Cyclocosm Rantcast #12 – The Mini-Rant Disbursement

Jun 29 2013

Script

(not verbatim, contains typos, and sometimes I go off-book)

I bet you’d thought I’d forgot, didn’t you? NO! I’m awesome and on it. I said I get it done in June, it’s still technically June, so…yeah.

if you’re just joining us, perhaps as a new reader pulled in by the link bait on custom “bike seats” earlier this week; I can only assume there are billions, if not trillions of you —I offered 20-second chunks of me ranting to reward those who donated money to PeopleForBikes-dot-org as part of my one entire day—the longest day, I might add—of participation in the Tim Johnson Ride on Washington.

Anyway, here’s how the game works: I’ll read a user-submitted rant topic, and a timer will start when I’m done with the intro. I will proceed to rant until a bell rings, which will announce that the 20 second interval has concluded,—actually, I’m going to use 30 seconds because it turns out you can’t say a whole lot in 20— at which point I will continue onto the next rant topic. Simple, is it not?

And yes, for the new people, normally these rantcasts are single topic as you can see them all on my soundcloud page, soundcloud.com/cosmocatalano, but I had to offer something for IndieGogo donations, and really, stamping buttons or silkscreen t-shirts isn’t my thing. Are we ready? Aaaaaand go!

“Can you please disabuse”—ohh, good word, by the way—“can you please disabuse people of the notion that Brian Cookson is the UCI’s own personal saviour?” Interesting religious overtones, not sure if I can, but I’ll try.

I remember when “Not Pat McQuaid was a twitter account—now it’s a campaign slogan. Seriously ,though— Cookson oversaw a pretty tremendous renaissance in British Cycling—one that was apparently clean in an era when everyone else was seeking Sesame Street-style sponsorship from the letters E, P, and O.

That said—you, me, other internet friends—we are not voting for UCI present. Cookson needs to get the lion’s share of 42 delegates—and that takes backroom promises, and the same sort of noisome behavior we all know and hate, for example, punting on easy questions like Paul Kimmage’s earlier this month. Will Cookson be better than McQuaid? One can only hope. But you can’t exactly expect the fraternity president not to be a fratboy.

Alright, next topic “Wearing matching shorts for a jersey wearer in the Tour de France (in particular polka dot shorts)” Yes—YES. So on board with this.

So apparently, for most of the history of cycling getting any piece of cycling gear in a non-standard color was extremely hard to do—up to about 1985, shorts were more or less always black.  I’m under the impression that this changed around 1990, and people went a little crazy with design freedom, ala MySpace in 2006.

We could point at Carrera or Castorama, but the real casualty came when leaders kits—especially polkadots—became way too over coordinated. The point of the special jersey to show that you—and your team—earned the right to stand out—not to how what special edition gear your sponsor had whipped up. Team-issue bibs and leaders jersey is the way to go, and if you’re worried about clashing, just remember—everything goes with black.

“Can you please let everyone know that tubulars are a waste of time and money—at least for road. I’ve been on road tubeless for two years and loved every second of it”

Ah, I’m really not qualified to talk about this. Last summer, I would have definitely agreed with you, despite the fact that I’ve never ridden road tubeless. That said, I finally made the “leap” to tubulars in cross last fall, and I have to say the “effort” and “mess” involved are massively oversold. Find a reputable website or blog, follow their instructions faithfully, and you’ll be surprised how easy tubulars can be.

Yes, cleaning old rims sucks, and yes, if you do it wrong in ‘cross, you might roll a tire. But tubulars are crazy easy to glue on the road, and tubular rims are lighter, stronger, and cheaper—yes, even including the cost of tires—than their tubeless counterparts. Maybe tubeless wins out if you have to race and train on a single set of wheels, but honestly, that sounds kind of like a dumb idea.

“Something silly, crazy, makes your eyes roll that Pete Webber said or did on the ride that day would be ideal. Like insisting that to save space/weight a couple should bring just one wallet on a bike tour and then you're in Auckland, New Zealand with no wallet at all doing an impromptu performance of an AmEx travel emergency ad”

So, having ridden with Pete exactly one time this scenario seems entirely feasible. If he says five-minute stop, what he means four minute interval of sprinting to accomplish everything you’ve been waiting to do for the past thirty miles.

