Thursday, June 28, 2007

Role Models - Cycling vs The Hibachi

Some of you may have seen footage of NBA Hall of Famer Bill Walton riding a road bike in the 70’s (the 7 footer's head tube was about as long as my arm) and many of you may be aware that current All-Star LeBron James has recently invested in Cannondale. Obviously cycling and hoops go together like…well, actually they really don’t go together like anything. Regardless, it seems that the NBA has another cycling advocate in the person of one Gilbert Arenas, also known as “Agent Zero” or simply “The Hibachi.”

The former Second Round pick for the Golden State Warriors (the only reason I care, even though he’s a Wizard now) regularly updates a phenomenally strange blog to which I was directed recently. It seems as though Agent Zero has been getting in some spins during the off-season and had some things to say about his bike skills and sense of self-preservation. Or lack thereof. Let the Hibachi start cooking below:

“My fear that I was having was falling, that was my biggest fear – falling on my leg. Wouldn't you know, we were riding on the freeway and I had to get off and go on the pike towards the airport and Crystal City. The people behind me were too close so I couldn't break and I had to just jump the curb going at least 15 miles per hour.

Whoo! That wasn't a pretty sight. I had grass stains and all sorts of stuff. I fell on my good leg so it was nothing to worry about. All the cars were stopping and asking, "You alright?" I was like, "Yeah, you know, my ego is hurt but that's about it."

I wasn't wearing a bike helmet. The only people who wear bike helmets are 13-year old girls and Tony Hawk, but that's skateboarding and he's doing flips and stuff. I'm going straight. Ha, well I guess I did end up doing a flip off my bike, but it wasn't a planned one.” – Gilbert Arenas, Agent Zero

Nice. My favorite parts are that he was riding on the FREEWAY, that he makes it seem as though 15 mph is fast and that grass stains were a concern. I know DC is a big city, but there have to better places to ride than the Freeway or the Pike, right?

My least favorite part is when he directly heckles everyone besides 13 year-old girls and Tony Hawk for wearing a helmet. But you may have guessed that would be an issue with me already. Now...I can’t say how worried the Hibachi should be about crashing on his leg but I think he should probably worry more about his skull and brain.

Then again, judging from Agent Zero’s blog and personal history of odd behavior, I really don’t know what is going on in that melon and he may have already suffered a couple dingers. For a quick reference, please enjoy some of the many flavors of Hibachi cooking via Gilbert’s Wikipedia page below. Note – I wish I could make this stuff up. My swag was phenomenal? That’s Gold Agent Zero, Gold!

Courtesy of Wikipedia...

“Gilbert Jay Arenas Jr. (born January 6, 1982 in Florida) is an American professional basketball player currently with the NBA's Washington Wizards.

Arenas was most often nicknamed "Agent Zero," but has increasingly been referred to as "The Hibachi."

While with the Warriors, he once took a shower at half time in full uniform. Before every game he would take a teammate's jersey and hide it in the locker room to make them look for it. Warriors teammate Adonal Foyle called him a "lunatic," and Troy Murphy said he used to lick or put baby powder on donuts he was forced to deliver to the team as a prank.

Arenas has been said to play online poker during the halftime of games, instead of resting or preparing for the second half. He disputes the accuracy of these stories, saying he was misquoted. Arenas says he does not play for money nor does he play online; instead, he plays on a DVD game of poker. On road trips, he will often eschew team outings on the town in favor of sitting in his room, ordering products from infomercials, such as a colon cleanser. In the same interview he said he preferred sleeping on the couch than on his bed, and that he once ate 12 cheeseburgers while on a road trip with the Wizards in Canada.

Arenas agreed to become a team captain for the 2005-06 season after declining the previous year because he said that many times he didn't even believe the things he was saying to his teammates. He has recently been given the nickname "The Black President", and calls himself the "East Coast Assassin", in reference to his quest to prove his abilities to those who did not vote for him to be a 2006 Eastern All Star reserve. Arenas has also begun to refer to himself as "Agent Zero"

During the 2003-04 season, Arenas tried to vote himself into the All Star game, trading a pair of shoes and a jersey for a box of ballots.

During the 2006 NBA season, he began to shout the word hibachi as he took field goal attempts in games, explaining, "You know, a hibachi grill gets real hot. That's what my shot's like, so I've been calling it that: 'Welcome to the hibachi'." He has also stated that while he is scoring on opponents, he is "cooking chicken and shrimp" in reference to his "Hibachi grill," and that if his opponent wanted to double team him, he would "cook filet mignon" as well.

