If only I was in better shape. . .

In a past life I cycled my way across Europe including climbs over the Pyrenees and the Dolomites. I was in the best shape I’ve ever been and towards the end I rode along with an Austrian team out for a ride and stayed right along with them, panniers and handlebar bags and all. I’ve been an avid cycling fan so I of course took a detour near the Loire Valley and saw the Tour roll through and even dinned near the Italian Polta team one evening and overheard them planning their tactics for the next day.

Subaru (with the help of R/GA) has launched their Tour de France blog (yep, it’s on Movable Type!) and has a sweepstakes drawing for two lucky individuals to blog about this year’s Tour which will be Lance Armstrong’s last. Qualifications require you not only to know something about cycle racing but also to be in top shape because you’ll be riding the course. From the Rules & Regulations page:

NOTE: Trips require bicycle riding along with Tour de France participants, which will require winner to be in exceptional physical condition. The Tour de France rides are challenging, mountainous, and are known for their long, strenuous climbs.

I better work on those situps. . .

Thanks to Adrants for the pointer.

Les Claypool

On a whim, I went to see Les Claypool last night. His bass playing style is a hard-hitting funk that I haven’t seen since I saw Keziah Jones several years back in Tokyo. His finger-slapping style throws out over the crowd like thick waves of jello – as soon as he starts playing, the whole room can’t help but start jumping.

I’ve never seen him play live before so I asked the others there what to expect. Everyone shrugged their shoulders, he likes to mix it up so much you never know what he’ll bring out.

Les took the stage with a sitar player named Gabby La La who wore a bright blue wig with ponytails and looked like an off-duty Japanese Anime character. The percussionist, Mike Dillon, was also amazing. Most of the time he played vibraphone but several times in the show his enthusiasm for the timbales got the best of him and he hauled his set out from the corner over to center stage and laid down a groove with the drummer that near blew the roof off the concert hall. During the entire 2 1/2 hour set he wore a rubber devil’s mask which only added to the pitch of his fever.

All 450 tickets to this Sunday night show at The Independent (the old Kennel Club) were sold out. I was lucky to get a spot right up front. I felt sorry for the bouncer who, good natured as he was, had to have his back to all the weirdness up on stage the whole night. At one point the sounds were so strange that curiosity got the best of him. You could see the question marks come out of his head when he looked up to see Les, donning a full-headed monkey mask, hunched over a one-stringed homemade base, banging on it with the back of a bow and bending the pitch with a springed lever. It just kept getting stranger.