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Crazy Jane's Second Annual Interbike 11
By Crazy Jane
Date: 10/19/2004
Crazy Jane's Second Annual Interbike 11

Bikes, bikes, bikes! While I was sitting in my college Lit classes, I never thought I'd see so many. As usual, the 2004 Interbike Expo was about as chock-loaded with bikes of every possible description, and every other imaginable bike-related item, as the biggest bike dork could ever hope to imagine. If you're into that kind of thing, I hope you've already read all about it, because, also as usual, I don't remember any of that.

Here's what I DID notice:

  • Gilberto Simoni Looks Just Like a Little Doll. I had so much fun with Gibo last year that I was absolutely delighted to hear that he was making a return journey to fake Venice in the Nevada desert. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Gilberto Simoni is a deeply charming individual, and I've got nothing but admiration for the way he rocks those pointy snakeskin shoes. Italian bike racer fashion, if you ask me, is pretty much unparalleled in terms of it's sheer entertainment value, and Mr. Simoni always delivers, looking tiny and flawlessly assembled. On top of that, he wisely spared us the cologne. Nice work, Gilberto.

Simoni hams it up with Interbike cowgirls
Photo by Jaime Nichols

    Simoni joined Bob Roll along with Giro d'Italia teammate-turned-rival, and the current Giro champion, Damiano Cunego, to answer questions at Interbike fi'z:ik headquarters, and do things like generously cheer Cunego for an excellent performance in the Worlds, from which Simoni, to his chagrin, was excluded. Then, in a stellar display of Italian warmth, greeted this reporter with smiles and kisses on both cheeks, thereby cementing his place at the top of this list. Let it never be said that we cannot be bought at Crazy Jane's copy desk.

  • Freddie Rodriguez Wears His Sunglasses at Night. When I caught up with Captain America and his rockstar-style entourage of Crazy Jane readers (who rule, by the way), he was wearing his Gucci sunglasses at night, had his arm around his beautiful wife, and seriously, race fans, I do not exaggerate when I tell you that he looked absolutely fabulous. The key word here, my friends, is metrosexual. "It's all about the image, baby," he told me, with his customary humorous naughtiness.

    You laugh, my friends, but all I can tell you is that Freddie's awesome bike racing prowess and fabulous posture, respectively, were the topics of the best column and the best photo of my season. I'd hazard the opinion that since he can back that sh*t up with his smooth-shaven legs... fair enough! There was no dancing, but I can report to you all that there was plenty of standing around and looking like a million dollars in Rodriguez-ville.

Freddie & his lovely wife Annie...

...And looking fancy with Turbo Blend in hand
Photos by Jaime Nichols

    Later, Fast Freddie signed autographs for Specialized, while Annie passed out samples of the long-awaited Fast Freddie's Turbo Blend, a powerful brew for those folks who are not messing around when it comes to coffee. My review of the brew? Mmmm, mmmm, good! Buy now! Especially if the proceeds benefit the Freddie Rodriguez fashion fund.

  • The Pretty Much Unparalleled Charm of Big George Hincapie. It's an old refrain, but it's still true: George is the unchallenged matinee idol of professional cycling. It was great to see him awarded the Clif Bar Behind the Podium Award for most invaluable Postal domestique in this year's tour, after his 9 years of incredibly dedicated service and for riding like a total badass every single day of this year's Tour de France. In his usual modest fashion, George was pleased. When congratulated, he replied with that abashed, dimpled grin that drives the girls mad, and said "Yeah, I finally got it!"

George looks like the cat who ate the canary with his trophy
Photo by Cathy Mehl

    Looming large on the Hincapie horizon is the birth of Big G's first child, now only a couple of weeks away, and all I'm saying is that between him and his lovely lady, that is child is going to be the product of a very luxurious gene pool. You know what, people, I think George has just been waiting all this time to sweep the spring classics until he could be photographed on the podium with his own little darling. This year's the year. George Hincapie spent the evening of the Sinclair party looking tall, well-coiffed, and causing a roadblock everywhere he went.

  • Damiano Cunego Has a Terrific Complexion. But, I'm not that sure about that hairdo, which I would describe as a kind of a cross between a grown-out Mowhawk and a Mullet. A Mowlet, perhaps? Plus, I'm not convinced he's a real blonde, people. Oh well, I guess that's what happens when you're a young Italian bike racing superstar. Have I mentioned how much I love the Italians? Yeah. I really do.

Young phenomenon Damiano Cunego
Photo by Jaime Nichols

    Young Damiano was youthfully delightful, with bright-eyes, plenty of confidence, a very solid handshake, and a look right in the eye when meeting new people. He spoke modestly about his future, but it's pretty clear that he's on his way to some big things.

  • I Am So Glad Gord Fraser Isn't Retiring This Year. Man, is that guy saucy. Around here at Crazy Jane's copy desk, we really are really quite fond of Gord, so it was good to see him working the biz along with his Health Net compatriots to make it happen for next season. Those boys have had a great year, and they're a nice bunch of kids. Fraser's always talking about how old he is, but according to the ladies of my panel, it's not hurting him a bit. Fraser scored the Canadian Champion's jersey this past season, so he'll no doubt be flying the maple leaf to victory about a million times next year, and I can't wait.

