Friday, June 30, 2006

Tour de France, Redux

[photo caption] With seven-time winner Lance Armstrong (l) out of the picture, new Tour favorite Alejandro Valverde seeks to revive a deeply wounded Tour de France. (photo courtesy TheAge.Com)

The events of the past twenty-four hours have rocked the Tour de France to the core.

For the uninformed, several riders were barred from the Tour today, including favorites Ivan Basso and Jan Ullrich. Additionally, one team (Astana-Wurth) was forced to resign from the Tour because they would not be able to field a full roster according to UCI rules.

Here are some questions being asked and some best guesses as to their answers:

Why aren't teams being allowed to replace riders lost to "Operation Puerto"?
As an example, after rider Matt White broke his collarbone the morning of the 2004 Prologue, his team was able to replace him. The answer is fairly obvious: the Tour organizers were not going to permit Astana-Wurth from racing under any circumstances. The organizers found their loophole for carrying out this plan in the rider replacement guidelines, and Astana is out.

Francisco Mancebo was barred from riding the Tour and promptly retired; is Ullrich far behind?
No, Ullrich is not far behind. This was most likely going to be Ullrich's last Tour, and unless the big German finds it in him to suffer through one more season of trying to shed winter's weight, look for Jan to retire.

Where does Alexandre Vinokourov go from here?
The Astana-Wurth team is most likely going to fold in light of their seemingly intricate involvement in the "Operation Puerto" scandal. If the team indeed folds, Vinokourov would become a free agent and where he ends up could be anyone's guess. Both Liberty-Seguros and Discovery made significant plays for Vino's services last year, but will his potential involvement in the biggest smear on the sport since '98s "Festina Affair" scare off suitors this time around? And, at 32, Vinokourov is not getting any younger.

With Ullrich and Basso out, who are the new Tour favorites?
The oddsmakers were quick to tip Caisse d'Epargne's Alejandro Valverde as the new betting favorite. In reality, however, the Tour is now wide open. Here is a brief list of names you could reasonably expect see on the podium in three week's time (alphabetical order):
--Damiano Cunego (Lampre)
--Danilo DiLuca (Liquigas-Bianchi)
--Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto)
--George Hincapie (Discovery)
--Andreas Kloden (T-Mobile)
--Floyd Landis (Phonak)
--Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner)
--Iban Mayo (Euskaltel)
--Denis Menchov (Rabobank)
--Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery)
--Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank)
--Carlos Sastre (CSC)
--Paolo Savoldelli (Discovery)
--Gilberto Simoni (Saunier-Duval)
--Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne)

In short, the field is wide open. Some critics are commenting on the ills facing the Tour. However, while today's events have most definitely put the race in flux, they have also set the stage for what should be the most contested Tour de France since the "Festina Affair" riddled Tour of 1998, a Tour won by the late Marco Pantani.

The Tour will rise again.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

UPDATE: Miss USA / Joe Mauer Romance Continues

[photo caption] Chelsea Cooley as she appeared in a 2003 modeling porfolio. (photos courtesy Patrick's Talent)

The romance between 2005 Miss USA Chelsea Cooley and Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer appears to be heating up.

According to a source close to the relationship, Cooley flew into the Twin Cities on Wednesday morning to enjoy the final game of the Twins' sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers and the team's weekend series versus the Milwaukee Brewers in Minneapolis.

Cooley, of North Carolina, reportedly enjoyed lunch with Joe's father, Jake, on Wednesday before spending time Thursday with Joe on his off-day.

The All-Star in-waiting spent Thursday afternoon participating in a celebrity charity golf tournament at Tartan Park in Oakdale.

This weekend's events could be of professional as well as personal significance for Mauer. With enough hits this weekend, Mauer could reach the .400 mark. No Major Leaguer has finished the season with a batting average above .400 since the legendary Ted Williams did in 1941.

As well, the All-Star Game rosters will soon be announced. Though Mauer is not expected to receive the automatic bid that goes to the highest vote getter at each position, he is expected to be a reserve selection for the game, to be played July 11 in Pittsburgh.

Though the Mauer and Cooley have had the opportunity to see each other less than a half-dozen times this season, this is the second time Cooley has traveled to spend time with Mauer. According to the source, Cooley flew into Kansas City to meet up with Mauer earlier this season during a Twins road trip.

