Ventriloquists, my uncle's jacket, and the biggest news to hit cycling since the discovery of gravel roads.

I'm not one to spot trends, or notice important events during changing times. The mullet that I sported two years into the 1990s was a clear example of that. Nevertheless, since my job here at Cycling Inquisition is to provide thoughtful commentary on the world of cycling, I pretend to know what I'm doing in order to write the so-so quality content that you sort of crave. So while some of you incorrectly assumed that I spent the last three weeks flying around on the NBC/Universal Sports private jet, spending the sizable amount of money that they paid me to write a daily blog for them, you couldn't be more wrong. I mean...yes, I did use the Universal private jet a total of eight times, but it was only for trips that were truly necessary. And yes, I did spend some of the money I was paid, but not all of it. After all, when you fly on a private jet without luggage into Istanbul for a one night stay, cashmere socks and underpants don't buy themselves. Luxurious underpants and socks aside, however, I want to tell you that I actually spent the last three weeks taking copious notes about many events in the sport of professional cycling, in order to relay my insight to you in today's post.

Let's start with the Giro d' Italia, a race that a guy won, but may not have won. And we may only know if he won eight years from now. Luckily, far more exciting things other than the general classification go on at a race like the Giro. Consider Venezuelan stage winner Jose Rujano, and his diminutive stature. Rujano once claimed that he was the third best climber in the world, but looking at his microscopic size, he looks more like the tiny plastic figure atop a trophy that would be given to the third best climber. Look, as a fellow South American of scant stature, I can certainly sympathize with Rujano's plight. And not just because we both have a questionable past in Colombia (in 2003 Rujano was suspended from the Clasico RCN in Colombia due to a positive test, and I was nearly suspended from school in Colombia for drawing a large anarchy symbol on a jacket that was part of my uniform in the sixth grade). What I mean is that I know what it's like to be the size of a child in a world of adult-sized people, even if I'm not nearly as short as he is. The poor guy looks like a toddler riding and adult bike (see above), and when Contdador won a stage ahead of him, it was as though the Spaniard was literally taking candy away from a baby. Even when standing on top of a podium, Rujano was roughly the same height as the champagne-bearing models beside him, who were at stage level. I take that back, Rujano actually looked like he was the size of the champagne bottle.

It was upon seeing this podium ceremony that I was reminded of a picture that contributing photographer Eleuterio Fonda sent my way sometime ago. It features an innocent bystander, next to the gigantic, Easter Island-like head of one Mario Cipollini.

With our highly sophisticated proprietary software, interns at the Cycling Inquisition offices were able to compare the size of a normal person's head to Cipollini's, thus figuring out how he was able to win all those stages throughout his career. He won them by merely putting his gigantic head forward a bit. Sadly, Cipollini's greasy head would be illegal for use in UCI-sanctioned races today, since it clearly does not comply with the 3:1 rule.

Putting Cipollini aside, I have to say that I readily identified with Rujano. I say this because like me, he's so comfortable winning stages at major races, that he calmly does his post-race interviews sitting down.

Oh...wooops. He's not sitting down. He's standing up, and thus looks just as I do when I get my picture taken while standing next to tall members of my wife's family. By this I mean that Rujano looks like he's a ventriloquist dumy, with the guy next to him being the fourth-rate comedian working his articulated mouth. I have so many pictures of me looking like this, that it's not even funny.

(Announcer voice):
And now, it's my pleasure to introduce to you Luigi and his hilarious cyclist puppet Little Jose, here for the first time at the Brew Ha-Ha Comedy Club, in Rapid City, South Dakota

– So, Little Jose, why don't you tell the audience what it's like to be drug tested on a weekly basis since you're a cyclist. Isn't that invasive?
Invasive? Dios should I know if something's invasive? I've had your hand up my ass for the last six years!

—Come on Jose, cycling has changed a lot since Operacion Puerto. There's better testing now, and the biological passport makes it impossible to dope!

—Impossible? Ay, dios mio! And people say I'm the dummy!

