Versus to Cycling Fans: "Go Puck Yourself"

As someone who has lived his life almost exclusively on a flat terminal moraine, I have long been taken with the California coast, which resembles an enormous green burrito that has been torn in half lengthwise. I also enjoy bicycle racing. Naturally, then, I was particularly enjoying watching the Amgen Tour of California on Versus yesterday evening, as the stage took the riders along the chunkiest, most succulent section of the burrito from San Francisco to Santa Cruz. The cerulean Pacific; the verdant forests; the mellifluous voiceways of Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen; and the people kiteboarding along the race route in the middle of a Tuesday afternoon because they don't have jobs all came together in a "collabo" of bike racing bliss. Then came the climb--Dave Zabriskie, Michael Rogers, and Levi Leipheimer managed to escape. I was on the edge of my bean bag (I have replaced my sofa with a giant bean bag) as the trio barreled into Santa Cruz, and then, with about 3 kilometers to go--

Hockey. Or, more accurately, pre-game hockey. Really, would a five minute incursion into the hockey time slot have really made that much of a difference? When you need to cut something off, and it's a choice between the very end or the very beginning, it seems to me that the latter is almost always the wiser choice. (The exception is circumcision--in that case you should always cut off the end.) As it was, it was like watching an erotic movie, only to have the big sex scene suddenly replaced with "Larry King Live." Even Lance Armstrong was upset:

We haven't seen Armstrong "tweet" this angrily since that whole Tony Kornheiser incident. Indeed, Versus did not spare cycling fans a second of Armstrong's mid-race bike change and subsequent leisurely ride back to the peloton, but apparently they figured we wouldn't mind missing the ending of the stage and simply told us to head over to our computers like this was some sort of media biathlon. I guess Armstrong will now have to get into every single breakaway for the rest of the race. This will ensure we never miss another ending, for I'm sure Versus are contractually prohibited from cutting away from him.

Sure, I realize that I could just as easily be a hockey fan lamenting the fact that a bicycle race interrupted my sport of choice, but the fact is that even when cycling doesn't get interrupted they don't air the entire stage (not like I'm complaining, mind you--only Californians and striking Europeans can find five to six hours a day to watch bike racing), and it seems like they could have sacrificed just a few minutes of "mullets on ice" to bring us the final moments of our already-abbreviated coverage.

Of course, what Versus really needs to realize is that cycling is more than just a game--it's a "culture." I mean, we had our very own summit and everything! "Bike culture" is without a doubt the most influential culture the world has seen since the Mughal Empire or the Ming Dynasty. When I plug the term "bike culture" into a popular search engine, I get stirring images like this:
But when I do the same thing with "hockey culture," all I get is this:

Since I'm not a hockey fan, I have no idea what they're doing, but I'm guessing the red one is helping the yellow one tie his ice skates.

Speaking of "culture," when that word pops up you can be sure douchery will ensue, just as you can be sure that your Versus cycling coverage will be interrupted when it's time for the hockey game. For this reason, my douche-detecting radar (or "douchedar") began pinging when I happened upon this article in The New York Times:

I have nothing whatsoever against chefs, or marijuana, or chefs who smoke marijuana, or restaurants, or delicious food, or really any of it. What does bother me, though, is what happens when these so-called "cultures" sometimes say about our actual culture and the way in which people tend to "buy into" things:

We've already seen the "zen simplicity" of the fixed-gear become the $2,000 urban runabout. We've seen the simple cup of coffee become the 12-hour five Japanese slow-dripper bukkake "epic." We've seen the "Saffron King" pedal his Specialized Globe to a downtown "speakeasy" and drink a $15 cocktail. Now, we can add to that the concept of "high-end snacking" and the "haute stoner cuisine movement."

It seems to me that, if marijuana has anything to teach, it's that you can take pleasure in pretty much anything. The mundane occurrence suddenly becomes a source of laughter; everyday scenery seems beautiful; the heretofore unwatchable movie is transformed into a masterpiece; plain food and beverage seems delicious; and so forth. Having been afforded this new perspective, perhaps you come to realize how much your perception and attitude shapes your experience, and how insignificant the differences between material items really can be. And just as you discover you don't need special items to make you happy, you might eventually even find you don't necessarily need intoxicants to alter your perspective, and that indeed your perspective is something you determine yourself. At that moment, you're free, for you have found the key to happiness, and it is contingent on nothing but you.

Or, alternately, you can keep "like four or five different types" of marijuana in your refrigerator at all times, eat designer hot dogs, and, instead of just eating a bowl of cereal, chase the rarefied delight of "a dessert based on the slightly sweet flavor of milk at the bottom of a cereal bowl" by going to Momofuko.

Not that there's anything wrong with any of that--it just strikes me as a tremendous pain in the ass. The popular idea of "culture" seems to involve constantly refining the "lowbrow" experience, and I'd think and hope that at a certain point people would grow tired of constantly chasing the dragon of douchery.

Speaking of getting carried away, it seems the entire city of Portland has united to find a stolen folding bike:

This is without a doubt the highest-profile folding bike theft since "ANTgate." Obviously, I hope they get their bike back, and I do think it's great that people are helping, but I also can't help being amused by the self-conscious wording of the APB:

In Portland people report "transients/homeless people," whereas in New York we say, "I just saw some crackhead on your bike!" Anyway, I'm sure with so much goodwill it's only a matter of time before the bike is recovered, and I look forward to the moving documentary film that is almost certainly already in production for next year's Bicycle Film Festival.

Speaking of politically incorrect language, some people refer to inverted road drops as "bum bars," and a reader has recently informed me that (in what as far as I know is a first in the bicycle industry) one manufacturer called Bohemia Cycles is now offering this cockpit configuration "stock:"

They also offer what may be the shortest-ever stem on a production bike:
I've seen longer stems on p-fars.

While these setups may seem ill-advised, you can rest assured that Bohemian Cycles has indeed given them long and careful thought:

Handlebars, stems, seat posts and other components receive the same attention to detail.

Yes, thanks to this painstaking attention to detail, you now buy a brand-new bicycle equipped with what Portlanders call "transients/homeless people bars."

Still, while restauranteurs try to recreate the taste of milk that has been sitting in a bowl of Froot Loops, and while bicycle manufacturers try to sell designer "bum bars," there is simply no substitute for the real thing. This is why the best cockpit setups occur naturally on the streets, such as this absolutely mind-bending arrangement spotted by a reader in London:

It looks like the mandibles of some horrific insect:

This is more than "attention to detail"--it's outright delirium. Let's see Bohemian Cycles sell that.

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