(I ran out of space before the "w," so I knocked $15 off my invoice to myself.)
First of all, a little history: the Tour de France is a bike race. It's very old, and before the bicycle was invented the riders used to compete on cows. Also, there are four (3) leader's jerseys in the Tour de France, and the rest of the riders must go shirtless, which explains why these jerseys are so coveted. The route this year is particularly challenging, and here's the parcourse, brought to you by MapQuest Maps--the loser map company:
(MapQuest: for when a mere approximation will do.)
As for the race favorites, they are:
Dmitry Fofonov [Astana]
At age 35, Fofonov is a seasoned veteran who is ideally poised to build upon his 20th place in the 2006 Paris-Nice and finally seize the Grand Tour victory that has always managed to elude him.
Evelyn Stevens [Team Specialized-lululemon]
Evelyn Stevens started racing only four years ago in Central Park, and since then has risen meteorically to the top of the sport, winning this year's La Flèche Wallonne Féminine. This really has nothing to do with the Tour de France, but if you write about cycling you're supposed to remind people of her story constantly and hold her up as a shining beacon of hope. I would add to this though that if you're an amateur bike racer you should not be inspired by Evelyn Stevens, because while she may have discovered her huge talent relatively late in life, I promise you do not have that same talent. Instead, Evelyn Stevens should serve as a powerful reminder that you suck and should quit.
Dmitry Fofonov [Astana]
Have I mentioned Dmitry Fofonov yet? Because I really think this is going to be his year.
(Also, his last name sounds like wanking.)
Anyway, this whole Tour de France thing ultimately seems wasted on an American audience, since after getting a guy who won it seven times in a row all they seem interested in now is watching him get in trouble for it. It was always my understanding that in sports you were supposed to be happy when your home team won, but I guess cycling is less like a sport and more like "indie rock," and that you're supposed to turn against your heroes as soon as they become too successful for you to feel special about liking them.
But let's not lose sight of what's really important about the Tour de France, which is of course the equipment the riders will be using. This is because Freds think that equipment choice is all that stands between them and becoming Evelyn Stevens (well, that having a penis) and so they'll gladly pay stratospheric prices for the mere suggestion of performance gains. That's why I'm sure Mavic's new Aero CXR-whatevers, which have been getting lots of attention from the cycling media, will be a hot seller in the mid-category ranks. Here's Mavic's promotional video.
Mavic's stroke of marketing genius here seems to be some sort of stick-on fairing, and tri-geeks in particular will no doubt get all hot in the mankini over these wheels--and all that French wind tunnel porn certainly isn't going to hurt either:
By the way, I'm pretty sure that's
the time-traveling t-shirt-wearing retro-Fred from the planet Tridork Bret doing the modeling, and the gesticulating French guy is assuring him that, for accuracy's sake, he really should take off his pants.
By the way, triathletes are not as "structured" as cyclists:
That's another way of saying they don't know how to ride their bikes.
Anyway, if this promotional video wasn't enough, I was completely sold by the "Bicycling" review:
Especially by this part:
About halfway through our ride, the skies opened and the rains came down. Braking in the wet was as, you might expect from carbon wheels, not great. But, we're confident that Mavic, which has a reputation for creative solutions, will find a way to enhance braking performance on future iterations of the wheels.
I wonder if Mavic's "creative solution" to the poor braking performance will be as creative as the stick-on fairing. Actually, I think we already know that the "creative solution" is going to come not from Mavic from the bike industry as a whole, and it's going to be road bike disc brakes so your multi-thousand dollar crabon wheels will finally stop as well as your $300 aluminum wheels. Sadly, that's going to render all these crabon frames and wheels totally obsolete. I'm actually excited about disc brake road bikes though, since it means the typical amateur racer will officially be clueless as to the operation of every single component of his bicycle, with the possible exception of his power meter.
Speaking of Freds and penises (I was earlier) and Strava (I was yesterday), a reader has sent me a link to Mr. Fred's Phallic Ride:
Note that this is a "recovery" ride, so presumably the phallic shape of his last ride was far more turgid--though hopefully it stopped short of "exploding-penis-itice," as forwarded to me by another reader:
Die drunk driving scum - w4m (Sherman and Brearly)
Date: 2012-06-13, 12:40AM CDT
Reply to: [deleted]
Dear A**hole driving erratically who just threw a beer can at me while I was riding my bike home from a friends house,
I hope you die of exploding-penis-itice. I hope it is very painful and that it spreads to your balls, causing they too, to explode.
I hope it takes a long time for you to die of this incurable disease and that the unbearable stench keeps your loved ones from comforting you in your final hours of misery.
The Bike Rider
Meanwhile, speaking of reckless drivers, New York City may be getting speed cameras:
I was a bit dismayed to see a cyclist riding on the sidewalk, but I was unsurprised that the article included quotes from idiots:
Wendell Kornegay, 48, from East New York, Brooklyn, said cameras could never capture the context of a traffic scene as an officer could. “I don’t think it’s fair,” he said, parking his vehicle near Rockefeller Center one day last week as his 1-year-old daughter, Melaine, sat quietly in her car seat. “If a cop was sitting there, you can see if someone was trying to catch the light to clear the intersection.”
If you're wondering why so many people get run over by cars in New York, it's because people like this think speeding up to catch a light is a mitigating circumstance--that and speeding in quiet areas:
Though he acknowledged the difficulty of even approaching 40 m.p.h. on many city streets, Mr. Kornegay wondered whether speeding was truly dangerous along desolate stretches where pedestrian traffic can be minimal at certain hours.
Right, nobody in New York ever gets run down late at night in quiet areas. He should have his license revoked based on these comments alone.
As for cab drivers, they have to speed for the same reason everyone in this country does stupid and reckless things, which is that people from Wall Street order them to:
Chrishna Sooknanan, 26, a cabdriver from Flatbush, Brooklyn, was among the bus lane offenders, he said. But the speeding legislation presents a more complicated wrinkle: How does a New York City cabby — that avatar of manic roadway efficiency and lead-footedness — tell needy passengers that he is afraid to speed?
“They complain like crazy,” he said of his riders, particularly those who travel from the financial district and Midtown. “They say, ‘You’re going to make me late.’”
Technically, the correct reply to "You're going to make me late" is "You made yourself late," though "Fuck you" is also acceptable. You could also wish "exploding-penis-itice" on your fare, but you don't want it to actually set in while they're still in your cab.