Levi Leipheimer Endorses The Ultimate Sports Hypnosis CD, Announces Pleasure at being Contador’s Super-Domestique

09.18.2008 | 11:00 am

hypnosis Madrid, Spain (Fat Cyclist Fake News Service) – In a post-stage team press conference today, U.S. National Road Race Champion Levi Leipheimer announced he is endorsing The Ultimate Cyclist CD

"Since winning the 2007 Tour of California, the Ultimate Cyclist has become an indispensable part of my training arsenal,” said Leipheimer.

Added teammate Alberto Contador, apropos of nothing, "Phosphorus," at which point Levi Leipheimer stood up, climbed up on the table, and began clucking like a chicken.

Oddly, when Contador snapped his fingers, Leipheimer returned to his seat and resumed speaking normally.

"This has been an exceptional year for me," said Leipheimer. "I really feel that I have the will, fitness, and determination to win a major tour."

Interrupted Contador, "Sodium."

Leipheimer continued, in a stilted voice, "But the greatest thing I could ever do is reject my own selfish desires and to do all I can, regardless of consequences, to help my glorious and exalted teammate Alberto Contador win the Vuelta España."

Leipheimer then shook his head a few times, pressed his palms to his eyes, and then looked around as if he were lost.

After taking a few moments to evidently collect himself, Leipheimer asked, "Are there any questions?"

One reporter asked why Leipheimer had, recently, pulled over on the side of the road for several minutes, completely stopping until Contador had caught up with him. Unfortunately, Leipheimer’s response was not audible, due to a sudden — and quite severe — sneezing fit on Contador’s part.

Asked why, earlier in the stage that day, he had begun mooing like a cow for ten minutes, Leipheimer had no comment, nor any apparent idea of what the questioner was talking about.

At this moment, Contador’s coughing / sneezing fit became so severe — he covered his face with his hands and his entire body seemed to be shaking — that the press conference had to be terminated.

Created by cycling coach and category 1 bike racer Josh Horowitz, and renowned Australian clinical hypnotherapist, Dr. Rick Collingwood, The Ultimate Cyclist is the only cycling-specific sports psychology tool on the market.

It is not known whether custom versions of the CD, containing specialized messages and suggestions, can be ordered.


An Open Letter to USA Cycling

09.17.2008 | 7:30 am

Dear USA Cycling,

I read with some concern and distress in Velonews today that my beloved mountain bike racing categories — Beginner, Sport, Expert, Semi-Pro, and Pro (I had to check on the naming of the last two since they’re not exactly in my list of personally-relevant labels at this time) — are being replaced with new category names: Cat 3, 2, 1, and Pro.

I would like to strongly urge you to reconsider this decision. I have many compelling reasons why.

  1. I Really like the name “Sport.” I have been a “Sport” category racer ever since my third mountain bike race. And it’s all I can ever aspire to. And I like being a Sport. It sounds…sporty. Like, you know, I’m no longer a beginner, but I’m also not particularly expert. I’m here to race for the sport of it.
  2. I’m scared of what being called Cat 2 implies. While being called “Sport” is a reasonably accurate description of my attitude toward racing — although perhaps if the category were called “Ambivalent” it would be more precise — Category 2 sends all the wrong messages. This numbering system implies some sort of path or progression. Like, “Hey, I used to be a 3, now I’m a 2, and someday I’ll be a 1.” Except I’ll never be a Cat 1. I’ve been racing in this category for more than ten years, and have never yet won a race. This is where I belong. Putting me in the middle of your numeric spectrum just reminds me that I’m not going anywhere.
  3. I can no longer obfuscate my mediocrity with jargon. When friends and family ask me what category I race in, I answer — without explanation — “Sport.” Since most people I know don’t know anything about how mountain biking is categorized, some (and hopefully most) assume that “Sport” is pretty high up there. I like to imagine, for example, that they assume the ranking goes like: Novice, Beginner, Highly Accomplished, Well-Regarded-By-Peers, Semi-Pro, 3rd-Degree Black Belt, Sport, Pro. But when I say “Cat 2,” they won’t even have to ask me whether it’s better to be Cat 3 or Cat 1 (I’m not clear on that myself, to tell the truth; logic tells me I’d start at Cat 1 and work my way up…is that right?), because Cat 2 is right there in the middle of the pack. Average. Undistinguished. Ordinary. Bland. Mediocre. And I haven’t even cracked the thesaurus yet.
  4. New opportunities to sandbag. I’m listing this one last, because since it doesn’t affect me, I honestly don’t care about it. But the fact is, the biggest thing this change does is force people not quite good enough to cut it in the Pro ranks to decide, “Do I want to spend the rest of my life racing way off the back of the field by going for Pro, or would I rather race in the front of the field by going in Cat 1?” Gee, I wonder what most of them will decide. My friends Brad and Kenny are about to never win another race again. Sorry, guys.

