The official unofficial smart-ass of 2012 masters ‘cross Worlds

A quick quiz. Who has two thumbs, used to write a blog, and is now the official unofficial smart-ass and John Gadret worshiper of 2012 masters ‘cross Worlds?


I was seeking some clarification about the seeding heats which several age groups at the now-in-progress UCI Masters Cyclo-cross World Championships (the first EVER ‘cross world championship of any kind held outside of Europe, hosted by Louisville, Kentucky) had to contest prior to their actual world title race, which brought me to the event’s technical guide.

And there it is on page 2’s “Dear Racer” introduction, for all of the masters ‘cross universe to peruse, a link to my very own ode to America’s only ‘cross world champion: Matt Kelly-Low Budget Superstar, cited as “a fun read” by masters ‘cross Worlds organisers Joan Hanscom and Bruce Fina.

Page 2 from the 2012 UCI Masters Cyclo-cross World Championships tech guide

I don’t know if some lowly staffer has punked the tech guide, or if the Matt Kelly-Low Budget Superstar decision indeed came down from on high, but it was, to say the least, a surprise of epic proportion.

I had no earthly idea this would be included, and if I had I’d be in Louisville right now, in a booth, autographing tech guides and prepping all within earshot for the 2013 arrival of his freakiness, John Gadret, to Eva Bandman Park for the full-on elite ‘cross Worlds next year, where I can assure you he won’t again be abandoned by his chain-smoking pit crew on the last lap if he’s got a medal in his sights.

And I’d also be laughing, because a certain former employer of mine, with a flying P logo, gets some not-so-nice PR about its total ineptitude when it came to supplying US team edition kits for the Poprad, Slovakia world championships. D’oh!

One way or another I’ll be in Louisville next year for ‘cross worlds, and maybe there will indeed be a Matt Kelly-Low Budget Superstar booth containing me, living legend Matt Kelly, his rusty LeMond, and his rainbow jersey to inspire our compatriots to bring home the gold in what will likely be the only ‘cross world championships hosted in the United States for some time.

The Cyclo-cross World Championship is Decadent and Depraved

Since I just finished reading each and every last page (all 715 of them) of Bill Simmons’ lengthy tome The Book of Basketball, it got me thinking about applying his Martian Premise to the 2013 Cyclo-Cross World Championships, recently awarded to Louisville, Kentucky.

The Martian Premise in a nutshell:

Let’s say basketball-playing aliens land on earth, blow things up Independence Day-style, then challenge us to a seven-game series for control of the universe. And let’s say we have access to the time machine from Lost, allowing us to travel back Sarah Conner-style and grab any twelve NBA legends from 1946 through 2009, transport them to the present day, then hold practices for eight weeks before the Final Finals. Again, we have to prevail or planet Earth as we know it ends. Which twelve players would you pick?
Page 673.

While I’m not really sure if Hunter S. Thompson would groove on the concept and aesthetic appeal of cyclo-cross as an athletic endeavor, nonetheless I’m invoking the Martian Premise to reach back in time and deliver 1970 Hunter S. Thompson and partner-in-crime Ralph Steadman to Louisville, Kentucky (Thompson’s hometown and bête noire) for the world ‘cross championships in 2013. Because the thought of the cream of the world’s ‘cross peloton racing for rainbow bands in Kentucky is pretty much the same as aliens landing in the US and blowing things up Independence Day-style.

Why 1970 Hunter S. Thompson, you ask? Well, that’s the magical year in which he crafted the first instance of gonzo journalism: The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved, also the first collaboration between Thompson and Ralph Steadman. It’s also the year in which Hunter S. Thompson nearly became elected sheriff of Aspen, Colorado on the “Freak Power” ticket, a political race which saw the creation of the most badass campaign poster ever conceived, courtesy of artist Tom Benton:

Hunter S. Thompson's campaign poster for his run at Aspen, Colorado sheriff in 1970, created by Aspen artist Tom Benton.

And I don’t think Thompson and Steadman would need an additional posse of ten to round out my Martian Premise, those two will suffice just fine in Louisville.

Just imagine it, Thomspon unleashed at what will be the craziest two days of ‘cross racing this country has ever seen. He’s just the tonic to go toe-to-toe with DBDs, offer up bourbon shots on run-ups, fire off large-caliber handguns into the air for shits and giggles, heckle souls like nobody’s business and just be wired to his core with the manic energy afoot amongst rabid tifosi.

