Thursday, February 23, 2012
Friday, February 17, 2012
One thing i have watched with interest, as the cult of cycling grows in melbourne and abroad, is the obsession over doping in professional cycling, both now and in the past. Since the Festina affair in 1998, widespread doping has been suspected and investigated a great deal in all facets of professional cycling. In the past ten years or so, it has become de rigeur to lambast the offending cyclists as cheats, frauds, bad role models, destroyers of the sport, etc. etc.
Which really upsets me. The current generation of average, typical cycling fans are people who discovered cycling maybe, say, three to four years ago. They ride a bit, maybe they race a bit. They watch the Tour avidly and, hell, maybe they even watch the Giro, cuddled up to a blanket, in the dead of night. They probably watch the Roobaix with their mates, and yell loudly at the tv when something happens.
And here's what gets me. These are the people, when some of the superstars of the peleton are exposed as having used performance enhancing drugs, are literally calling for these rider's blood, as having destroyed their sacred sport which they have followed for, like, at least 18 months.
It's the culture of, as Gene's socks say, "Doper's Suck". There is once chance, and once chance only. An allegation, with no shred of proof is enough now for an elite athlete's reputation to be in tatters, legions of Freds calling for his public execution, for daring to try and cheat the nobility of suffering.
I can't speak for the current peleton, but it's clear that up until a few years ago, everyone in the professional cycling circuit was using performance enhancing drugs. If you wanted to win, to beat others, that's what you had to do. No doubt a lot of racers still do it. Maybe all of them do.
And that's the other thing. Do we really believe that these people enjoy it? Do we think that these people enjoy having to take a substance to make it possible for the years of their legitimate hard work to be worth anything? It's not as if i could take EPO and suddenly win the Vuelta. I would still suck. I just might suck a bit less. All of these athletes have doped because everyone else is doping and, to have a level playing field, or a chance, you gotta do the dirty too.
This isn't some few sly bastards taking advantage of suckers, this is a systematic part of training and racing, in order to achieve what the whole damn thing is about: namely winning.
And yet these people who wouldn't know Indurain from Anquetil, talk about Pantani as being a filthy cheat, a fraud, or Ullrich as having been a secondary rider. Just quietly, these riders were some of the best the world has ever seen They both doped. It doesn't remove a shred of the legitimacy of their wins, their integrity, or their way of racing. In some ways, its incredibly depressing. Imagining a bunch of skinny dudes taking stupid risks in lonely team buses, just so they can even compete at the level necessary to do the thing they love.
So to the collective witch hunters i say this: reckon it was a coincidence that Stuart O'Grady started shaving his entire body a few months before he won Paris Roobaix? No, of course it wasn't. He wanted to make sure that he didn't have any hair samples. Does it make him a dick? No, it makes him human: as someone who wanted to be competitive in a field of people who were do doubt taking the same risks to get an edge. Would we abandon him collectively if it ever came out that he was taking something? Probably.
As some famous cyclists once said: you don't win the tour on mineral water. Or something like that. Cycling, and more specifically, the grand tours, are gargantuan endeavours for the human body and the human mind. We take all sorts of advantages that are allowed, like better bikes, better nutrition, better science, better budget, so we can race better. But take an illegal performance enhancer, and suddenly you're a monster.
But maybe, just maybe, all you're trying to do is do the thing you always loved to do as best you can. Hell, if that means competing with people who are taking shortcuts, you'll fucking well take the same shortcuts. Shit, it's only fair.
Please excuse fucking Creed. It's great footage though. Mute, and play this instead:
Thursday, February 16, 2012
Ya know, talking to my mate Teagan today, I realised something, as she talked about some shit going on in her life.
There are a fuckload of male punks who don't listen to women, despite the music they listen to, and the politics they claim to subscribe to.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
So i got really excited for crits this arvo. I had my break away plan ready to go, felt a million bucks, and was ready to crush skulls.
But it was cancelled.
I hate cancelled races. You don't realise to what extent you ready yourself for the race in the hours prior. Suddenly being told that all that nervous energy is for nothing, is kinda difficult.
Talking to Sime just now he mentioned his racer mate Fergus who, prior to going to work at 11, fit in a cool 140 km training ride.
Suddenly, i felt like a joke.
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
For reasons that i cannot fathom, I can't stop thinking about the one hit wonders of late 1999.
Something about that year keeps coming back to me as being somehow significant in some way. Maybe it was when i started becoming more aware of the wider world, or maybe it was the year i got my first pair of cord cargo shorts.
On the face of things, there was nothing really that interesting about the year itself, other than having moved to a new school at the beginning of that year.
Whatever it is, that late 90s vibe, that has come to define my 'tweens' keeps cropping up as something that i think about, and as i mentioned in a past blog, it's the shit music that has come to remind me of that time of my life.
Having moved to Italy a coupla years later (for the second time), whereupon my outlook on life drastically changed, the late 90s have perhaps come to define a time when i can recall thinking differently to how i do now.
Anyway, here are the songs that won't go the fuck away, and which remind me of grade four, having a chain wallet (first wallet), american teen movie humour, Napster and, even more inexplicably, Kate Matthew's smile:
Thursday, February 9, 2012
The other morning i was riding my bike, something i tend to to a little bit, when i started thinking about stuff.
I've been riding by myself a lot lately (which is a good thing to learn how to do), meaning i tend to think about stuff a lot, because i have no one to talk to about stuff.
Anyway, so i was riding the burbs loop, on my way home. I was kinda tired, and disoriented from having to wear arm warmers. Despite it being summer, there was a distinct autumnal chill to the air. As i rode along Heidelberg rd, i passed a mother and what i can only assume was her young daughter. Judging by the tears on the kid's face, and her tiny stature, i hazarded a guess that today was her first day of prep. And there she stood, all three feet of her, on the corner of a busy intersection with cars and trucks passing by, desperately clutching the hand of one of the few human beings she had spent any amount of time with in her short life.
I dunno if it was the slight chill to the air, or the intersection, or the girls baggy school dress, or a combination of everything- but i was instantly transported back to my first day of prep. I was a bit young for prep, having not quite turned five.
It was 1994, and i have a vague memory of it being a clear, slightly cool day, just like the one where i saw the girl. Mum got me dressed up in my uniform for Surry Hills Primary, complete with legionnaires hat, and took a photo. I haven't seen it for years, but i know i still have hilarious amounts of puppy fat, and im smiling broadly (something which hasn't changed much).
But i was fucking terrified. Walking to school with Mum, right up Broughton Rd, up to Cantabury Rd, i held mum's hand real tight, and didn't let the fuck go. Standing at the children's crossing, waiting for the nice crossing lady (who's name i can't remember) to blow her whistle, i remember realising that a seriously important chapter of my life had ended, and another was starting. This probably manifested itself in my gripping mum's hand even harder.
Prep is scary. People smell weird, other people's lunches are gross, and whoever learns how to tie their shoe laces first quickly sorts out a pecking order. For the record, i was quite low in that pecking order.
So i was thinking about all this as i watched this little girl sob, as she too realised a big chapter of her life was ending. As i rode away, i realised that, in twenty years time, she would probably have a similar experience to the one i just had, as she looked at some tiny kid (who isn't even a glint in the eye of anyone yet) on their first day of school.
I wouldn't call it a very sophisticated train of thought, or a particularly telling one, but these are the things you think about on morning rides.