Dave Towle calling out Manual for Speed in front of a packed to the gills crowd at Rider Sign-In.
Enjoying a Top of the Notch burger at the Top of the Notch lodge, a run down/clapped out/left for dead ski lodge at the top of Mt. Baldy. It was cold with a haunted medieval vibe outside and it was warm inside with the race playing on a flat screen above the bar.
Finding an off-brand Pinkberry joint in Pasadena after the real Pinkberry had already closed (before 9:00 PM on a Saturday night).
Checking into a razor wire-equipped, armed sentry-protected Ramada Inn in Downtown LA, as murder choppers buzzed low over our heads.
Having to settle for an off brand Pinkberry.
When Peter Kennaugh refused to take a selfie with us.
Joe Lewis sends us quotes from inside the pro peloton!“An Italian guy that was in my group said at one point, 'This is not life, I want die. I think is better.'”Joe Lewis
“This is stage 7 Queen Stage Action, as Told By Towle for Manual for Speed!”
“When the world’s most talented cyclists are literally tearing each other apart in the gladiator pit that is professional cycling, Manual for Speed is there to capture the Speed, Humanity and Spectacle of California’s Greatest Race.”
Stage 07: The Manual for Speed Words and Picture Services crew was pleasantly surprised to wake up alive and in one piece after spending the night in what was obviously a well-used murder hotel. Knowing that today the peloton would lay siege to the mountains of San Bernardino where they would fight a courageous battle in blinding fog, freezing late season snow, and merciless above category climbs, the MFS boys split into two teams: Daniel on board a furious two wheeled road missile as the crew’s highly mobile soul stealer and Emiliano and Kyle in their Chrysler 200s stealth land shark, which they took straight to the crowd mobbed corner of Glendora Mountain Road. When the young Frenchman, Julian Alaphillipe, launched his audacious climbing attack it was ON LIKE DONKEY KONG, and his move would prove to be the final blow. Julian would take the Queen Stage, and in doing so break the curse of the shaved head once and for all. Though the battle on the mountain has been decided the war is far from over, and Manual for Speed made sure to feed their FroYo fix and before settling in for a long night of high intensity web blogging.
by Daniel Wakefield Pasley
I have something to tell you. First though, two things:
- What I’m about to tell you will probably NOT come as a surprise. You probably knew all along.
- Not only have you known the whole time, you most likely don’t care, at all. It’s not that you’re indifferent, it’s just that, you have understandably low expectations of MFS when it comes to journalistic integrity and ethics.
Okay here goes. We’re not impartial, we’re partial. Yes, of course, we still care, and have always cared, and will continue to care about the whole giant sprawling spectacle. All of the fans and the support crew, even the police and the busted-ass Sacramento Valley towns like Lodi, we care about ALL of that shit. But I’m talking about Human Athletes. We’re not partial or unbiased when it comes to Human Athletes. I mean, we’ll publish photographs of anyone, it’s not about photographs. It’s about caring. We care a lot more about a specific group of dudes because they’re Our Dudes. It’s not an official thing, or a club, and they’re not all on the same team, they’re just dudes we like. That’s it. That’s all they have in common in respect to the Our Dudes thing. We just like them.
Before I go any further, we know that you know, that Castelli gives us the money and the resources to make this project possible. We like to think of our relationship with Castelli as an interpretation of the NPR underwriting model. And sometimes, on those rare occasions when we’re feeling both fanciful and frisky, we might refer to Castelli as our patron. The point is, our lives would be so much easier if we just focused on those athletes and teams either officially and/or ceremonially sponsored by Castelli. But we don’t. And Castelli, because they’re advanced thinkers with a deep and sustained interest in the Sport of cycling, reliably forgive our many weekly if not daily transgressions with regards to brand correctness, all in the name, we think, of transcendence.“We say hey, dude, tell the whole story and give the whole picture, don't limit the scope or purview, don't get hung up on the Scorpion too hard, just transcend that brand shit, and if you do, people will like what you do, and buy your shit. It helps that your shit is the best shit.”DWP
But listen, this is getting way off topic. Today was a good day for Our Dudes. First of all, Lachlan Morton and Johann van Zyl were in the break. If you don’t know who Lachlan is please stop reading this immediately. Dont even look at the photographs. Go down to the basement, grab a hammer, come back up stairs and start smashing your computer into hundreds of pieces. Then pour some gasoline on it and light it on fire. We like Lachlan Morton so deeply and for so many reasons, it’s not even worth getting into at this point. We like Johann van Zyl because he let us (total strangers) into his house and played along with our YO! MFS Cribz game even though he had NO FUCKING idea what Manual for Speed was. That takes some serious open mindedness, or maybe he was just bored that afternoon, who cares?, he was gracious and accommodating whatever his reasons.
