Though Mongo is an admitted sap for schmaltzy, sentimentality, even I was surprised by how moved I was watching the ESPN special on Tony Hawk...It was called "Homecoming".
It was the first time that I can remember that skaters of my generation were both featured and heard from in person on a mainstream network.
Mullen spoke...and was goofily charming. Caballero spoke...and was elegant and wise. Mountain spoke...and was the voice of the people. Mongo didn't know whether to laugh or cry. I was overwhelmed by the past and present of what skateboarding has meant, and still means, to me.
Finally...there is Tony Hawk himself. He is a man to be respected both as a skater and as a human being. There is no one who has meant more to both the "art" and the "business" of skateboarding. He is without a doubt, one of the five greatest skateboarders of all time.
Some said it would never happen...but they were wrong. Today at the 23/2300 Hammerfest, Mongo and Snow Bunny fashioned a two-man escape. It netted us a one minute advantage over all the elite climbers by the time we reached the top of the KOM.
Of course...it didn't count! There is a mandatory regrouping at the base of the KOM climb.
Though the results still need to be validated by Price-Waterhouse, it looks like Mongo won the TDF Cycling Pool. By correctly predicting six of the top ten finishers on GC, including the top two podium spots, Astana as the team winner, and getting stage wins from both Cavendish and Cancellara..."Show me the money!"
Team Garmin-Slipstream got their asses handed to them today...When it finally looked like they got their tactics right to disrupt Cavendish and launch Farrar, George "Slappy" Hincapie made the perfect move that shifted the peloton and gave Columbia-HTC the lead and control.
David Millar got lazy in his "faux" TT position after VDV had just pulled for 1K...and Hincapie took advantage. Once Renshaw took over, he squeezed the remaining Garmin riders in the final corner and it was an easy win for Cavendish.
...If everything is on on the up and up, then you have to be impressed by the performance of Mellow Johnny on Mont Ventoux.
That being said, Andreas Kloden was stronger than Armstrong during the entire Tour...but because of team politics, he was forced to do much too much work for Armstrong and Contador on several critical stages.
We all know that this "magical"(Yeah, right!) comeback wouldn't have the future benefits for both Mellow Johnny and Johan Bruyneel if MJ didn't at least make the podium.
As we close in on the final days of the Tour and the decisive stage up Mont Ventoux, we have been witness to the unfolding drama that is the Astana Cycling Team. Contador, Armstrong, Leipheimer, Kloden...all have had issues.
With only thirteen seconds separating Mellow Johnny in third and AK47 in fifth, what is going to happen? Let's see what Mongo had to say over seven months ago.
Mongo's boy, favorite cyclist, and occasional dick, Greg Lemond, is at it again.(He needs to be the first Commissioner of Pro Cycling)
Based on Contador's performances in both the climb to Verbier and the final TT, along with complicated formulas involving VO2 and Wattage, Lemond thinks that there is a strong possibility that El Pistolero is not clean.
Maybe...maybe not! The thing is that I don't care the way I used to. If he's dirty, he'll eventually be caught. If he's not, history will take care of him kindly...But Mongo can no longer champion anyone's guilt or innocence.
The sad truth is that no one can be put beyond reproach...We've been burned too may times.
AK needs to stop dragging Mellow Johnny all over France and set his sights on his own podium opportunities. Look for Kloden to do his best on the next four stages to pass Wiggins and Armstrong...and try for third in Paris.
Mongo still sees A-Schleck moving up to second overall.
First of all...One of Mongo's favorite riders, and a fellow rouleur, Heinrich Haussler, wins Stage 13 like a man...in a solo breakaway...in the rain! The Aussie/German's victory was fueled by a secret bad weather concoction of Vegemite and Streusel.
Secondly...The Li'l Bronze Medalist is out! A broken wrist has derailed Levi from hand-jobbing Mellow Johnny all the way to Paris. More importantly, his exit has put a damper on Mongo's Fantasy Cycling pool...as I had him slotted in third place in my final GC standings.
The good news is that AK47 moves up a spot and MJ has no one to protect him anymore. Look for Contador and Kloden to work together in the upcoming stages.
Come on...Doesn't any team have the balls to come to the front of the peloton and challenge Columbia-HTC for position?
I'm talking to you, Garmin-Slipstream!
Tyler Farrar has been busting his ass in all the sprint stages and the only support you can give him is Julian Dean? Where's Zabriskie, Millar, Hesjedal? I know you're saving Wiggins and VandeVelde for GC, but give Farrar a fighting chance to beat Cavendish with a proper lead-out.
