Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wednesday Extravaganza

Monday's post was rushed, poorly thought out, and as one who is not good with words would say - craptastic. Unbelievably though, I think it may have been better than these master pieces. I stumbled upon that link as I was stumbling through Stevil's post over at AHTBM. Speaking of AHTBM, I should have my new kit here in the next couple of weeks. That is a good thing, since it is so humid here in Kansas that I can't simply rinse off my gear and dry it over night like I could in Germany. Having a third set will allow me to ride more often with clean clothes.

But I digress, back to music:

I just finished reading Year of the Black Rainbow, a novel that accompanies the new album of the same name by Coheed and Cambria. The book lays out the story of Coheed and Cambria's beginning (the characters, not the band). It is interesting and there are definite ties to their music, since in the end their music is the same story. The concept of telling a continuous story throughout their albums was at first foreign to me. Now it seems like such a logical way to create music that I find it amazing other artists are able to compose songs that are distinct from each other (though for some artists it could be said their songs really aren't that distinct). If you like science fiction/fantasy, you should definitely read Year of the Black Rainbow as well as The Amory Wars comics.

Penny and I went out and bought a new TV yesterday so that we could compete with the Jones'. We already beat them in volleyball and cars (Penny has a nice Mercedes), but they got us bested in sheet thread counts and 2-on-2 basketball. While shopping for said TV, this little price tag (on a fake book) caught my eye:

No suckers here.I know a deal when I see one, and this is a deal!

Had to step away for a bit. While posting about purchasing our new TV, the delivery guys dropped it off. Setting it up wasn't so hard, of course all I did was plug in the cable box and tune it to ESPN HD.

Speaking of deals, in Israel they have one-way crypts (which in the end isn't that great of a deal):

Not sure I've ever heard of a two-way crypt.Of course in Israel they also have multi-purpose bikes in case you want to hit up a pool session on your way to the grocery store to pick up some kosher falafel for dinner:

Matt Hoffman would love this.Ok, time to end on a high note. What will I do for the next month while waiting for the Vuelta to start:

Monday, July 26, 2010

Rappin' it Up

The new torch bearer.Contador has captured his fifth grand,
Smiling with the Tour de France trophy in hand.
Always the bridesmaid and never the bride,
But Andy has shown us all he can ride.

AC's happy with his trophy, Andy wanted a little more.Menchov holding strong for his Russian mother,
While Schleck awaits the return of his brother.
Once again Paris was the grand finale,
American fans now forget until Cali.

The 'man' when it comes to the Tour.This year he didn't look like he belonged,
But there is no better Tour rider than Armstrong.
Seven times wearing yellow in a row,
In the end even the best have to go.

Watch out Slim, I'm on the warpath.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Andy's promised attack up the Tourmalet occurred. The result was carnage all over the mountain. Unfortunately the one survivor (other than Schleck) was AC:

I think AC sat up at the end.How it went down was much more exciting than the finish, including Andy's weak one arm pump. At about 10 kilometers to go Andy attacked, dropping everyone except AC and Rodriguez, who held on for a little while before eventually dropping off:

Murder on the Tourmalet.It wasn't an explosive move, Andy just cranked up the speed ala Spartacus during Paris-Roubaix. After a couple kilometers AC countered with his own attack that Andy quickly neutralized:

Boom!So after the bloody mess that was stage 17, there was absolutely no shift in the top five on the GC.

Despite having a touch of the old bronchitis, Cav easily won today's stage to Bordeaux. It's exciting to see him pull away from the field, but it's a scene that has played out a bunch, so no need to put up a picture of him celebrating as he crosses the finish line. Instead, I'll put up this picture purely for my own amusement:

Don't worry, there's no MSG.I think the big-to-do surrounding the last two stages though was the star power. While spending time in France promoting their new movie, Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz took some time to catch a glimpse of the peloton:

I wonder what Scientology thinks about cycling.Believe it or not, those two weren't the only celebrities enjoying the race:

Back-to-back NBA titles and a chance to run alongside TdF riders on the Tourmalet?!  What a great life!It's clear that the athlete in Kobe came out on the slopes of the Tourmalet. He actually kept up with AC and Andy for over two kilometers before 'dropping a trey.'

Living in Kansas, I read headlines like, 'Heat kills 2,000 head of cattle.' I wonder why people refer to cattle numbers by head. Why not just 2,000 cattle? Or 8,000 hoof? Anywho, on to more important topics.