All of these reasons, however, pale compared to my primary motive for objecting to your new racing category names:

They’re boring.

Seriously: 3-2-1-Pro? That’s the best you could come up with? Even if you don’t take into account that you abandon your naming methodology right at the conclusion of the schema, it’s not like the names are memorable. Or logical. Or interesting.

Luckily for you, I am here to help. Taking it as given that you definitely want to abandon your perfectly sensible existing categories and want to replace them with something different, I think I can at least help you come up with a set of categories that are both more evocative and internally consistent.

I hereby present you with several options. Please feel free to pick your favorite.

Metamorphic Stages
If you’re looking to reduce the number of racing categories and you want to use a continuum, you could hardly do better than the metamorphic stages of a butterfly. Specifically:

  • Eggs: This category is a nice metaphor for the very beginning stage of a racer’s career. You’re new to the world. You have so much potential. Soon you’ll hatch and flourish. This is so beautiful, I believe I am going to cry.
  • Caterpillars: I’m confident that racers formerly known as “Sport” won’t object to being called “Caterpillars.” Why would we? The similarities between Sport racers and caterpillars are striking. We inch along slowly, and we eat everything in sight.
  • Cocoons: This is of course the inert stage a caterpillar goes through before becoming a butterfly, though, when as a child I ever put a cocoon in a jar to watch it transform, it never worked. The cocoon would always just sit there, forever, staying a cocoon.
  • Butterflies: If the rest of us have to have category names, so do the pros. Besides, the description’s apt. They’re light. They fly. They are colorfully adorned. And above all, they seem to be remarkably fragile.

How You’re Planning to Race Today
I’ve often been of the opinion that racing categories shouldn’t be so rigid. The truth is, I often don’t know what category I belong in until I get to the race and see how other people are planning to categorize themselves. Further, my objective for the race determines how fast I’m going to be (with the obvious severe upper limitation of capability, or lack thereof).

How about if racing categories reflected the reality of racer intentions?

  • Racing to See If I Like Racing: Exclusively for people who have either never raced at all or who haven’t raced in at least five years. The course should be adjusted to be a nice moderate downhill for these people, and semi-pros with a chip on their shoulder should not be allowed on the course until the last person from this category is finished.
  • Just Cruising: For racers who came along mostly as support for an insecure friend who didn’t want to come to a race alone. They’re here to ride the course just for fun. To ride in this category, you must start with a full Camelbak, even if the race is 40 minutes long. You must also bring a camera and be able to demonstrate at the finish line that you stopped a couple of times to take pictures.
  • Training Race: For those who aren’t here to win it and don’t care how they place, but rather are here because it’s a good way to trick yourself into doing an interval-level workout.
  • Reaffirming my Sense of Self-Importance: If you’re here to prove to yourself that you are faster than the locals, you should race against other people who are also there to show they are faster than other locals, so the rest of us can enjoy ourselves. Although, now that I think about it, this category isn’t going to have its stated effect for most of the racers. That’s a real shame.
  • This Race is Really, Really, Really Important to Me: Everyone picks a race that matters more than any other race to them for the year. If this is your race, you should be given a special place in the start line, and a special-colored bib (yellow, probably), and when people see your special-colored bib, they let you by. The only catch is, nobody gets to race in this category more than once per year.
  • Racing Is My Life: People who race all the time should race against other people who race all the time, regardless of their speed. This way, they’ll get to know each other, and in time they’ll perhaps realize that they’ve got a sickness and need help, and then they’ll already know everyone in their support group. How convenient!

Sandbaggers / Not Sandbaggers
This very minimalist categorizing system only has two divisions. People who normally sandbag should race each other, while people who don’t sandbag race each other.

Interestingly, I suspect that while everybody knows a sandbagger or two or nine, the “Sandbagger” category will be lightly attended.

