It boils down to this. If I were to replicate anything from America like Las Vegas has replicated everything from Europe, I would replicate Las Vegas. Because to me, it is a distillation of what America is about. As Europe seems to be about to Las Vegas. Which means that I would replicate a replication of my own world into the world I already live and exist in. In other words: I understand Las Vegas. I just don’t know what it is.
This is concept number one: Everything and nothing makes sense when you are on drugs.
Wednesday, November 16. Midday.
We are sitting at one of the house casinos at Circus Circus where we arrived late yesterday. Did the drive from Los Angeles into the desert. We were supposed to go all the way to Leadville, Colorado, but then an email arrived from the former cyclist:
What’s up, dudes? Wanna do a road trip? There is a marijuana convention in Las Vegas.
We reached the city at night and we were not disappointed. With twenty kilometres to go, we could see the Mojave Desert fill up with lights.
“Wow. Look,” Jakob Kristian had said.
“Look. Wow,” I had said.
Now at Circus Circus, it’s loud music and wall-to-wall carpeting. You cannot hear yourself think or walk. Slot machines. Mirror walls. A carousel. A fortune teller. A wedding chapel. McDonalds are here. A Starbucks. Multi-coloured, flashing signs. Do this. Try that. All under one roof. Which is indeed a roof, although it states that this building is a circus tent. It is not. The tent is set up inside the building. Like with many things in this town, not much is as it says it is.
Here is another example: The Trump Tower in Las Vegas is, if not the tallest, then certaintly the most easily spotted building. However. The Trump Tower does not belong to Donald Trump. No. You see, The President of The United States once ran the Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City, and he ran it into the ground in such fashion that the gaming commission in Nevada blocked him from setting up shop when he tried to get a foot into town. So. What does a smart man do? He just does it anyway. He franchises his name. If he can’t get a foot in Las Vegas, well, then he takes five thousand feet, stacks them onto each other, and puts his name right at the top. Because he is smart.
This is concept number two: It is impossible to tell lies when you are on drugs. Which is coincidentally why his people took over his Twitter account.
Las Vegas. Let me write about Floyd Landis.
The blackjack tables are filling up with people dressed like they are alone in their backyard. Or, God forbid, homeless, although that wouldn’t be an unreasonable argument in Las Vegas: some people come here in search of it all and lose exactly that. Yes. For all the signs in here, it’s surprising that none of the people are having a good time. In fact, most look bored. Sad and bored. Of all the places in Las Vegas, we have checked ourselves into the most miserable, run-down and unglamorous casino.
Cigarette smoke like LA smog. Security older than The Rat Pack. The Filipino croupier standing beside us looks like the ghost of Bugsy Seigel and the waitresses have voices like former heavyweights and maybe they are just that.
Your instinct tells you that this is no place for children, and that should be a sign at the entrance, which you can never find, because who builds a casino with an easy exit? But they are everywhere, children are, and not the exit signs. An actual circus is upstairs. Parents drop their loved ones off so they can descend a long ramp and start gambling without their children looking at them while they take away their future. Who wants a four-year-old to pick out the potential winning slot machine even though the slot machine with its cartoon figures, blinking lights and Game Boy sounds, resembles something that should in fact attract precisely a four-year old and not, not a parent, and so did I make myself clear about the fact that we are actually sitting in the basement of a circus?
Las Vegas, please. Let me write about Floyd Landis.
“What?” I say.
Jakob Kristian says he likes this place. It reminds him of childhood.
Celine Dion is on the house speakers. She is telling me how much she cares about me. Behind the bar, a poster informs me, in case I don’t believe Celine, that for $450 she will tell me and three thousand other people in person four blocks down at the MGM Grand tonight. Also I think it was what Jakob Kristian said. When he said childhood. He stretches his back and yawns uncontrollably. “If Floyd Landis comes walking in here with a water bottle, I’ll shoot myself.”
“And I’ll tell him you are the journalist and go back to bed,” I say. “You mean like we did with Michele Acquarone?” says Jakob Kristian.
