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.

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