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Dec. 8, 2006

There's a winter sensation that all cyclists hate. It comes when you've been on the trainer for an hour or two and you check your watch -- only to discover you've been riding for only 15 minutes.

I have a widget on my start-up screen that counts down the days to my team's training trip to San Luis Obispo, Calif. That is the week that will cleave winter from spring. The suck will end, the fun will begin. When I installed it, it read in the low 90s. I checked it today thinking that surely it would be well into the 70s, maybe even the 60s -- only to discover that it stood frozen at 85.


This week I hopped on the trainer and watched "Overcoming," a documentary about CSC and its 2004 Tour de France. It wasn't as good as "Höllentour," but it included timely training scenes and was a fitting season's-first-movie-on-the-trainer. (I subscribe to the NetFlix base-training plan: If there's a red envelope by the TV, ride. If movies are in transit, rest. Tomorrow is either "Yojimbo" or "Dr. Zhivago," depending on how long I feel like going.)

My favorite character in cycling documentaries is the soigneur. He's always the same: stoic, wise and muscular, often with a Scandinavian accent. He's the one who, while all the others are out riding, will fill water bottles, fold laundry and, sotto voce, explain to the camera what's really going on with the team.

The soigneur in "Overcoming," Ole Kaare Føli, is the best so far. There's a great scene where he steps from the shadows and confronts directeur sportif Bjorn Riis, telling him to smile more. Even better is when he counsels Carlos Sastre after the death of his brother-in-law and then tells his future by kneading into his back, like a gypsy reading a palm. "You will have a good day tomorrow. I can feel it!"