Leading by bad example, or, “A Prayer for Neal Rogers”

March 2, 2015 § 61 Comments

I could only pedal slowly, my jaw scraping the tarmac as I rolled along, listening to the story. In brief, an up-and-coming youngster had chosen the wrong wheel with half a lap to go. The guy he was counting on to drag him to victory sat up, which made sense because he’d been out in a two-man breakaway for the last two laps, had been caught by a field averaging 30 mph for the entire race, and didn’t have the legs to sprint.

Junior, stuck on the wrong wheel, tried to come around when Mr. Deliverance stopped pedaling, but the train had already left the station.

To demonstrate his unhappiness with the actions of the lead-out man who wasn’t even on his team, Junior stormed off, threw himself into his dad’s car, locked the doors, and pouted. Fumble-futz dad sheepishly collected the gear, then went over to Junior’s teammates and began making excuses for Junior’s bad performance–not Junior’s dramatic performance of “Hamlet, Prince of Pout,” but his dramatic failure to seal the win.

There were so many things wrong with this story. First, why was a 19-year-old at a P/1/2 bike race in February? Didn’t he have coursework at college he was supposed to study over the weekend, and weren’t midterms around the corner? Second, why was the father of a grown man even at the bike race? Aren’t normal parents embarrassed by adult children who race bikes? Third, why was his father making excuses to the team? And fourth, why hadn’t the dad jerked Junior out of the car by the scruff of his neck and said something along the lines of “If you ever lock me out again I’ll kick your snotty little fucking ass and make you walk home, after I sell your stupid fucking bike for a tank of gas.”

The answer to all these questions is complex, but it boils down to “Mommas, don’t let your babies grow up to be bike racers.” Because if you do, chances are good that they’ll always be babies.

Junior’s story isn’t the first one I’ve heard from this trove of tales from the failed parenting vault. Somewhere along the way someone forgot to tell their son that bike racing, unless pursued as a hobby, is a dead end. Over the years, excepting Lance Armstrong and Marco Vermeij, I’ve never seen a kid being “groomed for the pros” who actually made it as a Pro Tour rider or even anything close. What I’ve seen are rabid parents throwing money and pressure on kids, teaching them to spend their time cycling instead of getting good grades, and winding up with almost-good-enough-but-not-quite long term deadbeats. I’ve seen a lot of that.

Unlike other pro sports, where the chance of success is also infinitesimal but the rewards are at least astronomical if you hit the jackpot, the biggest winners in pro cycling are still chumps compared to the biggest earners in soccer, basketball, and baseball. The reason is that sponsors won’t go near cycling at the pro level, and their avoidance of the sport is only partially related to the structure of teams and the UCI.

Despite the fact that the “industry” is worth billions–when’s the last time you saw a Local Basketball Shop–the money in cycling is at the retail level, not the pro level. And one reason the pro level is devoid of meaningful money is because it cannot extricate itself from its association with doping. After an entire history of pretending that drugs weren’t a problem and cheerleading the Lance & Floyd + Trek & Oakley show, VeloNews has now taken the opposite tack: Ensuring that no one will ever forget the sport’s sordid past and, what’s worse, its sordid present.

Last night Neal Rogers, the VeloNews editor, posted a link on his Twitter account to an article written by Michele Ferrari. The article estimates Chris Froome’s VAM and “stratospheric” w/kg in a recent race, and insinuates the obvious: Froome is doped to the gills. Rogers’s posting adds a level of insinuation onto Ferrari’s insinuation: If anyone should know about stratospheric levels of cheating, it’s Michele.

Apparently Rogers, with over 15,000 Twitter followers and a venerable position in one of the most globally influential cycling rags, sees nothing wrong with linking to a web site that offers coaching services by an unrepentant cheater who’s been banned from cycling for life and who was the mastermind behind Armstrong’s drug-enhanced Tour victories. When questioned about promoting Ferrari on Twitter, Rogers shrugged it off and aggressively defended a guy who is more than a cancer: The advocacy and use of EPO in its early stages led to the death of numerous young riders.