Pete Webber no-nos from the ROW include: stopping when not told to, asking too frequently when the next stop would occur, putting on sunscreen at an official stop when it could have been applied before leaving, taking too long to pee, peeing too quickly and messing around on your phone, and asking for a pee break after not peeing at the previous designated pee stop.

That said, if you need someone to guarantee that group of 15 riders of mixed ability will complete a 130-mile ride in limited daylight, have a good time doing it, and be ready to do repeat the process the next day, you’d be hard pressed to find a better ride leader.

“There has always been and always will be a singular wrong in this flawed world of ours – one that affects each and every one of us on a daily basis – people in cars attempting to cede their right of way at stop signs to cyclists by waving us through. This (passive) aggression will not stand.”

Indeed. This is of particular concern on two-lane roads, where one driver stops and waives, effectively beckoning the cyclist into a buzzsaw of cold steel zipping around the otherside of his vehicle. Not to mention that this encourages bad behavior from two-wheeled novices who need to learn to follow the rules.

Drivers need to think of bikes less as confused children or tottering little old ladies—apparently the only other non-car entities they see in roadway—and more as slow, skinny, maneuverable cars.  Pass them freely but responsibly, do not begrudge them their ability to fit through tights spaces, and yield to them only when warranted.

“A rant about how there are far too many types (i.e. shapes) of pasta. I mean, seriously, WTF?” an>

ugh—right, so…actually, I don’t agree. Pasta is really the finch’s beak of the food world. Different shapes and styles have evolved to fill different epicurean niches. Lasagnas are structural elements in heavy, layered dishes. Ravioli and toretllini are elegant vessels for a variety of different stuffings, orzo is great for salads and soups, and more complex shapes like gemelli and radiatori hold heavy sauces extremely well.

Even styles that would seem to be functional analogues—spaghetti and linguine, for example—offer different textures and dining experiences to due differing surface area to volume ratios. I’m not gonna go so far as to tell you that there’s a meaningful distinction to be made between penne and ziti, but I will say the free market just wouldn’t allow for “too many” pasta forms to exist.

“My rant request would be about the extreme heel down pedaling styles that continues to result in knee injuries: Wiggins, Boonen (repeatedly), Horner, Vandenbergh, Stybar, etc…”

I’m not really qualified to talk about this. Back when I was 23 and effectively bulletproof, I thought I how a bike should fit. But now that I am…not 23, it’s become painfully apparent that this is not the case.  

If I’ve learned anything through the persistent decay of my own body, it’s that everyone has different strengths, weaknesses, and bad habits. Civilization has wrought a heavy toll to the once-highly conserved efficiency of the human leg, allowing biologically unfit mutations to persist, while heaping on the heretofore unknown evolutionary pressures of obesity, longevity and sitting down at a desk for 8 hours at a time.

My advice is that everyone should consult a professionally-trained and educated fit specialist on a regular basis.

“Revenue sharing from media rights directly to teams (or lack thereof)”

Yes. This is pretty much a no-brainer. The existing system of team sponsorship—it’s more of a patronage, really—is unbelievably unstable and frankly, kind of embarrassing.  Without riders, there isn’t a race, and without a race, and thus no race revenue.

Sure, a lot of events have been folding recently—mostly in dope-happy Spain—but if anything, I think that’s testimony to how friggin’ easy it once was to pay the appearance fees for a handful of top names and then sop up money from sponsors and residuals.

In a rare moment of intelligence, the UCI has restructured rules to encourage teams to be businesses, but a viable business model needs more revenue than a few corporations who think it might be neat to have their name on some scrawny guys chest for the next three weeks.

“USACycling's byzantine rules and processes for clubs, teams, and races discouraging riders from getting into racing.”

 Right, so I’m told by people who’ve been around for far, far longer than I have that the sole purpose of amateur racing in the United States is road racing talent development. Period. Oh sure, they’ll take your entry fees and yearly license registration, but they don’t seem to feel  like they need ‘em.

