September 25, 2012 § 33 Comments
I hate to say it, but “Rough Ride” by Paul Kimmage isn’t a particularly well written book. It’s rough, slogging, workmanlike prose, stuff you have to pound your way through with a fair amount of effort and an even fairer grasp of the subject he’s writing about in order to appreciate.
As a domestique, that makes sense. He was a rough, slogging, workmanlike rider who fetched, carried, chased, and did his labors before falling off the pace and letting the leaders go about their business of winning races and glory. Raised his whole life to race bikes, it’s a bit unfair to expect that he’d be a master storyteller as well.
Some books, though, make their mark not because of the stylish turn of phrase, but because they write about the raw, bleeding chunks of hard-to-digest truth. In 2012, Kimmage’s treatment of doping in the peloton reads like a tame little bedtime tale, but at the time it sent cracks and shudders down into the bedrock foundations of the sport. Kimmage talked about drugs and he admitted to being a doper.
The truth hurts
In Kimmage’s case, the person who mostly got hurt by the truth was him. Icons like Stephen Roche, and compatriots like Pat McQuaid let it be known that they considered him a liar and a loser and a cheat. Kimmage, so the blowback went, took drugs because he didn’t have the ability to compete fairly with legitimate athletes. He was a whiner who learned that the toughest of sports had no room for quitters and cheaters like him. He became a pariah of sorts among the pro peloton, and ultimately the bane of the UCI and Lance.
In his methodical, plodding, workmanlike, dogged, domestique fashion, Kimmage refused to back down from his allegations of drugs and cheating in this dirty and crooked sport. While fanboy rags like Bicycling and VeloNews continued to praise the miracles of the drug cheats, Kimmage, along with David Walsh and a handful of others, relentlessly spoke truth–if not to power, at least to the stooges running the show.
When Floyd Landis burst the dam, Kimmage took the opportunity to hear Landis confirm what had long been suspected by those who followed pro cycling. A conspiracy had existed to cover up positive drug tests; the highest levels of the UCI were complicit; pro cycling was a meat market of drugs, cheats, and lies.
Why I hate cycling causes
I care zip what happens to pro cycling, to the UCI, or to the people/businesses/manufacturers/media who believe it’s their job to promote and publicize a crooked sport without trying to clean it up. The world has so many real problems that matter, and pro cycling is such a niche within a crevice inside a microcosm that the shenanigans of a few weasels is largely meaningless.
Clean up pro cycling? I’d be better served cleaning up my room.
Likewise, Kimmage of all people knew what he was getting into when he chose to continue his career as a cycling journalist. He could have returned to Ireland and done something else…anything else.
Instead, he chose to be the gadfly, to reveal the corruption, and to keep stinging even when the fat and powerful slow-moving hand came swinging his way. That he’s now getting squashed is exactly what anyone could have predicted. You swim in the septic tank, you’re gonna bump into turds.
Why we have an obligation to help him
Kimmage has now been sued by Pat McQuaid and Hein Verbruggen in a vindictive lawsuit designed to punish him for vigorously pursuing the truth. RKP and Charles Pelkey lay out the hideousness of it in brutal detail.
Whether it’s good for cycling or bad for cycling; whether the UCI have cycling’s best interests at heart are or its worst; whether Kimmage is a dope or a great journalist; whether cycling is an important sport or a weird fetish; whether you like Kimmage’s prose or think it sucks…whether any of these things and more, we have a duty to help this guy out for a very simple reason:
No person, for pursuing any truth in any sphere in any degree, should be persecuted for that pursuit without those who believe in freedom of speech coming to his aid.
The lead has been taken by people who believe in cycling (I don’t) and who believe in free speech. Cyclismas, NYVelocity…people who write and think and promote and criticize and agitate about bikes for a living have said that if Kimmage gets the shaft, he won’t get it standing alone.
This isn’t about cycling. It’s about whether or not you’ll defend free speech with the vigor that you claim to respect it.
To me, Kimmage’s fight is worth $25.00 in this first round. If everyone who professes to believe in the free pursuit of truth also thought it was worth twenty-five bucks, Kimmage would be able to buy the entire UCI and every pro team with the proceeds of his defense fund. For those who think a few bucks don’t matter, you’re wrong. Kimmage has been empowered as a result. He’s gone from glumly contemplating a default to actively thinking of a legitimate legal game plan.
Maybe he’ll quit and go home without contesting the suit, but it won’t be for lack of moral or financial support. Maybe he’ll pick up the lance and run it through the nutsacks of Verbruggen and McQuaid, shriveled and hidden though they may be. Maybe he’ll fight and lose, but do justice to free speech in the process. And maybe, just maybe, he’ll fight and win and buy his first celebratory beer with the $5 you donated.