Instead, Rogers doubled down, saying that Ferrari is “highly intelligent and scientifically minded” and his status “doesn’t mean we shouldn’t listen to him, though. End of the day, he’s a number cruncher.”

And there you have it. Rogers couldn’t care less about Ferrari’s role in the exploitation of young athletes, his lifetime sanction for cheating, or the fact that one of the worst faces in cycling is now selling his services on the Internet to any and all comers. At the end of the day he’s a number cruncher, a harmless old fellow with wire-rimmed spectacles doing complex math for the benefit of all the innumerates out there.

No, Neal, you have it exactly wrong. At the end of the day Ferrari is a liar, a cheat, and an evil person who is so bad for the sport you supposedly promote that he had been banned from it for life. It’s like saying that at the end of the day “Dr. Mengele was just a scientist.” In fact, the Nazi researchers — like Dr. Ferrari — weren’t simply “highly intelligent and scientifically minded” people. They were highly intelligent and scientifically minded people who used their high intelligence and science to harm people, break laws, and blithely pretend that it was okay.

As a result, you, Neal, should be really careful about not simply shrugging off Ferrari’s misdeeds as you actively promote him on your Twitter feed. Ferrari is a bad dude and you’ve given him your stamp of authority, even though you temper it with feeble protests about his “questionable ethics.”

Can you imagine the NFL promoting Lyle Alzado’s dealer, or MLB doing a promo link to the website of Balco and Victor Conte? Of course not, because the sponsors would raise holy hell.

And therein lies one of the intractable problems faced by kids who enter the sport, a problem not limited to pouting brats and their fumbling, apologetic, pathetic parents: The worst examples still abound at the very highest levels of cycling journalism which, after all these years, is still fanboy writing in its most supplicating form.

On the bright side, discerning parents will see positions like those taken by Rogers and realize what a joke the sport is at the Pro Tour level, and will encourage their kids to take another AP calculus class rather than sign up for another four-corner crit in Hooterville. And that is progress.

END

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David Anthony: A hero for our times

August 1, 2012 § 41 Comments

It’s simple. If you’re a grown man, and you’re shaving your legs, and you’re not a professional athlete or in the porn business, then you have a problem. The only question is “How bad is it?”

By now you MUST have heard about David Anthony, star of the New York Times, feature stud on VeloNews, zeitgeist at BikedoucheNYC, the 42 y/o Cat 2 full-on HGH and EPO doper who got popped at a fucking gran fondo in New York. If you haven’t, you should take the time to read these stories. They get the facts pretty much right, but they all miss the point completely.

David Anthony is a hero. Actually, he’s a king. The King of Wankers. The greatest wanker of our time, if not of all time.

Tawdry tales of a twit’s terrible trajectory

It’s incredible what Anthony achieved in the space of little more than three brief years. He went from middle aged Cat 5 neo-wanker to all-in Cat 2 wanker. Injecting EPO into his belly fat. Shearing 20 pounds off his 160-lb frame. Sleeping and whacking off in an oxygen tent. Pouring money into the pockets of private coaches who would analyze his power files, send him e-pats on the back, and stoke the raging fire of his drug-crazed frenzy. He left his starter dork club and moved up to racing with a big team, aptly named “Comedy Central.”

We can assume he got the bro deal on his frame as he blew a grand a month on drugs, spent his spare time in a wind tunnel, and notched some huge results, culminating in a 16th place after upgrading to Cat 2. Sixteenth place. And before you snicker and howl, how many 16th places have you ever gotten in a Cat 2 race?

Then it all unraveled. Busted at a lame-ass gran fondo, surrounded by hairy-legged freds and nice ladies who wanted to “do their first century,” he got booted from his team (losing the bro deal, no doubt), was banned by USA Cycling for two years, and worst of all became the object of ridicule in the lowest and filthiest and most depraved circle of hell, otherwise known as the online bicycle forum where anonymous people with handles like “Big Hammer” and “Wattmaster” pass judgment on real people they’d be afraid to say “Hello” to in real life.

