39 ticks of the clock.

July 27, 2010

I remember talking to someone who does Marketing for Major League Baseball. He mentioned that one challenge was to keep people talking baseball during the off season. That is why you see MVP and Cy Young awards as well as other activities in the dead of winter. Get people talking about your sport all year round. Well, I’ll give you 39 reasons we will be talking about cycling long after Mother Nature has our bikes up on rollers or trainers. That is the 39 seconds between Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck.

How can you not believe in a higher authority after this year’s tour. That 39 seconds can’t be a random coincidence. It has to be part of someone’s grand plan. That someone has one heck of a sense of humor. Attack, drop chain, replace chain, lose 39 seconds. Have the time trial of your career and lose by….39seconds. If the margin was 38 seconds in Paris then you may have some people griping. Have it be 40 seconds and the other side can say that the Stage 15 decision didn’t matter. But spot on 39 seconds? Both sides have the fuel for a long debate.


Contador, Menchov, and Snachez, expect a call from your mothers.

July 19, 2010

Character is doing the right thing when nobody’s looking.  There are too many people who think that the only thing that’s right is to get by, and the only thing that’s wrong is to get caught.  ~J.C. Watts

Well Alberto, you got caught.  I have always been a fan of your ability.  I rooted for you when it seemed that your whole team worked against you last year.  Unfortunately, today your career may have been defined by one classless move. 

Ironic isn’t it.  Lance Armstrong who is known for breaking an opponent physically and mentally could not get into your head.  Then some kid from Luxemburg who by most accounts is a happy-go-lucky kid forced you to make a completely classless move.  You, Menchov and Sanchez took advantage of a situation that you were honor bound to uphold.  Odds are you could have taken Andy in the Time Trial.  I guess you could not wait.

I am reminded of a Shakespearean quote.

Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none. 

Also, own up to your actions to say “When I launched my attack, I was not aware of the incident. When I was told about it, we had a solid lead and we were going full gas.”  Passing a guy dressed in yellow bent over his chain is kind of hard to miss.


The lament of second tier sports

May 20, 2010

I can’t remember a time when I was not into sports. Either I was playing sports,  reading the newspaper , or watching on TV.  One of the advantages of going to a Catholic high school was the blazer we had to wear.  I also always drew the last seat in the first row due to my last name beginning with a “D.” When the Phillies would play an afternoon game -quite often back in the day- I would put a transistor radio into my breast pocket and run the earphone through the sleeve and into the palm of my hand.  I looked like just another student resting his head on his hand. 

Funny thing is, I never fell in love with the stars.  I always went for the grinders.  The guys who worked twice as hard to be half as good.  I identified with them since that mirrored my own paltry athletic career.  While most boys worshiped Dr. J, I saved a piece of hero worship for Bobby Jones.  Who, in the words of former Sixer GM Pat Williams “Bobby gives two hours of blood, showers, and goes home.”  Sometimes grinders break through and become stars of a sort.  The ultimate grinder-made-good is Jens Voigt. 

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that I have grown to love two sports that are the grinders of the sporting world.  First and foremost, Cycling and more recently, I have developed an affection for Lacrosse.  The later sport is through my son who is currently following his father as a grinder in a grinder sport.

One of the downsides to following these second tier sports is that they only time they make the front pages is when there is bad news.  We all know by now about the horrible tragedy in Virginia and of course, cycling is front page again with Floyd Landis’ admission. Even more unfortunate, the sport gets defined by these stories.

I am hearing that Lacrosse is full of thugs, that the sport is too violent.  I’ve engaged in countless debates as to whether cycling is a dirty sport and full of cheaters.  Bad people play sports.  All sports.  NBA players are frequently making the police blotters for rape, weapons, and drug charges.  How many non-cyclists showed up on BALCO’s ledgers.  Is professional football a bad sport because Ben Roethlisberger is a scum bag?   

It is a tough line to walk when I try to defend the sport without defending the abhorrent acts of any of its individuals.  I think all such arguments are just white noise or better yet, akin to the “Wa wa wa wa wa” of any adult in a Peanuts cartoon.

