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Hammerhed`s Handle

Ah, The Stench of Spring!
2012-04-25 13:12:13
Give It up for the Team
2012-04-15 13:17:58
Digging Out
2012-01-30 23:39:30
Sliding into Darkness
2011-10-19 12:01:41
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2011-09-23 01:47:42
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2011-09-15 12:22:00
What's in a name?
2011-09-14 11:32:00

Ah, The Stench of Spring!
Wednesday, April 25th 2012

As an avid student, I have learned from history that our species has an incredible capacity to do wrong: Cheating, stealing, murdering, and otherwise harming and defrauding one another seems to have no bounds. Humans have shown themselves (OURselves) to be so depraved that even our God has made a few half-hearted efforts to rid the planet of us, and yet we persist. Not only do we stubbornly cling to life, but we seem unable and unwilling to make any real changes to our methods and continue to violate one another without a sliver of compassion. Even those who profess to have a higher calling often serve a hidden master or are ruled by a dark agenda, and they too commit unspeakable atrocities.

Although I think waay too much and sometimes dwell on issues for which I can affect not at all, long ago I realized that I cannot spend every moment of every day consumed with thought about the "human condition," so I turned to bicycle riding and racing as a distraction, as an escape from man's voracious appetite for greed, power, and other worldly pursuits: To me, bicycling represents something pure and innocent, a labor far removed and aloof from the carnal. What can be more simple than a man and his comrades, trained to perform at their pinnacle, riding simple, uncomplicated machines in a straightforward contest to see who is the best on a certain day? Oh, my good Lord, please send someone with a huge hammer to beat some sense into my simple senile brain. God, I ask, have I always been this stupid?

You see, I have a problem: Though I know without a doubt what MAN is capable of inflicting upon his fellows, I will not apply those standards to bicycle racing... I can't, none of us can. When I read someone's forum or web page, and I hear the writer railing about this doper and that doper and how we must tear the sport down to its foundation, destroy it completely to the bedrock, fire all the riders, dismantle all the teams... well, I get crazy when I read that mess. How can someone watch a bicycle race if he believes that everyone in the race is corrupt, doped to the testicles with some form of some form of an illegal performance enhancer, administered in a nefarious and yet-undiscovered method by doctors employed by the team and all winked at and approved by the highest sanctioning bodies? Truly, what pleasure, I wonder, could anyone derive in watching an event so patently false, yet billed as real? Bicycle racing ain't rasslin' is it?

Therefore, I have managed to delude myself into believing that every rider in every race is riding clean, dope free with no performance enhancing substances in his pristine body. However, when a rider is caught red-handed, caught with the needle in his arm and the dream in his brain, I must accept the obvious, though my mindset remains unchanged. Oh I feel betrayed; I rant and rave; I make resolutions that if anyone ever cheats again that I will terminate the passion I have for "watching grown men wearing tight clothes riding over-priced children's toys," as my EX-wife summarizes my obsession with the sport of bicycle road racing. Sometimes, like when Tyler Hamilton got popped, it hurts for real. Sometimes, like when Ricco got nabbed, I was joyous. So it should come as no surprise that I have never ever had the thought after watching a great-but-improbable win that a rider was dirty and won because he was cheating.

When Floyd won that TdF stage where he made maybe the single greatest breakaway in history, I shouted, "Yesyesyes!!! Goooo, Floyd!" I never thought he was dirty. When Vino won that stage after the day off where, bandaged and bloody, he shredded the field in what I thought was this heroic action I had ever witnessed, I never thought he was dirty. In the early 2000's, when surely the entire peloton was EPOed to such a degree that after sprinting up Mont Ventoux or one of the other monster mountains, the riders would arrive at the top and immediately give an interview. Not only didn't they breathe hard, they didn't even get dirty! And, like everyone else, I loved it! Those guys were invincible, and they were my heroes, and I didn't want to hear a word about dirty!

However, a strange thing happened this spring in the hilly forests of Belgium and Holland: That cynical monster that lives inside of me, the one who hides under the bed as an unwelcomed intruder during those sacred hours when "men in tight clothes, etc" are on the flat screen, that monster escaped and now prowls the earth. How? Why? Perhaps Alexandre Vinokourov has a clue. Yesterday, he announced that Enrico Gasparotto and Maxim Iglinskiy had won two of the greatest bicycle races of their careers "the Vino way."

The Vino way! That phrase just resonates in my brain... no, in my frickin' soul. Those two decent journeyman riders had just scored more UCI points in a week than they could have by winning twelve stages in a Paris-Nice style event! The Vino Way! In the finale of L-B-L, Vincenzo Nibali had a forty-three second advantage with 7.5 km to go, and Maxim friggin' Iglinskiy managed to drop Joaquin Rodriguez and run down Nibali, barely pause - but not long enough to exchange account numbers! - and gas it to the line, beatin' Nibali by another twenty seconds. Oh yeah, though he was dirty from road grime, Max wasn't even breathing hard. Ah, the Vino way!

Wed, April 25th 2012 - 14:27 CET

I guess, Nibali wanted to do it the Vino way. Unfortunately it seems he forgot the EPO. Thats why Iglinskiy could manage win. What Iglinskiy did wasn't that special. He just judged his powers right. And made the two big contenders for the win do the work. Or as De Cauwer says. Eat from the others plate before you begin eating from your own. I think your cynical monster is wrong this time.

Wed, April 25th 2012 - 14:43 CET

But i'm glad that it is under your bed most of the time

Thu, April 26th 2012 - 10:05 CET

jacco, I hope you are right, man. I've always respected Iglinsky, and I loved Vino even after doping until the race-buying thing. I really like the De Cauwer quote: Right out of Machiavelli.

Thu, April 26th 2012 - 10:10 CET

jacco, I hope you are right, man. I've always respected Iglinsky, and I loved Vino even after doping until the race-buying thing. I really like the De Cauwer quote: Right out of Machiavelli.
As far as the win goes though, I saw that Nibali was spent, and obviously JRod was also, as was everyone except Max. But why not? Like I said though, I hope I'm wrong, and if I am and he doesn't get a dirty, I'll tell him I apologize.

Mon, June 11th 2012 - 13:23 CET

I expect we have to wait a while before we know the truth. As always!

Hammerhed, a.k.a. Draggin', is an English / English literature teacher from Florida, riding road and mountain bikes since 1993 and in love with the sport of cycling. He's having a handle on cycling too! Catch up regularly for newly released columns and feel free to leave a note.