Anyone who has not been under a rock knows who the leader of the Tour de France is. Today Nibali stupefied any naysayers. The stoic face on a crushing HC climb displayed a champion image. No, I know that the race isn’t over, but this was a beautiful performance by the maillot jaune. I am sure that if you are reading this blog you know what’s coming next. Yes, I would like to say again how much of an idiot Sky boss David Brailsford is.
I called it. I argued with others on my group rides, after they continued to say that Richie Porte was in second and hasn’t been able to show what is under the hood yet. Today the hood was up. Porte exploded. I am not anti-Porte. I am anti-pathedic leadership. For FAILSford to put Sky’s future on Richie Porte was ridiculous. Today, Bob Roll finally blasted the decision not to bring Bradley Wiggins. I’ve looked on the Internet to see what the British papers were saying about this, but I can’t find much. After today’s stage, the papers might not be as silent. Oh, I did find an article where Sir David is bashing a former rider for Sky . . . if he points the finger at other people then no one will look at him. Right?
A somewhat recent article in Bicycle Magazine compared a pro cyclists with a regular cyclist and came up with some pretty interesting claims, basing the comparison on 155 pound Cat 5 rider against a UCI professional on a three-hour ride. When I first glanced over the data, I was somewhat amused. I will the absolute first one to admit that the professionals have skills that are mind blowing at times. Just think about that for a second. For all of the cyclists in the world who race and put a lot of time in on the bike, there are only a handful of riders that are allowed to rise and compete at the UCI level. But then I started to consider some things. How much better would I be if . . .
- Nutrition: What if I were able to have a perfectly balanced pre-ride meal and post-ride meal, not to mention every conceivable kind of snacks and cold bottles during the ride? Ice socks to keep my core temperature down would be nice too. That would definitely be better than stopping at a house to ask if I could refill my bottles with their water hose.
- Training: Instead of a regular job and training after working all day, what if I were able to put 40-50 hours a week into my training? That would BE my job. And after I have put in my time on the bike (4-6 hours) a day, I could have a full massage to aid in recovery.
- Equipment: I would estimate that the average competitive cyclist in my area has a bike that ranges in the $4000 to $7000 range. So what if I could have the top-of-the-line bike custom made for me and custom fit to me? What if I could have three, four, or five of these bikes for various terrains? What if I could have someone making sure that all of my bikes were in pristine condition before every ride? Oh, to have perfectly fitted kits and shoes would be something of a bonus too, not to mention various clothing options for every kind of weather. It also wouldn’t hurt if a few pair of Oakleys were tossed into the mix to match everything I wear.
Now, don’t misunderstand what I am trying to convey. I am aware that many cyclists make a ton of sacrifices before they get to that level. I am only wondering how much I would improve if I instantly had everything I listed. What would my average speed be? How much longer could I go? Recovery time? The list goes on and on. Just food for thought, I guess.
In my quest to learn another language, it has come to my attention that many who want to learn a new language have not perfected their first language. Here are five of the top grammatical errors I see (and hear) all of the time:
- It’s means it is. It’s is NOT a possessive pronoun.
- Commas and periods ALWAYS go inside of quotation marks . . . always. Exclamation points and question marks are a different rule.
- The verb must agree with the subject of the sentence NOT the predicate nominative.
- Affect is a verb. Effect is a noun.
- Don’t is a plural verb. Doesn’t is a singular verb. This has a lot to do with #3.
It all starts innocently enough, a glance at some stats and telling a few friends. Allowing the stats to tell me give me my boost I needed. The attention felt good from my Strava pimp. I could not get to my computer fast enough, so that Strava could tell me how good I had done or how much I sucked. Many times I already knew before I even looked. The conversation in my head would sometimes be like this:
“But I tried so hard!”
Do you see any trophies? Do you even see a PR?!
And god forbid if you ever come close to a KOM! Just delete your page off of my site and forget the whole thing.
“I’ll do better.”
Most start this problem at an early age, but not me. Oh, my love for bicycles started at an early age, but the darker aspects crept up on me. At first, I didn’t notice it. My family and friends tried to warn me. There was no love involved anymore, to enjoy the bicycle and my ride. No, I had to push deeper and deeper, seeking approval from others. Personal Bests must be achieved on every single ride. King of the Mountain times were pipe dreams, candy dangling at the end of the stick that forced me to the pull the cart a little harder. I am now noticing that the candy isn’t getting any closer. Like most whores, I’m just giving my body up for the fix. Speed is my drug.
I knew I had a problem when, on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, I embarked on a “spin the legs” 50 miler. I told myself that I would enjoy the bike. I would enjoy the day and stay at 17-18 mph . . . until. While on a familiar route, I topped a small climb and noticed in the distance what I believed was another cyclist. I told myself almost immediately to put it out of my mind. Ride and let ride. This continued for another few miles until a long straight away when the other rider came into view again, but this time I saw him look over his shoulder in my direction. Please allow me to admit that this is sad. I know it. But I guess the first step is admitting you have a problem. Right? Now, when said cyclists checked over his shoulder I kind of read that as a challenge that I hadn’t shortened any distance between him and me. I don’t think I need to tell the rest of the story. To say the least, my “spinner” turned into a full blown time trial and blowing past a guy who had a confused look on his face. Again, sad I know. What made matters worse was when I got back to the computer, due to the first few miles I was just spinning, my average was down and Strava told me I sucked and gave me no trophies.
