Big Tex meets his Alamo

The Big Wheel has turned, as it will, and this time it ran over The Boss.

Big Tex decked it in stage eight when he clipped a pedal and rolled his front tire, and after a couple of Euskaltels spazzed out in front of him, forcing him to skid to a stop and unclip, (who teaches these E-E dickweeds how to ride, anyway?), you could see it in his face as he stood there for a moment, hands on hips.

Fuck this shit.”

Johan Bruyneel said his man “effectively threw in the towel” after he realized a hip injury left him incapable of cranking out the watts to get back among the big boys. Texus Maximus almost looked relieved for a while once he’d made his decision, but when he finally crossed the finish line nearly 12 minutes down he looked pissed.

“It’s sad to see, but that’s sport,” said Bruyneel. And so it is. Now Phil ’n’ Paul will have to learn a name other than Lance Armstrong, and the chamois-sniffers will have to learn to appreciate a different bouquet.

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21 Responses to “Big Tex meets his Alamo”

  1. rustlust Says:

    Stick in a needle, um fork in LA he’s done–whatever, feeling ambivalent towards the guy. Lets hear it for the mountain bikers: Ryder & Cadel and Rasmussen and Flandis, no not the last two.
    Patrick-why must I go to a sports network website to find out who has won for the day–VN seems to keep that a tight secret and BTW maybe Wilcockson coulda’ kicked an old dawg some more bones instead of investing in VeloCenter with their eye candy with her indistinguishable accent–WTF? –just sayin’

  2. Patrick O'Grady Says:

    Rustlust,

    Yeah, I hear you on that. The VN.com site has been something of a work in progress for quite a while now. The latest model does without the rotating four-photo marquee, using only a single pic, and as I understand it, the only three items that get in there during Le Tour are (a) the live update; (2) the stage report, and; (iii) VeloCenter (the big boss like him some teevee).

    Meanwhile, as sidebars come flowing in, the race report gets shoved down the homepage and in some cases can actually drop right out of the newshole entirely if someone doesn’t re-date it so it climbs back up.

    As regards VeloCenter or any other post-stage talking-heads recap, being an ink-stained wretch I’m not much interested in video, unless it’s live video of the race. I also wonder whether it was wise to spin off our MTB coverage onto a separate website (Singletrack.com).

    Anybody else have any thoughts on VN.com? I’ll be happy to pass ’em along to the decision-makers. I’m sure there will be an extensive post-mortem following Le Tour, and they’d probably be delighted to hear from anyone other than me.

  3. khal spencer Says:

    That’s a shitty way to get spat out of the lead group but I wonder what’s going on inside Big Tex’s head. Its amazing that he gets caught up in so many crashes lately and while its been years since I actually pinned on a USCF number, I wonder if these are a lot of mental lapses. I’d have preferred to see him go out a little less unglued.

    Agree with Rust Lust. It used to be a lot easier to pick up the trail of the Tour results. My comments to the VN brass would be “if it wasn’t broke, why the fuck did you try to fix it”?

    At any rate, all snarkiness aside, muchos gracias to O’G, CP, and the other folks in the trenches. On Sunday mornings, I’m likely to trudge down to the kitchen, make coffee and food and turn on the Tube. During the week, the VN site is probably on the hit list of every worker productivity auditor in the US.

  4. Sharon Says:

    On a side note Patrick, we were driving from Missouri to Texas today (long story), but caught the race via Velonews mobile coverage on Blackberry. Awesome is the only word to describe the excitement as my husband and awaited each few minutes as we learned what was happening. Crazy in this high tech world that we could get so much excitement from just a few words between each new mobile tower. Thanks to Velonews for making the drive home more fun. Congrats to Andy Schleck. We kept thinking he could have done better last year if he hadn’t kept waiting for Frank. And that won’t happen this year for sure. So may be one of the most interesting tours in some time.

  5. Patrick O'Grady Says:

    K, I never got seriously injured doing sports until I was in my 30s and beyond (two dislocated digits, two broken collarbones, etc., et al., and so on and so forth). I’m thinking the reaction time must dip a bit as the hair grays and/or goes away. Plus the road furniture overseas seems to have proliferated like dumb on TV.