23 July DB Podium

1. Manufacturers creating issues that don't exist.
2. Thierry Henry (I'm surprised he didn't use his hand)
3. Jens Voigt

Ok, just kidding about Jens, he's actually really bad ass. I just put him up there because it seems like he has no pain threshold and can ride through anything.

Off to the lake.

Enjoy the off days, ride the bikes, and support the local farmers.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I Came, I Saw, I Concurred

I'm not sure I believe Andy. He said that he would get his revenge during stage 16, which he did not. The story of the day could have been one of two things, depending on your nationality: If you're American, Lance Armstong having a strong showing in the break and finishing sixth on the day:

Damn you Chris Horner!  How dare you beat LA to the line!It was like the Lance of old during some of the attacks. While I may not fawn over Lance like most American cycling media, I respect all the work he does in raising awareness and money to support cancer research. So to see him put in a good effort and not soft-pedal through the rest of the Tour was exciting.

Of course, the other story of the day was the stage winner Pierrick Fedrigo:

That's six, or one, depending on what you want to believe.Now you may be saying, "If I were French I would be quite happy that Fedrigo won the sixth stage for France during this year's TdF!" You have a valid reason for doing so since Fedrigo was the 2005 French National Champion. If you read Velonews though, you would be more inclined to say, "Hmmm, I wonder were the country of Frane is?"

I bet that Frane would have had a decent showing in this year's World Cup.Since today is a rest day for the riders, I took the opportunity to watch Velocenter and see their angle on the race. I wasn't disappointed when they talked about Lance a lot and painted Contador as a villian. What did disappoint me was the two douches that are hosting the show:

Hey Gogo, have you met my brother, Vince McMahon?The geek on the right is nicknamed 'Gogo'. Sweet. If his present appearance wasn't enough, he had some real sweet zingers such as:

"Wow is right. Tomorrow is a rest day, which, by the way, you’re gonna need after the call of those highlights – unreal!” - In response to Vincent McMahon's brother discussing stage 16 highlights.
“You got to get a little food going!” - To the highlight of Geraint Thomas in the feedzone:

Go ahead Geraint, get some food going!I'm pretty sure that I will not be watching anymore of their broadcasts. They actually make me miss Neal Rogers and Jason Sumner.

Well, I'm off to enjoy the rest day with a bike ride.

Enjoy the hump day, ride the bikes, and support the veterans.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Holy Crap!

Holy crap!

Some stuff happened this weekend (during the Tour), but it is inconsequential compared with what occurred in today's stage - something that changed this year's race and something no one would have ever expected. On the climb up the Port de Balès, Thomas Voeckler timed a break perfectly and held on to win stage 15. He built up a sizable lead on the climb and continued to extend it on the decent, resulting in an easy win in the French National Champion Tricolour jersey:

Bounce fresh.Maybe Thomas had been planning it for the last couple stages that he dogged it on, or maybe it was the short-shorts he was wearing. Either way he did the champ's jersey proud.

Oh yeah, there was also the little bit with Andy Schleck (an oversized one at that) pulling a sweet endo on the Balès:

'I must break you.'  Pretty funny, right Alex?Look at how he dwarfs Vino. What is he on? Not sure if pulling an endo in front of a competitor on a climb is akin to mooning someone in Luxembourg, but I think Andy got a little too confident. And wouldn't you know, as he was taunting the boys from Astana, his chain derails. How's that for karma? If he had pulled it off, "The Endo" would have gone down in TdF lore like "The Look" and "The Shortcut."

I know that when asked Andy said that he wouldn't have done what Alberto did today (counter Schleck's attack and then keep going up the mountain without looking back - looking back means you're weak). I believe that when asked Andy gave an honest answer, but I am not sure that if the roles were reversed if he would have stopped and waited. Maybe, only because he is so strong this year. Do I think what AC did was right? Sure, it's racing. Do I understand both sides of the argument? Yeah, I do.

I would hate to be the bike manufacturer for Team Saxo Bank right now. I mean, a mechanical takes the maillot jaune away during what is an amazing attack? Nope, wait, Astana and Saxo Bank both ride Specialized SL3s. Damn chain.

On other fronts, I am enjoying my TV and cable, but I'm getting real sick of the stupid marketing companies use. In Europe I didn't watch TV that often and when I did it was really only sporting events so I didn't need to understand the language. That made commercials much more tolerable. What I'm getting at is this new automatic soap dispenser from Lysol:

This is a great marketing ploy for overprotective parents and stupid idiots.Seriously Lysol, the top of the soap dispenser pump may very well be full of germs, but I touch that dispenser to dispense soap I plan to wash my hands with. Once I complete my hand washing I rinse them and dry them off. The next time I will touch that potentially germ-infested dispenser is the next time I need soap to wash my hands. I hope that the marketing executives at Lysol don't actually think that I rub my hands on the soap dispenser after I wash my hands. Douche bags.