And so it shifts. Because here comes Floyd. Drifting down the aisle. Now. If I were a bully or wanting to pick a fight, I’d avoid Floyd, and that should be his slogan. Avoid Floyd. Because Floyd Landis looks like a man who can handle himself. He looks like a man who either gets a lot of pussy or used to be a top athlete. Or maybe both. Yes. Floyd Landis has a distinct, slow and confident walk, and all of this leads him straight to our table.
“Jesus. You guys are on beer!” he says. “Well, I’ll just order one. Wolfman! What do you want?”
An enormous man shakes our hands. He sits down at the table and says his name is Scott Thompson. But we can call him Wolfman. He is Floyd’s business associate in the world of weed. Then he says whiskey.
Las Vegas. Thank you.
We skip lunch. Order a tray of many things. David Zabriskie has joined us. He is the third wheel in this business adventure which is the adventure of distribution and selling drugs to America, a country that seems ready to embrace the fact that people use weed, and they use a lot of it, so perhaps time has come to let the population legally calm down under a new political term.
Floyd and Wolfman light up big cigars. “This fucking place is insane,” Floyd says, puffing away. “I mean. Caesars Palace is grand and what you would associate with Las Vegas. But we are probably staying in the worst hotel in town. Poor people. Dumb fucks, right? Sure. Trump voters. I’ll just SAY that. And they come here with all of the money they already can’t afford to lose. Just to lose it.”
“And you guys are here to drug them while doing so,” I say.
“We got nothing else to do,” he says, and looks at Zabriskie who shakes his head. Dave has just been mountain biking with a local friend who, he tells us, has spent a year making a trail in the desert. The trail has many turns which is still confusing to Dave.
“I mean. It took him over a year to do. With all those turns. I don’t know, man. Why didn’t he just make it straight?”
“Hahah ha!” Floyd almost spills his beer. “A straight line! What the fuck!”
“I don’t know,” Dave says, “It seems kinda. Like. Like a lot of work.”
A minute ago, Wolfman asked him about the hedges at his Malibu house that the home owners’ association wants him to trim down. Or remove. Dave is now wondering if his family should just move to another home altogether.
“I don’t know, man. It’s a hassle. I guess we need to find a home…”
In Scandinavia, it’s illegal for children to live on the streets, I tell him. In fact.
It’s illegal to be homeless. So if you run out of life skills, eventually you will get help from the city council. Ultimately they will set you up somewhere and give you money. To get you and your family back on track.
The American trio looks at me.
This is not communism, I explain. But a touch of socialism. But even the capitalist, rich sons-of-bitches who are in politics in Scandinavia, will not touch this agenda. Although they might secretly think it’s worthless to be paying much hard-earned money – meaning it is seldom hard-earned but merely transactions from one account to another – to other people who they ultimately think are poor by own fault, they still accept the socialistic idea. Or.
They leave Scandinavia and go sit in some castle in Die Schweiz and own a cycling team. That happens too. But listen. Democracy works when the other side wins an election. Something America, and you three gentlemen, must come to terms with. For example. Donald Trump says he doesn’t pay any tax. Because he is smart. Well. Paying tax should be a good thing. A society only moves forward when everyone is moving forward. So. High taxes. But free health care. Free education. No homeless people. You tax the shit out of gasoline or buying a car so you force people to ride bikes, making them healthier and environmentally-friendly adjusted. Basically. The idea in our small part of the world is that we should leave no one behind. The planet. Or its people. Also. We have the highest suicide rate in the western world. There is that.
The American trio looks at me. Jakob Kristian asks me if I took a red or a blue pill.
“You haven’t said a word for five minutes.”
I look at Jakob Kristian.
“You’re just sitting there,” he says.
Floyd leans forward. “Okay. This dude is high. Who wants another round?”
“Whiskey,” says Wolfman as he blows smoke into the fake marbled ceiling. I follow the smoke. Follow it. Then I look at Wolfman. For our entire stay in Las Vegas, I only see smoke coming out of him.
“I didn’t say anything?” I ask Jakob Kristian.
