Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Seriously, why?

Date: July 25
Mileage: 15.1
July mileage: 693.5
Temperature upon departure: 65
Inches of rain today: 0.01"

Despite the cycling nature of this blog, I was not going to post about the Tour de France because well, I don’t watch the Tour de France. But I do read newspapers. And after yet another day of being inundated by dopers in the headlines, I have to say ... sad. Just sad.

As a member of the nonviewing general public, I am probably not qualified to comment. I've actually never followed the tour because I don’t find much personal entertainment in it. I tend to identify more closely with dog mushers and adventure racers than I do with skinny Europeans all hopped up on other peoples’ blood. I do admire fast pedaling as much as the next cyclist. But ... if the pros are all dirty, if they’re really all dirty (and why would I, a member of the nonviewing general public, have any reason to believe they’re not?) ... then what’s the point? Why not build a bunch of cycling robots and watch them do their thing? Since cycling is a competition of humans, doesn't it make more sense to watch humans?

That’s actually one of my favorite things about riding in the summer ... the cyclist watching is so much richer and more diverse. I wasn’t going to ride today because I wanted to rest up my knee as much as possible before the weekend. But a rare sunny morning demanded I at least make an appearance outside. I went for a quick ride out to Thane - just an hour out and back. As I coasted to a stop at the turnaround, I met an older man - maybe 70-ish - who was standing next to a rusty contraption of a road bike and snacking on a miniature bag of Doritos. He was wearing a pair of Docker-type shorts and I noticed he had knee braces, just like me. I asked him if he lived in Juneau. “No,” he said. “I’m from Seattle. My daughter lives here, in Auke Bay.”

“Really?” I said. “Auke Bay?” (Auke Bay is about 17 miles from where we were standing.)

“Yup,” he said. “When she needs me out of her hair, I go for a little ride.”

With that, he dug back into his bag of Doritios, and I turned around to make the half-hour trip home, thinking how lucky I am to be involved in a sport with no shortage of heroes.

18 comments:

  1. The doritios guy is my new hero too.
    That is what cycling is really about.
    A passion for pedaling.

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  2. I love these kinds of encounters - they humble me.

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  3. I have been a silent fan of your blog for a couple months now. I was going to ask your opinion on the Tour today. Thanks for sharing. I didn't think that all cyclists were doping but after all the press - the "normal" public definitely gets that opinion. Good luck with resting the knee...though you seem to be the type that won't rest. I am signing up to train for my second marathon (running - but don't hold that against me). Keep pedaling!

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  4. mbjorn6:41 AM

    I'm also a fan of your blog and enjoyed this post a lot! I love reading about your perseverence and adventures, and your descriptions of rag-tag heroes you meet along the way. I agree, the state of traditional sports is sad. It's admirable to read about athletes who simply enjoy the endorphins and fresh air.

    Happy trails!

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  5. Re: The Tour...not sure what to think, I'm not a cyclist and don't pretend to come close to knowing full details re: the doping scandals that seem to come forward each year.

    Looks like 189 riders started the Tour this year....Do this, throw out all doping regulations...let them dope themselves to the point that their arms, legs and heads hit the pavement as they drop off the chemical infested torso. Let's see how long and how fast these robots could go...what a freak show that would be !

    It's my understanding that as early as the 1920's, riders used alcohol, ether and who the heck knows what else in order to "ease the pain" of the race.

    It's also my understanding that the Tour has one of the most stringent doping regulations in all of sports. Isn't a rider booted from competition for two years after only a single violation.
    That's commendable, but is it working ???

    Did I hear another rider was booted from the Tour after receiving a blood transfusion ???...hells bells !!

    I understand "this is their life"...it's just not going to be much of one once they hit 40 or so if the doping continues.

    ...my two cents even though you may feel it's worth nothing.

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  6. You have a knack for seeing the beauty in circumstances that I would have missed. Thanks.

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  7. These types are always such fun to encounter, and so inspiring - still willing and able to give it their all (to really get out there and live), no matter their circumstances. This image is going to stick with me - thanks, Jill. :)

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  8. Alain8:16 AM

    Hi, Jill, i'm a skinny 50 years old french guy who rides 37 miles a day to commute, all year long.

    Seriously, why? Because the Tour is bigger than that. Because the clean racers have the right to go on, why should they be punished?

    And everybody speak about cycling, but what about foot-ball, baseball, soccer, athletics...?

    And what about extra sports jobs?

    We french just elected our president? Did he get a blood test to check if he only drunk water to win?

    Do executive people are cocaine tested when they win a contract?

    Are the burgers hormone tested before bein sold in fast-foods?

    Etc.

    I think bringin disgrace on cycling is not fair, since it's the only area where they try to work things out.

    Madcyclist

    Ps: love your blog

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  9. Hi Jill,

    Like Alain I'm a skinny European, a commuter, a bicycle-of-all-sorts fan, a non-doper (I hope) and I again, like Alain, don't think the Tour is only about doping. Not that anything excuses the Tour, of course, from what is happening in professional cycling. It's just a shame that the general public will only get THAT from the Tour and that the innocent will not be rewarded because a bunch of cheaters (of all nationalities)are simply blinded by money.

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  10. maybe the dorritos guy was mike c.

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  11. Right on French People. I'm with you on that one.

    Go Vansevenant!

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  12. Jill,

    You are right. Is is sad to watch these guys messing around with all those illegal substances:( Is is sad to watch it going on and on....
    BUT, as a European myself and I have seen the Tour, I also have to agree with Alain, that the Tour is bigger than those few guys. Even though it seems like a lot of people. We get to see only those few riding the Tour.
    These Pro Teams have loads of riders and even though we don't know. I think that not all of them a "dirty".
    The Tour is almost 100 years old. That is a lot of history. Getting the chance to watch the real thing is a great experience. Seeing the roads in the mountains they ride up on, shows their skills and sufferings. The way the Americans broadcast cycling isn't the best. It makes it really hard to follow, if you aren't "in it" and informed.

    I just wish, they would be able to clean it up, so one could admire the TRUE SPORT again.

    Vive le tour!

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  13. Alain and Alberto ...

    You guys are both my heroes! I didn't mean to disparage any group, especially "Skinny Europeans" (you know we're all jealous), and the cyclists of the Tour de France. I know that the majority are clean, and that it's a historic and important event for a lot of people. I was really just voicing the view of the general American public. It's sad that a few bad apples can cast such a long shadow on the sport of cycling as a whole. It's become a joke to a lot of people who have never known it as anything but. So when I tell aquaintances that I'm a "cyclist," they often make a crack about doping.

    I do follow the Tour more closely than I made it seem. I would probably watch it if I could ... I don't have the television access to view it. But I look up the VeloNews articles often. It's a compelling event, and it's a shame that I didn't "discover" it at a better time.

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  14. Everyone's drugged up these days.

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  15. I wish i was standing there too.... Well in my old unalaska....

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  16. No big deal, Jill! After all you’re a skinny American so we still like you, even if it’s just a little bit lots :-)

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  17. I hope that's my dad someday...still pedaling to get out of my hair, perhaps visiting me in a remote locale, still adventuring & living the proverbial dream.
    It won't be Doritos that he's dipping into, however...that's more my style!
    You are an inspiration, thanks!

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