The Central Scrutinizer

In PRO cycling there exists a Holy Trinity…of mustaches.

1. Eric Van Lancker,
2. Danny Clark,
and the F├╝hrer of Fuzz— 3. Urs Freuler

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.

Comments (8) to “The Central Scrutinizer”

  1. http://www.metafilter.com/69461/Just-Like-Rudy-if-He-Had-Been-a-Bike-Wheel

    More on that wheel and the guy who found it and is apparently getting to keep it.

  2. […] The next one I checked was titled The Central Scrutinizer. I’m pretty amped that there are people interested in my life to such a degree that they blog about me… especially since my life is consumed by three very rudamentary things: eat, internet, ride. Alas, I’m flattered and found this blog quite entertaining. It recaps my experience of finding my cell phone in my pocket during stage 3 of California. You may notice, however, that calling Dominoes just won’t do, when there’s HOT AND READY LITTLE CEASARS pizza readily available throughout California… […]

  3. …pietro…hope you followed that ’smoke on the water’ link & noticed & listened to the version of the song done on traditional japanese instruments & vocals…

    …i’m literally typing this as dweezil zappa performs ‘peaches en reggalia’ live on tv, so you tell me about ‘coincidence’…
    …years ago, i was across the bay in SF & surprised when i ran into my friend scott thunes who was working as a bike messenger…scott always gave me props for being at the vanguard of the local cycling scene & cool, here he was earning a living on a bike…
    …this is a guy who is a classically trained musician (a bartok man) who’d played in some new wave bands that i dug on…anyway, i don’t see scott for about 4 months & the next time i do, instead of pedaling around the city like a madman, he’s now traveling around the world playing bass & synthesizer w/ frank zappa…
    …he did that for a good number of years & albums…i saw frank interviewed at one time & he mentioned that he appreciated scott & that classical background…

    …anyway, maybe even more than you needed to know, but there ya go…a bicycle - zappa connection…

  4. Yes, as to “Third”, you are preaching to the choir. We all read the same things, a country full of cyclists and some of of us, in diverse locals all read, Bobke Strut, BKW and BSNYC. its a little spooky - do we pass one another in an airport for instance and get a strange feeling? You guys all do a great job. I’m glad you’re not famous but I wouldn’t begrudge the rich part.
    roll on
    HH

  5. …& now back to the race…just took the time to follow the full thread on the bobby julich story…funny & amazing stuff…
    …hopefully team csc & bobby j will do the right thing & hook hank up…they woulda lost a main gc guy, if he hadn’t finished in a reasonable time…

  6. bikesgonewild-
    And yet more coincidences–I just got through reading about Scott Thunes in the Zappa book. He first popped up when Frank hired him to play bass for “Valley Girl” and then he went on the world tour to commemorate the Mothers of Invention’s 20th anniversary. That tour didn’t go too well, but Zappa had nothing but praise for Thunes’ bass playing. And from what I understand about Frank Zappa, he was a hard man to please and the good words thrown Thunes’ way says quite a bit about his playing ability.

    I didn’t peruse too many of the “Smoke on the Water” links. I’ll have to check out the Japanese version. The factoid which stuck with me was that the Swiss built a statue in honor of “Smoke on the Water” situated near Lake Geneva consisting of the opening riff in musical notes, the band’s name, and the song title. And right next to the Deep Purple statue is a statue of Freddie Mercury. Here’s the story.

  7. What about The Jeff? Jean-Francois Bernard rolled out the ’stache at some point. I think it was at the exact same moment his career veered into the ditch. He was supposed to be the new Hinault but ended up looking more like a skinny, less-well-hung John Holmes (another great ’stache) with a ridiculous French accent.

  8. …deep purple were good back in their day & that ’smoke’ riff will probably role through all of our minds as our life flashes before our eyes…
    …but freddie mercury & queen will remain great forever…the quintessential english band…freddie “mercury”…wow, how wonderfully audacious…

    …& yer right chrism…jf bernard never quite made it over the top…guy was stable in that he didn’t switch teams much & his palmares were a list of ‘almost’ great results…but just not quite…c’est la vie…

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