Thursday, July 24, 2014

Pantani, Uran Uran and Serpa

1.
Pantani is often portrayed as either a saint or a demon. My take on him is (I think) different. I was asked to write about this, which you can read here.

2.
Speaking of Pantani, sorry to repeat myself by posting the photo above again...but I still can't get over the similarity.



 3.
Did you miss out on the last order of black Cycling Inquisition jerseys? Remember that you can still buy one here.


4.
Yup, you want one, and you can order one here.

5.
By the time this post goes up, this might be old news, but I couldn't pass it up since Serpa was included (via Ciclismo Espresso)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Moving a couch while you're naked, and riding your bike in circles. My latest visit to London.

In my post two weeks ago, I let you (the Cycling Inquisition reader), into my world, that of a fourth rate blogger who goes to races and hops fences to avoid having to enjoy the festivities with the hoi polloi. Today, I find myself back in the United States, and memories of seeing the Tour and hopping fences are but faint memories. Luckily, I was able to ride my bike and do other things during my trip, and while I'm far too lazy to write appropriate prose on the matter, I'm able to write a few almost-cohesive bullet points, so allow me to do so. In no particular order, here are a few observations of my stay in the UK, not unlike those I made some years ago when I was (pleasantly) trapped in London due to an Icelandic volcano overlord.



- London, I love you, you're great and all that, and I realize you being the way you are is what makes you great. But lord almighty, having a slight grid system to your streets would be really helpful when I ride my bike. Similarly, cycling announcers on TV talk about "road furniture" in the context of continental Europe, but I wonder if they're aware of the fact that London is more or less the aftermath of eight thousand Ikea delivery trucks dumping their contents on the roads for several decades. It's Billy bookcases and Malm beds for miles.

- Also London, why do things like this (image blow) exist in your streets? I'm certain that one of your citizens will tell me, but for the life of me, I fail to see why you are the only city in the world with pygmy streets that go nowhere.


- These gripes aside, London is very entertaining. Its citizens certainly are. Consider this man, who I saw three days in a row while riding my bike, always in the same spot, always doing more or less the same thing (semi-nude, urban Tai Chi I think), with only slight variations.



- If it's nudity you want to see while in the UK, I highly recommend going to the Rapha Cycle Club near Picadilly Circus. While the quantity and quality of the nudity afforded to visitors is not on par with that of the Standard Hotel in New York City, it's certainly memorable. Consider this guy in a building across the street, who I noticed while watching a bit of the Tour there. While I can't say for sure that he was having a bit of sexy time, it certainly looked that way. Either that, or he was naked and trying to move a couch that simply wouldn't budge for an epic amount of time.


If you can't see him, let me use the "enhance" feature in my computer to give you a closer look. Here he is.



But let me get back to addressing the city of London directly.

- London, towel warmers in your hotels make clean towels smell like naan from an Indian restaurant. I love you for this reason.

- London, you have solutions for problems I didn't even know existed.


- London, you have memorials on the trees where people who I forgot even existed died.


- London, where I live I've heard that people will scoff if you suggest an out-and-back cycling route, since big loops are always preferred, and "flow" must be optimal. But for your citizens, going around in circles in a park is not only OK, it's considered part of daily life (due to necessity). I know that people who live in New York City and other places do this sometimes, but your citizens have really made this into an art form, which is oddly admirable.


- London, I would never say that your citizens drive on the "wrong" side of the street. I'm not that dumb. I do, however, have trouble figuring out what side of the sidewalk, hallway, train platform, staircase or escalator I should be in. After several visits, I still assume that it should be the left (in keeping with driving convention), but it turns out that I'm always wrong, since the correct way to traverse changes faster than Cavendish leaves the Tour. London, please make up your mind.



