Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Bikes, Bloodsport and Black Shoes - You Can't Handle the Truth

Sadly, it’s been nearly a month since the Tour de France ended and I still find myself habitually channel surfing over to Versus (aka The Mensa Channel). Most of the time I find enlightening programs that showcase noble endeavors such as a) Kicking and punching human beings inside of a cage, b) Shooting and killing unsuspecting wildlife, or c) Hooking, torturing and possibly killing marine creatures while wearing a trucker hat and speaking with a Southern accent. Good wholesome fun for the entire family.

But on the flip side (I am going to try to start using that phrase more) Versus did just show the Tour of Ireland which was cool and they have been kind enough to broadcast the Track & Field World Championships as well as daily re-runs of Bloodsport. Opportunities to view any of these spectacles are always appreciated. Especially Bloodsport.

We will get to the Tour de France and some other topics shortly but in the meantime, I must confess that Bloodsport remains one of my favorite films. It may not be a cinematic masterpiece but it is highly re-watchable and actually gets funnier every time I see it. The fact that Forest Whitaker was a supporting actor to Jean-Claude Van Damme in Bloodsport and went on to win an Oscar for playing Idi Amin always blows me away. Do you think JCVD called him when he won Best Actor? Did Chong-Li need to wear a Bro or a Manssiere? Why did JCVD have a perm in the beginning of the movie? Were we really supposed to believe that Jean-Claude Van Damme was in the U.S. Army? Was it a Belgian Army exchange program or something? And whatever happened to the blonde reporter that JCVD hooked up with? So many questions…

During one of my last viewings I also couldn’t help but notice how much the musical score of the training scene in Bloodsport sounds like the beginning of “Money For Nothing” by Dire Straits. It’s crazy. I kept waiting for Mark Knopfler to bust in on the guitar as Jean-Claude Van Damme was having his legs ripped off on Shidoshi’s torture rope machine. Since when does being able to do the splits confirm that you are ready to fight in the Kumite? It’s like the producers just asked JCVD what kind of weird things he could do and wrote “can do the splits on chairs and stuff” into the script. Perhaps they overestimated his “can fight as if temporarily blinded” skills though. That final fight scene has not aged well.

For the record, I know it’s strange that I cannot stand watching real-life fighting, hunting or fishing on television yet three of my favorite movies are Bloodsport, Predator and Jaws. Go figure. I guess I just prefer my death and violence in fictional form – and apparently starring heavily accented European men. Or Richard Dreyfuss.

Anyway, it seems like enough time has passed that we can now look back on the Tour de France and determine what really went down in the Grand Boucle. For instance…

Code Red aka Garmin-gate aka You Can’t Handle The Truth

Sticking with the movie theme for a moment, I am happy to say that I am re-writing the screenplay to A Few Good Men but will be changing the venue from the Marine Corps to the Tour de France. Please keep in mind that this is a work in progress as there is still some confusion about the actual events. As it stands now, the popular character choices are as follows:

Pfc. William Santiago (the guy who had the Code Red ordered on him) will be played by George Hincapie.

Lance Cpl. Harold Dawson (the guy who was ordered to execute the Code Red order) will be played by David Zabriskie.

Pfc. Louden Downey (the other guy who followed the Code Red order) will be played by Danny Pate.

Lt. Jonathan Kendrick (the guy who passed Dawson the Code Red order) will be played by Matt White.

Lt. Col. Matthew Markinson (the guy who wanted Santiago transferred) will be played Jonathan Vaughters.

Col. Nathan Jessup (Jack Nicholson, the guy who ordered the Code Red) will be played by Matt Johnson.

