Le Tour de Force

The epic tale is now complete. Relive it in all it's glory in this, the hub of the multi-storied saga. Consider it a TiVo of sorts.

A Texas Cat 4 cyclist finds himself at the center of a desperate powerplay that could rock the world of professional cycling. Full of espionage, deceit, machine guns and chamois, can this humble cyclist save the Tour de France? Found out in...

Episode 1 - An Unexpected Errand

Episode II - In a Cool Place, Things Hot Up

Episode III - Like a Pigeon Among Cats

Episode IV - Redemption

Episode V - Le Géant de Provence


Episode V - Le Géant de Provence

Arriving at the circus that is the Tour de France start, Jacob and the others were quickly lost amidst the confusion. They thought that they had seen more ninjas, and quickly beat them up, only to find that they were there to root on Yukiya Arashiro. Live and learn. After beating up several more odd-looking fans, and stealing a giant inflatable kangaroo from some Aussies, they spotted another suspicious looking vehicle.

Bursting inside, Jacob, Will, Taylor, Jason and Chris came upon several Chinese guys and several Europeans, working in a lab-like environment. Knowing that doctors can’t fight because of the Hippocratic oath, Jacob and the others quickly had them rounded up and began questioning.

“What is it you’re doing here?” Jacob said, beginning to talk to one of the European lab-workers.
“I’ll never tell you,” he replied, spitting in Jacob’s face. Not one to take insults lightly, Jacob shot him in the leg.
“Ha! That’z un prosthesis.”
Jacob shot him in the other leg.
“Ow! Mother of God! Verdammt! Ze pain!”
“Now talk.”
“Alright, alright. Since Horner couldn't persuade Lance to abandon, ve engineered this pill to make Alberto super-strong, and vin it all.”
“Yes, to drive viewers away.”
“Anything else about this pill?”
“It ist fast acting, but the chemicals only come in contact vith each other when they are remotely activated, as how zhey don’t last long.”
“Hmmm…” Jacob pondered. “Do you have any non-remote versions? Don’t make me shoot you.”
“Da, in ze back.”
“Will, scoop up those pills. We’re done here.”

“Did you read the way that guy talked?” asked Taylor after they had gone outside.
“Yeah, sounded German.” Will added. “The Chinese would need some European contacts to make their nefarious scheme to boost the Tour of Qinghai Lake.”
“Yeah, but the bigger question is where they’re remotely activating it from,” inquired Jason.
They all paused, thinking.
“My goodness,” began Jacob. “There’s only one place they can do it from!"

"The top of Mont Ventoux!”
They all took an ominous look towards the Giant of Provence, looming over them from the distance.
“Grab your bikes, or steal someone’s, we’ve got a rendezvous with destiny.”

Fully kitted out, and on nice bikes, the five began the wind-blown ascent up the mountain. The had snuck onto the course, pinned numbers on themselves, and were looking as inauspicious as possible. Some people wondered if University of Texas Cycling was a ProTour team, but Jacob just told them that it was the new kits for Milram.

The ascent was long, and somewhat hard, and they knew they had to get to the phallic-looking building on top of Ventoux before someone made Contador unstoppable, so they rode hard. They also used some of those pills Will had stole/confiscated, so they could get there faster, but kept a few in reserve knowing that there might be yet another epic fight at the top.

The mountain was thick with cheering fans. They pressed in on all sides, and coursed open only at the last second. The intensity was electrifying, and helped drag the riders up the mountain. At 2k to go, the barriers kicked in, and things quieted down a bit, but at this point they didn’t need the roar of the fans, just the inspiration that came natural to their mission.

Finally, the summit was in sight.

Passing a confused Christian Prudhomme, and pushing through the scrum of media, Jacob, Will, Taylor, Jason and Chris burst, for the second time today, through a set of doors, this time into the radio tower atop Ventoux. They heard a noise at the top of a metal staircase and quickly ran up to reach the top of the building. Again, they burst through a set of doors to find:

“Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jet Li!”
“Jacob Dodson, Will Frischkorn, Jason McCartney, Taylor Phinney, Chris Horner, I should’ve known.” Replied Arnold.
“But, why are you here?”
“To make the Tour boring and promote the Tour of Austria.”
“Of course! The Tour of Austria goes on during the Tour de France as well!”
“Yes, it does, time to die.” Arnold said, grabbing a shotgun as Jet Li unsheathed a sword. Fortunately, there was a sword on the wall, so Jacob grabbed a sword while Will and Jason whipped out their pistols and returned fire on Arnold, who was doing that one-handed shotgun reloading thing like he did in the first Terminator movie.

Not distracted by Arnold’s gunmanship, Jacob turned to face Jet Li.

“We both knew it would come to this…”
“Actually, I was thinking you would’ve died at the hands of the ninjas,” replied Jet.
“Maria Sharapova saved me.”
“Ah, of course.”

Just then Jet lunged at Jacob and unleashed a furious flurry of strikes, but what with his background in playing with streamers, Jacob was just as quick and parried them all. Meanwhile, Arnold was in a shoot-out with Will and Jason, while Chris and Taylor were wishing they had guns, or perhaps that someone would get shot so they could use their gun.

All this time, the pro peloton was getting closer to the base of the climb, when the drugs inside Contador would be activated and he would become unstoppable.

“Time’s running out Jacob,” reminded Jet Li.

