Sunday, June 4, 2023

From the Archives - Bits & Bobs Volume VII


This is the seventh installment in the “From the Archives – Bits & Bobs” series. Volume I is here, Volume II is here, Volume III is here, Volume IV is here, Volume V is here and Volume VI is here. (The different volumes have nothing to do with one another.)

Every time I dip into my past essays and letters looking for little nuggets that could entertain or enlighten my albertnet audience, I think I’ll finally come up empty, my archives finally having been exhausted. But recently I found a folder from the mid-’90s with old emails in it, pasted into individual text files. Email was new then and I must have thought I could keep up with the quixotic task of archiving it. Ha! Later I decided I could just trust the email software archive (as this was before anyone realized these programs would go extinct and lock up past emails forever.)

The posts in this installment are from when I lived in San Francisco, post-college.

May 1, 1995

[Email to myself, testing my new address.]

Hey Dana:

Just a quick note to say that you’re really one of the most outstanding individuals I’ve ever come across. Keep up the fine work.


[I mean, if I don’t give myself this kind of encouragement, who else is gonna do it?]

August 2, 1995

[To a friend who was dabbling in the new frontier of online quasi-dating, which back then meant meeting people in chat rooms, without any easy way to transmit photos back and forth. My friend had done lots of text-based chatting with his romantic prospect, and they’d even had a couple of long phone calls, but they hadn’t yet FedExed photos to each other.]

The way I see it, you and Cyber-Susan have highly compatible personalities. Keep in mind, however, that “she has a nice personality” is a disparaging remark in most circles. Humans are superficial about things like looks. According to Stephen Dawkins, this is a biological program that cannot be thwarted. (Not that he doesn’t have plenty of fruit-loopy ideas himself.) In any case, I see perhaps three possible scenarios involving your first face-to-face meeting with Susan.

1. She is a miraculous composite of Michelle Pfeiffer, Sandra Bullock, and Nicole Kidman. If ever there was a beauty that you did desire, and got, ‘twas but a dream of Susan. Her beauty sinks you into a swoon. Meanwhile, her voice, now unadulterated by the coarse fiber optics of the phone line, is the sweet singing of sirens. Her personality is sharper and brighter than ever when not dulled by the impersonal nature of the personal computer.

2. She is a hideous composite of a mole rat, a gorgon, and a bat. Her voice, when she gets excited (and I know she will!) loses the careful modulation she managed, through extreme effort, to keep up for six hours on the phone. In moments of passion, her speech sounds like the horrible screeching of two raccoons fornicating. The apparent wit and charm displayed in her e-mail messages turn out to be the result of painstaking labor, and a lot of plagiarism. The phone calls, you learn, were carefully scripted. After your initial, tactful efforts to put the “relationship” to sleep, she pursues you with terrier tenacity.

3. He is the zit-faced, pudgy, bespectacled Far-Side-looking teenage boy we feared all along. His voice is only as pleasant as it is prepubescent. But he’s got a great personality, and at least you have an interesting new pen pal.

But all kidding aside, I hope everything turns out swell. Just remember to use virus protection!

August 16, 1995

[In response to a truncated email.]

Your entire message read, “I am not sensitive about tasteless jokes at all, so give”

There is just trails off. I envision that right after you finished typing “give,” somebody sunk a large bowie knife between your shoulder blades. Then, before you could collapse onto the keyboard and type “67yhnyhhhhhhhhhhhh” with your face, he threw you aside, and, not knowing what else to do, sent the message. Either that, or you indeed did fall forward, and typed “tvgfruuuuuuuuuuuu” with your face, and he deliberately erased that part of the message.

What could the motive have been? Perhaps the perp was somebody who is offended by tasteless jokes.

September 12, 1995

I’m traveling on business with my boss. He has very high standards about the quality of his food and lodgings. We checked into our hotel and he decided the rooms weren’t up to snuff and switched to a neighboring hotel, causing god knows how many complications for those back at the office who think they know how to reach us.

