Back in the saddle

Palms at the Place of Refuge

Pu'uhonua O Honaunau ("Place of Refuge") was one of the spots that took a beating from the tsunami. Hunter S. Thompson wrote of it in "The Curse of Lono," describing another of his "Fear and Loathing" outings.

With vacation a thing of the past it’s back to business as usual in the DogHaus, and that means a fresh rant has been posted at VeloNews.com. I fear the Pulitzer committee will give it a miss, as I suffered from a touch of the old post-St. Paddy’s Day brain scramble whilst composing it. Plus it contains the word “dick,” which always makes the judges queasy.

The whole race-radio thing is taking on Wisconsinian dimensions, with Paddy McQuaid as Scott Walker and the riders as the pissed-off working stiffs, albeit without the dubious and transitory benefits of collective bargaining. When last I looked the VN homepage had four stories on the topic. And here you thought we were all about bike racing. Maybe tomorrow, when Milan-San Remo takes the stage.

McQuaid’s open letter to the riders on the UCI website is a real piece of work, a Dale Carnegie moment guaranteed to win him many friends in the peloton. He says he has plenty of pals sending him love notes from the bunch, but names no names, while basically calling the others pussies, tools and dopers. One of his BFFs will not be Jens Voigt, who would probably like to gouge out one of Paddy’s eyes, eat it, and then skull-fuck him through the empty socket.

Ah, the joys of velo-journalism. The party never stops. To give your mind a brief respite from the rancor, here’s another shot from our vacation on the Big Island, taken at Pu’uhonua O Honaunau, otherwise known as Place of Refuge. No dicks were harmed in the making of this picture, not even Paddy McQuaid.

6 Responses to “Back in the saddle”

  1. Duncan Carter Says:

    Jaisus, Paddy, you’ve done it again.

    Duncan

  2. BenS Says:

    Good rant Patrick.
    I like the “free range foraging” idea, but instead give the riders Starbucks cards tell’em it’s got to last the whole race and then never run the route less than a mile from one at any time. Think of the intermediate sprints.

  3. John Says:

    Normally I steer clear of voicing my own opinion. I usually just let O’G say whatever he has to say, then I stand back and watch the blood splatter. If the carnage is particularly gruesome, I resolve to change my opinion to one in complete opposition to whatever it was that O’G said. It’s a survival strategy that has served me well, at least so far.

    Having said all that, I do have to say that I really, really dislike the racing that race radios have given us. I must say that I have no problem with some of the compromises I’ve heard about. For example: not providing the teams with time gaps to the break seems reasonable. But apparently “UCI” and “reasonable” don’t quite go together.

    Damn! Looks like I accidentally agreed with O’G on something.

  4. Flahute Says:

    As a long time fan of professional cycling, who has stuck with the sport despite the myriad of doping (and other) problems over the years, I would like to express my (and I suspect many fans) views on race radios.

    From a tactical standpoint, I hate them. Cycling was much more exciting to watch in the days before race radios.

    However, I agree with the teams (directors & riders) who feel that cycling is safer with them.

    So let them have race radios, but in a manner which prevents tactics being dictated from the team cars. Require all riders/teams to be on the same frequency, and that all transmissions be in the local language and/or English (as the new de facto language of professional cycling).

    This will allow team riders to communicate safely back to their team cars that they need assistance, but teams will not be able to plan tactics without all the other teams being privy to their conversations.

    Another option would be to adopt the approach used by American football in the NFL, wherein only the “quarterback” (i.e. the team leader) and “coach” (the directeur sportif) have radios.

    This latter option would allow for some tactics, as in other sports, but would require that the team leaders be able to physically communicate to the other members of his team like during the huddle prior to a play in the NFL, or calling an audible play change that the other team(s) can hear and thus react to.

    In other words, let the teams have their race radios … just make it damned inconvenient for them to use them for anything other than the most basic safety reasons.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      This I like. Radio from team car to team captain, just like in the Mafia.

      Also, no more special time-trial bikes, climbing bikes, et al. Mano a mano on the bike Gawd gave ya, and you’d best pick a cassette/chainring combo that will take you from the flatlands to the Alps and back again because we ain’t gonna let you change that out, either.

      As long as we’re at it, no more team buses. Book your rooms early or hope you have a fan club somewhere along the road, and that its most fanatical adherents don’t have red hair and play the banjo.

      And since this is getting a bit strict, I’m willing to give a little on the support issue. I will concede one support vehicle on a wheels-in, wheels-out basis. God help you if the driver is an Irish sot who can’t distinguish between the Vantornouts and the Vanthourenhouts. “Ah, bugger it, one Belgian is pretty much the same as another, gi’ ’im the Campy rear wheel so and laive us go find a pub some’eres.”

  5. Larry T. Says:

    Radios seem to make for boring races in a lot of cases. Getting rid of them might improve things, but the same folks threatening a boycott of a Chinese race none of them want to do anyway (except for the tainted beef angle, think of all the clenbuterol positives they could then explain away!) if radios are banned, are using an argument that TV shouldn’t have any effect on the racing rules? Refresh my memory but are these not the same folks who sponsor cycling teams in order to promote and SELL stuff? Isn’t the TV audience WHO they’re trying to sell the crap to? I’m not much of a fan of the UCI (their corruption is disgusting) but in this case they’re right. Let the riders get race-control radio alerts and have an “I’ve fallen and can’t get up” button if they go off a cliff — but make them again learn RACECRAFT, strategy and tactics, rather than have it barked into their ear via radio from the DS.
    More technology is rarely the answer, folks — if you want to see two-wheeled tech taken to the max, tune in MOTOGP…where the sport’s current superstar has been complaining about that same technology destroying HIS sport for the past few years.
    I want to see (and read about) ATHLETES competing using bicycles, rather than radio-controlled bicycles piloted by drivers – as it seems the industry and race teams would prefer. Why should the racing teams make the rules anyway? Remember their strikes and protests against dope tests and hard-shell helmets over the years?
    But this is small beer (as the Brits like to say) when compared to the likely scenario of last year’s TdF winner beating his dope rap…by the time WADA or UCI appeals get through CAS this same guy could likely have “won” another Giro and Tour…only to have the results changed if/when he’s finally kicked out of the sport for a couple of years. How stupid is pro cycling going to look THEN?

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