Yes, but just them Jacob’s incredible improvisational skill kicked in. Still locked in a deadly swordfight with Jet Li, and with Arnold yelling nonsense and pinning down his compatriots, Jacob swallowed one of those strength pills. Striking swords with Jet Li, Jacob broke Jet’s sword, and before Jet could compose himself, Jacob kicked him in the stomach, causing him to fly across the room and into a wall, which crumbled and had some dust shook off it. Arnold, looking over in surprise, was shot in the shoulder by Will Frischkorn, and Jacob threw his sword into the radio transmitter.

“Geyahu! Foiled again!” Arnold yelled in anger.

“You are a worthy adversary,” said a much more stoic Jet Li.

“We’re done here.” Jacob said, wiping the dust off his hand and leaving the building. He would’ve liked to have seen these two jokers locked up, but they were celebrities, and sometimes celebrities mess up and accidentally kidnap people in a scheme to ruin Grand Tours, so these things get overlooked sometime. Plus, arresting them meant paperwork, and it was just one day until his retirement.

Exiting the building, their fight having taken up hours and everybody already left the mountain, Jacob calmly mounted his bicycle, pedaled a few strokes, and rolled downward awash in the crimson glow of the French sunset.


Episode IV - Redemption

By the time Jacob and Will arrived, the others couldn’t be seen.

“Damn!” Jacob said, in his best Jack Bauer voice.
“Look! Behind that barn!” yelled Will.

Pedaling over the investigate, and wishing he carried a saddle-bag so he could stuff his trusty Smith & Wesson into a jersey pocket rather than carrying his flat-changing stuff around, Jacob went to investigate. And there were. The ninjas loading Jason and Taylor into a van, with Chris Horner already inside.

Noticing the two intruders, the ninjas stopped their work and looked up in what can only be assumed to be surprise. But it was really hard to tell because their faces were covered by their ninja clothes.

Jacob and Will meanwhile, dismounted their bikes in slow motion while still moving. They were breaking into a cyclocross run, but there were no barriers to hop over. Instead, they threw their bikes into the crowd of ninjas and then kept running at them screaming war-cries of a sundry nature.

Dissapointed though he was that the bikes didn’t explode upon impact with the ninjas, because that would just so cool, Jacob fought bravely. The plan was for Jacob to direct the agro of the ninjas his way while Will freed Jason and Taylor, but the ninjas were having no part. Unfortunately, Will and Jacob were outnumbered 16 to 2. Being an English major, and lacking mathematical skills, Jacob was wishing that he was only outnumbered 8 to 1, and maybe then the ninjas wouldn’t be getting the better of him. Put up a good fight though they did, it wasn’t long until him and Will were captured, tied up, and carried away.

“I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” Jacob said, as he was being taken off. Just then though, a tennis ball came out of nowhere and struck a ninja on the head. Then another. And another.

“Maria!” Jacob yelled with relief but also knew things would be awkward later, as the tennis star pummeled the ninjas with tennis balls. In disarray, Jacob pulled out a hairpin and undid his handcuffs and used his intimate knowledge of the sea to untie the knots on him. In turn, he freed his compatriots, including Chris Horner, while Maria Sharapova continued to lay down withering volley after volley into the ninjas, who were soon taken capture.

“Thank goodness you arrived Maria, I don’t know how we would have escaped without you. I mean, we were going to, but an idea just hadn’t come to me yet.”
“Yes, Jacob, I’m only too happy to help you.”
“A little weird how you’ve been following me though. Hm. Wait here, I need to make a phone call.”
Jacob left and called an old friend.

“Hello, Fumy Beppu? I’ve got some ninjas tied up here and I was wondering if you could do me a favor…”

Finished with his phone call, Jacob returned to the others.

“Alright, I’ve got Fumy headed over to ID these guys, Maria, thanks again.”
“Well Jacob, I was sort’ve hoping we could go to dinner tonight.”
“Well, in return for saving my life before I had thought of a way to do it myself, I think I would, but I’ve got a Tour to save, so maybe later. Right now, I’ve got work to do.”
“Well, you know where to reach me.”
“Right,” Jacob said, turning to Chris Horner. “Chris, do you know what’s going on here?”
“They were trying to get me to convince Lance to abandon the Tour, something about making it less interesting, but it didn’t work. These ninjas here are only part of the operation, there’s also a bunch of European-sounding foreign guys in on it, but I never did get a look at them.”
“Hmm…under what pretense could Japan and some Europeans work together to destroy the Tour?” Jacob asked, reflecting everyone’s thoughts.

Just then, Fumiyaki Beppu arrived.

“Jacob! Will! Jason! Taylor! Chris!” he exclaimed.
“Fumy!” they all replied in unison.
“Thanks for coming out here,” Jacob said.
“Yeah, no problem,” replied Fumy, looking very cool in a black trenchcoat and smoking a cigarette.
“You don’t smoke,” Jacob said, surprised.
“I do when it’s for atmospheric effect. Alright, what do we have here?” he said, looking at the ninjas. “Hmm…interesting. These aren’t Japanese ninjas, these are Chinese ninjas trying to look like Japanese ninjas.”
“Of course!” Jacob exclaimed, comprehending nothing.
“Whoever they are, them and the guys they’re in league with are planning on being at Ventoux, I think something’s going to go down.” Chimed in Chris.
“Then it’s our duty to be there,” Jacob said, looking dramatic.

Snapping out it, Jacob began to ponder the implications of what had been discovered today.

"Why would the Chinese need to frame the Japanese? They must've been trying to deflect attention from themselves. Yes...the only reason anyone ever frames anyone else must be why China was framing Japan. But what does China have to hide??"
"Oppression?" Will opined.
"Polution?" Jason asked.
"12 year old gymnasts?" Taylor interjected.
"Suppresion of Tibet?" Chris said.
"Yes! That's it! The Chinese must be trying to get Lance Armstrong out of the Tour to make it more boring, so that all eyes will turn on them!"
"But why?" Will asked.

