Thursday, September 13, 2007

Arbitrary Cogitation - Show Me...Something

So, the road racing season is drawing to a close and the final big event in the U.S. is the altogether confusing Tour of Missouri. Or Missourah, Mizzou or whatever else the local yokels call it. Regardless of your chosen pronunciation, it’s not exactly the first place that comes to mind when thinking about bike racing. Just out of curiosity, is anyone else concerned that the primary locations for two of the biggest events in domestic cycling are Georgia and Missouri? Maybe it’s just me but this seems odd.

Anyway, what does come to mind when thinking of The Show Me State besides its strangely anti-social state motto? Show you what Missouri? Why so skeptical? Well, I can only speak for myself so I will go over a short list of the things that I think about when forced, somewhat unwillingly, to ponder this odd Midwestern/Southern state.

1) The Missouri Compromise, the Dred Scott case and the Mason-Dixon Line – Missouri has a pretty fascinating socio-political history. Not entirely pleasant but interesting nonetheless. A volatile Southern/Midwestern identity crisis has led to a checkered judicial history as well, that has often seen Missouri as a stomping ground of racial and social issues that still exist to this day. No wonder Rush Limbaugh lives there.

Did you know that Missouri is one of only two states that border 8 other states? I’m not sure why, but for some reason I think that is crazy. 8 other states! Are you kidding me?
Maybe all the borders contribute to the weird social make-up of Missouri. I don’t know.

I do know that Missouri's borders physically touch a total of eight different states, as does its neighbor, Tennessee. Missouri is bounded on the north by Iowa; on the east, across the Mississippi River, by Illinois, Kentucky, and Tennessee; on the south by Arkansas; and on the west by Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska (the latter across the Missouri River.)

Now, I’m cool with Iowa and Illinois but the other six neighbors may leave a little bit to be desired in the culture department. Sometimes you are judged by the company you keep.

2) Nelly – I always thought it was weird that Cornell Haynes Jr. aka “Nelly” wore Band-Aids on his face and fashioned himself as a “Southern Country” type of guy. Last time I checked, St. Louis wasn’t terribly country and not too far south either. And why would you want to affiliate yourself with the South as a rapper anyway? But then again, how can we ever hope to understand the machinations of the man that gave the world “Pimp Juice” and thought it was okay to call out KRS-One? Like Chino XL said, “What’s next? Beyonce battling Rakim?”

3) The Los Angeles Rams – My hatred of all L.A. sports teams didn’t completely transfer to the Rams when they moved to St. Louis…but I still don’t like them. And I still call them the Los Angeles Rams. The switch to gold instead of yellow will never erase my childhood nightmares of Eric Dickerson and his stupid Kurt Rambis glasses.

The matching flat top haircuts of Kurt Warner and his wife didn’t help my appreciation of the Rams very much either. But they did make me smile.

4) National Lampoon’s Vacation – For some reason I always love the scene when the Griswold’s take the wrong exit in the Family Truckster and end up in East St. Louis. It just doesn’t get much better than Clark trying to keep Ellen, Rusty and Audrey calm with gunfire in the background. Goodbye hubcaps, hello comedy gold.

Speaking of goodbyes, has anyone seen Chevy Chase lately? I never thought Anthony Michael Hall would be more popular in 2007 than the man who played Clark Griswold and Ty Webb, two of the greatest movie characters of all time. You never know.

Just for reference, Cousin Eddie lived in Kansas, not Missouri. Close but no real tomato ketchup.

5) Branson – Billed as “The Family Friendly Las Vegas,” Branson is just a weird, weird place from what I have been able to tell. With more neon signs and country musicians than should ever be allowed by law in one location, I think Bart Simpson summed up Branson well when he stated “My Dad says it’s like Las Vegas – if it were run by Ned Flanders.” Sounds like fun huh?

Is gambling okay if it is controlled by conservative, right-wing Christians? The fine people of Branson, Missouri say “Yes. Yes it is.”

Speaking of the Simpsons, many argue that their hometown of Springfield is in Missouri although the show makes a point of never clearly identifying which state it is in. I am not ashamed to know this.

5) The Fifth Down – The only other thing that really sticks out in my mind when I think about Missouri is the infamous “Fifth Down” that the University of Colorado football team took advantage of to beat Mizzou a few years back.

To recap, the “Guy who holds the down markers” spaced out, didn’t flip over his down cards and ended up allowing CU five downs instead of the customary four allotted for each series of attempts at a first down or score. How a whole stadium of people, the Missouri players and coaching staff and all of the referees failed to notice that they played five downs will always baffle me. But my school won the game because of it so I guess it worked out okay. Go CU!

