Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Join me on my soapbox

Well, the Tour de France is finished. Some French newspapers would lead you to believe that it's dead. When "chicken" Rasmussen was yanked out of the race & fired by Rabobank, it didn't really shock me. What will shock me is if Contador can escape detection. Many of the younger cyclists are pointing to Rasmussen, Vino, and Mayo and saying that they're members of the old guard, and the doping mentality is prevalent in that group, but not in their group. I pray that's true, but I find it hard to believe in this time of instant gratification & intense pressure to produce. I do applaud the teams for taking the reins & punishing the dopers. It's sad when we don't have a definite winner at the end of such an epic event, which may be the end result of the 2006 Tour. The 2007 race will be forever tainted by the doping scandal, yet there were moments of extreme beauty. For example, in stage 3, when Fabian Cancellara outsprinted the field & showed the mythical power of the maillot jaune. That's what I'll remember from this race. We can only hope that the sport comes to its senses & realizes that it is endangering the creation of more memories.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

This is a cyclist!

This is Jacques Anquetil, a controversial cyclist in his time. This man was a badass. Here's a little excerpt from the Cycling Hall of Fame to illustrate my point. "Anquetil was also a known partier and consumer of fine wines and foods. The 1964 Tour de France illustrates this point. On the rest day in Andorra, Anquetil feasted on a slab of roast lamb while the other riders were out for an easy ride and a day of rest. The next day Anquetil was dropped on the first climb and was behind the leaders of the stage by over four minutes. Only after drinking a champagne-filled water bottle did his stomach troubles subside and allow him to rejoin the leaders after a considerable chase. Later in the 1964 Tour, on a stage up the Puy de Dome, Anquetil and Poulidor had a showdown. Poulidor was normally a much better climber than Anquetil. This being the last major climb in the Tour, with Anquetil holding roughly a minute advantage over Poulidor, Anquetil bluffed Poulidor and rode side by side with Anquetil matching the better climber, Poulidor, with each turn of the pedal. Anquetil finally cracked and Poulidor beat Anquetil by roughly forty seconds. The only decisive stage left in the race was a time trial which Anquetil easily won and stretched his lead over Poulidor by 55 seconds".
Here's my idea for professional cycling: there should be a preliminary event where the riders are required to drink a 12 pack of PBR & eat a pastrami on rye. Then, maybe we can get back to those days when we could look up to our heroes, like Jacques Anquetil!

Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away

This is Alexandre Vinokourov. His blood test in the Tour de France (time trial stage) showed that he had received a transfusion (to boost his red blood cell count). This is illegal in cycling, so his team Astana, has pulled out of the Tour. The sport of cycling is so dirty, it's sickening. One has to wonder how far this doping mentality has trickled down. In my next installment, I will recount a little of the history of Jacques Anquetil.

Monday, July 9, 2007

PBR: the Blue Ribbon of Courage

Here's the second entry in the beer of the week. Pabst Blue Ribbon! This is a friend for those times when you're low on money, but big on thirst. This is a "volume" beer. It still tastes good enough that you're not pounding your chest to get it down (happened to me with some bargain basement Romanian vodka). Plus this red, white & blue logo is quite simply one of the most visually striking I've ever seen. Maybe it's just me, but does anyone else think this would make one great cycling jersey? Plus the caps have playing card values under them? I've never played poker that way, but hell, by the time I get a good hand, I'm thinking I won't care.