VDS and some other things

And now for something completely different: Virtual Directeur Sportif, and specifically my outstanding excellence at it.

For those poor fools who do not know, VDS is a fantasy road-cycling league game played at the Podium Cafe message board. Even if you don’t know about cycling (and I don’t know much) the concept should be pretty familiar – you pick cyclists according to certain criteria (you need a certain number, they each cost different amounts), and get points when they do well. For a certain somewhat unfair measure of doing well.

Anyway, last year was my debut season, and after a respectable spring classics season (peaking at 83rd), it all collapsed, leaving me somewhere in the 200-300 range, out of a bit over 400 players.

This year, however, things are going somewhat better! At one point, I reached a probably-unrepeatable-in-my-lifetime 31st place! Currently, I’m 97th out of 682 players.

I realise you probably don’t share my elation at this news. Nonetheless, I’m  massively, and pleasantly, surprised: I knew I would have a strong spring classics season, but to still be clinging on to the top 100 a week into the Giro D’Italia is beyond my expectations.

Of course, when the GC points for the Giro come in, I’m going to be wiped off the map. And then the Tour will kill me off entirely. But I’ve still got some GC hopes – Igor Anton and John Gadret are hanging around just outside the top ten and should keep me alive. [In case you’re wondering: yes I DID have Anton last year. Damn that crash!]

I’m hoping, for context, to end up in the top half of the table. That’s not TOO impressive given that there are quite a few joke and semi-joke teams around, but I could feel proud of it.

The counter-intuitive secret of my success: I’ve avoided the massively-expensive big guns, and spent the money on all-around strength: 20 of my 25 riders have already scored points, and 15 have scored 100 or more. My best signings have probably been Nuyens and Ballan – my principle has been that good riders don’t suddenly stop being good after one good season. Unfortunately, my downfall has been refusing to accept that riders don’t suddenly BECOME good after one good season – I’ve kept faith with Haussler for a second year, and bought into the overpriced bandwagons of Boassan Hagen and Sagan. And of course some of my riders haven’t had good years so far, and there are a couple of just plain stupid picks among them. Yet despite that, seven of my 25 have already got more points than last year, so I do have SOME eye for value.

Now, needless to say the Grand Tours will pump serious damage into me as people collect on their Contadors and their Schlecks. But I’m not convinced I’ve gone the wrong way – I put up my Boonen to other people’s Cancellaras and Gilberts and still came away from the spring classics in good shape. Then again, a lot of that was luck.

Next year, I think I need to focus more on the GTs. There’s just so many points on offer for GC – and it’s probably less random than the Monuments. Then again, less random means safer but harder to overachieve.


– I’m currently writing a grammar for Rawàng Ata. I may or may not post bits of it here in the near future.

– The next book I’m going to review will be Billy Liar. I expect this weekend.

– I’m also going to, hopefully, put up some posts on two things I’ve re-watched in the not-too-distant past: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Wire. Not official reviews, but just some thoughts.

– I may get around to putting up some more History of the Future posts as well, although I’m not sure how much I agree with them anymore.