Monday, July 31, 2006


So my family, coworkers, and friends, who until now have treated my fanaticism for pro cycling with the indulgent yet slightly patronizing regard of grownups for a puppy chomping on a drooly old sock, are now entranced by the Floyd Landis saga and absolutely thrilled to weigh in ad nauseum (and I am getting quite nauseum at this point) on a sport that is clearly a swirling cesspool of doped-up unsportsmanlike fakery. Which it is, of course--but these people lack *context*. They have no sense of history. They don't understand that no amount of drugs is going to haul your carcass trouble-free up the Alpe d'Huez much less the other 3 cat 1 climbs you are also facing that day or keep you from snapping apart your collarbone on a switchbacked descent or propel you off the right rider's wheel 5 meters from the line when your lead-out men have misjudged the sprint. They have no sense that the strongest EPO king and the weakest Boy Scout in the peloton are suffering at all after six hours in the saddle that take you through melting tar and driving sleet. They don't understand that if Landis is or is not one he is one of a hundred, and that it is highly likely that many of these gentlemen are not getting by on a powerbar and their morning's Ovaltine. They have no idea about problems with the labs and testing and the utterly arbitrary way of who gets caught and who doesn't, or that certain teams may be slightly influenced by their directeur sportifs yet miraculously escape culpability for years on end of scandal, or why a doper who gets caught is canonized when he admits it after the fact, or how a perfect storm of nationalism, team loyalties, personal vendettas and/or crappy or stellar legal advice can all turn night into day. And worse, they will never learn, and they wil never see the beauty and power of this sport beneath the sleazy headlines, because their interest will wane as soon as the baseball playoffs begin or some hulking football troglodyte starts roughing up his girlfriend on the sidewalk. Aarrghhhh!

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