Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Fuglsang and Senna

Transfer News
The news in cycling right now is about transfers.  Nicholas Roche is moving to Saxo-Tinkoff, Mark Cavendish may be leaving Sky, and Jacob Fuglsang, it's now confirmed, will be riding for Astana.  Fuglsang's move came after a protracted fight with Radio Shack-Nissan-Trek's Johan Bruyneel, in which Fuglsang grew sick of Bruyneel's increasingly sadistic jokes.  Such jokes included saying that Fuglsang had a funny name, and that Fuglsang's mother often ironed Bruyneel's trousers (a terrible insult to Danes).  Always  ironing and pressing and steaming Bruyneel's trousers.

Bruyneel, Fuglsang claims, went even further in his cruelty; during the Giro Bruyneel handed out the usual blood bags for the rest day intravenous treat, and rather than the normal blood, Bruneel had the soigneur bring in Fuglsang a bloody mary. The entire team laughed, but for Fuglsang, it was the last straw.  How could Fuglsang be expected to ride without a half gallon of spare yak's blood coursing through his veins, all the while contemplating the grinning Bruyneel who sat in the team car with such mysteriously well-pressed trousers and winking at him?

Fulgsang has a tattoo of a mountain on his arm
Fuglsang immediately contacted a local smithy, had him forge a medal, and hopped a train to Kazhakstan to present its great leader, Nursultan Nazarbayev, with an award of his own coinage, the "50 Years of the Virgin Land" medal, assuring himself a spot on the Astana squad, and absolutely no jokes made about his bloodbags or mother for the coming three years.

Ayrton Senna and Bike Racing
I've never been a fan of F1, but the White Whale tells me that the strategy and narrative is similar to bike racing:  drafting, breakaways, and crashing.  After checking out the documentary Senna, about Formula 1's Brazilian driver, I begin to wonder if maybe he's right.

Sitting behind the wheel of a self-powered vehicle is the antithesis of riding a bike.  Steering is a very small part of what we think about when we think about riding a bike.  Jens tells his legs, not his arms, to shut up.

The most thrilling and dangerous part of bike racing, though, is just like F1.  I doubt Senna ever went around a corner touching arms, hips, and elbows on both sides, with nothing to protect him but a thin layer of lycra and a helmet--although we were going 120mph slower than him.  It's that last 10 kilometers of a sprint stage, where the teams are just reeling in the last bits of the break, and they're lined up at rows and flying over sidewalks and through roundabouts.

It's the dangerous and thrilling part of the sport I'd like to be able to suspend sometimes.  It makes for great TV, but the older I get, the less I want to risk it.

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