We’d be remiss not to mention the earthquake that recent doping admissions have caused in our sport. This has been a very sludge-filled past few months, dirty, stinky, ugly. Rider and directors are now coming clean, including my favorite super hero (Mr. Museeuw) to general worker soldiers who were subjected to wading in the filthy pond of the higher rungs of the sport. The quake’s aftershocks are hitting all shores, threatening racers all over the world, threatening the sport as a whole. At this very moment cycling looks pretty bad and it is indeed a shame. So much so that brandishing our fist in indignity and turning away comes as a reflex: we don’t like it, we change the channel. It’d be just as easy to tune out, ignore the evidences hidden in plain sight, refusing to acknowledge the perilous nature of current illicit practices. Or at least the practices that many riders, employed or retired, have been accused under the premise of “it was the culture”, or “I had to do it to keep up”. We understand that. We get it, and this is not a finger-wagging, holier than thou missive. Rather, as sports people we revel on the magic that entertain us, the scintillating athletic stunts that we welcome as beautiful.
So we want more, and we want to believe, and we as a whole, in one way or another, encourage the riders on their way to feats of magnificent courage. We don’t care if they’re manufactured by talent and genes or talented pharmacists. We just want to be entertained, we want to fuel our fantasies as we ride along, doing our commentating on our own heroics, knowing full well that we shouldn’t believe all we see on TV. But we still do it. And now I wonder, dear readers/riders, if our yearning for mace-wielding Gladiator on two wheels has something to do with how our sport has developed. Or how we are ever-so-slightly responsible for the ugly turns that cycling at times has been resorted to take. Sure, by seeing them on TV, or reading about them, we subconsciously and purposely create a distance by deifying the riders, we give them sobriquets like “angel”, “pirate”, “warrior”, we put them on a pedestal. Then when they’re debunked, we defrock them just as easily. Is this what we do now? We dismiss them when they’re “popped”? Let’s say, as an example, you have loved ones who are hurting; what do you do? Do you cast them aside, ostracize them and move on, or do you bring them closer and show your support and love in the best way possible?
I choose the latter. And I choose to read and pay attention and try to understand the realities at hand. Emulate the demigods at your own peril; they’re people and they misstep as often as anybody. Let’s make an effort to support the good causes, the local racers, your town crit, the juniors, the collegiate folks, because that’s where it all starts.
OK, off the soap box now. We’ll be back next week with our normal programming.