I Like to Watch

05.9.2006 | 3:58 pm

I should be excited about the Giro. I love the drama and (let’s face it) agony of all the climbing in the Giro d’Italia. I love the uncertain nature of who will win — this early in the season, nobody’s a sure thing. I love Gilberto Simoni’s heated claims, followed (usually) by agonized admissions and self-flagellation when he fails to make good.

On paper, the Giro d’Italia is my favorite grand tour.

And that’s the problem. I’m having a hard time drumming up any enthusiasm at all for this race because — here in America — It’s on paper. Or, technically, it’s on the computer screen, but the computer screen is like paper, but harder to fold into an airplane.


What I Need

To enjoy a cycling race, I have to choose someone I want to win. When I’m watching, that’s easy: I find a favorite racer or an unknown underdog showing some pluck, and I get emotionally invested in him. Nothing even needs to be happening in the race; I’m happy to just watch everyone trundle along, getting ready for the big sprint. I can content myself with watching them turn their freakishly high cadence. I’m happy to watch them watch each other. I can have fun just imagining what the next move is going to be, based on what I see right now.

But—as good as the live reports are on Cyclingnews—and they’re very good—it’s just not the same to read it. You know what just happened, but you don’t really know why. You get a sense for where the key players are, but not the guy whose name you don’t know but are rooting for anyway.

Really, it comes down to this: a race is a visceral experience. Reading a narrative just isn’t the same (said the blogger, fully aware that he has written several interminable writeups of his own races).

As a result, right now I’m kinda-sorta following the Giro. It looks to me like Paolo Savoldelli will repeat (I know it’s too early to make a prediction like that, but that’s my way), which I suppose would be cool. Though I’m actually rooting for Basso, because I love the idea of someone trying to win two grand tours in a year. I would be rooting for Ullrich, but he doesn’t seem to really have his heart in the race, though it’s hard to tell since I can’t actually see him.


A Plea

I have no trouble whatsoever finding videos of a 500-horsepower Neon online (not that I was looking, mind you), but I cannot find video—preferably with English narrative—of the Giro d’Italia. (except OLN, which has streaming video you can watch if you’re willing to pay $20 for it and will actually be in front of your computer during the two hours in the early morning during which they broadcast it, after which it’s gone and if you missed it, too bad. Guess what, OLN: that’s not a particularly compelling offering you’ve got there. Now, if my $20 meant that I could watch any stage at any time (or even during the next 24 hours), I’d have already signed up and would be blogging right now about how much I love you guys.) 

That just seems wrong.

Please, someone over there in Europe. I know you’ve got TV coverage of the Giro. I know you’ve got computers and Internet connections. So quit pretending you don’t, and start uploading the Giro for those of us starved for coverage here in the US. We won’t mind if it’s a day late. We just want to see it with our own eyes. Then either email me with where you’ve posted it, or comment here, and I’ll link to it daily on my blog.

You will have done the world (or at least the U.S., which is a notable subset of the world) a tremendous service.

Thank you.


PS: Today’s weight: 169.8. You know, this weight loss thing would go faster if I started losing some weight.


PPS: Yeah, I know I still need to talk about what kind of contest I’ll do around getting to the right weight for my big races this year. The thing is, I haven’t nailed down an incentive that really works for me yet. Tomorrow, I swear.


  1. Comment by Unknown | 05.9.2006 | 4:14 pm

    I am totally with you on this, FC.  I end up buying and borrowing a bunch of race DVD every year and those buggers are expensive.  I love the one day classic, and since I have neither cable nor satalite TV I am out of luck here in the US.Hope you are enjoying the return to Utah.

  2. Comment by Unknown | 05.9.2006 | 5:19 pm

    Are you sure about that OLN bit?  I just looked at the website and it said the following:
    "Your online subscription will also include access to video archives of Monday-Saturday stages, and race highlights from other world class cycling races, like the Milan-San Remo and the Tirreno-Adriatico."
    It sounds like can watch anytime?
    Also I’ve started up my Cobblestone team again since it seems you have been writing less.  It is good to get back on that horse again…

  3. Comment by Unknown | 05.9.2006 | 6:09 pm

    ale-jet is out , so the sprints will be
    boring. (excuse me , more boring.)
    basso is going to have to pull some strong
    numbers to take time out of el-falco. but,
    it would really be cool to see him pull off
    the double. is it me or does he look like
    he could be from britain or maybe
    zabriskie’s cousin? somehow he doesn’t
    LOOK  italian.
    i think the winner of the weight contest
    should get a free subscription to
    O.L.N. streaming on-line video.

