head better, doesn't get why bikes need "all those speeds", always shifts at worst possible moment, prefers milkshakes to beer, gummy bears serve as energy food, favorite movie is Garfield.
Opening line: "Mind if I tag along?"
Thursday, September 20, 2007
In light of the new 2008 bicycles being received by shops across the U.S., and the multitude of shitty factory assemblies and broken parts, I figure it's time to out the crafty son of a bitch that is responsible for all the angst. And, that man is Ping Pong.
Ping Pong's true identity is a mystery, though, I imagine him to resemble Beggar So of Master with Cracked Fingers fame. Regardless, he lives in a bicycle factory in China and finds great satisfaction in tormenting bike mechanics the world over. He's a practical joker of gargantuan proportions and genuine pain in the ass.
Ping Pong's storied mischief is on par with Tuco Benedicto Pacifico Juan Maria Ramirez's long list of crimes. Which, leads me to believe that Ping Pong sleeps with one eye open and is likely immortal. His passion for discord is only matched by his affinity for good drink (as indicated by the wine cork we discovered in a bike box). His desire is not so much to anger, but annoy. He is a hellion.
Aside from his trademark shenanigans of crossthreaded stem bolts, seized hubs, and short cable housings, Ping Pong has taken some novel approaches that have elevated his game to a whole new level. Such as employing critters to shock and annoy when bike boxes are torn open. Or, installing bottom brackets that are too long to let you shift to the big ring. He'll even whack the fuck out of bikes in all sorts of obvious places with his crappy old cane. All of this adds up to time consuming fix its, part swaps, paint touch-ups, RA's, and beer swilling fits of exasperation.
I can't prove he's got anything to do with the lead-painted toys or poisoned tooth paste, but I have a feeling that he may be expanding his operations. Although I respect the man and admire the passion and playfulness he brings to his work, the bottom line is Ping Pong is one old, dirty bastard.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
School's finally in session here in Chicagoland. I'm not sure what the state of affairs is in other areas around the nation, but it's a sad, ridiculous sight rolling by the endless parade of automobiles inching toward the front door of school. Why they don't say "Fuck it, Johnny. I'm gonna drop you off at the corner here and you walk the extra 300 feet", I'll never understand.
They have to cross a busy street? Why the hell are you wasting your hard earned coin on that expensive private school if your kids are such dipshits that they can't cross a damn street? Unless your kid has had a lobotomy, there's no reason you can't teach them to look both ways and wait for the walk signal.
Billy can't walk that far? If there's one thing I can't stand it's parents that enable their kids to be losers by falling for their perpetual complaints and whining. Here's an idea: Tell Billy to quit being such a pussy and harden the fuck up.
Chauncy might get kidnapped? You may as well head for the sewers and live like a bunch of home schooled CHUD's if you're that scared of the daily grind.
How about instilling a sense of responsibility and self reliance in your kids instead of lethargy and entitlement? Some individuality instead of robotic emulation. How about a bike instead of 9 months of chauffered rides to school? Fuckin' A.
Friday, September 7, 2007
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
Dick sucks: [Selling War with Iran]
Al Jazeera Focus: [The Armies of Iraq]
The esteemed Harris Cyclery: [Panoramic Shop Photos and More]
If you see this at the local bike shop, ask them where the dildos are.
Menchov Putting on the hurt in the Vuelta.
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
This new feature is dedicated to all the cyclists out there that are tired of being asked if they're going to do the Tour de France. It's dedicated to the cyclists that are sick of watching bicycles be chopped, flopped, and diddled by trend whores. And goddammit, it's dedicated to the cyclists that clench their teeth when the lobotomized masses transform bicycles into creaky abominations like a bunch of playschool barbarians.
Thus it is with great fanfare and humility that I give you the first edition of the fruits of my investigative labor: "The Poor Bastards"
When I first saw this bike, my first reaction was "Who shit on my floor?" Upon closer inspection, I discovered that it resembled a bicycle. It might even have been one at some point in time. However this one seemed to have a cancerous growth within it's midsection and rear wheel. I couldn't help but feel a strange sense of pity and disgust. It was like I had come face to face with Frankenstein's monster.