Mongo stopped by the shop today after my ride and chatted with some of the fellas. Boonen, Snow Bunny, Doo Doo...all were there. Of course, we talked about the Tour so far, as well as the controversial Cat-5 race that some of the boys raced in yesterday. Sketchy yellow-line rules, as well as a huge crash, prevented the team from dominating. Our own "Michael Rasmussen", Alpe d'Huez Mike, was the highest placed finisher on the day.
As for my ride, I put in a strong 50 miles with an 18+ average speed. I was also wearing my full team kit. Mongo doesn't usually don the "colors" without riding with other teammates, but I felt like representing. Sunday is always a good day at the Silver Comet Trail for Mongo to feel good about himself as a cyclist...Monday always brings my game back to reality at the 23/2300 Hammerfest.
After dominating my solo ride all day and passing at least fifty cyclists, who I would swear under oath were all making good progress on their Huffy's and Pacific's, Mongo rolled through the parking lot at the trailhead. It was there that Mongo felt the power of what it means to belong to a "gang".
As I coasted along, I heard a couple of guys say this about me. "That dude rides for Smyrna Bicycles...Those guys are all really fast!" Wow...I had street cred! I was immediately as fast as our fastest rider because of our kit. Now I know what it feels like to be Gregory Rast. Oh...I almost ran over the biggest Copperhead snake I have ever seen in my life.
Mongo spent the rest of the afternoon cutting down trees and branches, and generally straining muscles that I forgot I had. This should suit me well as the foundation of all the excuses for my bad performance on Monday night.
Mongo always enjoys seeing a quality cyclist produce a quality ride. That was the case today with Luis Leon Sanchez *(I thought of it first). He drove a four-man breakaway most of the day...and when it mattered, used perfect strategy to reel in a solo break and out-sprint Sandy Casar for the win.
Mongo busted out the neon-purple, Pearl Izumi, 80's jersey...the Oakley M-Frames...the day-glo yellow, Mavic socks...and jumped on my early 90's, mountain bike street racer...commonly referred to on this blog as LPE ...and went for a ride.
One Powertap-equipped triathlete later, Mongo scored his only smackdown victory of the afternoon. His bike was dirtier and noisier than a (...insert your own lewd reference...), but he put up a good fight for five miles or so before succumbing to retro Mongo.
Beyond the limits of sanity and reason...From a time that time forgot...In a place with no way out...A physical transformation like no other...Oscar can't be too far behind...Matthew McConaughey "is" Bjarne Riis in..."Dope: Got Any?"
Thomas "Twigs & Berries"Voeckler continues the tradition of a Frenchman winning a stage, and only one stage, each of the last ten years. Are you happy, France? Good...now go sit at the children's table for the rest of the Tour.
...Johan Bruyneel's wet dream is coming to fruition.
After his boy took advantage of a split in the field yesterday and picked up 30+ seconds on the main GC contenders, the entire Astana team came out today and layed the wood to everyone else in the TTT.
Mellow Johnny missed out on yellow by fractions of a second, thank God, but he now sits in second with Contador in third, Kloden in fourth, Leipheimer in fifth, and Zubeldia in seventh.
Five of the top seven ride for Astana...and they can all climb...including Zubeldia. This is getting good!
There are so many facets of cycling, and Pro Cycling, that Mongo enjoys. One of the most exciting and poetic is the field sprint. Whether it's a great individual effort or a perfectly executed team lead-out, it is one of the most thrilling moments in all of sports.
At nearly 40 mph, athlete and machine are on the edge of both disaster and glory...and it can switch from one to the other in the blink of an eye. Watching Team Columbia-HTC-LMNOP lead Mark Cavendish to victory today in Stage 2 was a sight to see.
From about 5k in, Columbia controlled the peloton... and when it got under 1000 m, "Slappy" Hincapie turned on the jets. At about 300m, Mark Renshaw took over and led Cavendish out for what was to be an easy victory. It was beautiful to watch.
It just so happens that the sprint coach for Columbia is none other than Erik Zabel. He knows how to diagram a lead-out. Back in the day, he and Milram basically invented the technique.
Mongo has to admit that he got a little misty-eyed when theTDF coverage began today on Versus. For all of my cynicism and perfunctory jabs at or about the sport of Pro Cycling, down deep I am still a fan, historian, and little boy...looking for a hero.
As we all know by now, heroes are hard to come by. We can no longer accept magnificent performances at face value. Every spectacular effort is shadowed by questions. And because we've been burned so many times in the past by liars and cheats of all shapes and forms, no one is above suspicion.
That being said...Fabian Cancellara won Stage 1 of the Tour de France by eighteen seconds over second place finisher, Alberto Contador. Eighteen seconds after Contador...Wiggins, Kloden, Evans, Leipheimer, Kreuziger, Martin, and Nibali. "Hmm!?"