  4. Comment by Zed | 05.9.2006 | 6:24 pm

    Hey, I really did have a brilliant idea for weight loss for you. Perhaps you should ride right before you go to bed at night, bypass the kitchen and then just sleep it off. That way, you don’t refill the gas tank until the morning, by which time the hunger pangs should’ve worn off, a little, and you can weigh yourself before you get in the shower … or have you thought about sit ups or some kind of endurance upper-body weightlifting program? Just a few thoughts.
    So, I’m curious, we used to get free 30-second daily streams of the Tour on OLN–does this mean we don’t even get those now?

  5. Comment by Tyler | 05.9.2006 | 6:24 pm

    Anyone else catch the House, MD episode awhile back inolving Cycling and doping?  I saw it last night.
    I went ahead and ponied up the $20 to OLN.  Here’s the deal.  You can watch the stream, complete either when it’s on live, or later on in the day, once, when it’s re-broadcast.
    Then, at any point, you may watch the stage "highlights," about an hour per stage of everything that’s worth watching anyway.
    Unless you care to see "oh.  Here’s the break again.  They’re heading along these flat roads… now their advantage is up to 9 minutes.  They’ll be pulled back before the end…"

  6. Comment by Tim D | 05.9.2006 | 7:06 pm

    FC, not exactly what you are after but Eurosport.com has streaming audio coverage.  I think it is whatever is on the TV at the time.  Both they and gazzetta.it have a number of video clips as well.  Last year Rei tre had streaming video, but not it seems this.  I have all the stage so far on video so if you can watch PAL format videos, I can send them over.
    What about Pettachi, falls with 50Ks to go, gets back on, finishes, says it seems to be a bit better but he’d better get it checked out anyway, finds out he’s broken his knee.  Could do with Rooney taking the same approach.

  7. Comment by Jane | 05.9.2006 | 8:05 pm

    Um. I have heard of the Tour de France. Maybe I should try to learn some of this. I like your blog but I am starting to feel too dumb to be here.   Jane

  8. Comment by Unknown | 05.9.2006 | 8:28 pm

    Rockets: 70 years go.
    Nuclear fission: 60 years ago.
    Man on the moon: 40 years ago.
    I can get a device that is a cell phone/camera/movie player/mp3 player/personal data manager with email and internet access.
    I have a laptop on which I can access the internet almost anywhere in the US, that has a TV tuner, recognizes every form of CD and DVD ever created.
    Can I PLEASE watch some TV over the internet?
    P.S. I think you should have had two dashes after "good" in the following sentence so it would have looked like this: "But—as good as the live reports are on Cyclingnews—and they’re very good— – it’s just not the same to read it. "

  9. Comment by jim | 05.9.2006 | 8:36 pm

    I just completed the MS150 here in Dallas.  I was constantly reminded of your site for various reasons…mostly because you are my main resource to cycling.  However, it absolutely amazed me as I observed the various body types and ages of these riders.  It was one thing to see a 200lb+ person at the campsite but quite another for them to pass you.  I was just as amazed by the very young and very old cyclists.  And as if I did not have enough lessons in humility, many of them were faster than I.
    Go figure. 
    Never doubt the fat man! Or anyone else for that matter.

  10. Comment by Unknown | 05.9.2006 | 8:39 pm

    Send me an email and I’ll send the link to Giro coverage.  Not live and the commentary’s in Italian, but it’s the same feed as OLN and you can watch anytime (including previous stages I think).  Not highlights, looks like 2 hours of race coverage a day.
    - Taz

  11. Comment by Unknown | 05.9.2006 | 8:40 pm

    guess an address would help:

  12. Comment by bradley | 05.9.2006 | 9:43 pm

    Yaar (that’s pirate speak) Jane, didn’t you mean too smart to be here? I mean, FC like’s to watch. Sure, teh content of the post makes it clear it’s about bicycle racing, but what could that title really mean? (wink, wink) What kinda person would stick around for that, unless, he or she were dumb enough, maybe like me, to stick around.