All text copyright 2006 TheFogOfWork.Blogspot.Com

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Tuffy's Tour de France Pool Picks!

[photo caption] Team CSC's Dave Zabriskie announces to the world that he will defeat David Millar of Saunier-Duval by four seconds in the Tour de France Prologue. (photo courtesy PezCyclingNews.com)

Smithers has a sizable Tour de France pool going over at his site. With his industry connections and "partnership" with Banjo Brothers, Smithers was able to put together a nice little package of prizes for pool winners.

According to Smithers, he had 38 entries.

Here was my fourth(!) and final entry, along with some explanatory commentary. Enjoy!

Tuffy's Picks (Version 4.0)

1st Place Final GC, 100 points: Ivan Basso (CSC)
Ivan Basso is on the form of his life right now, having stomped all-comers at the Giro d'Italia. He is clearly the odds on favorite for the maillot jaune this year, having risen a step on the final GC podium each of the past two years.

2nd Place Final GC, 50 points: Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile)
In what will most likely be Jan Ullrich's final season in the pro peloton, "Der Kaiser" will undoubtedly make a huge push for his second Tour win this year. Unfortunately for Jan, he didn't start a professional race this season until April 25th, and though he looked strong at times in the Giro, Ullrich rode only to condition himself for the Tour. The guess is that Ullrich waited too long to get on form. Again.

3rd Place Final GC, 25 points: Floyd Landis (Phonak)
For me, this was one of the hardest selections to make. One could easily see Alejandro Valverde (Caisse D'Epargne), Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner), Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana-Wurth), Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto), Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank), or possibly even Andreas Kloden (in a contract year with T-Mobile) getting the final spot on the podium this year. However, the selection here is former U.S. Postal rider Floyd Landis. In his second year as Phonak leader, Landis has already won Paris-Nice, the Tour of California, and the Tour of Georgia this season. Floyd has improved his already formidable time-trialing skills, and can climb with the best of them. 3rd place for Landis seems like a good fit.

Green Points Jersey Final, 30 points: Tom Boonen (Quick-Step)
Reigning World Champion Tom Boonen has established himself this season as both the top sprinter and the best Classics rider in the world today. With the absence due to injury of Milram's Alessandro "Ale-Jet" Petacchi, Boonen's only threats for the green jersey will be an older and more brittle Robbie McEwan (Davitamon-Lotto) and Thor Hushovd (Credit-Agricole), who always seems a step slow. Erik Zabel of Milram would like to contest Boonen, but his best years are at least four years in the past.

Mountains Jersey Final, 30 points: Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank)
Michael Rasmussen is the reigning champion of the polka-dot jersey, and there's really no reason to think anything will change following his strong Tours of the past two seasons. Keep in mind that one time-trial was all that stood between Rasmussen and a podium position last year makes this a relatively easy selection.

Team Final, 10 points: CSC
This selection was a little more tricky than it would appear on the surface. Why? Because the team whose rider wins the Tour is not typically the team that wins the Tour's "team classification." However, Directeur Sportif Bjarne Riis has crafted one of the strongest teams to enter the Tour in years, and the prediction here is for a CSC GC/Team sweep.

Prologue Stage Winner, 15 points: Dave Zabriskie (CSC)
American Dave Zabriskie has made an artform of time-trialing, and the Tour's Prologue in particular, becoming perhaps the best TT rider in the world in the absence of David Millar (Saunier-Duval) the past two seasons. Zabriskie is the pick here to repeat as Prologue winner. The fly in the ointment could in fact be Millar, however, who returns to competitive racing on July 1 from a two year doping suspension.

L'Alpe D'Huez Stage Winner, 15 points: Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank)
I actually don't think that Rasmussen will win this stage, but seeing as he is the odds-on favorite to repeat his polka-dot jersey win makes him the safe choice here. It should be a battle to the top of D'Huez, especially if the overall GC is still in doubt -- a Basso v. Ullrich duel to the line would be one for the ages.

Champs-Elysées Stage 20 Winner, 20 points: Tom Boonen (Quick-Step)
Aside from being the best sprinter and one-day rider in the world, Boonen also seems to have a clear understanding of his place in cycling history. If he should completely trample the competition for the green jersey -- which I believe that he will -- look for Boonen to put an exclamation point on his past 12 months of professional riding by going all out on the Champs-Elysees for the win...and a esteemed place in the annals of professional cycling.