You want a fucking legacy? That’s a legacy.
September 8, 2012 § 16 Comments
After the Chicago Marathon today rejected the 2012 entry application of seven-time Tour de France champion strippee Lance Armstrong, the Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Austin, Texas, announced that preschoolers Olivia Marie Armstrong (2), and Maxwell Edward Armstrong (3) would be expelled from the church school, effective immediately.
Reverend Bollixy Snead, acting principal of the preschool, announced the institution’s unprecedented step at a press conference held on the steps of the state capitol building. “The Chicago Marathon, sanctioned by U.S.A. Track and Field, is obligated to abide by the anti-doping codes enforced by WADA, USADA, and NASA,” said Reverend Snead. “We felt that as a precautionary measure our church should follow suit. He appears to be a very dangerous man.”
Bewildered classmates speak to national media
Tubby Williams, a classmate and best friend of Maxwell, or “Max,” burst into tears when he heard that he would no longer be able to sit next to his best friend. “But he’s my best fwiend!” wailed Mr. Williams.
Georgina Pettigrew, one of Olivia’s colleagues in the Totties & Potties after-school toilet training class, was similarly distraught. “We was gived a peanut M&M if we poopied in the potty!” she complained. “I wike the gween ones!”
Doping issue polarizes preschooler parents
Disgraced dean of the UT School of Law Larry Sager, whose son Knuckles attends Good Shepherd, was incredulous. “Okay, so they boot him out of some marathon in a freezing Midwestern city that no one lives in unless they have to. I get that. But kicking the tykes out of preschool? It’s guilt by association. They haven’t even started doping yet.”
Mildred Bulges, another parent, sharply disagreed. “Lance Armstrong is a murderer. I read on a Twitter blog Facebook social media thingy that he’s killed more people than Idi Amin. And you know what’s worse? He ruined that poor woman Betsy Andeu’s whole life. Just ruined it.”
A brief scuffle broke out when another parent pointed out that Andreu’s life was ruined long before her battle with Armstrong, as evidenced by the fact that she was already married to a professional cyclist. Said Dave Snibblington, whose son Biffy enjoyed chocolate milk breaks with Maxwell, “That broad married a pro cyclist. How much more of a fucked up life could she have? Come on.”
Cycling journalists weigh in on controversy
Bill Strickland, former Armstrong fanboy and current nuanced reporter of the inimitable complexity of life and cheating, was reached at his ashram and pilates retreat. “Expelling the children?” he asked. “Very gray. Fifty shades of gray, at least.” A muffled fapping sound was heard while he spoke.
Rupert Guinness, former Armstrong fanboy-turned-critic-once-everyone-else-turned-critic, spoke to PVCycling from his local pub. “Who? What? Fuck, I don’t know. Who cares? What does everyone else say I should think?”
Samuel Abt, disinterred from the local cemetery, was momentarily confused when informed of Armstrong’s current status as Tour de France champion strippee. “Well, of course he fooled me, like he fooled everyone. Fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.”
Longtime critics of Armstrong David Walsh and Paul Kimmage were reached as they worked their way through the seventy-fifth case of champagne since the USADA decision to strip Armstrong of everything, including his underwear. “‘E’s a murdrer!” roared Kimmage. “A fookin’ murdrer! E’s worse ‘n Stalin ‘n Hitler ‘n Pol Pot ‘n Victoria Principal all rolled into one bloody sausage! E’s killed our byootiful sport! Killed it! An’ his children an’ their children and their children ’til the bloody end of time should bear the mark, aye, the mark of the scarlet beastie cheater doper meanie!”
Walsh, although clearly supportive of the preschool’s decision, was more circumspect. “Clearly, his children are a danger to society simply by having his DNA, not to mention associating with him around the dinner table and such. As I’ve been telling people from day one, the man’s a cheat, but did they listen? Oh, no! ‘Walsh is a crank!’ they said. ‘Walsh is batty!’ they said. ‘Walsh doesn’t wear clean underwear!’ they said. Well, what are they saying now? Eh? Eh? Eh?”
Armstrong has until September 8 to appeal the expulsion. His legal team has indicated they are reviewing their options. According to spokesman Mark Fabiani, “Lance is a fighter. He fought cancer. He fought doping. He fought the Tour. He fought the French. He fought USADA. He knows he won those tours. His competitors know who won those tours. His teammates know who injected those blood bags. Lance’s children have never failed a test. Except that one ABC quiz they sprung on Max last week. And we got that anulled because he had a note from his mom.”