Tonight we went to a restaurant and there was a bit of a wait, so we ordered a beer. Bass on draft. Well, it didn’t taste that good. I didn’t really care, but my boss sent them back. The bartender, who was obviously in training, suggested something else. It proved to be even worse. This time I really found it disgusting. It had the flavor of a sweaty gym sock (many of which I’ve sucked on in my day). Well, again, I wasn’t going to say anything, but we sent them back and decided we couldn’t go wrong with something in a bottle. Well, we ordered two Red Hook ESB’s, and as soon as the bartender set them down, I noticed that on the part of the label that goes around the neck of the bottle were pictured three Washington trolley drivers. I happen to have noticed, over the last month or so, that Red Hook no longer features the trolley drivers. So I checked the freshness date on the bottle, and the beer had expired in July! Sure enough, it too was gross—very flat and just kind of off. By this time we had our table, so we sent the beers back with the waitress, who must’ve told the young bartender, for he came out and apologized in person. A few minutes later the owner came out and also apologized. Then, when we had finally consumed the fourth beers, which were fine, the waitress brought out two more, on the house. Needless to say this was more than I ordinarily drink.

October 26, 1995

Cycling has gotten so hard. I shouldn’t take the bait when these weekend warriors try to school me. In the past I’ve let countless guys drop me since my fitness was not a question, but now that I’m out of shape I feel this need to convince myself of some essential quality that I (hopefully) still have. So I think to myself, “I don’t really want to do this to you—nor to myself—and my ego certainly shouldn’t need this, but it does, so now you must die.” And then we both suffer horribly, needlessly.

I duked it out with some newbie the other day, and it was just brutal. The whole thing lasted like half an hour, and he was like a Weeble Wobble, the little toy dude that weebles and wobbles but won’t fall down. This rider was, in fact, also like that little green goblin-head “stress reliever” toy wherein you deform this goblin’s face with your thumbs, force his eyes up into his sockets, then squeeze its head from the back so its eyes bug out, and this is supposed to relieve stress—except that he always comes back for more. Such dolls represent the futility of life: your foes are never really dead, you never get to relax. At least, not until you finally get out the power tools and make that fucking goblin BLEED. Or you jam the Weeble Wobble beneath the tire of the neighbor’s camper and it’s crushed like a boiled egg by the next time you see it. Victory, yes, but at a price. I finally dropped the newb but my stress wasn’t relieved, since I had to make sure he never caught back up. When will it ever end?

November 16, 1995

I’m so disappointed that the band “Smashing Pumpkins” turns out to be called “The Smashing Pumpkins.” I thought “Smashing Pumpkins” was a verb phrase, along the lines of “Smashing the Pumpkins.” Kind of like the novel Fools Crow: its eponymous hero has the original, humiliating childhood name “White Man’s Dog” until, as a teenager, he fools a band of Crow Indians and gets the better of them (killing several, I believe) and in return for his valor and cunning, is given the new, cool name “Fools Crow.” This name is a verb phrase emphasizing the act of fooling (i.e., “fools the Crows”).

Of course, “Smashing Pumpkins” is problematic anyway because nobody actually smashes pumpkins. They only smash jack-o-lanterns. That act does capture the random, energetic lashing out of a young grunge type, but can you imagine the force required to smash an un-carved pumpkin? It’d be pretty spectacular actually, with the guts and seeds flying everywhere. I think the band should be called Smashes Pumpkins.

December 1, 1995

[To a friend of a friend who was considering buying my used laptop PC, with or without an external monitor.]

No, no, no, heavens no, the built-in monitor doesn’t suck. It’s as good as monochrome LCD displays get. I just tried it out again and it’s fine. You open up the lid, there’s no screen, you pitch it back a bit, it comes on, it’s golden, it’s backlit, white-on-black or black-on-white, brightness control, contrast, wonderful. Better than most. A real selling point, in fact.