And how could you go wrong with Ralph Steadman’s illustrations to chronicle the shenanigans afoot? Especially when I arrange for Hunter S. Thompson to have a meet-and-greet with the alien to end all aliens John Gadret.

Ah, yes…one can dream.

And while (woefully) the sport in which Hunter S. Thompson cared the most about is professional football, I unearthed a Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon connection between Thompson and a legend of cycling. And a legend of motorsports, too, which is a veritable Hunter S. Thompson passion.

It all started in one of those cosmic coincidences, in my case buying some Flying Dog Brewery beer while immersed in reading the definitive tome of Thompson’s life, William McKeen’s Outlaw Journalist: The Life and Times of Hunter S. Thompson (highly recommended). I always wondered why Flying Dog Brewery beer is adorned with Hunter S. Thompson quotes and Ralph Steadman artwork, and now I found my answer.

The founder of Flying Dog Brewery is a certain George Stranahan, who opened the brewery’s precursor, the Flying Dog brewpub, in Aspen, Colorado. Stranahan has had an interesting life and is amongst other things things the founder of the Aspen Institute for Physics - a world-class center for theoretical physics; a professional photographer; creator of the “Mountain Gazette”; founder of the Woody Creek Tavern; and a 40-year friend of Hunter S. Thompson. Stranahan’s bio on the Flying Dog Brewery website states his and Thompson’s “common interests as drinking, talking politics, guns, noise, and some drugs”.

Now, to the Kevin Bacon part. Hunter S. Thompson’s famous abode, Owl Farm, located in Woody Creek, Colorado, about 10 miles outside of Aspen, was acquired from George Stranahan. Stranahan had been coming to Woody Creek since the mid-1950s and settled permanently there in the early 1970s. Stranahan came from a wealthy family and owned real estate in the Aspen area, a portion of which became Thompson’s famed compound.

Stranahan’s money can be traced back to George’s grandfather, Frank Stranahan, and his great-uncle, Robert Stranahan, who founded the Champion Spark Plug Company in 1905. Frank and Robert Stranahan’s early partner in that endeavor was a certain Frenchman named Albert Champion, the Champion of Champion Spark Plugs.

In the early 1900s Champion came to America to avoid both conscription in France and to take up the sport of auto racing. He quit driving race cars after nearly being killed in a race accident, but remained involved in the design and manufacture of spark plugs and magnetos in his workshop.

The Stranahans and Champion had a falling out, which led Champion to depart from the Stranahan partnership and form a rival firm called AC Spark Plug Company (the AC is Champion’s initials), now AC-Delco.

But before Champion made his mark in the world of motorsports, he first came to prominence as a cyclist with two notable wins in his palmares. As a 21-year-old in 1899, Albert Champion won none other than The Hell of the North, Paris-Roubaix. He later became the French motor-pace champion on the track.

So there you have it…the Hunter S. Thompson/Paris-Roubaix connection, courtesy of a trivia contest based on Hollywood’s iconic bike messenger, Kevin Bacon.

Ice Ice Baby

Part I

In the not too distant past, the Clark Kent to my Bobke Strut earned a living by being a state government employee, more specifically a librarian. The job had its ups and downs, as any means of employment usually does, but one of the awesome perks was my department had a sweet travel budget.

Sweet travel budget=conferences galore, nationwide. I’ve been to San Francisco, Washington, DC, Miami Beach, Minneapolis, and Chicago among other places.

And then there was Baltimore. ‘Going to conferences’ is frequently synonymous with hitting the local bars ASAP as soon as one’s sessions conclude. As luck would have it, there were quite a few bars to frequent in the immediate vicinity of my conference venue.

The gods must have surely been smiling down upon me, for somehow I stumbled across a drinking establishment with this sign inside:

The sign denoting the Vanilla Ice VIP area

Now, I thought Mr. Robert Matthew Van Winkle had retired that persona, but apparently not. And then…sweet Jesus…I peeked into the VIP area and saw this:

The sign denoting the Vanilla Ice VIP area

Now that’s fucking awesome.

In case you wondered, no, I did not happen to encounter Mr. Vanilla Ice in person as I was there a tad bit too early. Besides, it would have ruined the day in which none other than John Waters gave the keynote speech at my library conference. Several hours after he uttered his last word to the throngs of assembled librarians I was still in shock. John Waters knows how to spin a yarn, and he regaled us with stories of Baltimore and his film-making career for approximately an hour. Suffice it to say, I didn’t think I’d ever see the day at a library conference where a speaker was telling stories about being teabagged. Now that’s how you deliver a memorable keynote address.

