Out of the Loop: Basking in Victory, Basting in Oil

Until a couple of weeks ago I was traveling extensively in order to promote my second book, "Smilla's Sense of Snow."  If you've ever had to travel for work, you know how stressful it can be.  I, on the other hand, have no idea how stressful it can be, because I don't have a real job.  Instead, traveling for a non-job means I've officially lost my grasp on the few remaining tethers that anchored me to the semblance of a respectable existence, and I now float aimlessly through life like a distracted zeppelin.  Grooming, for example, is but a memory, and I now look and smell like a forgotten garment you might come across at the bottom of a long-neglected laundry hamper.  (Perhaps because that's where I've been finding my own outfits lately.  My philosophy is that if you can't remember the last time you wore it then it's technically clean.)  Concepts like "time" and "appointments" are now just meaningless constructs.  And I've also like totally lost track of the sport of professional bicycle cycling.

I certainly have no regrets when it comes to abandoning lame stuff like "haircuts" and "being on time," but I do lament the fact I haven't been following pro bi-keen.  In particular, I seem to have completely missed a hum-doozy of an Italian Giro, which I'm the last to learn was won by Rider Hejedal Ryder Heyjadahl Winonadal Ryder this guy:

Words can't adequately express how elated I am that this, the greatest of all the Italian Giro Tours, was won by an American cyclist from the United States of America.  That's why, in lieu of words, I prefer to convey my swollen sense of national pride by means of this video, which features a dead drug addict singing some song about a star-fangled bandana:

In retrospect, that sweatsuit was a desperate cry for help.  (As, arguably, are all sweatsuits.)

Anyway, this is a great moment in sporting history, and to find another American from the United States of American Giro of Italy winner you have to go all the way back to 1930 and Luigi Marchisio:

("Howdy, partner.")

A good ole boy from the Texas bayou, this Amish Shaker Mennonite parlayed a hardscrabble life as an Orchard Street kosher pushcart vendor during the waning days of the Wild West into a career as one of the finest professional cyclists the state of Philadelphia has ever produced.

Yes, they just don't make 'em like Luigi Marchisio anymore.  After him, they broke the mold--or, more accurately, they sold it to a factory in Taiwan and now use it to stamp out $10,000 clumps of plastic called "S-Works."

Meanwhile, in other Giro news that I missed but everybody else already knows about, a guy clad only in his underpants wound up with his very own Farnese Vini team bike:

The above video was forwarded to me by a reader, and from what I can see he was helping out with a wheel change:

After which the team car just drove off and left Underpants with the bike.

By the way, I shouldn't have to remind you what kind of bikes Farnese Vini ride:

(Cipollini showing his "O" face.)

It's a cosmic inevitability that if you wander around Italy wearing only your underpants, sooner or later you're going to end up alone with a Cipolli.

Speaking of Cipollini bikes, this is not just some sort of rubber-stamp branding exercise like so many other bike companies created by former pros.   No, Cipollini is so "hands-on" that most of his employees have already filed restraining orders, and his bikes use proprietary technology developed by "The Layin' King" himself.  For example, it's long been known that Mario Cipollini's profoundly oily complexion was a key factor in his speed, and that's why each Cipollini bike is lovingly hand-basted straight from the factory:

(After this come the breadcrumbs.)

I'm also assuming Cipollini himself came up with the corporate slogan:

("The Champion, The Power, His Tool")

Which he obviously "borrowed" from this:

Though it's certainly better than the second choice, which was "What's Italian, slathered in oil, and won't be there in the morning?"  And while we're on the subject of rhetorical questions, what's the complete opposite of a Mario Cipollini?

This is true for many reasons, not least of which being that David Byrne doesn't own a car, whereas Mario Cipollini not only owns a car but also does unspeakable things to passengers in its back seat.  Byrne is also highly unlikely to start his own crabon bicyle company, for, as he tells the New York Times, he much prefers the communal smugness of bike share:

As well as the "exhilaration" of in-line skating:

There’s an exhilaration you get from self-propelled transportation — skateboarding, in-line skating and walking as well as biking;

Incidentally, here's David Byrne Rollerblading:


This is a familiar sight on the West Side Greenway--or it would be if most people who encounter it aren't so horrified that they then leap into the Hudson River to their deaths.

Also, Byrne explains that New York's bike share program will be accessible to people of all races and income levels--but only by accident:

New York’s program will have some advantages over the Paris and London programs. New York’s high-rise housing projects are scattered throughout the city, so neither they nor their inhabitants will be excluded from the covered bike-share program area. The ugly tendency to segregate by race and class will be, in a small way, mitigated here. By bikes!

Really, this is a major issue here in New York.  Sure, we do our very best to only provide cycling amenities to the forces of gentrification, but the problem is that they're never all that far from the other people they recently displaced.

By far though my favorite part of this piece was the feeling of smug satisfaction I experienced when David Byrne actually used a term I created:

I rode down the protected bike lane on Ninth Avenue; it’s definitely a lot more relaxing to ride in these than it is to negotiate naked New York streets, though you do have to watch out for salmon-cyclists who ride against the flow of traffic.

Yep, that's right, I coined the expression "negotiate naked."

Speaking of being naked, do you feel that way if certain parts of your bicycle don't match certain other parts, or if they match other parts but not the right other parts?  Well, if you answered "Of course not" then you'll be as baffled by this item in the latest "Bicycling" as I was:

I was still trying to work out whether or not the above was satire when I read this at the bottom of the very same page and decided that it was:

"Two layers of bar tape at the end of each drop creates a tactile signal that alerts you when your hands are getting close to the end of the bar."

If you're the sort of rider who needs a "color code" and who depends on "tactile signals" to keep you from grabbing thin air instead of your handlebars, then you may want to give up cycling and explore the "exhilaration" of in-line skating instead.  Or, you could just get your bike "professionally assembled," like this one which was forwarded to me by a reader:

Giordano Libero Men's Road Bike - $400 (Potomac, Rockville, Bethesda, NIH)
Date: 2012-05-27, 9:56PM EDT
Reply to: [deleted]

100% Positive. No scratches. Brand New, professionally assembled 25-inch Men's Road Bike.
Test ride for 15 miles. Gear shifts smoothly.
Unfortunately, I'm moving back to California, so I must sell this recently bought bike soon.
Welling to negotiate a better price.

Scoff if you will, but it does adhere to the "color code" chart, which means it passes muster as far as "Bicycling" is concerned.

Of course, if this bicycle is too flashy for you, you could also get a more classic ride, like this one which was forwarded to me by another reader and is "made from parts:"

If your bike is made from anything, it should definitely be parts.

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