Making A Point: Paint, Sponges, and Determination

Obviously the big Tour de France news yesterday (aside from "Sunglassesgate") was Alberto Contador's counter-attack on Andy Schleck while the latter struggled with his recalcitrant drivetrain. Contador's move was tremendously controversial, since in the French sporting world any action that results in victory is considered unseemly. (Thomas Voeckler is exempt from this due to his appropriately disproportionate failure-to-success ratio.) Consequently, Camp Contador went into "damage control" mode, and in an attempt to cap the gushing crude oil of negative public opinion they "dropped" this apology "edit:"

I was especially pleased to see that Contador employed the new "corporate fingerbang" insigniaway:

This lent the video that important "Contador: A Brand You Can Trust" feeling, and it was almost (but not quite) enough to overcome the fact that it was shot in a cheap hotel room about as artfully as a celebrity sex tape.

Still, it's doubtful that this video will be sufficient to turn opinion in his favor--especially when he has already been judged in high-minded fashion by the Last Word In All Things Cycling, Gerard Vroomen of Cervelo:

(Wisdom emanates constantly from The Vroomen.)

No hastily-uploaded hotel apology could possibly counteract the power of a clever flip-the-words-around-for-emphasis sound bite "tweeted" by a man with a thoughtful expression and an authoritative and clinical lack of hair.

Meanwhile, in an attempt to understand what exactly happened to Andy Schleck's drivetrain yesterday, Last Word On All Things Cycling Tech (Provided They Cost Over A Thousand Dollars) Lennard Zinn has authored a 1,600-word technical document that basically says he dropped his chain:

So, we’re left with my original theory. LZ’s Schleck chain-drop theory in a nutshell: ‘twas a perfect storm of upshifting under load with a derailleur that has a big loop on it to snag the cogset when the chain drops off the bottom to the inside of the small chainring.

It seems to me that Zinn could have simply "tweeted" the words "he dropped his chain." Not only would this have been simpler, but he would have had an extra 120 characters left to engage in some Zenlike Vroonenese wordplay:

Incidentally, Zenlike Vroonenese is very similar to Yakov Smirnoffese:

Of course, Schleck could have obviated the issue of chain-droppage altogether if he had used this revolutionary new chainring design, which was forwarded to me by a reader:

"By removing the rear derailleur and cassette, the mass is relocated between the riders feet and away from the suspension, which gives much better small bump response, as well as increased grip and cornering ability," explains the designer, and I'm sure you'll agree that this a far more elegant and practical solution than a single chainring and a Rohloff Speedhub.

In any case, Andy Schleck was not the only rider with a stomach full of anger after yesterday's stage. Nicolas Roche (who Phil Liggett will duly remind you at every opportunity is the son of Stephen Roche) was also so angry at his teammate John Gadret that he actually threatened to take his life:

Indeed, on the very climb on which Schleck was undone by his SRAM Red drivetrain, Nicolas Roche asked Gadret for his wheel, to which Gadret simply replied, "Non:"

As our team car was No 11 in the cavalcade and it would take a lot of time for them to get to me through the streams of dropped riders, I asked Gadret -- who was there to help me -- for his wheel. I couldn't believe what happened next. He just shook his head and said 'Non'. At first I thought he was joking, but soon realised he wasn't when he kept riding past me.

By the way, "Non" is actually French for "No," which should help frame the incident in its proper linguistic and cultural context.

Speaking of cultural contexts, while I was browsing the Irish Independent I also noticed this article about yet another naked bike ride:

Apparently, this sordid procession delighted motorists, who "largely stared and whooped and gave the cavalcade the thumbs-up." (Though thumbs up what the article did not specify.) Yes, nothing is more delightful than "paint, sponges and determination:"

In Cork yesterday, it was all paint, sponges and determination at the day's first stop -- the pre-ride painting party.

While these elements may have characterized the "pre-ride painting party," unfortunatly at the after party it was all mineral spirits, loofahs, and sore crotches.

I wonder if there will be also paint, sponges, and determination at the Fifth Annual Fixed-Gear Symposium in Traverse City, Michigan, because I do know there will be "tight events:"

By which the organizers obviously mean "artistic cycling:"

As well as the usual assortment of bicycle-themed social activities:

While the "media" prefers to focus on the "outlaw" element in fixed-gear cycling, it's easy to forget that just as many if not more fixed-gear cyclists are simply complete dorks. Fortunately, we have the Fixed-Gear Symposium to remind us of this, as well as of an age when the reassuring countenance of Sheldon Brown (and not the collective faux scowl of "crews" like "MASHSF") was the face of fixed-gear cycling. Basically, it's like a Star Trek convention, but for "fixies."

I did note, however, that there was no mention of a skidding contest, and I can't help but wonder of the time-honored tradition of the inanely "epic" sliding stem-hump has finally come to an end. Here's some thrilling footage from the contest that took place at the 2006 Symposium:

If it is indeed the end of competitive skidding, then perhaps it's all for the best, since if you get excited by watching living creatures remain stock-still while riding slow-moving objects you can always watch dog surfing:

Sure, it looks cute, but 147 dogs lost their lives at sea that day. This one survived, though, thanks to his owner's well-honed "portaging" technique:

In lieu of a skidding contest, I think the organizers of the Fixed-Gear Symposium should hold a "disembodied hand" contest. The disembodied hand is as essential to bicycle photography as the rifle was to frontiersman portraiture, and here's an excellent example that was forwarded to me by a reader:

As well as a photograph of the actual body from which the hand was most likely disembodied:

Speaking of drawing conclusions, another reader forwarded me the following photo of a Brooks saddle he spotted while visiting New York City recently:

As any Brooks apologist will tell you until you politely insist that they be quiet, a Brooks saddle will eventually conform to the contours of one's anatomy, so one wonders what sort of cavernous crotchal region this particular rider must possess. It's enough to make you scratch your head with your pencil--which can be dangerous if it has just come back from the "artisanal pencil sharpener" (as forwarded by yet another reader):

I suppose "artisanal pencil sharpening" is better than "anal pencil sharpening."

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