  13. Comment by Zed | 05.9.2006 | 9:57 pm

    Hey, it looks like http://www.cycling.tv offers a full season of watching for $20. If you’re going to drop the cash, you probably ought to drop it there.

  14. Comment by Tom Stormcrowe | 05.9.2006 | 10:59 pm

    Elden, how about NEGAtIVE incentive…..if you don’t meet your goal, you have to post a picture of yourself at a Mountainbike or road event kitted out in a pink tutu? ::GRIN:: That picture possibility would make either Fat Albert lose weight or Richard Simmons extremely excited! He might even want to hug you and cry! ::EVIL GRIN::

  15. Comment by Tom Stormcrowe | 05.9.2006 | 11:11 pm

    In Italian, but free and with archived clips as well

  16. Comment by Unknown | 05.10.2006 | 2:57 am

     Eldon, I would agree with Caloi Rider.  Cycling.TV is a GREAT compromise.  They have a nice, full menu of archived/On Demand and LIVE coverage of the big European races.  The Giro is a PPV item even for subscribing premium members.  The $20 annual membership is in sterling silver and converts to $38+ USD.

  17. Comment by Carl | 05.10.2006 | 3:56 am

    Sell the Unit 2-9 (or whatever other single speed 29′r you got… the Kona was a guess) that you said you’d never ride again and buy yourself a plane ticket to Italy.  Problem solved.  If you follow the tour around by bike and camp and eat beans and rice for the next 3 weeks you might lose that weight too!
    Yes, this is a fine idea.  In fact, it really wouldn’t be that costly, and you might get in on some of that OLN coverage.  Which nobody watches.  Because it’s too inconvenient, as you stated.

  18. Comment by Tyler | 05.10.2006 | 3:59 am

    Travis and Caloi, you’ve got it a little wrong.
    It’s a bit confusing, but there are (at least) two things you can purchase through cycling.tv
    ONE of them is Cycling.tv premium, which costs 20GBP (~$38) for a year, and includes… well, a bunch of stuff.  But not the Giro.
    OLN cycling, through cycling.tv, costs $20 US for the entire Giro, and you get (now archived) the Tirreno-Adriatico, too.  It includes the live Giro coverage, and also archived stages, but it goes away June 30 (I think).

  19. Comment by Andrew | 05.10.2006 | 2:19 pm

    Don’t be deceived, Jane. There’s not much to learn about bike racing.
    The race consisits of a bunch of overbred whippet-men costumed in dopey spandex outfits, perched on absurdly expensive bikes weighing 12 pounds or less. They all pedal hard and fast. One pedals a little harder and faster than the rest and wins. The others complain about the riding conditions.
    The outcomes are described in classic postmodern language: verbose but obtuse and ultimately devoid of meaning. To whit: 
    The peloton maintained a brutal pace, ejecting the tired and the weak without mercy. This stage knew no winners, only survivors, the leader fending off attack after attack with relentless tenacity. Break-aways going up the punishing climbs were realed in seemingly without effort by the leader.
    Note that if you took the leader and replaced it with Lance Armstrong you could have submitted this paragraph for virtually any stage of the TdF and only a very few would have noticed that it’s all bovine excrement.

  20. Comment by A Dawn Tinsley | 05.10.2006 | 2:33 pm

    You know, this weight loss thing would go faster if I started losing some weight.
    I say that everyday.

  21. Comment by BIg Mike In Oz | 05.10.2006 | 3:58 pm

    I just looked up my local cable TV provider in Oz.
    No Giro.
    But they do have several hours a day of live coverage for the World Curling Championships.  Any wonder the cycling got bumped.

