Giro d’Italia: Father Guido Sarducci vs. Davide Bramati

I hate the Giro Honey, you'll never guess whose ass I kicked today...

Since I don’t really have a job right now, and I don’t really have grad school to deal with (and I’ve got a spare $5.95 kicking around), I decided to send the cash OLN’s way for their live, commercial-free, announcer-free Giro feed. And I must admit, it’s been quite an experience watching the drama unfold live on my computer screen. Today for instance, at about 42km to go, some crazy, drunk fool (who bore an uncanny resemblance to Father Guido Sarducci) stood out in the middle of the road and threw punches at the Giro competitors. Quick Step had some riders on the front working to bring back the Aussie, Russell Van Hout, away on a solo break and Davide Bramati, riding 3rd in line, beaned doppleganger Sarducci full-on with a water bottle. Great aim! That just enraged faux Sarducci, and he started flailing about with his arms and legs all the while getting nailed with more bottles from pissed off pro cyclists. And after a frightening span of about 20 seconds for the peloton to pass, the guy just walked off the street like nothing happened. I thought for sure some amped up Italian cops would kick his ass, but no such luck.

And then about 30km later it was…

Koldo Gil Perez (Liberty Seguros) vs. Moto 1

Poor Koldo was about to be swept up by a super-charged, Di Luca led group near the summit of the stage’s sole KOM when Moto 1 got up close and personal. Koldo either blew up or missed a shift resulting in a significant de-acceleration and crazy-close Moto 1 rammed his rear wheel and put him out of commission. Doh! What a sickly sound as his back wheel got crunched. Well, this is Italy after all. Eight of the top 10 riders of today’s stage were Italian and Liquigas tried their damndest to take the pink jersey off of McEwen’s shoulders and onto its rightful place on an Italian’s. Di Luca came up short, but Bettini will do for the tifos’s sake. That some hapless Spaniard had his Giro dreams crushed is inconsequential…

I was initially hoping that some Italian would rub off on me from listening to hours of Italian commentary, but to my surprise there’s actually no commentary whatsoever. Just the whirring of chopper blades or the revs of motorcycle engines. I’ve translated the few Italian words that pop up on the screen and can now carry on a conversation revolving around chasing people a few minutes ahead of me, or my position either at the head or tail of the peloton. So much for my grand plan to speak cycling Italian in 3 easy weeks.

and last week, on my way to Southern Pines for Tour de Moore it was…

Peter Hymas vs. North Carolina State Police

I have never, NEVER, seen any cops lurking north of Sanford on 15/501 but The Man was ready and waiting this particular morning. I was doing maybe 63 in a 55, but The Man had a heart and let me off with a warning even though my driving was “conduct constituting a potential hazard to the motoring public”.

F**K You Bobke Strut!!!

Pavel Tonkov flips off a persnickety blogger upon winning the 17th stage of the 2004 Giro D'Italia. (Photo property of Graham, I guess Pavel read my indictment of his hairstyle and took out his frustrations on the Giro peloton. Maybe I should be given some credit for resurrecting his illustrious career. For what it’s worth, I’m not quite sure if Tonkov actually has a mullet. When I first noticed the limp lock of hair on his back it seemed attached too low on his head to be a legit ponytail, but maybe I was mistaken. I have yet to see a definitive, up-close look at his hairdo while he’s without a helmet to determine if he’s got “business in the front” to go along with his “party in the back” or if there’s a full-on party all over Tonkov’s head. Anyway, bravo to Tonkov on a well earned win today in Italy.