So, yeah…The Tour of Missouri. I still don’t know what to think. Show Me…something, even though the race has apparently been gift-wrapped for Big George Hincapie after the second stage. It would be cool to see local guy Willdren of the Frischkorn get on the final podium ‘bout those exciting GC standings in the TdG and ToM this year eh fellas? Yeah...15 and 30 minute gaps do not make for exciting "Tours."

Speaking of Melanie Hincapie’s husband…did anyone happen to catch GH’s post-race comments after the USPRO? Yeah, not exactly happy to have been on the second step that day (even though he was still taller than Levi). I guess maybe George forgot the selflessness Levi displayed last year and all of the subsequent criticism he took for it. Seriously, Leipheimer got a ton of heat for fetching bottles and basically shelling the field for Hometown Hincapie in 2006. Yet, I don’t recall Levi saying he that he could have won and that he had “great legs but just couldn’t use them” like Small George did this year.

But this brings up an interesting topic that Dave Towle and Bob Roll touched on during the coverage that doesn’t get a lot of attention. I am speaking of the fact that a good number of guys racing at this point in the year have not had their contracts renewed for the 2008 season and have essentially been fired from their current teams or have already signed on elsewhere and are essentially racing against their future teammates. Needless to say, there are conflicts of interest a-plenty in September. And since George will be rocking T-Mobile pink next year, the Disco blue probably didn’t mean quite as much that day.

Even though the Pro Tour guys get most of the attention, I always wonder about the Grunts at this time of year. I’m talking about the guys that are scrambling, trying to make a living racing their bikes. The guys that don’t know whether they will be fighting it out on the NRC circuit or just hoping to catch on with a good regional elite team next year. The guys who are deciding how much longer they can risk life and limb in a profession that may force them into a second job in the offseason. How do you keep sacrificing your own chances when you have already lost your spot on the team? I wish there was more attention paid to this late-season dynamic in a sport where motivation plays such a huge role in performance.

With regard to motivation…I am beginning to think that the UCI must be punishing Spain for the whole Operacion Puerto scandal by throwing Alejandro Valverde under the bus before the World Championships. Of all the ridiculous events that have followed the OP Affair, this may take the cake. Has the UCI identified what exactly they have found in the Puerto documents that makes them so certain Valverde was involved? And has the Spanish Federation responded to the evidence the UCI claims to have? Am I talking to myself and wasting my time by even caring at this point? Will this freaking case ever see ANY kind of resolution at all?

Final not on the Worlds though: Oscar, Oscar, Oscar, Oscar. And I don't mean Pereiro.

But speaking of frustrating delays…how about our boy Lloyd Flandis? Remember him? It has now been well over a full calendar year since the Mad Mennonite was fingered by the French Lab of Dopes and he is still flapping in the breeze.

I cannot imagine how difficult it would be to have your entire professional reputation and future riding on a verdict that takes over a year to reach. So much for the right to a speedy trial. Every day that passes without resolution is another day that Landis will never be able to recover. It is SHAMEFUL that this process has dragged on for so long. Guilty or innocent…no one deserves to be kept in limbo like this. They say a verdict will be announced by the end of September but I’ll believe it (maybe) when I see it.

Finally, I would like to end on a high note and mention Taylor Phinney’s recent Individual Time Trial victory in the Junior World Championships.

I can proudly say that I have known the Phinney’s for a little over 17 years and actually met the family when Connie was pregnant with their eldest son. I was a Junior racer for their shop team back then and I have to say, it makes me feel a bit old to see Taylor rubbing elbows in local Pro/1/2 events in Colorado and getting World Championship jerseys.

I had a chance recently to spend some time with Connie and Davis at Thomas Prehn’s birthday party as well as the following morning’s group ride and it was great to see how proud they are. And also how mellow they are about it. This is a family that truly appreciates the value of life on a daily basis and it is heartwarming to know that they have been able to experience this. Listening to Davis talk about Taylor with the expertise of a coach and the love of a father is something I will not soon forget.

Greg LeMond might be concerned about the young Phinney’s future as a professional cyclist, but I have little doubt that he has the support structure needed to be as successful as he wants to be. As Davis says proudly and knowingly, "He's got a huge engine."

And suddenly I am reminded of why I love this sport.


Jeremy T. Arnold said...

I can't believe I forgot Irwin Fletcher.

Make that three of the greatest movie characters of all time.

I'll have a steak sandwich...and a steak sandwich.

Sorry Fletch.

Velovera said...

Nice thoughts. Yes, I thought aout the GA MO issue. I mean, at least there's the Tour of CA and at least MO didn't call itself the Tour de MO like GA. I think there is probably a larger French speaking population in CA and we didn't resort to "de". Anywho... I guess that since I traded in my CA plates for CO I can no longer say "we". Did you miss Bolinas Ridge this weekend as it was the 47th MTHC!

Jeremy T. Arnold said...

I think there are enough Californicators in CO to remain a "we" group. I still have my (415) cell phone number so I figure it's cool to represent the Bay.