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Marginalia



1.
If you want to impress your friends with knowledge about up and coming riders, and enjoy telling people that you knew about so-and-so years before they found out about them, pay attention to 4-72—Colombia. The team just won the overall at the Giro Valle d´Aosta in Italy with Bernardo Suaza, after having held the race lead with Diego Ochoa earlier. Keep an eye on Suaza, as a few European teams are likely doing so already. Remember that this is the team where Nairo Quintana, Sergio Henao, Jarlinson Pantano  and Darwin Atapuma came up. Their batting average is ridiculous.

2.
Sometimes I think I folklorize the fact that some Colombian cyclists have (or continue to) drink agaupanela and eat bocadillo during their rides. It's certainly true that the importance of these things was greatly overblown by the Colombian media in the 1980s, but the fact remains that nutrition bars and drinks remain pricy there, and many enjoy these flavors, which we Colombians have known since our youth. But take the image below as an example, and as proof that I'm not making this up. It was tweeted out by Victor Hugo Peña, with the following caption:

"Time for some Agapanela-torade and some native Colombian Powergel: bocadillo."

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Six questions with Jamis-Hagens Berman's Daniel Jaramillo Diez


Daniel Jaramillo at Redlands, sporting green Crocs (photo: Jamis-Hagens Berman)

Daniel Jaramillo more or less won everything there was to win as a U23 in Colombia. He took the overall in countless regional races, was national road and TT champion, and won the U23 Vuelta a Colombia. Daniel is now 23, and this is his first year racing in the United States. He took the spot left vacant by Janier Acevedo on Jamis-Hagens Berman, after Acevedo himself recommended him to the team. 

 
First poster you hung up in your room as a kid
It was of Lance Armstrong. I was 12 years old. 


Foods you can't live without

 
Beans, arroz con pollo as my mom makes it, not the kind you buy at a restaurant. Also sancocho.



Favorite movie
 
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the original one.

First CD you ever bought with your own money
 
CD that I bought? Uhm...well, I actually remember buying a burned CD with like a thousand reggaeton mp3s on it once, I guess it would be that one.*


Favorite training route

 
From my house in La Ceja to Sonson. 140 kilometers total. When I'm home, I do that ride with Sergio and Sebastian Henao, or sometimes with Janier Acevedo. 

 
Dream car 
Oh man, I love Camaros and Mustangs, the new ones. I really like Hummers too, I love the H2

 
* I thought this question was a good one, until I realized that I couldn't use the Spanish word for "album" as generic term for a record or CD, since Daniel likely wouldn't know what I was talking about due to his youth (or my old age). I opted for "CD" only to realize that Daniel was born in 1991, and by the time he was 10 years old, mp3s were winning the battle of music formats. But also, the concept of an "album" as I knew it growing up (a grouping of songs chosen by an artist and sold as one) is itself a bit dated, as is the notion of going to a store and buying music like that. Yes, this is me coming to terms with my age. 



PS: This is Serpa's facial hair at the Tour right now.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Tour, jumping barriers and the Golden Peacock™ award

Photo: Cycling Inquisition

I'm not trying to be an iconoclast, and I don't merely say this to be contrarian, but the Tour de France can be a real pain in the ass. The Tour takes everything that is annoying and/or troublesome about a race and multiplies it times a million. Some may say that this is all worth it because the good aspects of a race are also multiplied by a million, but they are not. Those are only multiplied by about .3, and that's about it. In my opinion, what the Tour has going for it is that it's the Tour. In that sense, the race is some kind of postmodern, self-referential loop that is more or less like when a monkey drinks its own pee. But with bikes. And less pee.

With all this in mind, I offer up the following list of observations about the Tour in no particular order, along with these pictures I took. 

Photo: Cycling Inquisition

- A train leaves a London station at 8am bound for Cambridge. As it goes along, it starts to fill up with bike racing nerds, all of whom are wearing funny caps and colorful shirts with pockets on them. Thirty minutes later, the train reaches a station packed with metal fans leaving the Sonisphere festival who smell funny and are wearing black shirts with logos on them. What happens as a result of these two groups meeting on the train? More or less a volcanic eruption of social awkwardness that spews nerd magma and cannot be contained. This happened.