The bastards, full of hubris, thought they could save some coin and assemble this 75 lb (an official weight- we measured) beast themselves. Apparently, the complexity of the Electrec was too great for even their heightened intellect. For, no sooner had they assembled their two wheeled magnum opus, it turned on them and went "all crazy". It was a swift descent to the pave, no doubt.
There's a saying by a great man that I know who said of a remarkable incompetent, "Everything he does is wrong." This is his inanimate equivalent. If you look closely, I believe you can see the profile of Fausto Coppi weeping.
I spent some time away with the wife and had a fine time of drinkin', ridin', swimmin', and deconstructing the billion or so ways that retards continue to ride bikes without killing anyone.
The arsenal of societal loathing and crude observation have been reinforced ten-fold.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Some key Fulbright quotes cited by Soglin are listed below.
- We have the power to do any damn fool thing we want to do, and we seem to do it about every 10 minutes.
- We are trying to remake Vietnamese society, a task which certainly cannot be accomplished by force and which probably cannot be accomplished by any means available to outsiders.
- The rapprochement of peoples is only possible when differences of culture and outlook are respected and appreciated rather than feared and condemned, when the common bond of human dignity is recognized as the essential bond for a peaceful world.
- The cause of our difficulties in southeast Asia is not a deficiency of power but an excess of the wrong kind of power which results in a feeling of impotence when it fails to achieve its desired ends.
- The biggest lesson I learned from Vietnam is not to trust our own government statements. I had no idea until then that you could not rely on them.
- Power tends to confuse itself with virtue and a great nation is particularly susceptible to the idea that its power is a sign of God's favor, conferring upon it a special responsibility for other nations - to make them richer and happier and wiser, to remake them, that is, in its own shining image.
Monday, August 20, 2007
At the bike shop we work on all bikes. Old, new, big, small, road, mountain, etc. We take pride in the fact that our mechanics are fully capable of resuscitating the dilapidated carcasses of long ignored metal skeletons and turning them into sparkling, working, bicycles once again.
On occasion, however, some folks of newfound ambition want their old, forgotten two wheeler resurrected for their wonderful, doe-eyed, grandchild that will expectantly take their money on holidays but never call or visit them in the hospital. Or, as a reminder of those good ol' days of yore when they could still get a boner and didn't have a 300lb wife that smelled like warm bologna.
I can usually spot the culprits as they pull into the parking lot because they all seem to drive the same squeaky Dodge Caravan with one working door that also serves as the family recycling bin. Hidden in back amongst half empty Pepsi bottles, paper cups, and old newspapers is a sad heap of rust and cobwebs that was once a bicycle but now more closely resembles the melancholy remains of a washing machine in the front yard of an Indiana doublewide .
The grave robbers that have delivered this corpse to the door of the bike shop never actually end up touching it because they recruited their 40 year old son that still lives in the basement to do the dirty work of jamming it into the back of the minivan. And they'll be damned if they're going to be the ones to pull it out. Firstly, because Junior was busy pwning 12 year olds in Halo online when he was told to get the bike, and in his rage, wedged the goddamn handlebars between the seat and roof. Secondly, because their arms are so atrophied from years of sloth that they couldn't possibly gather the strength to even lift the cob webbed leviathan's front wheel off the ground. Thus, it is the bike shop condemned to extraction. In such a case, I will call upon the newest employee within earshot and command him to bring me the sorry beast.
When we observe the remains of the once proud bicycle, we silently tabulate what it will take to get the damn thing out of there as fast as possible. As one who has seen these scenarios play out time and again, I have put together a list of sure fire strategies for repealing many hours of blood, sweat, and curses for little to no monetary gain.
- The formula 3x+100 is a good start. Thus, whatever price you come up with for the repair, multiply by 3 and add another $100 to cover band-aids, gauze, antiseptic, and beer. This will typically shell shock the poor bastards into seeking a more reasonable solution.
- "The soonest we can have this done for you is approximately fifteen to twenty weeks...probably longer." Make sure you stress the word "probably". When dealing with ridiculously long time frames, it's always a good idea to promote the possibility of being even more ridiculous long.
- "You know, Bill's Bike Shop across town is really good at refurbishing old bikes like this" That's right. Pass this loser off to another shop. Be sure to push the bike toward the door and offer directions when saying this.
- "We only work on bikes sold at this shop" Dishonest? Yes. Cruel? Yes. Effective? Yes.
