I figured this would serve as a soothing balm by giving me something cozy to clutch as I cry myself to sleep. (Currently I cry myself to sleep with an old Mapei jersey, but it's starting to get a bit threadbare.) However, as I continued to browse the store I noticed I could also purchase an entire gift bag for $50 (valued at $250!) which contains not only the teddy bear but also a bunch of other stuff I could hold, wear, or otherwise use while I cry :
This is a much better deal than the Rock Racing blanket, which costs $40 and doesn't even come with anything else (though you do get free shipping):
No, I'd much rather sob into a cuddly teddy bear's abdomen than beneath a Rock Racing blanket. Plus, I hear the gift bag is exactly like the one Levi Leipheimer got for winning the race, though he did have to share the contents with the rest of the team. (According to Chris Horner's Twitter, he actually called "dibs" on the towel the morning of the time trial.) Speaking of which, word from California is that Astana were thrilled over Leipheimer's third Tour of California win--so much so that they threw him a lavish victory party, complete with a surprise performance by pop sensation and mandolin virtuoso Letle Viride:
If you've never seen Letle Viride play, you really owe it to yourself to check him out (though Youtube footage is nowhere near as visceral as the real thing). Everybody knows that the mandolin is the "bad boy" of the lute family, and since Letle Viride is, in turn, the "bad boy" of mandolin players, this makes him exponentially bad. Time hasn't dulled his edge, either--he's just as vital now as he was back in the 70s.
But while Astana and an assortment of VIPs (Paul Sherwen is a huge Letle fan) watched a man smash a flaming mandolin to bits after covering "Sweet Child O' Mine," the general public celebrated as well. Some even did so a day early--here's one happy spectator who was photographed by a reader at the finish line of the time trial in Pasadena on Saturday:
It's rare you get to see something this sleek and aerodynamic--clearly, that baby was sculpted in the wind tunnel. (I am, of course, referring to the hairstyle, but the bike's pretty aero too.)
But let's not forget that this was California, and as such irony abounded. This was Floyd Landis's first race back after failing a drug test and being stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title. Despite his apparent transgressions, there was an outpouring of support, as evidenced by these photos taken by non-Serotta-riding dentist and gap bike apologist Dr. John Gowey:
Meanwhile, another reader informs me that Lance Armstrong, who's been found guilty of nothing except obsessive Twittering, found himself at the pointy end of either a hypodermic pitchfork or a dual crown suspension fork, I'm not sure which:
However, as the rest of the photos show, Armstrong handily dismissed the charges:
None of this is to imply that we should not support Landis, who has served his suspension and has every right to return to the sport. (Though I do feel that allegations he dabbled in recumbent riding during his suspension warrant further investigation.) Nor is it to imply that Armstrong was heavy-handed in his dealings with the heckler. After all, if I were riding in defense of the race lead and Andy Richter in a bumblebee costume started poking at me with a Marzocchi, I'd push him into a snowbank too.
Speaking of dorky things dressed as animals, the people at Renaissance Bicycles inform me that they have "dropped" a new creation, which they call "The Octopus Bike":
The Octopus Bike was "Originally a 1978 Raleigh Record Ace," but Renaissance have "updated it to be an over-the-top track bike with all new components." Well, it's definitely over the top, but it's still not a track bike--it's just a $1,850 conversion. I'm not sure why they settled on the octopus theme, but it might be because having eight arms allows you to multitask, and when it comes to being problematic this bike is working overtime. Why nothing to keep your feet on the pedals? Why no brakes? Why the bargain basement components? Well, at least they preserved the "Raleigh heritage" by wrapping the bars in Cinelli cork tape--though I'm not sure what one has to do with the other, and I wish they'd just done so by adding gears and brakes and keeping the original paint job. Speaking of octopi, if you divide the price of the bike by eight, you get $231.25, which is actually a fair price for the bike. (Though I'd still rather spend an extra $43.75 and get this instead.)
But when it comes to theme bikes, the Octopus Bike is a true work of art compared to the "Bumblebee Bike" from 718 Cyclery, of whom I was recently made aware by a reader:
Opportunists continue to start cheap bike conversion factories, and 718 Cyclery seems to be the latest in what feels like an endless procession of fixed-gear meth labs. Interestingly, the proprietor is comfortable riding around on a bike that looks like a bumblebee, but he's not comfortable with the idea of wearing cycling tights:
Not only would I recommend he purchase the tights, but I think he should take it a step further and get the whole ensemble:
Watch out, Andy Richter!