It remains to be seen what actually happened on the road during Stage 14 so the actors could change but this seems about right from the evidence out there now. I still can’t figure out how Tom Cruise and Demi Moore fit in there though. And I should definitely try to get Melanie Hincapie involved somehow…

Cruel Shoes aka Black Shoe Sheep aka Weekend Warriors

Okay, can we all just come to an agreement that black cycling shoes have no place in the Tour de France anymore? Unless I am mistaken, there were only three riders in the 2009 Tour who regularly wear black shoes: Yaroslav Popovych, David Millar and Lance Armstrong. I see tons of black cycling shoes (often accompanied by neon jerseys and helmet mirrors) on the roads of Boulder every weekend but they just seem awkward in the European pro peloton these days.

Armstrong wears black socks all the time, which makes it seem like he’s wearing thermal booties but at least it looks consistent. Millar seems to go back and forth with his socks but the black shoes certainly make him look British (if that makes any sense). And Popo almost always goes with the white sock/black shoe combo, perhaps as an homage to the old Russian national teams…or Cosmo Kramer.

Regardless, after watching roughly 500 hours of Tour coverage during July I realized that, with the exception of the aforementioned cases, there were only white, silver/grey, red and yellow shoes in the event this year. Understanding that Mavic is responsible for all of the yellow ones, this truly makes Popovych, Millar and Armstrong black sheep. Come on guys, it’s 2009…let’s get with the program.

It’s funny that 99% of Europeans always wear black casual shoes but white cycling shoes are pretty much the ultimate Euro statement. I’m also curious how black cycling and soccer shoes gradually gave way to the rainbow of colors we see on the road and pitch today. They must have had the technology to make different colors for a while so there had to have been some influential athletes who made them acceptable to wear for the rest of the public. Kind of like Michael Jordan rocking baggy shorts or making it cool for balding guys to shave their heads.

Looking back, I recall white shoes becoming popular in the late 1980’s when Andy Hampsten won the Giro in his white Lakes and then Delgado led the way for Time to outfit entire teams with their sweet looking white, grey and red kicks. I still think the second-generation Time model was probably the coolest looking cycling shoe ever. Or should I say…of all Time.

Sorry…I will recount more of the 2009 Tour someTime. I need to go to Time out.


Jason said...

Good entry, it's been a while! I remember watching bloodsport with my friends in 7th or 8th grade, then immediately going out in the front yard shouting "kumite!" and doing our version of martial arts fighting. I also question how often VS. can show mixed martial arts. People always tell me that cycling is boring to watch, but watching two guys with very similar tattoos and cauliflower ears sloppily punch each other gets pretty old

CaliRado Cyclist said...

Check out some of the International titles for Bloodsport:

Titles around the world

* Argentina: El Gran Dragón Blanco (The Great White Dragon)

* Bulgaria: Кървав спорт (Bloody Sport)

* Finland: Bloodsport: Viimeiseen Asti (Bloodsport: To The Last Man)

* France: Bloodsport: Tous Les Coups Sont Permis (Bloodsport: All Strikes Are Allowed)

* Germany: Bloodsport: Eine Wahre Geschichte (Bloodsport: A True Story)

* Hungary: Véres játék/Véres sport (Bloody Game/Bloody Sport)

* Italy: Senza Esclusione Di Colpi (Without Exclusion of Blows)

* Poland: Krwawy Sport (Bloody Sport)

* Portugal: Força Destruidora (Destructive Force)

* Sweden: Utmaningen (The Challenge)

Most of these are pretty close but Without Exclusion of Blows? I think something was lost in the translation there. Who decides what a movie is called when released internationally? These are the things I think about...

Jason said...

nice titles. I especially like "destructive force." The only thing I can figure with the Italian title is that it's something like "no holds barred" which, just happens to be another awesome movie!

Sebastian said...

Neat post; but I'm not sure I follow you about the black shoes. Your point is that . . . they're old-fashioned, and therefore dorky? Well a '66 Mustang is old-fashioned too. I'll admit I'm a bit of a luddite when it comes to cycling fashion, but with the pendulum having swung so far in the direction of corny bling since the mid-90s, it's nice to see a few riders who understand that less can sometimes be more.