It’s just this. You’re working, late into the night, hammering away on that keyboard, and this is after-hours, when you’re working on your magnum opus after having stared at a computer screen all day anyway. Your eyes are tired. You’re grumpy. In fact, you’re feeling pretty shitty. And suddenly you don’t see the cursor all that well. You lose sight of where you are. Computer problem? Hell no—it’s a full-blown midlife crisis! You’re just frustrated. So you take it out on the computer. You say, “Dana, that bastard. He sold me a piece of crap. Typical of the kind of guy who would be friends with D–.” In reality, you’re just coming face-to-face with an awful truth: when the going gets rough, a 14” Sony Trinitron Multiscan HG Super Fine Pitch color monitor is a nice thing to have. You see, people buy color laptops and/or desktop computers for a reason. The monochrome LCD did not make the Sony color monitor a thing of the past. So that’s why I’m offering you the monitor as an optional accessory. It’s a magnanimous gesture, a way to say “Hey buddy, life is harsh. Your computer screen shouldn’t be.”

Look, all this e-mailing back and forth reminds me of a blind date. I’d hate for you to get all amped up creating a mental image of this computer, fantasizing about a sleek, thin, 4-pound gleaming miracle of modern technology but also fearing it’s an old, clunky, barely usable white elephant. The difference between expectation and reality can be a harrowing thing. You need to try before you buy. I don’t want this to end badly, like when I sold a phone answering machine to our friend D—. It was practically brand new when I sold it to him, but it broke almost immediately. I can’t believe it. Its life expectancy was much higher than that. It’s like my Sony TV: I loaned it to a friend while I went on my bike tour, and while he had custody, the picture tube blew out. I couldn’t very well make him pay for it, since I can’t imagine it was his fault; to this day (over a year later) he still has it, and is avoiding me. He’s got my VCR too—not much point bothering to get that back, without a TV to play it on. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not chapped or anything—I broke his CD player and tape deck while he was in Japan, years before, and he was cool about it. Yet we haven’t spoken since I got back from my tour. Meanwhile, over this lousy phone answering machine, D— won’t even e-mail me anymore. The last I heard from him was the message on my voice-mail telling me the answering machine I sold him broke. The failure of that simple appliance, I fear, has ruined our friendship. And what’s worse, I don’t think he even paid me for the damn thing. If he had, I could just refund his money and all would be forgiven.

June 25, 1996

Regarding your question about bottom brackets, and whether a fixed cup is threaded backwards (i.e., has a “left-hand thread”): well, here’s how it works. You have to find out what market the bicycle was intended for. No matter where it’s made, the thread orientation is determined by the location where the bike will be used. For example, Phil Anderson’s bottom bracket is a left-hand thread, because he lives in Australia. Just as the water spins the opposite way as it goes down the drain in the Southern Hemisphere, bottom bracket fixed cups are threaded backwards there. This is why most successful racers tend to be from northern countries: the southern ones have all kinds of bottom bracket trouble when they race up here.

I guess you’re probably not buying that. The rule actually goes like this: there are three different standards for threads on bicycle parts: English, Italian, and French. An English standard bottom bracket shell has a cup that is 1.37 inches in diameter, with 24 TPI (threads per inch), left-hand (backwards) threaded. (This is what you have.) An Italian standard BB shell has a cup 36 mm in diameter, with 24 TPI, right-hand threaded. (This is what I have.) If your BB shell were French standard, it would be stripped, frozen, cross-threaded, and utterly worthless.

October 28, 1996

[Email to a friend far better connected in cycling than I.]

Man, that sucks about Lance [Armstrong] having cancer. If it’s really spread to his brain, you’re right, that sure as hell doesn’t look good. I mean, you can’t exactly amputate a brain…

Email me here. For a complete index of albertnet posts, click here.