USA Cycling, I am confident that one — or more — of these options will be to your liking, although I am happy to present additional categorizing schemas should you so desire (by bird type, by frog metamorphic stages, alphabetically by last name are just a few ideas that spring to mind right now).

I look forward to your timely response, which will — I am confident — be an acknowledgement of the superiority of my ideas.

Kind Regards,

The Fat Cyclist

Journal of Dr. Prescott, Part IV: How Embarrassing

09.15.2008 | 10:35 am

6 May, 7114

I spent all of last night unable to sleep, worried that I would soon meet my maker, worried that I would be forced to defend myself from — or even attack — one of these uncivilized Dirty People.

And sure enough, as dawn broke, there was a disturbance in the forest, and then the Dirty People broke through. They looked much as I described them yesterday. But if it were not for their arms — the Dirty People have muscular forearms, usually completely covered with primal markings — they would be nearly indistinguishable from the natives that I have come to know.

And then the battle began.

I am not a soldier, by any means, but — quite bravely, I thought — I picked up an irretrievably out-of-true aluminum frame (the natives here could not bear to use any serviceable cycling equipment as weapons) and waded into the fray.

And that is when I discovered two remarkable things.

  1. I am by far and away the mightiest warrior on the island. In a matter of seconds, I had felled three of the Dirty People, as well as one of the road-riding natives (the latter was completely by accident, I assure you). Then primal instincts overtook me and within three minutes, I had a good sized pile of human wreckage surrounding me.
  2. Nobody on this island can fight at all. Through the thick haze of bloodlust, I heard someone say, “Dude, just chill!” And that’s when I realized that while everyone else was fighting, nobody was getting hurt. The people of both tribes are completely inept at hurting one another.

I apologized and began tending to their wounded. Fortunately, nobody had been seriously hurt, and evidently the Dirty People have developed the ability to heal quickly, as well as a cheerful acceptance of pain as a fact of life.

Then, as a show of brotherhood and no hard feelings, I assisted some of the Dirty People with heavier bikes — evidently the Dirty People have subclasses, much as the Thin Ones (as the Dirty People call the natives I have been staying with call them) — as they slowly pushed their bikes back up to the top of the mountain where they dwell.

I find the tribes and subtribes of this island worthy of study. I believe I shall stay here indefinitely, where I shall endeavor to learn their ways. I will send reports of my success in this regard as events warrant.

Journal of Dr. Prescott, Part III: War!

09.11.2008 | 10:58 am

5 May, 7114

I should have known this was too good to last.

I have lived among these simpleminded natives nigh upon a week, and have come to respect their ways. Wake, forage, ride around in convoluted patterns, boast, eat, sleep.

Also, as I have spent more time with these people, I have noticed physical peculiarities not originally observed. For example, they seem to have developed a thick, calloused layer of skin on their hindquarters.

More importantly, I have noticed that their peculiar gait in walking is not merely due to the cleatlike protrusions on the underside of their feet. While this is certainly a contributing factor, it is not as important as the fact that they have developed an unconventional leg musculature resulting in a remarkable phenomenon: their legs always turn circles.

Astonishingly, this is now true even when they are not on their bicycles.

Alas, I fear that their idyllic life is about to come to an end. While there is considerable diversity among the many subfactions of this native village — a group who ride nothing but the banked ovalesque road, a spinoff group that eschews brakes and gears, and an irrascible crew of tiny people who want to do nothing but climb to the top of the highest hill each day — there is evidently a heretofore unmentioned tribe, which this group of natives cannot abide.

They are referred to as "The Dirty People."

I have not yet seen these Dirty People yet, but from the descriptions I have been given, I would happily spend my life in such ignorance. For these people have shunned all that is clean and elegant and light, in favor of cheap thrills, heavy, dirty bikes, and painted bodies.

They have no fear of pain, I am told, and want nothing more than to die.

And, I am given to understand, tomorrow they will be descending on these gentle natives I have come to love, and will be attacking — for no reason whatsoever — in a manner most vicious.

I look around and see no hope for these natives. Their arms are twiglike. They have no weapons to speak of. Their legs, while powerfully muscled, only turn in small circles; they are useless for kicking. These natives cannot even run.

Their only hope is to get on their bicycle conveyances and hope they can escape The Dirty People.

I am not optimistic.

