So the 2016 ATOK is in the bag and for MFS we made it through, by which I mean nothing critically damaging happened and there were no unsolvable issues. Yes, we had a few things get filched from us, and we’re trying to come to terms with that, but outside of being victims of theft our experience was net positive. Here’s some general observations from our ATOK coverage experience:
- We spent a lot of time in our car, and being that this California, the epicenter of car culture, we should have expected this, but damn our car time was hard. We spent long hours of driving after long hours of following/watching the race. It would be absurd for me to compare our efforts to those of the racers but we’re nothing if not absurd and each day was more exhausting than the last. Every day we had our own stage to race, race in this case being defined as a mental/psychological challenge in which fatigue/tedium/and self doubt are major factors. I might have PTSD or at least PTSD-lite.
- On average slept for 5.5 hours in our hotels. But we paid for a full night’s sleep. Were we offered a discount? No. But I don’t think it is out of the question to hope for one.
- The Gibraltar stage was incredible. We need more of that. The climb and the view helped but it was the fans that really did it. You came out, you cheered, you got excited, thank you fans, thank you.
- As much as I push back against our travel triumvirate of Starbucks, Whole Foods, and Chipotle, I realize that when you deviate you roll the dice, and rolling the dice when it’s 9:30pm and you’re looking at another six hours of work after driving/watching/working since 9:00am is a risk you can’t afford to take, because if it doesn’t pan out, if the dice come up snake eyes then you’re going to be faced with an emotional low and in these situations an unexpected emotional low spells disaster.
Watching the Mark Cavendish come across the finish line in first place. Not necessarily because we love Mark Cavendish, though we think he’s a swell guy, but because it meant that the race was over, and this is a high because we look back on the week and we go, “Damn, we did it, we followed the race, took the photos, wrote the words, and even made some of the videos,” and as good as we felt about this we also felt elated and relieved that it was over.
Running into the SRAM Canyon Women’s Team at Chipotle. We took this as a sort of validation for our #2 on-the-road go-to joint, (#1, of course, being Whole Foods). If the world’s best athletes eat at Chipotle and we eat at Chipotle then we must be the best in the world at something to, that just how logic works.
On our way to drop Rebecca off at the train station we found ourselves in a maze. From what we could tell, the city of Sacramento was building some sort of movie set/life-size model train set/future prison grounds, and thanks to the magic of Google Maps we found ourselves smack dab in the middle of it. It was one of those deals where you had a suspicion that soon enough the area would be populated by prisoners wearing special neck collars rigged to explode if the prisoner escapes the containment zone. Either that or Sumner Redstone was in the midst of building the 1:1 scale model railroad he’s been dreaming about since he was struck by the idea while producing the movie Titanic.
Manual for Speed has been commissioned to introduce a new race classification category called “Most Animal.” Points for the classification will be awarded on the basis of style, swagger, and grit. We’ve assembled an elite group of expert analysts who will be assessing and assigning points for performance. The most animal jersey for ATOK will be awarded at the end of the race.
TAYLOR SHELDON: 6 pts
Ugh, the tumble this guy took the day before on Stage 07 looked rough, so rough the cameras didn’t catch it, instead cutting to my man’s bike crumpled in a ditch and the JellyBelly man lying supine, staring at the heavens and asking, “Why cycling Gods, why, first Lachy, then Gus, now you toss me on my ass?” To get up, shake off the wrath of the Gods, take a new bike covered in jelly bean decals and chase back into the group in order to finish the stage… then wake up the next day swollen, road-rashed to shit and eager to hustle into the main breakaway takes a level of intestinal fortitude not seen since Brett the Hitman Heart and the Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michael’s Iron Man match at Wrestlemania XII.
NEILSON POWLESS/AXEON: 4 pts
This team animated the entire race from start to finish. Neilson with his youth and tenacity, the team with their youth and tenacity, they rode like they belonged and OH BOY did they belong. I can’t say enough about these pesky little rats. I was not surprised to see Krists Neilands made the breakaway and had enough gusto left in the panache tank to attempt a last second flyer out of the disintegrating break as the peloton closed in on the final circuits of Sacramento. This late dig made my heart flutter, and while we all knew the sprint trains would prevail, this never-say-die mentality further demonstrates that Axel knows how to scout ‘em and coach ‘em—and that these kids know how to ride. Due to the individual and team efforts these final four points will be assigned to both Neilson and the Team at large, who locked down the top three spots in the ATOK Young Rider Classification.