Yellow Jersey on Rest Day July 10th, 10 points: Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile)
The person wearing the yellow jersey on the first rest day is usually a sprinter, and rightfully so. The first week of the Tour de France is almost always pancake flat to provide the best possible stage for the sprinters to shine. This year, however, Stage 7 is a long (52km) individual time-trial. Look for Ullrich to do everything he can to put a decent amount of time in between he and Basso before the Tour enters the mountains of the Pyrenees days later, and to take the yellow jersey into the rest day. Another significant possibility, though, is that Tom Boonen (Quick-Step) will have earned enough time bonuses before the first rest day to be the leader of both the yellow and green jerseys.

Yellow Jersey on Rest Day July 17th, 10 points: Ivan Basso (CSC)
The second rest day comes after the Tour has passed through the Pyrenees and immediately follows the first day of the Alps. Basso will have begun to take control of the Tour and should be able to wear the maillot jaune all the way from here to the victory podium in Paris less than a week later.

Again, keep track of how my picks stack up with the rest of Smithers' expert panel over at www.SmithersMPLS.com!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Beer and Cycling, Just Like Being on Alpe D'Huez!

In celebration of the Tour de France, Casper and Runyon's Nook announces the "Tour de Beers". Join the Nook for pint tap specials on the following beers on the following dates:

Sat July 1 (Prologue): $3 Bass (in honor of Tour favorite Ivan Basso)
Sun July 2 (Stage 1): $3 Summit HefeWeizen (in honor of the Tour's visit to Strasbourg)
Mon July 3 (Stage 2): $3 Stella Artois (in honor of the Tour's visit to Belgium)
Sun July 9 (Stage 8): $3 Blue Moon (in honor of Belgium, again)
Sun July 16 (Stage 14): $3 Summit Pale Ale (in honor of the Tour nearing the summits of the Alps)
Tue July 18 (Stage 15): $3 Budweisers (the King of Beers honors the King of the Mountains at the top of L'Alpe D'Huez)
Sun July 23 (Stage 20): $3 Guinness (a brilliant celebration to end a brilliant Tour. Brilliant!)

All specials are good all day during televised coverage of the Tour on the dates listed above. Watch the Tour on the Nook's four televisions, including HD.

Casper and Runyon's Nook is located at 492 S. Hamline Ave in St. Paul (Hamline at Randolph, across the street from Cretin-Derham Hall HS). Phone: 651.698.4347

The Nook serves a full menu including the best Juicy Lucy's and home cooked fries in town, as well as a wide selection of tap and bottled beers and wine. Open 11AM-2AM daily.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

NVGP: Stillwater, End Game

The 2006 Nature Valley Grand Prix ended in Stillwater with a nasty criterium which included both the Chillcote Hill and First St. Hill near downtown Stillwater.

Here's the photographic evidence:

Above: The pro women power up Chillcote Hill immediately after the starting gun sounded.

Below: McGuire team member Taitt Sato (r) challenges Chillcote early on.

Above: Local celebrities were out in force with Brauer Power in attendance.

Below: And Super Rookie presented by Super-Rookie.com also graced the event.

Above: Local womens elite rider Teresa Moriarty of Flanders Bros/MBRC capped an impressive Nature Valley Grand Prix.

Below: An unidentified rider rocked the new BMC SLC01 nano-carbon technology.

Above: McGuire team rider Melodie Metzger (center) sat in with the second chase group.

Below: But the day belonged to Jazz Apple's Olympic champion Sarah Ulmer (l) who won the stage.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

NVGP: Mankato Stage, Part 5

In our first four episodes, you learned that on Saturday, June 17 Tuffy was invited by an employee of the French bike maker Time to ride in the McGuire Elite Womens Team car for the Mankato stage of the Nature Valley Grand Prix. Needless to say, he accepted.

Soon, we were nearing our return to Mankato. A steep descent was quickly followed by a long, slow ride up into the highlands encircling the city. Then, we descended again into the city, promenaded down the finishing straight, and followed that up by removing the support car from the finishing circuit via stage right.

Ped and I went to watch the ladies battle the hill while Smithers went down to take in the finish.

The women had to do four laps of the finishing circuit. Sarah Ulmer of Jazz Apple and an Olympic gold medalist attacked early and led the first two laps. Kristin Armstrong of TEAm Lipton caught Ulmer on the hill on lap 3 and stayed away for the victory.

