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The UCI is UC-Less

1 Dec

UPDATE 10 Feb 2015: the UCI—or more likely, their low-bid legal agents—have taken down the “UCI-Less” bumper sticker from Zazzle. Strangely, they seem not have have found the t-shirt. Can’t complain about that.

UCI-Less T-shirt anti-UCIAh, the UCI. Perhaps no governing body is held dear in the hearts of those it lords over, but is any so particularly unfit to lead as cycling’s?

From picking unnecessary fights with the organizers of the biggest races it manages, to failing utterly at the enforcement and transparency of its drug testing, the UCI is is remarkably consistent in its ability to fumble on the sports biggest issues. But what’s truly remarkable is how it’s able to carry this broad-picture ineptitude down to the tiniest minutiae of the sport.

Cyclocross has been a particularly egregious example. For years the UCI held out against disc brakes, only deigning to allow them in competition after the maximum width for tires was narrowed from 34 to 33mm. And now—though discussion on the USAICO newsgroup is still pretty opaque—it seems to be placing a punitive ban on UCI events that were part of non-UCI recognized series—such as the United State’s NACT and Verge NECCS events.

UCI-Less Bumper StickerI’m not saying the UCI does nothing for me/most of you as a fans and racers, but outside of producing decent educational videos, I’m having a hard time getting my head around how the UCI’s efforts benefit anyone but themselves.

Maybe some of you disagree, but if the Twitters are any indication, most of you don’t. So I’ve put together a t-shirt and a bumper sticker to share your feelings with the world.

The Pistolero Steakhouse T-Shirt

12 Nov

Pistolero Steakhouse T-Shirt DetailI don’t know about you, but I’m tired of Norwegians telling me what to think.

Take Thor Hushovd getting his knickers in a twist because of the local support Alberto Contador has received since his positive dope test. Just because most of his fans are too busy being employed to flood into the streets is no reason for the reigning world champion to be bitter.

And then there’s the head of the Norwegian cycling federation saying that his counterparts in Spain won’t give Contador proper scrutiny. First, other nations haven’t exactly been stringent, and second, hasn’t dumping the blame for the world’s cycling problems on Spain gone out of style yet? McQuaid’s been on that gripe for almost four years now.

Well, now’s your time to fight back against over-reaching “Anglo-Saxons” (to borrow McQuaid’s terminology). As you may or may not know, Contador is turning the media attention surrounding his misfortune into positive marketing by opening chain of upscale restaurants, and Cyclocosm has been chosen as the exclusive US distributor of their promotional apparel.

So this morning, I am proud to offer you your first opportunity at buying the official Pistolero Steakhouse t-shirt. It’s printed on an American Apparel tee, and I’ve switched printing methods to something a little more flexible and breathable than the previous designs.

The (Go) "Jens!" Shirt

16 Apr

UPDATE: Also available: Jens! coffee mug and Jens! beer stein.

I was looking at the Amstel Gold start list this morning and noticed that dossard #178 would be worn be a certain indefatigable German on the SaxoBank roster. It reminded me of a few reader requests that came in shortly after I added the “Stop Lance” shirt to the Cyclocosm shop.

However, the idea presented a few design problems. The whole “Stop Pre” thing doesn’t really work on Jens. Sure, he’s got a bit of the cockiness and knee-jerk reactivity that made Pre such a polarizing figure, but under normal circumstances Jens just seems way too goofy and enthusiastic to evoke an antagonistic response

My next instinct was obviously “Go Jens!”, but it didn’t fit well in anything but a triangular shape, and frankly, it seemed entirely redundant. When Voigt charges off the front of the field, the comments at the Podium Café live chat don’t read “Go Jens” or “Jens breaks away”; what other rider is so established among the fan base that a first name and punctuation is sufficient as both a description of race action and enthusiastic display of support?

And so, the shirt reads simply “Jens!”, set in the DIN typeface used on German road signs. Currently, available in various combinations of green/white, custom colors or other apparel available on request.

The New "Stop Lance" Shirt

15 Mar

Stop Lance T-Shirt

(also available in white and black/yellow colors)

So this (also available in white/red and black/yellow) is probably going to take some explanation.

The best place to start would be with a history lesson: in 1972, Steve Prefontaine had energized American audiences with his sensational distance running, leading to a proliferation of fan shirts that simply read “Go Pre”.

A few contrarians decided it would be clever to create a rival shirt, one that said “Stop Pre!” in a red stop sign for the 5000m Olympic Trials, and even persuaded one of Prefontaine’s rivals, Gerry Lindgren, to don the tee during warmups.

Pre was unmoved, and after winning the race, changed the face of sports forever by calmly slipping on a fan’s “Stop Pre” shirt and jogging his victory lap in it. The message, later relayed in a famous Jordan/Nike ad was clear—your critique will only amplify my legend.

So after years of torment from sunburnt tourists flailing little circular “Lance Fan” signs, I’ve created a shirt that lets the cycling-literate observer separate themselves the masses.

The message works for pretty much any audience, from someone who genuinely likes Armstrong but could do without the cult, to the most vehement Lance hater—but as I mentioned earlier, it’s impossible to lay criticism without tacitly highlighting your target’s talent and ability.

One final note: I don’t think I’m the first person to come up with this idea. I seem to remember reading an old Mountain Bike Action in which opponents of the Texan’s attempt to qualify for both on- and off-road events at the 2000 Olympics created a similar garment. If anyone could point me in the right direction for more info on that, I’d be grateful.

A Periodic Table of Professional Cycling

25 Jan

With the UCI ProTour now extending from January through October, it’s getting a little hard to keep track of the where and when surrounding various professional events.

Well, struggle no more: proudly presents our Periodic Table of Professional Cycling—and thanks to Operation Monetize, you can buy it (and any of our other graphics) as a poster. It’s inspired some t-shirts as well.

[clickthrough for big sizes]

Races are ordered from top-to-bottom in rough order of importance, with vertical series representing geographic location of events. Stage races tend toward the left side of the table, one-days toward the right, and colors correspond with UCI ranking of individual events.

Races that haven’t been run yet, or couldn’t be shoehorned in elsewhere ended up in the Lanthaniods, while recently-defunct events filled the Actinoids. Each event tile contains the name of the event, the year in which it was first run, a rough measure of its distance in stages or kilometers, and a symbolic abbreviation.

Event abbreviations are mostly three characters because it’s easier to parse (and you won’t need to write equations with them). They’re designed to make intuitive sense, but occasionally reflect an older, alternative, or native-language name of a given event.

Obviously, there were a few concessions made to fit the design (World Championships in the Netherlands, Tour de Suisse above the Tour of Romandie), and I promoted the Tour of California to ProTour status, both for aesthetics and as a matter of opinion. Here are my sources, and if you disagree, here’s the public domain source file so you can make your own.