I’ve always wondered if the party(ies) responsible for booking John Waters only knew him through his later films such as Hairspray, or if they were consciously aware they were also unleashing the creator of Pink Flamingos on the audience. Waters told a story about such a scenario, where a person rented Hairspray, liked it, then rented Pink Flamingos and tried to sue him for obscenity.

Of course, I had to get a book signed afterwards.

Vanilla Ice sculpture

Part II

And speaking of Ice, in a quirk of cosmic fate the weather in my neck of North Carolina happens to be the same as Tabor, Czech Republic - the iciest, snowiest ‘cross Worlds since Poprad, Slovakia in 1999. So I thought, time to bust out the ‘cross bike and take in the snow and ice right outside my door.

About one hour later I returned home, with a bit of Mother Nature as a souvenir.

Despite the ice on my shoe covers, the feet were toasty warm
An icy drivetrain
Oodles of ice
Who needs functioning brakes
Ice Road Bianchi

Part III

Me 'n' J.G. banner

And speaking of Ice, the freakiest man in cyclo-cross, John Gadret, is back at it. He blew off ‘cross season last year in order to focus on his road career and, uh, that didn’t quite work out. So he’s back, and will be seeking World Championship glory tomorrow in frozen Tabor, the one time out of the year he can ride sans his usual AG2R La Mondiale chocolate madness kit.

Now John Gadret has what one would call a love-hate relationship with racing ‘cross bikes on ice. You see, he would love to knock the lights out of his pit crew at said Poprad ‘cross Worlds in 1999 because he hates losing out on a certain silver medal in the U23 race. It turns out that a young JG was solidly in second place on the last lap in Poprad, so solid that all of the French pit crew at the second pit area bolted their positions to congregate at the finish line in celebration.

Unfortunately, Gadret flatted, rolled into the pit area, and was a bit freaked out to find nobody there. So freaked out, in fact, that by the time he bummed a wheel from neutral support and got back in the race he dropped to fifth place.


Bart Wellens won gold, fellow Belgian Tom Vannoppen won silver, and an incredulous Tim Johnson, unaware of Gadret’s mishap when he crossed the line, nabbed bronze, the first-ever ‘cross world championship medal for an American.

Let’s see what my favorite “hairless spider monkey” can uncork tomorrow in Tabor. My guess? 24th place, about 3:30 down on a raging Zdenek Stybar.

King of the World

The US team assembles prior to the 1983 Professional World Championship Road Race
Calm before the storm.
(l-r) John Patterson, Greg LeMond, Eric Fetch, Gavin Chilcott, Jonathan Boyer, John Eustice | Photo ©: Assos clothing ad

September 4, 1983. Altenrhein, Switzerland. Twenty five years ago today, Greg LeMond laid waste to the cream of the world’s professional peloton en route to his first professional world championship. In a stunning display of patience, tactics, cunning, verve, and nerve seemingly beyond his 22 years, Greg LeMond finished the 270 km championship event in 7:01:21, 1:11 ahead of his nearest competitor–a margin of victory yet to be equalled or exceeded since. In fact, you’d have to go back to Vittorio Adorni in 1968 before you’d find a larger margin of victory. Including Adorni, only four world champions post-WWII have had more distance between themselves and 2nd place than LeMond.

One of LeMond’s early mentors, Eddy B., was fortunate enough to witness history in the making first hand and chronicled LeMond’s victory in this clinical, analytic manner:

As smart as [Giuseppe] Saronni was in 1982, that’s how smart Greg LeMond was in 1983. He gave us an incredible show at the World Professional Championship in Switzerland. I was so happy to be there and watch him do everything perfectly to earn that victory.

LeMond became visible at the front after the halfway point. He knew that nothing important would happen in the first 100 km–it never does in pro races because they are so long (this one was 270 km). At midrace a dozen riders moved off the front and LeMond was right there. He saw potential danger because Phil Anderson was involved, but it was too early. LeMond pulled through but didn’t work hard, and the group was caught after about 25 km.