  22. Comment by Unknown | 05.10.2006 | 4:08 pm

    It was one thing to see a 200lb+ person at the campsite but quite another for them to pass you. 
    The Edge:  Yeah, a lot of guys feel like you.  As an eighth of a ton roadracer, I enjoy the hell out of dropping skinny fellows in the flats – ratcheting the pace up into the thirties, then letting them hang in the wind for a minute.  And I’m working hard to reduce my deficit (and weight) on the hills.
    Weak Link:  Nothing ever happens?  Yeah, I guess nothing ever happened in Seinfeld either, and look how badly that suxed.  You talk about roadracing the way a guy who has only drunk Mad Dog talks about Bordeaux.  "Ah, they’re all the shame… [hic] booze is booze, really."  Road racing only looks simple, the riders all look tiny and identical, and the whole thing is free of drama only if you lack the palate for it.  A certain degree of subtlety is required to understand what goes on in the peleton, and the whit about which you lack wit, is that most of the race is very complex until the moment of truth, at which point your assumption that it’s all very simple is momentarily correct.  Do you have the legs, or not?  Will you try in spite of mind bending pain, seeing spots and hallucinating, or will you become a coward and quit?  To be, or not to be… that is the question when the hammer drops.  Boring stuff for you, I bet.  Even in its simplest moments, roadracing only lacks drama if you don’t know what is going on.  And on a technical note – I doubt you’d find many bikes in the pro peleton much under 15-16 pounds, tough to make a bike that light that is reliable.  In rought stage races involving big hill climbs, and in the classics, the bikes are pretty close to the top of the line stock bikes you could buy (or at least special order) in your neighborhood shop, except with lower tech, old fashioned, un-blingy 36 spoke wheels that most amateur enthusiasts and casual followers of racing would be ashamed to be seen on. 

  23. Comment by Zed | 05.10.2006 | 4:11 pm

    Aaahhhh (epiphany moment), I gotcha. One way or another, it’s still a rip off from last year’s freebies.

  24. Comment by Zed | 05.10.2006 | 4:17 pm

    That last comment was intended as a response to Argentius, btw. And Weak Link, you are aware that Lance didn’t win a single stage of the Tour until the second-last day last year, right?

  25. Comment by Loes | 05.10.2006 | 4:49 pm

    Heh, we usually got like 1-4 channels that broadcast cycling at the same time (Eurosport, a Dutch channel, a Belgian channel, and a German channel).The Giro is broadcasted on 2 channels here.I did kinda miss the first stage though. I went to Seraing to watch it, but when you’re going to a race, it’s really difficult to follow it (especially since everything’s in French, and I can’t always understand it).I had to check who’d won when I got home, because I didn’t know. But I did get to see the riders (i.e. CSC, because I was standing at their bus nearly all the time, and the last riders). And I’ve got cool pink things!And if I knew how to get the Giro on my computer, I’d definately upload it, but I just don’t know how to do that.

  26. Comment by Unknown | 05.10.2006 | 5:04 pm

    I agree with you about the Giro…it’s driving me crazy. Thank you for your comments. Now I don’t have to whine anymore.
    On a couple of cycling chatty sites, the topic is Jan Ullrich and Basso, and Simoni and Cunego….and these people are all Euros who get to watch for hours a day.  I’m jealous.

  27. Comment by Tom Stormcrowe | 05.10.2006 | 5:50 pm

    Al, I’m in absolute agreement, I also love to see the human greyhounds looks as I start cranking out ahead of them.Edge, by the way, if you like, you could look at peloton racing as "Full Contact Chess" or NASCAR without the engine, or to be more precise, YOU are the engine. Peloton is all about tactics and strategy til the last kilometer or less, then it becomes a full on sprint for the line.

  28. Comment by Andrew | 05.10.2006 | 5:51 pm

    And remember, Jane, those that get bored with bike racing go into a real sport, like triathelon.

  29. Comment by Unknown | 05.10.2006 | 6:35 pm

    In italian, at least highlights, maybe coverage I’m not sure:

  30. Comment by Unknown | 05.10.2006 | 7:16 pm

    Tom, from what I’ve seen, it’s tactics all the way up to the last couple yards.  There’s more high speed tactics in the leadout and the sprint, more action/reaction compressed into a tiny window of time, than almost anywhere else in the race, except for the highly technical sections.  A properly executed leadout, or a cheeky theft of another team’s great leadout (like McEwan has done twice already in the Giro) is a thing of beauty.
    BTW, the Giro in the past has suffered from "piano, piano" – i.e. riders talking each other into going slower until the attacks start 30 or 40 klicks out, which tactic our friend below criticized.  This does make for a race where nothing happens for a long time, but it doesn’t seem to be the case this year.  Since the sprinters will be gone after this week, and the all-arounders have to build a good cushion because they will be finished before the pure climbers commence the week three suffer fest, we may actually see racing every single day. 

