Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the President to explain to us what the exit strategy is.    The Honorable Governor of Texas, George W. Bush

I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.    Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Wheels Go 'Round

Today, while most Americans are sleeping in, avoiding a day when the thermometer will reach 100° in much of this country that cannot afford not to pollute, Lance Armstrong will complete what is undoubtedly the most unbelievable, determined, disciplined and what I believe to be the single greatest achievement in the history of athletics, a seven fold masterpiece of human endurance that leaves even the most sophisticated Frenchman slack-jawed. In Wisconsin, where bicycling is widespread and well supported (at least from a recreational standpoint), and which is the home of TREK, the makers of Armstrong's and the team's bikes, this event will pass with little fanfare.

Bicycle racing isn't much of a spectator sport, it's true, but then to a majority of people either is golf, yet try to imagine the buzz that would surround a Tiger Woods run at a seventh straight Master's having announced it to be the swan song of his career! Millions who had never seen a single shot of golf would be gathered around sets at family gatherings taking in the spectacle.

No, such indifference can't be a result of the sport being boring, and so perhaps indifference is the wrong word. It is more likely that our utter dismissal of this greatest of all American triumphs in world sport is intentional. Is this a snub of the Tour de France? Certainly anything French is up against a stone wall in our culture, which is imbecilic in it's fervor not to understand why anybody disagrees with us. This is wind that fans the flame, but the story of Greg LeMond, from the days when French baiting was just your usual everyday ethnic slur and not essential to the very survival of the American race, went just about the same.

Is this about Armstrong? There are always rumors about steroids, apparently unfounded. He has defended the French, his biggest fan base, but one would have to read about this in papers, as Sports Center is unlikely to give much time to such stories after the usual half a show devoted to New York and Boston pro teams. It's unlikely any great number of people in America have been been exposed to anything Lance might have offered to the press as SC and sports radio have about done in the last bit of reading most American males have ever done. Males and females may be aware that he's hanging around with Sheryl Crow, one cool-ass singer if there ever was one. That the wife is history and Crow is in can only score points overall with males and, let's face it, this is about sports interest and therefore primarily about males.

It's not Armstrong pushing adulation away.

It's the bicycles.

As I said before, Wisconsin has supported recreational bicycling by building a great number of trails. In fact, if one googles state bicycle trails today five of the first six links point to Wisconsin. A minority of citizens make great use of these, a distinct minority. Despite this relative popularity bicyclists remain the shepherds competing for turf with the cowboys in this version of the American West. For good old boys, fun just ain't fun unless there's an internal combustion engine involved. I live along a gateway to "up north" and the stream of RV's, overpowered fishing boats, ATV's, and snowmobiles is endless, as are the oversized, overpowered rigs yanking them 300 miles each way one weekend after another. The secondary roads roar with thousands of Harley's going nowhere, just going.

All week long they look forward to getting up the lake, so they can cross it in record time. All week long they await the wild splendor of the pine forest, only to streak through it so fast that it blurs. All week long they anticipate the escape from the hustle and bustle of the burbs, only to shatter the serenity of the American wilderness with the whine of their Asian built and Saudi fed male vibrators.

It's all about the adrenaline, and precious little about the soul.

And when their massive SUV's come upon a bicyclist the most unimaginable thing occurs, a thing they hate to the bottom of their soulless existence. They are forced by one person on five puny pounds of machine to SLOW DOWN!

It the bicycles―they hate 'em.


At 7:53 PM, Blogger Bullock said...

It was my wife, Jill, who has been watching the Tour de France for years, getting up early and telling me what a stud he is.I eventually watched with her and was impressed to see his athleticism, especially on the hills where he just flat-out dominates. He wasn't shabby on the straights either as evidenced by a first in the late time trials.It was cool to see him riding into Paris today where we were walking just a week ago.
On our recent vacation,I asked a German waitress who I was carrying on sort of a conversation with one morning if Europeans wished he would retire. She gave me a look, kinda bit her tongue and slowly nodded.
There are all kinds of sports that our culture ignores that have (American)high achieving athletes. Soccer has been trying to get a foothold here for years and struggles despite the mountain of money thrown into it.My daughter's high school crew team finshed 8th in the National finals her senior year and barely made the papers. (only because dad emailed and called twice for an appeal for a small blurb)
Yeah, we got our own unique sports; redneck racing, from 125cc on up to Indy cars.'They' say it is the coming sport. Nearly everyone I know that has an ATV,sand rail,quad,monster tire truck or some such vehicle has red state politics written all over them and you don't have to check their bunper stickers.
Fortunately, Califormia has legislated some restraints in key fragile environment areas and has been able to herd them off-roaders into designated ares where, they can run over themselves at will.And they do--there is a parade of ambulances and fire trucks into these areas every weekend, spending my tax dollars to pick road gravel out of their hides and airlift the critical cases to the nearby crisis hospital.
Some of them actually claim that off-roading abusers, like al-Quada, is the the result of a few misguided drivers and that actually, I read this today, off-roading is 'safe and sane'.

Yeah, like fireworks with a short fuse.


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