    Throw in distractions like federal inquiries and it must be tough to do the old effortless bunny-hop onto the sidewalk and back into the bunch, then murder everyone on the first big hill. The older you get, the more bad noise there is echoing in your skull. Well, mine, anyway.

    Sharon, glad to hear the mobile coverage is working for you. My colleague Charles Pelkey says the little window listing “the men in the break” doesn’t work on mobile, so he repeats it during his live updates. Have you and your husband noticed that?

  6. james Says:

    VN.com? Never heard of it. Big Tex? Who dat?

    Maybe if the whizbags at Competitor weren’t such lunkheads on tri-bikes maybe they could have saved the fiasco before it rolled a tire and went arse first into the curb….and down the proverbial drain. Honestly I haven’t regularly checked that site since the middle of the last Administration. It was like reading USA Today for cycling….and about as informative. All bullet points and whizbang graphics but no real meat. Can’t say that the so called “Letters to the Editor” (which used to be hilariously funny) was useful since they usually only had three letters posted. Shouldn’t that right there tell you something? Too many fanboys, not enough other disciplines of the sport (track, cross, BMX and even mountain). Might as well just call it “Cycling Fanboy Porn” for all I care.

    At least we can only hope that TCWSNBN stays as such. The less of that megalomaniac I have to skip over the better. Do you know how hard it is to read anything in the MSM about cycling when boycotting that DB? Nearly impossible. Which might explain why I watched the entire World Cup final today, and only about 90 seconds of some bike race in France. Wake me up when cross season starts will you? Then I might care.

  7. khal spencer Says:

    Between advancing age, egocentric pressures, and distractions (such as Federal prosecutors) that says a lot. My worst crashes (broken collarbone, 3rd Deg. A/C separation, concussion) were always happening when I was in close quarters with something I could plow into while mentally somewhere else.

    Not the first time Big Tex had a run-in with a feed bag mishap either. This time the feed bag won.

  8. Larry T. Says:

    Ciao from near France. We drove over to Les Gets yesterday, jumped on the bikes and joined the mass of folks who usually show up at Alpe d’Huez when Le Beeg Shew goes there. Tons of tour companies from all over the world along with the rest of the fans made it quite a scene atop the climb. We scored a spot at the 100 meters to go sign, grabbed some French race food and settled in for the day broiling in the sun while watching the action unfold on the big TV screen. Most fans were paying more attention the the free stuff being handed out along the course but we saw early-on that Evans had crashed, then saw the evidence of the first BigTex’ getoffs. Rolled a tire? THAT’s pathetic in this day and age but whatever, the old dog doesn’t have any dope that’ll take 10 years off his age anyway. The final climb itself pales in comparison to the stuff we’ve been doing here in Italy, yours truly never even used his lowest gear to haul his fat ass up there! But it was tough enough in the broiling sun in the afternoon especially after the earlier climbs. Great to see Evans in yellow, hanging in even after crashing himself. As to VN.com, I agree it’s become mostly BigTex-news and more of a industry rah-rah site than a true cycling news source. We’ll take it easy today before deciding whether to go tomorrow to see the race again live in-person.

  9. barry Says:

    I could chime in with a different take on the mobile version of the VN site. I had to ditch watching it on the idiot box and later hoped to check into VN.com with the iPhone to read what happened through the live update. No dice….right there was the headlines “Bix Tex’s Tour is done” etc, ad nauseum….So much for suspense.

    So I wanted what rustlust got and I got what rustlust wanted. There’s two unsatisfied people in the world. Quick! Someone fix it!

  10. steve-o Says:

    Singletrack.com is VN’s knobby-tyred step-brother? Who knew?

    I dunnoh … half the folks on Madison Avenue are idiots, but every now and again a blind squirrel finds an acorn and they come up with a good idea. There’s something to be said for branding. I’ve subscribed on and off for as long as I can remember, but I’ll be damned if I can tell which “products” are organic to VN and which are strap-ons or side-deals. I saw all of those Singletrack.com ads, and assumed times were hard and VN was taking ads from competitors.