After confessing, apologizing, revealing the drug trail’s intricacies to USADA, and displaying the kind of remorse that is never, ever, ever, ever seen by pro athletes, politicians, or people who shoot up movie theaters for fun, karma revealed the true cunty nature of her awful self and subjected him to a bike crash in which he broke his leg in three places and may never cycle again. He now walks with a fucking cane.

This boy went all in, and he went all down. The only thing that could have made his undoing more complete might have been an arrest for public masturbation or the discovery of  unpaid child support bills. It’s not stated in any of the interviews, but he sounds single, so in addition to all the misery and public opprobrium, he also gets to be alone.

Put yourself in his shoes for a couple of minutes. Done? Now that’s some heavy shit.

I like my sinners covered in sin

Although you’ve become pariah non grata in the BikedoucheNYC scene, dude, you’re way fucking welcome on any of my rides. You are badass. You took what we all do and maxed out the mental credit card. You went to a place that lots of other idiots go, but few return from in such a shattered, broken heap. You don’t have battle scars, you have been mortally wounded and somehow survived.

And to top it off, you have a conscience. It is warped, fucked up, and was clearly out of commission for a period of years, but you still have one, and it’s come to the fore. You’ve not only confessed, you’ve repented. You are the reason we believe in justice, in the hope that people can do stupid things, be punished, and then be better people.

See, David, buddy, you’re not that bad. You got involved in cycling from the asshole end rather than from the sweet end. It could happen to anyone, and it does. The asshole end is the one that looks down on people for being slow, or fat, or clumsy. It’s the end that sneers at freds and wankettes because their lives have other trajectories, other priorities, other limitations, or other blessings that supersede racing a $10k bike around an office park on Sunday.

Once you climbed into the warty anus, where there are winners and everyone else is shit, you did the logical thing: you played to win. Unfortunately, you had enough early success to make the craziness seem real. If a 5 then a 4, if a 3 then a 2, so maybe one day a 1? Then, perhaps…

Yep, you should have kept counting, because the next number in that progression is “0.”

The crazies are all around us

Dave, your mistake happens to lots of pudgy, middle-aged bike racers. You’re hardly unique. You’ve been unathletic all your life, you’ve got the first stench of mortality firmly wedged in your nostrils (and it’s a smell that only gets stronger with each passing year), and you got involved in something that seemed to reverse the clock. Your body and mind are capable of so much, and it’s an incredible feeling, especially when you’re putting the wood to some snot-nosed punk twenty years your junior. Robin Williams fell into the Kook-Aid vat, so you’re in smart and good company.

The sweet end of cycling is not there, though. The sweet end is the end where the fun is the turning of the pedals and the admixture of people you meet on the bike. The sweet end is the one that whispers “We’re still dying, but what a happy journey it will be to the grave.”

The sweet end never lies to you, either. If you’re religious, it heightens your appreciation of life as you prepare for eternity with hot coals up your ass or eternity listening to bad gospel music. If you believe that this is all we get, cycling intensifies these few microseconds before we’re blasted back into nothingness for a zillion trillion eternities.

Come back to us, buddy

Go ahead and heal up your leg. Get some good PT. Make your physical recovery the keystone to your mental recovery. Hang onto one machine and sell all your extra bikes and TT shit on Ebay (if you’ve got Di2, I’m actually in the market for some if you can cut me a bro deal).

Then throw a leg back over and you’ll see that cunty karma has a sweet side as well. The bike will always welcome you back. If the BikedouchesNYC insist on giving you the stinkeye, fuck them. Find a group who doesn’t care and who rides for fun…fun, of course, meaning weekly beatdowns without having to pay an entry fee.

Get into the groove of riding not for a purpose, but because you can. And give me a shout the next time you’re in California. We’ll go for a pedal and laugh at the wankers, over whom, by the way, you will forever be king.

Wankmeister bids adieu

March 1, 2012 § 14 Comments

Well, it has been a fun 114 posts in the blogosphere, but apparently success has caught up with me. I applied for the job as managing editor at VeloNews.com in Boulder, Colorado, and was hired as of this morning. One condition of my new gig is that I can’t blog any more independently. This blog has received over sixteen million hits since it began little more than a year ago. What a tribute from the handful of slackers who check over and over to see if they’ve been mentioned, and whose places of employment don’t yet have SonicFirewall.

