Recently I was looking through my bookcase, looking for books to give away to charity shops. I have a Zen like attitude to personal stuff. I get great joy from giving things away creating empty space. I often have to later go back and buy what I’ve just thrown out, but that’s another story. The only exception to my Zen approach to stuff comes with my cycling workspace. Somehow, it’s much harder to throw things away related to cycling. There’s always that nagging feeling that you might need that random size of bolt or you really might some day need those holey aerosocks or swan off handlebars. As a consequence I’ve accumulated an assortment of unknown cycling parts which I hang onto – rather than trying to work out what there actual purpose is -something that has been lost in the mists of time. Amongst all that, I must have about 5 speedometers (none of which are 100% working)
Anyway, back to my bookcase and here I’m pretty strict in only keeping certain books. Right at the back I recently found ‘The Official Tour de France guide‘ to celebrate their 101 years 1903-2004.
It’s a bit of shock to read the book – so much of it has a vague feeling of meaninglessness to it now. It’s hard to look at the top 20 results without spending most of your time just picking out the names later implicated in doping scandals. (usually you can get to about 80-90% quite quick)
- David Moncoutie finished 13th in 2002, only 21 minutes back. Chapeau!
The best bit was from the introduction written by the then six times champion.
“And finally, I live for this race. I love it. I want to win in more ways than most will ever know. I cherish so much my days in yellow that it keeps me busy almost 365 days a year. To lose a Tour and have to face my team, who have worked so hard, would be heart wrenching. I don’t want to see that day and I’ll do whatever I can to prevent it…
Long live the Tour!”
It’s sad that the potentially wonderfully epic sport of procycling has become somewhat synonymous with a rather bad detective story and a pale imitation of a Jeremy Kyle confession special.
At the end of the day, whatever happens, the sport will bounce back. I don’t think any scandal will derail the sport. But, I would love to see the day when it’s a race full of gentlemen battling out on the dusty slopes of Alpe d’Huez with the only eyebrows raised at the magnificence of the scenery and the heroic efforts of the plucky sportsman on their humble machines. Life is simple really.
More than anything there is a sense of jadedness. After last year, I still have an unquenchable interest in cycling, but now it’s just kept at a certain distance.
Speculations from the forumites and the twitterati just leave me cold. The problem is now everyone wants to be next David Walsh. I used to read cyclingnews.com but allowing comments on articles has made the whole thing a bit tiresome. I’m sure if a Sky rider won the Tour of Poland in 2018, there will still be commentators ready to point out that Dr Leinders once worked for 80 days at Sky.
I passionately want a clean sport without a clean sport, to me there’s no point to it all. My support for riders is all based on their attitude to doping. But, no matter how many times the sport has dissappointed in the past, I don’t want to create a suspicious mentality. There’s still a lot to be said for assuming the best, until evidence points the other way. I don’t build up anyone to be superheroes, but nor will I follow the sport only to see how much indignation I can build up.
I like procycling, but, I like the sport I do even more. You can’t beat actually cycling yourself – much better than spending all day speculating on people you don’t really know.
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