Sunday, March 4, 2012


I just watched the Paris-Nice prologue time trial and was dismayed at the insipid questions Larsson, the winner, was asked. For instance, this cutting edge journalistic query was put forth: "Is this a big moment for you?" Granted, it would have been a coup if Larsson had said, "Nah, it's no big deal. I expected to win because these guys are all a bunch of losers anyway." He could have taken his place with Voeckler and Lance as guys people love to hate. But he only said, "Of course it's a big moment."

So, as a public service to "journalists" everywhere, here are some questions worth asking. Granted, some of them have little or nothing to do with cycling or the race that's just been run, but they will generate interesting answers, which makes up for all other deficiencies:
1. What color panties are you wearing?
2. Are you on drugs?
3. What color are your panties?
4. Are you a fan of the Brazilian wax?
5. Do your panties match your bike shorts?
6. Do you think podium girls should be nude, or if not nude, then clad only in body paint?
7. Do your panties match the color of your bike?
8. Do you think the UCI officials who took two years to decide if Contador cheated or not should retroactively dock their own pay and demote themselves to volunteer assistant-tire inflators?
9. Would you consider selling ad space on your panties to Specialized?
10. Did you know that Bob Roll doesn't know what "interpolate" means?
11. Did you know you can make your own road i.d. with a Sharpie marker, a bit of plastic cut from a milk jug, and an old sock, none of which cost anywhere close to twenty bucks plus shipping and handling? Granted, the "handling" probably includes riding in Levi Leipheimer's crotch while he does a century, but is that really worth $9.99?
12. Did you know the elastic from a pair of panties can be used to hold your home-brewed road i.d. to your wrist, or your dangle, or your scrotum, or wherever you carry it?
13. Do you prefer podium girls with small, medium, or large hooters?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

In Praise of Limestone

How many hours and miles have I spent riding over the limestone above Mammoth Cave? Who can deny that this is a damn' reckless way to spend a life? It's time for some Auden on this here little blog. BTW, my favorite bit is this:

"But the really reckless were fetched
By an older colder voice, the oceanic whisper:
`I am the solitude that asks and promises nothing;
That is how I shall set you free. There is no love;
There are only the various envies, all of them sad.'"

I think I've been "really reckless" my whole life (and what cyclist is not?), but I never knew what to call it untill I read Auden.

In Praise Of Limestone

If it form the one landscape that we, the inconstant ones,
Are consistently homesick for, this is chiefly
Because it dissolves in water. Mark these rounded slopes
With their surface fragrance of thyme and, beneath,
A secret system of caves and conduits; hear the springs
That spurt out everywhere with a chuckle,
Each filling a private pool for its fish and carving
Its own little ravine whose cliffs entertain
The butterfly and the lizard; examine this region
Of short distances and definite places:
What could be more like Mother or a fitter background
For her son, the flirtatious male who lounges
Against a rock in the sunlight, never doubting
That for all his faults he is loved; whose works are but
Extensions of his power to charm? From weathered outcrop
To hill-top temple, from appearing waters to
Conspicuous fountains, from a wild to a formal vineyard,
Are ingenious but short steps that a child's wish
To receive more attention than his brothers, whether
By pleasing or teasing, can easily take.

Watch, then, the band of rivals as they climb up and down
Their steep stone gennels in twos and threes, at times
Arm in arm, but never, thank God, in step; or engaged
On the shady side of a square at midday in
Voluble discourse, knowing each other too well to think
There are any important secrets, unable
To conceive a god whose temper-tantrums are moral
And not to be pacified by a clever line
Or a good lay: for accustomed to a stone that responds,
They have never had to veil their faces in awe
Of a crater whose blazing fury could not be fixed;
Adjusted to the local needs of valleys
Where everything can be touched or reached by walking,
Their eyes have never looked into infinite space
Through the lattice-work of a nomad's comb; born lucky,
Their legs have never encountered the fungi
And insects of the jungle, the monstrous forms and lives
With which we have nothing, we like to hope, in common.
So, when one of them goes to the bad, the way his mind works
Remains incomprehensible: to become a pimp
Or deal in fake jewellery or ruin a fine tenor voice
For effects that bring down the house, could happen to all
But the best and the worst of us...
That is why, I suppose,
The best and worst never stayed here long but sought
Immoderate soils where the beauty was not so external,
The light less public and the meaning of life
Something more than a mad camp. `Come!' cried the granite wastes,
`How evasive is your humour, how accidental
Your kindest kiss, how permanent is death.' (Saints-to-be
Slipped away sighing.) `Come!' purred the clays and gravels,
`On our plains there is room for armies to drill; rivers
Wait to be tamed and slaves to construct you a tomb
In the grand manner: soft as the earth is mankind and both
Need to be altered.' (Intendant Caesars rose and
Left, slamming the door.) But the really reckless were fetched
By an older colder voice, the oceanic whisper:
`I am the solitude that asks and promises nothing;
That is how I shall set you free. There is no love;
There are only the various envies, all of them sad.'