Wishing he had a pipe to smoke so he could seem really smart when realizing this, Jacob bent over and inspected the legs of one of the Chinese-pretenting-to-be-Japanese ninjas.

"Shaven! Just as I thought! The Tour of Qinghai Lake!"
"Of course!"
"But detracting from this event, they're trying to grow their own event. We must get to Ventoux before they make the Tour inscrutably boring!"

They left the ninjas for the authorities, Fumy to racing the Tour, and Maria had gone away as quickly as she had appeared. Like so many riders, Jacob, Will, Taylor, Jason, and the recently liberated Chris Horner had a rendezvous with Mount Ventoux.

Episode V - Le Géant de Provence


Episode III - Like a Pigeon Among Cats

Standing before the foreign man, Jacob knew he was in for a fight. He also knew that he was the one man for this fight.
“Stand aside” He told Will and Jason.
“Jacob,” his earpiece buzzed, “You turned off your targeting computer. What’s wrong?”
“Nothing Taylor,” Jacob replied, “I’m alright” he added as he mentally prepared himself for the one on one fight.

With Will and Jason fading back, Jacob and the foreign man sized each other up. Jacob lunged, trying to take him by surprise, and launched a kick, but the foreigner was fast, and blocked with his wrist. Regaining balance, Jacob waited for the counter attack. The foreigner closed in, tried to give Jacob a left but was blocked. Then a right, another block. Then a kick in the crotch, and Jacob was laid low to the floor.

“Kill him!” Jacob yelled, suddenly pre-pubescent.

Jason and Will moved in, tag-teaming the now outnumbered foreign man, but he was good. Almost too good. Breaking away from them, he ran towards the door, but Jacob had regained poise, if not his deep voice, and cut him off. Bested, the foreigner quickly swallowed a cyanide pill.

“Well damn, here we three Americans are with a dead foreigner in Monaco, this will look real good with the press.” Jacob said.
“I’ll take a blood sample, he might have been using performance enhancing drugs,” said Will.
“Good idea,” Jacob replied. “Taylor, did you catch that?”
“Yeah,” his earpiece buzzed, “I’ll be able to get results back to you by this afternoon.”

Impressed that he had managed to get in a fight, a bike chase, a boat chase, a foot chase, and destroy a good portion of a local casino all before noon, Jacob searched the dead man.

“Here’s his phone.” Jacob said, looking up.
“Is it HTC?” Will asked.
“No, so we know he’s not with Columbia. But,” he added, looking through the phone, “he looks to have made and received several calls from Bourg-Saint-Maurice.”
“Yes, where the Tour was just yesterday,” Jason added. “Whoever is behind this must have been following the Tour around.”
“Well then that’s what we’ll have to do,” Jacob said. “Gentlemen, pack your bags, we’re going to Le-Grand-Bornand.”

Arriving in Le-Grand-Bornand, Jacob, Will, Jason and Taylor were met with the frenzy that is the Tour de France. People everywhere at the finish. People dressed up in ridiculous attire, people wearing disturbingly revealing attire, it was all here.

Figuring that the best people to ask would be the reporters, but only knowing English, the four approached the Versus booth, which was occupied by Craig Hummer and Bob Roll at the time.

“Gentleman!” Bob exclaimed, “How nice to see three pro’s and a Texas Cat 4 here at the Tour, how ya guys been?”
“Keep it down Bob, we’re undercover.”
“Must be hard being an under cover pro cyclist at the Tour de France.”
“Yes,” replied Jacob, “but we’ve created some smoke and mirrors to distract the nosy. The whole Contador-Armstrong feud, we invented that to keep eyes away from us, and from the disappearance of Horner.”
“Ah,” Bob replied, “so there has been a response, good.”
“Yes,” Taylor added, “can you help us out?”
“Well, I don’t know anything” Craig Hummer replied, “but perhaps you could…ask Bobke!”

Everyone laughed. Just then Paul and Phil came in. Repeating the same question, these weathered commentators did have something to add.

“Well just between you and me,” Phil began, “something has seemed completely and utterly out of place here. There’s been a mysterious vehicle following the Tour around. No fans come out from it, it’s not a press or team vehicle, and one soon begins to wonder where exactly it belongs.”
“That’s exactly right Phil,” Paul started, “this mysterious vehicle seems like it might be the key to finding your compatriot. If I were you, that’s where I’d begin.”
“Now, to make things more interesting,” Craig added, “if they’re right, they’ll get five points added our little Versus competition here, if they’re wrong though, Bobke and I will get them. A little competition across the pond if you will.”
“Yeah, sure, whatever.” Jacob said, biding them thanks and farewell.

Breaking out their little monoculars, they scanned the area for any suspicious-looking vehicle, but there was none in sight.

“Alright, let’s split up,” Jacob decided, “Will, you come with me. Taylor and Jason, you two stick together. Let’s synchronize our watches.”
“I’m not wearing a watch,” Will objected.
A look down and Jacob realized that he too was not wearing a watch.
“Curious. Well, let’s put in our four-way earpieces that look like Bluetooth gadgets.”

Suiting up, they left.