Next, seven riders escaped and this time LeMond was not with them. The gap reached three minutes before the field began its chase. All seven riders were from different nations, so no team was interested in trying to block. LeMond was a beneficiary–it meant he did not have to exert himself to close the gap. He let the work be done by the Italians, who seemed intent on getting Saronni into position for another championship. In a way, the 1982 table had been turned.

With less than 40 km to go, six of the seven riders were caught. A Swiss remained out front, but his lead was shrinking. Now LeMond made his move. He attacked and only two riders, an Italian and a Spaniard, were able to go with him. The field had just completed the long chase and LeMond caught it off guard. It was the classic bridge. He jumped away instantly and powered right into contact. Then he kept the pressure on. He pushed hard because he was feeling good and the end was close. He believed he could succeed. He also was lucky, because he got some unintentional but valuable help from the Italian team. It went on the front of the field to block because the Italian in the group, [Moreno] Argentin, was a strong sprinter. His team figured he would beat the other three at the finish.

Again LeMond did the right thing. He kept the pace hard on the hills to take the speed out of Argentin and the others. He was glad for their help on the descents and flats, but didn’t need want them conserving any energy. He knew they would get no help from his draft on the climbs, so he willingly set a fast pace. They had to ride very hard to stay with him. The tactic worked well.

Maybe too well, I thought, when first the Swiss and then the Italian lost contact. I feared it was too early to drop Argentin because it would make the Italians stop blocking. The door would be open for a strong chase by the field. This made me very nervous. But LeMond sensed that keeping Argentin would cost him too much time. There came a point when he felt it was better to gamble his strength against the response of the field. He took the challenge.

Now it was LeMond and the Spaniard. Behind them the Italians knew the game was over and several of them abandoned. The chases began, but they failed to pose a serious threat. The field was almost a minute and a half behind–too far back if LeMond could maintain a strong pace to the finish. Again he was very smart. He knew he could drop the Spaniard, [Faustino] Ruperez, if he attacked him on the climbs, but he also knew that Ruperez was still strong enough to help him make time on the descents and flats. So LeMond waited until the final 15 km lap had started. Then he pulled away from Ruperez on a hill, using only as much energy as necessary. From there it was a time trial to the finish line. LeMond was wonderful! He did not lose a second during the lap and he arrived more than one minute ahead of the next rider. It was one of the largest winning margins in recent World Championships. LeMond left nothing to chance. In 1982 he finished second to a sprinter, in 1983 he made sure the sprinters were nowhere close.

Bicycle Road Racing. Edward Borysewicz. Velo-News Corporation, Brattleboro, VT. 1985. 144-146.

1983 Worlds Tidbits:
1. For a superb account of the race through Greg LeMond’s eyes, read John Wilcockson’s feature (Part 1, Part 2) about that special day in Switzerland. I don’t think I ever really knew how tight LeMond and Phil Anderson were, and how they prepped & tackled the race together.
2. Jonathan Boyer was the only other American finisher (30th place).
3. Gitane is particularly proud of LeMond.
4. Some ‘83 worlds footage, among other things.
5. To the victor goes the spoils. What could be sweeter than to rock the Koppenberg on a training ride ensconced in the rainbow jersey?

Greg LeMond takes on the Koppenberg
The opening spread of Greg LeMond’s first feature article in Sports Illustrated | Photo ©: Sports Illustrated. September 3, 1984. pgs. 54-55

12 Seconds Too Slow

Me 'n' J.G. banner

Who says you have to race a full ‘cross season to let it rip at the Worlds? John Gadret’s ‘cross season began in Overijse, Belgium on December 16th and not much more than a month later he was in for the kill in Treviso with a mere 9 ‘cross races in his legs.

Treviso 'Cross Worlds screen shot
The announcers thought he was Mourey for a while, but that’s none other than JG at the head of affairs.
Treviso 'Cross Worlds screen shot
Given a clean line free of traffic, Gadret can ride the 26% wall. He puts that power to weight ratio to good use and is the first over the top on the 7th of 9 laps.
Treviso 'Cross Worlds screen shot
Still at the head affairs along pit row…Lars Boom appears to be suppressing a yawn, just biding his time before he makes everyone else in the race look silly. Of course Boom, too, is not immune from the silliness. When his helmet comes off after winning the Elite world title, it appears that Boom must have cut his own hair the night before with an out of control electric razor.
Treviso 'Cross Worlds screen shot
The announcers finally have to acknowledge that there’s another Frenchman besides Mourey in the race.
Treviso 'Cross Worlds screen shot
And the hammer drops…Boom just flew the coop seconds ago on the last lap and Gadret, in 2rd at the moment, is powerless to close the ever increasing gap ultimately finishing 9th, 12 seconds back. Amazingly for a world championship ‘cross race, the top 20 all finish within 30 seconds of each other.

