Blind Items ("yah, old Belgian trick")

Some years ago, my wife and I noticed that the two weekly magazines that we subscribed to would often arrive on our mailbox on the same day. They were US Weekly and the New Yorker. The difference between  the two publications struck us as humorous, something that was underscored by seeing them arrive next to each other week after week. Over time, we realized that we weren't fully keeping up with either magazine. One week was simply not enough to read them, and they began to pile up. So a decision had to be made. One of the two subscriptions had to go. We both agreed...and the New Yorker got the ax. What this decision said about us and our intellect is something I'm well aware of.

After a few years of US Weekly alone, we stopped that subscription too. But after being exposed to it, my brain still shows the effects of having that magazine around for so long. It's with this in mind that I bring you the following blind items from the world of pro cycling. All come from what I strongly feel are credible sources, and have usually been mentioned to me several times by different people, always with the same details. I'll leave you to guess who/what these are about.

Forgive me for the salacious nature of these items, but please understand that they are being offered up in a decidedly lighthearted tone, in hopes that you'll enjoy them. Yes, this is me half-apologizing for having read US Weekly in the past (and for so long), and for the nature of this post.

1. There's a race in the schedule that pro cyclists and their teams like going to, and will often ask to be included in the squad for. The reason? It's not for training, location, quality of the hotels, or because it works well based on the time of year that it's in. No. As it turns out, it's all about the party that goes down the last night of the race, in which many....uhm....women are brought in to cater to needs of riders by the organizers. Some riders in particular (I'll skip names to stick with the theme of this post, and for obvious other reasons) consistently come up as having enjoyed the....services. No one outside the teams can be invited to the party, and the press is kept at bay.

2. Along that same theme, here's another one. The popularity of Tinder, and what it's used for are no secret at this point. Among many professional athletes, things like the Olympics are little more than international sex fests for those who otherwise live somewhat strict lifestyles in preparation for such events. Apps like Tinder only make things easier. American goalkeeper Hope Solo was one of the first athletes to speak openly about the matter, saying how common it is to see people in the Olympic village having intercourse "out in the open. On the grass, between buildings", similarly tales of large-scale orgies at the Vancouver winter games became legendary.

With all this in mind, it should come as no surprise that some cyclists and the traveling circus that they are a part of are well suited for such activities (when time and schedule allows for it). This is something I've been hearing more stories about recently.  One European rider in particular is very fond of racing in the US for this very reason, and could easily earn frequent flyer mile-like points for his excessive use of Tinder during races. In fact, some European riders seem to enjoy racing in the US for this very reason. Low stress, it's far from home, and there's plenty of strangers to meet.

This reminds me of a story that was told by Jeremy Powers during his Jelly Belly days, and was originally published in the old Competitive Cyclist blog. Powers' account is of a Belgian rider who threw out his musette to some young ladies during a US race, after holding on to it for a long time. Powers asked why he had done that (held on to the bag for such a long time). The rider answered that the bag contained a Polaroid of himself, along with his phone number.

"Yah, old Belgian trick, it works every time"

As it turns out, even before Tinder, the Belgian libido could not be stopped.

3. What can you do if you're a team, and you want to sign a rider, but don't trust him for one reason or another? Easy, write into his contract that he has to live in a certain place during the season, and that he can't go to places A, B or C (even to visit) during those same months. I wonder if this works, and if it can be enforced in any way.


Marginalia

Nice piece about Colombian cycling and 4-72—Colombia in Aljazeera

Also,

I'm working on a post about cyclocross in Colombia (or relative lack thereof), and the possibilities for this nascent sport there. In the midst of this, comes the fact that the first Colombian to ever compete in a UCI ranked 'cross race finished 13th (Thanks to Chris for the heads up).

And lastly, for those who have seen the picture above, and followed the small controversy

that ensued as a result, I wanted to let you know that the Colombian news site Vanguardia has reported on an official answer from the Bogota Cycling League, which backed the team in Toscana.

Their statement says that the team has been racing with this kit for nine months. It was designed by one of the team's riders, Angie Tatiana Rojas, and (as you might expect) appears more salacious in these photos due to shadows. The statement from the Cycling League of Bogota says, "this uniform was not designed with any malice whatsoever, and there was no intent in trying to objectify our athletes, or use them in such a manner for the sake of exposure for the sponsor." They also say that the kit was vetted and approved by the rider's teammates, though many assumed that the riders were being used, and objectified.

As a result of the press that this story has gotten, I was even interviewed by the BBC World Service (no, I'm not kidding) to help shed some light on the issue. The kit's design is also being investigated by the UCI, which is fine. I just hope that they retroactively do the same for these guys . Because I don't think those are just shadows.