Photo: Cycling Inquisition

- When you are a Colombian citizen, but live in the United States, no one will give you an ID card saying you are some sort of low level/pseudo sports journalist. The US people won't because you are Colombian, the Colombians wont because you live in the US. I've mentioned this before on the blog, but it had never been a real problem until now. The ASO does not take kindly to this, and will not give you credentials if you are like me (I'm referring to my lack of ID, not to my well-known charm and boyish good looks).


- Having a Het Niuwsblad lanyard (from actual credentials obtained at the Tour of Flanders) casually poking out of your shirt, as though it's being used to hold actual Tour credentials helps. I speak from experience. 

Photo: Cycling Inquisition

- Not having credentials is not the end of the world. Much in the same way that defensive schemes in (American) football have a strong side and a weak one, so too do the barriers that they put up at bike races. Tip: no one is watching the barriers that go behind the team buses. This is usually the weak side. 

- Speaking of tips, here's one: You know the professional bike riding guy who is about to start riding a stage at the Tour de France in about eight minutes? He probably doesn't remember meeting your sister at a race in another country three years ago. I know that seems weird, but he really doesn't. 

Photo: Cycling Inquisition

- Have you ever seen Chris Horner speak Spanish? I applaud his attempts, and his respect of the country's where he's racing, but that doesn't change how amazing it is to see him do it. I've now learned that his Italian is similarly entertaining, and watching him speak to Scarponi in Italian, while Scarponi tries to answer in English was a linguistic/comedic feast for the eyes and ears. Say what you will about Horner, but the guy almost made me do a literal spit take by just being himself. Bravo.


Photo: Cycling Inquisition

- Before a race starts, riders are sometimes by themselves in quiet surroundings, with fans very close by. If there was anything you ever wanted to say to a professional to their face (from behind the perceived safety that is afforded by a metal barrier), this is the time to do it. The best one I overheard, which was nice and loud was, "Your past is crystal clear, you are a huge doper." There was no one else around who rides a bike for a living, and the guy was looking directly at the rider. They exchanged awkward glances, the rider clearly heard him. It was weird.

- I've mentioned this before, but at races this size, you quickly realize that some of the riders seem to love the pageantry around them, not just the racing. At the Giro last year, it was Pozzato who was riding around fans in circles on his mountain bike, wanting to be noticed, and delighting them with his presence. So who wins the coveted Golden Peacock™ award for the Tour this year? For the first time ever, we have a tie. The winners are: Rui Costa and John Gadret. Gadret in particular was out of the bus nearly half an hour before any other rider. He did press, took a six thousand selfies with fans, let several people take close up pictures of his earrings and tattoos (?) and just walked around seemingly waiting for someone to talk to him. Rui Costa went to sign in and back eighteen times, then rode his bike around in circles by the barriers, but still played it off like he was a tiny bit surprised when people stopped him for pictures ("Who, me? Really? Okay, fine, I'll come over")

To be clear, the Golden Peacock™ award is in no way a negative distinction. These guys like their jobs, and like interaction with fans and the press that come with it. The award is given to the highest achievers in this criteria, and all of us here at Cycling Inquisition welcome the new winners with open arms.


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The world cup, cycling, and the charm of irrationality

Lucho Herrera, Bogota, 1985

Having won two stages and the mountains classification at the Tour de France in July of 1985, Lucho Herrera was an ideal candidate to perform a ceremonial kick-off at a Millonarios game, the soccer team he'd followed as a kid from nearby Fusagasuga. Once asked, Herrera agreed to the honor, and traveled into Bogota's El Campín stadium to partake in the festivities.

1985 was a good year for fans of Millonarios, like it was for those who followed Herrera and cycling in Colombia. The team had nearly won the national championship the previous season (which would have been the club's 12th), and things were shaping up nicely in 1985, as Argentine Marcelo Trobbiani continued to show why he'd been one of the most promising players in Boca Juniors before coming to the Colombian club. Despite all this, Colombian soccer at large, on the world stage, was in a deplorable state.