- If pressed for a rundown on what it'll take to get it running, be vague. Throw in alot of "if's" and "maybe's". This will allow you to inject some serious doubts about your calculations. For example: "You obviously need a new chain, derailleur, and maybe shifters too. If the parts are available, which I doubt, they'll probably cost around $80. Maybe more."
- Be frank. "Sir, this is not a bicycle. It is a piece of shit".
- Humiliate them. "Are you serious?"
Thursday, August 16, 2007
I've always liked Chris Horner. Ever since he showed me many years ago at the Downers Grove Criterium that I hadn't anything on a euro-pro no matter how much I dreamed I might. He was moving from front to back of the Pro-Am race like it was some kind of Sunday morning group ride for uber clydesdales. I was at my limit hanging on watching Chris effortlessly make me feel like a two bit pretender. I finished with my lungs completely turned inside out wondering how I barely survived the last two laps and Horner was pretty much fresh as a daisy chatting with some other mates. He made it look easy. That pretty much marked the end of my life as a "results" racer and ushered in the era of the racer for "good times".
Anyway, I came across this at Cyclingnews. It reinforces my opinion of Chris as one of the PRO peloton's finer gentleman.
Horner on Lance leaving
Chris Horner has never been shy about his opinions regarding Lance Armstrong in the past. And when he heard the news about Tailwind Sports ending its search for a new sponsor, he had some hard-hitting analysis of Armstrong's and the company's decision.
"I read what Lance has said about the sport, and it is just ridiculous to read something so stupid, from a guy who has made his career off the sport. Now they can't find a sponsor and say they are pulling out just because they don't want to look for one? I don't believe it. You tell me Lance is giving up money? He raced his whole career looking for it, because he was a businessman more than the love of the sport. Now he is telling us that it isn't a good place for the sport so we are pulling out. Are you really telling me that?
"All it is is he can't find a sponsor. Instead he's saying, 'I'm Lance Armstrong, I finally couldn't accomplish something so we're pulling out instead.' If I'm wrong, prove me wrong Lance -- go out and find a sponsor! Instead it was 'we're leaving, I don't like the sport anymore'. No, just leave and get out. I'm sorry if those weren't his exact words, but if what I am reading is, then it is ridiculous and irresponsible."
"It makes it a bit tougher for guys like myself, but at the same time I don't see that too many of those guys affect me. But some riders might not have jobs next year, assuming that more teams don't come in. Or they won't be with a ProTour team. That's a possibility, and that might be me too! Because Lance wants to get out of the sport he is going to unemploy half of his team. Personal opinion again, but that has to be the biggest bullshit story I have ever read!"
"All these people can say what they want about the sport going downhill right now... are they crazy? Were they not in London? Did Lance forget about it? How do you make those comments when you saw what happened there? To have a start and stage there, plus the stage in Belgium, that alone justifies the money to have a ProTour team. Nothing else even matters! Take those first three days of the Tour de France, and it automatically proves Lance wrong. Undeniable fact! I don't care what anybody wants to come back and say how much they love Lance, it's an undeniable fact that the first three days make it worth it. That's not even counting the people watching it on TV around the world! That is just the people who came out. In London they had Wimbledon, a huge concert event, Formula 1... and we did 125 miles the first day and there weren't 10 miles of a gap where if you stopped you wouldn't have been peeing on someone's foot!"
"Anyone whose job is to look at sports and find where best to put your money, and says it's not in cycling, has never been to a cycling event. Or maybe he went to Valley of the Sun! Maybe someone can go back and look at the different sponsors of Tour de France teams and prove to me they lost money from advertising at some point, but I don't think so. $3-7 million dollars for a sponsorship, and you cannot tell me it doesn't justify what the Tour de France brought you -- just the first three days! Anyone who prints what they want in USA Today or wherever has never been the Tour de France before or any race of value. Or is a complete idiot... probably the latter."Photo credit: Cyclingnews
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Anyway, no, you're not gonna die or have your legs turn black and fall off, but you will itch quite a bit. It appears that multitude of itchy red spots on many of the active outdoorsy people of western Chicagoland are the work of a type of mite. So far, the best solution I've found is the occasional application of anti-itch cream and a cold beer in a tall glass to dull the senses.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Monday, August 13, 2007
The bike shop is a place of good friends and goof balls alike. It takes all kinds to mold a shop into the resilient crew that we all know and love. While many on the outside looking in think we have it made in the proverbial shade, it's not quite the cake walk you might think. We have our crosses to bear just like everyone else out there. The characters featured below are only a sampling of the multitude of freaks and losers we cater to on a daily basis.