On January 3, 2007, Arenas hit a very long game-winning three-point shot to beat the Milwaukee Bucks. In a post-game interview, Arenas stated that he did not shout "hibachi" or "quality shot." Rather, he told reporters that "My swag was phenomenal."

Arenas is donating $100 for every point he scores in each home game this season (2006-2007) to local D.C. area schools, while team owner Abe Pollin is matching that contribution for each away game. He also mentors a D.C. boy who lost his family in a fire at age 10. Arenas takes him shopping, bowling, got him a job as a ball boy for the Wizards, and acts as a brotherly figure towards him.”

.....What can I say other than...”Wow.” I wish professional cyclists were as interesting as the Hibachi. Here is a guy who may very well be crazy, but he’s a heck of a player and all in all, a pretty solid human being. I mean, he’s never really gotten into trouble and by all accounts is deadly serious about his profession. The fact that he took $20k off of his teammate Deshawn Stevenson during a shooting contest at practice is a testament to his competitiveness at least.

But as fascinated as I am by the Hibachi, I really have to take umbrage with the helmet comment. What an unnecessary thing to say. If I were a 13 year old girl I would be terribly offended. And as a staunch supporter of helmet use, I am far more disturbed by his blog comment than say...this:
Anyway, the main issue is that some young kid who idolizes Arenas could refuse to wear the helmet his parents bought him because of these comments and end up on a ventilator for the rest of his life (or worse). I would never specifically blame Arenas if this happened but it would have to be noted that, as a role model who clearly appreciates his fame, it is TERRIBLY irresponsible to make such foolish and potentially damaging comments. Read the rest of the Hibachi's post on "A Bicycle Built For Zero" to get a better understanding of his popularity with the kids. MEN wear helmets too Gilbert. Responsible men who realize the consequences of our choices and actions and are concerned for the health and safety of the kids that look up to us. "Wizards Season In Jeopardy As Agent Zero Slips Into Coma After Bike Accident" might not be a great headline for a future post on the blog.

Anyway, keep an eye out for Gilbert Arenas if you are ever riding along the Freeway or turnpike in Washington DC. He’s dangerous and potentially running at a very high temperature. But if you are a professional or competitive cyclist with a blog...please ask him for some advice because he is likely far more interesting than you. In the words of Snoop...”Don’t get mad, I’m only being real.”

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Ask Dr. Jeru - Attack of the Inbox

When I started “blogging” I quickly realized that the comment section was kind of a crazy place. Simply put, some people are very comfortable leaving feedback or thoughts in this forum and others are not. With this in mind, I set up an email account for people that wanted to contact me without having to make a “public” comment on the website. This allowed a few people to tell me how wrong I am about various things but also became a way to ask me questions about bike racing and other topics. What follows is a brief sampling of some random questions I have received over the last month or so.

Amazingly, these are actual questions from actual readers. Please note that I use the term “reader” liberally. Names have been removed to protect the ignorant, umm I mean…illiterate, hmmm…innocent. Here goes:

Question: Who would win a race up Alpe d’Huez: Chuck Norris, Steven Seagal or Jean Claude Van Damme?

Dr. Jeru: The immediate response is that it would be Chuck Norris by a wide margin. It is Chuck Norris after all, lifetime sponsor of Jens Voigt and roundhouse-kicker of all things French. Also, most people are not aware that he was Lance’s secret coach during the Tour run. The truth is that Carmichael was a front and Walker Texas Racer was the original title of the show.

Plus, have you seen Seagal lately? Not many people know that he was actually Jan Ullrich’s dietician for a number of years. How many calories are in that new Energy Drink Steve? And what is this “Asian Experience” you speak of? The hairstyle is rather Fignon-esque, but I don’t think Steve is getting up that hill like L-Fig used to. Even though silk kimonos are very aerodynamic. I’m guessing that Hard To Climb would be the name of his movie about the event.

So that leaves us with JCVD, a true legend of splits-inducing karate moves. Now…for reference, I generally operate under a few strict rules when wagering on bike races:

1) Pick the person with the least amount of visible body hair.
Exception – Candelario.

2) Pick the person with the most Dutch or Belgian sounding name. Such as anything with a “Van”, “De” or “Merckx” in it. Exception – Axel Merckx.

