Archive for February, 2009

More Bike Alikes

Today’s installment of BikeAlike brings us a sardonic basic cable clip show host and Belgium’s biggest cycling sprint star.  I give you Joel McHale and the man with all the nicknames, Tom “Tom Tom” “Tornado Tom ” “Tommeke” “Boom Boom” Boonen.

Joel McHale        Tom Boonen

Not bad.  I see they both have the pointy ear thing going on as well.

Let’s see, here.  Boonen’s exploits on and off the bike are well documented.  A sprinting legend in his time, Tommeke is twice a winner of Paris Roubaix and winner of multiple Tour de France stages.  I hope his Coke issues are behind him, for his sake.  His time as the undisputed #1 of sprints looks to be over with the arrival of brash Manxman, Mark Cavendish.  I look forward to their duels over the next few years.

Joel McHale, on the other hand is the host of The Soup on E!.  I love the show not only because it’s genuinely funny, but also because it’s sarcastic targets are largely horrible reality and talk shows that seem to permeate the airwaves these days.

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Inherit the Mic

microphoneAccording to my blog stats, I’ve gotten a number of hits looking for Steve Schlanger.  Impressive considering that I haven’t mentioned him here in months.  It got me thinking about those people who call the race action – more specifically who will be the successor to Phil Liggett?

It’s a tall order to follow a legend.  Whoever wins out will need to be passionate about the sport (Liggett at his best), and hopefully not an outward fanboy (Liggett at his worst).

The people who come to mind comprise a very short list.  The aforementioned Steve Schlanger is a possibility, as he has called races for Universal Sports/WCSN.  He is capable, but just doesn’t have that distinctive style you want in an announcer.  I think in the end he will be an all-rounder, a guy who will call the occasional race but most of the time he will be doing the other “Olympic” sports that comprise his current situation.

One guy I’m rooting for is Dave Towle.  Obviously, he has the chops to call live race action.  It’s clear that he absolutely loves the sport, and he has a very distinctive voice.  I could see a few people being put off by the gravel-y quality, but to me it’s all good.

I suppose I have to mention Craig Hummer only because he’s already on air.  His performance calling the Tour of California this year puts him solidly at the back of the bus.  Constantly fumbling names and words; it’s like he’s got a bad fever or something.  Add to that a healthy number of awkward pauses and his chances are nil.

Who else is in the pipeline?  I can’t really think of anyone else who would fit the bill.  Is there some Brit or Aussie I haven’t heard of?  I wish whoever takes over the mantle the best of luck.  You never want to be the guy who follows a legend.

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Versus’ “Heidi Game”

heidi_game_19681It’s one of those decisions that leaves you shaking your head.  Or in my case, lunging for my web browser.

The brainiacs at Versus decided that the first 12 minutes of a hockey game were worth truncating the finish of Stage 3 of the Tour of California (a race they have been promoting heavily).  Race coverage of two hours that got cut off.  Cycling in America finally has it’s own Heidi Game.  If they pulled that crap in Europe, villagers with pitchforks would be storming their headquarters.

To add to the suckitude, the Versus website was useless.  Someone tell me where the link to the live video was?  Fortunately I was able to easily view the live video at the Tour’s own site.

Kudos to the Thunder God for a strong sprint victory, but the memory of this fiasco will stay with fans for a long time.  It’s a fine line when your network relies on niche sports for the majority of its content.  The fans tend to be more hardcore than casual, and can be angered easier.

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Has it been four months since Lombardia?

The last big race of 2008 was Lombardia, and while it was a mere four months ago it feels like million years.

Lombardy, four months?
California Tour? two days!
Angry pedals turn

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Think Spring

It’s a lovely 50°F today.  I went for a short walk at lunchtime and you could smell the melting snow.  It’s a difficult smell to describe, but it’s oh so sweet after a cold winter.

To be sure, Old Man Winter isn’t through with us yet.  That stupid groundhog can kiss my ass.  It’s always another 6 weeks of winter here.  I don’t think our average high temp in Albany touches 50 degrees until the end of March – which is about 6 weeks away.  Go figure.

At least the ice jam at the end of my driveway is mostly gone, and while today is a pleasant one, the temps will drop back to normal (low 30s) by the weekend.  The upside of course is hope.  It’s this time of year when I think about equipment purchases for the upcoming road season: new tires, a pair of bibs, maybe a new jersey.

It also gives me a little added motivation on the trainer.  There is always the motivation to maintain some fitness, keep my weight under control and sustain some sanity during the bleak months; but knowing that there is some light at the end of the tunnel makes it just a little bit easier.

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Still More Haiku

It’s forty degrees

O! see the ice melt away

Spring cannot be far

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Tour of Qatar Exclusive!

Doha, Qatar(MildStallion News Service) – There have been rumors of a pro cycling race taking place across the sands of the middle eastern kingdom this week.  In my mind I hopped a flight to Doha to get a feel for the event and take in what was sure to be a top-notch event.

After losing a contact lens in a sandstorm, I was left with a pounding headache due to having to constantly squint with one eye.  Fortunately I was able to get some rider reaction after the end of stage 2.

raceryawn I was lucky enough to catch up with a decidedly müde Jens Voigt right after the finish.  The always-aggressive German fan fave sure looked tapped out.  I asked him if it was the result of one of his typical long breakaways.  “No, no: it was just zo boring out zere today.  I sought zat if I were to attack early in ze stage, I could end ze race sooner.  All of zis sand…now I think I know why people go crazy in ze desert, ja?”.  Rest well, Jens, you’re going to need that energy when you get to Sacramento.

 

Orange Rider Another rider, speaking on condition of anonymity (we’ll call him “Orange Rider”) was equally as candid.  “I thought that at some point that the terrain would change – you know a hill, some vegetation at least where you could break away and not be in clear view for miles.”  He paused for a moment to down his third bottle of water in what seemed like only five minutes.  “It was brutally boring.  Straight lines, sand – the freaking sand!  The wind blew everyone into echelons.  The heat was manageable; it was the boredom that was wearing everybody down.”

  

This reporter agrees.  The Tour of Qatar is decidedly the most boring race on the UCI calendar.  It was a lot of work to stay awake to follow the stages, let alone reading the race reports on VeloNews.  It’s always nice to know that you aren’t alone with your predicaments.  On the imaginary flight home, I had a long layover in London, so I took to the countryside for a brief ride. 

fanyawnI was able to strike up a “convo” with a yellow-clad brit rider while out on the path.  As soon as I brought up the topic of my travels, they instantly began to yawn uncontrollably.  “Sorry,” I said – fearing I had been wasting their time.  “No, pardon me! It’s just that every time I hear of that dreadful race across the dunes I can’t help but fall into a malaise.”  The Euros really are a cycling-astute bunch.  They know that the Tour of California and Het Volk are just around the corner – and that’s when the real races begin.

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