Jacob and Will looked around for quite some time, but couldn’t see anything. Nor could Jacob find a vendor selling one of those Skoda Yetis given to the best young rider. He’d have to remember to ask Andy Schleck for one. Just then though, voices came through his ear-piece.
“Jacob and Will, this is Taylor, we’ve found the vehicle and we’re in a stealth-like pursuit, it looks to be leaving town, we’ll follow innocently on some bikes we stole.”
“Alright, we’ll do the same.”

And they peddled away.

“Will, Jacob, this is Jason. We’ve followed them to an old barn and will observe what goes on, will let you know, over.”

Moving as quick as they could, Jacob and Will put their team time trial experience to good use.

“Jacob, Will, this is Taylor, they might have spotted us.”
“Keep a cool head in there rookie,” Jacob advised.

“Horner is here though.”
“Make sure they don’t move him.”

Jacob and Will were TTT’ing ever closer, but it was not fast enough.

“Alright,” Jason’s voice sounded across the countryside, “we’ve been found, we’re trying to escape now, we could use extraction if you’ve got a tandem lying around. Oh nuts, we’re trapped.”

Silence. And then.

“Crap! Ninjas!”


Episode IV: Redemption


Episode II - In a Cool Place, Things Hot Up

The plane landed smoothly in Monaco. From the start Jacob knew this mission would be touch and go. But having seen Casino Royale recently, he just couldn’t pass up the chance to play baccarat on the local tables.

Several days later, he assembled his team. He wasn’t quite sure what would happen, but he trusted his skill of improvisation. So he told Taylor Phinney to stay behind at the hotel, and play the role of DS. The rest of the team, complete with cleverly concealed large weapons, was going to go sleuthing.

Bluetooth has had made talking to yourself in public inauspicious, something for which Jacob and the international spy community was uniformly grateful.
“So, Taylor,” Jacob said, “can you get me a ping back on where Horner was when he was abducted?”
“Uh, yeah, hold on.”
A cough.
More silence.
“Is it coming through?” Jacob asked.
“Oh, sorry, I was just making popcorn.” Taylor replied. “Yeah, here it is now. Looks like he was staying at Le Meridien Beach Plaza, room 531.”
“Hmmm, Johan’s pockets must run deep.”
“Gentlemen,” Jacob said, turning to Will and Jason, “Looks like we’re going to rent a room. Jason, you cover the door, Will, flip your collar, we’ve got to look the part.”

Looking the park though in this case only ranked number four in Jacob’s top ten suave moments.

A pretty receptionist greeted him with a charming smile. “Hotel Meridien, how may I help you?”
“I’m looking for a room,” Jacob began, squinting his eyes just a little bit, doing a little number with his eyebrows, then putting on glasses, popping his collar, rubbing his unshaven chin slightly, looking around coolly, brushing his hair back just a bit, and rapping his fingers on the counter, but careful to avoid using his fingernails because then it would be loud and he wasn’t here to attract attention to himself, suave though he may be.
“Oh, what?” Jacob asked, returning from his suave-induced fantasy land.
“I said we have a room.”
“I’m not just looking for any room,” Jacob replied, “I’d like room 531”
“I’m sorry, that’s not available.”
“Oh, then anything on the fifth floor will do.”
“Certainly, Mr…”
“Ethleton, Mr. Ethleton” Jacob replied, handing her a fake ID, fake passport and fake credit card.
“Oh, we don’t need your passport.”

Several minutes later, Jacob, Jason and Will were on the fifth floor, staring at the door of room 531.

“Do we knock?” Jason asked.
“But there’s a do-not disturb sign.” Will replied.
This was a crisis in leadership that Jacob excelled in. Thinking quickly, he kicked the door down. Fortunately there was no one inside.

“Hmm…looks clean.” Will said, looking around.
“Perhaps too clean?” Jacob asked.
“Yes,” Jason began, “I was thinking the same thing.”
“It looks like maids have been here.” Jacob astutely noticed.

Just then the door opened.

“Ah!” screamed a gruff-looking man obviously several steps down the suave-ness ladder from Jacob. The gruff man reached for his gun, but Jason was quicker, shooting the door next to him and causing the man to run out the door. The gruff man ran down the hall, pulled the fire alarm, and suddenly the hall was filled with noise, and noisy people as the man escaped down the stairs.

“Ha!” Jacob exulted! “The moron, we’ll take the elevator, and we’ll beat him down.”

Disappointed that the lack of elevator music really didn’t calm their heightened nerves, the trio burst out of the elevator to find a lobby in panic. The well-grommed intellectuals, the ‘I’m too busy to shave’ suave men and the important old people were strewn about in disarray. Soon though, their target burst out of the stairs and into the street.
“Follow him!” Jacob yelled above the clamor.

“Taylor, are you getting this?” Jacob asked, panting and running across the marina.
“Yeah, and I’m also recording today’s stage of the Tour.” He replied.
“Good man.”

The frenetic chase continued down the marina, until the man turned down a pier, yelling something foreign to someone who looked foreign. The foreign-looking man untied his boat and gruff man hopped on, and Jacob, Will and Jason stood at a loss.

“Quick!” Jason yelled, shoving aside a hot French woman and jumping into a boat.
Will and Jacob jumped on, Jason worked his magic with hotwiring, and the chase was on. The gruff man and the foreign-looking man had the advantage, but Jason’s taste in motor yachts meant that he had selected a nice one.

“Jason!” Jacob yelled above the roar of the engine, “Keep her steady!” He said as he crawled onto the bow, two AK-47s in hand. Using an AK per hand, Jacob sprayed the enemy boat with bullets, yelling in a macho way as he did so. Somehow, his shirt got ripped. Out of ammo, and not wanting to use the ammo in his bandolier, he went back into the boat, and repeated the process with his pistols, yelling obscenities as he did so.