I was on a photo moto today. I passed both those dudes about a hundred times, and each time I did, I shouted their names along with words of encouragement, e.g., LACHLAN MORTON!!!!!! DON’T BE TOO KASUAL!!!!!!!! Also, I made a special effort to photograph both of them better than everyone else in the break. Speaking of which, I have no clue who else was in that break. At all. I don’t remember and I don’t care.
Second of all, Joe Dombrowski got fourth. And Phil Gaimon got 17th. And Ben King got 21st. And I don’t care what Alex Howes got because he’s Alex Howes and he was there and he doesn’t have to get anything as far as we’re concerned. Same goes for Joe Lewis and Kiel Reijnen.
On the way up Baldy every time we (my moto and I) passed Joe, which, we passed him a lot because he was WAY off the front of the group with Ian Boswell and Peter Sagan and Sergio Luis Henao Montoya and that French kid, who won it, I shouted at Joe. I never know what to say in situations like that. I mean, you can only say GO so many times. Also, in this particular case I don’t like the way GO JOE sounds because I never really liked the show that much. I mean, Snake Eyes was cool I guess but that was about it. So anyway, pretty quickly I started running YOU GOT THIS. I liked YOU GOT THIS because A.) I really bona fide thought he had it, and I mean, he almost had it B.) he was legit in the fight, he needed something more than a canned GO. My thinking was he needed to hear it said out loud that it was possible. He needed to believe it.“Also none of this matters anyway because those fuckers can’t hear you. Over the sound of the motorcycle, and the cars and all the horns and the helicopter. Oh, and the sound of their hearts beating 212 times a minute. And their breathing. And the the pain.”DWP
So I think what I want to say is this. Maybe Manual for Speed needs to recuse itself from any remaining semblance of journalism. And while obviously nobody is likely laboring under any big misconception here, I just wanted to be super-duper clear. Because none of the other photographers shout at their dudes. And none of the other crew, like moto drivers, judges and police officers, are cheering racers on. It’s the fans on the side of the road—on top of their cars, in the trees, running alongside racers as they pass, wearing stupid clothes, making stupid noises, dancing to 2 LIVE Crew, jumping around in bubbles—and Manual for Speed, which I guess make us Fans. Which, whatever.
Dear Joe Dombrowski, if you’re reading this. I just wanted to say I don’t know what to say. When you finished I was so excited for you. I came over and I don’t know why but I sorta hugged you or something. Like, I guess I just wanted to touch your or pat you or hug you or something, and say dude, what a fucking ride, that was such a good ride, dude!!!!!!!!, you rode away from Sagan, and you and Ian were right there for soooooooo long, and I’m sure you’re disappointed because yeah, real talk, fourth fucking sucks, not because it’s not amazing, it’s definitely amazing, but because it’s one off the podium right, and you worked so hard and you got so close, and so dude, I totally get it, but also, THAT RIDE WAS AMAZING, that stage was amazing, and you played a pretty fucking key role in it, you were right there, and you did something dude, you did something really big, so I’m happy for you. But instead, I don’t think I said anything. I think I just kinda like grabbed your arms or something and walked away awkwardly. So yeah, I’m sorry. That was weird. But dude, I was just excited and I suck at being a fan obviously. But also Manual for Speed sucks at journalism too. So maybe, what this is is a Reality TV show. But I don’t want it to be a Reality TV show because they suck, I hate Reality TV shows, it’s like, fuck it, I would rather sell used cars then host a Reality TV show, but that’s another story. This story is about how our mutual friend Jay Moglia from D.C./West Virginia started talking about you several years ago, about how you were a phenom, and it’s about how we interviewed you at the Tour of Utah by a pool like three years ago and you were funny and humble and kind, and then you went to Team Sky and we don’t really know what happened but it sounded crazy-rough, and now it seems like you’re back, like in America or something, even though you’re rarely in America because you live in Europe most of the year, but I think it’s because you’re riding for Garmin and Garmin is American, and so you’re back and you’re racing really well, and dude, today was siiiiiiiiiiiq I don’t care what you say.
