Monday, July 13, 2009

Tour de France: Etapes 4 through 9!

The breakdown for the first week of the Tour is so: Armstrong takes a bite out of his closest rival (and teammate) Contador with a cunning technical move during a windy stage. Closest rival and teammate Contador is non-plussed and takes first opportunity (Stage 7) to take the time back from Lance and put himself into second place. He attacks on the final climb of Stage 7 into Arcalis and takes back the 20+ seconds Armstrong stole with the help of Team Columbia. So now after Stages 8 and 9, an Italian Rinaldo Nocentini wears the maillot jaune and leads the race by a scant 2 seconds. For Stages 10-12, watch as the sprinters teams try to reel back breakaways consisting of one to 6 riders and create opportunities for the fast men of the Tour while Nocentini tries to keep the yellow jersey. Mark Cavendish will try to take back the maillot vert (green sprinters jersey) from Thor Hushovd and go all the way to Paris for his first green jersey win of his career. The next week should be fairly pedestrian, some stages will be for the sprinters while some breakaways will survive. Stage 14 should start the fireworks anew as contenders and would-bes will try to erase margins and vie for the podium, if not the win. I am undecided about the race this year. Is Contador the leader of his own team? Is this whole rivalry thing a ruse for publicity? Could Armstrong win again? One thing is for certain, look for a selection to happen on Stages 13, 16, 17, 18, and definitely Stage 20. It has been a while since the final stage before the ceremonial ride through Paris pitted man against man instead man against clock. Likely Stage 17 will prove whether Armstrong's aging form will wither under the power of younger foes or not. Keep watching and enjoying! Don't worry about the green, white, or polka dot jerseys as much as the yellow. Pay attention to overall time and the following names: Armstrong, Contador, Vandevelde, and Wiggins. The first two are the only ones left that can realistically contend for the overall; Vandevelde (an American and my personal favorite) has been quiet thus far and could make a stir; Wiggins (a Brit) is having the Tour of his life and could supplant Leipheimer from his spot on the podium, if he plays his cards right.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Etape Tres

Fabian Cancellara showed tactical skill and luck today by hanging with the decisive move. After frustration brewed unabated for Team Columbia, they decided to shatter the race and the resulting 39 second time gap between that group and the peloton may prove difficult to overcome for some of the favourites. With ~20 K to go, Team Columbia produced an echelon (a staggered paceline) in the angled headwind and motored to the finish line with about 30 riders. This was no group of slouches, you see, Lance Armstrong was in the winning move as well as Cancellara. Armstrong was the only favourite in the move and he erased the 40 second gap created by his teammate and rival Alberto Contador in the prologue. This moved him into 3rd place. Oh, and by the way, Mark Cavendish won the stage with a blistering sprint. If you want to see better coverage, go to If you can't get streaming video, this site at least has a good live feed. So Armstrong has thrown down the gauntlet and shown that he may be less than willing to succomb to team tactics. We will see what happens tomorrow when he must ride with his chief opponent during the team time trial (all riders from a team ride together, in staggered start list with the other teams; the fifth rider that arrives marks the team's collective time). Enjoy and I am glad you are interested!! By the way, I am cheering for Christian Vandevelde. He rides for an american team, is a clean rider (hopefully), and is coming back from a wreck in May, during which he broke the spinous processes off of five cervical vertebrae.... ow. Go Christian! After that cheeky move today, I can't help but sheer for Armstrong a little.

Le Tour, Lefevre

Tour Fever is in full effect. This is one of three times a year I feel an overwhelming draw toward France. Two are racing related and the other is history related. Anyway, the Tour started on Saturday. It is pretty epic this year. No not because a certain Texan is in the peloton but due to the depth of the start list. The stars usually shine on le Grand Boucle but now they are truly training to sparkle during different parts of the race. The sprinters have always clawed for wins on the flats, climbers have always lusted for steep pitches, and time trialers have their thoughts cast toward the clock. It is more apparent than ever that pros are peaking not only for the Tour, but for very specific parts of the Tour. It is no longer possible to dominate in more than one aspect due to heightened scrutiny and testing.

For the third time in five years, Fabian Cancelara has won the prolougue time trial and will fight to keep the yellow jersey for a few days. In 2008 he did so with a calculated and ferocious attack during the final kilometer of a stage he had no business winning. This year we may see more of the same as he will covet the maillot jaune until the end of the week.

Hopefuls for the general classification will begin battling on Friday as the route makes the traditional turn into the Pyrenees. Look for Carlos Sastre, Cadel Evans, Levi Leipheimer, and Christian Vandevelde to hang in, Lance Armstrong to attack, and Contador to sit pretty.

