Landslides, polka dots, and the ol' switcharoo


1. Vuelta a Colombia


Circa 1973, unknown photographer, Deportes Al Dia magazine


Santiago Botero, Victor Hugo Peña, and José Rujano protested the race organizer's decision to continue Stage 9 "after an avalanche nearly hit the peloton." You have to love a race like the Vuelta a Colombia, where a top tube cheat sheet must point out climbs, feed zones and possible landslides. (Gregg Bleakney Photo)

Photographer Gregg Bleakney followed the 2009 Vuelta a Colombia, and captured some wonderful images of the event, which you can see here. I remember seeing a video account of his trip on Velo News, which was called Behind The Scenes In Colombia. Sadly, like so many things on the internet, the video is long gone. Bleakney also photographed a great story which I've posted before, called Digging Deep, about the Colombian mountain bike champion who is also a coal miner.

You can see more of Bleakney's cycling-related work here, including pictures from the Tour of Beijing, Tour of India and many other races.

2. Oh my
Feel free to share jokes about "single versus dual-sided entry" in the comments section.

eBay listings like this one make me think back to great moments in eBay history, like when sellers from Bizarro World managed to list items, thus allowing any of us to buy a bike that belonged to "Gyro Winner Andy Hampstons". I mean, as impressive and inspiring as Andy Hampsten's victory at the Giro was, his alter ego Hampston's victory at that gyro-eating contest must have been absolutely monumental!

3. Frederik Veuchelen
Just as Pavlov's dog reacted to the sound of a bell, we Colombians have an uncontrollable reaction to seeing polka dotted jerseys. As such, I couldn't help but notice that Vacansoleil's Frederik Veuchelen was the first Belgian since Eddy Merckx to win the mountains classification at Paris-Nice last week. Last year, I spent the afternoon with Vacansoleil's mechanics the day before the Tour of Flanders. During that time, the mechanics humored me, and answered endless questions. As they did so, I noticed two small children who were allowed to roam inside the team truck, as they played with the team bikes and wheels. They were Veuchelen's son and daughter, who were there with their mother to cheer on their dad.

Veuchelen's wife (An Vollon), told me that it was a treat for her to see Veuchelen race in person, and not on television as she usually does. As she looked after her children, she told me me, "Being married to a cyclist is hard, particularly for us. He's a professional cyclist, and I'm a dentist, so we are both very busy. It's a tough combination." They met when they were kids in school, so I joked that surely she knew what she was getting into by marrying him. Long training rides, even longer stretches of time when he's away from home, and an obsessively strict lifestyle at times.

She laughed, "No, not at all. He played football back then, he didn't start riding a bike until he was 22!" Ah, the ol' switcharoo.

Here are some of the pictures I took that afternoon.

5. Ringtones

In Belgium, you know a race is approaching when you hear the TV helicopter, and when the Rodania car goes by. Last week, the Inner Ring blog posted an mp3 file of the Rodania jingle, which you can make into your ringtone. This reminded me of the fact that one of the most popular posts on this blog is one that featured the Tour de France car horn sound. As you may know, that unusual horn can be heard in all ASO races. I was able to record it as it was played for me by an ASO employee, whose job it is to mark the race route with yellow arrows at Paris-Roubaix.

If we as fans hear this horn sound in our sleep during the summer months, I can only imagine that professionals at the highest level have a decidedly Pavlovian response to it, and probably hear it in their sleep for the rest of their lives. Andy Hampsten I wonder if his bizarro twin Andy Hampston does as well.

In any case, based on the popularity of that post, I thought it was worth mentioning that my original link to the sound file (in multiple formats) is still available here.

Since the time I posted the file, Sendspace has placed multiple ads on their pages, making it hard to find the correct link. Once you're on the Sendspace page, you have to click on the link that looks like the image below to download the files.

Tip: if you own an iPhone, you can make this horn sound into your alarm, which you can then set to go off at a random moment during a long ride. In doing so, you will be both the coolest, and the lamest person all at once.

6. Friday Bonus (updated)
When you're watching riders descend during Milan-San Remo on Saturday, remember this video, and remember the squealing.