Monday, February 22, 2010

The Dog Days of February

February is the toughest month during Winter in New England. Snow, cold and ice are no longer a novelty and something "rad" to race cross in. Sure on a powder day in the woods in the right conditions it is incredible but the rest of the time it is a test of a riders resolve and sanity. Those that have to are in their basements logging in crazy trainer time so they will be ready to race in March. I refuse to do that. Luckily for me I am a cross racer no ifs, ands, or buts about it so it doesn't matter. I don't need to ride til March. But I love riding hence a tension is created between how miserable it is riding and the peril of if I don't ride how badly my mood will deteriorate to levels where I can't even stand myself.
My training has gone to Hell in a handbasket recently but I've had some great group rides. Frankly the group rides and social rides I've been on this winter have been some of the most enjoyable in my life. One thing that has come out of all this social networking is a conversation about the two American cyclists who should never be named. They are our cross to bear in US cycling right now. A black mark. A stain. And one of my good friends who I look up to is very clear on his thoughts on doping. Zero tolerance. You dope and you are persona non grata. And he is right that this shit has to stop.

But in all this Tyler and Floyd bullshit what has begun to percolate in my brain is why do we hate them so much? Is it because they were our heroes? And before they fell, they stood for something as American's we love so much in our athletes? Hardwork, grit, toughness, brashness, honor, and also loyalty. Remember when Hamilton forced Ulrich to wait for Armstrong when he crashed? So many memories of Tyler. But then they are all sullied because he is dirty. Same goes for Floyd.
But then I noticed a discussion about Pantani. Someone said they still loved Marco even though his legend is tainted with his doping. Like Hamilton and Landis Pantani was a trainwreck. Shit how much more of a trainwreck do you need to be that you kill yourself with coke after a career of killing yourself with dope? But it got me thinking. Why do we still revere some riders even if they are dirty but hate others for doping? Being on a Belgie-centric team the first name that comes to mind is Museeuw. Johan doped. He took epo. He was caught and admitted to it. His explanation as to why he doped was "I wanted to end my career in style."
Again the question I keep asking myself "what is it about Museeuw that he gets a pass while others don't?" Obviously a classics rider is different than a grand tour rider. Rasmussen's doping affected the whole tour. If Cadel didn't have to chase a doped to the gills Rasmussen all over every Col in France would Cadel have had more matches to actually have won the race over Contador? And this also raises an interesting side note. We hate Evans (who appears clean) we mock Lemond as some crazy old drunk uncle who cries wolf at the slightest hint of doping and yet we still accept dopers in our ranks. Why is that? I personally am a huge fan of Johan Museeuw and watch youtube videos of his Paris-Roubaix rides constantly. While the epo helped him at the end of his career you could be doped to the gills and still not win P-R. Look at last year's race. Riders were crashing out in every turn. Boonen knows how to ride Paris Roubaix others not so much. It is skill and panache over sheer fitness and speed.

I personally don't have the answer to this nagging debate that keeps going round and round my head. Floyd and Tyler are trainwrecks. Frankly they both disgust me. Ricardo Ricco probably makes me more sick than all of them combined. Is it just Americans who want to put our Heroes so far up on a pedestal that when they fall we just want to crucify them? I am not asserting that either Tyler or Floyd deserve our sympathy, understanding or forgiveness.

It could be perhaps that Europeans (other than Italians seemingly) admit their guilt and take ownership of their failures. Remember David Millar? That is how you show you are contrite. You lose your shit, go on a drinking bender, come up for air and never let anyone forget you sinned but then you fly straight. People love you for that. But maybe the American mindset can't fathom that.

It had to be somebody else's fault we took the drugs. It was our tough life. We needed to get back into racing shape after an injury. Blah, blah, blah. No more excuses. I don't want to hear about therapy, addictions, etc. Face the music. Ride clean. Turn yourself inside out because you want it more than the other guy. So Museeuw? I will still revere him. My heroes don't need to be saints. Its not a hate the sin not the sinner bs either. Maybe I am wrong. Maybe its why I love sprinters and cross racers. Dope culture just doesn't seem as prevalent there. Do I care if Tomeke wants to snort coke with his 16 year old socialite girlfriend right before the Spring Classics? I don't think its a good lifestyle choice and a waste of talent but he's sure not getting a performance advantage out of it.

1 comment:

  1. Floyd and Tyler stand out as ubder-douches due to their indignation and denial in the face of a preponderance of evidence. It all has to do with our impression of the cyclists to begin with and the spin they, and the media put on their getting busted.

    These guys didn't kill anyone, they didn't steal anyone's retirement money, they didn't even hurt anything besides some feelings (of the fans and the riders they bested while juiced), they just wanted to ride their bikes fast; they're not pure evil.

    What's my point? I'm not sure. I guess forgiveness for dopers is possible...conditionally.