How things change. Today, as Colombia's national team continues to impress at the World Cup, many cycling fans in Colombia have grown resentful of the attention and sponsorship money that the sport garners in comparison to cycling. In doing so, they pin one sport against the other, often siting those days in the mid-1980s, when a game in Bogota's El Campín stadium was well attended, not because of the teams playing, but because of the slight man from Fusagasuga who would be performing the ceremonial kick off.

Not all cycling fans or cyclists in Colombia are resentful of football, not by a long shot. Nairo Quintana, Miguel Angel Rubiano and many other professionals have expressed their excitement and support of the national team. Rigoberto Uran, a huge fan of the sport is even selling his own cycling version of the team's jersey in his online store.

Resentment of "the other sport" by some cycling fans is not unique to Colombia. In our case, it largely began to take shape in the lead-up to the 1990 world cup, when the national team qualified for the first time in twenty eight years, a huge accomplishment that received an equal response by the masses. Marketing budgets within large Colombian companies (the life blood of cycling) shifted accordingly, bringing an end to the Postobon and Pony Malta teams in Europe, as well as sponsorship to domestic races. All this happened as the International Coffee Pact ended, taking with it the Cafe De Colombia team, along with a sizable chunk of the country's economy. With that, those who chose to see sport fandom as a binary affair no doubt noticed that in 1990 (the first time that cycling and soccer in Colombia were at their peak, and faced off) cycling was dealt a devastating blow.

Today, in Colombia, both sports are riding high, and are facing off again as the world cup continues to grab both headlines and the hearts of fans (along with the advertising revenue that comes with them). This leaves cycling fans in Colombia (and elsewhere) to once again wonder what can be done by the organizers, teams and the federations in cycling to perhaps garner a tiny portion of the advertising dollars that go to sports like soccer. In doing so, the issues within cycling are simplified, and it's soccer or some other sport or entity that is to blame.

Uran watching the world cup

But cycling's issues have little to do with soccer, baseball or any other sport. Cycling's wounds are almost entirely self inflicted (and no, I'm not just talking about doping issues here), and even if there were no wounds to speak of, there's the simple issue of taste. One sport may attract audiences in one culture or another at a certain point in time, while another doesn't...and there's little that can be done about it. This is because trying to analyze sports too deeply can quickly send you down the path of trying to rationalize the irrational. Umberto Eco did so in his essay The World Cup Is For Pomps in 1978, going as far as to say,
In a certain sense I could agree with the Futurists, that war is the only hygiene of the world, except for one little correction: It would be, if only volunteers were allowed to wage it. Unfortunately war also involves the reluctant, and therefore it is morally inferior to spectator sports.
For those keeping score, that's an Italian Postmodernist referencing Italian Futurists, as he compared sport to  war in a less-than-flattering way. Ecco further commented on sports fans in particular, saying that the majority act like,
...sex maniacs regularly going to see (not once in their lifetime in Amsterdam but every Sunday and instead of) couples making love, or pretending to (something like the very poor children of my childhood, who were promised they would be taken to watch the rich eating ice cream).

You could also take the Ann Coulter route, and believe that soccer is a virus brought to the US by dirty foreigners like me, and that those who play are perhaps subhuman since they partake in a sport that does not use the hands (a key differentiator between man and less evolved animals, in her eyes).

In either scenario, I'm left to think that its probably best to not question certain aspects of our lives, so long as  they are kept within safe and unobtrusive levels. Is this willfully obtuse on my part? Perhaps. But it also makes me realize that sports in general make little sense, and neither does our passion or distaste for them.

