Two years ago, I didn’t even have a bike. Lance Armstrong’s charge through the Pyrenees was so inspiring that I went to the gym one week and just hammered on one of the LifeCycles. At that point I knew that as soon as I could afford one, I’d get a bike.
One year ago, I finally had a bike, and moved by the epic rides of Floyd Landis, I banged out emotionally charged rides of my own during July. Then the Landis doping bullshit surfaced. And those rides I did now felt disgusting. And I wondered why I was riding at all, considering all or most of my new-found riding heroes were essentially cheaters. But I hung onto the thread that a few of my favorite guys were still clean.
This year, I was Rasmussen’s biggest supporter. The heroic little Rasumussen; all 130 pounds of him, one of the greatest climbers the tour has ever seen. And now leading the tour, who more deserving. As I charged up Washington in July, the thought of his performances factored into a very complicated equation of motivation that propelled me up the mountain. But just like last year, the joke’s on me.
So now what.
I race regularly with guys who could be/are/have been professional riders. These are definitely a different breed of human being. They’re not built like me, or like most people you or I know. Their lung capacities are ridiculous. They have strength in their legs that I wonder if, in my lifetime, I could ever begin to see. They can do anything I can do on a bike in half the time.
So for something as completely ridiculous as the 2000+ mile Tour de France, I can see how a collection of 189 of the these kinds of people – and not just any of them, but 189 of the best and most talented – could realistically pull off the kind of performances they do. It seems reasonable to me. It’s not 189 riders like me. It’s 189 hand-picked cycling superstars.
But now they’re 189 frauds, until somehow proven otherwise. Even Lance, on any given day, I get wishy-washy about. The last person on earth that is supposed to be questionable. It all sucks. There’s just no other word for it. None of it seems real anymore, and it sucks.
It sucks for me, who was out of cycling for so long, and then found so many reasons to get back in. It sucks for anyone who’s thinking about getting into the sport for the first time. It sucks for the people barely hanging on, who need but the slightest reason not to do it anymore. And it sucks for anyone who may have actually done something in the sport with any legitimacy. Everything is ruined right now.