When I come back from the bathroom, Floyd and Dave are sitting on top of a horse in the middle of the lobby. Floyd is holding his cigar and yelling something obscene, it echoes out in the lobby, and Dave looks like he is on a time-trial bike, getting all aero on the back end of the horse, and so this is what I see on the red pill. No. It was the blue pill. Yes, it was the blue pill. Or maybe it was the red pill.
This is concept number three: You need to go back and look at Jakob Kristian’s footage when you are on drugs.
The photo session is over. Everyone sits down. I ask Jakob Kristian what he got and he says he got a red pill and then. Then he doesn’t know. Also maybe a yellow pill.
“How many colours do we have?” I ask.
“Who reads cycling magazines anyway?” asks Floyd. “This is big in Europe, right? But by the time a magazine publishes anything, it’s already old news. You flip through it. Look at the pictures. So I guess you want good pictures to follow the story. Right, Jake?”
I also look at Jakob Kristian who says: “What? They were on a plastic horse! It’ll be fine!”
I go: “We don’t do news. That’s why we are with you, Floyd.”
“Thanks a bunch! But I’m not talking news. But like this story. This’ll be good. Like actually something you’d wanna read. You know? What the fuck is Floyd up to, doing a bunch of drugs in Vegas. I mean. That could be fun to read about.”
“Not when Morten writes it,” Jakob Kristian sneers. “You should be lucky if you end up in the story at all.”
“…But there is almost no point in writing about news. Because we’ve already watched it live. I don’t know how a magazine makes any money. Maybe books are better. Take Bradley Wiggins. He writes a book every year. Have you read any of them?”
“Because he seems like a huge asshole.”
Floyd continues: “That’s what I mean! So publish this: I’m an Amish pacifist.
But if I ever cross paths with Wiggins I’m gonna punch him so hard, he wouldn’t know what the fuck happened.”
“You would not,” says Dave.
“I would,” says Floyd. “I hate that guy.”
“Because he talked all kinds of shit about me. He talked crazy shit about me. Really personal stuff. For no reason. And he said I ruined cycling for him because he has to face all this drug talk. Which I’d say is partly his own fault. He can’t blame me for riding faster than the other guys.”
“Did you ride with Wiggins or was he still on the track?”
“He was in the gruppetto! I mean, I never talked to him. If he had yelled, I wouldn’t have heard it. That’s how far back in the peloton he was. He sucked. He was good on the track. We knew that. But he was barely average on the road. Barely. Listen: Xxxx xxxxxxx xx x xxxxxx. Xx xxxxxxxx xxx xxxxx. Xxxxxx xx x xxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxx. Xxxx xxxx xx xxxx xxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxx. Xxxx xx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xx x xxx xxxx xxxxx x xxxxxxxx xxx xxx xxxxxxxxxxx. Xxx xxxx. All right?
And I told Xxxxxxxx Xxxxxxxxx. And he said xxx xxx xxx xxx xxxxxxxx xxxx xxxx xx xxx x xxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx problem. Essentially xxxx xxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxx xxxxxxx xx xxxxx xxxx xx xxxx xxx xxx xx xxx xxxx. So saying that it’s the xxxxxxx xx xxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxx xxx xxxxxx are bad.”
“Xxxxx said something similar,” I say.
“Xxxxx?” says Floyd.
“It means Lance! Lance said it,” I say.
“Well, it’s a valid point. But at the time it was a reverse point. Cycling was fucked. And Lance saved cycling. It seemed so, right. Until he was exposed. But he is an asshole, so fuck it, right. And me, too. And Jan Ullrich, I suppose. Nobody gives a shit. And so we take turns taking it in the ass.”
Las Vegas. I feel I’m not entirely writing about Floyd Landis.
A fat man who owns land in Colorado arrives. This is now a business meeting. Dave moves his chair closer to Floyd, who moves closer to the fat man. Wolfman turns his attention to the fat man’s associate, an elegant woman in her forties. The fat man, whom I immediately dislike, not because he is fat or because he isn’t elegant or in his forties or not a woman, but because he has this attitude toward his associate, who I then immediately like, not because she is elegant or in her forties or a woman, but because I just instinctively take her side against him.
