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Open Thread: Yay, No Racing!

My primary gripe about European sports is that they never know when to say when. The Cycling season started in February, peaked twice in April and July with only a little respite in June, and now drags on until mid-October. Soccer is acutally worse, with the primary season running eight months, plus world cup or European championships running an extra month every other summer. Meanwhile, the primary season consists of league club play, international club play, and national team competition, and nobody is spared: missed out on the Champions League? There's always the UEFA Cup for the 5th-8th place clubs in your league. Because everybody is dying to know who the best club that couldn't cut it at home or abroad is.

Soccer players are abused and must surely grow to resent the fans who insist they play yet another competition every waking moment of the day. Yet at least in soccer it's the guys on the national team -- the best and best-paid -- who bear the greatest burden. In Cycling, it's the other way around: the top riders can pull themselves out of one or two grand tours, and from the earliest or latest classics, depending on where their best opportunities lay. The rank-and-file? Another day, another century at top speed, another pocket full of bottles and assorted crap. For some nine months. It's enough to make some guys contemplate touching a wheel and going down, and it wouldn't surprise me if that's happened.

On travel today, more this evening. Take it away y'all.