[photo caption] Jazz Apple's Sarah Ulmer leads the field up the hill on the third finishing lap...

[photo caption] ...until she was caught by TEAm Lipton's Kristin Armstrong.

Of the McGuire riders, Melodie finished in the first chase group, and Taitt finished with the second group.

[photo caption] McGuire's Taitt Sato battles the hill.

In the parking lot following the finish, Courtenay was already waiting for her teammates. Then, amazingly, 26 minutes after Armstrong's win, Martina appeared at the team van ecstatic that she had made the cut-off time. I'm still not sure how she pulled that off.

[photo caption] Flanders Bros/MBRC's Teresa Moriarty finishes up in Mankato during her impressive Nature Valley Grand Prix effort.

Look for our conclusion tomorrow...

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

NVGP: Mankato Stage, Part 4

In our first three episodes, you learned that on Saturday, June 17 Tuffy was invited by an employee of the French bike maker Time to ride in the McGuire Elite Womens Team car for the Mankato stage of the Nature Valley Grand Prix. Needless to say, he accepted.

After 15 miles, the McGuire team was left with three riders (Martina, Melodie, and Taitt) after Courtenay bagged it.

Around the 25 mile mark, those of us in the team car kept getting muffled radio messages from the riders (Martina? Melodie?) that they wanted some water. The only problem was that the feeding from cars opened at 30 miles, which we were politely reminded of by Com 1 (the tour director's radio handle).

Shortly after feeding opened at mile 30, the ladies stopped for a "natural break". You figure out what that means. What it meant for us in the car was that we came to a dead stop on a county road in the middle of nowhere for a couple of minutes.

While all of this was going down, Martina came to the team car to get water for her, Melodie, and Taitt. A very heady move. However, there was an abrupt acceleration immediately after the natural break and Martina had to work pretty hard to catch back on. She even had to ditch two water bottles with the Aussies in the Cheerwine support convertible.

[photo caption] Assistant Volunteer Directeur Sportif Ped updates the riders on the terrain to come. Alternate caption: Assistant Volunteer Directeur Sportif Ped berates Com 1 while impersonating Victory Brewing personnel.

"Heakjalf kdfjaoe dkjfalei" came the radio call from our rider, followed by "McGuire team for feeding" from Com 1.

We raced up to the front to find Martina had dropped back for more water. This was around mile 45. Martina loaded up with six water bottles (two for each rider left), and tried to get back up to speed.

Volunteer Directeur Sportif Smithers tried to "slingshot" Martina. It didn't work. Martina got as far as three or four support cars up in the caravan, then slowly came back to us.

"Let us take some of the water!" Assistant Volunteer Directeur Sportif Ped shouted out the window to Martina.

"No. I'll be ok," replied Martina.

Then, she slowly fell backwards through the caravan and off of the back of the race.

[photo caption] The peloton slowly disappears into the distance, as seen by Martina.

About five minutes later, I looked out the back of the team car to see Martina already about a mile behind the peloton.

At least she would have enough water.

Look for Part 5 of our story tomorrow...

Monday, June 19, 2006

NVGP: Mankato Stage, Part 3

In our first two episodes, you learned that on Saturday, June 17 Tuffy was invited by an employee of the French bike maker Time to ride in the McGuire Elite Womens Team car for the Mankato stage of the Nature Valley Grand Prix. Needless to say, he accepted.

The Mankato road race stage for the women began at 11:30 AM. Around about 11:10, we put the car in position in the caravan. Then, Ped and I did a last minute food run. Ped grabbed three Buffalo Wild Wings wraps for a group lunch during the drive, and I grabbed some Jelly Belly Sport Beans and another wrap for myself (pre-drive).

Right on time, the race was underway. Well, except for the Bio-Vail team car. It was stuck in gear, dead at the start line. They never got the car going and the team ended up having to be supported by the neutral support car for the duration of the race.

[photo caption] Team support cars begin to line up behind the riders shortly before the start of the stage. Team Bio-Vail's ill-fated car is 2nd from the right.

The peloton rode out of Mankato in a neutral roll-out, slowly making their way up a climb and out of town. Then, the race was officially underway.

The first rider off of the back was a Team Quebec rider at about mile 10. She had gone off of the back at the Minneapolis Crit the night before, so this wasn't really a surprise. About a mile later, another rider fell off the pace. [photo caption] McGuire Elite Womens Team members Taitt Sato (l) and Courtenay Brown prepare for the Mankato stage of the NVGP. Courtenay's preparation would prove fruitless.