The Blame the Bike Shop Firster
The BBSF'er favors the crude tactics of intimidation and incredulity to achieve his devious ends. Their goal is to never pay for anything. To do so would insult their twisted views of justice. There is no common ground to be found, only finger pointing and brazen accusations. The BBSF'er views the world as a battleground where everyone is out to get them.
The One Word Answer Man
Talking to OWAM is like trying to force a conversation on the works of Hemingway with Ivan Drago. OWAM enters the shop with wheel in clenched fist and jams his deflated trophy into your unsuspecting hands uttering one gutteral vocalization: "tube". OWAM is grim faced and avoids friendly banter like the black death.
The Skeptical Magazine Whore
The SMW views his exchanges at the bike shop as debates. Thus, he walks into the shop armed with the "facts" he's gathered from Bicycling, VeloNews, and everyone's favorite, Consumer Reports. The great thing is that SMW always gets it wrong eventually and sulks around the shop for ten minutes thinking of a hopeless response before finally limping out with his pride masterfully rebutted up his ass.
The Weaver of Tales
There is no PRO that he hasn't partied with, no speed he hasn't attained, nor race he could have won. This pygmy Mark Twain of the bike shop world sows the seeds of comic relief with deadpan sincerity. Sure, the sorry dipshits spin yarns that are as believable as me growing fangs in my bunghole, however, the reason we let them carry on with their intricate tapestry of lies is every bike shop's best kept secret: They are the unknowing jesters performing for the multitudes of dour, underpaid bike shop brothers and sisters worldwide. And, we merrily recant their amazing exploits over countless beers and long winter days.
The Expensive Car Driving Cheapskate
The ECDC is no doubt the biggest bastard to walk the earth. Not only do they not "get it", but they complain every step of the way. To them, a bike is a toy. A tawdry mix of gears and metal to allow them the honor of pointing to the name brand bike like Lance's in the garage with the shitball ride that comes with rock bottom level Ping-Pong bikes (I'll explain Ping-Pong in a later post, it's time the word got out). Because with them, it's all about image. I always have to laugh at these douchebags when they sigh aloud about the price of a car rack and then jam their two wheeled turd into the back seat, gear side down, to go home and "think about it".
The Brain Picker Who Buys Online
BPWBO feigns interest in buying high end parts from your shop only to waste three hours of your life by using the information he deviously extracted to buy them online. The only positive is the fact that he also fancies himself a mechanic and usually mangles the new part to virtual uselessness in his frenzied attempt to install it.
The Hand Wringer
The victim of fearmongering run amok. The Hand Wringer lives in a perpetual state of worry and dread. Fielding the panicked querys of HW is akin to having your ears slowly chewed off by a horde angry poodles. Is my seat too high? Handlebars too low? What about tire pressure? Torque settings? What's that noise? My bottom bracket? Chainring bolts? Headset? AAAAAAAAAAAAUUUUGG!
The Inept Retardo
Everything he does is wrong. Your children would be safer with a deranged grizzly bear as baby sitter than the IR. The only thing he is good at is breaking stuff. And when it comes to explaining how to operate a quick release skewer or lube a chain, it's something best done in semesters.
Nothing throws new employees into a psychotic frenzy faster than the suffocating obstinance of the CEO. He's used to having subordinates grovel at his hooves all day, so he expects the same treatment wherever else he prances. However, don't let the pompous attitude fool you. The manicured nails and faggy smell of boutique cologne spell it out pretty clearly. P-U-S-S-Y.
Friday, August 10, 2007
From the Cartier eye glasses to the signature ponytail, Laurent Fignon was one hell of a dapper racing gentleman. While he's synonymous with his 8 second loss in the 1989 Tour de France to Greg LeMond, Laurent Fignon was a seriously accomplished rider of the PRO peloton. He won the Tour de France in 1983 and 1984, the Giro d'Italia in 1989, Milan San-Remo in 1988 and 1989 and he also won Fleche Wallone in 1986. Filet Mignon ( a friend's nickname for Laurent) also finished atop many a podium and captured numerous stage wins throughout his illustrious career.