Exclusive: Lance Armstrong Returns to Pro Racing! (Plus Insider Reactions)

09.10.2008 | 11:38 am

A Note from Fatty: I don’t know what’s going on with my blog this week. I’ve been writing pretty normal posts (an open letter to Specialized, an ode to chocolate syrup), but when I post them, these weird “Journal of Dr. Prescott” stories have been appearing, instead.

So, because I have an important world-exclusive story today, I have disabled my normal publishing system and implemented a new, stronger data transfer algorithm (it’s vertically stiff and horizontally compliant, which is a good thing in data transfer algorithms), and am bringing you this news at great expense and personal risk.

Because the story must be told, that’s why.

Exclusive: Lance Armstrong Returns to Pro Racing
Austin, TX (Fat Cyclist Fake News Service) – In a major world-scooping exclusive, Fat Cyclist Fake News Service (FCFNS) is pleased to be the first to announce that Lance Armstrong will be returning to professional cycling.

“I’m returning to professional cycling,” Armstrong told FCFNS. “Which is to say, I’ll be racing my bike as a professional cyclist.”

“Also,” continued Armstrong in this very surprising and exclusive interview, “I will be joining a professional bicycle racing team, and I plan to race the Tour de France next year.”

“Finally,” summed up Armstrong in this unprecedented and unequaled interview, “I will be racing to win. And now I’ve got to go talk with those guys at Vanity Fair and tell them all the stuff I just told you.”

This news is certain to sweep the industry within the next few days, so FCFNS has contacted key players in the cycling industry to get their reactions.

Reaction from Team Astana
Johan Bruyneel, director of Team Astana, quickly denied that Armstrong will be racing with Team Astana. “We’re very excited to announce that we have nothing to announce,” said Bruyneel. “Lance Armstrong is not on our team, and you should not assume that he is on our team until we tell you he is, which will be in a couple of weeks. Further, when we announce that Armstrong will in fact be racing with Astana, we’d appreciate it if you’d all pretend to be surprised.”

Alberto Contador, winner of the 2007 Tour de France, expressed enthusiasm at the prospect of having Armstrong on the team. “In 2007 I gave my all in order to win the Tour de France. In 2008 — through no fault of my own — I was not allowed to defend my title. So, as you may expect, I’m very excited to return to the Tour de France in 2009 as a domestique to Mr. Armstrong.”

“How,” continued Contador, “could I possibly be anything but excited? The only way I could be more excited would be if Astana stole Basso from Liquigas, too. Maybe we could have a team made up of nothing but GC contenders. That would be swell.”

“Story of my life,” mumbled Levi Leipheimer.

Reaction from OLN
Executives from the OLN VS network were unavailable unable to comment, due to the fact that they were all rolling around on the floor, cheering, laughing, and praising various and sundry deity. Phrases that could made out through the din tended to be along the lines of, “We’re saved!”

Al Trautwig made himself available for comment outside VS headquarters. Since, however, nobody asked, he gave it anyway: “Lance Armstrong! Seven time Tour de France champion! Lance Lance Lance! The man from Texas! Lancity Lancity Lance Lance Lance!”

Trautwig was then ushered off the premises by local police, evidently at the request of VS security.

Reaction from Christian Prudhomme
Christian Prudhomme, director of the Tour de France, commented that, “We at ASO are simultaneously pleased and outraged that Lance Armstrong wants to race in the Tour de France next year. We sincerely look forward to the revenue, press, and excitement he will bring to the 2009 race, and look forward even more to leaking snide comments and unvetted test results to the press during the next several months.”

“You’ll need to excuse me now,” finished Prudhomme. “I need to go figure out how I can appear to be taking the high road when I announce that team Astana — which will otherwise have changed nothing since we barred them from racing in the 2008 Tour de France — is welcome in 2009.

Reaction from Greg Lemond
Former Tour de France champion Greg Lemond almost certainly has an opinion regarding this news, but nobody dared go near him to ask what it is.


PS: Cycling Utah, a printed monthly magazine, interviews me in the current issue. You can download a PDF here and discover how goofy and all over the map I am when people ask me straightforward questions.

PPS: Those of you who follow the comments section of this blog are undoubtedly familiar with BotchedExperiment. Well, Botched had himself one heck of a weekend, as detailed in his wife’s blog. Warning: it involves a chainsaw and some really, really gross photos of Botched’s leg. I think you get the idea.

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