When it comes to professional cycling, there's only one thing more compelling than a Grand Tour, and that thing is a nice juicy (or powdery) drug scandal. So even though the Giro d'Italia is well under way (in Italy, I believe) all the attention is currently on Classics star Tom Boonen, who has once again tested positive for cocaine. However, the good news is that Boonen does not have a cocaine problem. Rather, he's got such a bad drinking problem that cocaine just seems to enter him by accident:
I do not think I have a problem with cocaine, I have problems when I drink too much. 364 days per year I am good. But if I drink too much, it's exactly like I change in my head...
I need help. Someone should teach me to understand what happens when I drink too much.
There's nothing funny about drug and alcohol abuse--except when it leads to lots of wacky hijinx and comic pratfalls, of course, in which case it's absolutely hysterical. As such, I found Boonen's cry for help quite moving, mostly because it was accompanied by a complete lack of slapstick. (If Boonen had, say, puked on Phil Liggett, jumped into a Lamborghini with Paola Pezzo and Mario Cipollini, and then crashed into that caveman-like statue of Eddy Merckx, I'd be less inclined to take it seriously.) So as cyclists, I believe we need to heed Boonen's plea and stage our own intervention. And since Boonen's problem seems to be that he doesn't understand what happens when he drinks too much, I've done my part by assembling some PSAs that are guaranteed to both teach him and scare him straight.
Here's a chilling film which, if I'm understanding it correctly, is a dramatization of what's happening inside your brain when you drink:
I think what this is saying is that when you drink you kill brain cells, and consequently your brain can no longer handle its workload. Personally, this was more than convincing enough for me, and immediately after watching it I poured every drop of liquor in my home into the toilet. However, a true problem drinker like Boonen probably needs more convincing, so in order to drive the point home I found another video:
Now that's what I call intense. It makes that last video look like an episode of the "Teletubbies." I had already poured my booze into the toilet, but this one actually drove me to flush the toilet. (If you came over to my place for cocktail hour yesterday evening, you might want to gargle some Listerine.) But you know how it is with celebrities. Once they're on that path of self-destruction it can be almost impossible to steer them off of it. I figured what Boonen needs is a video that speaks to him in a language he understands, and that language is of course cheesy Dutch R&B:
So please join me in raising an O'Doul's to Tom Boonen, and here's hoping he dries out soon. Incidentally, if Boonen is drinking so heavily that he's consuming cocaine without being aware of it, who knows what else is entering him unwittingly? After all, there are certain foreign bodies that don't show up in doping controls. I just hope nobody's been giving Boonen the "pinky test," if you know what I mean.
Speaking of strange bars and places to put your hands, a reader recently sent me some absolutely awe-inspiring cockpit shots:
This bicycle has more hand positions than someone reciting "Atlas Shrugged" in sign language, and it's proof once again that anything is possible with bar-ends. Really, the only way this rider could outdo himself would be to incorporate controls from other vehicles as well, such as a steering wheel, a joystick, and perhaps even a rudder. Here's a shot from another angle, which gives you a better sense of what it's like to be at the helm of this incredible craft:
I sincerely hope that Tom Boonen sees this bike one day, because it could certainly teach him a thing or two about being in control. I do find it odd though that, with all the attention to detail, the rider has omitted the padding on the forearm rests. Incidentally, I'm going to let you in on a little secret: while most riders use some kind of foam in this application, the hot new setup among the pros is silicone breast implants. Rumor has it that Lance Armstrong was the first person to use them for time-trialing, since he developed a taste for artificial breasts during his stint as a retired celebrity playboy and wanted to find a way to keep his hands on them when he got serious again and returned to the sport. Naturally, once the Patron started doing it the trend swept through the peloton and beyond, and now there's actually a brisk silicone breast implant trade on eBay. I've never used silicone breasts for time-trialing so I can't say whether or not they work, but I will say that if you're a recovering addict you should probably avoid them. I'm sure if Tom Boonen had a pair of fake breasts on his handlebars he'd be trying to do drugs off them before he got off the starting ramp.
As I said earlier, drug and alcohol abuse should not be taken lightly. Furthermore, as cyclists, we're more susceptible than most to excessive behavior. The same impulses that lead us to train obsessively, upgrade compulsively, and dress ridiculously can also manifest themselves in overly indulgent behavior off the bike. For example:
Solo wing-eater at Croxley Ales - w4m - 26 (East Village)
Reply to: [deleted]
Date: 2009-05-10, 10:18PM EDT
You were eating wings tonight by yourself, but you were sitting behind me, so I didn't get to look at you too much. I was with two of my girlfriends in the dark corner. I kept accidentally hitting you with my bike helmet, and for that I apologize :-) I so wanted to talk to you, but unlike all the other charming women in the city, I have no game :-) I think you're adorable and because you seem way too nice, you probably aren't at home reading craigslist missed connections. But on the off chance that you are, and you're single, and you'd like to be wacked in the side again with my bike helmet, shoot me an email and we can indulge in some greasy 50-cent bar wings together!
One day you're just taking an innocent ride, and the next thing you know you're on a booze-and-chicken-wing bender getting beaten with a cycling helmet. The fact is, more cyclists are injured in drunken cycling safety equipment bondage sessions than are saved by helmet use. Don't become another statistic--how many of us need to wake up beaten and surrounded by empty chicken buckets with our hands and feet u-locked to four poster beds before we change our Boonen-like ways? Yes, it's a slippery slope to self-destruction, and that's because it's coated with chicken grease.
Sadly, though, the perversity isn't going to end soon. This past Saturday, "Bicycle Fetish Day" took place in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and a reader snapped this shot of a reverse-drive tall bike:
Meanwhile, half a world away in Taiwan, somebody's rubbing a Chunk:
Still, there are some encouraging signs. This ride may have riser bars and no brakes, but the rear rack is a nod to the "new practicality," and it's also locked up very securely:
Not sure about that steep head tube angle and proprietary headset though.