Archive | October, 2006

Putting Down a Mad Dog

27 Oct

“Mad Dog”? “Foaming Rant”? Yeah, and I’m a “Young Professional” with a “Promising Career”. Patrick O’Grady, your latest tripe has got to be the most weak-kneed excuse for an editorial since Mike Imrem christened Ricky Williams the next Jacques Anquetil. In all honesty, what was the point of this Friday’s rant? That it snows in Colorado? Did that surprise you? Had you really lived there all those years without ever seeing the license plates?

One of the biggest dope investigations in the history of cycling is collapsing on its hamfisted chefs like an undercooked souffle. The self-righteous stuffed shirts that should be running this sport are too wrapped up in a Eurocentric dick-measuring contest to enforce any sort of order on the situation. And the most pressing issue on mind of the most storied editor of the most well-known cycling magazine in America is the weather? The weather? Jesus-freakin-Christo. What were you? Stricken with writer’s block and forced to fall back on “Dave Berry’s Cliche Essentials, Vol. 6”?

Oh, oh, wait – now I see your rant was featured in Velonews, instead of filling space inside the back cover of “Mountain Living Quarterly”. There, in paragraph seven, you mention bike racing. It’s a sentence-long nod to the 2007 Tour presentation and the seeming randomness with which doping punishments are meted out, all packaged in a crisp, glib cultural reference. Wow, man; you’re like the kid in the leather jacket lighting up a cig on the back of the pro cycling bus and too damn cool to care.

Well, lest you’ve forgotten the byline of the oversized glossy that cuts your checks, caring about this BS is your friggin’ job. Me, I get paid to sit in an 8’x6′ cubicle and get uglier. You get paid to write viciously about cycling. And you used to do it well. You didn’t line up an audience of millions peddling limp-wristed disaffection; you got it by being funny, incisive and brutal. That’s why they called you “Mad Dog”. Lately, you’ve been little more than a drooling poodle.

I’m sure you’ve long been aware of this, Pat, but rabies is a degenerative disease. At first, infected animals are distempered and aggressive; “Mad”, so to speak. But soon they’re pathetic, withered sacks of flesh, who can’t stop staggering in circles long enough to keep from sh*tting themselves.

If you really are growing bored and complacent with your work, that’s essentially where you’re headed. Wouldn’t you rather quit near the top of your game like Jaja, instead of spending to the tail end of your career yo-yoing miserably off the back like some journalistic Ivan Quaranta?

I know which I’d prefer, O’Grady, and that’s why I think it’s time to hand off the biting duties to someone who still has teeth. Someone like me. References available on request.

Oh, Jonnie, We Hardly Knew Ye

18 Oct

I used to like you, Jon Vaughters. You seemed like a nice guy with great references; one of the few riders everyone could believe really was clean. But then you came out saying you never saw any evidence of doping during your time at US Postal. That didn’t lessen you any in my eyes, per se, until you ran your mouth to your old friend Frankie Andreu about everyone’s doping regimens. Of course, that was all “embellishments and BS”, right? Sure, until L’Equipe published some excerpts a few days back; now you claim it’s all second-hand information.

Jonathan, Jonathan, what have we ever done to make you treat us so disrespectfully? Had you spoken to us in honesty, then this scum that made you dope would be suffering this very day. But now, you’ve cast doubt on your own reliability, so that someday, and that day may never come, if do you decide to really tell the truth about the goings on at US Postal in 1999, no one will ever be able to believe you.

Ah well. The good news is that by speaking so carefully, you’ve cast no doubt on the Tailwind Sports franchise, meaning that the wrongfully maligned (if still probably guilty) Ivan Basso will have a place to roost in 2007. Yes, after years of collaboration, Bjarne Riis insists his team’s reputation be as immaculate and shiny as his forehead. I wonder if that’s because a conscience is much harder to clear than a urine sample?

The Farce Comes Full Circle

16 Oct

Eurosport reports that Ivan Basso has been officially cleared to race. Note how they’ve sloppily insisted that Basso “served out a four-month suspension having been linked with the Operation Puerto doping probe”. That’s the biggest syntactic dry-hump since Super Bowl XXXVIII’s “wardrobe malfunction”. Using the verb “served” would imply that Basso’s suspension was a predetermined sentence, handed down by some sort judicial body after a legitimate trial. And it was nothing of the kind.

Like Jan Ullrich, Joseba Beloki, Allen Davis and lord knows how many other riders, Basso has been penned up indefinitely in the cycling world’s equivalent of Gitmo since Operacion Puerto broke in late May. Accusations flew fast and heavy, and like a self-conscious fat chick scrambling to fit a Size 4, the pro cycling world starved out and vomited away its best assets, coming to the big dance with rotted teeth and withered bosoms. And it still wasn’t enough to avoid busting the damn dress open.

When cycling’s most feared and respected rider gets suspended – that is, demonized, scapegoated, robbed of work, etc. – without charge, and now, it seems, without even any good evidence, you might expect that a cycling’s allegedly free press would be standing for accountability as strongly as they clamored for justice. You’d be wrong. Sure, a few voices peeped defiantly along with me, but how many times can you shout yourself hoarse against the mob before you start to sound crazy.