Ok, time to go, I have to study for the LSAT (there's a first time for everything).

Enjoy the sun, ride the bikes, and support successful break aways.

Friday, July 16, 2010

A Tribute to the French

In what was a mere formality, the Manx Missile won his third stage of this year's Tour. As teams fought to get their sprinters in prime position, anyone who has been alive the last three years knew who was going to win:

Despite three wins, Cav's still a ways back in the points competition.As predictable as the win was, the run up to it was one of the most exciting I've seen. The peloton's best lead-out man, Mark Renshaw, was in his typical position with Cav on his wheel when Julian Dean brought Tyler Farrar (who unfortunately abandoned in stage 12 after getting dropped on the first climb of the day) to the front. In response to Dean's presence and in the spirit of not getting pushed off his line, Renshaw began to use his head (instead of his hands, because that would be dangerous. HTC team manager Rolf Aldag said, "It didn't look pretty but he had his hands firmly on his bars and was holding his position. I think that's what you're supposed to do.") to push Dean away:

Remember kids, hands on the bar - safety first!Watching this encounter reminded me of another great world-wide sporting event headbutt that took place in 2006:

Cut onto my line again Dean!And just like Zidane, Renshaw was ejected. Don't worry though Mark, in four years time you can gain a spot on a TdF squad on some clearly illegal play, then disgrace your entire country - just like France. Nice tribute Mark, I couldn't think of a more wonderful belated Bastille Day present.

In stage 12, Contador jumped from the peloton on the climb up Còte de la Croix-Nueve Montée Laurent Jalabert and Schleck was unable to follow. AC caught up with Rodriguez, who attacked a little earlier. Soon the two bridged up to AC's squadmate Vinokourov, who looked like he was going to take the stage win. In the end, Rodriguez out-sprinted Contador (who took 10 seconds on Schleck) to take the stage:

Good win for a courageous rider.and Vino finished third. I don't know what the Astana team bus will be like tonight, but if I were Alberto I would worry about Vino's older brother coming after me in August:

I must break you.In this week's podium, the top step is occupied by none other than:

16 July DB Podium:
1. LeBron James (I don't care where he plays, it's the way he got the news out that I disagree with)
2. Thierry Henry
3. BP

Enjoy the show, ride the bikes, and support local businesses.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Another Bastille Day and Another French Loss

Let's quickly look at stage 9, which was won by Sandy Casar:

For the last time, I'm not an Alomar brother!You might be thinking he was so pumped because he just won a stage in the TdF, but the real reason is because his break was caught in the last kilometer and Sandy was able to out-sprint Caisse d’Epargne lyricist LL Sanchez:

Damn, where did you guys come from?!On Monday I predicted that Cadel would take yellow this year. I am obviously wrong about that:

A very un-Evans like day.So while I incorrectly tagged Evans to wear the maillot jaune in Paris, I was correct when I called him a whiny bitch:

I know that it isn't any consolation, but at least Evans can put on the World Championship jersey after he lost the yellow. I think the rainbow looks better anyway:

Even after he lost the yellow, Cadel still stands out from the other riders.In an unofficial rest day for the peloton, a break of six got away and stayed away, building a gap of roughly 11:30. With a couple kilometers left to race, Radioshack rider Sergio Paulinho and Caisse d’Epargne Vasil Kiryienka dropped the break and powered away. A couple hundred meters out Paulinho jumped and Kiryienka was a little late in responding. In order to lift his spirits after his loss, Kiryienka went to a team manager to explain all the dumb moves he made in the last kilometer:

Let's start with your hair.To paraphrase a comment, TV exists to make money - just like ProTour sponsorships. And after stage 10 I can say that they work. For some reason after the stage I had a craving to purchase a new car, cell phone, and have a beer:

Speaking of beer, while in Jerusalem Penny and I tried Taybeh, a Palestinian beer:

It was a pleasantly cold surprise on a warm June afternoon. Taybeh is brewed in accordance with the Bavarian purity laws, giving it a very similar, clean taste to what I encountered in Bamberg. I hope I get to enjoy it again some day. Until then I'll have to be content sampling the local beers here in Leavenworth.

Ok, off to ride.