Obviously, most of this is tongue-in-cheek, but there are flecks of real problems with cyclists who forget how to love cycling like they did when first starting the sport or like they did when pedaling to a friend’s house as a child. I have blogged before about riding “naked,” having no phone or computer on your bike. In all seriousness, I haven’t done this in quite some time. Yeah, you know why . . . because my “distance this week” on Strava will be down, showing everyone that I haven’t put my time in on the bike! I am truly thinking of deleting my account. Am I the only nut in the bowl?
Someone may question my last few posts and wonder if I am a person who is constantly griping about something. Sure, I have been a bit miffed at the way Bradley Wiggins was treated (even though I have no dog in the fight, per se). Forgive me ahead of time, but I have been given something else. I have written about people wearing team jerseys before. To say the least, it is one of my pet peeves . . . being that 9 out of 10 cyclists who wear them do NOT need to wear a team jersey, if you know what I mean. There is something about a medium Garmin Sharp jersey stretched over a rather large torso that just screams no, no, no. So today, some cyclists take it up a notch.
As my daughter and I walk into a casual sandwich shop downtown, I cannot help but notice two road bikes leaned against front of the store. This is not unusual, but what was inside almost made me black out. Maybe I did black out for a second. To say the least, I am avid fan of the cycling and the Tour de France. The history, the characters, the bikes, the crashes, the nerves, the climbs, the sprints, the weather, and the sheer determination are things of which I sit and watch in awe and admiration. So when I walk into sandwich shop, you must understand that I take it personally (although I know I shouldn’t) when what do my eyes behold? Two people bellied up to the counter wearing “official” Tour de France maillots jaunes. I couldn’t take my eyes off of them. Once, I think I even glanced around the room to see if anyone was seeing what I was seeing. Okay, I understand you want to buy one and frame it for the man cave or, even better, buy one and have it signed by a man who actually earned the right to wear the jersey. Wait. I know. Many of you are saying that it’s their right to wear whatever they want to wear and of course I can’t argue with that, but it is the principle of the thing. A man earns the right to wear those special jerseys. It would be the same thing as buying a huge, leather golf bag and having my name sewn on it, as if I were playing in the PGA, or buying a huge plaque with a large gold baseball glove in the center of it. There are certain things that are reserved for those who have earned it. Maybe I am way off base, but I guess it just shows how much respect I have for the sport of cycling. I respect its traditions and am honored to take part in such a beautifully painful and wonderful sport.
What say you?
Once I am on a soapbox it is hard for me to step down. The six stage of the Tour de France started with second guesses of Team Sky director Dave Brailsford. Many are ranting at the stupidity of Sky’s management. The simple question is this: Is a team better having two Tour de France champions on the team or just one? Should we carry a backup quarterback to the Superbowl or not? Na. If the quarterback goes down, just have the punter play quarterback.
The ultimate deciding factor of piss-poor leadership is when a bad decision is made is to actually support the bad decision as something that was good. Allow me to let Brailsford give a perfect example of this: “I have no regrets – we picked a team to win, we believed Chris could win, and there was no hangover from the crash at the Dauphiné,”said Dave Brailsford. “He looked as good, if not a little bit better, than he was last year.”
Now what Dave? Hey, what about letting David Beckham lead Team Sky next year? Let’s look at why this would be a good decision. Beckham breaths oxygen. He can see out of both eyes. He is married. He can more than likely ride a bicycle. Doesn’t allowing Beckham to lead Team Sky make as much sense as leaving Sir Bradley Wiggins at home?
Finally, after writing two blogs about this subject (Wiggo vs. Cav and To Be or Not to Be ), the evidence is now perfectly clear how ridiculous the Sky team decision makers are. After Chris Froome wrecked on Stage 4, I could see it unfolding. The Pavé was next. I reblogged an article and predicted a game changer for the entire Tour de France. Now, the moment has come. Where is Sky now? Allow me to answer that for you. They are OUT. No, don’t point to Richie Porte and say that he’ll take over. It will not happen. As much as people refuse to believe that top-level cycling is a team sport, it very much IS a team sport. Now, Sky has some awesome linemen without a quarterback or even a back up . . . or for my European friends, they have great defensive backs but have no strikers! All eggs in one basket?
When the decision was made to keep Wiggins out because he and Froome might not get along, it was the most asinine thought process in many years. Now, you have a phenomenal bike racer sitting at the house with his gin and tonic and a team who has no decisive leader. Why? Well . . . because Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggins might not get along. Whether he will admit it or not, I can bet that Sir Wiggins is laughing his butt off right now and shaking his head at the ignorance of what USE TO BE the most dominate team in cycling. Let us take a look back to only a couple of months ago and see what the director had to say on the subject:
“The way Froome rode last year, he’s definitely it — it’s Froome for the Tour,” Kurt Asle Arvesen said. “Bradley will be there to support Froome – if he wants to go, if he’s selected and if he’s in good form.”
Well, you didn’t select him, Kurt. You made a decision that handed the title, that Sky had for two years running, over to another team. I am not a Sky fan at all, but when it affects cycling or causes cycling to look petty it bothers me. Even though I have been outspoken on the subject, I could care less whether Froome or Sky did anything this year, but the fact that one of the best riders is at home trimming his beard instead of riding in the Tour is ludicrous. I also wonder why I don’t receive more comments on this subject, whether they are negative or positive . . . especially from my English friends.