Talk begins. The party discusses matters in the marijuana industry. All seem to believe, since 17 states voted for legalisation at the elections, that this is the next gold rush in America. They pitch sales numbers. Turnovers. Profit. Someone says two hundred million dollars. In Colorado alone. Then someone says twenty million a day. Then someone says extracts of flower. Lotion. Gin and tonics. Trump. Flower. Weed. Trump. Hillary. Gin and tonics. Weed. Samples. Yes. Land. Property. Flower. Extract.
Our waitress is busy making an effort. Her breasts are falling out of her dress.
Her lips are bigger than Mick Jagger, and I mean the whole of Mick Jagger, not just his lips. The set-up is uncomfortable because it makes you feel like a male chauvinistic retard, to have a woman dressed like that waiting on you. Now. I can’t explain why I feel that way, and I swear, I do not look when she bends over serving our drinks, but I would suspect that you could see her panties. Maybe I’m being Scandinavian. Because being a Scandinavian male means that you are most likely also a self-righteous-gender-equality-politically-correct-scared-of-women-dickhead, so I don’t know about my choices of weapons here in Las Vegas because I want to xxxx that waitress xx xxx xxxxx.
Floyd lights up. “Haahahhaa! You said that out loud!”
“Fuck it!” Floyd jumps in his chair. “Do what I always do. Blame it on the drugs, dude!”
Almost. I almost didn’t look when she was bent over.
Then Floyd says to Wolfman that he should tell us about the time when he went from campus to campus as a freelancing agent teaching the young women of America squirting techniques and Wolfman says that, depending on how brave you are, technically, everything is a dildo, and then Dave Zabriskie empties his glass of water and says: so if I move to Denmark, you are going to give me a house?
Dinner. A fan stops by to tell Floyd Landis he is a fan. Floyd says thanks. Then he tells me about Wolfman.
“Him and I have known each other for a long time. He was with BMC. He ran all of North America and then big Andy Rihs wanted a professional team and then. Well, Wolfman ran North America until he brought that gun to work. I don’t think Big Andy liked that. Wolfman was in Paris when I won the Tour de France. And we’ve been talking about doing a marijuana thing for a very long time. He knows more about it than I do. Grew up in a place where it was more acceptable. And he saw the possibilities early on. A lot of different people use it, you know. Recreational drugs. It’s not just dopeheads. You’d be surprised. And it’s an enormous business already. And so we are trying to develop our position on that market. These meetings in Vegas are about that.”
I say: “What about the marijuana convention?”
Floyd and Wolfman exchange glances. “Nah,” says Wolfman. “It can wait.”
Dave looks relieved. Then Wolfman says there is a shooting range near our hotel.
“Do they have bazookas?” Jakob Kristian wants to know.
Dave tells a story about how he went to the hospital after he did the Tour de France one year. Because he had post traumatic stress disorder. So the doctor gave him a card that states that David Zabriskie is allowed to use marijuana to get well.
He pulls out the card but also his Olympic athletes’ card. “So I have a weed card and an Olympian card.”
“You get free weed because you raced the Tour de France?” I ask.
“Yup,” says Dave.
Wolfman says to Jakob Kristian that we should just rent a tank at the shooting range and run shit over.
I excuse myself and go to the toilet and let things go. I look down and there is my editor. Then I look in the mirror. I tell a man standing beside me that I’m Frank Sinatra who can’t remember his lines. He says I look more like Dean Martin without Frank. I half walk, half stumble, back to our table. The fat man’s associate hands us more sweets. “These you’ll like,” she says, and then asks me how old I am.
