Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Cycling Outing of My Dreams

This is the cycling club I've been searching for all these years.

I'll drift off to sleep dreaming of this tonight.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

To Bury Armstrong, and to Praise Him

Unless you've spent the last week staring red-eyed through the lens of of the Mars landing probe, you know by now that Lance Armstrong has given up the fight against the United States Anti-Doping Agency's investigation of him. High-profile witnesses were lined up out the courtroom door; no doubt his lawyers whispered in his ear that it was time to bite down on the poison pill hidden under his forked tongue. He gave in, and will likely be stripped of all seven of his Tour wins, as well as an Olympic medal.

George Vecsey over at the Times wrote a pretty good wrap-up, comparing L.A. to Pete Rose, Marion Jones, and the rest of the asterisked idols of our time. Vecsey underscores my biggest beef with Armstrong:
Of all the legion of the lost, Armstrong most compares to Rose, who had a swagger and a crude charm and made his sport come alive. I still like some of Pete, too, but he did his complicated image a terrible disservice by not cutting his losses early and admitting that he had gambled on his sport. His hits were enough, he felt, but he was dead wrong.

I don't fault Lance for doping nearly as much as I fault him for aiming that infamous accusatory stare at every person who ever dared question his sterling character, as if merely asking the doping question were a violation of his human rights.

To dope is human. Plenty of champions have done it. Doping is not right, it's as wrong as it gets, but I've been very clear in these pages that it is fiendishly hard to prevent, and its influence is as pervasive as the plague.A doper is not necessarily untalented, or unworthy of any admiration. I still love to watch Ben Johnson's astonishing 100 meter Olympic victory, years after the whump of disappointment about his cheating hit my stomach.

It's another thing altogether, however, to answer perfectly fair inquiries with vitriolic accusations and operatic claims to the higher ground. For all his posturing, Lance was as abusive of the public trust as any dirty politician. He used his fame and enormous power in the industry to manipulate coworkers (including friends) and cover up wrong-doing (see a very relevant example here). When it came back to bite him, he wrapped himself in his seven yellow jerseys, and then threw on the Anti-cancer Hero flag for good measure, knowing perfectly well all the while that -- to put it in terms a fifth-grade bully like him could understand -- he was lying.

That's for chumps. Plain and simple.

His Tour video clips will always be astounding. He will always be the guy who returned cycling in the U.S. to a lucrative and popular standing after years of irrelevance. And he will always be the greatest rider of his time. I hope that's enough; I hope that he doesn't need his integrity in order to sleep at night, because if so, he's going to be one tired dude.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Scottish Cycling Reminiscence

Velophoriacs, I apologize for being so slothful lately. As penance for my absence, I offer up a fine piece of cylco-nostalgia. Trust me, you'll love this.

Mosey on over to this marvelous post on Cycling for a Healthy Body and Mind, a blog that sadly appears to have been abandoned by it's Scottish audaxing author from way back when.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Doggerel Days

One sign that I have hit on the proper admixture of effort, scenery, and fitness on a given ride is a spontaneous burst of literary creativity. I can amuse myself for an embarrassingly long time by composing bits of doggerel, or song lyrics to be sung to well-known tunes.

Here's a slice from a pre-work ride this week:

Frame materials and bicycle fanatics:
A source of debate, feuds, and dramatics

Steel is too heavy, titanium too spendy
Aluminium too tinny, carbon too trendy

We who are left with no way to have fun...
Lace up our sneakers and go out for a run

Sunday, August 12, 2012


Lately, I have been absent from these pages.

I've been like Joel Fleishman in the last season of Northern Exposure, off in the wild, becoming one with his hand carved golf club, the game becoming the player and the player becoming the game. Invisible, except to those I choose. Struggling, learning, growing, breathing.

Breathing down by the river in the shade of an ancient oak, meditating on the nearly inaudible wash of the river-waves onto the shore far below on the banks.

Breathing the soupy August morning air on runs and rides before work, my chest hurting from the effort of separating oxygen from water.

Breathing as deeply as possible during recent paltry, tedious tests of patience.

Breathing through the extraction of a couple of teeth, breathing into the addition of a very large, probably overly-large, flat-screen TV that allowed us to watch the expressions scudding over the face of Britain's Mo Farah as he flashed past the finish of the men's 5,000. What a beautiful moment, though not as beautiful as the embrace after the 10,000 between Farah and American Galen Rupp, two extraordinary friends who allowed their affection for each other to rise above personal accomplishment or national pride. Rupp was genuinely happier for Farah's gold than he was disappointed about his silver.

Don't think I've seen that before.

I wish I could force every athlete around the world to watch their celebration together. It is exactly what the Olympics is supposed to be all about: Excellence and unity.

Photo from
The waves are all around, they wash out, they wash up, they run through my atoms; luck goes up, it goes down... If I slow down and take the chance to listen to the particular sounds of the birds, bugs, water, to feel the coolness of the breeze in the muggy heat... I'll be all right.