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« Vintage Bikes | Main | Hit and Run »

Just go away

I wish Lance Armstrong would go away; I am tired of looking at his face. I’m even tired of being tired of looking at his face and reading about him…. At this point I hesitate because here I am writing more about LA, adding to the shit pile, so to speak.

But I always find writing is great therapy; better to write the shit out, than to hold it in. To hold it in is emotional constipation. So this is simply an exercise to release my own frustrations, and possibly you will release some of your frustrations with a comment at the end.

I am frustrated with people who still say, “Lance doped in an era when everyone doped, therefore it was okay, and the playing field was level.” It is not okay. If the old cliché, “Two wrongs don’t make a right,” has any truth to it, then everybody and his brother doping sure as Hell doesn’t make that right.

It means that anyone arriving new to the professional ranks has two choices. Take dope, not necessarily to win, but to keep from being shot out of the back of the peloton. The other choice is, not participate, and don’t become a professional cyclist.

In my teen years and early twenties I had dreams of one day being a professional cyclist. I made it to the top as a Category One amateur, it never entered my head to dope, and I never knew any other amateurs who doped.

It later became clear to me that I was never going to make it to the professional ranks; I simply did not have what it took. Also at the time, the mid to late 1960s, if I was really serious about a pro career I would have to move to France or Belgium, and that was not going to happen; I was married and had a family to support.

I continued to race for the competition, for the exercise, but mainly for the pure fun of it. There was always a great sense of friendship and camaraderie among British riders. There was always a great deal of humorous banter, and light hearted ribbing and joking going on in “The Bunch.” We never called it a Peloton; that was a French word reserved for races like the Tour de France. Not amateur races limited to 40 riders held on English country lanes.  

Because the races were held on open roads with normal motor traffic, each rider looked out for everyone else; shouting out a warning if the was a car approaching, etc. No one made any dangerous moves that would jeopardize the safety of other. If they did they would be ostracized by the other riders.

There was an occasion when my chain came off during a race, and two other riders, complete strangers to me, grabbed my jersey and towed me along while I reached down and put my chain back on the chainring. Those riders knew if I were dropped from the bunch for something as stupid as an unshipped chain, my whole day would be ruined. Plus by being forced to stop in the middle of a bunch. I could have caused a pile up.

When I arrived in the US in 1979, the racing was no longer on open roads with real hills to climb, but were Criteriums, races round a city block that had been closed to traffic. A lung bursting sprint, 100 yards down a city street, then brake, followed by another sprint. I was now in my early 40s and this was not for me.

Also gone was the sense of camaraderie and looking out for each other, instead there was a nasty, mean-spirited competiveness. People making downright dangerous moves in an attempt to win at all costs.

Worst of all guys were openly snorting cocaine before the race; I mean passing it around on the start line. I was no slouch, but there were guys riding touring bikes with pannier racks and fenders riding past me in the finishing sprint. I quit because racing was no longer any fun.

Some of these races were piddling little club races with no prizes, which in my book made winning at all costs even more pathetic. I would never race as a veteran; you can be sure there are those out there using Testosterone, and Human Growth Hormones, because these can be readily prescribed by any family doctor.

In any race, or in any sport for that matter, there are only a handful of competitors capable of winning; the rest make up the field, and without them there would be no race, or no game. There would be no Tour de France if there were only 20 top riders, there has to be a field of 150 riders for the top 20 to emerge from.

Back in Roman times, Gladiators fought to the death. Fun for the spectators; not so much for the competitors. Modern sports are combat without killing, or war without tears. Sports should teach children that life is a struggle, and it takes hard work and dedication to get ahead. But you can still have fun doing it.

It should also teach children about fair play; it is not okay to cheat, or bully your way to the top, with a win at all costs attitude. People who do that in real life are called “Assholes.”

Right now Lance Armstrong is King of the Assholes, and people who say what he did is okay are saying it is alright to be an asshole. Thanks for allowing me to vent.



Reader Comments (37)

Right on Dave. You've enunciated my feelings exactly. Everybody that knows I'm a cyclist seems to feel the need to ask me what I think, from now on I'll just refer them here.

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDave

I agree with all that you say about competition here Dave.

As regards Armstrong, he compounded his cheating by trying to wreck the lives of some of those who dared to doubt him, which is unforgivable in my book.

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterstephen_mc

Good article. I agree completely and really appreciate your sharing your personal racing experiences. There's a nice AP article today making similar points http://sports.yahoo.com/news/column-lance-armstrong-exceptional-phooey-225950943--spt.html.

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBernardo

I am sorry that I have found that there is a nasty competitive spirit in many (Not all.) American males. I remember being introduced to the Frisbee and thinking “What Fun.” Until I realized the guy I was playing with was trying to kill me, by throwing as hard as he could straight at my head.
Try cracking a joke in a public gym, and see how that goes over. Or wave to a fellow cyclist on the bike trail and you are met with an icy stare. Young American males especially take exercise and sport way too serious. Lighten up and have fun.

January 17, 2013 | Registered CommenterDave Moulton

Wrecking the lives of others to remain top dog is despicable and so is starting a non-profit to foster a mythical image. The bigger story includes how his Wall Street friends (Weisel Partners) help keep the myths alive.