All night we drift from one casino to the next. At one point, we are under a fake sky at an indoor mall. The waitress asks us if we want to sit inside or outside. We look up. The fake sky is… I mean. There is a ceiling! You can totally see that that is not a sky. Also. The ceiling is painted blue with clouds and it’s close to midnight in the middle of a desert. But bird sounds are coming from small speakers. And we like bird sounds. So we say outside. Then we understand that the restaurant charges you extra if you want an outside table. Because, as we know, sitting outside (this is outside) in Rome (this is Rome) on a wonderful day (this is day) with birds singing (birds are singing) is better than sitting inside in the middle of the night in the middle of Las Vegas in the middle of the desert. We look at each other. This is ridiculous at best, but still manageable to get our heads around. But then we want to smoke. We are not allowed. Because we are really inside, the waitress says. But we just paid for an outside table! And there is the sky! “And we didn’t paint that ceiling!” says Floyd. “You guys did!”
Really what happens is that the waitress sends us away. We just can’t stop laughing. “Ahaha haha. This is…. haha ha… we are in the middle of… of NOTHING?!”
Later again. The Eiffel Tower. Big Ben. A pyramid. We walk the canals of Venice where you rent the boats. At the Venetian Casino, the karaoke singer is a veteran from the Iraq war. He is singing Garth Brooks songs. Floyd is standing next to a barrel of whiskey trying to figure out how long it would take him to empty that. And then. Then we meet Elvis. And he is indeed fat and ugly like you’d assume he’d be, because this is Elvis in Las Vegas, so Elvis in Las Vegas wants to have his picture taken with us and Floyd of Leadville is now down on one knee laughing or crying about being in the middle of nothing, because as he says, it doesn’t matter whether or not Elvis in Las Vegas looks like Elvis in Las Vegas as long as Elvis in Las Vegas really believes he is Elvis in Las Vegas and then I borrow his pen – I borrow Elvis in Las Vegas’ pen – and I write on my wrist concept number four and five which is that you don’t care about being a cliché when you are on drugs.
You really don’t.
Thursday, November 17. 4.00 pm.
I wake up naked. Grab my phone and go to Instagram. Then Twitter. No. There is nothing for anybody to question. We are fine. I sit up and look around. Strangely, I feel fine. Not the least embarrassed. Maybe it’s just age. Yes. It’s age. You are a grown man. It doesn’t matter. So I get out of the bathtub. Then I put on my clothes. I find a hotel envelope and write, this is concept number six: you also don’t care about being a cliché when you are not on drugs.
An hour later, we sit at the wine and cigar bar and suck beverages. Jakob Kristian and I are on our last colours. Waiting. There is another upcoming business meeting for our American trio.
“This is for Rouleur, right?” says Dave. “For a while they were sending me the magazine. I was on a free list or something.”
Floyd rolls his eyes: “And I’m on the blacklist. It got so bad at one point. I wanted to go do a bike race in 2011 in New Zealand. I have friends at Specialized, a lot of people I knew there, ’cause they’d sponsored me. And so I asked them if I could purchase a bicycle at a discount and they said no.”
“They wouldn’t even let me pay for it.”
For a moment, Floyd looks a little uncomfortable. Like he just realised that it’s actually him this happened to. Then he shakes it off. “Wolfman. How much for the battery in Morten’s joint thing?”
“About twenty bucks,” Wolfman says. “And the cartridge is sixty. Plus tax. So about eighty-five bucks. And that’s like one hundred joints. At least. It’s relatively inexpensive compared to flower.”
“So when I run out?” I ask. “I order on your website. Or can you ship it?”
“You have to purchase it in a store. If I send it, it’s trafficking. And that’s a crime. See, I turned a new page. But it’s a cool little thing. Cause you can carry it around in your pocket. I mean. You can’t walk around with a hundred joints.”
I ask Dave a personal question and he says he doesn’t answer personal questions.
“Can we put something in the story?” asks Floyd. “Like. Information for the cycling community. For example. The bass player gets all the pussy. That’s what you said. You said that the guy that nobody knows what he is doing, or even looks at when they are on stage. He is getting all the pussy. I didn’t know that. Dave, did you know that? You didn’t know that.”
“Nope,” says Dave.
Jakob Kristian wants to know who gets the pussy on a cycling team.
“Nobody!” shouts Floyd. “Not even the Dutch dude who bought the hookers. Was it Michael Boogerd? No. It was Dekker and Boogerd! And they still didn’t get any!”
