The age of disbelief

July 15, 2013 § 19 Comments

It doesn’t matter whether you think any individual rider in the Turdy Farce is doping. Nor does it matter whether the riders are doping. Nothing will ever resuscitate this so-called sporting event.

A friend invited me to a Turdy-watching party today. Ostensibly we gathered to see who would prevail on Mt. Ventoux. Ostensibly we gathered to watch a bike race. Ostensibly we gathered to enjoy a performance of extraordinary physical strength and endurance under incomprehensible stress and strain.

All I can say is this: Thank Dog my friend is a wizard on the grill, his fiancee is a magician in the kitchen, the beer tub was well stocked, and the company was comprised of friends and riding mates, because the bike race never materialized.

How the Turdy was watched

What amazed me was the cynicism. I thought that it was only me who considered the whole thing an elaborate staging of athletic porn, but it wasn’t. The moment the Froomster began his wild 120 rpm acceleration the catcalls started. Nothing about his ride was exempt from criticism. His dorky pedaling style, reminiscent of a novice who’s still learning how to ride smoothly, his Cat 5 tendency to keep dropping his head, his constant reference to the radio commands in his earpiece, and his obliteration of the field were all equally derided.

The Tour was simply a backdrop for a get-together of friends who happen to cycle. Nothing about the race was respected, admired, or given any credibility at all. The bankrupt team of Phil and Paul, the sad sack attempts of Bob Roll to fire us up, and the racing itself were dismissed by virtually everyone there.

Good luck with that

How does an event that cannot capture the belief of the sport’s most ardent practitioners hope to survive? The answer, of course, is France. Despite the conviction that the best rider is a drug cheat, most of our crowd said they’d choose to go visit France and watch the Tour over any other bike race.

It makes sense. The riders can do whatever they want because it won’t diminish the fun of riding the cols, celebrating on the roadsides, and touring in France. In the same way, the Froomster’s fraud had zero effect on our ability to enjoy the food, drink, and camaraderie, and zero effect on the rides we’d done this weekend or the rides we’ll do the next.

This is the post-Armstrong age of sports spectating. We understand it’s all fake but gladly seize the chance to enjoy ourselves anyway. The giants of the road have been reduced to dwarves of the microphone and the lab.

You may find it all a bit sad and disappointing, but while you’re reflecting pass the sausage and open another beer for me, please.

Vroom, vroom, Froome!

July 12, 2013 § 44 Comments

Newsflash! Chris Froome is on drugs!

Newsflash! Yawn!

Newsflash! So am I! (Beer’s a drug, right?)

Several different methodologies have pointed out the obvious: When the Froomster’s time on Ax3 beats Lance and others in their doping heyday … it’s pretty plain he’s doping! This story in Outside confirms what everyone knows and no one cares about. The Tour de France is athletic bike porn.

It’s not real. The performances are not real. Everything is staged. It is as comparable to the sex you have with your wife as the stuff they show on http://www.superpornstaraction.com.

The problem with the Outside.com analysis is that it involves numbers. I hate numbers. I still don’t know who got to the town faster, the man driving x miles per hour at y velocity, or the train that left the station at time z going speed f divided by the number of apples in a bushel.

What I do know is that the dude who took the most drugs clandestinely is winning the Tour. How do I know? I know because of Wiggins.

The Wiggo factor

Was I the only one who noticed that the defending Tour champ abdicated shortly after winning? And that’s like, the only time that’s ever happened? And, it’s, like, incomprehensible? And what’s more bizarre, he didn’t even retire, he just said that next year it would be the Froomster?

What the fucking fuck?

Then I thought about it, and now I can explain it, especially since Wiggo has vanished from the scene. Here’s what happened.

Wiggins was put on Brailsford’s plan of “marginal gains.” This means microdosing and evading detection by training in Mallorca, where the testers can’t surprise you. Wiggins, who is an alcoholic nutcase, was driven to the brink of insanity because he had to go from a track rider/stage race flailer to Tour contender. The insanity was caused by his fear of getting busted; Wiggins has shown in his autobiography and elsewhere that he is a very fragile mental case.

Froome, who was an absolute nobody before Brailsford got him on the drug program, could have won the Tour in 2012. This would have been uncool, because Wiggins was winning sprint finishes, destroying all preparatory stage races, and on track to win the Tour in Britain’s Olympic year.