I thought it might be interesting for my half-dozen or so readers to see my job application and how I completed it as a sort of future reference, as the job will likely be vacant again soon.

  1. The requirement: Velo Magazine is seeking a managing editor. This is a full-time, salaried position with benefits, available immediately, based in Boulder, Colorado. My response: Sign me up but I gotta stay here in SoCal, dood. Can you move your offices and stuff out here? Boulder’s a shithole. Who wants to live in a place named after a rock? I mean Im sure its nice and all.
  2. The requirement: Candidates must have well-established experience in writing, editing, formatting and timely project management, as well as a firm understanding of all aspects of the sport of professional cycling — road, mountain, cyclocross and track. My response: I’m a gud ritter and spelchekker and got the biking shit down, bro.  And here’s what I know, yo: Road is for MEN, mountain is for PUSSIES, ‘cross (not “cyclocross,” ya dooshheads) is for HARDMEN, track aint a sport unless you mean NASCAR and Im all over that shit.
  3. The requirement: Working closely with the editor-in-chief, the managing editor is responsible for the coordination, organization, control and completion of all aspects of editorial production, from raw material to finished publication, by maintaining effective communication among the editorial, design, production and ad sales departments. My response: Nobody fukkin tells me what to do.
  4. The requirement: Minimum skills required include a B.A. or advanced degree in journalism or related field, or equivalent work experience and working knowledge of Word, Excel and InCopy. My response: “Journalism” aint no fukkin “field” its a job description for dooshheads who want free swag in exchange for bullshit stories. I’m all in, dood. I am very nollegible about Words. Plus I Excel to. I can do everything In Copies if you show me how to work the fukkin machine but dont I get a couple hot secretaries for that shit?
  5. The requirement: Essential skills include project management, attention to detail, communication, creativity, people skills, multitasking and decision making, all within a deadline-driven environment. My response: Yah, detail shit, that’s me, cross every fukkin i and dot ever fukkin t you ever saw. Communication? Fuckin-a I will tell it like it is. Creativity, check. I can make shit up like nobodys busness. People skilz: chicks dig me, for sure. Multiasking? I can ask for all kinds of shit–“gimme another fuckin beer now”–cool huh? Decision making–fuckin’ a I am The Decider type guy. Beer or wine? Fukkin-a beer every time, DECIDED. Deadlines, check. They dont call me Ol’ Giterdone for nothin.
  6. The requirement: In addition, the ideal candidate is intimately familiar with major cycling acronyms/abbreviations. My response: What is this  fukkin spel test or a mans job? UCI (United Cigarettes International), USAC (Underwater Society of Ass Kikkers), ASO (You need an ‘l’ in there, dooshheads, its a word, ‘also,’ duh), WADA (thats what you blow, dude, gross, this better not be some porn gig), NCCA (National Cigarette Checkers Assn), IMBA (In My Badass Apinion), HRM (Hot Rod Magazine), LBS (Lance & Betsy Showdown), TT (Tough Titty), KPH (I dont know this one, happy with your little bitch ‘gotcha’ crap now?), OTB (Oklahoma Turd Blossom), JRA (Jerks, Rags & Assholes), and, of course, DFL (Dont Forget the Lube).
  7. The requirement: The ideal candidate will be able to spell names like Frischknecht, Maaskant and Vinokourov from memory. My response: Why the fukk I gotta remembeer it if you just speled it for me?
  8. The requirement: The ideal candidate can list off every winner of the last 20 Tours de France. My response: What in the fukk are you talking about?
  9. The requirement: The ideal candidate is able to fix a flat tire in under 10 minutes, using only tire levers and a mini-pump. My response: The ideal chick is a 10 stripper who owns a liquor store and turns into a pizza at midnight, but good luck with that shit, too.
  10. The requirement: One last thing — a sense of humor always helps. My response: If I wnated to work with a bunch of fukkin clowns Id join the fukkin zoo.

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