When attempting to make yourself a better person, you gotta start somewhere.


I’ve long contended that when making new year’s resolutions, you generally are just setting yourself up for failure. I understand the premise behind starting fresh at the beginning of a 365 day span, but instead of committing to losing weight/hugging your kids more/learning algebra/fine tuning your rad-getting/etc., on this day in particular, I am of the opinion that picking any other day will ultimately lead to more success.
That being said, and always the contradiction, I’ve gone against my own rule and have promised myself to engage in a single activity with far more frequency.
And no, I’m not talking about bathing. You have to crawl before you can walk after all.
There was a time in the not so distant past where I found myself in a very committed community of postcard writers. As time went by however, the lot of us found ourselves spending more time behind a computer and less time behind a pen. The immediacy of an email to acknowledge the other’s existence, to say hello, or to simply send a link about a lamb born with a human face is just too convenient, and my time spent sending off these proverbial bottled messages began to wane.
Well, shortly after the first of the year, I parked myself at my desk with my train wreck of an address book open, furiously scribbling to any and all whose residential locations were scrawled within. Recently during one of these sessions I was fingering through a box of random postcards I’ve collected over the years while scanning the faint list of names and addresses. Suddenly my eyes stopped on none other than Mr. Bob Roll himself. Without looking, I peeled a card out of the stack and was shocked to see which one fate had picked for me;
Of course everything about this card smacks of Mr. Roll’s personal aesthetic, but upon further inspection, I got a chill when realizing that this was actually an illustration of the man in question himself;
(I added the gap between his teeth for good measure.)
This card was for a 2002 exhibition of a body of work by artist Sandow Birk titled “The Great War of The Californias”.
As has happened with so many other cards over the years, I received this one from the gallery where the show was occurring, and promptly stuffed it in a box with a myriad of others, soon to be forgotten.
Suffice it to say, I was partially shocked, mildly surprised, and even marginally weirded out when this set of coincidences flittered down from the heavens and landed square in my lap.
So to answer your question, yeah, my life really is so mundane that this would make an impression..
Moving on..
Between whiling away my days writing cards to people, and laying on my floor reflecting on the fact that space doesn’t ever end, (“I mean it just keeps on going, maaaann”) I have gotten to ride a bike. Now as anyone with windows knows, the weather has turned frightful, but what better an environment to go out and pretend to be a tough guy? Sadly, on Wednesday’s sojourn, I opted to leave my camera at home for fear of complete saturation. As I made my way over hill and dale I was met by no fewer than six road blocks and road crew after road crew replacing fallen power poles. Of course being small and stealthy I was waved through by the workers with a smile and shared a mere fraction of my time on the road with motor vehicles.
As I was heading home, the skies in the distance were looking angrier and angrier, until finally arriving home, they looked like this;
This is a bit of an exaggeration on my part, but moments after I walked in the front door, the heavens opened up and we were immediately issued a real-live tornado warning.
I felt as though I’d dodged a substantial bullet and stripped off my wet and cold layers feeling something like a hero.
“Ahhhh..” I thought. “This must be how Andrei Tchmil’s little toe feels every day.”
Fortunately I am able to almost flawlessly segue from that point to my next one using using Mr. Tchmil as the transition. I would like to take the opportunity to wish the monster a very happy 47th birthday today.
It’s no accident that the Cycle Sport centerfold of his 1994 Roubaix win has been one of the few possessions I’ve carried with me all of these years;
Yep.. If there was any question about it, I’m that kind of nerd.
The day I found this poster, I was sitting in the living room of a house in Denver that I shared with Mark D, 685, a guy named Pete who had a nicer bike than any of us, but never rode it, and an obscene collection of empty King Cobra bottles.
I opened the magazine up and first took notice of his face, followed by his bandaged wounds.
At the time I was only vaguely familiar with the man depicted, but everything about this photograph spoke to me.
I realized at that point that no matter how much I might find myself suffering while on a bike, I would never know the same level of agony that this fella was experiencing.
As it turns out, many years later while strapped down to a hospital bed with I.V. bag after I.V. bag being plugged into my arm, this image remained tight in my head ultimately translated into a little bit of inspiration for me.
“No matter how bad things get, at least I’m not that guy.”
Sometimes you find encouragement in the most unexpected places.
On that note, with a rain slicker, and a stack of postcards in hand, here’s wishing that you good people have great weekends, and we’ll catch you on the flipped side.

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24 Responses to “When attempting to make yourself a better person, you gotta start somewhere.”

  1. Gypsy January 22, 2010 at 8:26 am #

    Crapito… Either Mr. Tchmil has sooooo much power that he’s able to cause the bottom half of his chain to lose tension (at the bottom of the pedal stroke none-the-less!) or his mechanic needs to be fired for allowing dirty derailleur pulleys to gum up the works on that beeeeeautiful bike.
    Is it wrong that looking at that picture makes my pants tight?

  2. DD January 22, 2010 at 8:34 am #

    Rock Shox on a road bike, was that a normal thing? I think I was more into thrasher magazine back then, and still pre-pubicent.

  3. Stevil January 22, 2010 at 8:41 am #

    DD, no it wasn’t a normal thing, though it could have been. That was the Rock Shox Ruby fork (Ruby, Roubaix, get it?) If I’m not mistaken, this was the fork’s unveiling, though I suspect Mr. Blacksocks would know for certain.