Or at least, they don’t act like it. The example this donor gave was paying for your own background check to be a driver at an event, but honestly, I’m just bummed on what I the ROI is for a race entry in the amateur sport these days. I was lucky to get into this game in college when you raced against the same dudes every week, where everyone had teams, and there were attempts tactics, and awesomeness abounded

The growth of cross has shown there’s definitely demand for amateur bike racing in the US, but USAC’s response—to make cross less fun in hopes of pushing people onto the road—shows exactly how little interest they have in taking advantage of this.

“Patent Trolls”

I do hate patent trolls, but I’m not exactly sure how I can tie that into cycling. Most of my frustration from intellectual property in this sport comes from copyright—because obviously, trying to make the first 150 kilometers of a bike race interesting somehow steals food from Christian Prudhommes’ childrens mouths.

No, with the possible exception of Specialized—even then, I think their tiff with Volagi was based on just insider knowledge rather than patent violation—people in the cycling industry seem to be pretty cool about it. I’ve heard rumors that Shimano owns patents on, uh, everything, but by and large is willing to license and/or not enforce them, because they know their production quality is higher. And in my experience, this has pretty much proven to be the case.

“How about a rant about the gas guzzling, mostly obese, haters who have come out against the newly painted bike lanes in Redlands.  Their complaints include:”

…and he goes on to list the complaints about cyclists not obeying traffic rules, roads being for cars, it not being safe for cars and bikes, etc.

Unfortunately, I don’t think this is a problem that can be solved logically. A lot of otherwise intelligent, well-meaning people were raised with and have lived their life in pursuit of this car-centered lifestyle because it’s resonant with their American dream. I think from any perspective—health, environment, economics—it’s not something that can continue on its current scale, and I think even its strongest adherents realize this, and view any change to their world as a beginning-of-the-end kinda threat.

But again, you’re never gonna change this talking about pollution, gridlock or obesity. The uniquely rational have already been sway. The trick is associating these bike lanes and cycling generally with that notion of Americanness, and that’s a really hard thing to do—and a big part of why I try and raise money for an org like BikesBelong.

“Um. Why people obsess over Green Michelin Muds.”

‘Cross clinchers. Don’t get me started. Seriously though, I think the green muds have a reputation of actually being a Mud tire—I’m told the knobs are higher and burlier than the now ubiquitous Mud2, making the tire bitier in slop and faster clearing. Personally, I’ve only ever ridden the Mud2, and I have very positive feelings about it, but a mud tire, it is not.

Maybe there’s some allure in it being a clincher that somehow performs in the mud? I dunno, though&m
dash;if you can’t run 22psi, I’m skeptical. I had blast in some seriously atrocious conditions on some far less expensive Challenge Limuses last fall, and wouldn’t have swapped them out in the pits for pretty much any clincher wheelset you can name and a pair of cherry green mids.

Just gonna preface this question by saying it’s edited down significantly—the injustice which has befallen Amets Txurruka. You get bonus points if you can do the rant in Basque—for the record, I cannot. Basque is weird.

Backstory, whichs is going to make this one run long—Txurruka was a rider for Euskaltel for many years, most combative at the 2007 Tour de France, but generally aggressive for selfless ends—getting into breaks, pushing tempo on climbs, etc. In 2012, he was dropped by Euskaltel, probably for not developing into a guy who could win races, despite his obvious talent. Earlier this year, he took his first pro win at Vuelta a Asutrias, on the continental squad Caja Rural and basically told the media afterward, “I’d rather be a domestique.”

Two things, here: one, yeah, I htink it’s totally feasible that a guy would prefer to work. Winning is high-stress—everyone is counting on you, and you’ve got to constantly play poker, scan rivals for strengths, weakness, etc. As a domestique, especially in the hills, you can almost put it into into time trial mode—kill it until your legs are toasted. That’s not necessarily easier or harder, just a different kind of effort, and I see no shame in preferring it over the title role.