    James might think you guys suck, even if he’s incapable of articulating why, but I think the problem is a wee bit more nuanced than his good guys (CX’ers) vs bad guys (tri-guys, LA, and anyone who lives in Boulder, apparently) argument. VN’s in a tough market. 99% of folks who own bikes are not, by any stretch of the imagination, “competitive.” Pre-web, you could charge a hefty penny for a magazine that met the needs of a niche audience, but no longer. The number of people in this country who can pick Brad Huff, Michael Creed, or Jonathan Page out of a line up … well, you can count them on one hand.

    I really think that’s the bottom line. People who race bikes don’t necessarily want to spend their time reading about others who race bikes anymore, or, at least, not in a web-based, come to the trough delivery system. These guys are reading each other’s tweets, not sitting around looking for a conduit or aggregator of bike racing news.

    That leaves VN in the unenviable position of either becoming a less profitable, more niche product, or diluting its service into something kinda like that GQ-in-spandex thing that Rodale publishes.

    Here’s what I see are VN’s strengths: great writers, and … umm, thinking … You just can’t top VN’s staff. Great writers, years of experience, all of that. If nothing else, I rarely read anything in VN where I say to myself, “that was the stupidest fooking thing I’ve ever heard,” and in this day and age, that’s a rarity.

    Weaknesses: It pains me to say this, but there’s been a lack of follow-through for a few years now. I don’t know how many times I’ve read an article on-line, minutes after the race, and found the provisional results of maybe the top five or so. Then I come back 3 days later, and it’s still shown as provisional and incomplete. Similarly, VN frequently goes 3-4 weeks without updating the letters to the editor section. (Given that you can post a comment to any article, that feature needs to be re-tooled. Between a comments section and the Explainer, a generic Letters section without a clear purpose might be as useful as a screen door on a submarine. But either way, letting a month lapse without updating it seems like a big FU to the readers.)

  11. steve-o Says:

    Mobile coverage: gotta think that’s where the entire website is heading. And VN’s works great. But like the folks at RadioLab say, it’s a free service, but it’s not free. How about running some ads at the bottom of the pages? Something to bring in some cheddar but nothing too in-the-reader’s-face?

  12. Swell Says:

    What a world! Big Tex down, and Harvey Pekar dead. http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/herocomplex/2010/07/american-splendor-harvey-pekar-.html

  13. khal spencer Says:

    Steve-O, regarding the letters to the ed.

    Comments and letters are two different animals, from what I have seen. Comments on the web are (as, of course, this is), typing whatever you are thinking about at the moment. Kind of an instant brain dump.

    At least back in the days when Patrick and I had more speed and less midsection, a letter submitted to the editor presumed a certain amount of editorial quality, at least if you wanted it to pass the laugh test. I wrote lots of them and took each one as a challenge. Speaking for myself, I used to write a first draft, edit, re-write, re-think, run it by someone (usually my wife, the English Professor) and then finally come back and submit a decent essay to a journal or newspaper. 250 words or less made you focus your ideas. There was no guarantee that the newspaper would accept your submission, so the onus was on you to make it compelling.

    Nowdays, we can write whatever crap comes to mind and the assumption is it will appear on the electronic screen and unfortunately, some take that as validation of their crap thinking. To me, that has been the downfall of good writing and good thinking–the new philosophy that there are no standards of quality out there leads individuals to value a core-dump over a compelling argument. The whole country has been increasingly downgraded to written and oral drivel.

    VN writers, both online and print version, are very, very good. Its too bad the media has been so badly mangled.

    Off of soapbox.

  14. Larry T. Says:

    US cycling writers are rarely good, with obvious exceptions. Too many are cycling fans with marginal writing skills who give their stuff away for nothing. One of the writers at Italy’s Bicisport wrote his PHD thesis on the Gino Bartali smuggling of documents to free Jews during the war. That mag costs 5 euros and NOTHING is on the web…one must buy the magazine to read the stuff in there and most of it is intelligent and well-written. Would this work in the US of A? I remember the days of Bicycle Guide, a well-written mag if there ever was one in the US. I’d gladly pony up some greenbacks to read a mag of this quality each month or so. Sadly they don’t seem to exist anymore in the world of cycling. My guess is the market is too small and diffused these days, unlike here in Italy. Gotta go, time for a Savoie salad and a Petit Rouge wine from Valle d’Aosta. I think we’re going to skip watching Le Beeg Shew live tomorrow in favor of riding our MTB’s here in the mountains and catching the race on RAI 3 with a beer or two.