This had no effect on the other boat, but then Jacob started throwing grenades, and they had to take evasive action. Turning about, and with the enemy boat now firing back, and Jacob throwing grenades and shouting lines from the French soldiers from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, it soon became a confused scene. Eventually though, a grenade blew off the enemy boats rudder and rendered the ship unsteerable.

Hurtling towards land at top speed, and with Jason following close behind to save up to 30% fuel, the enemy boat couldn’t steer away from land and Jacob’s boat didn’t notice the approaching land until it was almost too late.

In a move that defied all sense, the foreign-looking guy stripped off his clothes and changed into a non-descript cycling outfit. Knowing that a chase would soon be on hand, Jacob, Will and Jason stripped off their suave clothes for their cycling kits.

With the enemy boat flying in mid-air, having launched off a small seawall above traffic, the foreign-looking guy jumped out of the boat with bike in hand, tucked and rolled on the landing, and performed a cyclocross mount back on.

In awe of his dexterity, and ignoring the cries of the gruff man as he hurtled towards the satisfyingly odd death of boat colliding with the 3rd story of a casino, Jacob, Will and Jason jumped off their boat as it hurtled towards a roulette wheel, rolled, popped up and were lucky to find European cyclotourists on Pinarellos. These unhappy tourists were deprived of their steeds and the chase was on, for the third time.

Weaving in an out of expensive cars was something new to Jacob, as in his messenger boy days the cars he weaved in an out of were mediocre at best. They soon adopted a team time trial type rotation, but were still losing time to the mysterious foreigner. Having his suspicions of all foreigners being better at cycling than him confirmed, Jacob looked somewhat downtrodden.

Fortunately for him though, the pretty girls in the car next to him were sympathetic.

“Something the matter, sexy cyclist?”
“Ah! Quick, give me a pen and paper!” Jacob exclaimed, knowing that there wasn’t much time until the mysterious foreigner was lost forever. As such, he quickly scribbled his name and phone number and gave it to the ladies. Then an even better idea struck him.

“Get your hands on that wheel and follow that cyclist!” he yelled, and then at Will and Jason, “Hold on!”

The pretty girls in their nice car, but not-as-nice-as-he’d-like-car (which made Jacob think that perhaps they weren’t for him) obliged and sped through downtown Monaco chasing the cyclist. Seeing the cards turn against him, the foreigner cyclocross dismounted and started running down an alley.

“Thanks” Jacob said to the ladies, certain that he would never see them again, but consoled by the fact that they weren’t Lamborghini-hot, but just BMW-hot. Jacob, Will and Jason hopped off and followed the man, running now into an abandoned building.

Not pausing the think off the oddity of an abandoned building in Monaco, they ran into the building and stopped, as a shadowy foreign figure stepped out of the haze created by the dust particles that floated around the building being illuminated from one of the few windows in the building through which light was flowing through.


Episode III: Like a Pigeon Among Cats


Episode 1 - An Unexpected Errand

It was an ordinary day in Austin Texas. Jacob was inside admiring his air conditioning when his phone rang.

“Jacob? It’s Chris Horner”
“Chris! How’s it going?”
“Listen I don’t have much time to talk.”
“Hey, how’d you get this number?”
“Lance gave it to me. Never mind that. I’m in Monaco, and I’m about to be-”
“Oh hey! Did you watch the Tour today?”
“Yes, I…Oh, god here they come…”

Sounds of scuffling filled Jacob’s ear, and then, silence.

He had been hung up on. Incensed, he quickly called Chris back.

“Hello?” A gruff voice said on the other end.
“You’re not Chris Horner!”
“Uh, no, no I’m not.”
“Well can I speak to him,” Jacob asked.
“No, no you may not.”
“Can you take a message?”
“Do you know when he’ll be coming back?”
“Have you taken him hostage?
“Yes, why yes we have.”
“Well you listen to me,” Jacob began, “I have over the years acquired certain skills, and also a keen ability for improvisation. These skills, well, mainly my improvisational ability, will allow me to hunt you down. I will find you, and I will kill you.”
“No you won’t.”
An awkward silence was then felt by both sides.
“You don’t have the guts.”
“Do too,” Jacob replied.
“Then do it.”
Hesitating, Jacob held to phone away from his face, put it back to his ear to see if the bad man had said anything else, and then finally hung up on him. There was no time to celebrate winning the hang-up first game though, he had more important phone calls to make.

“Mr. President? I need a team.”
“Sure thing, what’s the 411?”
“It’s Chris Horner, sir, he’s been taken hostage.”
“Damn! Chris is a good man. You have the full resources of the United States at your disposal.”
“Thank you sir. I’m not sure if the threat is over though, there may be threats to other American cyclists.”
“Jacob,” Obama began, “with your track record, your secret operations in which you rescued dozens of people and killed dozens others, the ones which I can’t talk about over the phone because they’re super-secret, I think the safest place for these cyclists would be with you. I think they can also help you with their knowledge of Europe.”
“With all due respect sir, I don’t work with a team.”
“You just called and said that you did need a team.”
“Oh yeah, I’m surfing the internet and I’m looking at something which mentions not needing a team and I guess it kind of slipped out. I do need a team, and I know who needs to be on it.”
“Well you automatically have my approval, hop to it.”
“Yes sir.”

Not too long later…

“Fresh Korn. It’s Jacob, the Rhino has been taken hostage, I need you to join me on a trip to Monaco.”
“Damn! Not Horner!” Will exclaimed.
“Hush. We’re using code-words, your phone may be bugged.”
“Uh, yes, Thunderthighs, I’ll make arrangements accordingly.”

