Drug Tests and Bell Checks: The Element of Surprise

If you follow the Tour de France, you know that one of the most compelling things about it is that it's a bargain. Whereas most sporting events last for a few hours and result in one winner and one loser, the Tour lasts like the whole summer and yields multiple winners in a variety of jersey colorways. Not only that, but after the race is over and the "final" results are in, then the various agencies start delving into all the blood and urine, which is not only a sport in itself but can also sometimes result in a whole new set of winners. Really, it's the sports fan's equivalent of shopping at Costco--you're practically buying sporting drama wholesale.

According to the article, "UCI inspectors intervened allowing Astana riders an extra 45 minutes before testing," which meant that "the unexpected nature of anti-doping tests did not exist on the Tour." While I suppose Armstrong and Contador might have used that extra time to set up their "Whizzinators," I still can't imagine how anybody would think a drug test would come as a surprise to Armstrong or Contador or really any highly-placed rider in the Tour de France under any circumstances. Contador won two stages and wore the yellow jersey for seven days; I don't think he needed an informant to warn him that he might get tested. That would be like coming home and twirling a used condom around your finger like a lifeguard whistle and not expecting your significant other to ask you whether you've been cheating. And as far as Armstrong, everybody knows he gets tested all the time because whenever they come for his urine he Tweets about it. Really, Tweeting and tinkling is all he does. So even if they did get a 45 minute warning from the UCI before testing that would just be like Larry King getting a 45 minute warning that he's ugly.

Actually, the only thing that came as a surprise to me was that Contador was sporting a "fingerbang" cap in the blue and white colorway:

I'd seen the black and yellow "fingerbang" hat during the Tour, but I hadn't seen the blue and white one, and I do think it's cute that despite the supposed rivalry between them Armstrong and Condator always seem to wear matching caps. Immediately upon seeing this photo I headed over to Contador's website in the hope that "fingerbang" hats were finally available for purchase. Unfortunately, they weren't, but there was a poll asking fans what kind of Alberto Contador items they would buy, as well as a picture of Contador riding past an extremely nonplussed dog:

I checked the results, and of course the cap was the leader by a huge margin:

Having noted this, I headed back to vote. Originally I had intended to cast a vote for the cap as well. However, my contrarian nature prevented me from simply doing what everyone else was doing (like using the word "nonplussed" correctly), and so I ultimately decided to write in my own choice instead:

Naturally, a "fingerbang" dog tag would be a perfect complement to a "fingerbang" dog sweater, but I'm sure a canny rider like Contador would want to test the marketplace before plunging head-first into the world of canine accessories.

Meanwhile, in the spirit of what I can only assume is irony, Frank Vandenbroucke is now instituting a policy of glasnost by publishing his blood values online:

If you're not familiar with Frank Vandenbroucke, he was once the enfant terrible of professional cycling, but now he's just terrible. While journalists and obsessive fans clamor for glimpses at the blood values of riders like Armstrong and Contador, Vandenbroucke must now beg people to look at his humors. Sadly, though, these days people are about as interested in Vandenbroucke's blood as they are in Bill Clinton's semen; when it comes to bodily fluids, both had their heyday in the late 1990s.

Speaking of new products, while I can't yet purchase a Contador "fingerbang" hat, I'm pleased to report I am now the proud owner of a Mavic cowbell:

(Bell is mostly in focus thanks to the reader who explained to me what the little flower button on my camera does. Apparently it's not just for flowers.)

Supposedly, the carbon fiber clapper can not only withstand forces of up to 1 Diminutive Frenchman Unit (DFU), but it can also emit a ring of up to 10 Laurent Jalabert Sweeping Indictments (LJSI):

A LJSI is a unit used to measure the intensity of a sound and is equivalent to the degree of loudness of French national team manager Laurent Jalabert articulating a scathing critique of his countrymen. While an output of 10 LJSIs means this bell is more than loud enough for general use, Mavic warns that this cowbell is for race use only, which means you should only use it for occasional cyclocross bell checks. While you may be tempted to actually put it on a cow, you should not do so, because like its cousin the R-Sys the Mavic cowbell has a tendency to inexplicably explode--and you do not want to be anywhere near the cow when that happens.

Of course, if you do inadvertently find yourself in the vicinity of an exploding cow, hopefully you will have had the foresight to don a WIT Industries waterproof bike suit, which I saw recently on fixed-gear freestyle impresario Prolly's blog:

While I suppose I can appreciate the functionality of a complete rain suit, I also can't help noting that perhaps this rider (who looks a bit like Matthew McConaughey) wouldn't have to wear it if he actually allowed his bicycle to aid in the process of water deflection by putting some fenders on it. Still, I enjoyed the accompanying diagram, though I think the designers made an unfortunate--and potentially fatal--mistake by not adding a posterior vent for flatulence:

This is especially crucial in California, the Land of the Epic Burrito.

Fortunately, if Matthew McConaughey does decide he wants to "palp" fenders on his next burrito run, WIT has also "curated" this bicycle (or at least a picture of it), complete with what appear to be crabon fribé fenders and old-timey ship wheels:

Alas, it seems the world of design will never tire of the needless crabonification and expensification of the flatbar dorkcycle.

Meanwhile, the closing of the fixed-gear "culture" has resulted in a curious phenomenon. It appears that new fixed-gear riders have now been forced to migrate from city to city by car with their bicycles in tow in the hope that they can find a community that will accept them. I recently noticed this Volkswagen in the East Village, complete with lightly customized fixed-gears and Ontario license plates:

("Z" in "customization" has been replaced with an "S" for British and Canadian legibility.)

I'm guessing that these riders are making their way south and have already been refused safe harbor in Boston, and they've either just arrived in New York where they will make entreaties to the local "scenesters" with offerings of trinkets such as "hipster cysts" and Oury grips, or they've just been rejected and are about to head south to Philadelphia. Still, they maintain hope that they will eventually wind up in some city that will welcome them, and where the local chieftains will place white Vittoria Randonneur tires around their necks like leis and grant them access to their slow rides, fast women, and Pabst-drenched happy hours.

Don't get me wrong; if it were up to me, I would welcome these refugees with open panniers. However, the decision is not mine, and the power rests with the style council. I do hope though that they at least managed to ride around a bit before they were stoned by the "locals," since they would have seen this fine art installation on the Manhattan side of the Williamsburg Bridge (otherwise known as the "Hipster High Road"):

It is for sale, and it pays tribute to someone named Norm:

It's about as compelling as Vandenbroucke's blood values.

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