Aerial shot of the crowd that gathered in Bogota to welcome back Colombia's team from the world cup

Soccer and cycling, as well as jai alai and curling will all go through their struggles to garner and sustain audiences at different times and in different places. "There's no accounting for taste" they say, and in sports, I find that to be true. So could it be that the thing that is holding cycling back is not merely the UCI, doping scandals, bad management, race organizers, bad race schedules or the many other things we as fans discuss? Could it be that today, in most countries, the sport simply doesn't appeal to people because it doesn't suit their taste at this time? After all, the topics most of us mention as problems in cycling are never readily apparent even to a casual fan. But you know, perhaps it's best if I stop there, because in dissecting such matters (healthy as introspection may be), we can all loose sight of the best aspect about this and every other sport. Its irrationality. And that, I would argue, is part of its charm.


Players from Colombia's national team wish Rigoberto Uran good luck during the Giro


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Marginalia

1.
I'll be traveling for the next week and a half, so the blog may slow down as a result. Additionally, there are sizable changes coming to the blog itself, which are taking some time and effort to implement, but will be well worth it.

2.
Are you looking for a Cycling Inquisition jersey? Remember that Gage and Desoto has some. If you are looking for a size Large in black, this guy has one for sale. Feel free to contact him.

3.
Remember the insanely long and thorough interview I did with Ted King for Manual For Speed? David Millar is next in line, and I'm basically making him write another book as a result.


4. 
I've written many times about the difficulty that we Colombians have obtaining visas, and what this means for professional cyclists. Today, as the Tour is about start, there are reports that Darwin Atapuma is having problems with his visa, and may miss the Tour's start as a result. As with other Colombians in the Giro, the issue may be the UK, but France is also a possible culprit. Victor Hugo Peña famously considered sneaking across the Spanish border into France for the Tour start the year he wore yellow while riding with US Postal.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Far from perfect

This video is far from being perfect, but has several interesting bits which I thought readers of the blog might enjoy, including profiles of your cyclists in Boyaca, and a bit of history about Colombian cycling. To that end, I tried editing it down, and adding subtitles. Sadly, YouTube pointed out that the video I was trying to upload matched "third party content", and it does.

So since I was unable to cut it down, Spanish speakers will have to make their way through some idiotic banter, and English speakers will have to fast forward a bit to see some nice old black and white footage of Colombian racing in the 1950s. Sorry, I tried.

Some nice profiles of your cyclists start at around 7:40.




Lastly, did you miss on the very last order of the Cycling Inquisition black jerseys? If you did, don't despair. Gage and Desoto has some. There are also a couple of readers looking to sell their size L jerseys, due to them needing an XL instead. So if you're in the market for one, email me and I'll put you in touch with those readers.


Monday, June 23, 2014

LeMond, Hinault and 20 great stages from the Tour de France. An interview with author Richard Moore.

Photo: Robin Moore
Richard Moore is the author of Slaying The Badger, In Search Of Robert Millar and several other books about cycling. He also wrote The Dirtiest Race in History: Ben Johnson, Carl Lewis and the Seoul Olympic 100m Final. His latest offering is titled Étape, a book that closely details key stages in Tour de France history. More than a simple play-by-play account of said stages, Moore's book details the intricate backdrops against which these stages played out, giving them greater meaning through context. 



This July, ESPN will air a 30 For 30 documentary based on your book Slaying The Badger. How did the documentary come about, and what was your involvement in it?
I met John Dower at the 2012 Tour. He was directing a film about Bradley Wiggins (A Year In Yellow) and we got to talking about Slaying the Badger, which he’d just read. We talked about it more as that Tour progressed because there were so many parallels between what happened in 1986 and what seemed to be happening in 2012.

I had met with some people before the Tour who were interested in turning it into a film, which I told John, and he said he might be interested. We met after the Tour, he took an option on the book, and voila! He proposed it to ESPN and they went for it. I think they were pleased to be offered a cycling film that wasn’t about Lance Armstrong. 

Once John and his team started making it I didn’t have any involvement beyond the odd conversation with John and helping with contacts for some of the people who feature. 


Now that you've had a chance to see the finished film, did you learn anything new from it that even surprised you after all the research you did for the book?
The people interviewed for the book said much the same things to John. But there is one bit of footage I hadn’t seen, which is great. It’s from after a stage in the Pyrenees in 1985, when LeMond was ordered to wait for Hinault: an exchange between LeMond and Paul Koechli, when LeMond loses his temper -- I had seen LeMond scared and vulnerable before, but never really angry. He is here. 