They were right, my dear, all those voices were right
And still are; this land is not the sweet home that it looks,
Nor its peace the historical calm of a site
Where something was settled once and for all: A back ward
And dilapidated province, connected
To the big busy world by a tunnel, with a certain
Seedy appeal, is that all it is now? Not quite:
It has a worldy duty which in spite of itself
It does not neglect, but calls into question
All the Great Powers assume; it disturbs our rights. The poet,
Admired for his earnest habit of calling
The sun the sun, his mind Puzzle, is made uneasy
By these marble statues which so obviously doubt
His antimythological myth; and these gamins,
Pursuing the scientist down the tiled colonnade
With such lively offers, rebuke his concern for Nature's
Remotest aspects: I, too, am reproached, for what
And how much you know. Not to lose time, not to get caught,
Not to be left behind, not, please! to resemble
The beasts who repeat themselves, or a thing like water
Or stone whose conduct can be predicted, these
Are our common prayer, whose greatest comfort is music
Which can be made anywhere, is invisible,
And does not smell. In so far as we have to look forward
To death as a fact, no doubt we are right: But if
Sins can be forgiven, if bodies rise from the dead,
These modifications of matter into
Innocent athletes and gesticulating fountains,
Made solely for pleasure, make a further point:
The blessed will not care what angle they are regarded from,
Having nothing to hide. Dear, I know nothing of
Either, but when I try to imagine a faultless love
Or the life to come, what I hear is the murmur
Of underground streams, what I see is a limestone landscape.

W.H. Auden

Monday, July 4, 2011


In the wake of controversies surrounding Armstrong and Contador--or can we even refer to the "wake" yet, since the messes are still unresolved?--I've come to the reluctant conclusion that the UCI and all other cycling authorities need to ban testing.

That's right, ban testing. It's not that I like the idea of riders doping. But the problem is, testing has apparently not had anything like the desired effect. Instead, testing has created a sort of shadow competition that means whoever has the best doctor or chemist to figure out how to beat the doping test has an advantage over other riders. This is not the sort of competition we want to see. So the authorities should simply get out of the business. They're not helping.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Of single speeds and chain whips (sounds like leather vests or rubber underpants ought somehow to be involved, doesn't it?)

Despite the fact that I've climbed every steep hill in my riding area on my single-speed with the 18 tooth rear cog, I have aspired for some time to put on a 20- or possibly 22-tooth rear cog. I've got another single-speed with an 18-tooth cog which I will keep for when I'm feeling masochistic. Having never changed a cog before in my life (a major accomplishment last week was to replace a bottom bracket bearing in the same bike), I knew special tools (not the kind Congressmen like to photograph) would be involved. So I looked at the bike, looked at pictures on the Internet, and got lucky (no, not those pictures, and not that kind of lucky): I actually got the right freewheel tool the first time, without having to reorder anything. But then I came to terms with the fact that I needed a chain whip--another mysterious tool whose use I had never grasped until I needed one. Since the cog is self-tightening in riding use, and since it's the nature of the freewheel to spin freely the other direction, the chain whip holds the cog while you unscrew (using the freewheel tool) the ring that holds the cog in place. Chain whips are not that expensive, but I wanted the job done now, and the nearest shop that might sell me one is thirty miles away. So again to the Internet--where someone pointed out the not-until-then-at-least-not-to-me obvious, which is that you can wrap an old chain around the cog, clamp onto the old chain with Vise-Grips (or in my case, cheap Chinese locking plier knock-offs), and wallah, you have a serviceable chain whip. Which is the only useful bit of info in this post. The ring was on so tight that I had to use a lever on both the pliers and the wrench, but the job is done.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Of earthquakes and bikes

If there's a silver lining to the cloud of earthquakes and tsunamis in Japan, this might be it: more people are riding bikes there. What disaster will it take for us in this country to park our SUVs and make bike lanes?:

Naked bike ride

The headline proclaims "The 40 Best Pictures From The World Naked Bike Ride ‘09 (NSFW)." Personally, I'm skeptical. Looks like the choices were made in order to render the collection, if not not NSFW, then at least a little closer to being SFW than if it really had the best photos of naked and not-quite-naked people on bikes. You decide:

Monday, May 9, 2011

It's Alive! Or Ten Miles and a Six (er, er, What Comes After Six?)-Pack Later

Or, actually, It works!

A follow-up on the how-to-fix-a-flat-when-you-don't-have-anything-to-fix-a-flat-with stuff: Not only did the knot in the tube get me home the day before yesterday, but, two days later and no air added, it still has enough air to ride. This knot-in-the-leaky-tube thing is too cool to be true.