At mile 15 the first bad news of the day struck our team. Courtenay was off the back of the peloton. As she slowly drifted back through the motorcade to our car (car #14), something looked wrong.

Smithers rolled down the window and just looked at her. Courtenay didn't say anything. So Smithers yelled, "Courtenay! What's up?" She blankly looked at Smithers and replied flatly, "Nothing."

Smithers: "Can we do anything for you?"
Courtenay: "No."

So we rolled on around a corner. Then Courtenay got on her radio. It sounded like this:
"Blkaodkfa lkhaoeihaf kkiieeealdldd."

We pulled over, ready for Courtenay to roll up with a flat tire or some other mechanical problem.

Courtenay: "Give me the keys to the van. I'm turning around."

So she took the keys to the team van, turned around on the road, and bagged it.

This turn of events was disappointing on many levels. First, Courtenay is a competitor, and we really hoped that she would ride a good stage. Second, it happened so suddenly and so early in the stage that it caught all of us off-guard.

That left us with three riders still in the peloton: Martina, Melodie, and Taitt.

Look for Part 4 tomorrow...

Sunday, June 18, 2006

NVGP: Mankato Stage, Part 2

On Saturday, June 17 I was invited by an employee of the French bike maker Time to ride in the McGuire Elite Womens Team car for the Mankato stage of the Nature Valley Grand Prix. Needless to say, I accepted.

Here is our cast of characters:

Martina Patella, Bib #85

Courtenay Brown, Bib #81

Melodie Metzger, Bib #84

Taitt Sato, Bib #86

Mike Pedersen (l) of Quality Bike Products acted as Assistant Volunteer Directeur Sportif and Chris Smith of Time played the role of Volunteer Directeur Sportif. Notice the negative energy between them, exemplified by the two facing in opposite directions. Ped and Smithers didn't talk to each other for most of the day because, as Smithers claimed, "Ped was being a bitch."

Part 3 of our story tomorrow...

Saturday, June 17, 2006

NVGP: Mankato Stage, Part 1

[photo caption] Minnesota's own Teresa Moriarty (l) of the Flanders/MBRC team has raced a strong NVGP for the second straight year. (photo courtesy FlandersBros.com)

I took advantage of an opportunity to ride in the McGuire Womens Elite Team car for today's Mankato stage of the Nature Valley Grand Prix.

With Ped as the navigator, Smithers drove the team car and posted a couple of audio blogs during and after said stage. I'm included on both. Check out the first one here and the second one here.

Look for more discussion of today's events in the next few days...

Thursday, June 15, 2006

NVGP Interloper

[photo caption] Local racing legend Jay "Hollywood" Henderson tries his hand at what the Nature Valley Grand Prix should call the "Prologue". (photo courtesy SkinnySki.com)

So I snuck into the staging area for Stage 1 of the Nature Valley Grand Prix yesterday.

After meeting up with a friend at City Hall, I scooted on down to Shepard Road to check out the preparations for the individual time trial. A friend is working as a local manager for one of the teams this week and I was going to drop by to say "Hey". But I was also being nosey.

Now, the trick to getting behind the scenes to any local event is a) to know the names of some of the principles involved (even if you don't know them personally -- just do a little research), and b) to ride a moped. Honestly, cops seem to think that you must be running official last minute errands if you're trying to access a restricted area while on a moped. Works every time.

After getting past security, I checked out all of the fancy road and time-trial bikes, wheels, and team cars. Well, the only pro-looking team car around was the Jelly Belly bus, but that was a mens team and they were parked down the block. I found the team my friend was working for and chatted with them for a while.

As I left, I ran into two riders from another team who looked totally lost. When I asked if they were looking for a place to warm up, one replied, "No. Is there a service station around?" in a really wicked Aussie accent.

Turns out that they weren't Aussies but Kiwis (New Zealanders to the uninitiated) riding for the Jazz Apple team. Anyway, I got them to a service station where they were apparently looking for Cokes and whatnot.

Here's the real epiphany, however: these pro/elite women are intelligent as all get-out. Between the two teams that I interacted with, there was a lawyer, a med school student, a grad school student, a Rhodes scholar, and an Olympic gold medalist.

Ok, it doesn't take any brains to be an Olympic gold medalist, but I'd rather have that gold medal than an M.A.