Who’s the Boom King?

Lars Boom.

Every time Boom hit the front in Treviso a particular Flight of the Conchords tune popped into my head….

“Drum boom bass and the party’s boomin’—Boom-ba-boom-Lars Boom takin’ off to the moon…”

Matt Kelly-Low Budget Superstar

Matt Kelly as seen in an ad for Lemond bikes, Rolf wheels, and Icon bars/stems: VeloNews, March 1, 1999

A trip down memory lane to Poprad, Slovakia…

Hoopty bike:
1999 Junior Men Cyclocross World Champion Matt Kelly is likely the first and last person to win a world title on clincher tires (and Trek’s house-brand Icon bars and stem have likely never seen another world title, either). No Dugasts here! Check it out–he’s sporting a Michelin Mud on the front and a Ritchey Speedmax on the rear. And equally as low tech is Kelly’s steel 853 Lemond frame, likely simply one of the Lemond road frames with a ‘cross fork plus a set of cantilever bosses welded on for the rear brake. For the 1998/1999 ‘cross season, Lemond did not offer a ‘cross bike to the public–this is a one-off supplied to Kelly. Look at the cable routing, these are most definitely not ‘cross friendly with both derailleur cables routed along the downtube and the rear brake routing designed for a road caliper brake. And I bet the reason he’s sporting a Speedmax rear tire instead of a Michelin is that the Michelins are too fat to fit in the road chain stays, while a skinnier Speedmax will just fit (as long as you keep your wheels exquisitely trued).

The Belgian that Kelly outsprinted was Sven Vanthourenhout, who had won each of the 26 cyclocross races he had entered that season. While Vanthourenhout was raging in Europe, Kelly had a comparatively sparse American ‘cross schedule. In fact, the bulk of his training was done in the basement of his Wisconsin home on the trainer. It was Rocky vs. Drago in Poprad, and the underdog American defied logic and precedent to emerge with a rainbow-striped jersey.

Hoopty threads:
“Hey bitches, you go to ‘cross worlds with the skinsuits you have, not the skinsuits you might want or wish to have.”–Performance Bicycle management

Team issue Performance skinsuits sucked ass in cold weather. In steps Verge…

“It was cold in Poprad, Slovakia during the recent [1999] world cyclocross championships. It was so cold that the official U.S. team uniforms brought by the team proved woefully inadequate. Fortunately, a couple of ‘locals’ knew just how cold it would be in Poprad and, about a week before the event, started constructiong long-sleeved, knicker skinsuits at their Polish clothing factory. Michael Magur and Brad Hogan, who own the Poland-based Verge Sport, carefully reproduced the graphics on the American uniforms–including all of the sponsor’s logos–and set off for a day-long winter drive from Poland to Poprad. The trip concluded with a treacherous three-hour drive on a snow-covered single-lane road over the Tatra Mountains. No guard rails and lots of snow.” VeloNews, March 1, 1999.

Hoopty pit crew:
I forgot about this story from Poprad–how a Frenchman in the espoir race got screwed by his pit team. A Frenchman named John Gadret. On the final lap Gadret had his silver medal wrapped up–Wellens was out of reach about 1 minute in front of Gadret and the duo of Tim Johnson and Tom Vannoppen were about 40 seconds behind Gadret thinking they were duking it out for bronze. Gadret’s pit crew thought he was home free, too, and abandoned their post at the second pit and ran to the finish line to greet their silver medalist to-be. Alas, Gadret suffered a flat just before the second pit and he rolled into that pit area expecting a smooth bike change to carry him over the final kilometer. To his horror, there were no French mechanics or bikes to be had–he had to bum a wheel off neutral support after his frantic search for his chain-smoking compatriots came up empty. A weeping Gadret crossed the line in 5th place, and if he wasn’t so freaky skinny and freaky cold he likely would have given his slacker pit crew a world-class beat down.

Shameless Self-Promotion…

My straight-laced, journalist alter ego weighs in on the state of American cyclocross, aglow in the aftermath of the Hooglede-Gits medal-fest.

Pay a visit to to peruse the feature article. Enjoy!