I’ll keep tilting at those windmills.  Twice as hard to be half as good.


Did you hear?

May 20, 2010

This morning, my inbox was flooded with emails along the lines of “Did you hear?”  Unfortunately, I did.  Again.  Another cyclist coming clean after years of protesting his innocence.  Increasingly, I am getting disenchanted with my  sport. 

I started this blog in July of 2006 and found it fun and cathartic to express my views on professional cycling.  I would scan the news and provide a brief interpretation from my point of view.  Shortly after starting my blog, the Floyd Landis story broke.  I weighed in occasionally, tried to lighten the mood often, and really tried to keep the other news alive.  I did not want my blog to become a doping column.  The problem is that quite often, the only stories were of doping.  Basso, Hamilton, Vinokourov, Heras, Rico, and on and on and on.  Dick Pound got more cycling press than anyone.  His “Q score” in cycling was probably higher than Alberto Contador.

Then cycling acquired an autoimmune disease and started to attack itself.  Pound vs. McQuaid became a bigger draw than MMA.  Over the last year, my writing became sporadic since it was no longer cathartic but maddening.  I’ll still write from time to time but I’m in a cycling low right now.

I still read the news, follow the races, and cheer for riders. And pray they are clean.


It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

March 22, 2010

If you are a cycling fan, where are your thoughts come late March and early April?  Mine are in Belgium.  The true kick off to the cycling season.  The place where cobbles can tell stories back to the Romans; or at least look like the last people who paid any attention to them were Romans.

Well, I got the opportunity to put my body where my mind was.  On Friday, I was told I needed to head to the land of cycling, beer, frites w/mayo, and chocolates.  I immediately made plans to spend the weekend to watch Gent-Wevelgem.  While not the Tour of Flanders or Paris Roubaix but definitely worth it.

I contacted a few cycling tour companies to see if I could grab a last-minute cycling tours so my rear end could enjoy the same experience as my eyes.  To my displeasure, the three I contacted had cancelled their tours due to the economy. That’s OK, I’ll brave it alone. 

Then the other shoe dropped.  While I was needed in Belgium on Wednesday, I am also needed in New Jersey on Friday!  I can only blame it on “the man!”  “The Man” must have it in for me to send me there and then bring me home.


Schlecks seek emancipation from father figure

March 5, 2010

La Gazzetta dello Sport is reporting that the Schleck brothers are looking to break free from Riis cycling and form their own team.  The article is not on their English site and while my Italian is suspect, it looks like the two brothers are trying to poach Fabian Cancellara and have Kim Andersen serve as Director.

On my way home from Sweden, I was reading how Frank Schleck pledged his undying loyalty to Bjarne saying that he would always ride for the Dane.  He also felt that a new sponsor for the team was a mere formality.  So what happened?


The rumor that will never die

February 24, 2010

A Grand Tour stage in the US?  Wouldn’t that be great?  Seeing the best riders in their best form competing on US soil.   On top of that, having them compete on the East Coast, in my back yard. 

Each time I read this story, I pause for a moment and let the feelings wash over me.  I always wanted to see the Giro.  Who would have thought I could see it via Amtrak vs. Continental Airlines?  The possibilities.  We could top London as the best place to launch a Grand Tour.

Then in the blink of an eye, reality sets in and those feelings are washed away.  What are they crazy?  A 3,500 – 4,000 mile transfer across multiple time zones? 

Well, cycling news is the latest to report that the RCS Sport  is looking to start the 2012 Giro in Washington DC.  Thanks for the thought fellas but let’s think of the racers.  I don’t think having the Tour of California and the Giro both running simultaneously in the US is a smart idea.  Let it go. There is a danger that if you talk about a topic long enough, you begin to believe it is possible.

Then again, remember Live Aid a few years ago? Phil Collins played on two continents on the same day.  Maybe Lance can race in two UCI races on the same day.  Think of the publicity.  He rides the prologue, which could be held at a private airport, then he climbs aboard Air Lance and jets to the West Coast. Brilliant!


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