Dave Zabriskie says they paid for gay pussy.
Everyone cracks up. “That’s doesn’t even make sense, Dave! But listen Wolfman,” Floyd continues. “We discussed this today. And you disagree. Tell us. Who gets the pussy?”
Wolfman blows smoke in our faces. “It’s the lead singer. Guitar player. Bass player. Drummer.”
“Wait a minute,” I say. “What about the guy on keys? I always had a guy on keys in my band.” Wolfman doesn’t react. He is puffing his cigar. We look at him. Wait. We wait for him. Wolfman is taking his time. Puffing. Then he says:
“All right. If there is a keyboard in the band, nobody gets pussy.”
It comes to us like from a thousand graves. The Indian chief has spoken. Big balloon letters. NOBODY. GETS. THE PUSSY.
“Like I said,” Floyd almost cries. “Useful information in an article. If I were a kid and wanted to join a rock’n’roll band, I’d want to know.”
“The kid is reading a British cycling magazine.” I say.
“Allright. But I’ll say this. Xxxx xxxx xxx xx xxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx. Xxxx xxx xxxxx xxxx xxx xxxxx xxx xxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxx xxx xxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxxx. Xxx xxxxx. Xxxxxx xx xxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxxx. Xxxxx xxx. And some of the riders will ruin their lives and go to Vegas and start selling drugs!”
I excuse myself and go into the toilet and force up vomit. I want another word with my editor. When I come back I say this:
“You said something about Michael Rasmussen last night?”
“I met him in Paris at the last Tour de France. And we had dinner. And he was taking about this. Like what would have happened if he’d had his last blood bag. I’m like. Why the fuck are we talking about this? This is ten years ago, Michael. So, I’ll talk to you about it right now. Because you ask me. But I never talk or even think about cycling anymore. I was thrown out. Fine. And I also, like you said about Jan Ullrich, I sat and looked out the window for a long time. I don’t know what Jan did.”
“He had three kids. So he wasn’t wearing lederhosen.”
“Well, I drank a bottle of Scotch every day for a period. I moved to the mountains to be alone. And I sat there and drank. And now it’s behind me. Except for this fucking case. But it’ll end eventually. Sometimes I think I should have skipped the whole cycling thing and focussed on the drugs from the beginning.”
“You would probably have made more money.”
“And maybe even thought that Lance was cool. You know. As the supplier.”
“Did you have any money when you were thrown out?”
“Some. Sure. But in 2008, the financial crash took my house. Like with a lot of people. So I was half a million down right there. And I didn’t have any income. So it goes fast. I couldn’t get a normal job even if I tried. Because I’d just be a distraction. Back then, it was a huge story. I couldn’t do anything. That’s why I moved to the top of some mountain in this tired little town. It was like Leadville but a third of the size. And there I sat. I could talk to the locals. They were half-nuts but so was I. I wasn’t well. When I lost the case to CAS, I took the trophy and threw it from my balcony. And it felt good. Now I have all the pieces in another trophy. Dave’s the only one who called me from time to time back then. Usually I didn’t answer.”
Dave pats Floyd on the shoulder. Floyd’s eyes. They seem to be going in all kinds of directions. Or maybe it’s my eyes. Right now. We are the away team facing the Harlem Globetrotters.
“Listen,” he sighs. “Could you not just call the article ‘shit’s fucked up?’”
Shit’s fucked up.
“Let’s talk about Le Tour. I wrote somewhere that being at the Tour de France is your life being lived before it’s entertainment. While watching the race in your house is entertainment before living your life. Would you say that…”
“Being at the Tour is boring, man. Stressful and boring. Look. If you ride your bike and you get to a certain level, it’s all good. Once you get to the next level, competing as an athlete, it’s crazy shit.”
“How many times …”
“I rode the Tour de France five times.”
“Well. I was there to help George [Hincapie]. Of course, about thirty kilometres from the finish line, he would always figure out new ways to lose a race.”