I remember Fignon for his grace and elegant style on and off the bicycle. His calm demeanor was in stark contrast to the other great Frenchman of the time, (no, not Charly Mottet) Bernard Hinault. Thus, Fignon earned the nickname "The Professor".
Laurent Fignon was a class act, and he also had a way with words. He once described the great Miguel Indurain, who had recently demolished the entire peloton in a Tour de France time trial by stating "He is an extra-terrestrial!".
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
When I made my way into that bike shop known as BS, to plunk down the hard earned dough for my first "real" bike, I was immediately drawn into the deep and beautiful world of cycling. Four months after I payed my last twenty dollars (made in weekly installments for two months) I was getting paid to flounder about the very shop I had been frequenting/pestering. The whole crew at that shop rode and was passionate about bikes. Every damn one of them. It was the perfect shop to guide my ascension of the cycling tree of knowledge.
Nothing came easy in the first few years. I was a complete neophyte and was forced to understand that nothing in the bike shop world just gets handed to you without some form of payment. I remember using a crescent wrench to build one of the first bikes thrown my way. This humiliating faux pas of poor tool selection stripped me my privilege of bike assembly for two weeks. "The right tool for the job" they said, as I sat red faced and disheartened, "You're lucky Mel didn't see you". As traumatic as that episode was, it opened my eyes to realize that this wasn't my dad's garage where I only had a handful of primitive tools to work with. I actually had a large collection of specialized tools at my disposal that addressed all the fine details of bicycle mechanics.
As the years passed, I moved on to other shops and still carried the deep passion and curiosity of cycling with me wherever I went. I read books and magazines, watched videos, raced, wrenched, and basically did whatever I could to envelope my life within the world of cycling. I was passionate about bikes. They became a defining part of my life. I finally became like all those people I looked up to at that first bike shop.
While I moved from shop to shop in search of ever more bike culture, I failed to ever again experience the collective passion for cycling that that first shop embraced. I soon found that cycling is also a world full of very different people with a wide range of reasons for working at a bike shop. Thus, I began to formulate a theory that folks within the bike shop world can be matched up with the various types of phenomena in the universe. Here is what my unscientific mind has come up with so far:
These are the collectors (aka the equipment whores) that work at the shop so they can buy their parts on the cheap. Their nose is always buried in the QBP catalog plotting their next acquisition.They make it a point to always look the part, but they sure as hell don't ride much. They're the fabricators of the lamest excuses for only riding two or three times a year.
These are the guys that blast off into the cycling world and get all the bikes, clothing, sunglasses, and accessories possible and then ride like madmen for six months only to fizzle out with a quiet whimper. They can usually be found at the local race every year telling you how they're gonna get back into riding/racing next season. Next season never comes.
This is the funny, fat guy that comes in once in awhile to build the odd bike but spends more time waxing nostalgic about the good old days of cycling yore. He doesn't ride anymore because "Cycling has become a superficial sport of soft men with plastic bikes". Besides, he's "paid his dues". Still, he's fun to have around and is always good for a sixer of imports and chips.
He roams the shop aimlessly looking for something to do. Without fail, he will not do anything unless specifically told to do so. He also manages to take five times longer than he should to complete any task. Only threats of bathroom duty will goad him into any meaningful action. The only reason the boss hasn't fired him yet is because he'll take minimum pay and work a shitload of hours. He's something of an enigma in that he usually wanders in late and yet, is almost always the last one to leave.
Why does this bastard even work here? Oh, I know! He's the boss's old pal. This guy hates every soul that walks through the door and rarely lifts his gaze from the bike he's working on, which happens to be his own. He doesn't wrench, he doesn't sell, he doesn't merchandise, and by God, he doesn't fucking clean. He does, however, take massive shits in the bathroom that make your lungs bleed as well as drink all the beer.
Red Dwarf Stars
These are the people that keep the whole damn shop ticking. They've been around forever and continue to soldier on for the love of the bike. They are the rare constants that keep on keepin' on. Always the same old dudes you've seen riding for years and years in all sorts of familiar, different and unexpected places. They have their ups and downs like anybody, but they keep it centered. They also know that even though the faces change and most of their coworkers will go on in a few months or years in search of fulfillment elsewhere, every so often one of them will stick and find their passion for cycling in much the same way they did.