The film is brilliant, I love it. It really brings out the personalities of the two main protagonists -- as well as featuring great interviews with Sam Abt, Bob LeMond, Paul Koechli, Andy Hampsten and Shelley Verses, among others -- and some of the footage is incredible. As an American-funded film the main focus is on LeMond, but Hinault is, as always, utterly compelling. 

Kathy and Greg LeMond have been very complimentary of your book, saying that your assessment of the events and the personalities behind them was spot on. How do you approach writing a book about a difficult subject such as LeMond/Hinault, when different sides retain clashing views on the matter? Do you actively try to keep from taking sides?
Yes, I don’t want to impose my own views too much because I don’t think the reader wants or needs that -- when I’m reading something I prefer to be left (and trusted) to make up my own mind. Plus, there are rarely simple right and wrong versions of history, or any black or white interpretation of what went on. I suppose I approached the story at the outset thinking, in very basic terms, that LeMond was the goodie, Hinault the baddie. But it isn’t as simple or straightforward as that, obviously. It never is.




Your newest book, Etape stands in partial contrast to a current trend in sports media. Today, there seems to be a fair amount of editorializing and people who are not actually involved in an event giving their opinion on it. This goes beyond the historical precedent of the press reporting on an event, and now takes on bloggers (myself included) and social media users. Is this book, in a way, a knowing attempt to let the individuals tell their story?
Maybe, in a way -- but more than that, and more selfishly, it’s just far more fun to write using original material. I did a book last year, Tour de France 100, which was a photographic book with essays covering the different eras. I enjoyed it, but the main point of the book was the pictures rather than the words. And I suppose the writing part of it underlined, for me, the limitations of relying entirely on secondary source material. For me the thrill in writing comes with using material I have gathered, or at least tried to -- it’s a bit like the difference between cooking with fresh ingredients or using stuff out of tins or packets. 

I really enjoy meeting interesting people and then describing what they are like, and what it feels like to meet them, as well as what they have said. I certainly wouldn’t claim that the stories in Etape are definitive, because in most cases they are just one person’s version of events. But maybe in one or two chapters these versions can add another layer to the history of that particular stage. 

How did you go about choosing the stages you wanted to feature in the book?
I wanted ones that had drama, mystery, intrigue... and in some cases an interesting back story. It was really as simple, or as complicated, as that. It was difficult to know how to describe the collection. They are not the ‘greatest,’ though some might be considered among the best. In the end I went for ‘defining.’ Perhaps it would have been better to say ‘interesting’... But the crucial ‘ingredient’ is the new interviews.


One slightly unusual chapter in your book is that of Urs Zimmermann during a rest day at the 1991 Tour de France. What can you tell us about his account? That stage is certainly different from others in the book, in part because it wasn't even a stage. It was a rest day.
Yes, again, I wanted to vary it as much as possible. Twenty accounts of a winner telling how he won a stage risked being a bit repetitive and formulaic. The story behind Zimmermann’s disqualification for not taking a flight with the other riders [on a rest day] is different to the ‘official’ version. I actually became aware of it when I interviewed him for Slaying the Badger. It was reported at the time that he was afraid of flying, but as he told me: ‘If I was afraid of flying, why did I go straight to the airport to fly home?’ It had more to do with the fact that the Tour had come to feel like ‘a prison’ to him, and he wanted a break from the conversation and company of bike riders -- so he took a car with the mechanics rather than catching the plane with the riders. 


Luis Herrera's stage victory in 1984 was a defining moment in Colombia's cycling history. Did you learn anything new about that stage in particular, beyond what you already knew going into it? Did you get a sense of that stage's importance in Colombian cycling?
I learned a lot -- mainly from you, Klaus! I knew the history of Colombian cycling from Matt Rendell’s books, your own blog and contributions to the Cycling Anthology, but of course when you interview people you learn even more. Hector Urrego, the TV journalist, was another useful source for this chapter.

