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Final Giro thoughts and some other things

- When you see the phrase ‘Fantasy Cycling Game,’ I think this is what they mean.

- Final Giro thought #1: What’s the deal with Danilo DiLuca and time trial bikes? During the monstrous Cinque Terre TT he rode: Road bike, road bars, everyday helmet, and Campy Boras with only one TT-minded detail, a skinsuit. His average speed was ~38kph. During the Rome TT he rode: Road bike, road bars w/basic clip-ons, an aero helmet, Boras, and a skinsuit. His average speed was ~45kph.

Given how gear-crazy the sport of cycling is, and given the truckloads of Lira spent wind-tunnel testing stuff, I’d love to see a back-of-the envelope calculation of how much time DiLuca would’ve saved by using a full-on aero rig in both stages. We’re not talking exotica here or a shattering of conventional wisdom: His closest rivals were on TT bikes in both stages. An aero frame and aero bars -- what’s that worth time-wise over 75k’s of TTing? Mind you, he lost the Giro by a scant 41 seconds. Either he’s got a Cat 4′s fear of cornering on a TT bike, or he’s getting some horrific equipment advice.

- Not even the word darling helps when you say ‘Darling, will you help me put on my chamois cream?’

- My favorite little bit of Giro voyeurism.

- Final Giro thought #2: Denis Menchov’s victory reminds me of the time I got a lap dance from a stripper with a C-Section scar. What should’ve been easy pleasure got complicated fast. Despite her beauty and the adventure of the moment, Maybe it was just an appendectomy? soon became will this song never end? -- proof of my vulnerability to distraction and discomfort by tangential things. The re-emergence of Humanplasma chatter reacquainted me with Michael Rasmussen’s lies and shame, not to mention the startling disappearance of Thomas Dekker from the ProTour scene -- Rabobank stars, both. Smoke almost always begets fire when it comes to detailed doping gossip. Whenever it went into celebrate-the-Giro mode, my brain kept tripping over the Humanplasma story during the final week of the race.

- An 8am ride means we roll out at 8am, not drive up in your car and start pumping your tires at 8am.

- A really nice gallery of the U23 Paris-Roubaix. Beautiful photos and lovely interface.

- Final Giro thought #3: Let’s have a moment of silence to ponder just how awful Saxo Bank’s race was. I have a faint memory of Jens Voigt being in one doomed break. Other than that, did you ever see a Saxo Bank jersey? It’s emblematic of what’s been an atrocious season by the remnants of the once-dominant Team CSC. Andy Schleck’s LBL victory is one thing that saves Saxo Bank’s ’09 performance as a whole from being a full-on tragicomedy. Have they shown any consistent firepower this year other than theTour of Luxembourg (the home race for the Schleck bros.)? We’re talking about one of the biggest budgets in the whole ProTour. What the heck is going on with them?

- I am a connoisseur of bike industry related banner ads, and I’ll go on the record saying this is the most culturally tone-deaf ad I’ve ever seen.

- Please, no, don’t send it back. Your crankset is NOT defective. They’re all made that way. It’s supposed to come with some broken chainring teeth. The ramps and bevels and chipped-looking teeth let your crankset make beautiful music with your chain. I swear. The replacement will look the same. I swear.

- Final Giro thought #4: Garm*n’s final Team GC placing was frightful. In case you didn’t notice, they were the cellar dwellers. Put in the context of the traditions of American teams at the Grand Tours, this is an historic embarrassment. Did they lose heart when Vandevelde crashed out? I would’ve thought they might’ve tried to make lemonade out of lemons, and attack like hell to get in breakaways throughout the race. I only recall one heroic effort like this, by Danny Pate on Stage 18.

I wonder, too, about the long-term job satisfaction Tyler Farrar will get on Garm*n. When he could drum up a Garm*n leadout train, it was made up of willowy time-trialists & climbers, not the all-purpose rouleurs that can really rip off legs. Will the team be willing to provide him a train at the Tour de France, or will they be too worried about nursemaiding their GC favorite Vandevelde through the last 10k’s every day? Trying to hijack the Columbia train every day ain’t a reliable recipe for stage wins. I wonder at what point Farrar will just say fuckit and find a team willing to provide him real support.

- Google Maps sucks. When you’re thinking about venturing out onto new roads far away from your typical stomping grounds, use Mapquest instead. I’m Google-addicted to about everything they offer, but their mapping functionality ain’t up to Google standards.

- I’m a sucker for good stories about finding purpose for yourself via a bicycle, and doubly so when it revolves around late 80′s pro bike racing with a heavy dose of Café de Colombia.

- Final Giro thought #5: Lance. Two parts. (a) To everyone flipping out, saying ‘Lance is FAT!’ please review his results in the nasty mountain stages and, in addition, consider the fact that he was using the Giro to build fitness -- not to win. Comparing his July ’99-’05 silhouettes to his May ’09 one is silly. Go find a photo of Lance in May ’05 and do a comparison to that. With Lance’s performance in the ’09 Giro we just witnessed the greatest non-disease related comeback in the history of the sport.

(b) Mid-way through the Giro I took my kiddos to the library and one of them found a great book I’d never seen before titled ‘Lance in France’ and it’s remarkably true-to-history, all the way down to its cartoony rendering of the Passage du Gois incident in the ’99 Tour, and that one time Lance almost got abducted by aliens in the Pyrenees. Most amusing was this historically-relevant, though not historically-true two-page spread about bumblebee stings. Just when you think things can’t get worse PR-wise for Team Garm*n management, it does.

- It’s more revealing to pore over photos of the bikes that the pros train on, not the ones they race on.

- I don’t think of myself as superstitious, but for some reason I feel hard-wired to always use the same two shorty Team Astana bottles mailed to me to me as a promo back in March by First Endurance. I fill them with EFS everytime I ride, I’ve been riding a lot lately, and the temps have been in the 80′s and the 90′s. I rinse them out a bit before I re-use them, but my washing regimen, I realize, hasn’t changed since March and I finally took a look inside one this weekend and maybe I now have the answer to why I’ve been having terrible stomach cramps lately. Mildew doesn’t do a body good, I bet, and while the concept of lucky bottles might be good for the brain it does the GI system no favors.

- News about 2010 Shimano Ultegra 6700 is coming through in fits and bursts here. In 10 words or less think of it as a plasticky and less light Dura Ace 7900. Retail price for the 8-piece group will be roughly $1,500. That’s about $100 more than the new-for-2010 SRAM Force and $50 less than Campy Chorus-11. 6700 will purportedly be available by the end of June and maybe by Interbike Shimano will come to their senses and drop the retail price by about $250 to give it a real reason to exist.

- Cutting the elastic off jersey sleeves, parking neon Oakleys in my helmet vents, and never using tall bottles are just 3 of probably 50 PRO things I’m qualified to do. The apogee of PROness, though, is an act I commit only rarely since it’s so sinfully delicious: Littering. There are days, I admit, where I purposely take along Enervitene (with its blissfully non-biodegradable screw top) or, even better, a box or two of Extran (no longer available in the US -- I keep a pallet of it in a temperature-controlled cellar). Even when empty, the heft of both provides unspeakable joy. Do yourself a favor: Don’t just drop it, but flick it with a sharp snap of the wrist or -- if you’re the dramatic type -- heave it to the roadside in disgust at the fact that something so wonderful is socially unacceptable. Be attentive next time you watch a ProTour race -- it’s a littering bonanza every day. And if you watch a Belgian 1-day classic it’s a flat-out littering Olympiad, since littering in Belgium is just one step shy of that almighty Belgian act: indiscreet public urination.