Thursday, February 28, 2008
In PRO cycling there exists a Holy Trinity…of mustaches.
Fast forward a couple of decades to the ever enigmatic Dave Zabriskie, channeling the ghosts of ’stache past. And with Zabriskie being Zabriskie, he seeks inspiration from a disparate blend of icons: part Frank Zappa…part Ned Flanders.
I had a serious case of Frank Zappa on the brain and am nearly done with the Zappa: A Biography by Barry Miles. I knew nearly nothing about his life, other than what I had gleened from listening to “Joe’s Garage” in my teen years and seeing Zappa go head to head with Tipper Gore in the PMRC wars on Capitol Hill. Now my brain is overflowing with too much trivia. Who knew that Zappa’s father worked in the defense industry conducting research on mustard gas, that Zappa lived pretty much on canned chili and hot dogs, that Zappa played a bicycle on national television, that he was such a prolific composer of classical music pieces…And I now can make sense of “ Smoke on the Water” lyrics. But back to cycling…
Zabriskie’s path to his current grooming state reminded me of a story from years ago at a 7-Eleven training camp in the Santa Rosa area of California (what is it with that part of the world that inspires pros to experiment with facial hair?). It seems that most everyone on the squad grew some bushy beards over the winter, culminating with the union of said undernourished Grizzly Adamses in numerous epic pre-season rides (we’re talking 8-9 hours a day, Roger de Vlaeminck style) through some of the same roads utilized in the current Amgen ToC. At the camp’s conclusion the hirsute pros were scheduled to board a plane and meet the corporate bigwigs of 7-Eleven and the squad’s management was horrified that a band of unkempt Wookies was about to descend on a boardroom of straight-laced, midwestern MBA grads. So the orders went out to lose the beards. But what exactly constitutes “losing a beard”? Well…they lost the beards. Technically. However, everyone turned up with some serious Neil Young-esque chops instead. Sweet.
Besides being entertained by the Slipstream dynamic duo of Zabriskie and Cozza during the recently concluded Amgen ToC, three other happenings caught my eye.
First…an amusing tale of neutral support improvisation by Bobby Julich at the base of the Sierra Road climb. And Bobby’s so amped up he even chimes in with “This had to be the slowest wheel change ever”. Too funny. And like someone commented way down in the thread…that wheel will be kicking around the CSC service truck for years to come until somebody eventually turns it into a wind chime or some other form or cycling inspired art.
Second…So what happens when you’re hauling along in the ToC, you get the munchies, and you discover that what you thought was an energy bar is really your cell phone? Well, what do you think? You start taking pictures. Check out Ted King’s (Bissell Pro Cycling) birds-eye view of Tom Boonen’s ass, the Sierra Grade laughing group, and a self portrait. He definitely should have called in a pizza to arrive at the finish.
“Yeah…Dominos? Can you deliver a pizza to the finish line of the Tour of California in downtown San Jose? My name is Ted King…Look for a guy in a red & white Bissell Pro Cycling kit with #147 on his back and bike…I’m the really hungry one. I’ll be there in about 30 minutes. Later.” Click.
And since I’m probably one of about 5 people in the country who doesn’t have a camera in his cell phone, can someone explain how those photos came out reversed?
Years ago I was in the pro/am Tour de Moore road race on an exceptionally gloomy morning. It never rained, but there was a permanent sense of twilight even though it was approaching mid-day. About 75 miles into the race I started to catch some flashes out of the corner of my eye and all I could think is “What the hell is that?”. We’re really close to Ft. Bragg and the only explanation my oxygen-starved brain could concoct was some wayward Special Forces team got off base and was conducting live fire exercises on an unsuspecting public. With silencers, because there wasn’t any noise. Well…it turns out that a certain unpredictable character by the name of Andy Crater, who may or may not have been tripping on acid, brought along a disposable camera and decided to take some commemorative action photos of the peloton in the heat of battle. Perhaps they still exist out there somewhere. I can still remember him pop up like a prairie dog, stick his arm up in the air holding the camera, and snap away.
Third…I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir, but Radio Freddy has a wonderful collection of photos from the ToC. Of course, you already knew that.