I ask Dave how many times he raced the Tour. Zabriskie shrugs. “I’d say seven.”
“I’d say?!” laughs Floyd. “You’d say? This dude. His goal was to always crash out. That was his strategy for cycling. To race as little as possible. At all costs!”
“At all costs,” says Dave.
“Well. Just fall over!” Floyd is almost screaming with laughter. Which is a little annoying. It means his stuff is working faster than ours. But then I look at Jakob Kristian’s right leg. And it’s definitely feeling it. Or just really loving Lionel Richie on the house speakers.
“Right,” continues Floyd. “So Dave would look at the weather forecast and if it was gonna rain, say three days from now, he’d quit two days ahead so nobody would think he’d quit during the rain. Like: I got sick on the sunny day! But he pulled it off. Back then it was like: hey, where is Dave? Oh, he’s not racing, someone would say. He crashed. And you’d go: oh, all right. But do you remember when I was your agent, Dave? This was in 2004 and the team told me to go do the Vuelta. There was always this contentious relationship between Johan and I. And I had already signed the contract with Phonak. And I wanted Dave to fucking leave the team, too. And so they made us go to Spain and tried to separate us as room-mates. And this is how it works: a team will try and make you sign a contract when you are really low. This is something we all know. As riders. They wait until you have a bad day at a stage race that is really long. Because you are just beat. You are down. The morale is gone. And they say: oh, don’t worry. We will take care of you and so on. That’s what they do.”
“And Johan didn’t count on the fact that I actually didn’t give a shit about the contract,” says Dave.
“Noh,” says Floyd. “So Dave told Johan that he had hired me as his agent. So I’m his room-mate. Still on the team. Now I’m his agent! So Johan is trying to undercut the agent, meaning me, by talking to Dave while I’m not there. And I’m like: Johan, please. I represent Dave. And as his agent, I can inform you that we are currently entertaining offers. And it’s just a load of bullshit! And finally Dave just made up some number, like, he pulled it out of his ass, and Johan thinks that he knows everything that’s going on about the other teams. Because cycling is small. Everyone talks to each other. So of course, we refuse to tell Johan where the offer is coming from…”
“From Dave’s ass!” says Dave.
“There weren’t any actual offers from anybody. And Johan finally said, fuck it. And then I had to go to work. Like. I have to actually get him a contract now!”
Dave Zabriskie says: “So I hired a real agent and...”
“What!” splutters Floyd. “I’m just a prop?!”
“…I had placed fourth at the Worlds. So Bjarne was okay with it. And I won a stage at the Vuelta. And the year after, I won the prologue at the Tour de France. And Lance was so mad.”
Floyd jumps in his seat: “Haha! We sat in the Phonak – haha ha – team bus… and watched it… laughing our asses off. Thinking about how mad Lance would be. Haha ha hah! He got beat by the guy he hates the most. No. Almost the most!”
“Lance hates Dave?”
“He hated him ’cause he hung out with me. And he still hates me, I guess. He is on trial and I’m a witness. That’s basically our relationship.”
“Gentlemen,” I ask them. “Are we ever going to the marijuana convention? This is our last day.”
The American trio looks at each other. Wolfman and Dave smile. Floyd looks at his hands.
“All right, so I’m not going. But have any of you been to the convention yet?”
Dave looks at Floyd who looks at his beer. Wolfman is puffing on his cigar. Floyd does a face.
“Wait. Not one of you has actually been there? Dave? Wolfman?”
“There was a whole line of people outside,” Floyd then says, “and they looked kind of annoying. And there was a bar right across from the place. So we went in there and started drinking.”
Wolfman and Dave nod. “I see,” I say. “So. Nobody went?” Floyd then lifts his beer bottle from the table. He holds it up in front of his mouth. And just before he takes a hit, he does a little smile: “We went near it.”
So this is concept number seven because seven is the number you want in Las Vegas: Even though people will tell you that drugs are not good for you, you can have a good time when you are on those drugs.
Las Vegas. Goodbye. And xxx xxxxxxxx and Rouleur xxxxxxxx can go xxxx themselves.