I’ve been a firm believer in turning the other cheek to motorists when their driving pisses me off (there are just too many hotheaded freaks packing heat to risk getting aerated with lead), but yesterday I pulled a Tonkov and flipped off a van which nearly took me out on my commute to school. While cruising along Erwin Road a van buzzed me so closely that its passenger-side mirror clipped my messenger bag and my elbow. I managed to stay upright and my elbow is fine, and in a fit of rage I flipped the asshole off. He slammed on his brakes but then floored it and took off before I could get his license number. Bastard. At least if I had hit the deck I was only about 300 meters from Duke University Hospital’s ER doorway…

Young Americans In Europe

I wish I was ballsy enough to have made the plunge and immersed myself in the European peloton when I was in my early 20s. I spent about 6 months studying in Ireland as a college student and should have hopped over to Belgium when I had the opportunity. Oh well, it’s all water long under the bridge now. Here are a few blogs from intrepid Americans racing in Europe that most likely are flying way under the radar.

Giro d’Italia Grievous Grooming Gaffe

Pavel Tonkov with a scary head of hair at the 2004 Giro d'Italia team presentation.I tuned into yesterday’s riveting mountain-top finish in the Giro (stage 7: Frosinone - Montevergine Di Mercogliano) just as Pavel Tonkov started to let it rip at the front for teammate Stefano Garzelli. As the camera angle switched from the head-on shot to a profile, I was at first puzzled by what appeared to be an absurdly long, Croakie-esque attachment for Tonkov’s sunglasses stretched out limply on his back. I thought, hmmm, that’s pretty geeky for a pro cyclist and then bemusement turned to HORROR when I realized that Tonkov has been coiffurely inspired by Laurent Brochard and Romans Vainsteins, proud aficionados of the mullet. Pavel Tonkov sharply coiffed at the 2003 Tour de Suisse.And then I started to poke around online to find confirmation of Tonkov’s new lid. Holy shit! Check out Tonkov at the Giro team presentation (see picture to the left)! How did this pass by unnoticed? And then I started to dig some more, because hair like this doesn’t appear overnight. There has to be evidence of Tonkov’s lid in some medium-length transition phase. Here’s where it gets a bit weird…Check out the picture of Tonkov taken at the 2003 Tour of Switzerland (see photo to the right) while riding for the Polish CCC-Polstat squad. The earliest date that photo could have been taken is June 16th, 2003 and he’s got some pretty closely cropped hair. Fast forward to May 7th, 2004 to the mullet-mane he’s sporting now. At the most, 325 days have transpired. Is it possible for hair to grow that fast? Or is Tonkov, even more bizarrely, sporting a weave? Fans of cycling, I just don’t have an answer.

I would pay good money for some brazen fan wielding a set of scissors to run alongside Tonkov on a steep climb, ever so subtlely reach over, and SNIP!, liberate that squirrel pelt from his scalp. Maybe if that excess 5 pounds of hair was emancipated from his skull Tonkov could turn the screws in the mountains an extra kilometer or so for Garzelli. Power-to-weight ratio, Pavel, power-to-weight ratio! Who knows, maybe Garzelli has been using it as a handsling device to hurl himself forward once Tonkov gives Paul Reubensup the ghost on a climb…

I went to Tonkov’s personal site searching for answers. And you know what, this guy’s had a pretty interesting life. He was a lieutenant in the Red Army, he’s had 3 years of college (3 more years than most pros), and he exhibits a profound dedication to yoga and sophrology (I had to look that one up in a dictionary). I’m sure he speaks more languages than me, he’s seen more of the world than I have, he can kick my ass on a bike using one leg and one lung, and he could probably give me an old-fashioned, Red Army beat down off the bike. Maybe I shouldn’t be so snarky in my derision of Tonkov’s lid, but the more I look at that Giro photo the more I think of Paul Reubens’ mug shot.

May 17-21 is Bike to Work Week. While every week should be Bike to Work Week, why don’t you leave the car at home and pedal to work instead? Or run an errand on 2 wheels instead of 4?

If you absolutely despise W. as much as I do then you owe it to yourself to read local columnist Hal Crowther’s scathing indictment of Bush’s presidency. Unless you’re a defense contractor or super fucking rich, I don’t know how anyone can re-elect that incompetent, smirking simpleton to another term with a clear conscience.