Yesterday's leftovers, today's empanadas. A tale of pillows, cycling folklore and motorhomes.

Every nationality has one: a dish that is largely intended as a culinary catch-all, one that allows you to mindlessly throw in leftovers, and make them into something new and suddenly edible. In my house growing up, that dish was empanadas. In today's post, I originally intended to share a freshly made Colombian empanada with each and every reader...but then I remembered that Blogger doesn't support an acceptable teletransportation plug-in right now. Yet another reason why I should have started this blog in WordPress. At any rate, due to my inability to circumvent even the most basic principles that dictate how matter operates (and thus how empanadas cannot be teletransported), I hereby offer this humble post instead. In a way, it's also made from leftovers, and random items that I thought I should share with you, so it's almost like an internet empanada.

Quick, how do you know that it's January if you don't have a calendar, or one of those digital watches from Sky Mall that magically aligns itself with an atomic clock? Easy, just wait for images of riders from team Quickstep (or its latest variant) posing with pillows from their sponsor Innergetic. These images are released every January, and are thus far more accurate than any watch you could ever buy from SkyMall (and more entertaining than the Cruzin Cruiser that is also offered by that quality catalog).

This year's version of the image features Levi Leipheimer, who clearly used his high-powered agent to negotiate the coveted front spot in the line. While this may not seem like a big deal at first, it most certainly is when you consider that he basically got the first spot in the cycling world's Human Centipide. This pillow photo shoot is actually more horrendous than a human centipide, but if you must be a part of it due to contractual obligations, you really want to be first in line.

Which brings us to Tom Boonen, who is happily smiling, despite the fact that he's last in line. He smiles because he still has a job, and because being the last in a human centipide means that he at least gets to eat something more palatable than the sizable portions of humble pie he's grown used to over the last two seasons.

Notice that in last year's picture, Gert Steegmans was last in line, and he's no longer even in the shot. One more year of crap results, and Boonen will forever be banished into the same isolated storage facility in Siberia where the team keeps Steegmans these days. See, for team director Patrick Lefevre, this yearly photshoot serves as a quiet but powerful way to let his riders know where they stand within the team. It also serves as a fun way to torture Tom Boonen.

But pictures of riders with pillows are not the only way to know it's January. There's another popular method that I strongly believe in, which is to look for images of Rabobank's Michael Matthews' new haircut for the season, which in turn helps me determine which contestant of the TV show Project Runway he's trying to look like now. Much like a groundhog looks for its shadow to determine if winter will last much longer, I look for evidence of Matthews' haircut to see when the Tour Down Under will start.

Critical thinking
Next up, we have the Schleck brothers, who have proven that they are unable to keep their teammates private cell phone numbers off national television, while also not knowing how to spell said teammates' first or last names. Not only are the Schleck's great spellers, they are also very insightful when it comes to the following impressive list of topics: diet, the affect of said diet on individuals, cycling history, gender identity and questionable cycling folklore.

Don't believe me? Watch the short video below, and be amazed by their ability to work together (as always) to prove how unbelievably bright they are, and how their critical thinking skills have become sharper with time. I hereby present you with Deep Thoughts, with Frank and Andy Schleck.

Ahhh, if only they worked that seamlessly together at the Tour...or at Liege-Bastogne-Liege...or at spelling Jakob Fuglsang's name...or at keeping Jakob Fuglsang's phone number off of national television.

Another sign that it's January, is that the cyclocross U.S. National Championships were contested this past weekend, after having been moved in the calendar. It was while watching coverage of said race that I chuckled a bit, when I saw someone holding a homemade Dirk Hofman Motorhomes sign. The moment I tried to explain why this was even mildly amusing to my wife, I instantly realized how hopelessly enveloped in cycling I am.

"The guy is holding a sign for a motorhome rental business in Europe...only it's not really for that business, because that company has no presence in the United States. He's merely doing it as a joke, because people hold up those signs European races."

She didn't see the humor in it, and I suddenly realized that I was enjoying what amounted to European motorhome humor. It's a pretty small subgenre of motorhome humor, which is otherwise a vast sea of endless jokes that delight young and old alike. As such, I stand by my chuckle upon seeing the sign. Having said that, if any if you ever see me as much as smile because someone in the United States is getting an American rider to sign on of those cheap Skoda hats that the Tour caravan gives out, please shoot me and put me out of my misery.

Lastly, here's a video that I thought you would enjoy. It has nothing to do with the rest of this post, and I don't have much to say about it. It's just people racing, riding and falling on a cobbled street that is in terrible disrepair, and boasts a 37% grade. If I were ranked among the top ten (or top twenty, or top thirty) cycling bloggers in the world, I would have something funny or insightful to say about this video. But I'm not, so I'll merely share it with you, since I don't have the mental ability to come up with anything to say about it. Remember, I'm the guy who chuckled about someone holding a sign for a motorhome rental company that doesn't exist in the United States. That means that in the grand scheme of things, I'm not far behind the Schleck brothers and their spelling abilities. Scary.

Dirty Dozen Race 2011-Canton Ave from Matt Dayak on Vimeo.