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Biased Blow-By-Blow - 2023 Giro d’Italia Stage 20


This has been a super exciting Giro d’Italia, with most of the hard mountain stages crammed into the final week. With just today’s time trial remaining (and tomorrow’s silly flat course for the sprinters), the general classification is remarkably tight: Geraint Thomas (Ineos Granadiers) leads the race, with Primoz Roglic (Team Jumbo-Visma) just 26 seconds behind him, and Joao Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) rounding out the virtual podium, only 33 seconds behind Roglic. So why am I waiting for a boring-as-fuck time trial to finally post a blow-by-blow report? It’s complicated. (For some reason “complicated” seems to be the favorite word of the cycling announcers this year, especially cycling legend Sean Kelly, e.g., “I have a feeling this finish is going to get a bit complicated.”)

But don’t worry, I’m here now, and I’ll give you a recap of the last three weeks as we go along. In fact, I’ll give it right now: all you need to know is that the pre-race favorite, Remco Evanepoel, won the first time trial, took the pink jersey, and then promptly came down with COVID and abandoned. Since then, no particular rider or team has stood out, and the GC has been so close that no single stage had any particular importance. So it all comes down to this time trial.

But this isn’t just any time trial. Look at this crazy course profile:

It’s a good thing for that final climb (almost 3,000 feet of gain!), and for the GC being so close, because I’m going to start this report without coffee. We have houseguests and only one bathroom so I dare not get my, uh, system running just yet. These are the sacrifices I make to bring you unvarnished, no-tongue-bitten reports on these heroic riders and their dorky helmets.

Giro d’Italia Stage 20 - Tarvisio to Monte Lussari Tudor, 18.6 km (11.6 miles)

As I join the action, an amazing thing happens: three riders pull almost even! It’s not uncommon, this late in a Grand Tour, for a rider to overtake the one who started before him in a time trial, but two passes at once is almost unheard of.

Oh. Wait. That’s not what’s going on. I’m confused. It’s the lack of coffee, I guess. This appears to be some kind of previous footage, some replay of an earlier stage. Jose Azevedo is being interviewed about Almeida. “I guess he’s a dedicated rider, but he never did his dishes,” Azevedo says. “As for his chances today, how should I know? I’m just his old college roommate.” All right, I made that up. I haven’t sorted my audio out yet. Azevedo is probably Almeida’s directeur sportif. And come to think of it he’s a former pro racer too. So they brought him in to pass the time before the GC leaders are on the road. Man these time trials are boring.

Among the few hopefuls for a stage win, Rohan Dennis (Team Jumbo-Visma) is in action, getting a totally illegal push from a team staffer. I don’t know how he thinks he’ll get away with this. It’s probably all over YouTube already.

Dennis has been a great support for his team leader, Roglic, despite being added to the Giro roster at the last minute. He’s a bit of a nutter, having been released from Bahrain-Victorious a few years back for refusing to start a Tour de France time trial because they couldn’t get his bike just right. He’s like the kid who owns the marbles and takes them and goes home when he starts to lose. So it’s no wonder he thinks he’s allowed to get a push. If he’s not disqualified, I think he has an outside chance at winning this stage, because he’s an awesome time trialist and he won the Mount Diablo stage of the Tour of California one year so he’s no slouch at climbing.

Okay, I was just messing with you about the illegal push. As with the World Time Trial Championships a few years back when it featured a giant climb, the organizers are allowing riders to switch bikes at the base of the climb. They’re allowed to receive a push until they cross a strip of tape on the road.

Here’s Jay Vine (UAE Team Emirates) doing his bike change.

Vine has ridden heroically for Almeida, pacing him until the very final kilometers of a couple of the big mountain stages.

Michel Hessman (Jumbo-Visma) clearly couldn’t care less about this time trial. Not only is he moving his bike computer over to the climbing bike, but he’s stopping for a little chat with his team staffer. “This model [of computer] has an average power reading which I like, though I miss the lap timer,” he’s saying. “Um, dude, shouldn’t you get going?” his pal replies.

Okay, things are looking up: my houseguests, probably annoyed that I didn’t make them any coffee, have apparently left in a huff, so I can finally use the bathroom. They’re from Europe, so they don’t understand about my blog and really don’t care about the Giro. I know this is exactly the opposite of what we would expect, but in fact I’ve never met a single European who gives a rat’s ass about cycling. Sometimes they want me to explain American football to them.

