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Brief notes from early February

– Dueling derny videos. I don’t know which one I love more. Belgium or Texas.

The real race season has arrived. Kneewarmers. Mud-splatter. Overcast skies. Something about February racing in France warms the soul. How many days ’til the Ronde?

– The podium at the Tour of Qatar is an awfully tantalizing place.

– More proof that no such thing as real cycling journalism exists, did you see regurgitate the Andy-Pruitt-as-messiah story that appeared on two weeks previously? In every element -- the photos, the storyline, the servile flattery to the Genius Of Specialized Body Geometry -- they’re identical. And while that shows a lack of editorial awareness on the part of cyclingnews (an all-too-common flaw we’ve seen since the exit of editor Gerard Knapp), more annoying is the incredulous fantasy presented to the reader. Could you imagine a story in Golf Digest that would purport to have Tiger Woods walk into a hotel conference room, take some swings in a netted astroturf indoor driving cage, then eagerly go mentally spread-eagle to have a guru re-build his swing all in the span of 30 minutes? My friends, the Marriott conference room is not reality. These articles are scripted by, written by, and appeal to people all of whom share one thing: They don’t ride. For people who’ve lived and died on their bikes, they know how little can be accomplished vis-à-vis training and racing and suffering on a laptop in a conference room. It’s magical realism. It’s cookery at Benihana. It’s lousy theatre and as a sizeable advertiser and a formerly enthusiastic reader I wish cyclingnews and velonews would stop presenting infomercials as news.

– Think the nosediving economy won’t ever catch up to pro cycling? It’s already hit the English Premiership. Now it’s broaching Major League Baseball. Methinks it’s not a matter of if, but of when.

– Is Lance still wearing Rocket 7’s? Are these Rocket 7’s, not Nikes? If they’re real-deal Nikes, will Lance actually ride in them, or will he stick with the Nike-badged Rocket 7’s he’s been wearing for his whole comeback so far?

– Some cheesy music here, but this video is a stupendous display of manhood. How can you watch this and leave determined to dedicate the remainder of your life to racing cyclocross?

– Small bit of tech for you. In case you’re getting ready to install your first-ever Campagnolo 11spd chain, here’s a great step-by-step how-to guide.