Is everybody here? Great, please take a seat and let’s get started.
First off, thank you all for coming here on such short notice. As I mentioned in the email invite my people sent to you early this morning, I have arrived at an important decision today, and rather than let it leak out, I wanted to tell you personally. So let’s get started.
Hoo boy. Excuse me for getting a little bit emotional. This is harder to say than I thought it might be. Let me try again.
Effective immediately, I am retiring from professional cycling.
There. I said it.
I’m sure many of you have questions, and I’ll give you a chance to ask them in just a moment, but let me try to give my reasons first.
First and foremost, I am leaving the sport of professional cycling to spend more time with my family. And to write my memoirs. And also, because I am finding that maintaining an active presence on Twitter can be excruciatingly demanding.
Second, I am retiring because I have taken a good hard look in the mirror. I have to acknowledge that, with my 45th birthday only four months away, my chances of winning the Tour de France aren’t getting any better. Sure, from day to day I still feel pretty good, but I take a look at some of the other racers around me and realize that where I used to have to suppress the urge to attack, now I have to suppress the urge to yell at them to get off of my lawn.
And the truth is, my team kit just doesn’t fit all that great anymore. I asked my team director if I could get a size larger jersey, and he actually looked at me in disbelief. “This is the largest size they make,” he said. “And we had to order this one special.”
Also, I weigh 172 pounds, making me the heaviest pro cyclist living. I suppose that’s why all the guys in the peloton poke me in the belly. Which is not very respectful, honestly.
This brings me to the next reason I’m retiring: I haven’t won a race in a while. OK, technically I haven’t ever won a race, but my point is that while my UCI ranking has remained consistent, I find it demeaning that it’s been some time since I’ve even been allowed to race. In fact, you might say that my current team duties are more suited to an office intern than a cyclist. So if you’ll allow me a personal note to my team director: I’m a cyclist, Johan, not your freaking butler.
So, for those of you who were wondering, I will not be racing in the Tour of California this year. Nor the Giro d’Italia. Nor the Tour de France. Nor the Vuelta Espana. Nor even the Tour of Utah, unless I decide to poach it.
I am sorry to disappoint you.
Let me finish by saying that I have no regrets. Well, except that I wasn’t as fast as I’d hoped I would be. And that I’ve seemed to get quite a bit slower lately. And that I never had the self-discipline to keep the weight off. And that my contract with my current team has expired and that no other team has picked me up for 2011.
But otherwise, no regrets. Unless you count the time I crashed out the entire team that one time during the Team Time Trial, but I maintain that wasn’t totally my fault anyway; if the guy behind me hadn’t been drafting so close or yelling at me to “speed up” because “18mph on flat ground isn’t fast enough,” I doubt that crash would have even happened. On a personal note: I forgive you, Levi.
With that, I want to thank everyone for their time. I’ll now open the mic for questions.
What? Someone else retired today, too? Well. That’s a weird coincidence.
As you know, I’m a big fan of your energy bars. I eat Fruition bars all the time when I’m on the bike, and like the way a Pro Bar — especially the Cran-Lemon Twister — gives me a ton of energy when I want to stop for a moment and refuel.
I’ve noticed, both on your website and on the wrappers of the products themselves, that you create “delicious, convenient, healthy plant-based food products.”
And that’s the problem, folks.
While I enjoy a Nutty Banana Boom as much as (maybe more than) the next guy, sometimes I want something that tastes neither nutty nor banana-y. I want something that doesn’t taste like nuts, fruits, or grains at all.
I want something that tastes like a real meal. I want some sodium. I want something that has some protein, and I don’t mean that fake kind of protein you get by eating soy beans or nuts, or that chalky protein you find in most drinks and energy bars.
I want real protein. Caveman protein.
I think, ProBar, the time has come for meat-based energy bars. Or, as I like to call them, “Meat-ergy” bars.
Why Meat-ergy Bars?
When I think about all the people I know (and I know at least fifteen or twenty people), I can say with confidence that pretty much all of us are not vegetarians.
Except for a few. And I have a feeling that the few people I know who are vegetarians are doing so mostly to be obstinate, or because they haven’t recently had a really great burger grilled for them over charcoal.
My point is that most people like meat.
So why are all of our energy bars acting like we’re a bunch of wild-eyed, long-haired, soy milk-drinking, carrot-hugging vegans?
Actually, I use soy milk myself. But that’s because regular milk gives me gas, not because I’m opposed to it on principal. But I’m getting off track here.
So it stands to reason that most of us — 96% of us, according to the way I divided a ‘96 estimate of vegetarians in the US against the current population — would like our energy bars to taste more like food we eat by choice.
