Ask Ritte – Google, Cobbles, and Italy vs. California

Pavé’s newest advice columnist, Ritte Van Vlaanderen, returns this week with a new set of reader questions.

Dear Ritte,
I heard a rumor that if I type your name into a Gooogle search it comes back with, “If you want to find Ritte, you’d better go looking for the ladies first”. Is this true?
Sven from Luxembourg

Dear Sven,
Yes, that was at one time true—but with Google Maps. If you clicked on the satellite view and zoomed-in you could see me lounging poolside with Kathy Ireland in Malibu. Now with search engine optimization and whatnot, the Ritte web page is the first thing to pops-up. Boring, but practical, I suppose.

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Dear Ritte,
What’s the best way to ride cobblestones?
Dan from Boston

Hi Dan,
You don’t “ride” cobblestones any more than you “ride” a woman! To make it over the stones, you must woo the pavé like a fine lady. Be charming and complement their cool gray complexion. Open the door and pay for dinner—you can’t just get them drunk on Campari. With a little luck and some practice, you’ll be asked upstairs for a cup of coffee.

But always remember: no matter how smooth you are, pavé still (for no apparent reason) drain you of every good thing in your life, leaving you stranded on the side of the road with nothing more than a busted bike and your first edition David Bowie albums, waiting for your mates to come pick you up in their 1986 Volvo. Cobbles are like all the best things in life; you can’t live with them and you can’t live without them.

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Hi Ritte,
Since you live in California now, what do you think about the Giro d’Italia vs. the Tour of California?
Which is the better race?
Terry from Colorado

Hello Larry,
I think it’s not so good to have these two races at the same time. The Giro is the greatest stage race in the world, and now California is stealing away lots of the real talent. Why? Because racers these days are soft. They want perfect weather and rat-free hotels with hot water. They don’t like 8-hour transfers and hazardous road conditions. Soft, I tell you, like little kittens.

A bicycle racer should always choose the hardest, most dangerous of two options. Of course, someone like Lance Armstrong is always going to choose California. But it is a sad day indeed when a man like Jens Voigt chooses to avoid the Giro’s 100-rider pileups and rancid hotel food for wine tours, Redwoods, and celebrity governors. And this isn’t just my opinion; there is evidence to support my claims. Just look at the numbers:

So there you have it. According to my calculations, the Giro is 18.9-times better than the Tour of California. That said, I suppose I should add a few points to the Tour of California for being so conveniently located to my adopted home, so let’s just say the Giro is only 18-times better.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t watch both races—you should. In fact, it’s your moral obligation as a cycling fan to watch all UCI road events, even if it means waking at 3am and/or watching at work. If you have a job, that is.

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That’s it for this week’s  Ask Ritte. Ritte will return in two weeks to answer your more of your questions. If you are so bold, send your questions to Please include “Ask Ritte” in the Subject line. Feel free to check-out Ritte’s site for more action and insight from this most interesting personality.

And as always, share your comments below.

About Whit

My experiences might easily fit many cycling fans' definitions of “living the dream.” Since getting hooked on the sport watching Lance Armstrong win the 1993 U.S. Pro Championship, I've raced as an amateur on Belgian cobbles, traveled Europe to help build a European pro team, and piloted that team from Malaysia to Mont Ventoux. As a former assistant director sportif with Mercury-Viatel, I've also seen the less dreamy side of the sport – the side rife with broken contracts, infighting, and positive dope tests. These days, I live with my lovely wife in Pennsylvania and share my experiences and views on the sport at Bicycling Magazine, the Embrocation Cycling Journal, and at my own site, Pavé.
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