I'm taking the week off to do work that pays the bills. While immersed in the world of "Working For a Living", I'll also be keeping a sharp eye out for all things two wheels in my travels.
Giro podium picks:
I leave you with some entertainment:
Monday, May 19, 2008
Probably since the beginning of time man has recanted his adventurous exploits in vernacular that bares little resemblance to the cold hard truth. That being said, as an old hand in the cycling industry, I can say with profound certitude that cyclists, as vain wielders of the scepter of The Massagers of Truth, can out-misrepresent any sporting body in the universe.
I just didn't arrive at this theory willy-nilly, mind you. It took many years of close attention to the minutiae of cycling related discourse throughout the Chicagoland area for nearly two decades followed up with countless hours of observation and interaction.
When I first saw my test results, I must admit that I wavered from scientific objectivity and briefly considered a career in sports management. According to my numbers, Chicagoland boasted the greatest concentration of superhuman cyclists the world has ever seen. I figured I had the grand tours sewn up for at least the next ten years until Johan Bruyneel, or some other yahoo discovered my secret pool of talent. Yet, I surmised that by then I'd have been ready to retire to a life as a world famous director sportif that smoked cigars with Bernard Hinault and draped gold medals around the necks of still more amazing Chicagoans that had made it big in the great world of professional bicycle racing.
As I counted my unmade millions, I allowed a few of the more fast talking prospects from the pool of local talent to showcase their skills on various group rides over the years. Much to my dismay, my dreams of world renown came crashing violently to earth just as my wide eyed fantasies of a new life of privilege and prestige were at their peak.
Not only were they lousy half wheelers that couldn't change a flat without getting cat 4 marks on their bellies, but I've seen three year olds take commands better than their bikes did. Gone were the phenomenal average speeds and deft handling skills. Gone were the angelic climbing abilities, furious sprints, and magnificent thresholds of pain. All gone. Contender after contender failed to live up to the atmospheric heights they had freely proffered in countless engagements. My life as a great director sportif vanished as quickly as their breath on hilly terrain.
In essence, many of the cyclists of Chicagoland suffer delusions. Or, as I have scientifically classified it: perceived reality. Perhaps it's the water. Or possibly the interminably long winters. Regardless, it is an epidemic that reaches its savage heights at the peak of summer and is, alas, seemingly incurable.
Should you enter your local bike shop and see your humble crew with faces frozen into a bizarre mix of madness infused grin and thousand yard stare, head to the nearest liquor store as fast as possible and pour those poor bastards a pint of the tonic that is their favorite brew immediately.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Claudio Chiappucci leads Gianni Bugno and Miguel Indurain.
Sestriere, France 1992
Sestriere, France 1992
In the mid 1990's, I remember seeing a photo of Claudio Chiappucci in La Gazzetta Dello Sport or some other uniquely Euro newspaper of the sort, where a peloton, silhouetted far ahead among the heat waves on the horizon, seemingly teased the struggling champion as he tucked his head under his right shoulder and vomited along a particularly lonely stretch of road. The image conjured forth a sort of kaleidoscopic mirage of madness. A world in which the misery and futile desires of a defeated warrior were forever tantalizingly close, yet perpetually 400m ahead. It froze the story of Chiappucci in time so that even the most casual observer could understand his story. I stared at that photo for a long while and thought "Hell yeah, Claudio. Hell yeah."
"Il Diablo", as he came to be known, was a scrappy little terror from Uboldo, Italy. He was a persistent thorn in the side of the peloton because of his contentious, swing at the fences riding style and gritty determination. Claudio's approach to racing was simple: Attack. If that doesn't work: Attack again. This was both a gift and a curse for Chiappucci. His cagey style won over the tifosi and kept his rivals off balance and constantly on edge, however, he might have padded his palmares with quite a few more wins if he employed a more calculating approach to his craft. Still, for a man that was not as inherently gifted as some of his contemporaries, Claudio undoubtedly made the most of his abilities.
That photo in the forgotten newspaper summed up Claudio in a way that I hadn't seen since. It moved me. I was already a fan when I saw the image, yet, I came away respecting him even more after having seen it. The thought of it occasionally even causes me to reminisce about the tacky blue jeans look of his old Carrera kit back in the day...almost.
Mad props, Il Diablo. Hell yeah.
Some Chiappucci Links:
French punk rock band Jetsex with their song "Claudio Chiappucci"