You know, like bacon.
Which brings us to my first proposed Meat-ergy bar, which I have asked my good friend Kenny to mock up for you:
Honestly, who wouldn’t want to eat that?
Just think, you’re riding along and you’ve been drinking sweet drinks and sucking down sweet energy gels, and chewing sweet gummy energy stuff. You stop for a moment to have a snack. What do you want: a sweet energy bar, or a bar that has the taste and texture of bacon?
That question, of course, was rhetorical, because the answer is perfectly obvious.
So, to sum up: taste, texture, protein, appeal to the palates of 96% of the population. These are the reasons it’s time for Meat-ergy bars.
Ideas for Meat-ergy Bar Flavors
Be honest, ProBar: do you think anyone has any idea what the “Superfood Slam” tastes like? Or the “Whole Berry Blast?” Or even “Old School PB&J” (hint: it tastes nothing like a real PB&J)? Heck, I’ve had them all and remember they all taste like nuts and dried fruit. Which is fine, if you’re a squirrel.
And that’s why, in addition to the benefits I’ve already listed, Meat-ergy bar flavors practically sell themselves. The flavors you create should be based simply on popular kinds of meat. For example:
BaconBar: This should taste like bacon, at least in the first iteration. Really, I can’t think of anything better. In fact, if you just cook and package bacon, I think most of us will be very happy. Of course, as you roll out new versions of the product, you might want to look into the BLT (perhaps include a packet of mayonnaise), bacon-wrapped steak, and bacon-and-eggs.
BurgerBar: Is there anything in the world better than a good burger? The answer is, “Yes, a burger with bacon,” but that’s not a problem, since I’d just take a bite of the BurgerBar, followed by a bite of the BaconBar. Please do me a favor and use Angus beef, prime or choice cuts only, with modest marbling. Lots of Worcestershire sauce. Grilled over charcoal. Thanks.
SteakBar: I don’t want to get picky, but is it possible for your SteakBar to have options for how the consumer likes their bar cooked? (I’m a Medium guy myself.) I understand that this means you’ll have to contend with product fragmentation — not to mention the problem of how you keep a rare-cooked Meat-ergy SteakBar from getting all gross — but I’m sure your R&D guys will be able to work it out.
ChickenBar: Hey, not everyone likes red meat. And just think how easy it would be to make variations of the ChickenBar. Teriyaki, Barbecue, Cacciatore, you name it: just add the appropriate “marinade” packet before eating.
SalmonBar: Okay, I admit I just threw this idea in here as a joke. I can’t imagine myself opening a Meat-ergy bar mid-ride and being greeted with the scent of fish. But hey, that’s just me. Maybe.
See, ProBar? Those are just the ideas off the top of my head. As you build on the certain success of your first Meat-ergy bars, you can expand the line by going upscale (FiletmignonBar, PrimeribBar) and value-priced (CornedbeefBar, SpamBar). Regional dishes (JambalayaBar in New Orleans, SnailBar in France) are also smart areas of diversification.
I think you’ll agree, ProBar, the time for this innovative product has come. I look forward to being one of your first Meat-ergy Bar customers.
The Fat Cyclist
Today’s post is about luggage, and some very persuasive and scientific theories I have about luggage. Cycling road trip luggage, to be precise.
To set the stage for my theories, I offer to you the following photographs as evidence.
First, here is a photograph — taken yesterday — of the backseat area of my BikeMobile:
As you can clearly see, two road bikes fit in that area easily, without the necessity of removing any wheels.
Next, here is a photograph — also taken yesterday — of the bed of my truck:
And here is another, to give you a bird’s-eye view of the contents of that truck bed:
Looking at all that, please take a moment to answer the following questions:
- How many people are on this trip?
- How long is this trip?
I know that you’re waiting on tenterhooks for the answer, so I’ll get straight to it.
It was a two-day trip (to Saint George, UT) for two people: The Runner and me. Here’s. Here’s a picture of us somewhere on the Goulds / Jem / Hurricane Rim loop yesterday:
Don’t we look happy? Well, of course we look happy, because we are happy. How could we not be happy? After all, by driving for 3.5 short hours we got away from winter to a sunny, warm pavement and desert-singletrack paradise.
But still. All that luggage? For just two people? For just two days?
Which is what brings us to the heart of today’s post.
Bike Stuff Is A Gas
As anyone who has ever farted in a room knows, gas expands to fill all available space. Which is why I have to believe that bike stuff is a gas. I mean, a few months ago, I went to the Ride for the Roses weekend in Austin, then directly from there to work for a week in Chicago, and I fit everything I needed into a single suitcase.