The commentators are interviewing some random “expert” about who he thinks will win the stage. This is how they try to keep viewers awake, but it almost always backfires. “I think Primoz Roglic will win today,” the rando says, “and while I’ve got your attention, have you ever noticed how in the movies when a character has a gun, he always holds it in his left hand? Watch for that. It’s weird. My nephew is an artist and drew this picture you see over my shoulder. But it’s of a starting pistol. I’m not a gun nut like some crazy American.”

Wow! Amazing! Something is happening! Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain Victorious) has thrown his chain!

Poor guy. I feel bad for his mechanic, as well. If the mechanic doesn’t have the decency to commit seppuku, surely his boss will flog him mercilessly.

Okay, a fast rider is starting his ride: it’s Einer Rubio (Movistar Team), who won Stage 13 of this Giro in fine style. He was in a three-up breakaway with Thibault Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) and … gosh, some other guy, I can’t remember. Pinot and the other guy kept yelling at each other and launching these pissy little attacks, like teenage girls slapping each other, and each time Rubio would just claw his way back on. I was watching with my brother and said, “Wouldn’t it be great if Rubio ended up sucker-punching these guys at the end and winning?” Which he did, launching exactly one attack, all-in, right at the end when it mattered. What a stud. Here’s a fun fact: Rubio doesn’t need cycling for an income, being the heir to an American fast-food taqueria chain. (Yes, of course I’m bullshitting.)

Here’s Vine higher on the climb. Wow, what a badass road. I freaking love it.

Vine is going well, but not as well as his teammate Brandon McNulty, who won a stage earlier in this Giro. ‘Mer’ca!

Lennard Kamna (Bora-Hansgrohe), last year’s Giro champion, hasn’t had the best form this year, as he sits eighth, almost six minutes down. What’s worse, I’ve deliberately grabbed a really unflattering screenshot of him. Poor guy just can’t get a break.

Vine flies across the line and has the new fastest time so far! That doesn’t change the fact that his helmet is ridiculous. On that basis, I don’t have his back. At all.

They just flashed up the current standings and there are three Americans in the top ten, with McNulty still out on the road. That’s pretty remarkable, though at least a couple will be pushed out as faster riders come through. Needless to say these top guys don’t make nearly as much money as a run-of-the-mill American football player, but at least concussions aren’t part of their job description.

This is weird: Allessandro De Marchi (Team Jayco Alula) has a runny nose and a fan has handed him the largest handkerchief I have ever seen. He better make sure it doesn’t go into his spokes.

Daaaamn, McNulty is finishing strong! He’ll take the lead by a huge margin!

As he reaches the finish line, he’s so cross-eyed he almost plows into some drunken spectator who has wandered into the road!

You’d think security would be a bit tighter here. Sheesh. Oh, wait, it’s not a spectator, it’s a staffer dressed like the kind of dork you meet at a suburban nightclub, or at traffic school. Anyway, McNulty now has the lead by a whopping 46 seconds over his teammate, Vine.

UAE now has four riders in the top ten. Interesting.

Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) is in the start house. He’s wearing one of those silly band-aids on his nose. His four-year-old daughter asked him to wear it. She’s superstitious. Yeah, I made that up. In reality he probably cut himself shaving. Anyway, he’s a good rider and sits fourth on GC.

OMG, they’re saying Sepp Kuss (Team Jumbo-Visma) has a faster split than McNulty! Kuss has been an absolute hero during this Giro, pacing Roglic on all the important climbs and totally saving his bacon when Thomas and Almeida attacked in stage 16 and opened a gap. Kuss expertly paced his leader and held the loss to under 30 seconds. He’s been amazingly strong all week.

Oh my god. Roglic’s helmet is the dumbest I’ve seen so far.

