The Schlock of the New: Dirty Salutes, Bold Claims, and Loud Prints

If you're only a casual follower of professional road racing, you may have certain misconceptions about the off-season. For example, you may think that the riders spend it in a laboratory where they lie in a state of dreamless sleep while scientists maintain their performance by means of various intravenous drips--kind of like motorcycle batteries whiling away the winter on a tender in the garage. This is untrue. (Well, it is true of Alexander Vinokourov, but they do revive him temporarily on Christmas morning so that he can open his presents.) The fact is that most professionals are quite busy in the off-season with things like team transfers, wind tunnel testing, and, in the case of Tour de France winner Alberto Contador, honing their victory salutes at the Amstel CuraƧao Race:

A reader alerted me to the above photo from Cyclingnews, and it indicates that Contador may be abandoning the implied sexuality of the "fingerbang" in favor of actual fellatio. It also suggests that the position of "fingerbang assistant" may be a more "hands"-on job than I previously thought. This is probably what the "fingerbang assistant" is trying to convey to her friend in this photo:

It could also explain how Contador is keeping his helmet up here:

If this is true, and if being Contador's "fingerbang assistant" does actually require being the cedilla on his letter "C," then Contador's victory salute has already reached a level of complexity and obscenity never before seen in the professional peloton. Furthermore, it's a long winter, and he's liable to refine his salute considerably between now and next season. By the time he wins his first race in 2010 his celebratory gesture may require three assistants, a rotating bed, and some wah-wah guitar.

This wasn't all I discovered over at Cyclingnews either. I learned one more thing, which is that Gilberto Simoni may end his career:
Actually, I technically learned two things, since I had thought Simoni's career had ended already. It's sort of like losing your dog and eventually resigning yourself to the fact that he's probably dead, only to receive a call a year later from someone telling you they've found him--but that they're sorry to tell you he's dead. Actually, the headline does have a question mark, so I suppose there's a glimmer of hope and that it's more like someone telling you that they've found your dog but that he's very, very sick. In any case, whether his career pulls through or not, I'll always fondly remember Simoni as the "Spider-Man" of the peloton. In fact, Simoni's sobriquet may have been what started the Giant Road Bike Head Tube Wars, since Cannondale needed to produce one large enough to display this custom paint job:

I'm guessing when Simoni finally does decide to "hang up his wheels," we'll learn about it in VeloNews--not because they'll report it, but because we'll read something like this in the "Technical Q&A with Lennard Zinn" section:

Dear Lennard,

When ending my career, is it safe to hang it by its wheels?



Dear Gibo,

It is perfectly safe to hang up your career by its wheels, provided your career's wheels do not have a delicate carbon fiber fairing, or its wheels are not made by Mavic, in which case they may explode.


Meanwhile, for the rest of us, the duration of our cycling "careers" is not a matter of speculation or deliberation. We simply ride for as long as we can, and we do so for free--or else in order to get to places where we then do things for money. (Even the most well-remunerated of us is somebody's "fingerbang assistant" in one way or another.) This latter form of riding is called "bicycle commuting," or, if your job is sufficiently pretentious and you get there on a Dutch city bike or similarly affected conveyance, "cyclo-vocational physical culture." However, here in New York City, the indignity with which "cyclo-vocational pysical culture" is fraught can be enough to make you want to hang up your wheels, too--though you wouldn't know it from this smugness tour of the "Big Apple" featuring Transportation Alternatives and congressman Earl Blumenauer, brought to you by "Streetfilms:"

If you're the sort of person who doesn't watch Streetfilms because the riding is almost as mild and boring as what you find in a typical fixed-gear freestyle video, I can assure you that this one's different. Take this thrilling moment on the "physically separated" bike lane on 9th Avenue:

At about 52 seconds a rider in red comes tearing into the shot:

At first I thought it was Gilberto Simoni from back in the Saeco days, but closer inspection reveals that it's some species of well-fed "hipster:"

After that, Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Paul "Steezy" White explains how New York City once aspired to be Portland but that now Portland "is borrowing from us:"

This comment barreled into my consciousness the same way the husky hipster charged into the 9th Avenue bike lane, and I think both of them might want to grab a handful of brake. New York has surely come a long way as far as cycling goes, but challenging Portland's mantle as the bike-friendliest place in America is quite dangerous. Firstly, while the Department of Transportation has added lots of bike lanes, it has yet to remove all the idiots, and until that happens cycling in New York City remains hostile to cyclists. In a way what the city has done by adding all these bike lanes is sort of like dealing with the asbestos in your basement by purchasing a brand-new living room set--in both cases you'll just be a little more comfortable before you die. Secondly, if New Yorkers start bragging too loudly then Portlanders may actually begin moving here en masse. In the short term this will result in a surge in the number of white people with dreadlocks for which New York is ill-prepared, and our city's 311 help line will be overwhelmed with complaints about things like inadequate cargo bike parking and sub-par coffee quality. In the long term, cycling casualties will skyrocket once these riders learn the hard way that they are not protected by Invisible Cloaks of Smugness as they are in Portland, New York City will abandon cycling as a result, and our hard-fought bike lanes will fall to mopeds and Vespas.

This is not to say I don't appreciate all the city has done so far--it's just that I hate to see people disappointed. It's sort of like "fingerbanging" before you've crossed the line. I'm no stranger to disappointment either. For example, I was visiting Trackosaurusrex recently (I'm expecting it to switch over to mopeds at any moment) and was thrilled to learn that there are apparently "New Rapha Jams!"
Unfortunately the disappointment came when I learned that the post actually referred to music, and that Rapha were not going to be "dropping" a surf-short "collabo:"

Few things would make me happier than if Rapha were to augment their tailored and subtly-hued collection with some screamingly loud beach "shants," and I think they would be wise to do so. Jams shorts seem to be one of the few fashions from the 1980s that has not yet been resurrected, and 2010 could very well be the summer that the fixed-gear fashion pendulum swings from snug jean shorts to baggy knickers with Matisse-like "colourways." (Also, the ironic fashion law states that the retro-90s look can't begin in "earnest" until every single bit of 80s nostalgia has been exhausted.) My disappointment was mitigated somewhat though when I learned that Jams is not only still in business, but that they're still offering disgusting shirts like this:

He may not be a surfer, but he's certainly caught the hair gel wave.
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