So, yeah. If you work for a major media outlet and you read this (hell, I’d be surprised if anyone still reads this), I defy you to present a good explanation of how you still deserve your occupation. My guess is you’re too busy knbbing off the bike pornographers that actually pay your salary to inform the readers you pretend to serve that their cycling heros have been on the thread-end of the worst screw job since Samuel Tilden. It’s just a shame the fringe sports get stuck with journalists who are too piss poor to get a job anywhere else.

Milford Cyclocross Classic Race – Report

2 Oct

This report really begins a few years back, when Steve Weller was converting Amy Wallace’s old Specialized Allez to a campus single-speed (an idea popularized among the Hanoverans by yours truly). I was aghast to see that Steve had shelled out 30 bucks for a singulator (the existing – that is, free – rear derailleur would have worked fine with some limit screw adjustment), yet hadn’t sprung for a 5-dollar BMX cog, instead opting to use the 15t sprocket from Amy’s existing cassette:

Cosmo: “Steve, why did you spend so much on a singulator, but not buy a cog? That’s ass backwards. The chain will pop off that ramped sprocket and single, cageless pulley wheel all the time”

Steve: “No, Cosmo, you hack. God, if you knew anything about being a real bike mechanic, you would know that won’t matter, so long as you set up the chainline right.”

Fast-forward to the present. I (Cosmo, that is), having still refused to buy an actual ‘cross bike, equip my Kona Lava Dome (already w/drop bars, 26in x 1.7 – 40mm with a caliper – semi-slick tires, and a rigid Tange fork) with Amy’s old single speed wheelset and singulator, after realizing my rear shifter is broken. I give it a few test rides through the Fells, nothing horrific happens (other than me getting my foot caught in the rear wheel and breaking a spoke while practicing my running mounts), so I declare it good to go.

I had initially planned to race the Beginner race at The Milford Cyclocross Classic (yes, I’m a Cat 3, but reference the foot catching incident and DIY ‘cross rig in the previous paragraph), but I stayed out late on Friday and slept in. I finally got to Milford 3 or 4 minutes after registration ended, but the event was low-key enough that I don’t really think they noticed. Got in about half a lap of warm-up before I saw the Open Men’s field lining up, so I cut back across the course and was pretty much last at the line.

Beginning a ‘cross race from the back line is kinda fun, actually. Normally, it’s all mad sprinty business (though not so much on this course, because it shoots immediately into the “technical” section), but from the back, you just kind of hang out until things string open. I was pretty close to last, but just to remove all doubt, my chain decided to pop off after the second big hairpin in the technical section. It was an easy fix, but I was last by a long, long way once I got it back on, and I was thinking that this might be a miserable hour long time-trial.

This turned out pretty rapidly not to be the case. Knowing the race was longer than normal (a full 60 minutes, vs. my usual 30-40), I kinda took it easy, spinning back on for about a lap. Then I just started chewing through people. I don’t consider myself a real nasty bike handler, but I was definitely finding seconds through corners. They were all pretty easy, minus two really loose, sandy ones. I guess the fatter tires help a bit there. I also made up some places through the running sand pit (though using barriers to force a dismount on the sand really defeats the point of having it in the first place, if you ask me).

The lack of any sort of uphill or run-up made calculating effort and tactics very easy. It was mostly catch people in the twisty part, then draft around the fields, then pass them in the twisty part on the next time through. Josh Lipka had decided to start really slowly for some reason (I asked afterwards, and apparently he always does this in ‘cross…) so when he came back through the field and passed me, I tried to follow him. That didn’t work at all (he’s, y’know, good and stuff) but I did have a sweet move to catch his wheel by calling “inside” on a hard, slow hairpin turn(!) and having the rider who was between us acknowledge it (!!).

I should add that none of this racing was for any sort of meaningful place. Toby Marzot and Kevin Wolfson were way ahead of everyone, and I was (at peak position) probably 10 spots out of DFL. We in the cheap seats finally got lap cards at 7 to go, when I was resting comfortably behind some guy on an orange bike, recovering from my failed Lipka chase and planning to take off again next lap. I was just entering the field sections, and thinking I might make my move across the sand pit instead, when my chain flew off again (on a flat, smooth, straight-ahead grass section). I f-bombed once (at an appropriate volume), strung it back on again, and proceeded to chase.

For the first time in the whole race, I really dug into the field section, riding hard to catch the wheels that had recaptured me, and throwing it over so far that I managed to clip a pedal in one (not off-camber) corner. I quickly regained some spots, and even got some congrats and what-not for being so nasty a chaser. At 5 laps to go, I was probably about 30 seconds down on the guy I had been drafting before, and thinking about making another jump to claw back onto him, when, just at the tail end of the technical section, my chain came off again.

One of the major motivating factors in my use of single speeds (trumped only by low cost) is the relative lack of mechanicals. Three mechanicals in one race is unacceptable by any standard. Let this be a lesson to “real” bike mechanics with a hard-on for chainline and expensive parts – know which parts actually matter. Anyway, by this time, my rhythm was quite shot (and I’d been lapped without knowing it, since I was busy working on my chain), and there were fewer and fewer riders to catch. I think I may have reeled one guy back, maybe two by the time the race finished. No idea where I placed overall because results aren’t up yet. Afterwards, skater punk Matt Rossman took his deck out in the nearby skate park, which was awesome.