I just read that a seven-year-old Nebraska boy shot a hole-in-one. Some might find it astounding that a seven-year-old could do that. I, like Rick Reilly, just shrug my shoulders and say “no big deal.” After all, my late, great aunt, who was herself about the size of a typical seven-year-old boy, shot a hole-in-one when she was in her eighties. I’m pretty sure anyone can do it.
Wanna know something else that anyone can do? Remember a number—just one. Like ten. Or maybe eleven. Or even 42. My daughter is two. She can’t reliably count past five. But she can sure as hell remember the number two if you ask how old she is. She never gets it wrong, and math and counting are still pretty much abstract concepts.
So why on earth can Cadel Evans, a guy who gets paid to ride his bike, not remember something very simple, like how many cogs are in his rear cassette? Are you kidding me? Not only do I know how many cogs are in my rear cassette, but I can tell you how many teeth are on each cog. I know how many spokes are in each wheel, I know how long my stem is, how wide my handlebars are, and I know what my tire pressure is. And I’m just an amateur.
But Cadel—remember his job is to pedal his bicycle, and when necessary, make wheel changes as fast as possible, ideally to a wheel with the proper cassette for his drivetrain—had no freaking clue whether he was running a ten or eleven speed rear end when asked.
As if that weren’t enough, nobody in his team car knew either. So they stopped him to make sure he got the right wheel (something that should have been self-evident with his first shift). Then, after he got gapped on the stage and lost his chance of winning the Vuelta, he had the audacity to say “I don’t deserve this.”
What? You don’t think you deserve this? You deserve this and then some. You have terminal stupidity, and it’s just a matter of time before you succumb.
Of course Campagnolo, the maker of his drivetrain, is not off the hook either. Because how was eleven speed ever a good idea? Any of us that remembers the days when road bikes were called ten speeds probably finds it a bit perplexing that they can cram ten gears where previously only five were present. Ten are more than adequate—why on earth would we even want eleven?
Apparently nobody wanted eleven, and it’s a pseudo innovation they’re trying to force on the market, a technique Shimano previously had a monopoly on with blockbusters like biopace and rapid rise. But Campy wasn’t content to be Euro and exclusive, or to make high-quality components that lasted for years but were still completely rebuildable. They needed to do something pointless as well. Because if there were a point to it, why would the question be asked “ten or eleven?” If eleven were truly better, everyone would be running it, and there would be no need to ask.