As well as Herrera’s win, I was keen to tell the story of how a Colombian team came to be riding, and what it meant back home. Generally in this book I tried to avoid repeating stories I’ve told in other books, such as In Search of Robert Millar and Slaying the Badger. I did cover the 1984 Alpe d’Huez stage in the Badger, because it was the decisive battleground for Hinault and Fignon that year... Yet Herrera won the stage, and it was almost overlooked (other than in Colombia, of course). In Europe it was a sub-plot -- the front page of L’Equipe the next day showed Fignon dropping Hinault. So I was keen to re-visit that stage and look at it more from Herrera’s -- and Colombia’s -- perspective.




How did your podcast come about, and how has it been doing? Anything in particular that you look forward to doing in that medium?
It’s something we’ve dabbled in since 2008, always at the Tour de France. But last year, with Daniel Friebe and Lionel Birnie, we made more of a commitment to doing one every day, and putting some effort into it, with exclusive interviews, etc. The response was really good so, with sponsorship from Sharp, we kept it going as a weekly thing after the Tour. For this Tour we’re taking it up another level, joining the Telegraph to become ‘The Telegraph Cycling Podcast, supported by Jaguar’, who have come on board as sponsor.  We’ll do a daily one with the Telegraph and a weekly one aimed at the US for VeloNews, also supported by Jaguar.

It’s exciting, because radio is a thriving medium that is enhanced by technology rather than threatened by it, like print. Podcasts can really open a window on to the Tour, because you have other elements -- the travel, the daily stresses and dramas, as well as the gossip and intrigue -- that can be entertaining, informative, funny, or all three. We try in the podcasts to combine journalism with irreverence and a bit of humour. 

What project are you currently working on?
Not a cycling one, but I’ve just started working on a book about the Jamaican (track and field) sprinters. I spent a month there in March: a fascinating trip that left me feeling enthusiastic and confident that it’ll be a book about more than athletics, and more than sport. It is due to be published in 2015. ◾



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Marginalia 




1.
The resemblance is beyond uncanny, isn't it?


2.
Yes, seeing Esteban Chaves win at the Tour de Suisse made me emotional, just as his win in California did. Read here to understand part of the reason why.



3.
What comes in Gulf racing colors, attracts all the ladies/fellas, and is the talk of the cycling underworld? The new Speed Metal Cycling Podcast kit. Get on it.


4.
Yup, we Colombians have a sensitive side (perhaps an Achilles' heel), so pay attention to Nate King when it comes to ways to endear yourself to Colombians and not come off like an asshole:

"...don’t make cocaine jokes. If a Colombian brings it [the topic of drug trafficking and the violence that comes with it] up, feel free to discuss, but it’s akin to walking around New York making cracks about 9/11."

See, you might think this is being overly sensitive...but it's just the way it goes (link via my brother).

5. 
I don't think I'm a neo-Luddite, but I'm well aware of how stubborn I can be when it comes to adopting certain technologies which (for one reason or another) don't suit me. With that comes mourning the loss of technologies that worked well for me, and are now dead or dying. RSS is one such technology. A faceless content delivery platform that involved no one else but me and some code bringing me what I wanted was a dream come true. But with the rise in Twitter's popularity (along with Facebook and all those others things), the concept of sharing content has became a far more interactive and public exchange. I don't much care for many things that are interactive, and most of the ones that are public.

Today, fourth-rate alternatives to Google Reader (like Feedly) deliver content days, sometimes weeks late. Sometimes feeds for sites become unclogged after a month of silence, and you are suddenly confronted with endless content that is sometimes old useless. Such is life.

Which makes me ask the question, should this blog have a Twitter account, even though it would only be used to announce new posts or happenings? Would that help you get here to read new content? It's not something I necessarily want to do, but if my current experience with RSS is any indication, there may not be an alternative. [Update: this would be in addition to RSS, which I'll never take away].