Enjoy the hump day, ride the bikes, and support your local beverage producers.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Back in the Saddle, Or How I Learned to Love the Arrière du Peloton

Thanks to the multi-media service man, I have rejoined the land of the connected. Not having instant access to the internet or TV was more of a blessing than a burden as it allowed me to connect with my new community. I watched Cav sprint his way to victory in stage 6 at the local bike shop, Santa Fe Trails, and watched Germany play Spain at the VFW (henceforth referred to as the Dub).

Once the internet got hooked up though I was able to enjoy the TdF from the comfort of my unfurnished and box-riddled home. For me, watching stage 8 was just another example of how the media creates drama when no drama exists. They also edit programs to ensure the largest audience.

Lance Armstrong – leader in name, but not time, of the US cycling team Team Way in the Back.American cycling media has let their optimism and undying love of Lance cloud their judgement. In the TdF preview issue of Bicycling Magazine, there is an article covering the rivalry between LA and AC. In the same issue, a half page is devoted to the 'dark horses' of this year's race: Cadel Evans, Andy Schleck, and Bradley Wiggins. I'm not sure I would ever consider last year's runner-up, last year's fourth place finisher, and the current world champion 'dark horses.' A true 'dark horse' would be someone like Ryder Hesjedal. But I guess when you blindly support someone they are always a favorite to win.

While many people will smartly put their money on AC, I am going out on a limb and picking a 'dark horse': Cadel Evans. Despite the fact that Cadel is a whiny bitch, with the power of the Rainbow Jersey (and currently the maillot jaune, which we'll get to later), a strong showing at the Giro, and a team that includes two super domestiques in Hincapie and Ballan (2009 US National Champ and 2008 World Champ respectively) it looks like his year.

So after LA got dropped during yesterday's stage, Eurosport threw their hat into the "let's fan the flames of this non-existent rivalry" barrel and cut to a split screen:

Note how AC has a domestique pulling him along because he is in contention. Putting this split screen up like there is actually a rivalry between the two (there maybe a rivalry in words, but most assuredly not in competition) is ridiculous. Eurosport might as well put up a split screen with Lance on one side and Ullrich sitting on his couch eating potato chips on the other - that's about as exciting as the current 'epic battle' between LA and AC. Unfortunately, no matter how far down the rankings LA drops, he will still get loads of air time and Radioshack will still get their dumb icon on the leaders' jersey tracker that scrolls across the screen. I would much rather see more of Barredo and Costa than Lance:

Oh yeah, we'll you look like an idiot in lycra!Taking off the front wheel before going into battle? Brilliant! I would have thought that Barredo would have been a little more skilled though given his name - but I guess homonyms don't get respect anymore. In the following video, riders respond to the fight and if it is a good or bad thing for cycling. If you haven't seen it yet then you probably think I'm awesome and if you have seen it you probably think I'm awesome because I embedded it in my blog.

Anywho, back to yesterday's action. With about a kilometer to go, Schleck jumped and only Samuel Sanchez was able to stay with him. Evans didn't follow because he fears the maillot jaune this early in the race (told you we'd get back to it). I would fear having to fight off attacks as well if in the last Grand Tour I rode my team was as weak as the Mighty Ducks before they learned the Flying 'V'. Contador couldn't or wouldn't counter the attack, perhaps because he remembers Andy's poor performances in last year's TTs and plans to put a lot of time on him at the TT again this year. Watch out though Alberto, Andy will be sporting the national colors of Luxembourg on his skinsuit come the only TT in this year's Tour. He's on form, just ask the entire population of Luxembourg (it truly was a national championship) that he beat to earn the red, white, and blue skinsuit. All five of them will tell you he's stepped up his game. Just look at his victory celebration in stage 8:

You can see it leveled off a little, which means Andy out-sprinted someone.Upon closer inspection you can see Andy means business:

All You Sprinters Suck my Mountains!With guns like those, any fight he might get caught up in would end quicker than Lance's quest for an eighth TdF victory once the road tipped up.

Enjoy the rest day, ride the bikes, and support clean athletes.

Monday, July 5, 2010

In The Beginning There Was Belgium And Things Were Not Good

Eerily similar to the start of the Giro, the first couple stages of the TdF have given us fans some spectacular crashes - including one that involved a loose dog. Perhaps the Vuelta committee can make a quick change to move the first few stages to Luxembourg where they can hope to round out the Grand Tour season with a smattering of early stage crashes. Besides Fränk and Andy Schleck's crash today, the Luxembourgers must be feeling left out of the excitement, what with their Benelux compatriots getting the opportunity to provide the general public with amazing racing (or unnecessary carnage). Don't ask Levi, he might tell you the infamous "they" want to see crashes (of course we do, this is the country of Nascar).