Teammate Fil later reminded me that this isn't really news, as cycling tends to be somewhat of an elitist sport, and if a good education provides you with the resources to race bicycles, well, it all fits together a bit more.

It makes me wonder how Fil got into this sport.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Republicans are...

Political Myth #127: "Republicans are more fiscally responsible."

Monday, June 12, 2006

And So It Is Done

[photo caption] An artist's depiction of what went on at both the Frederic road race and the Hutch crit over the weekend. (photo courtesy Londonist.com)

And so it is done.

I had a half-day of work today. Just time enough for me to clear out my office as well as my auxiliary room. Efficiency helped me take four files cabinets and whittle it down to about 10 manilla folders worth of material to pack up. The rest went in the trash.

I ended up taking (only!) three boxes and one brown paper bag worth of stuff and one black leather office chair with me upon leaving today. It's amazing the space saved by having most of your essential documents saved electronically, though that material did take up two 128 jump drives.

After I turned off the computer, I put the pencil down on the desk, turned the lights off one by one, AND SLAMMED THE DAMN DOOR!

And so it is done.

In other news:
--My next scheduled races are Thursday at the Velodrome and Saturday's criterium in Mankato. However, both may be scratched if I can't nail down health insurance before then.

--The Frederic Lions road race was held last Saturday in Frederic, Wisco. I didn't feel all that good before the race, but that all changed once the race started. I was active early in a bridge attempt and a chase before retiring to the "sprinter's lounge". Not that I'm a dominant sprinter, but that's where I chose to spend the rest of the race. Around mile 14 there was some sketchy riding up front that produced a mass braking that resulted in a huge pileup that began about two riders behind me. What a terrible sound. Then, about two miles later, teammate Fil busted his chain, leaving me all alone for the rest of the race. With about five miles left, I weaseled my way back to the front following a couple of turns. After a couple of failed attacks (by others), I lined up for the sprint at about 8th wheel. The guy right in front of me went for it at about 250 meters. I went with him and set sail on my own at about 150 meters. I ran out of gas at about 30 meters and three or four guys passed me before the line, putting me in 9th for the sprint and 11th overall in a field of over 100. I was pleased.

--The Hutchinson Crit was on Sunday. Since I'm trying my best to adhere to the old "If you can't say anything nice" adage, this will be my statement: I drove over an hour both ways to be able to race for 30 minutes in a parking lot on a very "technical" course that resulted in over half of the field being pulled from a ROY race.

--I forgot to say this about the Hutch Crit: If it's held in the same location next year, I won't be back.

--Super-Rookie.com brings its traveling freak show to the Velodrome on Thursday night. Come watch the carnage.

--There was a letter in the Pi-Press today that said that the Nature Valley Grand Prix time-trial scheduled for Wednesday night on Warner Road in St. Paul should be moved to Lake Phalen "where there's a path". I don't know who's more ignorant: the author, or the Pi-Press for publishing it.

--Speaking of the Nature Valley Grand Prix, look for me in downtown Mpls on Friday night. I'll be the one yelling at you to get off of the road because the cyclists are coming.

--Over and out.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Celebrity Buzz Writer

[photo caption] The lovely and talented Kate Mara. (photo courtesy Pub.TV2.no)

Hollywood (AHN) — Heath Ledger has signed on to play the role of Bob Dylan, the subject of a bio-pic entitled “I’m Not There.”

Fresh off of his nomination for Best Actor at this past spring’s Academy Awards, Ledger will star as the Minnesota-born singer/songwriter in the film which begins shooting in July.

Joining Ledger is a tremendous ensemble cast, including Ledger’s real-life companion, Michelle Williams, along with Richard Gere, Kate Blanchett, Julianne Moore and Christian Bale.

New York (AHN) — Chelsea Cooley, better known as Miss USA 2005, is reportedly dating Minnesota Twins catching sensation Joe Mauer.

Cooley was selected as Miss USA after winning the title of Miss North Carolina and is currently pursuing a modeling career.

Mauer, who was the first selection in the 2001 draft, presently leads Major League Baseball in batting with a .368 average.

Hollywood (AHN) — Kate Mara, the beauty who played Heath Ledger’s eldest daughter in “Brokeback Mountain,” has parlayed her strong performance in that film into several forthcoming roles.