  31. Comment by delirium | 05.10.2006 | 7:35 pm

    You really should try the cycling tv/oln web stream.  It’s on live in the morning, then at 6pm est as live again, and then after that is 45min – 1hr highlights of every stage, accessable anytime you want.   No comercials.  No big adds for hockey or bull riding.  No updates on what the americans are doing (nothing).  It’s nice.
    Sure I wish it wasn’t $20 but I’m watching every stage.

  32. Comment by Unknown | 05.11.2006 | 6:27 pm

    helllooooooo (echo, echo, echo)
    is this thing on?
    anybody eldon, eldon?
    blog withdrawal.
    help us all.
    thank you.

  33. Comment by Cuzzy | 05.11.2006 | 10:46 pm

    nice space!
    it is 743 pm in Halifax, just on a random tour
    have a good day

  34. Comment by nick | 05.12.2006 | 3:05 am

    Hey BigMike, you can get the Giro on pay in Aus, it is on RAI channel

  35. Comment by Unknown | 05.12.2006 | 3:13 pm

    Marco. . .

  36. Comment by uncadan8 | 05.12.2006 | 3:22 pm

    Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?

  37. Comment by BIg Mike In Oz | 05.12.2006 | 4:31 pm

    Nick, Is that the Royal Anthropological Institute or the Restaurants Association of Ireland.

  38. Comment by BIg Mike In Oz | 05.12.2006 | 4:32 pm

    There was me being witty, and then I went away and looked up RAI channel and presto…
    1:45am Ciclismo 89 Giro d’Italia: Imperdibile appuntamento per chi ama il ciclismo. L’ottantanovesima edizione di una delle piu prestigiose gare ciclistiche mondiali si corre dal 6 maggio al 28 maggio 2006.

  39. Comment by Unknown | 05.12.2006 | 4:38 pm

    BIg Mike talks funny talk.

  40. Comment by Zed | 05.12.2006 | 5:14 pm

    … Polo
    oh, that wasn’t meant for me, was it?

  41. Comment by nick | 05.15.2006 | 12:27 am

    OK, BigMike, i will slow down just for you! RAI is the Italian channel, it is available on Austar so i suppose it is on Foxtel etc as they are all the same albeit some with different names just to confuse us. Your plan will charge you extra prob for it, Austar does, but for hours of entertaining Italian commentary  which included in the first week PATACCHI PATACCHI PATACCHI!!! ………..oh…….mcwen………………
    it is worth it

  42. Comment by nick | 05.15.2006 | 12:29 am

    Oh, forgot to add my name in case Austar are intending on sending me a commision

  43. Comment by brendan | 05.17.2006 | 2:20 am

    Hey Thin Cyclist, I signed up with cycling.tv/OLN last night and noticed a couple of things that may interest you and the other readers of this blog:
    a) there are replays of about 1 hour of all the stages- you don’t need to watch it live.  In fact, I don’t think you want to watch a 5-7 hour Giro stage live.  Here’s a test of whether you are a cyclist or a wanna-be: if you can watch more than about 25 minutes of pro cycling without wanting to get out on your bike – then you’re not really a cyclist.  However, if you do watch more than 25 minutes, and then start to feel really, really inadequate in the legs, heart, lungs, motivation, and general ability, then you’re probably a cyclist. :-)
    b) there are commercials – though not many.
    c) you can only watch if you’re in America.  Now does that suck or what?  However, if, like me, you work for an American company, and you can VPN to that company’s HQ in the US, then cycling.tv thinks you’re in America.  And you can watch.
    d) Basso will win the Giro unless he is struck by a lightning bolt from got or a rock from an estranfed Tifosi.


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