“Paul McCartney?”
“Uh, no this is Jason.”
“Dang it!” Jacob exclaimed, “does no one use code-names anymore? Ah, forget it.”
“Wait, who the hell is this?”
“Oh yeah, it’s Jacob, Horner is taken hostage, and we’re going to Monaco.”
“Guess I better bring my guns.”

“Have you ever seen a grown man naked?”
“Oh, my, I’m sorry. Uh, it’s Jacob. I was watching Airplane and Leslie Nielson said that line and it just sort’ve came out.”
“Um, ok.”
“Listen, Taylor Phinney, most of our operative are out racing the Tour de France, and we’re needed in Monaco, so I’m calling you up to the big leagues.”
“You mean, my first operation?”
“Yeah, you’ll mostly be handling tech, but it’s a big job, I know you’ll be able to deliver.”
“I won’t let you down sir.”
“Good, now get to Monaco rookie.”

His team assembled. Jacob began to make arrangements for his trip to Monaco. He knew this was to be no vacation.

Several hours later, he wisely declined the offer of airline peanuts. They might have been poison.


Episode II: In a Cool Place, Things Hot Up


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A Texas Cat 4 cyclist finds himself at the center of a desperate powerplay that could rock the world of professional cycling. Full of espionage, deceit, machine guns and chamois, can this humble cyclist save the Tour de France? Found out in...


An update

Tales from the Peloton hired a bevy of bounty hunters, private investigators, and other unsavory contacts in order to locate the whereabouts of the suddenly elusive American star cyclist.

Several of them died, but one was able to discover that Jacob is currently roughing it in the Pyrenees where he has taken a vow of silence amongst a group of Cistercian monks so that he might learn of their famous sprinting skills.

It would appear that being a climber in a sprinters world had taken it's toll on the young star, and that he seeks to exact vengeance on his nemesis' on the flats now as well. Time will only tell if taking orders will help his sprinting or not...


Cycling the Big Island

Recently, my dad and I found ourselves on the Big Island with a couple of rented bikes. I did a couple rides with him and a couple rides without him, he doing a triathlon without me. Here's an index of the posts:

Ride 1: Old Mamalahoa Highway

Ride 2: Kohala Mountain

Ride 3: Hina Pali Lookout

Ride 4: Chain of Craters Climb

Other Possible Rides

Here are some other resources I used in planning cycling on the Big Island:

Steephill.tv has an excellent account of their travels on the Big Island, often with prettier pictures than mine.

Bicycling Magazine has a good article too, it's better written but contains less pretty pictures.

Ride 1: Old Mamalahoa

Route Map

My ride started out being dropped up about 1500 feet up Highway 19. There was still a fair amount of climbing to do after that, but it was all at a low grade. There’s a small shoulder and the road is fairly heavily trafficked. Highway 19 after Wailua wasn’t much to ride on either; there was a small shoulder and it was also highly trafficked.

After the turn onto Old Mamalahoa however, cars were an afterthought. At the start, Old Mamalahoa was sheltered on one side by thick trees and open on the other side. Soon these trees go away and it’s all pastureland.

It was hazy when I rode and the temperature here was a good 15 degrees cooler than closer to the coast, and a lot nicer to look at.

This section had small rollers which weren't challenging.

After the pastureland, there was a lengthy downhill. It was a fun and windy descent, but not too technical. It got me going fast enough to where I didn't need to worry about cars passing me. Then it was into Honokaa, where I refilled on fluids and got a bite to eat. The shore was visible coming into the town and I was tempted to try and go find it. The result ended in me walking my bike uphill…

It doesn't look that steep, but it's very hard going closer to the top. Going back up the Old Mamalahoa climb was enjoyable.

The climb gains about 1200 feet in almost 4 miles. It's a steady climb, and I was able to keep up a pretty good pace up it that wasn’t exhausting.

Coming back through the rolling section was still nice, and had very little wind.

I came out onto Highway 19 and followed that all the way to Waikaloa.
The shoulder on 19 opens up when it flattens out, but given that it was 15 degrees warmer than where I was before, sunny, and unscenic, it wasn’t too much fun to ride on.

Ride 2: Kohala Mountain

Ride 3: Hina Pali Lookout

Route Map

We moved over closer to Volcanoes National park for the next few days and did some cycling around there. The first day was a ride around Chain of Craters road and then down to the Hina Pali lookout.

Cycling around Chain of Craters was nice and forested, and nice weatherwise.

It was the weekend, and I was surprised at the lack of cars, but come Tuesday and all the parking lots were packed. The ride to the lookout was about 9 miles of descending that was never steep enough to approach technical. It was a one-lane road though, so we had to take some care around the corners. Especially because it became foggy and we encountered some rain.

After a few miles of this, we were sure that the lookout wouldn’t be as nice as promised, and we were right.

At least there was a photo there to show us what we might have seen.

Biking back up is a lengthy affair and seems like 9 miles of a false flat.

Things cleared up near getting back onto Chain of Craters. Chain of Craters has some nice little uphills to keep things interesting, but nothing too challenging. Then it was back on home (rental cabin).

Ride 4: Chain of Craters Climb

Ride 2: Kohala Mountain

Route Map

Started out in Waikaloa and went up highway 19. Like I said about my last ride, highway 19 isn’t entirely too interesting.

Fortunately for me though, there was a half-ironman going on that day, so I got to ride in with a bunch of triathletes on nice aero bikes. It made the ride more interesting, and gave me some different photos to take.

