Thursday, February 18, 2010

French Injustices: Sour grapes or something more?

I was recently reading one of my favorite cycling blogs (far superior to this one), and came upon a quoted passage that the blog's author used from another blogging cyclist by the name of Jacquie Phelan regarding the Bicycle Bond.  I too would like to reference this quote, and fully recognize Dr. Dan for bringing it to the surface...

"The Bicycle Bond, one of the strongest known, derives its power from the inescapable fact that riding turns the rider into a 'Zealot'.  If the rider is already a 'Zealot', then they become a 'Major Pain in the Butt Zealot', the kind of person that attempts to create links from cycling to any other subject of conversation that might come up...."

Much like Dr. Dan confesses, I too, am guilty as charged, likely to an astonishingly high and irritating level, especially to those non-cyclists I share company with.  My only criticism with this explanation as it applies to me alone, is that what Ms. Phelan considers a 'zealot', (implying fanatic obsession), I would call a 'nerd' (implying a fanatic obsession with lack of common sense or ability.)  Granted, I am a nerd about many things, but only impart the cycling-related items for this particular blog.  (Perhaps after I retire someday I will start a blog about my California raisin figurine collection). 

And speaking of being a bike nerd, and California raisins, it is with the spirit of my cycling-related nerdom that I'm guilty of purchasing certain items that possess cycling-related themes.  Such as wine.  This one in particular:

Thus, I was pretty upset when I read in the NY Times today that in France, "a dozen wine producers and traders were found guilty of having supplied an American trader with mislabeled "Pinot Noir" wines", resulting in some cheap French wine being passed off as a Pinot which California trader E. & J. Gallo purchased for its Red Bicyclette Pinot Noir line.  Now, I'm not upset that I paid $8.99 for a bottle of crap, but rather that I upon occasion have spun said crap around a wine glass, studied its legs, dipped my nose deep into the globe to draw in the rich bouquet and then tasted the savory liquid, swishing it around my mouth to let its full bodied-flavor express its intracies only to then exclaim, "hmmmmm that's nice."  To be honest, I wouldn't know a Pinot if it crawled up my pantleg and tapped upon my testicles with a ball peen hammer.  I merely thought it was tastey because I liked the little red bike on the label.  But now I find out that I might as well have been drinking swill from a winery spittoon like Miles in the movie Sideways.

I might be wrong, but I think this is just the latest attempt by the French to stick it to American cycling culture.  First they covertly inplanted a French man into our society to become a cycling legend only to have him later intentionally flake out and try to bring down not only one of America's premier cycling companies (Trek) but also to defame our greatest cyclists....Is this not strangely reminscent of the plot of the Manchurian Candidate?
They didn't even bother giving him an American name!

Next they engineered that crazy-ass French-threaded bottom bracket to make it ultimately maddening for millions of hipsters to outfit late 70's Peugeot frames into fixies.  Most recently some French drug lab-techie decided to surf a website titled Shaving Ryan's Privates from his work computer and let a Trojan Horse virus infect it, and then tried to pass the whole thing off on Floyd who's left trying to find work holding the "Quiet Please" sign at the Torrey Pines golf course!

I would say this series of events smacks of sour grapes on the part of the French if it weren't for the fact that they've apparently been making me acutally drink their sour grapes for the better part of a year now!  And why would their attitudes be so bitter one may ask?  Despite being the host to the greatest of the Grand Tours, in 2009, France ranked 12th on the UCI's world rankings.  In an attempt to thwart continued French threats against American cycling, I think it is wise to determine causality behind the recent decline in French cycling.  I've put our intern Ricky on this project, and this is what he's come up with.

According to Ricky's data, 5% of current French suckiness is because of Thomas Voeckler's recent growth spurt, which has caused his power-to-weight ratio to suffer, thus rendering him unable to do the big climbs of the grand tours.
However,  6% of recent French suck-itude has to do with the fact that Bernard Hinault is suffering from chronic hemorrhoids from too many years in the saddle, which has made "The Badger" grumpy, thus resulting in a general bad attitude on the part of French pro cyclists.
A significant 10% of French suckness is attributed to years of poor cyclist nickname selection which tends to focus on ridiculous double syllable alliterative names .  Examples include DuDu (Jacky Durand) DeDe (Andre Darrigade) Cri-Cri (Calude Criquielion) and JaJa (Laurent Jalabert).

But a whopping 79% of the French decline into suckville has now been linked with helmet useage. See below.
As advancements and cycling rules have resulted in more complete head coverage in racing, the performance of French cyclists has steadily declined.  Long gone are the headgear-free racing days of Hinault when last the French won the Tour de France (1985).  It is possible that the cranial circumference of French citizens has outgrown standard and commercially available cycling helmets, thus leaving them uncomfortably tight and resulting in poorer racing performance.  But the issue could be less of appropriate size, and one more of inappropriate style which is why starting this year, all French cyclists will adorn their heads with this in an attempt to improve race results.
Let's hope this straightens them out so I can go back to believing the cheap shit I'm drinking is something a little better.

Pedal on!

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