by Kyle Von Hoetzendorff
There is a chance that I will regret admitting this, and I think that there is a good chance that some of you might hate me for it, but to tell you what I want to tell you I need to admit that I am not what most would consider a “fan of road bike racing.” Fucked up right? I mean my job is to observe and report on the sport of road bicycling and I should be over the moon mad about it, but I’m not. It’s not like I have an axe to grind, in like a “my-dad-was-killed-by-a-rogue-professional-road-racer” kind of way, it’s more that I am just not that interested in the nuts and bolts, the facts and stats of road racing—of sport in general, really—it’s just not my thing. I don’t make time to watch every race, every game, to listen to the endless anecdotes and insights of sportscasters, to always know the score.“Fortunately I don’t have to, and you should also know that if you are reading this here, on this blog called Manual for Speed, that factual accurate reporting on road racing isn’t exactly what we do.”KVH
So here I am at stage 7, the weather has been down all week. The ubiquitous California sun has abandoned us, my sweatshirt has been in constant use. Emiliano has already photographed the peloton as it climbed up and past us on Glendora Mountain Road, and the riders won’t be to the finish for another two hours so we drive our little rig to the end of the stage and park. It’s cold, an inversion has set in and a chilling fog makes the setting perfect for a pirate attack. The cold keeps body comfort at bay; in a quest for warmth we ride the world’s slowest oldest chairlift up to the Baldy Mountain Lodge.
The lodge is well past its prime, the architectural equivalent of a ’70s ski bum with a coke blown septum, mogul busted knees, and two kids on the other side of the country who are trying hard to forget that he exists. Still, if you meet him at a bar on just the right night at just the right time a little bit of the old hot dogger can still shine through, and he will get to telling you stories about the good old days, like the time Steve Alman invited him down to his Malibu beach house to cut up mondo lines skiing down a mountain of pure Columbian gold. The lodge has this good for a story effect on us, plus with a fire going in the central wood stove that is working so, so well, we decide to brave a burger and watch the race unfold on the small screen over the bar.
During the past week I have spent a ton of time around the race, but watching it on TV like this is the first time I have seen long stretches of the race unfold. It does all those verbs and adjectives that cycling does, and a couple of the dudes I have gotten to know are in a break, so now I have investment in their success. Mostly though, we eat our passably mediocre burgers and shoot the shit about projects, travel, and Mad Max: Fury Road. Time passes, and as the race approaches the finish line we once again mount the chairlift and slowly descend into the cloud veiled depths, the cable overhead towing us towards the growling wail of Dave Towle and Brad Sohner.
Emiliano goes off to take more pictures and I watch the big screen. Julian Alaphillipe has just gone clear of the break. I watch him push, I watch him drive his body onwards, I watch as saliva hangs in long arcs, like spider’s silk, from his chin; here, in front of a world of fans, the man is drooling on himself. The section of road that he is riding on is so steep that it is not classified, it is above category. Once a few years ago I rode it, stopping at every corner to catch strength and breath. Julian does no such thing, he just flies. He is small, young, and unexpected. And he is doing exactly what I came here to see, he is doing something that I would consider to be transcendent. This has nothing to do with what food he likes, or the bike he rides, or the shoes he is wearing. It has nothing to do with stats or the facts.“He is in a moment of grace, pushing beyond all known limits. You can see it as it happens, because for few yards he lightens up, his cranks turn slower and it appears that the chase group is going to catch him, but then he turns it back on, accelerating to the finish.”KVH
This is what I love about sport. The ability to see someone rise above their abilities, become more than they are. This isn’t easily achieved, these experiences are rare, brought about by the perfect balance of character, pressure and competition, fueled by drive, desire, and dedication. These are human fundamentals, ingrained operations, and sport allows such a beautiful expression of these abilities, an expression that can be immediately and viscerally recognized and understood. This is something, something important. This is something to search for, to root for, and this is the kind of fan that I am.