Just look at that stupid thing. Has Roglic learning nothing since he threw away the 2020 Tour de France during its last time trial, when he not only lost his overall lead of almost a minute but also all of his dignity, as his terrible time trial helmet crept up on his head like a half-ping-pong-ball straddling a potato? He looked so terrible that afterward some cruel journalist—quizzing him about the most spectacular Tour loss since Fignon in ’89—asked about the helmet and Roglic replied simply, “Let’s not talk about the helmet.”

Thomas is about to start. His helmet is pretty goofy too. What do these guys think they are … downhill ski racers? Puh-leeease.

Here’s one of those touching human interest stories. This rider is rocking a head scarf, even though it’s a warm day, because his mom warned him it’s windy today and he could get an earache.

Whoa, Kuss is flying! It would be so cool if he won today … he’s got stage wins in the Tour and the Vuelta, but none yet in the Giro. He’s just had to slave for Roglic day after day despite having amazing form. Look at him go!

As Kuss goes for the line he’s actually grinning! It’s not the standard death rictus, but an actual grin! He knows he’s killing it!

And Kuss has got the new provisional best time, with only fourteen riders still on the road.

Roglic gets his bike change, and—I’m not kidding—the announcer says, “Bike change goes without a hitch, and his helmet isn’t slipping off the back of his head.” Seriously! He said that! An announcer after my own heart!

The Balaclava Kid heads for the line. Note the symmetry between his dorky helmet and the picture on his sleeve of Napoleon’s hat.

Thomas gets a very slow bike change. I think he may be a bit of a moron. He rode up toward the new bike from the left side, and dismounted on the left of his bike, meaning the bike he was discarding was in between him and the bike he was switching to. Super, super awkward. He also wastes some time getting a fresh helmet, presumably because his pads were getting a little sweaty and he didn’t like it.

Thomas comes through the time check having lost two seconds to Roglic, whose helmet is still hanging on beautifully.

It’s kind of a shame larger gaps aren’t opening up between these two. This time trial looks like it might be as boring as they usually are. Wouldn’t it be cool if the organizers let a giant herd of sheep out onto the road? And then maybe send out after them some herding dogs that are high on cocaine? Just mix things up a bit?

Laurens de Plus (Ineos Granadiers) finishes strong. He has been an amazing domestique for Thomas in this Giro, slaying himself endlessly at the front, always with this same dippy expression, to the point that I’ve actually grown tired of looking at him.

Andreas Leknessund (Team DSM), who had worn the maglia rosa for a number of days, finishes pretty well but man, he looks like he’s seen a ghost!

What happened out there? What did he see out there on the course? Some kind of demon changeling child? Is he hallucinating?

Yikes, what’s this? Pinot is hauling ass, even while disrupting his aerodynamics by letting his tongue flap around in the wind!

And now he retracts his tongue, as if reading my mind, and is richly rewarded with the fastest finish yet, six seconds ahead of Kuss! This will seal his lead in the King of the Mountains category.

Meanwhile, on the lower slopes, Thomas has now lost 14 seconds to Roglic!

But, OMG! Roglic has a problem!

It’s a disaster! He’s dropped his chain!

WTF?! The announcer is saying Roglic hit a big pothole and that caused his chain to come off. My god, he must be so pissed. Unbelievable. His bike is sporting the one-by configuration popular among mountain bikers (i.e. just a single front chainring). I have long felt this isn’t the best setup because a front derailleur actually does a pretty good job of keeping the chain on. One of the high school mountain bikers I coached lost her first Varsity race due to a thrown chain in the last quarter-mile (yes, with a one-by). What a drag for Roglic! But hey, this time trial just suddenly got really exciting! Roglic gets his chain back on and resumes his frantic charge up the mountain.

Lower on the course, Thomas is just absolutely hemorrhaging time. It’s unbelievable—he’s waited until the last real stage to finally have a bad day. But it just doesn’t seem like he could possibly lose enough time, what with Roglic’s mechanical problem, to lose the Giro … could he?

