Some terrible things have been going on around the Tour de France this year. The most spectacularly horrific and godawful has little or nothing to do with Armstrong and Evans falling over a lot, or the strange blood that must be coursing through Vino’s veins, or the teams or the race itself. At least not directly. The most vile of vituperation emanating from the wake of the Tour is the nut filled turd known as VeloCenter. This preview and recap “show” on velonews.com is at minimum the most insulting attempt at race analysis ever broadcast. To watch even one segment is to quickly de-evolve from a once content and excited state of post racing glee to a mush brained Fox Sports style feeling of emptiness and lethargy. Levels of incompetence far beyond what was ever thought possible are reached with great frequency throughout the several minute broadcast. This swill makes the talking head they put next to Phil, Paul and Bob Roll on Versus seem like a seasoned cycling journalist. View at your own dismay. Velonews.com and VeloCenter truly reach for the lowest common Nascar denominator.
Another terrible thing that results from the Tour isn’t really terrible at all. It’s better than in the fall when a similar instance occurs when “cyclocross season” begins. All conversation, regardless of initial topic, finds its way to the Tour and, very likely, Mr. Armstrong. Personally, I thoroughly enjoy talking about professional racing and would gladly participate in such conversations all year long. In fact I do. The down side is when a conversation takes too long to stray from the original topic to the Tour. Dull, forgettable talks about work or social things too often take increased energy to force the digression. Please allow me to change the subject so we can talk about the Tour. That’s what I will people to understand, sometimes to no avail. On the other side of this conversational coin is the chatter on bike rides. Instead of potential long pauses between topics, nary a moment passes without race discussion even under the heavy duress of a significant climb.
At one point during a ride last week, my two riding companions and I were discussing whether another reigning world champion had worn all three grand tour leader’s jerseys without an overall win. We couldn’t think of any but we never checked, either. Anyway, during the discussion, which was immediately following the second nastiest headwind stretch I’d ever ridden, we pedaled over several short, punchy rollers. These were the kind of roller that are usually momentum climbs not requiring more than a shift or two to crest. But the wind and length had other ideas for us. The rollers kept attacking us; lurking around each bend like terrorists hating our freewheeldom. Though our exit strategy was firmly in place, the time and distance it took to achieve the goal was notably greater than the ride guide had foretold. It seemed as though a 15km section of crosswind rollers was left out of the description between the 20km of viscious headwind and 10km of blissful, serpentine descent. But this was of no great consequence, for we had the Tour to discuss and emulate through every pedal stroke.