Wednesday, May 25, 2011
I Love Bikes
I love bicycles. I love riding them, I love looking at them, and I love the pro racing circuit. If you're like me this is both a good and bad time to be a bike lover. The Tour of California has just ended, the Giro d'Italia is ongoing, and the investigation of Lance Armstrong continues.
I've always been a big Armstrong fan and I keep thinking I should be depressed that so many people have come out and testified that they saw Lance using PEDs. When it was Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton I was prepared to ignore things, but George Hincappie has also claimed that Lance was a doper, and while he could also have some deep ulterior motive to lie, well, I don't think so.
This is what it gets down to for me. Team managers need to put cyclists on the podium to keep their jobs. Team sponsors want cycling success to show the corporate logos. Team owners need a steady supply of sponsors to stay in business, so they need winning riders too. Fans want to see ever harder climbs, more technical, high speed descents, and race organizers are more than willing to provide the thrills so they can stay on TV. And the silly old men of the UCI try and prove their relevance by insisting that the major teams have a presence at every important race in the world.
I'm tired of the hypocrisy of cycling. Every interest group in the business (And that's what it is, a business.) has their own little agenda, and between them they've created a system where it's almost impossible to survive without some sort of help. When I see bike racing I just assume that everyone is doing something and the only people who will be held accountable are the riders.
So, I don't care if Armstrong, Landis, Hamilton, Basso, Millar, Vino, or Alberto Contador have their little chemical helpers. That's just the way it is. It's not just a matter of winning, it's a matter of surviving the extreme demands of pro bike racing. Right now, Contador is dominating the Giro and he'll probably dominate the Tour de France as well. I can't believe that it's possible for a mortal man to do what he's doing, and I can't believe that teams managers, sponsors, and race organizers believe it either. Come up with a more reasonable system for the riders or let them dope. And if we are going after PEDs in cycling, it's time to spread the blame around. Maybe riders should be limited to one grand tour a year, or have a maximum number of days in the saddle. And maybe the UCI should be limited to overseeing the Olympics and not a pro sport.