But two, I can also see Euskaltel dumping the guy. They need wins—not much to show since the heyday of Iban Mayo and…I probably don’t need to clarify why that’s different. Yes, Txurruka’s a huge asset, but if he doesn’t have a top-flight GC guy to work for, he could be pretty heavy strain on a team’s budget. I get there’s a lot of romance associated with the de facto Basque national team, but if the focus isn’t on top WorldTour riders getting top WorldTour results,they shouldn’t be taking up space with a WorldTour license.

And finally: Do a rant on Phil and Paul.

Actually, I like Phil and Paul—call it sentimentality, I suppose, but for all the Lance-backing, blown rider IDs and occasionally cultural insensitivity, I think they can do quite well vocally conveying the important aspects of a bike race, and putting them in context of the history of the sport.

The big issue for me is the eight inch rut they’re in—time to Bust that Cycle, as ZeFrank would say. Get a stats guy and a rider spotter or someone to feed them off-beat, challenging questions, from the internet where governing bodies, or a major team or sponsor might have to take some push-back, and for the love of all that is holy, throw the stupid tourism guide out the window.

Aaah. And I think that about does it. The Cyclocosm rantcast is written, produced, and narrated by me, Cosmo Catalano from my wicked high tech studio in Hartford, CT. In an outright refutation that the profit motive holds any sort of economic validity, I blog at Cyclocosm.com and there produce a number of lovely things, the loveliest of which can be viewed at vimeo.com/cyclocosm. It’s hot and I’m running out of both daylight and witty things to say, so I’m just going to leave it there and go ride my bike.

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5 Responses to “Cyclocosm Rantcast #12 – The Mini-Rant Disbursement”

  1. BigPhil June 29, 2013 at 10:09 pm #

    Heel down activates the glutes and hips which are bigger and more fatigue resistant than the quads, which are more activated by toe down cycling.

  2. batchuba July 24, 2013 at 2:07 pm #

    On the subject of copyright.

    Recently, an offensive by the scumbag anglophone “monetizing” outfits who now infest Youtube has wiped away many of the best cycling videos there. In particular, an individual by the name Wenck,his wonderful compilations now blocked, has gone off in an apparently permanent sulk – significantly decreasing quality of life for any right thinking cycling fan. And he is one of many, within the last few months.

    This presents a problem when one speculates on how cycling teams can become more coherent, stable and viable entities. To do that, would require adopting the Anglophone approach. While that would result in a financially healthy sport and ever expanding fanbase – it brings with it the hideous commercialism and vacuous misery of Anglophone popular monoculture. The likely result would be an increasing regularization and sanitization of the sport, until there is nothing left to love. What Sky did to football springs to mind.

    So here is the choice: Charming and frustrating chaotic retro style european style corruption, intrigue and inefficiency or the shock and awe of the shiny, zealously capitalist Anglophone marketing machine compelling the masses to purchase products as directed by their new cycling overlords.

    I’m going to have to go with the first option.

    • cosmo July 24, 2013 at 2:37 pm #

      No need to brand it as an Anglophone thing. I speak English and that’s certainly not my approach. Has this Wenck character signed up for Vimeo yet?

  3. batchuba July 24, 2013 at 3:25 pm #

    Though my punctuation my suggest otherwise, I am an anglophone too. Probably I do overstate the case, and were I surrounded by say, francophone culture, my beef would be with that ( the good thing about having a beef with everything that surrounds you is that you never run out of beef ).
    I do though, live in fear of what an anglophone ( specifically British ) dominated cycling world would look like. Descents neutralized, 100k barriers, races devoid of surprise or intrigue as perfectly matched lanky cyclobots trundle to the “attack zone” for a dismal frenzy while the commentators recite their various schmaltzy back-stories and talk about “diversity”. God it would/will suck.

    Oh, sorry, accidental rant that time.

    Anyways.. the Wenck guy – is ignoring everybody at the moment, though I will indeed badger him to bring it to Vimeo.

  4. batchuba August 15, 2013 at 9:15 pm #

    Hows about that, that dudes videos are back! So there is hope for the world after all.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70o9NtAXn2I
    http://www.youtube.com/user/wenck

    Incidentally, I can’t help but notice what a crazed angry rantbag back I apparently was in July. The Tour always leaves me so ragey….

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