Was the juice worth the squeeze? I suppose it was, maybe it wasn’t, but ultimately, I learned very little over the last few weeks – other than that Lance is one of the worst people in the history of sports and we should all look to model ourselves (especially our kids) after Ray Lewis.
I’m not a Lance apologist for the simple reason that he wouldn’t have fessed up if he weren’t caught. That, plus the fact that we all knew that the level of doping in cycling was beyond rampant and a narcissistic uber-achiever was required to wrap up this ‘ugly (+50 year) chapter’ and move on. By the way, a quick memo to the North American sports fans currently looking down their noses at bike racing: In due time, that little league called the NFL is going to make Lance’s ‘ultra-sophisticated-technologically-and-systematically-unparalleled’operation look like that kiosk in the dodgy mall that sells flip-phone cases, incense, and hair extensions. I’m looking forward to that day. Know what I’m going to do? Same thing I did when the Lance thing broke – I’m going to go for a ride. Not PVR 2 days of Oprah, or stake a spot at my local café to opine on how I knew about it long before anyone else, or even write couple of paragr…forget it.
Here’s my issue: The avalanche of opinions that shot out of the mouth of every Cat 5,4,3,2,1 and non-cyclist all came from a ridiculous, if not inappropriate place. Ultimately, it may have been a fever pitch to finally talk about cycling because they ‘ride with a team, you know’. In its defense, cycling is a very fun sport to watch. It shouldn’t be really, but it is. For 3 weeks every summer my whole family gets up a bit earlier, the TV gets turned on (the only time it’s on in the morning all year) and we watch Le Tour while having breakfast. I’m not alone here, I’m told quite a few people do the same. Why? According to all the armchair judges, we want to watch these guys perform at the pinnacle of human potential, and the PED scandal violated that.
Are you disappointed when Jens is climbing Ventoux at 23km/hr vs. 24? Do you turn off the TV when Cav rolls out to sprint on the Champs-Élysées at 58km/hr vs 61? Of course not. That’s because we want to watch pro cyclists suffer and dig and fight and puke and cry when they win and cry when they lose. Basically, I wish they’d replace the on-screen speed graphic with % max heart rate, that would be cool. Just because they’re using freshly optimized blood doesn’t make it any less entertaining, and it certainly doesn’t mean they’re not trying hard – ask the ghost of Tom Simpson.
I heard a baseball writer say once that if he could take a drug that would make him write like Hemingway he’d do it in a heartbeat. As would every other writer, in which case he’d have to take it or he’d be unemployed. It makes all of our houses feel a little more glass-like, no? The cycling issue goes a bit further because: a) there has been a culture of PEDs for quite some time, b) a serious lack of institutional leadership, and as stated earlier, c) they all still work and suffer at levels that are foreign to pretty much everyone. There’s hope though. People like @Vaughters and @PaulKilmmage are worth putting faith in. But it’s way to complicated for me to solve, so I’m going to continue to enjoy cycling. I always will.
Anyone want to go for a ride?