Ahhhh the days of Summer when Pageviews for newspaper websites begin their swift decline into the toilet. I can’t explain this, never could when I worked for one of the nations largest news and information publishers. This was simply the cycle of news, information audience and consumption. But, when I see opinion pieces like this that give a voice to the public without really adding to the conversation I think “There’s a publisher who is chumming the water for page views.” Really, it doesn’t add anything to the motorist & cyclist equation … just sparks comments. The Post-Gazette should be doing more to create conversation. That’s where they’ve failed by igniting a poorly structured community discussion.
Hey … I’m biting the chum right now posting this !!!
I wrote this several months back when the original Lance Armstrong stuff started flying. I shared it with a few folks. In light of Johan’s Devil statement in the past 24 hours I figured I’d update it a bit & throw it up. It all started as I watched ‘Usual Suspects’ and mentioned the quote below to a friend. What follows is the quote and the updated bit.
"The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist." - The Usual Suspects
While the doping plays out in our headlines daily I mentioned the above quote and somebody said “yeah Lance is the Devil!”
I replied “nope”
"Nope not Johan"
I replied “If we apply that idea (one of the the devil) it has to be taken in the context of not seven tour wins. Nor can we administer it to a coach. Don’t get me wrong, they are the actionable party and complicit thus shouldn’t be released from guilt. In this instance the devil isn’t even doping. It’s the culture of success. Winning outside of your ability and using a tool unsanctioned is cheating. This was not everyone but as we are now seeing … it was many.”
"Cycling has been this way for a long, long time. Change the culture, eviscerate it if you want it clean. But, don’t pretend the dark culture that taints the pursuit of success will no longer exist because the biggest players are busted. If we learn anything from the drug trade it’s that when one dealer goes down - five are laying in wait to take their place. Because the devil isn’t the rider, it’s the aggregate. It’s them the media who celebrates the wins and the dope busts with ad revenue, it’s the equipment manufacturer who if given the opportunity would they really dethrone their champion? And, it’s the riders and coaches who know they thin gray line of success can often be bridged by a pharmaceutical remedy. Shit, the devil is us as we’ve managed to convince ourselves that it’s not systemic each time a major bust goes down. “It will get clean” we cry! But the reality the pros using the dope are just a symptom of the overall disease.”
"So apply this to anyone DiLuca, Lance, Johan, any of those complicit in the act. Should they be punished? Damn straight. Should dopers continue to be busted and tested? Damn straight. But, how do we exorcise this burden carried by cycling? If you can explain to me how we can prevent that then I won’t worry about the devil anymore. Because the devil, man, he’s fucking real."
Ruth Winder (Vanderkitten) recently won the best young rider category at the Parx Casino Philly Cycling Classic. Ruth, only 19, came in 15th overall in Philly, and her performance over the last year, which includes a win at the legendary Tour of Sommerville, earned her an invite to race with the US National team at the womens Giro later this summer. Winder started racing in 2008 and quickly rose to prominence with a victory at US Nationals in Bend Or. Since then Winder has steadily grown her palmares under the guidance of Olympian Harvey Nitz. Winder is currently putting in big miles in Boulder Colorado as she prepares for the Giro and talks training, racing, and her Olympic aspirations with Primetime host Ted Burns.
The ride was a good ride. The kind where you ride to the ride, ride hard and then ride home. These rides are good especially as the dog days of summer loom. A little extra volume in the training log and little more time in the saddle keeps the head clear and the eyes open. But, the best part of the ride last week ? I met a guy named Bob and was forced to do a little cycling advocacy.
You see that Thursday night ride wrapped through a suburban neighborhood as it always does. The ride breaks into four to five individual rides. The top of the food chain “strong riders” go on the #1 level and it cascades in skill, fitness, ability, desire to go hard, etc. But, it’s cool! there’s a ride for everyone. that night as my group mingled with the #1 group going to some arbitrary sprint line the stronger guys managed to latch onto the back of a mid-size SUV and attempted to motor pace the unknowing drivers car. I sat up and watched while thinking a call to 911 might just happen in the very near future.
The driver slowed down, the riders on his bumper shouted “go faster”, the driver pulled off. The others leaned back into their ride. I continued to soft pedal watching this strange scenario play out and realized my rear wheel was going flat. No big deal, tire change time. The group rolled away and I went to work. As I was pulling the wheel off I noticed a rather large gentleman make his way towards me. In my head I had a feeling how it would go. Unfortunately my expectations were met.
He calmly said “Excuse me sir”
I recognized his car and replied “Yes, sir?”
And then he raised his voice “What the hell do you think you are doing?”
I calmly replied “Sir, I saw what happened and I’m sure it was unsettling …let me apologize”
And then he laid into me yelling, shouting, dropping f-bombs.
I simply replied each time “I understand your frustration sir and I’m sorry”
But, what really resonated was the “this is my neighborhood and you guys are breaking the speed limit” Which in this particular instance was true. Now, could he have maybe yelled a little less? Sure, but I understand where the guy is coming from. I live on a street that’s used as cut through and one of my biggest fears is somebody getting hit by a car going 15-30 mph over the speed limit. So, once he began to slow things down and felt he was heard I introduced myself.
I said “First up, my name is Jon. What’s your name?’”
He replied “Bob, I’m Bob”
Again I said “Bob, let me apologize. You’re right it’s stupid”
We talked a little more and several ride participants rolled by and added to the conversation promising to talk to the riders who got on his bumper. In reality it was a really dumb move and Bob had every right to be frustrated.
I thought more than once as he would calm down and then wind back up “this guy might hit me.” But, I understand his frustration. Things got weird when he commented “I’m really connected to the Fairfax county police. That’s not a threat. I’m just telling you”. I offered him my cell and phone number. Strangely he didn’t want to discuss contact information. Still not sure what to make of that. I chalk it up to frustration and anger.
Hopefully he felt like he was heard. What I took away was that we can make all the noise we want about cycling advocacy and “share the road” but we also have to ensure we aren’t doing damage by acting like a group of jackasses who think motor pacing is fine for some dude who has no idea. So, don’t be a jackass.