It was as if a storm of designer clothing and extraordinarily expensive colognes blew into town on the day that I met with Spencer Canon, owner and director of the Ritte Van Vlaanderen bicycle company and race team.
Undeterred by his obvious economic status however, I introduced myself, shook his hand, opened up my note pad, scratched my lower back, licked the tip of my pencil, sat down, remembered I had my tape recorder in my pocket, stood up again, pulled it out, sat back down, put it on the table and hit record.
For the most part, the following is what transpired;
Lanolin, thanks for sitting down with me and taking some time out of what I’m sure is an increasingly busy schedule. Due to the fact that he pays far more attention to nationally ranked domestic racing than I do, (I tend to watch only the Jacques-Maynes twins and occasionally Liz Hatch’s twins) with the help of Captain Dave from EVIL Cycling, I’ve compiled a short list of questions so that my readership can understand the method behind Ritte Van Vlaanderen’s madness.
Thank’s for having me Stevil. Nice place you have here. Do you always let Dave sit on your knee like that?
Not always. Sometimes we switch off.
Now then, please state your name and position with the Ritte squad.
Spencer Canon. Owner of Ritte Cycles and Director of the Ritte Van Vlaanderen Racing Team. I do all the design for the bikes and the team, and I write most of what’s on the website. I’m also a racer, but I’m not very good.
Photo by Greg Page
Was it your intention at the outset of launching Ritte to attract the attention of the bicycling
world’s dirtbags? Would you liken yourself to a child who misbehaves simply because bad attention is better than no attention at all?
I didn’t really think about it, but I hope we do attract the dirtbags. Road cycling is dominated by type-A lawyers and doctors and yuppy suit-wearing types, but it’s dirtbags who can change the scene. Dirtbags don’t take themselves so seriously, and road racing needs a little of that Cyclocross vibe, minus the hipsters.
Photo by Jay Yoshizumi.
Would you consider yourself something of a Michael Ball lite?
First off, I’d like to say that Rock Racing was good for the scene. Pro Cycling is a spectator sport and most of the other teams out there are boring as shit. Hell, cycling fans are so bored that Garmin looks exciting for incorporating plaid. So in the sense that I want to make racing more interesting, then I can identify with Ball. That said, I don’t like Michael Ball’s douchey style and his overblown sense of entitlement.
The squad has obviously been committing a huge amount of hours to training. What is your upcoming season’s schedule shaping up like?
They have? Thank God. All I ever see them do is drink, but I think we’ll be ready by February. We’re gonna hit all the SoCal area road and stage races, like Callville Bay Classic, Valley of the Sun and San Dimas, but we’re also gonna travel to Gila, Mt. Hood and Cascade. And we’re especially stoked to hit the dirt at Tour of the Battenkill in New York. We’ve got a very strong group of guys and there’s a lot of pressure on us to get results, mainly because we look so damn good.
Can you tell me a little bit about Ritte Van Vlaaneer’s five year plan?
As a bike company, we want to give racers access to pro-level bikes at affordable prices and over the next five years will expand to offer a full line of racing bikes for road and cross. Bike racing is in our blood, so while we’re expanding the company we’ll be sponsoring more elite-level racing squads and possibly a pro team. As far as the Ritte Racing Team goes, we don’t have grandiose plans. We just want to keep sponsoring talented amateur racers who don’t take themselves so seriously. The Ritte Racing Team will always put the fun of racing above victory.
(Editor’s note. This kind of attitude would obviously never fly in Boulder, and further more, will most likely ruin the race for everybody.)
Have you, as the director and owner given any thought to a contention plan in the event of mutiny?
I have, and it’s airtight.
There has been a huge amount of discussion generated concerning the UCI’s ruling to ban the Ritte Bosberg for the unfair advantages it would lend your team and even went so far as to liken it to “psychological doping”. What has been the backlash, and is this something you all will be able to resolve before your season starts?
It’s not unprecedented in professional sports to ban something on the grounds of being distracting. The NBA wouldn’t allow the first Air Jordans. Given the fact that the UCI is so ban-happy, I guess I’m not surprised. That said, I am surprised they chose ban the Bosberg because of it’s paintjob and not because of the underseat syringe storage and DHEA dispenser. We’re currently working with the UCI on a compromise: we won’t have to change the Bosberg’s paint job, but we will be required to tape a picture of Dick Pound from WADA on the top tube.
Is the deep dish rim thing like owning a large truck, in that the racer is compensating for small genitalia?
Well Dave, we did extensive aerodynamics testing and stored the results up your ass. We should know the answer when you poop it out.
In an interview on your site, team rider Alan Van Zarembo makes the bold claim that ‘milk chocolate is the poor man’s meth’. I could have sworn that meth was the poor man’s meth. What makes him think he can just step in and change all of the rules, and do you support that kind of insubordinance among your ranks?
Alan contracted malaria while living in Kenya and working on a story about genocide. The resulting fever sometimes leaves him confused and disoriented. I let it slide because he’s a freak on the bike.
If given the choice, would you rather snort an entire shaker of salt, or a single live bee?
A live bee. Then hopefully its genetic code would merge with my own and I’d become super-powerful and puke honey.
Now for the psychological profile portion of the interview.
*Think of someone who is your friend (do not select your best friend, but make sure the person is someone you would classify as “considerably more than an acquaintance”).
This friend is going to be attacked by a grizzly bear.
Now, this person will survive the bear attack; that is guaranteed.
There is a 100% chance that your friend will live. However the extent of his injuries is unknown; he might receive nothing by superficial scratches, but he also might lose a limb (or multiple limbs). He might recover completely in twenty-four hours with nothing but a great story, or he might spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair.
Somehow, you have the magical ability to stop this attack from happening. You can magically save your friend from the bear. But his (or her) salvation will come at a particular price: if you choose to stop the bear , it will always rain. For the rest of your life, wherever you go, it will be raining. Sometimes it will pour and sometimes it will drizzle- but it will never not be raining. But it won’t rain over the totality of the earth, nor will the hydrological cycle be disrupted; these storm clouds will be isolated, and they will focus on your specific whereabouts. You will never see the sun again.
Do you stop the bear and accept a lifetime of rain?
*Question taken from Chuck Klosterman’s “IV” and used totally without permission.
I’d save him and then make money bringing rain to areas effected by drought. Then I’d move in next door to you.
What is your favorite tobacco product?
Camel filterless, mainly because I like looking for the random shit hidden in the camel on the box.
If you could weaponize Johan Museeuw’s hairplugs, which country would you invade with them first?
France, which would immediately surrender to Belgium. Then the Paris Roubaix would take place in Belgium where it belongs.
And just as quickly as the interview started, it was done, as Lanolin donned a pair of what I can only guess to be ridiculously expensive Italian sunglasses, and was enveloped by a team of bodyguards as he was whisked away to other engagements. Before we parted ways however, he leaned in close and whispered these words -“this interview had better make me look good, or with God as my witness, I will have you murdered.”
Obviously a man of means, as well as unique vision, his Ritte squad will surely be one to watch in 2010, and on behalf of the obvious interviewing powerhouse/dream team that is Captain Dave and myself, here is to a very happy and healthy new year for all of you.
Now that I’ve hit my stride with this interview, you can rest assured that from here on out we’ve got nowhere to go but down.
As for Wednesday’s post, I have an awesome video about a monkey and a fly who make friends, and several incriminating photos of Ruth Buzzi.
Beyond that however, I’m pretty much running on empty.
2010 is ours and the sky is the limit.