  15. khal spencer Says:

    I’d be interested in the Bartali disseration. Who is the author?

    I don’t expect the writers at VN to be writing their dissertations; given the attention span of the average reader these days, such an attempt would be wasted on the audience. I’ve seen those demands for Reader’s Digest versions of critical presentations show up in the workplace as well. I was recently asked to reduce the League of American Bicyclist’s Traffic Skills 101 course to ” a one page flyer, because we are all busy”. My response had to be severely edited.

    Being able to write a compelling story, written well, that holds together and is long enough to cover the subject matter adequately suits me fine. What is that old expression “how long is long enough for a skirt? Long enough to cover the subject, short enough to keep it interesting”. If I want a ten or twenty page read, I’ll pick up the Atlantic or New Yorker. But I am sure there are subjects in cycling that would warrant a long story and we are not seeing them. Bartali’s smuggling operation one of them. An investigative journalism article on the current doping mess is another.

    Back a few years ago Buycycling Magazine had their Saturday Night Massacre and fired all the writers who could write a coherent story that took longer than one trip to the loo to read. Ever since then its been a glorified PR mag for whatever crap they are selling. With a few notable exceptions from time to time. I get it as a freebie because I’m a LAB member.

  16. Larry T. Says:

    Paolo Alberati is the Bicisport writer. I believe his book is only available in Italian. We met him a few years back in Perugia though a colleague of Heather. He’s a pretty decent bike rider as well as writer, another thing that separates the Italian cycling journalist from most others. I never cared much for the Rodale mag, whether old or the current pathetic version.

  17. khal spencer Says:

    Thank you.

    When Buycycling is trashing bicyclists as bad as some motorists, one has to wonder.

    http://labikes.blogspot.com/2010/01/if-bikes-are-just-toy.html

  18. Larry T. Says:

    If the mag folks don’t think bicycles are toys/fashion, how can they convince their big-buck advertisers to buy full-page ads selling cars, penis enlargers and all the other consumer stuff? Old Bob Rodale must be turning 100 rpms in his grave nowadays as his publishing empire devolves into one step above News of the World or the National Enquirer. It’s sadly come down to “cycling as shopping experience” and “you are what you buy” like the rest of consumer culture. Remember when bike riders/racers spent all their money on the bikes and equipment and drove whatever ratty car they could afford afterwards? Now it’s the latest Chevrolet Subdivision or Cadillac Excrapade festooned with a pair of $10K machines ready for Alpe d’Huez driven over to the local charity ride. Better stop now, the old fart rant is starting to sound familiar!

  19. khal spencer Says:

    Test.

  20. Jon Paulos Says:

    Guys, guys, guys. Just because we’re old guys doesn’t mean we have to think like our bodies act, old and decrepit. Print media dead? Hardly. The business model has shifted. Remember how Borders and Barnes&Noble decided to compete with Amazon? Clicks-and-Mortar, the mating of retail locations to online. How are the big media doing it? The same. USA Today was on my hotel doorstep this morning and you can go to their site for the same stuff. How does Velonews make money? Combo effort. Take the magazine Process Cooling, an industry magazine I’m sure you never heard of. I co-wrote and article for them and when I saw it in print, they’d chopped it in two. The first half was in the print mag, and then there was a teaser, “see the rest on line”. First I was pissed (how dare they edit me), then the light bulb turned on (great way to drive traffic from print to web and vice versa).

    Velonews gets a lot of people glued to the site during the Tour and the Giro. What are they doing do follow the lead of Process Cooling?

  21. Patrick O'Grady Says:

    Y’all,

    Lots of good thoughts here, far too many for me to take up right now, with the Tour going on and another BRAIN deadline looming. I’ll try to contribute something useful here in the next day or so.

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