Oh dear, the Mt. Tam Hill Climb and the Giro di' SF...if only the Grand Prix didn't get nixed. That made for a great couple of weeks. Such a shame.

Mt. Tam is still my favorite place on Earth. I actually miss the dirt loops by Phoenix, Lagunitas and Bon Tempe as much as anything. The 7 Sisters even emailed me a while back and asked why I never visit them anymore. Sorry ladies, I'll be back soon.

No matter how shelled you are...the view from the East Peak is about as life-affirming as it gets. Better than Magnolia eh?

I wish I could do Alpine after work but I guess Lefthand will have to do.

The leaves are starting to turn and this is the best time of year to ride in CO. Good times...but I still miss The Mountain. And the fog.

Velovera said...

I flew back for the Giro. Call me crazy, but I love that race. I love all the people but not the pavement. I was the Hill Climb director the last two years and threw that on my poor friend Jenn this year. The rangers are trying to shut the race down or outprice the permits so that we can't run the race anymore. I truly hope there will be a 48th MTHC.

I miss Alpine Damn and I do certainly miss Phoenix Lake and Eldridge and all the blood I have left on Mt. Tam. I am truly intimate with that mountain. And nothing is better than MBC after a late afternoon dirt ride. Ho hum, I am making myself homesick.

When I lived in Switzerland, I went home about every 6 months, but I was never "home" until I was on a bike on Tam. Rental or my own... I just HAD to get on Tam. I have my spare roadbike in my mom's garage. I still have to ride in Marin to be at home.

I will never give up my 415 cell. Good point.

Is anyone else afraid of the "Respect Life" license plates? I grew up in Berkeley...

Jeremy T. Arnold said...

Nice Brew Co reference. You see those shirts around Boulder all the time. Brewed in me.

The Giro is a crazy race. I had a great view of some Lombardi's idiot trying to fight an Alto Velo guy after a crash there a couple years ago. Good times. I don't miss all the helmet-less Eurostyle Lombartards cruising through Marin. What is it with those guys?

Yeah, the Rangers don't love the MTHC from what I recall. Fire hazards, schmire hazards. Maybe the sparks from alloy rims on the cattle guards? Wish your friend luck with the event though. It's a classic.

My Mom lived in Mill Valley and my Dad lived in Stinson Beach when I was growing up so The Mountain is truly a part of who I am. I did the Dipsea when I was 4. I have still yet to find anything like it on the planet. But I'll keep looking.

So...I thought the "Respect Life" license plates were a bit too political as well. Then C-Mac informed me that they are actually meant as a memorial for the sudents and faculty of Columbine High School.

My response: "D'oh. My bad. I guess that explains the flower."

I can't believe that was 1999. Crazy.

Velovera said...

I too asked about them as I was so freightened, and was told they were for Columbine. I still think they are a little political though.

I have two MBC T's. I wear them with my soulcraft T as well. And the Squaw sticker stays on the Car!

OK, have to laugh about the Lombardi statement. They are the biggest jerks on the road! I was telling a friend this and he told me that they are supposed to say "hi" and be more friendly. The kinder gentler Lombardi boys. Euro snobs, I say! My team is much more friendly, then again the men barely ever race! I went to superweek and really couldn't cheer for the lone Lombardi guy. Instead I cheered for the Squadra and Cal Giant guy.

I just joined, sort of Rocky Mounts/Izze so I will be no longer California Road Club, although I threatened to be CRC Rockies, but being the lone team member gets old.

I also have a WTB steel Phoenix. Nothing says Marin like that bike.

The Rangers are not bitching about fire danger, they just hate the traffic we create, the cars at Stinson, the potential traffic at Rock Springs. They just hate cyclists I have concluded. I was thinking that next year we should get the bike coalition involved, but I dont' know how they feel about being behind a bike race. It's truly silly.

Jealous you grew up in Mill Valley. When I was 9, I decided that Marin was the best place on earth. I finally moved there when I was 27. I still adore it.

I have photos from the top of Tam on my blog from July 06. Incase you get homesick.

Anthony said...

Any man who doubts the cultural significance of a state that brings you bourbon, tobacco and a recipe for fried chicken that has remained a secret for 55 years probably drinks mojitos and eats tofu.

Jeremy T. Arnold said...

Colonel Sanders, is that you?

I was wondering if anyone would take offense to my state heckling.

Actually, I like Kentucky. Kind of. Lexington is quite nice from what I saw. And props on the fried chicken. The bourbon and tobacco not so much. Interesting how all three of those things are hazardous to your health.

But then is bike racing. I have never broken collarbones going through a bucket of Extra Crispy.

I could do without the whole Adolph Rupp era of the Bluegrass state. Tubby Smith is better but still...that's more Adolph than I am comfortable with.