3) Pick the person that seems the most comfortable in spandex. Exception – Me.

If I were sticking to these rules, it would be Van Damme all the way. He’s got the least amount of hair, he’s got an uber-Euro name and you know he loves the tight clothes. While none of these rules have much scientific foundation, they tend to be pretty good wagering tips.

However, I have to go against the formula because in this case it seems that JCVD fits all of the above criteria better than Chuck Norris and Steven Seagal. But I still think Chuck Norris wins the race up Alpe d’Huez because of the Number 1 gambling rule of all time:

1A) Don’t bet against Chuck Norris. EVER.

Sometimes you just have to go with your gut and forget the numbers. Also, it’s probably better to stay on Chuck’s good side just in case. I think I just heard knuckles cracking.

Question: Is Danilo Di Luca cooler than me?

Dr. Jeru: In the words of Daryl Strawberry, "Well, I don’t know you but…Yes."

Question: Which shorts are worse, Saunier-Duval or Liquigas?

Dr. Jeru: While both are heinous and unacceptable, I believe that the SD shorts are the worst. It would have been very easy for Castelli to leave off the little “widow’s peak” or whatever that is in the “crotch-al” region. I am a HUGE proponent of black shorts (for many reasons) and they could have just made a nice black center, yellow side panel kind of thing. Instead it looks like Eddie Munster’s hairline over their junk. It’s bad enough that we have been subjected to the all-yellow canary look for the past few years but now this? The worst.

But like I said, the Leaky Gas shorts are grotesque as well. Stripes are bad. Lime green and blue stripes are VERY bad. Then again, Di Luca’s pink splotchy Maglia Rosa duds were even worse. All in all, I have to say this is one of the worst “Pro Kit” years in recent memory.

This brings up and interesting question though. What does one do when his or her team kit sucks? Is there any recourse?

The recreational rider or weekend warrior can pick and choose which team he or she wants to be on so there is no excuse with these people. But for the serious, elite-level to pro racer, sometimes you just have to take what they give you and be grateful for it. Occasionally, I think sponsors make crappy kits on purpose, just to get back at their riders or somehow make a spectacle of them. If this is true…I don’t know what happened to make Jelly Belly such a spiteful company. Or Vitamin Cottage. Or the Village Peddler.

Personally, if I had the palmares of a Savoldelli or Simoni…I’d think twice about donning an Astana or Saunier Duval kit. But then again, here are some of mine that I basically rode in for free so...

On second thought, how much are they getting paid? Oh…yeah, nevermind. Forget what I just said. I’d race in flesh-colored body suit a la George Costanza for that kind of cabbage. Or just go naked and have them tattoo the logos on me. Now THAT would probably get some media attention but I might sacrifice some aerodynamics.

Question: Who will win the Tour this year? Podium?

Dr. Jeru: 1) Vinokourov 2) Leipheimer 3) Evans

More Predictions: Pereiro doesn’t even crack the top 20. Levi wins a mountain stage. Zabriskie wins the long TT and places in the Top 15 overall. Hushovd gets the Green and the Chicken gets Polka Dots again. Bruyneel announces a new Asian sponsor to replace Discovery Channel. More current and former riders will be exposed. Oh…and someone will probably crash or get a flat tire.

Question: Thoughts on the Dauphine?

Dr. Jeru: I am not a huge fan of Christophe “La Chien” Moreau although he did prove to be the strongest, most motivated rider in the event. I don’t know if anyone caught it during the footage from the Dauphine on VS but right after he crossed the finish line on the final stage (following a little post up no less) he completely hocked a full mouth of spit at someone on the sidelines. I couldn’t tell if it was a cameraman or journalist but it was BLATANTLY intentional. Classy move on your home turf there Dog.

I don’t know what it is (actually I do…it’s the attitude, lack of class, stupid tactics and the tube socks to name a few things) but this guy…this is not my kind of guy. Can you imagine if he won the Tour? I shudder to think.

Question: If the Alexi Grewal quote “I never raced for fun in the first place, so I’m not going to start now” is your new favorite, what is the old one?

Dr. Jeru: Good question. Actually my favorite quote is “ –“ which is complete silence as he used to fly past me on the way to Jamestown when I was a Junior.

But I guess that doesn’t count so I’ll go with “Will everyone SHUT UP!?!”

