October 5, 2009

Next July will mark 100 years since Octave Lapize spat those words at Tour founder Henri Desgrange.  Those venom-laced words came after the inclusion of the Tourmalet.  Ever since that day, the Col du Tourmalet has towered both literally and figuratively over the Tour de France. 

A few facts about the Tourmalet.  The Tourmalet is 19.4 km long with an average gradient of 7.4% .  It bites the hardest with a 10.2% max gradient at the very end.  The Tourmalet  has been featured more times than any other mountain pass in Tour history including the past two editions.   Even the Vuelta has crossed the Tourmalet on a few occasions.  However, there has not been a mountain top finish at the Tourmalet since 1974.  I’m not counting the ’02 and ’04 finishes at La Mongie.  The Tour just got too big for the Grande Dame. 

So, what do you do for the 100th anniversary of the Col du Tourmalet?  Well, word leaking out of Belgium via Cyclingnews is the Tour may have a stage finish at the summit of the Tourmalet.  The stage finish will be on the second ascent of the mountain.  That’s right, riders may have to ride up the mountain twice in one stage.

I think riders may spit out a few expletives of their own to mark the occasion.  Remember David Millar’s finish line abandonment during the 2002 Vuelta?  Leaving his bike at the finish line atop the Angliru.  Didn’t Einstein talk about insanity as doing things over and over again?  Maybe that will be the word sent the way of the latest Tour boss.


Is it paranoia when people ARE out to get you?

October 2, 2009

Sometimes, it doesn’t pay to get out of bed in the morning.  Each day I, like most people in the country, wake up worried about the economy and my job.  Like most people, it seems that both are very tenuous.  But at least I have my bike.  I believe the bicycle is the best invention for stress relief, thought clarity and of course physical fitness.  Bike racing is such an alluring sport that when watching, everything else moves to the background.

I dropped what was then RCN Cable in favor of Dish Networks back in 1999 because the latter carried a little known channel called Outdoor Life Network.  When I switched to DirecTV a couple of years later, I made sure OLN was in the channel lineup I knew Patriot Media (the successor to RCN) did not.  Everything was going well until OLN started to program bull riding at the expense of cycling.  Bull riding?  That was a slap in the face.  OLN had morphed into Versus and had outgrown cycling.  It’s parent Comcast was moving it towards direct competition with ESPN.  But I found Cycling.Tv and the European peloton was back in my life.

I’ve never been in an earthquake but it must be really scary when the one thing you can count on, the earth under your feet, betrays you.  I’ve been in a tornado’s path once but at least I could huddle close to the ground for safety.  Over the last few months, I think I have felt a figurative earthquake.  In May, the Giro was dropped from Versus and by extension Cycling.TV.  You see, the cycling website had linked it’s fortune to Versus so when the cable channel declined to renew the contract with the Italian race, it caught right where it hurt the most.  Not only was the Giro gone but the whole Italian series.

Then Universal Sports stepped in.  I could see the Giro online even if Anthony McCrossan and Brian Smith were not there with me.  OK.  I immediately called DirecTV.  “Get the Universal Sports Channel!” I yelled.  The answer was no.  During the same time, the Verizon FiOS trucks pulled in my neighborhood.  I looked and they had Universal Sports!  I called and asked when I could sign up.  The Giro was three weeks long, could I possibly be that lucky? No.  They started laying the conduit at the other end of my neighborhood.  Oh well.

Universal Sports

The economy continued to tank and Verizon hooked up half of my neighborhood (the wrong half) and left.  I am about 200 yards from FiOS.  Does anyone have an extra 200 yards of fiber optic cable and a wire splicer? I watched the Tour in Versus HD.  Lance saved my Tour since I doubt I would have gotten the coverage had he not come back.  For three weeks, Versus reverted to OLD. Only Lance Network.  By the end of August, I received a message. “DirecTV will no longer carry Versus due to Comcast’s Outrageous demands.”  What? Then August changed into September and I was teased yet again.  My TiVo told me I had a cycling recording.  How could that be? Well, DirecTV replaced Versus with Universal Sports!  YES!

I watched the World Championships with the biggest grin you could imagine.  Until October 1st when I found out that DirecTV only ran the channel for a month.

Do you see what I mean?  This can’t be pure chance.  Someone must be doing this on purpose.  Yes, I know with 6 billion people in the world, why me?  But do you have a better explanation?

So,  everyone call DirecTV and tell them to lay off me.  I’m under enough stress already.  Give me Universal Sports!

Or get those Verizon trucks back here.