Note to expecting parents: Please don't name your son Adolph.

For reference, I don't drink Mojitos or eat much tofu. I prefer a nice Zima and gelato after my meal of KFC, Jack Daniels and a pack of Marlboros.

Mmmm...I can almost taste all that Kentucky goodness right now.

Anyone want to go shoot some hoops or race horses?

Anthony said...

How about shootin some race horses? Lexington is nice if big hair and face paint are the kinda thing youre into, but if you want to stay out till 4am drinkin and stuffing $1 in the ladies g-strings after the Big Game and only want to take two hours off before you start all over, Louisville is the only way to go. We are also having some USGP CX race, but from what I understand, there ain't no necked ladies or ball being passed around, so I aint concernin myself.

Yes all three are deadly, thats why Kentucky is a true mans state, even Chuck Norris steps lightly in the KY, if at all. However, KFC is now transfat free, so the stuff is pretty much good for you. I actually had a bucket last night after Tuesday night worlds. Had them mortar in the spaces between the chicken with cheese and mashed tators. My heart was beating around 80% of my max once I finished, thats just like doing two a days.

Baublehead said...

I was going through withdrawals on your blog.

And you saved yourself, I was going to call you out of Fletch.

Fletch: Do you have any caviar?
Waiter: Si seƱor, Beluga, but it is 80 dollars a portion.
Fletch: Well, then I better just take two portions of that

Jeremy T. Arnold said...

Oh man…I didn’t realize I was stirring the Louisville/Lexington rivalry. Nice. Rivalries are great. When I lived in the Bay Area we could hate L.A. and it was wonderful. Nothing like intra-state battles.

Boulder doesn’t really have an arch rival town. And Fort Collins certainly does not warrant rival status to the Republic of Boulder. Nor does CO. Springs. Sorry kids…The Pate, Katie Compton and Creed are not enough.

For reference though, I have never doubted the manliness of Kentucky. Daniel Boone, Ft. Knox, Muhammad Ali, Abe Lincoln, Hunter S. Thompson and Ashley Judd pretty much cover most of the Manly bases.

Hunter S. did become a Colorado guy though…at the Compound in Aspen. But anyway…good job Kentucky. That’s an all-star list right there.

Final KFC note: I used to do Chicken Little intervals back in the day. Whatever happened to those?

My training was to eat three…rest for 15 minutes to get the HR back down. Then descending quantities of 2 and 1 followed by a biscuit with 10 and 5 minutes of rest in between.

A $1 chicken sandwich is a lethal weapon in the hands of a latch-key teenager.

What branch of the military was Colonel Sanders in anyway?

Was there security clearance involved in the storage of the Original Recipe?

Was he in Special Sauce Ops?

Does Colin Powell know the right blend of herbs and spices?

I need more information.

Jeremy T. Arnold said...

Yeah, I really bricked on the Fletch oversight. Inexcusable.

I am also concerned that I neglected to correctly refer to him as "Irwin M. Fletcher" as well. I let myself down, my team down...I let Fletch down.

I have heard rumors of a third Fletch installment. Or should I say "second installment" because we should all pretend that Fletch Lives never happened. Except the Calculus Entropy character, played by the one and only Cleavon Little. Vegas Vacation and Caddyshack 2 never happened either.

Did you know that Richard Pryor was going to play Little's role in Blazing Saddles? Thanks to E! for that little bit o' info. Er...I mean ESPN.

Did you also know that I can remember this crap and the relevant stats of most Niners, Giants and Warriors but have no idea what most of my family's birthdays are?

I feel bad now. Can someone tell me how I can make a living writing about Sports and Pop Culture so I don't feel guilty anymore? Bill Simmons are you out there?

Lasers are cool but grown adults playing games and 80's and 90's entertainment industry references are much cooler.

Anthony said...

I belive the Chicken Little has now been replaced with the, (as fun to say as it is to chew), Snacker. Easily is the most fun youre mouth can have for 99 cents.

C'mon, doesnt Denver tick you guys off just a bit, all big and showy?

I do believe YUM! Brands (as seen on the horses butts at the last Derby, which may have been confusing to low grade meat shops that may have thought it was just a stamp of tastiness) has leased a spot in Fort Knox for the original recipe wrapped in the Colonels cold, dead hands.

I believed he served in the first division of Finger Lickin Goodeness.

Daniel Boone and Cassius are both fine fellas, but that list can begin and end with Ashley Judd.

John Cocktosten said... I am late for my appointment with Alan Stanwyck, Fat Sam and Dr. Rosenrosen aka Jelly Finger.

Oh well, it's all ballbearings these days anyway.

Anonymous said...

Hey! If you feel like going on vacation where it's nice and beautiful then check out Branson vacation.

Anonymous said...

There are some great
Branson shows to see if you ever head that way.