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Do you remember stage four of Tirreno-Adriatico a couple of months ago? Of course you don’t. Even if you watched it, who could be expected to remember it? Except for the guy who won it, which was Tadej Pogačar, and in his case maybe he’s starting to find it hard to remember every single victory.
I remember that stage. I remember it and my introduction to the Eolo-Kometa team the same way that I remember first meeting my wife, in that I cannot recall any details or context beyond being in a park ranger’s office and “my God she is beautiful,” and “I am suddenly aware of what an awkward young man I am.”
I cannot tell you who won that stage, or even where it was other than ‘somewhere in Italy, probably,’ but I remember having it on as background noise at work and out of the corner of my eye I saw something on the screen as the breakaway climbed up a mountain.
“What the devil is that on that man’s bum making its way up the slope? Is it…? Could it be…? My God it is! That man has a Burger King logo on his bum, and isn’t that just the weirdest, most amusing thing ever?”
So I do what any normal, grown man and totally non-degenerate cycling fan would do. I go to Google and find out the Eolo-Kometa kit supplier is Gobik, and then I fire off an email to enquire as to when or if this fantastic kit would be on sale to the general public.
“Why not? What’s the worst that could happen?” I ask myself right before hitting send. Little did I know.
Thank you for contacting Gobik.
[We] Inform you that the professional equipment kits will be available at the end of March.
Yes! Something to look forward to during the bitter winter here in Pennsylvania.
I began to dream of showing up to the local century rides and sportives in my awesome Eolo-Kometa Burger King bum bibs, being the toast of the MAMIL crowd. Oh, how my riding partners will be jealous of my new kit! I also begin mentally trying to choose which jersey to pair it with for that perfect look. Although, thinking about it, surely my wife could not begrudge me a new jersey, too, to match these fantastic new bib shorts? “Yes, sorry kids, it’s hotdogs again, but doesn’t daddy look super smart in his new bib shorts and jersey?”
Anyway, the end of March rolls around, those Burger King bums have bounced through Milan-Sanremo, so I check the Gobik store…score! The pro team kits are available!
Now, I am not well off, but in America, March is tax return season and I am irresponsibly planning on using my tax returns not to pay bills or pay for the kids’ summer camps, but to import some glorious Burger King Bum Bibs from Spain.
So, I hit the team store and…
The Burger King logo is not on the bibs?!
Crushed, I emailed Gobik (again) to ask what was the matter and received another, this time very prompt, reply.
Thank you for contacting Gobik
We are sorry to hear that this is the case, you can imagine that it is not our decision but the decision of the team.
Here we have the most fantastic piece of kit on the planet and it is being denied to the general public? Why?!
Why would they (presumably Burger King Italia) not want cyclists around the globe to be rocking these glorious bibs with their logo so prominently displayed? This seems to be a no-brainer…unless something else is afoot?
Is there some sort of deep-cycling-state conspiracy to keep these bibs out of our hands? Is this a plot by the Cofidis vampire coven for reasons diabolical and yet unknown?
Maybe the Eolo-Kometa riders know how flash these bibs are and they leveraged a deal to keep them all to themselves.
As a former investigative journalist, I smelled a story…maybe. I would commit myself to this quest, this mission. I would delve headfirst into the Great Burger King Ass mystery of 2022.
So I did the only rational thing I could think of and fired off a series of semi-coherent emails to Eolo-Kometa and Burger King Italia, including an Italian translation courtesy of Google. I am thorough if nothing else.
I will not bore you with the details of those emails, but will only say that I was expecting no response. After all, I am a random American man writing semi-comprehensible English translated into (probably) very broken Italian demanding to know why the Burger King logo does not appear on the bum of a pair of bib shorts for sale in Spain. “What rubbish is this?” I imagine them saying, binning my emails.
To my amazement, they replied.
From Burger King Italia’s public relations firm:
Since the sponsorship is made by Burger King Italy, it’s all limited to the Italian territory. So, clothes with the BK logo are available only in Italy. What a shame, I know.
And from Eolo-Kometa themselves:
Burger King is the team’s sponsor for the Italian market and calendar, it is an agreement with Burger King Italia and therefore, so to speak, it is “geolocalised”.
And for the marketing of the clothing, given that it is more ‘international’, for the moment they have opted for the same clothing that is used in competition outside the Italian market. This is something that could change at a later stage, of course.
Thank you for your interest and your enquiry.
This explains why the bibs could be seen on the team at races like Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-Sanremo and most recently the Giro d’Italia. These messages also made me believe that perhaps the bibs were for sale to the public – in Italy!
Thanks to the magic of the internet, I found a random Italian person on a cycling fan forum and asked them to check around and see if they could find the bibs. Did Gobik have an Italian version of their website where they were?
Alas, they did not, this random Italian person informed me.
Re-reading the Eolo-Kometa response and the initial reply from Gobik, it seems that the decision was to only produce the international version of the bibs for sale to the public, meaning the only BK Bum Bibs in existence are the ones on the riders’ bums.
I went back to everyone involved to try to get a direct answer to that particular question, or to try to figure out how the decision that was made to put the BK logo on the bum, and not, for instance, the leg, but Eolo-Kometa stopped responding. I can’t blame them, since they had humored this mad American raving about BK logos on bums for far too long by this point.
To mere mortals like myself, the BK bum bibs are, for the moment at least, out of reach and yet on regular public display, like that statue in the museum, or that first moment that I met my wife. You can look or gaze in awe and think that maybe, just maybe, one day…
If Eolo-Kometa were to make the BK bum bibs an actual thing, for actual sale to actual people, would that somehow devalue the BK bum bibs? Are BK bum bibs an object of my desire because they are a beautiful work of art? Or do I desire them because I subconsciously know I cannot have them?
This raises dreadful questions, not just about art, but also about myself. Did I really, at the start of this article, compare meeting my wife with BK bum bibs? We best not look too close at this… instead, put the whole weird experience and the BK Bum Bibs behind us. Lock it down, man, and get back to the grind.
And it is there that I will leave you.
“But what am I leaving you with?!” you scream at the screen. “You crazy idiot!! What was the point of this entire wholly-illogical navel-gazing story? Christ man! What about the fecking bibs?”
Well, what about them? What was this about?
Was it simply an amusing yet equally mad tale of a quixotic quest, unfulfilled desire, unrequited love…or yet maybe something else?
Something more than a shot-in-dark-mission, one doomed to fail in the search for my Holy Grail of BK bum bibs from Spain; something more than a Pro-Conti team on an ill-fated break on the slopes of the Blockhaus with the Ineos Grenadiers train roaring full-steam behind; something more than the sublime expression of an unknown Italian sculptor’s hand on display in a gallery; something more than Mathieu van der Poel giving a thumbs up to Biniam Girmay.
It was, and always will be, the Burger King Butt mystery of 2022. Both solved and unsolved.