Firstly, in my absence it seems that an interview I did with Jack Thurston of London's "The Bike Show" has "dropped:"
This interview was conducted in early January in a Brooklyn bar (or, as the British call it, a "pub," which is short for "pubick house"). Originally we were supposed to conduct the interview on bikes (or "awheel" as the British say) but it ended up snowing and I was afraid that, in the event of a fall, Mr. Thurston (coddled, as are all of his countrymen, by free medical care) would find himself hopelessly embroiled in our country's labyrinthine health care system. And while I could certainly live with the idea of Mr. Thurston injuring himself (and live comfortably at that) I could not entertain the possibility that Mr. Thurston might seek financial compensation from me by filing some sort of suit. Such suit would doubtless look to my most valuable assets for remuneration, and there's simply no way I'm parting with by Ben Serotta-built team 7-11 "Huffy:"
Check out the fastback seat stays and the exquisite brake bridge--you just don't see that type of craftsmanship anymore. It's even got the Paris-Roubaix tires mounted. If you think I'm letting some Englishman seize a piece of American cycling history you are gravely mistaken. In any case, enjoy the interview. Also, please keep in mind that in order to conceal my identity I'm speaking through a harmonizer--in reality my voice sounds exactly like Keith David's. Special thanks to Jack Thurston for the great editing. I'd never met an English person before, and I had to make him repeat every question at least three or four times before I could understand what the hell he was saying.
Moving on, the cycling world is abuzz with talk of Francesco Mancebo of Rock Racing's "epic" win in stage 1 of the Tour of California yesterday. While Levi Leipheimer and Johan Bruyneel blamed poor communication for the fact that they were unable to reel back Mancebo, the cycling cognoscenti know that it was Mancebo's bike that deserves all the credit. Yes, this undoubtedly marks a return to glory for Kestrel. Once upon a time, Kestrel was the bicycle of choice for dentists nationwide, and it was a rare charity ride, state line sprint, or other informal non-race situation that was not dominated by a wealthy middle-aged rider on a Kestrel. Here's what they looked like in their heyday. (Kestrels, not dentists.):
Now, however, Kestrel bicycles are available from both Bikesdirect and Performance, from whom no self-respecting dentist would deign to purchase so much as a gap bike. However, the fact that Rock Racing has plucked them from the discount carbon fiber bargain heap could very well resurrect Kestrel and once again make them dentist-worthy. Incidentally, a reader informs me Rock Racing are now customizing their Kestrels with label-makers:
Yes, as any office rebel who's customized a stapler knows, there's nothing more intimidating than a "Pulp Fiction" misquote rendered in P-touch tape.
Speaking of misguided attempts to appear "badass," the ubiquitous knuckle tattoo is officially no longer sufficient to distinguish yourself as an outlaw who lives entirely by your own rules (provided of course you're not at work, or with your significant other, or with your parents, or in the presence of teachers, police, librarians, or other authority figures). I mean, even Janeane Garofalo's got them! Now that knuckle tattoos are the horn-rimmed glasses of the aughts, you might as well just stick a P-touch label on your forehead. So if you want to be a true outlaw, cutting is the only way to go:
Yes, cutting a rudimentary outline of a track bike with a ridiculously long wheelbase into some part of your body (I can't tell what part of the body this is, though whatever it is it's got hair on it) tells the world that you'll stop at nothing to show people that you like bicycles more than they do. And of course, once the outline's done, be sure to blot the blood like a calorie-counter blots a pizza, and then display your sanguinous banner across your chest:
As hardcore and street-credulous as this obviously is, I'm going to have to deduct points for the following reasons: firstly, any true body-modification enthusiast would have hung the banner from his nipple rings; and secondly, even a Cat 5 roadie knows that rocking/running/rubbing/rolling a Quick Step hat is the very pinnacle of cycling dorkitude. The only way he could have possibly outdone himself would have been to wear a 2008 Lazer Genesis World Champion helmet. (By the way, in the cycling/body modification scene, there's a raging debate as to whether helmet straps should be worn over or through your organic ear tunnels.) Still, I'm sure when he heads to the local track bike boutique to have the mechanic change his cog for him his scabby cutting will earn him many gear inches of respect.
But really, who can blame this guy for riddling himself with paper cuts in the name of authenticity? These days, it can be tremendously difficult to set yourself apart from your fellow cyclists. And, as Rock Racing is constantly proving, it is almost impossible to convincingly display "street cred" while simultaneously maintaining a competitive edge. However, this certainly doesn't stop people from trying. During my break, I watched with interest the following audition video in which a New York City messenger-slash-bike-racer strives to become a cast member on an internet reality show sponsored by flavored water manufacturer Gatorade:
This video walks the line between "street cred" and "competition" as deftly as it walks the one between "sincerity" and "parody." Simply put, it has it all. There's the speakerphone call to Mom:
The character endorsement from a fellow amateur bike racer currently serving a suspension for clomiphene:
And the training partner with a cartoon picture of Ganesha splashed across his chest:
Now, I wish Alex nothing but the best of luck in attaining his cycling goals, though I admit I hope he doesn't get on the Gatorade show--but that's only because I'd like for him to retain as much of his dignity as possible. Incidentally, around the time I saw this video, I also read this interview with Allen Lim, Garmin-Slipstream's physiological training guru, or whatever coaches are calling themselves now. In the interview, Lim had this to say:
I could give a shit about cycling, who cares about cycling? What does cycling mean, you know? What I care about is individuals living their life to the fullest. I would rather burn a kid out at 21, 22 years old, and have them know that they gave everything to something, and have them leave with that sense than to perpetuate the myth that everyone is going to make it. When in fact not everyone makes it. I think the amazing thing about physiology, genetics, biology is that we're all suited to do something great. It's about having the opportunity to find out what it is.
Whether you think this is the truth or that these are fighting words probably depends to a large extent on how seriously you take yourself, and for my part, I hope Alex doesn't take himself too seriously. Either way, at least he's riding a bike instead of just carving one into himself. Carve corners, not skin. Real riders get scars without having to make them themselves.