Explanation: During the well-attended Coors Classic DVD release party at U-Bikes this past winter, Race Director Michael Aisner had the mic while a number of the people in attendance kind of spoke amongst themselves before clips of the film were shown.

Aisner eventually began speaking about Davis Phinney and asked the Coors Classic poster-boy to say a few words. Now, the microphone was not terribly loud and DP didn’t want to yell so it became tough to hear him over the murmer of the many other voices in the room.

Within moments, Grewal stands up in front of Aisner and Phinney, turns to the crowd of people in attendance and yells as only Alexi can “Will Everyone SHUT UP!?!”

Half of the room immediately went silent in shock and the other half just started cracking up and applauding. Then Davis reached over and gave Alexi a huge hug. CLASSIC. Someone out there should have this footage because I know there were a number of cameras there. I’ll write more about that night eventually after I properly internalize what it meant. But yeah…that’s my favorite Alexi quote.

Question: Why are there so many Australians succeeding in the US peloton?

Dr. Jeru: There are a number of reasons. First of all, it is a little-known fact that Australia is actually a testing ground for many types of water-based performance enhancing substances. As a result, many Aussies have a significantly higher pain threshold than the average American. The country’s massive consumption of Vegemite is proof of this nation-wide tolerance for pain. Nasty, chewy, bitter pain in a jar.

Oh…they also fight crocodiles and snakes and stuff all the time when they are growing up so bike racing is really pretty easy comparatively. Trust me, Nathan O’Neill would much rather go toe to toe with Phil Z. than get all frisky with a deadly reptile. Even the fuzzy animals like Kangaroos and Koalas are bad-asses down there. Mother Nature was in a weird mood when she set up Oz.

But the main reason Australians come to the States to race and do so well is because the water in our toilets obeys the laws of physics and goes down the drain in a rational, clockwise rotation. You’d be amazed at how a counter-clockwise flush can ruin one’s fitness. It’s the little things. The Aussies may not be honest about it…but I’m pretty sure the toilets are the biggest reason for their success. Come on Henk, admit it.

Plus, Americans are soft and weak. Yeah, that’s right. I said it.

And finally…

Question: What Would Jens Do?

Dr. Jeru: Whatever he wants. You got a problem with that?

Monday, June 18, 2007

Separated At Birth - Captions

Okay, one of the best elements of this here Inter-Web thingy is the unprecedented access to information and images from all over the world. Here are a few pictures that I have taken the liberty of captioning (is that a word?) as well as some photographic evidence of the relatives of some people we know.

The following individuals have been separated at birth:

Rising American Road Sprinter Tyler Farrar and...

...This Guy

Legendary US Criterium / Sprint Monster Jonas Carney and...

...Robert DeNiro in Taxi Driver

("Maybe if we wear costumes, they won't notice us. In the front row of this Hockey game. ")
Speaking of hairstyles - Snoop Dogg's son and...
...Cameo. Word Up.
(By the way...I still don't know why Snoop was wearing a fake mustache during the NHL Finals but's Snoop. He can do whatever he wants. Except fool people with that 'stache.
Now for some captions:
Doctor: "What the...your pulse is at 25 bpm!?!?" Basso: "I have done nothing wrong and have never met Dr. Fuentes. Can't you see that I am tranquilo?" Or...
"But I still get to keep my trophies and rooms full of money though, right?"

Golf is WAY harder than it looks. Or...

Cycling Fans React To Riis, Zabel and Aldag Confessions.

" I am Di Luca...I live on the 2nd floor. You are powerless against my hair gel and green striped shorts. Yes I think you've seen me before."

Clown Training aka Me At The Gym

If anyone can think of good captions for these, please write them in the comment section. I know there are better ones out there.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

The Velo Fro - Nature's Helmet

Many cycling historians will tell you that the UCI’s helmet rule was born out of a concern for rider safety. This sounds nice and seems logical however, few are aware of the REAL reason that helmets became mandatory in 2005. In reality, the helmet rule was a final, last-ditch effort to keep the hairstyles of professional cyclists under control once and for all. Judging from the recent Giro d’Italia, the jury is still out on the success of the project.

The sport of bicycle racing has a long history of riders who have taken great pride in how the wind whistled through their stylish hairdos. Some, like Laurent Fignon went for the sleek pony-tail/wind-sock effect, while others, such as the one and only Laurent Brochard took the cascading mullet route. Note to self: Don’t name child Laurent.