I Love You, I Hate You, Drop Dead!

What does Jonathan Page’s performance at the recently concluded 2007 cyclocross world championships and Artie Shaw’s semi-autobiographical novel have in common? Well…not much, except that catchy title popped into my head while I was watching Page come so damned close to putting on a rainbow jersey Sunday morning. I haven’t been worked into such a berserker frenzy watching a bike race since I lost my voice at the 1999 Presidio ‘cross nationals–just one of several thousand spectators whose ravings helped propel underdog Marc Gullickson to a national title.

They call me The Vituperator: There’s nothing quite like a room full of people urging unspeakable things to happen to fellow human beings, likely upstanding citizens each, and the results of such raw, venomous exhortations. At one critical point, when Page and Franzoi were making everyone in Belgium spit beer through their nose, I believe I started screaming “DIE FRANZOI DIE!!!” just as they hit the sand pit. And lo and behold, Franzoi flipped over the bars leaving Page and Vervecken alone to duke out the world title endgame. I wished fire and brimstone would rain down on Vervecken over those last couple of laps, but that bastard’s mojo is more powerful than anything I could deliver. As an alternative, I was wondering where Trebon and Wicks were at. If they were lapped together by Page, the two tallest lads in ‘cross could “crash” in front of Vervecken and put their collective 13′ of height and super-sized rigs to good use by blocking the course. Come on, Vervecken, you’ve already won 2 world titles and have podiumed 4 other times. Can’t you toss Mr. Page a bone and ensure his livelihood for the remainder of his ‘crossin’ days?

30,000 Belgian Vituperators: I hadn’t realized the venom that Belgians feel towards the Dutch. But it was damn funny on the first lap when Gerben De Knegt Camiel Van Den Bergh rolled down one of the drop-offs to the 180 back to the stairs run-up while out in front on his own, and there was a thunderous wave of “BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!” all the way around that section of the course. Plus a whole lot of beer cups (empty? who knows…) heaved out on the course. And it also looked like De Knegt Van Den Bergh waved his fist in the air briefly, as if to say “Eat me, Belgium!!” That was just pure theatre.

The VIP treatment: Did anybody notice King Albert II of Belgium during the awards ceremony? He doled out the medals to the Elite podium…and he was wearing a press pass on a lanyard just like all the other schmoes on stage. Can’t the king just stroll in without any ID? I bet Eddy Merckx could.

Moto-rific: I hope that guy on the quad bike who took out Bart Wellens with an ill-timed plastic barricade ricochet had a full tank of gas. Because if he didn’t just keep on riding, like out of Belgium, then he’s probably already been “paid a visit” by the Bart Wellens goon squad.

“…Spends his winters finishing between fifth and 10th in cyclocross races”, so says Cycle Sport in their recent Ag2r 2007 team preview. John Gadret rolled in a respectable 8th on Sunday, fulfilling his 5th-10th obligation. There’s strength to weight ratio, which he’s got in spades, but there’s also pure power, which somebody weighing about 128 lbs most definitely lacks. Which is why Gadret negotiated the sand pit on foot nearly half the time, having simply run out of gas. And unless the freakiest man in cyclocross uncorks something Page-esque in his future, I think the Bobke Strut Gadret-orama will be coming to a close. At least until he shows up in Providence this October on Sven Nys’s chartered plane…and I’ll be there stalking him in baggage claim.

Coming tomorrow, or a couple of days…Lest we forget, Matt Kelly won the US’s second ‘cross medal and only world title on a frigid Poprad day in 1999. I’ll tell the story of the hooptiest bike to ever win a ‘cross gold medal in modern times.

Your Tax Dollars at Work

If there’s one thing our current administration does better than anybody - better than Nixon, better than J. Edgar Hoover, better than the Stasi- it’s spying on people. The NSA is just going crazy, sucking cell phone and land line conversations out of the ether from anyplace on the planet. Now, call me old-fashioned, but I think antiquated documents such as the Constitution still apply. Spy on anybody you like, just get a warrant first.

But the upside of this perfidious conduct is the juicy conversations acquired amidst our world-wide eavesdropping net. File yourself a FOIA request and you, too, can hear casual conversations from just about anybody. Like what transpired between Alejandro Valverde and Oscar Freire moments after the conclusion of the recent Salzburg world road championships. Who knew Mr. Freire was such a fiesty little bugger.