THE POTHOLE @ ~110K: 3 pts
This pothole took down Haimar Zubeldia of Trek-Segafredo and some other euro from Lotto NL-Jumbo. You know a pothole is fierce when it takes down the oldest, most experienced rider on a straight, wide road. Haimar was so shaken up after dealing with that fucker that I think he crashed again 4k from the line. That’s an ANIMAL pothole, man.
Standings After Stage 08
- Neilson Powless: 16 points
- Peter Sagan: 15 points
- Julian Alaphilippe: 12 points
- Axeon-Hagens Berman: 9 points
- Ben King: 9 points
- Toms Skujins: 8 points
- Wouter Wippert: 7 points
- Peter Sagan: 7 points
- Nathan Haas: 6 points
- Taylor Sheldon: 6 points
- Jasper Stuyven: 6 points
- Katusha: 5 points
- Vasil Kiriyenka: 5 points
- Oscar Clark: 4 points
- Rohan Dennis: 4 points
- Mark Christian: 4 points
- Dave Towle: 4 poimts
- Cannondale Team Car: 3 points
- Kristoff’s Bike: 3 points
- Laguna Seca: 3 points
- Tao Geoghegan Hart: 3 points
- Caps: 2 points
- Inflatable Cookies: 2 points
- T.Phin’s Shades: 1 point
- That Pothole @ ~110k: 1 point
- Talking Heads – “This Must Be the Place”
- New Order – “Love Vigilantes”
- Frank Ocean – “Swim Good”
- LCD Soundsystem – “Dance Yrself Clean”
- Fugazi – “Long Division”
- AC/DC – “If You Want Blood”
- New Order – “The Village”
- Them – “It’s All Over Now Baby Blue”
- Martha and the Vandellas – “Nowhere To Run To”
- Pavement – “Summer Babe”
- 112 MA$E and Notorious B.I.G. – “Only You”
- Dr. Dre ft. Snoop Dogg – “Nothing But a G Thing”
- Queen – “Another One Bites the Dust”
- Prince – “Kiss”
- Otis Redding – “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long”
- Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb – Stanley Kubrick
- Blue – Krzysztof Kieslowski
- Walkabout – Nicolas Roeg
- All the Presidents Men – Alan Pakula
- My Dinner with Andre – Louis Malle
- Il posto – Ermanno Olmi
- Ikiru – Akira Kurasawa
- Army of Shadows – Jean-Pierre Melville
- Ghostbusters – Ivan Reitman
- Big Trouble in Little China – John Carpenter
- Hanna – Joe Wright
- Flashdance – Adrian Lyne
- Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon – Ang Lee
- Mad Max: Fury Road – George Miller
- Slumdog Millionaire – Danny Boyle
- Walter Niedermayr
- Robert Frank
- Harry Callahan
- William Eggleston
- Ed Ruscha
- Guy Bourdoin
- Nobuyoshi Araki
- Martin Parr
- Peter Beard
- Cindy Sherman
As promised, with the close of the 2106 ATOK, Manual for Speed is proud to award the first ever Most Animal Classification Jersey. Based on a rigorous and exacting process, our team of experts have determined that Neilson Powless is the winner. The best part? We didn’t need a team of rigorous and exacting experts to determine the outcome because it was SO obvious, and if it wasn’t obvious you’re probably not paying attention, which is a shame; this sport’s, our sport’s, very future depends on all of us paying attention to the animal(s) within. Just in case, here are our three favorite reasons Neilson is Most Animal:
- He’s only 19 years old.
- His hyper-condensed trajectory is beautiful, flawless, telling, compelling and animal as fuck: first he raced XTERRA, then norm triathlons, then mountain bikes, and finally, most recently, as in within the last year, he committed to racing road bikes.
- This was the first time riding in front of the world, on the world’s stage, in a Pro HC race. And he finished in the top 10 GC in 9th place, and he won the Young Rider Classification.
We couldn’t be happier that the inaugural issuing of the Most Animal Jersey is to someone whose effort so plainly and simply demonstrates what it means to ride like an animal.
Before you go, there are two things you need to know:
- Most Animal is the tip of a much larger iceberg called Road To Rad. More on that in the weeks to come.
- A Neilson Powless Fan Club is coming soon.