But these guys aren’t the reason that helmets were made mandatory. Stylistically, the helmet rule didn’t really affect the racers who chose the “long in the back” look because they could still get the neck coverage that they so desired. No, the helmet rule was designed for one hairstyle genre in particular. The Velo Fro.

An afro, sometimes called a "natural" or shortened to "fro", is often defined as “a hairstyle in which the hair extends out from the head like a halo, cloud or ball.” Oh yeah. While this is a purely academic description of the afro, the term is often used loosely to describe any head of bushy, curly hair. If you have additional questions about this style choice you can reference the spectacular hip-hop group The Afros’ groundbreaking work entitled “Kickin' Afrolistics” for greater detail. But for the purpose of this article we will stick with cyclist afros or, as I like to call them, Velo Fros - Nature’s helmet.

My first introduction to the Velo Fro came from the legendary Andy Hampsten. Those who follow the sport will recognize that Hampsten is perhaps one of the greatest cyclists in American history. They will also attest to the fact the guy had one wicked Velo Fro going for a few years back in the late ‘80’s. The thing I appreciated most about Andy’s afro was its dryness. It was always fluffy and kind of cotton-y. Never all greased up like the Italian Velo Fro’s we will look at shortly. In fact, few people know that the stored-up heat in Hampsten’s wild and wooly, Colorado-grown Velo Fro was actually what propelled him to victory during the cold and snowy Giro in 1988. Insiders (okay…just me) have since dubbed the race “The Gi-fro d’Italia.”

Another contributor to the UCI helmet rule and the Gi-fro d’Italia phenomenon was the one and only Lion King himself, Mario Cip-fro-llini. Now this is basically the anti-Hampsten look. The Italian was known for his flamboyant style throughout his career but this photo was taken during Cip-fro’s time with the little known Soul Glow Cycling Team shortly after the release of Coming To America. Few people know that he used to scream “Just Let Your Soul Glow” as he crossed the finish line during his many sprint victories. One wonders how many more stage wins he would have gotten with a more aerodynamic do.

Building off of Andy Hampsten’s legacy, another Boulder-based climbing specialist has taken a different approach to the Velo Fro. Over the last two decades, Scott “Morning Hair” Moninger has had almost the same number of follicular adventures as race wins. Okay, he has actually had about two-hundred more race wins but I like this Navigators-issue hairstyle in particular. You can almost see the hair dryer stuffed into his jersey pocket and the Poison tape in the walkman. Rock on Scott, rock on.

Although he is no Cipo, Franco “Il Dolfino” Pelizotti has done a fairly good job of letting his hair do the talking. It may be a bit too “Dee Snyder from Twisted Sister” for my personal taste, but at least those huge sunglasses on the forehead keep the locks in check when he’s doing pre and post-race socializing. I don’t really get the Dolphin nickname though. I’m no Marine Biologist (although George Costanza and I can fake it pretty well) but aren’t dolphins all slick and smooth? Flipper never rocked a Velo Fro. I think Pelizotti’s new nickname should be “Dee Snyder” and he should immediately start using “We’re Not Gonna Take It” as his theme song. Either that or he should be called Franc-fro Pelizotti.

And finally, let’s reflect on the most under-appreciated American cyclist of all time, Ron “Wookie” Kiefel. I am still waiting to hear back from the jury on this one, but I think that is his real hair, although I believe this photo was taken after he had retired. Just a hunch. It may come as a surprise to some but Ron’s real last name is actually Kiefunkel and he has a famous older brother named Art. You may recall Art from his work with Paul Simon in the seventies and eighties. The song “Bridge Over Troubled Water” was actually about Ron making it from the peloton to the breakaway in a particularly wet race for the 7-Eleven squad. It turns out that the duo’s manager didn’t like how “Simon and Kiefunkel” sounded so he ended up changing it to Garfunkel and the rest is history. Anyway, the resemblance is uncanny and should eliminate all doubt as to the legitimacy of their brotherhood.

Over time we will gather some more data and create a Hair Hall of Fame but at least now you know…About the Velo Fro.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Some Recent Photos

Homage To Frank

The Bolder Boulder

A Saturday In Boulder

Past & Future - Can You Spot Davis?

Pavement Tatoo


High Country Nerds

Where Is Hunter S.?

Deck View
Aspen Meadows