But you know, other big things have happened in the world of cycling in the last couple of weeks aside from Jose Rujano becoming a ventriloquist dummy. Really big things actually. Huge. The kind of news that have perhaps changed how outsiders view the sport. Of course, I'm talking about the fact that the words "Animal Gay" were painted on the road at the Giro.

And the fact that Lampre's Diego Ulissi did this to himself, thus making the entire world cringe in uncomfortable horror:

But as you all probably know, I'm kidding. That's not the big news I'm referring to, and surely you know that. The big news that I'm talking about (which have been in the mind of every cycling fan for the last week) is the fact that eyebrow-plucker Stefano Garzelli rode the last five kilometers of a stage at the Giro wearing my uncle Jose's oversized State Farm Insurance windbreaker, which he got for free on Jacket Night at a Toledo Mudhens baseball game.

Needless to say, my uncle would like his jacket back. And speaking of fashion and trends, have you noticed how in vogue gravel is these days? In the United States, cyclists can't get enough of it. They talk about, write about it, and actively look for it. In the absence of European-style cobblestones, gravel has become unquestionably fashionable. Think of it as pave's less successful and less sophisticated brother...or what the Chrysler 300 is to a Bentley. Nevertheless, gravel is in such high demand right now, that when angry young cyclists in Chicago were recently unable to get their much-needed gravel fix, they simply went ahead and beat up a paved road like it owed them money, thus making the gravel they craved. Luckily—as is often the case these days— an HD camera was there to capture the beating, which was then set to the kind of angry music that men who beat up streets like to listen to. If you want to skip ahead to the part of the video where the street finally gets what it had coming to it, jump ahead to 0:50 seconds.

"What are you looking at telephone pole? You want some of this?"

The Gravel Metric -- More Gravel from Seth Deming on Vimeo.

That's all for today's post. Feel free to leave a comment, or call our Cycling Inquisition hotline if you wish. If I don't pick up, it's because I'm outside...beating up a street, or I'm in front of the mirror, perfecting my ventriloquist's dummy look. Either way, leave a message.

Outtakes from Luigi and Little Jose's set at the Brew Ha-Ha Comedy Club

— You know, during one stage of the Giro, I went back to the caravan to see the race doctor.
— Oh really, why?
— I kept hearing a ringing in my hear.
— And what did the doctor tell you do to about it?
— Not to answer it.

— In a race last year, my team ended up staying in the same hotel room as Jens Voigt's team
— And what was he like?
— He was pleasant, but kept complaining about his old age, and how he forgot everything.
— Really?
— Yes, he kept saying "I'm so old, and my memory is terrible. You probably can't even guess how old I am...but I'm telling you, I forget everything these days." So I told him that if he sniffed my sweaty chamois, and then licked it, I could guess his age. He didn't want to do it at first, but then took a big whiff, licked it and gagged. Once he did that, I told him he was 40 years old. He said, "I can't believe you guessed my age! How did you know" so I said, "Because you told me just yesterday!"

— Now that the Giro's over, are you going to relax a bit Little Jose?
— Oh yes, actually, I just took a short trip in my car
— Really? Was it business, or pleasure?
— Pleasure. I was taking my mother in law to the airport!

— Ah, come on now, Little Jose, surely you must love your mother in law. She took care of your house while you were at the Giro, right?
— Oh, she took care of it alright. Dios mio...I told her "my house is your house", so she sold it!

– Jose, how was the food in the Italian hotels at this year's Giro?
— Ay, madre de dios, it was awful. In one hotel, the bread was so hard and rough, that you could have used it to sand down your brake pads.
— Did you complain to the waiter about the old bread?
— I did. I said "Waiter, this bread is from yesterday. Can I get bread that is from today?", so he said "Signore, so ah-sorry. You want-ah bread from today-ah?" I told him, "yes I do!" so he said, "the come back tomorrow-ah"

— But the Giro is done now Jose, are you enjoying some time at home with your wife? She's beautiful.
— Are you kidding me? You should see what she looks like in the morning. Dios mio, just yesterday morning, she came out to the curb and yelled out to the garbage man, "am I too late for the garbage?", He took one look at her and said, "No, jump in!"