  4. The Shed Master January 22, 2010 at 8:54 am #

    I am dissapointed you didn’t mention the Number of the Beast on his sleeve!

  5. brado1 January 22, 2010 at 8:59 am #

    Murder less this year? that is a promise i can not make! 😉

  6. pedalman January 22, 2010 at 9:18 am #

    I love Zabels expression in that first photo, the agony of 2’nd! I’ve have a picture of the King,splattered in mud sans helmet, that I keep next to my bikes. It reminds me what it means to be a true bike racer. Tchmil was an inspiration too, but I could never quite figure out how to pronounce that last name, somebody needs to buy that guy a vowel.

  7. Dylan January 22, 2010 at 9:35 am #

    Is that hincapie in the stars and stripes?

  8. db January 22, 2010 at 9:48 am #

    @Gypsy: Look at his right hand, probably just finishing shifting, which might explain momentary chain slack.

  9. fat chance January 22, 2010 at 10:10 am #

    If I am not mistaken- the Rockshox fork had been in use since 1992…Duclosse Lasalle won it that year.

  10. gregologist January 22, 2010 at 10:21 am #

    That guy is ruining it for everyone……

  11. mike kim January 22, 2010 at 1:02 pm #

    ha! i have that exact same jersey that tchmil is wearing.

  12. Bluenoser January 22, 2010 at 3:10 pm #

    And Cervelo thought it invented the whippy seat stay that can take a pounding.
    Ever notice the nose on a euro bike racer and the Concord… has it anything to do with the speed factor?
    Just asking.

  13. carrie January 22, 2010 at 3:29 pm #

    his head looks gross

  14. evrgopwr January 22, 2010 at 4:51 pm #

    as I say to C-murder (to palp the LeMond statement) even us amatuers can suffer at immense levels (even to that andrei-face level) it’s just that the pro’s are going faster.

  15. mr poopypants January 22, 2010 at 11:19 pm #

    I’m just gonna ruin it for everyone. That’s not 1994, ’94 was a mudbath. It is most likely 1995-a very dry year.
    The chain is actually bouncing around violently, due to the relentless pounding of the cobbles.
    The fork is an air-oil Paris-Roubaix special, as opposed to the elastomer Ruby.
    None of this diminishes the monolith that is Tchmil. I think he warmed up for the spring classics by hammering framing nails through his hands.

  16. Colin January 22, 2010 at 11:34 pm #

    Hey, It’s my birthday too!

  17. teamfubar January 23, 2010 at 5:36 am #

    I just wanna know why all the people in the crowd in the first shot of Tchmil are yelling “FIAT”.

  18. Gypsy January 23, 2010 at 8:30 am #

    I don’t know… I think Mr. Poopypants is err… well… full of poop.
    While the Paris-Roubaix course is notoriously bumpy, the section in question, while not particularly smooth, isn’t all that bad. And… The top of the chain path is arrow straight (from all the power!) And… The pretty curve formed by the sag in the bottom half looks an awful lot like the chain is traveling off of the big ring at a faster rate than the derailleur pulleys can take it in. While an up shift would explain this, I am going to have to respectfully disagree that said Mr. Tchmil’s hands look like they just shifted…
    Isn’t it awesome that bike riders spend our time arguing about insignificant crap like this instead of say, health care reform? Or Iraq? Or personal hygiene?

  19. Hans Stoops January 23, 2010 at 10:07 am #

    Don’t want to commment, really, just want a high-rez copy of that Tchmil picture. Remember watching ESPN coverage of just that race and falling in love with Roubaix.

  20. Scott Larson January 24, 2010 at 2:49 pm #

    I’m taking a pre-calc course and my New_years rez is to finish the MFer.
    Send me a postcard to cheer me up.
    25 descanso rd.
    Santa Fe
    NM 87508
    Tchmil was one of the all time hard men. Grew up eating nothing but potatoes and borscht.

  21. blacksocks January 25, 2010 at 3:16 pm #

    ummm, sharp eye for detail, but the guy with the chain fixation is maybe not normal?
    RockShox first went to Roubaix in ’92 with Duclos and LeMond too I think…and damn, they had a good run for a few years there…
    And yeah, I owe you about 100 postcards.

  22. ben January 26, 2010 at 11:25 am #

    Well, I just can’t help it. Notice the chain has partially fallen off the outside bottom of the big ring? That means he’s going FAST! The fork is a Mag21SL only modified by installing a taller brake bridge, to fit the 700c wheel and use a caliper brake. You had to run them set up SUPER-stiff, or the tire would bottom out on the crown and send you flying like Stevil at a magazine shoot. By the looks of things, Mr Tchmil is on the brink of that exact scenario.

  23. Mark D. Budka September 20, 2016 at 8:25 pm #

    You do realize that the TOGETHER WE CAN WIN is actually copied from a World War I poster by James Montgomery Flagg TOGETHER WE WIN? Sorry, I was doing figure research for a drawing I’m working on and saw this in a thumbnail on Google Images. Imitation is the greatest compliment, but its best to be original. Sorry, its not the guy you think.

    • Stevil September 23, 2016 at 5:14 pm #

      I didn’t know who originally did it, but I knew this was a tribute of sorts, and I was aware that Bob Roll (former professional bike racer, and current NBC commentator for the Tour de France) was not in fact the person on the postcard. I’m dumb, but I’m not that dumb.