  • Phil Liggett is Really Very Lovable. People, Phil and Paul have given us another excellent year of their commentary, which communicates nothing so much as a deep and abiding love for the sport of professional cycling. In some ways, this has been a rough year for those of us who are coming to the sport from that vector, and Phil's deft ability to balance the sheer love of it with some of the harsher realities of this season could only have been forged in many years of dedicated service.

The inimitable Phil Liggett: justly beloved
Photos by Janna Trevisanut

    Jaded old cycling journalist that I am, I still feel a little dorky and starstruck when I'm lucky enough to have my socks charmed off by Phil, and this year at Interbike, Mr. Charming did not disappoint. If I had a beer in my hand, I'd be raising it to one of the most justifiably beloved fixtures in the sport of professional cycling.

  • Tyler Hamilton is Standing Up Straight. Tyler's under the gun, as we all know, what with the recent positive tests, and the spectre of dope that constantly haunts this sport. A lot of people were surprised that Hamilton would show up and face the music at Interbike, or that his sponsors were standing behind him, but judging by the long lines everywhere he went, and the support he so clearly has, there are an awful lot of people in his court.

Tyler signs posters at Speedplay
Photo by Jaime Nichols

...For a long line of supportive fans
Photo by Cathy Mehl

    Now, this is an editorial column, so I can just tell you what I think, and it's this: the witch hunt aspect of the battle against doping in this sport doesn't solve a damned thing, and I'm not sure how a guy can go from being the world's biggest bike racing hero to persona non-grata over night, especially when there's his word on the table. We've all seen Tyler ride his bike with courage, commitment and determination, and if he says he is innocent of these charges, this reporter is giving him the benefit of the doubt. Tyler signed autographs for Speedplay, and I spoke to him only briefly, but he looked me dead in the eye and told me that "everything will be all right." I believe him. I'd also like to give some props to the brass at Speedplay for their warmth and good faith towards Hamilton. As far as I'm concerned, their continued support of their man makes them look better than ever.

  • Magnus Backstedt Isn't THAT Big. I mean, yeah, he's big; but he's not the behemoth I expected! I mean, all I ever hear about him is that he's enormous, a MONSTER! But really, that's because everyone's too busy looking at little tiny creatures like Gilberto and Damiano. Backstedt, on the other hand, is the size of a normal man. Also, he's entirely unimposing, very friendly, and when asked, while obliging fans on behalf of Alessio bike sponsor Bianchi, if he found Las Vegas wild and crazy, he came back with a beaming "Tell me about it!"

A cheerful Magnus Backstedt smiles for the camera
Photo by Jaime Nichols

  • Wes Siegler: Still Legendarily Handsome, Despite A Haircolor Malfunction. He's been out of that tough bike racing racket for a couple of years now, heading up the team at SP Imports, but life's been good to dear old Wes, who reports that he may not be able to keep up with the pros on a bike anymore, but he'll have 'em all beat as soon as he takes off his shirt because nowadays, he rocks an even, golden tan, and even some upper body strength. Wow! In Wes's own words: "I man not be built for speed, but I'm built for pleasure, baby." Oh my god, people, THE CHARM! Go buy his bikes or something!

Wes Siegler peddles his wares... and how!
Photo by Jaime Nichols

  • PRO! Full disclosure requires me to tell you all that I am not an entirely disinterested party in reporting it, but Jamie Paolinetti's latest documentary feature, "PRO", is fan-freaking-tastic. Personally, I've always loved crusty old Paolinetti way more than he deserves, and, my dear readers, I love American bike racing. Right here in the US of A we have got a crew of absolutely incredible athletes and characters, who produce thrilling performances on the bike every week; many of whom were present for the premiere of PRO. I'm glad they came, because the film shows them off for the superstars they really are. I'd love to hope it made them all feel special.

Jamie Paolinetti packs it up after a great show
Photo by Jaime Nichols

    Nearly two hours of pure thrills, and 10 glorious seconds of the funniest hair ever on Danny Pate. Awesome. The film sucked me into this years US Pro race like I was seeing it for the first time, despite the fact that I was in Philadelphia and saw the race from the journalist's perspective, (which is to say, from the back of a motorcycle) and had me on the edge of my seat for the final sprint. Paolinetti manages to take you inside the experience of the race and into the minds and hearts of the riders, and my friends, it is just delicious. Two thumbs WAY UP!

  • Even if I Crank It Up to 11, It's Just Not Enough! Frankie Andreu, people! Tim Johnson! John Lieswyn and Mike Jones! Track superstar Mike Tillman! Ricky Hincapie and Steve Baker from Hincapie Sportswear! Giuseppe Martinelli! Marty Jemison! My dear readers, I love bikeville! What a great bunch of kids. I've had another great season on the bike beat, and all I can tell you is that the longer I spend amongst these fellas, the more I like and respect them.

Bike racing! What's not to love?

Related Articles
Interbike Roundup: Day One
Interbike: Simoni and Cunego
Interbike: A Few Words with Giuseppe Martinelli

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