Because that was the amount of space that was available.
Last weekend, on the other hand, The Runner and I had The BikeMobile all to ourselves and — sure enough — our stuff exactly filled the truck.
Hence: bike stuff is a gas.
A Closer Look
Let’s look a little deeper into what what, exactly, filled the truck. This time, however, we’ll number the various items, for easy identification.
Item 1: The Backpack. This contains food items, such as PRO Bars and Fruition bars, and Honey Stinger fruit chews. And Salted Nut Rolls. And Dried Mangoes. And cashews. It’s also got a number of non-bike-specific food items, such as Chex Party Mix. And chips. And Oreos. Gee, I wonder why I’m not losing weight very fast this Winter?
Item 2: The Large Black Samsonite. This suitcase contains all of The Runner’s clothes for the trip, both for cycling and for non-cycling. I’m a little bit embarrassed to admit that The Runner is a more efficient packer than I am.
Item 3: The Small Yellow Tote Bag. This bag contains The Runner’s non-clothes-related items for the weekend. And now suddenly I’m not feeling so bad about the fact that all her clothes fit into a single bag.
Item 4: The Large Grey Tote Bag. This bag contains all my biking clothes for the weekend, and is almost certainly the most perfect example of my theory. Since I knew I had plenty of room, I filled this bag with a pair of bib tights, knee warmers, arm warmers, three pair of bib shorts, three long-sleeved jerseys, three short-sleeved jerseys, a wool base layer jersey, three pair of lightweight wool cycling socks, two pair heavy wool socks, shoe covers, one pair lightweight cycling gloves, one pair middleweight cycling gloves, and one pair cold-weather cycling gloves. And three different beanies, of varying weights and colors.
The thing is, when all was said and done, what I actually wore, cycling-wise, was two different pair of bibshorts (one each for the two rides we did), one long-sleeved jersey (I wore the same jersey for both rides, because I love my new Fat Cyclist Long Sleeve jersey so much), two pair of socks, and one pair of gloves. In other words, the cycling clothes I actually used could have fit in the side pocket of The Runner’s suitcase.
Item 5: The Purple-and-Brown Tote Bag of Hideousness: I have owned two very ugly nylon tote bags for about 17 years. I’d get rid of them but they are pretty much bombproof, and incredibly practical. For this trip, the purple-and-brown bag contained four pair of cycling shoes (two each for The Runner and me) and two helmets. The side pocket contained spare tubes (both road and mountain), lube, CO2 cartridges, a triangle hex wrench, and an oil rag.
Item 6: Ice Chest. I make no apologies for this item. There’s nothing better than a cold drink after a ride.
Item 7: The Purple-and-Teal Tote Bag of Hideousness: This bag contained all my non-cycling clothes. This, embarrassingly, contains enough clothing to last me a full two weeks. I threw in multiple pairs of pants and about half the t-shirts I own. I could have done just fine by bringing two t-shirts (and the second one would have been just in case I spilled salsa on the first). I mean, it’s a biking trip, after all. Not a fashion show.
Items 8 & 9: Gary Fisher Superfly, Superfly SS: Our bikes, plus of course the road bikes (Orbea Orcas for both of us) inside the truck. I don’t feel bad about bringing these, because we did in fact go on both a road ride and a mountain bike ride. But if we had less space, it would have been easy to just bring one bike per person.
Item 10: My foot. As I perched precariously on the top of the bed of the truck and taking photos of the contents therein, looking like a fool to anyone in the parking lot who might be curious as to what I was doing.
The Consolidation of Stuff
So, suppose we hadn’t had all that room? Well, Item 1 could have been eliminated altogether, by stuffing whatever food we wanted into our helmets for the trip. Item 2 — OK, Item 2 stays as-is, but Item 3 could maybe have been pared down?
Okay, maybe not. I don’t want to go there.
Items 4, 5, and 7, however, could easily have been combined into a single bag, as long as The Runner was willing to share her toothbrush. And doesn’t mind me smelling a little bit bad by day 2 of the trip.
I’ll have to ask her about that.
So sure, we could have easily fit everything we needed into a smaller space for the trip. But you know, there’s something luxurious about lazy packing — just throwing stuff in there, so you know you’re covered, no matter what the weather or your mood.
And besides, there’s no fighting physics.
Before I (eventually, as usual) ease into today’s topic — The interview Paul Kimmage conducted with Floyd Landis in NY Velocity — I’d like to dive into caveat-land for a moment. Specifically, I’m not well. Nothing big, just a sore throat that’s probably evolving into a cold. But I’ve been dealing with sick kid issues — some short term stuff, some long-term stuff — and that, compounded with a coughing jag that lasted for a big chunk of the night has left me a little bit exhausted.