Brailsford therefore cut a deal with Froome. Wiggins would win in 2012 and the Froomster would win in 2013. The parties essentially agreed to this in public when Wiggins said that he wouldn’t defend his Tour title but would focus on the Giro. This is like someone saying they weren’t going to defend their NCAA baskeball title but would instead focus on the NIT.

Man of his word

Wiggins went from being unbeatable in 2012 to Mr. Nobody in 2013. He flailed and bailed in the Giro, and distinguished himself in the build-up races by being completely indistinct. He faded from the scene, and, trust me, you will never hear from him again. He is a fragile crazypants who cannot cope with the cheating and lying required by the Brailsford doping program. His pro career is over, and we should thank him for contributing “bone idle wankers” to our lexicon. 

Froome, on the other hand, has all the qualities of a top-tier level doper. He boldly proclaims his cleanness. He destroys his rivals by massive margins. He throws out wattage — 6.3 w/kg and more — that are impossible in an undoped state. Best of all, he is backed by the drug enabling quotes of Brailsford, who tosses off bizzaricisms like “At some point in time, clean performances will surpass the doped performances in the past.”

What?

That’s like saying, “At some point, Formula 1 cars with no aerodynamic fairings and design will go as fast as those that are wholly aerodynamic.”

It makes no fucking sense at all, based as it is on neither data nor science, but merely on the assertions of someone trying to defend an obviously doped stable of athletes.

Thankfully, VeloNews and other lickspittle cycling magazines have accepted this at face value because their advertising depends on the deluded and jaded readers who either don’t know or don’t care that everything produced by Team Sky flies in the face of reality and fairness. The pedestrian, non-superhuman times turned in by those who are racing against the Froomster show that although the peloton is cleaner, top honors still go to the cheater who goes biggest and who dares anyone to bust him.

At least with Lance, the winner had a cool name, attractive wristbands, and a series of good looking women permanently attached to his arm.

Lance 3.0: Lay down your cudgels, please

May 26, 2013 § 57 Comments

Newsflash: Lance Armstrong has been stripped of…pretty much everything.

Tour titles? Gone.

Reputation? Gone.

Income stream from his cancer foundation? Gone.

Ability to compete in sanctioned athletic events and the attendant income? Gone.

Mansion in Austin? Gone.

Self-respect after not getting hugged by Oprah? Totally gone.

Bonus newsflash: It’s not over yet. The Justice Department has joined Floyd’s whistleblower suit…former sponsors are suing to get their money back…he will be paying for his transgressions for a long, long time.

I don’t know about you…

But I believe in redemption. Not the Shawshank kind — I believe in the kind of redemption that says once you’ve been punished for your transgressions according to rule and/or law, you’re redeemed.

This type of redemption may not mean that you’re a sterling moral character, or even that you admit guilt or feel sorry for what you’ve done. It just means that you broke the rule, got punished, and are now free to move on just like new. Something worthless has been exchanged for something useful and new. Just like a coupon.

When you murder someone, rape someone, abuse a child, defraud the elderly, skim from the company till, or run a red light, your redemption begins when you’ve served your time or paid your fine. Redemption means trading in the old for the new. It means a fresh start.

And in case you were wondering, along with the punishment fitting the crime, redemption is the premise upon which our entire legal system is built.

Redemption gives convicted felons the right to vote, the right to work, the right to have a passport, and the right to fully participate as citizens once they’ve served their time. Redemption doesn’t mean you have to like the sinner or the ex-con. It just means you can’t legally continue punishing and persecuting him.

Lance is no convicted felon. If you don’t think he’s been punished, see above. If you’re still harboring resentment and anger, that’s understandable. But he’s not going anywhere, and I’d suggest that there’s a better way to deal with him than continually bludgeoning him for his transgressions.

It’s an old concept, actually. It’s called forgiveness.

Cranking up the PR machine

Lance has recently begun doing what he does best: Going on the offensive. Whether it’s calling Patrick Brady and chatting with him for an hour or unblocking Lesli Cohen and a bunch of other diehard Lance opponents, it’s clear that he has a plan in place and has begun to execute it.

What’s the plan?

The plan is to get back in front of the sports media and build Lance 3.0. This newest iteration is simple. Lance 3.0 is a…

  1. Survivor.
  2. Family man.
  3. World class athlete.
  4. Friend.

What will Lance 3.0 do? He will sell something. What will he sell? I don’t know. But I do know this: He won’t be setting up a pyramid scheme to defraud Medicare, or a criminal syndicate to assassinate journalists. Most likely, he’s got a plan that will let him earn a living as a speaker/athlete/patient advocate.