Caruso is flying, and his suffering is written all over his face!

Caruso is one of those riders who I think is doped, but I can’t help liking him anyway. Such a blue-collar vibe, a real salt-of-the-earth working man. And it looks like he’s got the new provisional best time!

But Almeida goes through 13 seconds quicker than Caruso, also suffering like a (cocaine-fueled herder) dog!

And now Roglic approaches the line, putting out a blistering pace that will give him a stage win, at least! Best of all, he’s shed his big stupid visor … I hope it broke when it hit the asphalt.

And Roglic indeed has the best time! He doesn’t look exactly jubilant, of course, but I can’t blame him.

He has absolutely shattered the previous best time, but could he actually take the GC, even with at least ten seconds lost for his mechanical?

Oh my goodness, Thomas is just dying out there. It’s painful to watch … he’s clearly had the stuffing knocked out of him. His time is pretty poor and as he approaches the line—it’s just a total nail-biter.

They’re showing Roglic’s teammates … they’re on pins and needles.

Thomas crosses the line, and he looks to be over 26 seconds down!

The announcers are doing the math (or “the maths” as they put it) and, It’s unbelievable, but Thomas has actually lost the Giro on the final (real, non-parade) stage, despite Roglic having an incredible bit of bad luck!

It’s all jubilation in the Jumbo-Visma camp, needless to say…

Roglic looks truly moved. I hope that after tomorrow’s stage, a mere formality, he can reflect on this amazing achievement and, just as importantly, eat a big sandwich and a milkshake or something; I mean, look at those ribs.

Here’s the new GC … probably the closest margin of victory in history for a Grand Tour, except for LeMond’s 0:08 margin in the ’89 Tour.

Pinot moves up to fifth overall ... a nice consolation prize after he failed to win a stage.

They’re interviewing Kuss about his leader’s amazing victory. I’m going to do something new today: I’m going to try to transcribe what they’re actually saying instead of just making shit up. Here we go.

INTERVIEWER: Amazing, huh?

KUSS: It was really stressful, everyone asks about the last TT in the Tour in 2020, and then Primoz had a problem with the bike, but that’s Primoz, he deals with adversity, he comes back stronger, it’s beautiful for him to be here with all the Slovenian fans…

INTERVIEWER: Thomas seemed so confident, what gave you the confidence [to win]?

KUSS: Primoz was just waiting until the right moment, with such a hard TT like today you can really make the difference.

INTERVIEWER: Have you ever noticed how in the movies, guys always hold a gun in their left hand?

KUSS: Oh geez, are we really doing this interview albertnet style? Seriously?

INTERVIEWER: I’m sorry, some of these bloggers just can’t help it.

Sean Kelly says, “I don’t believe Kuss at all.” I don’t either. Surely nobody would leave it that late on purpose…

Now they’re interviewing Jumbo-Visma’s Michel Hessman.

INTERVIEWER: It’s your first grand tour, and you’re on the winning team, how does that feel?

HESSMAN: [untillegible] … really, yeah, and also … fuck.

INTERVIEWER: This will be the first time Roglic has ever worn the pink jersey.

[Interview is interrupted as Thomas comes over and says, “congrats, brother.”]

HESSMAN: But yeah, I mean, like, it’s, it’s kind of been our plan from the beginning to not be in the [pink] jersey too early, but doing it like this was cutting it close … to pull it off like this really showed strong nerves.

INTERVIEWER: Has anybody ever told you you look exactly like Waldo, as in Where’s Waldo?

HESSMAN: Yeah, I get that a lot.

Okay, so I caved at the end of that exchange. It was getting boring.

They’re interviewing Thomas. This time I promise  to get it right.

INTERVIEWER (in a heavy, possibly exaggerated, British accent]: Geraint, hell of a fight, mate, absolutely unbelievable, you’ve done us all proud. I can’t imagine what you’re going through, man, but tell us about that time trial.