So the hilarity quotient — at least the intentional hilarity quotient — of this post might be a tad low.
Or maybe it wouldn’t have been all that funny anyway.
The Joke That Didn’t Happen
My original plan for today’s post was to do an absurd “Gems from the Kimmage / Landis” interview. My premise was going to be along the lines of “this interview is so impossibly long that there’s no way people are actually reading it in its entirety, so I took one for the team and read the whole thing, and here are the amazing things I’ve uncovered.”
And then I would go on to reveal that deep within the interview are things like:
- A recipe for a really good Southwestern grilled shrimp marinade
- Winning lottery numbers
- The GPS coordinates for Elvis’ current residence
- An elegant, face-palmingly-simple, common-sense solution to Fermat’s Last Theorem.
As “research” for my post, I decided that I’d better go ahead and read the whole interview, published in NY Velocity.
Way before I finished reading it, I decided it wasn’t something I wanted to joke about.
Now that I’ve read the whole interview, I kinda think maybe what I should do is go back and read it again, this time liveblogging the thing. And I don’t mean a jokey liveblog, either. I mean that as I (re)read it, I should detail what I think of the question and answer.
I dunno, maybe I’ll do that sometime next week, when I feel up to it.
For right now, though, I’m just going to give a few general impressions, and then open up comments for the Vitriol Squad to talk about how this interview proves for sure that Lance Armstrong doped.
- Floyd is messed up. He still hasn’t worked through the embarrassment, humiliation, and loss he’s suffered for the past several years. No matter whether you believe or doubt everything he says, I’m pretty sure you’ll agree with the conclusion that this is a guy who is hurting pretty badly inside, and is nowhere near the end of the tunnel.
- Floyd has twisted logic. Floyd says that if given the chance to do everything over, “I would do everything the same and I would just admit it, afterwards.” And yet he is trying to position himself in an anti-doping stance, so that others won’t have to go through what he has gone through. His justification of what he claims to have done is in direct conflict with his mission to rid the world of this doping problem. I don’t honestly think he sees the paradox, which goes back to my first observation.
- Floyd still thinks he was in the right. The most amazing thing about this interview is that Floyd felt he was genuinely ill-used by the system. That even though he was a doper, and was caught for doping, he got bad treatment, because the lab caught him for the wrong offense. Kind of like getting mad at cops for arresting you for having a corpse in the trunk of your car (which you may or may not have put there) when you expected them to arrest you for the suitcase full of counterfit bills hidden in your apartment.
- Floyd has a credibility problem. With me, anyway. I was one of the guys who believed Tyler Hamilton. I was one of the guys who believed Floyd. I am one of the guys who believes Lance. This isn’t just obstinate naivete, this is part of my life philosophy: expect that people are good and honest. Does this mean that sometimes I am taken advantage of? Yes, but not as often as you might expect. Once, however, Floyd admitted that he had lied, a lot, even a guy like me has to doubt anything and everything he says. He tricked me once for motives that I didn’t guess at; how can I possibly have any confidence he’s not tricking me again, for motives I once again am not guessing at?
- Kimmage does not act like a reporter. I’m no journalist. You can tell from my interview with Phil Liggett that I’m just a cycling fan with a blog, and I don’t even pretend to try to be impartial. But Paul Kimmage’s interview with Landis seemed — even to me — remarkably un-reporter-like. Especially toward the end, where in email exchanges he starts telling Floyd how personally involved he is, and begins giving Landis career- and life-affecting counsel. I’m glad that Kimmage is at least open about his bias (as opposed to trying to camouflage it), but there’s no way to read this as objective, impartial, multiple-sourced journalism. It’s more like two friends, reinforcing their shared worldview to each other, over beers.
You know what? On second thought, I don’t think I’ll liveblog the interview. Like a lot of pro cycling news these days, it’s just too depressing.
Luckily for us, all of that nonsense has nothing to do with the reason we love riding.
PS: I’ll be back Monday.
Until this very second, I have spent all my available time today taking care of sick kids. Not sick as in the kind of sickness you get by reading too much (i.e., any) Stephen KIng, but the kind of sickness you get from being around other kids.
Symptoms include fever, sore throat, and coughing, mostly. And grumpiness. But that’s me, so it doesn’t count.
What I would like you to do, then, is please pretend I have just written something very funny and clever and insightful and maybe even bike-related, and then leave a comment about that really awesome post you imagine I just wrote.
I shall then read your comments, and my heart will swell with pride over the way I somehow managed to write such an excellent and thought-provoking post today.
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