My image of the ironman course was that it would be pancake flat, but this wasn’t true. There were some pretty large rollers which sapped the energy out of me, especially because all the other riders on the course were going faster than me (they also all had aerobars…). After the turn onto 270, the scenery got better, more trees became visible, the temperature dropped a bit and there were nice views of the ocean.

It’s maybe a 600 foot climb into Hawi, but nothing too steep. Then I turned onto 250, and things got steeper.

There’s no shoulder on 250, but nor was there much traffic. If the mapmyride elevation info can be trusted, it’s 7-8% for about 1200 feet.

The climb gets less steep after that and eventually opens to the ridge of the mountain, where things are flatter, but also very windy.

The views up there are excellent and the coast far below could be seen.

It’s uphill rollers on the ridge, which eventually gained trees for protection from the wind.

I was really hurting at this point though, and had to stop once as my legs were almost cramping. I had also exhausted the better part of my three water bottles. Needless to say, this sign was quite a relief:

It was mostly all downhill from there. Descending into Waimea was a blast, maybe 1200 feet that flew by, with the mountain on the left and open views to the plain below on the right.

Steephill.tv has a prettier picture of the view than I do. After going into Waimea for drinks and a snack, it was back down 19, back onto the Half-Iron course, now less populated and I actually passed people this time, and back to the hotel.

Ride 3: Hina Pali Lookout

Ride 4: Chain of Craters Climb

Route Map

After a much needed rest day, it was time for the Chain of Craters climb. This day was going to be little more than a lengthy climb. 10 miles of riding to a lookout point 2,000 feet up. Starting out was flat and windy.

There is a flat area closer to the coast and then a ridge which has most of the climbing.

It’s mostly old lava flows, so it’s nice to be able to see where you came from.

There was a lookout at around 2000 feet. I don't have any good photos of the lookout, but here's the 2000 foot sign.

The descent had maybe one turn in it.

Then it was back onto the flats, where the wind had really picked up. Then it was the literal end of the road.

Other Possible Rides in Hawai'i

Other possible rides

There was more cycling to do in Hawai'i than my legs were capable of, and here's my take on some other roads on the Big Island which I had considered cycling.

In the Puna Coast:
137/Kapoho Kalahana Road is a nice road along the coast which offers some excellent views and transitions easily from exposed lava flows, to heavily forested areas, to nice views of the beach. There isn't much traffic on the road. Pohoiki Road is nearby and is also nice, but more heavily trafficked and starts out quite narrow. Cycling up 130 looks miserable - there's a bunch of pavement, it was steep, and there really wasn't much to see.

Mauna Loa lookout. Thought about doing this ride, but took a nap instead. As sore as I was then, I don't regret it, but it's a nice road up to an alright lookout.

It's about a 2500 foot climb and has some nice hard sections. It is a one-lane road, but there wasn't much traffic when we drove to the top.

Ali'i Drive. I wouldn't want to bike this road at all. It's high traffic, small shoulder, and a large amount of runners and pedestrians going the other way on the shoulder. I would perhaps consider it though if I were a female in a bikini on a cruiser bike, or had a surfboard rigged to my bike (also a cruiser bike).

Cycling the Big Island Index


Now with more aloha

Battling jet-lag, tired from an abbreviated nights sleep, not having ridden a bike in almost three weeks and with unshaven legs, Jacob rode in to do battle at the Driveway 4/5 crit. As well, it was about 100 degrees out and winds blowing at 15-17 knots. It was the first chance he’d get to race the 4/5 without having done the 3/4 race just prior, and both he and the tifosi were eager for results.

Upon arriving at the Driveway however, Jacob realized that he had forgotten his favorite souvenir from Hawai’i:

No matter, he just gritted his teeth and bore in for a tough fight.

Moving to the front from the very start, Jacob decided to see how his legs felt. The results were not encouraging. Soldiering on, results from his stomach were not encouraging as well. Getting lapped was not very encouraging either. These were not the same legs that rocketed him to 10th in the 3/4 race weeks prior.

15 minutes after it began, the 30 minute crit was over.

Will his return to form be succesful? Will his old legs return to him? Will he get a set of new, more attractive legs? There's only one way to find out! Stay tuned!


Sandnessjøen- Sherbet Land Grand Prix

The following is Jacob's travel journal in it's entirety that he kept while in Norway. The journal was only recently discovered and made public, having previously been entombed in a thick layer of permafrost for months prior.

Though the Peloton begged to the likewise, Jacob took a week off from the peloton in order to locate and bring back two fabled riders from the past of UT cycling – feisty Swedish sprinter Mathieu Von and Spanish breakaway artist Jorge “De los piernas peludos” Hagstromo.

These were not your ordinary cyclists, and Jacob knew hunting them down would be tough. Knowing their exact location was impossible, but Jacob knew that they did their summer training in the Sahara and their winter training in the wastes of Norway. And so our intrepid hero went to Norway.

The following are excerpts from his travel journal:

Day 1: Took a small plane from Oslo to Sandnessjøen. The locals seemed wary of my Fuji.

Day 2: After some asking around, I heard of a local crit raced on a thawing fjord. Thought I might look for our two racers there. Obtained this photo I’ve attached. To get more grip on the ice, I’m going to run some 25s I picked up. I never thought it would come to that. This is the only bike race where people have died of hypothermia, so I’ll have to be on my toes.

I find the giant penguin intimidating, not because he looks to be a dozen feet tall and angry, but because if he got here all the way from the South Pole, he must be pretty badass.

