Denver 38 is in a bit of a transition in terms of adjusting its identity and potentially developing new leadership. While we do still have club members who will ride and race we will not be particularly organized or focused for the time being.
The first time I rode a modern road bike was in 2006 in Gallup, NM. I had just started mountain bike racing and didn’t even really know there was a whole other ‘side’ of competitive cycling. I grew up playing baseball, basketball and football and hadn’t really ridden bikes since I had a Huffy mountain bike as a kid. As I began to cruise around the block on this ragged out early 2000′s Masi road bike I felt the speed, efficiency and power that you just don’t get mountain biking. I knew I had to find out more about this sport know by some in Gallup as “The Darkside”. I bought a 2006 Lemond Versailles and eased into the sport. I then bought a 2009 S-works, and now ride a Caad10.
More riding, trainer, power-tap, Gu Brew, etc has led to being able to compete in the 4′s here in Colorado. Competing means crashing. Many of my friends and teammates have crashed in races, crashed on roundabouts, broken shoulders, been hit by cars, flew over the bars and broken collar bones and more. It’s very scary and expensive but I had been able to avoid it until Weld County, and then Deer Trail last weekend. I went down at Weld when a rider made an epic swerve around a marked pothole near the shoulder. I tumbled around with bikes and humans and ended with a chain ring mark on my back. Then at Deer trail I decided to follow a young rider as he bridged to the break away. He skipped his rear tire while sprinting and crashed. I braked, swerved, drifted, whipped back upright and was lucky to ride into the grass on the shoulder. The result was no injury, but one severely wanged out rear wheel and a DNF.
Let’s not get too dramatic here. Just in these two races, guys were hurt way worse than me and I hope they’re okay and I hope they’ll write a blog post. The reality is that cycling is a fast, exciting, and dangerous sport where people are injured and even killed every day. Being safe and promoting safety is a huge aspect of cycling. For me it’s also about fitness, riding with friends, competing, and belonging to something. I came away from these two races unharmed and am grateful for this.
When bullied by classmates, through repetition a mold is formed and it becomes a hard one to break. He suffered from a broken heart and misguided soul because his father abandoned him at very young and impressionable age. I tell myself that he got into cycling because he became recluse and took comfort in sport. It was a means to temporarily alleviate the pain and suffering. That was the predominant, overriding reason why he did what he did. Initially it was not to seek fame and fortune, nor to satiate the appetite for winning. The reasons were pure and well intentioned.
The unraveling of the dynasty has not been a particularly painful nor surprising one, for me at least. I have been more interested in the notion of ‘public reaction’ and ‘fallout’. Essentially, how people went from being staunch yellow-bracelet wearing supporters to outspoken critics and crybabies. It has taught me an invaluable lesson on the fickle matter of human nature. I have learned that a good majority of critics tend to be the most hypocritical. I have learned that we as a society sensationalize and therefore place greater emphasis and emotional effort on our fallen sports heroes than we do with our nation’s corrupt leaders. I have learned that we suffer from a selective memory, and there is direct correlation in those who have benefitted the most and have also now ostracized him the most. I could go on but it’s exhausting and perhaps a bit aimless; citing all the flaws of people’s premeditated resentment.
I don’t lay awake at night as fallout reaches full blown proportions or because of shattered dreams of cycling’s uncompromised innocence. Nor am I desensitized or obtuse to cycling’s “troubles” or “challenges” but I don’t despair either. It’s easier to criticize and maim the image of a fallen hero than to take the opportunity to gain some introspection; perhaps not be so quick to place someone on a pedestal, or pour one’s entire emotional capacities into what they consider or perceive to be “hero” material. Maybe it is time to recite our own idiosyncratic existence and our greater imperfections. I for one know that if it would not be for my friends’ ‘forgiveness’ and ‘compassion’ I would be destined to die a lonely soul; a complete deconstruction of life precipitated by impulse and stupidity.
I’d rather empathize with the man; show some compassion and accept his fatal flaws as being no different than those residing deeply inside of me, in all of us. That’s what makes us human; showing dignity to someone beaten to a pulp from all ends. I think of his comeback and how he inspired me to buy my first road bike. How he animated a race and therefore made watching Tour de France repeats on Versus for hours on end a worthwhile endeavor. I am grateful for what he has helped me achieve.
Cycling has given me so much. I think of the fitness gained through a training regimen which at least in theory, rivals those of many professional athletes. I take great pleasure in cycling because of its uncomplicated, undefined and unpretentious nature. I happily accept the inherent risks associated with this sport including broken collarbones and road rash because the benefits far outweigh the negatives. I think of my friends and family; their unwavering loyalty and support for my spandex-wearing ways. Without cycling there would be such a huge void in my life.
The reason why I first rode a bike is because I was drawn to the elegant simplicity of my father’s late 70s lugged steel Peugeot. Technological improvements in bike manufacturing had made the Peugeot’s down-tube shifters feel somewhat antiquated, though to a young teenager wanting to go fast and claim supremacy over local climbs it was a rocket ship.
Initially I rode when I felt like it. Soon I was riding to school and back. Eventually I took an entire week off in between semesters and tore it up along the Outer Banks of North Carolina. My base fitness gained through years of soccer, swimming and lacrosse made me perfectly suited to cope with the rigors of cycling. I was an average rider at best but it didn’t matter because I felt strong.
Towards the end of college I had saved enough to buy my first road bike; a 2000 Bianchi Veloce Celeste green and a-typical orange. Soon after moving to Europe for my first job, my dad bought a bike case and flew to Europe to drop it off. I don’t think that bike carrier has been used since. I had a Bianchi kit like the one Ulrich wore during the 2003 TdF.
By now I have learned that riding is more than just the bike. I am passionate about the sport and its rich history. I am intrigued with how my body will respond to the previous day’s hard riding. I am curious to see if my off-season’s cumulative work will pay dividends during the upcoming season. I enjoy the fact that wearing sweaty spandex in restaurants after long rides is uncool and generally socially unacceptable. I feel graceless yet powerful on my bike. I am obsessed with how riding makes me feel. I am immune from life’s troubles during those moments in the saddle. I am completely at peace with myself riding alone or within the peloton. These are the reasons why I ride.