While the usual happenings happen, watch the brave and foolish hunt for stage wins to the behest of the sprinters. Riders like Sylvain Chavanel, Thomas Voekler, and Christophe Moreau will put themselves to the steel in order to look as foolish as possible in the name of France's withered Tour hopes (they haven't won since le Blaireau did in 1985). Someone may attack unexpectedly and pull on the yellow jersey in time for Basteele Day!

Please don't focus on the scandals of professional cycling. Consider the monumental analogy for human suffering and achievement that the Tour de France represents. These men train to the tune of 15- 20000 miles per year just for the chance to finish the Tour, let alone win a single stage (there are 21 stages and 180 riders at the beginning so you do the math)! Then they pour themselves into the forge of sport, media, and human intrigue, hoping to be cut from the mold of as a winner. They don't get paid $50000 a day to sit on the bench half the time or pick their nose on camera. Some hardly make $50000 a year!

Please try to watch some of the great HD coverage by Versus. You will not regret spending an hour watching the final 40 or so Kilometers, I promise. Better yet, try to catch an entire early morning live cast of at least one stage. Trying to figure out just what the heck is going on might fry your brain, but I promise I can answer most questions. A million tiny things make the first half of a race interesting (wrecks, feed zones, group restroom breaks, etc.) and add up during the second half to leave you with every hair on your body standing up and your heart pounding as if you were there at the finale! If I am wrong, I will pay you one French franc.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Blog about Nothing...

What is the answer? To what you ask? Anything, I say. As I look out of my windows, I see a world rife with social, cultural, and technological proliferation. Is the world becoming better? Worse? Perhaps thats why I usually post about nothing in particular. I have random thoughts then vomit them onto the keyboard. Spell and Grammar Check hold my proverbial hair and then, Voila! Nothing. Just imagine when I start to teach Anthropology to college students next spring. In the words of our pastor, "The faster you are going, the more you need to slow down". Maybe next time I will try to be funny and, as usual, fail. But today, a little somber...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

3.6 hours in B-ville

So in the vain of Ryan's post entitled "36 Hours in Raleigh", I thought I would write my own and inspire you all to visit our little burg.

Hour #1: De-boned chicken sandwich at Carter's (kill me with the mayo, please; seriously, I want to have a palpitation). Next, waltz over to the Small and shop at Belk's.

Hour #2: Take a walk at the river and see how many goats you can count head-butting each other and bleating self-importantly. Next, walk our wonderful nature trail.

Hour #3: Stroll our cute downtown and walk through the courthouse; I assure you, it is quite lovely inside. Next, pop into Reeve's and buy something you totally think you need, but really don't.

Hour #.6: Come to our house and swim in our pool. The liner in the shallow end has more wrinkles than Joan Rivers' real head (hidden under her prosthetic head) but it holds water and our girls love it!

We love our little town because we have found great friends to spend time with and be inspired by. It doesn't matter where you live, as long as you're with the right people and happy.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Living to excess

Ryan Lindgren has inspired me to question the confines of excess. How do you live just hard enough without dying? How many glasses of water WOULD be fatal? How many pieces of bubblegum can be chewed at once before you die of insulin shock (the world record for number of pieces at once was 36 the last I heard)? I once chewed 27 pieces of Super Bubble gum at once. The wad was about 3.5 inches in circumference and the puddle of pink sugar vomit was about 2 feet in diameter. Seriously, I was bored at work and attempted it but fell woefully short of glory. How many times can you bend over and then snap back to a standing position before you have an embolism? How much can you taunt a woodchuck before it will nibble your bum? I don't know. So stop asking me stoopid questions Matt Ring.

H2O intolerant

Does anoyone ever do things absentmindedly? What was I talking about? Oh yeah, yesterday I drank like 96 ounces of water in 2 hours without thinking about it at all. I have a lexan bottle that holds about 32 oz. and I filled it and then emptied it three times between 7AM and 9:30. That is a good thing, except for the periodic restroom visits( Matt, you mioght recognize this sign). And by periodic I mean every 20 minutes or so. People around here probably think I'm strange enough, but when I'm walking into the BR every forthour my "intriguing allure" is intensified. I often wonder if people also think it is strange that I carry my empty plastic bottle with me into the bathroom, intending to fill it in the water fountain upon exit. I promise I am not undergoing drug testing. Anyway, I guess the point is that I was extremely hydrated all morning but a little irritable and quick with some people. I was actually doing them a service by not letting them see a grown man have an accident in his office. I think I just blogged absentmindedly, reinforcing the point in the first place...