-On Friday I was riding into SF on BART. I pulled out the Ricco-covered edition of Procycling to read the article about Levi's Gran Fondo.
"You race?" said the BARTer next to me.
"Yeah, I used to...you?"
"Out here, or..."
"Cool! What team?"
My jaw dropped. The fact that he rode for Domo-Farm Frites was cool in and of itself. What took this from 'cool,' to one in a trillion was the fact that I happened to be wearing a pair of Domo-Farm Frites socks.
I pulled up my jeans to expose my socks.
"Cool..hehe" he replied, unenthusiastically.
Being a probability guy (of the informal variety, of course) I was shocked. At any given moment I'm going to guess there are maybe a handful, I take that back, I'll say .4 people, of 'Domo-Farm Frites' socks, on feets. The fact that while wearing my (I'll abbreviate from here on) DFF socks (okay that smacks of Bike Snob so I'll just spell it out) I happened to run into an ex-Domo-Farm Frites rider is mind-blowing. But I digest.
He told me about living in Europe and about the crash that ended his career. He had tore up his knee and could no longer ride.
I told him I had wanted to be a PRO only to realize, I didn't ['want it' enough]. He said you have to have an inner, well anger, that fuels you. You have to want to beat that guy no matter what. I occasionally get that while watching a 40 plus grouprider slog up Diablo, but that's about it.
We parted ways and I got his email. Cool guy.
-Looks like Zirbel is upset. I don't blame him. What I'm saying is either he did it, and is upset he got caught, or he didn't and is upset he got caught. Either way, I don't blame him for being upset.
The guy on BART and I had briefly talked about doping and it got me thinking. Since really getting into cycling I've felt that American cycling fans, you can take out 'cycling' and this will still fit, were quite righteous. I believe that's a product of the fact that our national cycling heros [LeMond, Armstrong, Hincapie...] have, as Lance puts it, "never tested positive." That our other national sports rarely test merely compounds this problem.
Let me cut to the chase though. If I'm a 18 year old (insert third world nationality) and my choices are either poverty or take the pill so that I can compete against the other (use same nationality as above) I'm going to take the pill. Better to take the pill and make it than to never take the pill. After all, if I take the pill and I get caught, I stop riding and end up poor. If I don't take the pill, I can't hang with the rest of my nation's talent and so I stop riding, and end up poor. At least if I take it, and get some recognition, maybe one day I won't have to take it because I won't be competing against such a doped field (ie internationally or outside my country).
What I'm getting at is for many of these upcoming PROs or almosts there really is no choice. In most places the national field is so doped it's impossible to stand out without doing it. Here in the US I said I no longer wanted to train for cycling. Within weeks of deciding not to aspire to PROdom I had a job. I can guarantee if I were in (third world country, can be different from above - example will still function) I would have wanted 'it' a lot more.
This isn't even bringing into account those who have addictive personalities and the effect that might have on one's 'choice' to dope. To wax grandiose, in life, there are many choices, few of them we choose. Besides, at the end of the day, knowing Ricco (holla!) doped doesn't diminish my enjoyment of watching those 2008 Giro and Tour stages.
-On a lighter note, I listened to the Millar podcast from Velocitynation the other day and I really liked it. I'd read the interview but the live thing was nice. He says some interesting things about Kimmage, with some of which I agree.
I have more but I'll save it for the next blog. I'll leave you with the last few k of of the Montepaschi Strade Bianche (monte-passkey stradaay biankaay). I had no idea this race was so crazy. They're still winding through city alleys in the last 100m!