Wow, has it really been more than a month since I’ve posted? I suppose by now I’ve lost both of my readers, and I’ll have to work extra hard to get them back. Or not.
Let’s see, it’s been a busy month, with 9 days in Oklahoma and weekend trips to southeastern Missouri and northwestern Missouri. Cycling hasn’t taken a back seat during that time – I’ve been riding hard and often when I am in town. With great help from Jay and a nice group of dedicated riders, we’ve gotten the Marquette ride firmly re-established on Thursday nights – I haven’t been the force on those rides that I used to be, but it is still a thrill to see this St. Louis classic resurrected and know that I had a part in making it happen. Now we’re in cycling’s ultimate month – July! Tour de France, baby! I don’t really have an insightful story to tell for this post – I’m just wanting to get some thoughts off my chest.
I don’t get it, what is with all the haters? Even the mere mention of Armstrong/Discovery/Bruyneel et al. is enough to set off the most rabid, inane rants – usually involving themes of narcisism, greed, blind hero worship, arrogance, and a general assertion of “bad for the sport.” Look at what happened at Tour of California – record breaking crowds. How about the Giro d’Italia – undeniable enthusiasm and excitement at Lance’s first-time participation in that Grand Tour. Now at the TdF as well, fans can’t get enough of Lance. I’m sorry, but how can this be bad for cycling. How can finishing 12th in the Giro and starting out 10th in the TdF (now 3rd!) be seen as anything less than utterly impressive? How can suffering through countless hours of training, injuries, rehabilitation, and the racing itself be ascribed merely to greed? Mechanical? Formulaic? Do you remember “the look” in Stage 10 of the 2001 TdF? What moxy! Waiting for Ullrich 3 days later? True class! Cross-countrying behind Beloki’s crash? An unimaginable outcome made possible only by his incredible skill and talent. Just watching him on those climbing stages reminded me of what a savagely exciting bike racer he was (is). There’s just no doubt – Lance is exciting! I pity the haters – they’re denying themselves the chance to enjoy an incredibly compelling story involving one of our time’s greatest athletes and one of cycling’s all-time greats. Lance’s feats will forever be admired, and the opinions of the haters will be quickly forgotten. There is a certain amount of hypocrisy in all this hating – “Lance is a doper,” but “Welcome back Vino!” Huh?! I’ve just quit reading all the anti-Lance drivel on StLBiking because it’s so stupid and remarkably pedestrian. I’ll continue to enjoy this comeback, and while I don’t think he can win the TdF, I sure hope (and won’t be surprised if) he does!
Somebody intimated on StLBiking that Fabian is a doper, a view that was endorsed by an unnamed former pro racer that hails from this area. Hey, I’ve got no problem adding the names of anyone shown to be a doping cheater to my ‘Guys that Suck’ list (see sidebar). I think dopers should not only be suspended for the first offense, but banned for the second and prosecuted for fraud. I even added former favorites Landis and Hamilton because the evidence was simply undeniable, even though I really would have preferred to believe conspiracy theories and disappearing twin hypotheses. In short, I’m not a doper softy. But I think it’s ignorant to accuse pro cyclists of doping simply because they are consistent winners. It’s irresponsible, and it makes me less inclined to take seriously anything else someone willing to make such statements would say. If Fabian is a doper, show me the beef! Here’s why Fabian is my favorite pro cyclist:
- He’s an Olympic and two-time world time trial champion.
- He won Paris-Roubiax, one of cycling’s most prestigious spring classics.
- His attack from 1k out on Stage 3 of the 2007 TdF while wearing the yellow jersey to overtake the remnants of the breakaway, hold off the charging field sprint, and win the stage – what panache! (video below)
- He’s always smiling and most congenial when talking to the press.
- And now, he crushed the field in Monaco to win his 3rd TdF opening time trial.
Of course, none of this means that he’s not a doper, but as far as I know there is no basis for this to even be a point of discussion. If such basis ever does come to light, well, you can say to me “nya nya.” But for now, calling Fabian a doper just looks pathetic – sort of like Lance haters – and I’ll continue to wear my red Swiss National jersey in his honor.
Man, this has been fun. Each week we’ve been getting around 12-15 riders showing up and giving this ride all the pain and fun that I remember from year’s past. Some are veterans from that era – me, Jay, Andy, Bob – so there’s a feeling of continuity, and like before there is a nice range of abilities ranging from strong recreational to very strong local elite level. Even with several riders now not being able to show up due to shorttrack series we still got great attendance last week. Jay and I have made it a habit to bring cold refreshments for the survivors, which has fostered postride socials not seen in the ride’s previous incarnation. If you haven’t tried this ride and are looking for a hard, hilly, competitive group ride over some of St. Louis’ most scenic terrain, then this ride is for you.
There’s no denying it – I’m getting older. At some point, every cyclist reaches a point where their body stops getting stronger and fitness gains become difficult to hold. For me, that happened at age 52 – my dream of becoming another Paul Krewit is over! Still, I’ve been feeling quite good lately, almost resembling my old form when I consistently rode with the front group on this ride. The skinny guys can still drop me on the climbs -but let ’em chase me on the ridge tops! Fun stuff!
Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2009