THOMAS: First off, people like you need to stop buggin’ me, mate, because I’ll get emotional. But uh, naw, it’s just that I could feel my legs going okay enough at the top of that climb, yeah, I don’t wanna sound like I’m makin’ excuses, but you know, the bi-carbon stuff was a different feel, and I just didn’t feel like a had that real grunge, but I guess it’s nice to lose by that much rather then a second or two, at least he smashed me, Primoz deserves that, even with the mechanical, so chapeau to him. If you’d told me this back in Feb/March, I’d have bitten your hand off, but now I’m devastated, but now with the season I’ve had up to this point, I can be proud of that, and of the boys too, they worked so hard.

INTERVIEWER: Well, G, the season’s not done yet, mate. And there’s a big race in July…

THOMAS: It’s over for me now, I’m on the piss for the next two months.

INTERVIEWER: Right, I’ll join you.

THOMAS: In your dreams, ya cheeky bastard.

Dang it! I had that almost verbatim until the very last sentence! I just couldn’t resist! Now, about that bi-carbon and grunge bit, I really have no idea what the hell Thomas was even talking about. He was just babbling, as far as I could tell. I just typed what I heard. You’d probably be better off with my normal BS, honestly.

I’ve been waiting for them to show the stage result so I could grab a snapshot. Otherwise I’d have wrapped this up already. I guess I’ll go ahead and cover the post-race analysis from Hanna Walker and Alberto Contador.

HANNA: Alberto, here’s how this is going to work. Even though I’ve also been a professional cyclist, I’m just going to ask you leading questions, and then you can mansplain everything to me as though to an idiot. My boss seems to think that’s what the viewers want.

ALBERTO: Yes, you have different all the time with the radio.

HANNA: Roglic has been in this situation, in the 2020 Tour, when he was in the lead in the last time trial, up against Tadej Pogacar, and then he crashed out last year … he’s a real fighter.

ALBERTO: Yes, for sure, you know, and Primoz was also very happy, because also the tactic, and then in the last time time trial, and in this case, the other wheel, and I have one reflection, I’m sure it’s in the head now of Roglic, that he has won the Giro, and maybe he can change the time, to him, maybe, why not, he can change the time, the team, if he want try win the Tour de France.

HANNA: You’re saying he needs to change teams if he wants to win the Tour…

ALBERTO: Yes, that what is I am trying to say.

HANNA: Thank you for your insight, or at least your effort there, I could barely understand you, and maybe someday you will say something interesting. Until then, have you tried Duolingo?

Okay, yeah, I made most of that up, but I think my rendition is truer to the real spirit of their dialogue than anything they actually said. And now I have officially given up seeing the stage result. Here are some podium photos, anyway: Roglic for the stage and GC; Pinot for the KOM, and Almeida for the best young rider.

Now they’re showing an ad for some post-race show where—in defiance of the progressive attitude that led to the retirement of the podium girl tradition—they’ve got a woman in a very short skirt showing a lot of cleavage, to offset the numbing dullness of the male commentators.

What an amazing stage. More satisfying, even, than that final Tour time trial in 2020, because there wasn’t really any lesson to be drawn from that, other than to make sure your helmet fits properly. This time around, I think we can be truly inspired by Roglic’s incredible composure. I mean, to begin with Roglic only had an outside chance of taking the necessary 26 seconds out of Thomas today; after all, Thomas beat him by 16 seconds in the first time trial and seemed to be climbing just as well as Roglic yesterday. And even though Roglic’s TT was going well, in the flat section he’d only taken like two seconds—and then, just when his lead starts to go up, he throws his freakin’ chain! But he calmly put the chain back on (not waiting for the spare bike), climbed back on, clipped back in, and got right back to it, probably only losing ten seconds. Many a rider would have been completely undone psychologically by that. Myself, I probably would have pissed myself, maybe vomited, started bawling, who knows. Actually, it’s more likely none of the above because a) I’d never be in a Grand Tour, b) I’d never be in contention in any individual time trial, and c) I’d never have thrown my chain, as I don’t run a one-by

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