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Olympic Fever Continues

– We’re still digging on the Olympics here. We’re entranced by niche sports. We’ll never look at a trampoline again the same way. And we’d trade a couple of US track & field medals for, like, a bronze by the US on the velodrome. I assume x% of my $65 USAC annual racing license goes towards the track cycling program, so I’m a stakeholder, by God! Hey USAC, WTF? To paraphrase Simon & Garfunkel -- Where have you gone, Marty Nothstein?

Here’s a bet: Give me the Kissena Velodrome, some charity cash, 2 hrs per week of donated coaching time from Cadence, and an in at the NYC public school system and I bet we’d make more future medalists than the entire current shaved-leg-boy population currently residing in Colorado Springs.

USAC. Grass roots. Does not compute.

– It’d be nice if someone in the mass media picked up on the disastrous state of affairs in US track cycling. But it’s a niche inside a niche. Nobody cares. Not even the endemic cycling media. They’re too busy fawning over Lance’s day in Leadville or regurgitating Specialized press releases under the guise of ‘tech news’. Not sure if it’s good news or bad that the best press out there right now -- and, admittedly, some of it’s damn good -- has been touchy feely stuff. This piece on the New York Times website about Jason McCartney riding a townie through Beijing really took us. It’s like NPR, but with photos.

Svein Tuft. Canadian Olympian and existentialist. Love this photo. Reminds me of the kind of pre-race stuff I told myself as a junior, when the right quote had as much power as a rock song on my Walkman. The fact a pro can get focused in that way -- it’s evidence of the meaning of the Olympics.

– Speaking of the meaning the riders invest in the Olympics, did you see the photos of Fabian Cancellara on the podium after he won Gold in the TT? Never, never, never have I seen a pro express such depth of joy and fulfillment upon winning a race. In photo after photo his whole body resonates with contentment. Even more interesting is the difference between what you see in that photo, and what you hear from semi-confessed dopers or fully-confessed dopers about the empty meaning of their tainted victories.

Compare Cancellara’s face to what Jonathan Vaughters expresses in the Kimmage article linked above, regarding the single-biggest individual victory of his pro career:

‘…A year later, [Vaughters] spent the first of two seasons with the US Postal team. He raced solidly in the first season and brilliantly in the second, delivering a stand-out performance to win the Mont Ventoux of the Dauphine race, a month before the Tour de France. ‘

‘That was a massive performance,’ I suggest.

‘Yes,’ he replies. ‘Did it feel massive? Did you feel happy?’

‘I felt okay. I wasn’t ecstatic.’ ‘That doesn’t make sense?’ ‘Well, for sure, it was the best form of my life as a bike rider, but I wasn’t . . . I was just sort of . . . I will leave it at this; I wasn’t overly pleased with that victory. It was interesting to me. It answered a lot of questions. But it wasn’t the most ecstatic moment of my life by any means.’

– Joan Llaneras of Spain won the Points Race in Beijing. Check out his photo here. It kinda creeped us out the first time we saw it. Gaunt-but-fit? Post-DWI mugshot? Would-be rhythm guitarist for the Feelies reunion tour? An intimidating mien for sure -- probably to his benefit on race day.

– Props to the British team for having such a super Olympics. We were hoping for more out of Mark Cavendish in the Madison, but the team was so stellar elsewhere that it’s not right to nitpick. Their preparation, obviously, was beyond reproach. And for those of you who train AND watch your diet (what a concept!), apparently the Brits are big fans of beta-alanine, FYI. We’re not bio-chemists, and we didn’t stay at a Holiday Inn Select last night, but apparently it’s a pretty interesting supplement -- and what makes it most interesting is the difficulty in sourcing it from someplace that guarantees it won’t be residually contaminated with other products. Word around town is that the Brits have a source, and they’re keeping it to themselves.