Ah, The Stench of Spring!
Give It up for the Team
Sliding into Darkness
Jose, Can You See?
What's in a name?
Jose, Can You See?
Friday, September 23rd 2011
In spite of my tasteless allusion to the American national anthem in the title to this piece, I actually am very proud to be an American. When I see the Stars and Stripes or hear "Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light...", I get goose bumps and have been known to boo hoo. Hey, I have three high-end bikes all made in the USA, a rareity these days for sure. And, as absolute proof positive of my loyalty, I picked Mini Phinney to win the recent TT world championship, and you see how smart that was! Seriously though, like most of us, I love my country, and that love includes its biking culture too, of course.
In America--and I include Canada in my extended definition because, well, it is part of North America, though the Canadians don't want anything to do with the low forty-eight except during winter and when they need quality medical care--, we have been blessed lately in all things biking, despite the collaspe of HTC Highroad and all the negative vibe surrounding surrounding the government-sponsored Inquisition of Lance Armstrong, a multi-million dollar witchhunt being carried out by a group of loose cannons at a time when the government has to get approval from the People's Republic of China to buy freakin' pencils.
But besides those minor issues, biking, at least bike racing, has never been better. We have the Radio Shack, Garmin, HTC, and BMC (kinda American) big-time teams; we have Trek and Cannondale as major sponsors/suppliers; we have a ton of great American riders including a strong old guard led by Hincapie, Horner, and Leipheimer; a middle group of Zabriske, Farrar, Hesjedal, Danielson and Vandevelde; and an impressive group of youngsters led by Phinney, Talansky, Lewis, and Van Garderen. But the area of greatest growth, the area with the greatest public impact, the area with the capacity to generate the most money and greatest publicity is the area of events--bike races: Have we grown quickly!
Just a few years ago, we were collectively lamenting the passing of the Tour of Georgia. If you are not an American, you may not realize that the state of Georgia has all the pizazz and glamour of Uzbekistan. In the United States, where the general population has but only a passing relationship with the English language, the people of Georgia are openly ridiculed for their dialect. The last time they upgraded their language skills was when George Whitefield conducted an evangelical crusade there in 1739, and the Savannah newspaper reported and distributed his pleas to its twelve literate subscribers for money to build orphanages for the abandoned children of the criminals who founded the state. So it was very difficult for me personally to mourn with much enthusiasm the passing of an event which I was literally afraid to attend because my wife is a woman of color, and mixed-racecouples were not yet welcome in North Georgia.
So when the Tour of California came along I was ecstatic, except that since I had lived in San Francisco when it was fashionable to wear flowers in one's hair, I knew it rained all spring in Northern Cal and it was colder than Dante's Inferno besides. Still... . Then we got the Ronde Missouri or whatever it was called, but that was a crappy race through one of the drabbest places in the West. I was happy when it died to be replaced by the Grande Tour of the Fourteen Happy Brides..er...the Tour of Utah I think is the official name, though I heard the Columbians showed up for Name Number One and its implications! Perhaps they found it too, for they weren't nearly so sharp in Colorado, our next big race. Then too the Canadians, our Komrades up north put together their two great one-day events. Add those to our races around Philly every year, and the American calendar looks pretty darned, well, European.
Still, one of the reasons that bicycle road racing appeals so much to me is that it is basically a European endeavor, best practiced by skinny little boogers with Eye-talian and French names in places as far away from Duluth as can be gotten. Do I watch the races in Qatar? Yeah, I do, but that proves nothing. We all know the season doesn't start until the ice melts in Belgium, and the sun comes out in Italia. Then bike racing starts in earnest.
That is why, when I heard the news that Richmond, Virginia, had applied to host the world championships in 2015, I nearly choked with laughter. Whaaat? Richmond? The American Civil War just ended in Richmond. Wait, no, it's still going on! The white minority of Richmond still believe they own the rest of the city. Are you kidding me, there probably aren't a hundred people who ride bikes in all of Virginia. I got a really big laugh when I heard Richmond had applied to host the world championships.
But when I heard Richmond, flippin' Virginia, had been awarded the contract to host the race... I nearly cried. I still might. Hey, can they actually put on the event? I guess, but that's not the point. The world championships belong in an Old World capitol, someplace where you have to take a train to get to. If we have to have them in America, then how about San Francisco or Boston or even New York for cryin' out loud. I wonder what they'll serve in the food booths, corn pone. Richmond. Sniffle.
Still they got a lot to learn organizing races, that Quiznos challenge was a bit disappointing high altitudes, plenty of mountains around but no uphill finishes !.
Not to mention the dreadful coverage on the Shack tour ticker.
Hilarious commentary on Georgia, HH.
The Colorado race has room for improvement but the first edition was terrific for an inaugural event. The riders and teams as well as the host towns and fans all had positive reviews. We need some summit finishes and more stable coverage for sure.
The Worlds in Richmond is intriuging. I'd like to see those Belgian kits in person.
, a.k.a. Draggin', is an English / English literature teacher from Florida, riding road and mountain bikes since 1993 and in love with the sport of cycling. He's having a handle on cycling too! Catch up regularly for newly released columns and feel free to leave a note.