Day 3: The race is tomorrow, but I consulted a Noaide, the Norwegian version of a Shaman, and asked his blessing for the race. I had to sacrifice my Fuji to the cycle gods, but I got a Storck in return. The Noaide spat on me a few times, I’m convinced it’s part of the ritual.

Day 4: Raced in the crit. 23 starters. It is not unlike the crit races we have in the states except it’s on ice. It was a flat course with wide turns, not unlike the Driveway of old. I was cornering and the guy next to me lost his grip, hit the deck, and just kept sliding. Another time someone fell into thin ice. Impressively, he then burst out of thin ice about 10 feet later and kept on going like nothing had happened. He managed to get in first in the sprint. By this time, the group had been parsed to about 10 people. We came around the final turn and the guy who had crashed earlier was still sliding around the course and slides into the group, just behind my rear wheel. I stay upright and sprint away, coming in 2nd. 1st was Henrik Guttormsomsen, and 3rd was Edvald Schlendenson. Everyone on the podium was invited to the Cykle Platz, a German fortress from WWII recommissioned as a cycling fortress. I decided to go the next day.

Day 5: I looked up the history of the Cykle Platz. It is a safe haven for road cyclists against roaming bands of fixed gear riders. Apparently, the fixed gear riders they catch get the ‘flop and chop’ treatment. I don’t know what it is, but it doesn’t sound friendly. Entering was an intimidating affair. Even though I podiumed at a crit, I could be a fixed gear rider in disguise. I showed them my freshly shampooed hair and uttered the secret password ‘brifters’ and I was in.

After passing guards armed with ninja-stars in the shape of gears and nun-chucks with frame pumps at the end of 10-speed chains, I was ushered into the royal hall. There, before my eyes, were Jorge Hagstromo and Mathieu Von, sitting atop Selle Italia Strike saddles made of white gold, and with women clad in polar-bear skin bikinis frolicking around them. I beseeched them on behalf of the beleaguered Texas Cycling Mens B team to return to America, take up racing there, and prepare themselves for a mighty campaign. These two assented to my humble request and consulted me on other matters at which I am not at liberty to divulge. We did however, decide that it was time to cast off the old German name for the fortress and call the impressive structure Velohalla.


Texas Loggerhead

One of our Tales From The Peloton correpsondents sat down with Jacob yesterday to discuss one of the more interesting members of his cycling team...

TFTP: "So what's the story behind the Texas Loggerhead?"

Jacob: "Well, a few years ago, in the wee hours of the morning, one of the treasurers at Texas Cycling was set to order some letterhead for the team. But in a coffee induced stupor, she accidentaly adopted a loggerhead turtle off the coast of Hawaii. We named him Yurtle."

TFTP: "Now, in this press photo, Yurtle appears to be wearing a helmet, is there a story behind this?"

Jacob: "Hahaha, it's a long one, but sure. Well, so here was Texas Cyling with an adopted turtle, so we decided to outfit him in our entire team kit. We worked closely with Hincapie and his lyrca spinning weevils of Southern Madagascar to develop a material uniquely suited to Yurtles needs. The results were actually astounding. I'll put it this way, they contemplated banning the LZR, well they definately would've banned this suit. Yurtle was flying. And not just the physical benefits, but the psychological ones too. A local I was chatting with the other day told me that Yurtle had been seen hunting sharks in his Texas Cycling kit. But unfortunately for the other turtles, Yurtle was the only one 'getting any play' as I believed it was explained to me. So, we had to have his suit taken away, but the helmet remained. It doesn't enhance performance like the kit does, it just keeps his noggin' safe."

TFTP: "Fascinating. And so how is Yurtle these days?"

Jacob: "Oh, I snorkeled with him yesterday and he's doing outstanding. He's not as young as he was three years ago, but what he's able to do at this age is tremendous, and we're really happy to have him flying the Texas Cycling banner way down here."

TFTP: "Well, it is really a great thing you all are doing here, any plans to adopt any other animals in the future?"

Jacob: "Well, I'm afraid I can't spill too much yet, but I do believe we are making contacts with nomads on the Siberian steppes to pursue just such an option. I'm sure we'll hear more about it later."

TFTP: "Well, as always, it's been a pleasure."

Jacob: "Thank you, and have a good one."

This Just In!

Jacob is here seen on a routine training ride in Hawai'i

"Naturally, the key to cycling on lava is not to fall and become consumed by flames. What a lot of people don’t do properly is deflate their tires to 20-30 psi, with the trick here being that when you begin cycling on the lava, the heat will cause the air to expand. Running slicks, while doable, isn’t preferable for cycling on these conditions; I much prefer to run some cross tires that I used in the fall. There may be some downsides, but I have never had a problem with pinch flats. I cannot wait to see how the bike handling learned here will translate to future endeavors. "

Deja Vu...

At the Texas State skill based crit, Jacob finds himself along his buddy from summer camp last year - Damiano Cunego…

Damiano: So Jacob, are you doping free?
Jacob: Yes, yes I am.
Damiano: Here, have a leftover holiday themed sticker.

Jacob: Oh, he’s a cute little guy.
Damiano: So he is. But let’s get down to business. How are we going to destroy this race today?
Jacob: Well, I was planning on taking a flyer with one lap to go, that seems to be about how long I can hold those things.
Damiano: Interesting idea.
Jacob: I don’t think the sprint benefits me, but if I can be in a strong position beforehand, I hopefully won’t be passed by too many people.
Damiano: Well, I think it will be successful. I think we can win this race.
Jacob: Yes we can!

25 minutes later...