Mara stars alongside Ryan Pinkston, Carmen Electra and Craig Kilborn in the recently-completed “Full of It.”

Mara has been busy working to complete three other films. The granddaughter of recently deceased New York Giants owner Wellington Mara, Kate will star in “Zoom” with Tim Allen.

Matthew McConaughey and Matthew Fox will star alongside Mara in “We Are Marshall,” the true story of a plane crash involving the Marshall University football team.

In “The Shooter,” Mara will be featured alongside Mark Wahlberg.

Washington, D.C. (AHN) — Kimberly Dozier, the CBS News reporter critically injured in a recent attack in Iraq, will return the United States on Wednesday.

Dozier is returning to receive further medical treatment. The reporter was riding in a military Humvee that was struck by an improvised explosive device (IED). The attack killed three others, including Dozier’s cameraman and soundman.

Dozier’s injuries are significant and there is currently no timetable for her return to CBS News.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Your Blog

Improve your blog's counter totals in one easy step! Simply put the words "Joe Mauer", "Chelsea Cooley", "Miss USA", and/or "Miss North Carolina" in any order or combination and watch your hits balloon!

Look what it's done for this site! We're big-time now, baby!

Monday, June 05, 2006

This and That

[photo blog] The Empire State Building as seen from the Bowery, Manhattan. (photo courtesy GammaBlog.com)

A "Super Rookie-esque" post coming at you...

--A big weekend of racing. Saturday 6/4 saw something called the Cascade Classic road race in Osceola, Wisco. 40 miles of fun fun fun citizen (read: USCF Open) racing. Sketchy riders galore, and some could even hang in the lead pack. That sucked. I'm beginning to think that road races sans big climbs could be my bag, and I spent all day at the front. With about 10 miles to go, I got thinking about what I'd have to do to get a top 10. I spotted a Silver Cycling rider who was trying to get his teammate on his wheel, so I marked the two of them the rest of the way in. The only hitch was that as we neared the last turn the pace increased quite a bit, and I was pretty much squeezed. A half-assed sprint (never out of the saddle) down a sketchy finishing drag and I found myself finishing 20th. Whatever. My goal was to just finish in the main group, which I had never done at a WiSport race before.

--Sunday was the Capitol Crit for Autism over at, well, the Capitol. During some pre-race "strategizing" (Cat6 doesn't usually strategize or stick to said strategy), I expressed some interest in everyone (T3 and I) working for Plan B because this course set up for him (an uphill finish). Plan B declined, saying he didn't feel he had the legs and that he thought they should work for me instead. I didn't say "No", but I didn't quite think that that would work. In the end, T3 and Plan B got lapped and were pulled. The only other Cat6er in the race was Morgan, and he hadn't been part of our pre-race meeting. With about 6 laps to go, Morgan whizzed past me and went off the front. That was too bad, because I was willing to work for him. I don't know if it would've helped him, but we'll never know. But Morgan stayed at the front for 3 laps or so, burned himself out, and was spit out the back. At the end of the race, I was counting down the laps just hoping that it was over soon. I didn't bother with a finishing sprint and finished again around 20th. I stuck around to watch the category 1/2/3 race, but after the Cat6ers (Skidsy and Owen) were pulled, it was just the Hareland/Swanson Festival Part 23, so I dipped.

--This week at work is going to be really tough. I dismantled most of the wallhangings in my work space today and I'm going to start giving some of my furniture and other items to co-workers tomorrow. Technically I'm not done until Monday the 12th, but my mind checked-out about three weeks ago.

--I overheard some of my clients talking about OverheardInNewYork.Com today, so I checked it out. Here was my favorite:
"Twentysomething guy: The quality of life here is so bad...I mean, if you enjoy drinking all night and having random sex, you'll like living in New York. -Overheard at 5th and 9th"
It really made me miss New York. And I won't have the time or the resources to do a big summer trip this year, so New York and every other exotic place will have to wait for a while. A long while.

--To start track racing (on bicycles) or not? Not until July, at least...

--Over and out...

Thursday, June 01, 2006

"It’s a clothing label from a jacket that was manufactured by an American company that exports their products to France, so the label is in English and in French, but some of the French wasn’t translated into English - and is necessary here! The translation:
Wash with warm water.
Use mild soap.
Dry flat.
Do not use bleach.
Do not dry in the dryer.
Do not iron.
We are sorry that our president is an idiot.
We did not vote for him."