Is that so bad? How many other people get out of prison and see their mission in life as one dedicated to helping others? Mind you, I don’t know that that’s his plan, but what does he have left? And why is it contemptible for him to try and rebuild a career that’s been destroyed through his own mistakes?

Ultimately, though, does it really matter what his end game is? No.

What matters is you

A group of local riders were climbing Latigo Canyon Road yesterday, and guess who they met at the top? Barry Bonds.

Remember him?

He’s the guy who was held up as one of the most evil and crooked baseball players of all time, a guy who stole Hank Aaron’s record on the strength of drugs and lies. Today he’s a slim and fit bicycle rider.

When the gang ran into him on Latigo, no one cringed, or cursed him, or called him a scumbag doper. Instead, they mugged for the camera and posted photos on Facebook.

Why?

First, of course, is star power…and we are here in LA. Second, though, is the fact that Barry has paid for what he did, and he didn’t even go on Oprah and confess. We know that he was caught, that he’s been punished, and that now he’s just a dude on a bike who used to hit a lot of home runs. Our lives are too short to keep hating on a guy who’s been punished to the full extent that the system demanded, particularly since all he seems to do now is pedal around, show up at the occasional crit, and generally act like a normal dude.

We’re done with his crime, and so is he. Now we just want to say hello and ride our bikes.

What about Lance?

Lance is different from Barry because the latter earned hundreds of millions of dollars and wisely invested them over the course of a long career. Barry doesn’t have to work.

Lance has five kids, huge ongoing legal bills, and a lot of years left to live. It’s impossible that he’s got anywhere near the pile that Barry is sitting on, or even anything close to it. Unlike Barry, Lance has gotta work. Rather than pulling up the drawbridge and living inside the fort, Lance has got to get out and mingle in order to rebuild.

For people getting out of prison and living in halfway houses, it’s called “You have to get a job.”

Lance showed us that pro cycling is a corrupt freak show. Danilo di Luca confirmed yesterday that it still is. Nibali, Wiggins, Dave Brailsford, Chris Froome, Pat McQuaid, Hein Verbruggen, and USA Cycling reaffirm that anyone who thinks the sport is clean isn’t thinking very hard.

If you hate Lance because he “ruined the sport,” maybe it’s time YOU moved on. The pro sport is rotten. If you follow it and still bury your head in the jocks of its stars, there’s a problem all right, and the problem is with you. If you can watch Nibali repeatedly hit the gas in the snow at the end of the most grueling stage of the most grueling stage race while his competition is rolling over and dying on the slopes, you’re the one who needs to analyze my modification of this old saw: “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me over and over and over, and I’m a fucking moron who enjoys being fooled.”

As Billy Stone might put it, “And the dopers ruined your life as a Cat 4 masters athlete exactly how?”

Where’s it all going?

Now that Lance 1.0 and 2.0 have been airbrushed out of the history books, what’s wrong with giving 3.0 the same degree of redemption that should be afforded to axe murderers, tax cheats, misdemeanor DUI’s, and kids on grade probation in college? How is our agenda advanced by refusing to lay down arms, and instead insisting that he still be treated like the unrepentant, unpunished cheat that he was a year ago, when he’s repented and been punished?

Does it ennoble us to keep shrieking “Off with his head!” after his head has been offed, stuck on a pike, and paraded around his kids’ schoolyards? I think it does the opposite. It shows us up to be petty, vengeful dorks who actually think that pro cycling is so important it transcends common notions of justice and fair play.

Five years hence, ten years hence, Lance 3.0 will have been fully rebuilt. He’s that smart and a whole lot smarter, he’s that hard working, and he’s that motivated. He’s also got close to four million people on Twitter who want to know what he says and thinks, as well as five kids to feed, clothe, and put through college.

Most importantly, he’s not going anywhere. Do you want to be the wild-eyed crazy standing in the corner screaming, “But he doped! He cheated! He lied! He ruined my Cat 4 masters racing career!” long after he’s been punished and the rest of the world has moved on?

I don’t.

If the UCI and USA Cycling and WADA are done with his case, then I am, too. Keep clubbing at him if you want, but don’t expect me to join in. I’d rather go club some of the baby seals on next Tuesday’s NPR.

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