To be fair to Levi, here is photographic evidence of the conspiracy:

As if rain weren't enough.Perhaps it is just a handicap system, but I wouldn't give Lars Boom such a big handicap during a time trial as to have him ride it at night.

Speaking of the TdF (which we can't do here in America without mentioning Lance), Lance seems to be thumbing his nose at the D-O-double-G. Snoop created a "good luck" message for his man Lance and posted the video on YouTube. Yet clearly Lance is riding for another famous musician:

I'm Rick James, bitch!Anyway, being in America is good because I can watch the races on a large TV instead of the internet - or so I thought. It appears that Versus isn't on some cable subscription plans. No fear, I had the trusty internet as a back up. But alas, my two attempts were defeated by technology as the internet crashed and left me wondering if Christian Vande Velde had crashed out. I was happy to find out the next day that he had indeed crossed the line with the rubber side down. True to form, he unfortunately crashed in stage 2 and withdrew from the race with broken ribs.

On the academic front, I scored a sweet five out of six (including the bonus question) on BSNYC's 2 July quiz. If I keep up my high scores I might contact the Snob and see if I can get credit towards an associate's degree.

Big ups to Chavanel on his break away win on stage 2 and his ride into yellow. France really needs something to bring up their spirits after the horrible showing their national soccer team had in South Africa. What an emotional roller coaster those fans must be on: the French team "earns" a spot in the World Cup after a clear hand ball by Henry and then they make the US team look good after creating a mockery of the sport. That is just recent history, I don't feel it's fair to France to go on.

Happy belated 4th everyone. Enjoy the hangovers, ride the bikes, and support the minimum wage waiters.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Cold Fashioned Refreshment - Sleeveless Shirts Prohibited

Reviewing older posts I noticed that my tour of the wonderful world of Bamberg beer stagnated after Keesman - leaving two more breweries to highlight. I shall begin today's journey with Brauerei Greifenklau. Located at the top of the Kaulberg, Greifenklau has a wonderful view from its garden. It serves up some mean Franconian food stuffs as well as some extremely tasty lager. Served in a krug (known as a stein or tankard in the US), Greifenklau lager possesses a golden color and a smooth-as-butter (but not tasting like butter) flavor that has a punchy aftertaste.

No fancy ausleger here.
A bit of a different view, but don't judge a beer by its vessel.Heading down the Kaulberg and back into town leads us to our last Bamberg brewery, Kaiserdom. Kaiserdom brews what is probably the most universally known German style of beer: the Hefeweizen. Thick, heavy, and a bit sweet, Kaiserdom's signature beer goes well with food or as a meal by itself.

Kaiserdom's brewery is technically on the outskirts of town, but this is their private restaurant downtown.
Not a beer to chug.On our way to St. Louis from the lake house, Penny and I noticed a cyclists who was talking on his cell phone and was not wearing a helmet. If you've read any of my previous posts you understand how I think helmets are a wonderful idea and should be worn any time you are on a bike and how much I hate that people feel they can operate a vehicle (motorized or otherwise) while talking/texting/apping (I have the license to verbalize application as the author of this blog). Worst of all though, the cyclists was wearing a jersey like this:

This is a women's jersey, so I guess maybe it wasn't exactly like this.After driving around northwestern Arkansas/southwestern Missouri I can only imagine that the cyclist was from the area. The roads are extremely curvy with many hills (good for cycling) and the drivers speed on them as if they were one large F1 track (bad for cycling). This combination is enough for me to doubt the safety of any cyclist down there.

Speaking of roads, I failed to mention earlier that I was able to check off one of my "things to do before I die" list. In Pennsylvania I drove over the highest elevation on I-80W east of the Mississippi River. No lie. My life is one more puzzle piece closer to being complete.

One of the two most interesting people I saw while in Israel was this man:

Got baby, got baby, got baby?Hawking baby wares in the Muslim Quarter of the old city of Jerusalem could or could not be a lucrative business, but as you can see in the picture the possible buyers were perhaps not the target audience. On the other hand, Mr. T. had his gold chains trained on the target audience with military like precision.

I pity the food!When Mr. T. was shown the fat that drained off the food cooked in the Flavorwave Oven, he responded with the quote of the trip, "who want to put that in they body?!"

In the bike realm, check out the new impec from BMC. Quite sexy.

Without putting anything in my body I'll end this week with a flattened DB Podium:

2 July DB Podium Field:
1. Anyone who talks/texts/apps while operating a vehicle