The High Road: Of Missiles and Missionaries

There was once a time when following professional European road racing in the United States, once had to piece together an idea of what was happening through a combination of cycling-themed periodicals, spotty and infrequent mainstream media coverage, big, clunky, book-shaped objects known as "VHS tapes," and hearsay. This amalgam was akin to something you might pull out of a clogged bathtub drain--a fuzzy and ambiguous clump which, if you're really lucky, might contain the odd gem. Finding a particularly good Graham Watson photograph, for example, might be the equivalent of discovering a pearl earring that someone lost while showering.

Now, of course, we have ready access to races like the Giro d'Italia, about which I have been "blogging" for Universal's "Giro Insider" section. While watching yesterday's Giro stage, I mused to myself about this abundance of race coverage, as well as about Thomas Voeckler, who played a starring role in yesterday's breakaway and about whom I wrote in yesterday's blog. To be perfectly honest, I'm not a Thomas Voeckler fan. He's sort of the anti-Jens Voigt in that, while both undertake long and ultimately fruitless breakaways, Voigt seems to be enjoying himself whereas Voeckler rides with his shoulders hunched up and a look of disgust on his face--he always looks like he's plunging a particularly foul toilet. Or, to put it another way, Voigt seems like the kind of friendly neighbor who might happily come over and help you move a sofa, whereas Voeckler's like some put-upon dinner guest who gets impatient as you try to open the wine, grabs the bottle himself, gets way too aggressive with the corkscrew, and covers himself in Pinot Noir.

Indeed, so fruitful are these times for fans of professional road racing that, in addition to the Giro d'Italia, we also have the Tour of California--which, thanks to the fact that the Earth is round and spins in a predictable direction, follows the Giro after a polite interval. Yesterday's stage, of course, was won by Mark "The Man Missile" Cavendish, and this was no surprise. What was surprising, though, was the disembodied hand featured in this photograph of his bike:

If you're wondering what the hand is doing, it is picking stickers off the rim because Cavendish likes his wheels to be "all black:"
Most of us know by now that Cavendish can be cocky, but I was surprised (perhaps naively) to learn that he would go so far as to demand that his mechanic actually pick the stickers off his wheels because he doesn't like the way they look. Even more surprising is that some fan would want them afterwards, as if they were a pair of Rihanna's panties:

If I were in that mechanic's place and somebody approached me for the stickers, I'd simply turn the entire bike over to him and say, "You want 'em? You peel 'em." I'm sure the fan would happily oblige. In any case, Cavendish did win, and in the end I suppose that's what mattered. Unfortunately, though, we were deprived one of his wacky victory salutes:

"I was going to celebrate three wins this year [with a special salute], but I couldn't do it, so I just did a normal celebration," he said.

I'm not sure what prevented Cavendish from executing his three win-themed salute, though it could be that the extra arm he had planned to grow for the occasion failed to sprout. Presumably, after a long day in the saddle Cavendish returned to the hotel and took a hot shower--but only after making the sticker-peeling mechanic pick all the pubic hairs off the soap.

Certainly, if you're a cycling fan, this abundance of racing and race coverage is quite welcome--in fact, some might go so far as to call it a "godsend." And speaking of "God," reports that Mormon missionaries are now riding "fixies:"

(All You Haters Sniff My Magic Underwear)

It would appear that, increasingly, fixed-gear bicycles are the vehicles of choice for "slaying" missionary work. This is hardly surprising, because once anything becomes becomes big enough somebody creates a Christian version, just like once a soft drink gets popular enough the manufacturers inevitably offer it in "diet." What is surprising, though, is that the Mormons are taking to fixed-gears. If anything, I would think the single gear ratio would be at odds with their polygamist lifestyle, and that they'd instead be drawn to derailleur drivetrains.

Clearly, though, the quasi-"rough and tumble," studiously disheveled, and now comically dated fixed-gear crews of the mid-aughts such as "MASHSF" are giving way to new crews who prefer to lay down "mad skidzzz" in the service of the Lord. We've already seen the "Burrito Project" (arguably the MASHSF of fixie missionaries), as well as the "fixionary" who went to Mexico because God told him to, and now it seems that wherever you look a new rider is turning to Christ:

Of course, the problem with being a righteous Christian fixed-gear warrior is that you've got to ride a filthy, impure steed--that is, until now. Yes, salvation is nigh, for a reader informs me that you can purchase a $250 fixed-gear from Christ Cycles:

This is the ideal bicycle to ride as you distribute burritos to the homeless, hand out huaraches to heathens, or simply pray earnestly and refrain from masturbation. "Through the love of Jesus Christ," explains the website, "this ministry has thrived and continues to offer the same low fixed prices for its bikes, regardless of production costs." In other words, it's like getting your fixie straight from the Holy Spirit (via Taiwan). We've seen Bikes Direct, but this is bikes directly from the Lord. You'll look great as you straddle your Christ:

(Christ Cycles owners listen with distaste as their bikeless and godless friend explains how to administer a "double handjob.")

According to their website, Christ Cycles is even the official fixie sponsor to a Christian metal band called The Chariot:

There is no music more intense, dorky, and anguished than that born of the eternal struggle not to touch one's own genitals or the genitals of others outside the union of holy heterosexual wedlock. I suspect this tension is at the heart of all the screaming and distorted guitars, and that the group is a few beers and a a single collective (and cathartic) wank away from becoming one of those new banjo-toting urban folk bands.

But the real danger of abstaining from sexual gratification, repressing one's natural urges, and living one's life in a religious context is that you can eventually find yourself losing all self-control. One day you're a chaste warrior riding your Christ, and the next day you're grabbing ass on the Williamsburg Bridge:

You grabbed my ass on the Willyb riding your bike - w4m
Date: 2010-05-16, 8:31AM EDT

Hey Jackass

You grabbed my ass as you rode past me on the williamsburg bridge Saturday night.

In case you didn't catch it when I passed you on Bedford:
Don't touch what you can't afford.

You owe me a mojito.

And get a fucking helmet!

I guess a mojito is the going rate for a quick feel.

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