"To have the head of the sport, who's responsible for enforcing anti-doping rules, in business with the owner of the team that won seven straight Tours de France in violation of those rules—it certainly stinks to high heaven, particularly now, given what's been exposed that happened under his watch," said Travis Tygart, head of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

Interesting to read the competitive cultural differences in England v. USA. Competition that supports assistance to others should be encouraged.

I would prefer longer open road races for my sons over more common crits.

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJack

I too am getting sick of the Armstrong exposure. I have a Google News alert for him and now I can't keep up. I wish bicycle racing got this kind of exposure to the Great Unwashed for its positives rather than this negative aberration. All the other pro sports that have involved doping have had their exposure and people just shrugged and forgot about it. I fear Armstrong has hurt cycling for a long time to come. And yet he still won't go down without a fight and has to have his 2-1/2 hours of "fame" on Oprah, instead of a legitimate news program or confessing to the authorities. I'm surprised he didn't opt for confessing to TMZ. The only decent thing he can do now would be to start a foundation to eradicate doping from pro cycling. He certainly has the inside knowledge.

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohn B

We live in a culture, a world, of the fake. Trouble is most people (chattel) don't know that.
Thus Lance could do what he did, motivated by money which is the result of power (Lord Byron: Power Corrupts), which is an inherent affliction of humans. We are all a part of that history, it is who we are. Humans are Satan and God, Good and Evil. The stories we tell (and the hidden ones) and the things we do (and think about doing) contain the best and the worse of all of us. Power gives us the freedom to choose which we will do.
Here’s other parts of that The World is a Stage:
David Petraeus (doesn’t have secured email accounts?); Hillary Clinton (had a fall…?); Bengazi Debacle (let’s blame a film trailer); Seattle mall shooter (news didn’t mention security guard with his own gun aimed at him to stop him till week later); Arab pilots didn’t want to learn to land planes (like wanting to learn to ride a bike without caring to know how to stop); Dump the World’s Most Wanted Man into the ocean before the world can see the body; Newtown “tragedy” (way to many inconsistencies and questions and media can’t talk to “victims” families for months). Lance winning The Tour de France seven times.
So (the chattel) people accept what they are told to believe without possessing the ability to believe, much less the will to think (Smart phones, Smart cars).
There is something going on, and big about to happen. Prepare for anything, expect nothing. I always said that about bike racing, and it sure as Hell also goes for Life.

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

Dave, First congrats on YOUR getting to the TOP of Cat one racing. Dreaming of been a pro?, This means making a living doing nothing BUT riding a bike," Aye there the rub" Mate. When you do ANYTHING for a living you have to do what you have to do, Its a jungle out there and rules have to be stretched or broken in order to compete and make the almighty buck! This is what makes the world go round,SUCESS is the name of the game, Lance did what he had to do to fulfill HIS dreams? Is this worse OR NO worse that Madoff screwing his clients or the CEO of any big corp srewing the stockholders to feather his or her nests? ITS ALL ABOUT MONEY it always has been.

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Crump

Agree with your sentiments Dave 100%.

i also would like to see some "mea culpas" from the hordes of sycophantic journalists who drank the LA cool aid and refused to ask the right questions, preferring to just be bystanders in the biggest sporting hoax of all time.

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJW

Lance was a great athlete, that's clear. Imagine what an amazing legacy he would have left his kids if he'd stayed clean.
There's a chance he would have finished top 5 in many Tour de France races.

Now, because most recent winners have been striped of their titles, or tainted by doping, he would have been the "virtual winner", the cyclist that everyone who loves cycling could point to and say "He did it clean, he's the greatest". He could even look his kids in the eye.

A guy who beat cancer AND came back to be the best example to any cyclist.

Now his kids are forever the kids whose dad is that famous cheat.

To everyone who loves cycling he's that guy who did anything, including wrecking the careers of others to win. Suing people who said he was doping. Threatening fellow cyclists that their career was finished if they didn't cheat with him.

Will he ever be truly sorrow for what he's done or, as I expect, is he just looking after Lance as usual? I am waiting for the Oprah interview.

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterFred Dered

@ Fred
It is very debatable whether LA would have won any tours or finished top 5 without EPO. His track record prior to his cancer in major tours was poor (only finished once in 36th). He was a good one day rider but that's all. I believe his team mates have also doubted that he would have won a single TdeF if he had not benefitted greatly from the organized, systemic doping system that was US Postal/Discovery network.
Even if no one else doped he had not displayed the physiology to win a three week tour. Guess we'll never know.

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJW

I agree, Dave.

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMicheal Blue

The more time passes, the better Greg LeMond looks. He was right all along.

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJan

To dope or not to dope that is the question! To be the BEST the very best, make the most money you need an EDGE RIGHT! Well I have just been reading about a rider in Brit land in the 30s and 40s name TOMMY GODWIN. NO NOT the Tommy Godwin that I went to his shop in Brum on Saturdays, but THE TOMMY GODWIN the long distance rider. PICTURE THIS in 1933. the year I was born he rode on his bloody bike 43.966 FORTYTHREE THOUSAND and nine hundred sixty six, MILES ON A BIKE, OVER 150 miles a DAY! Now I have a car that is 12yrs old just turned 42K miles! Now this was before cans of RedBull and Starbucks, WAS HE ON DRUGS? who knows, but there is NO mention of drugs. So the human body CAN do outstanding things WITHOUT DRUGS! as he demonstrated. BOY What would HE have done with DRUGS? makes one wonder.

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Crump

Great argument against assholes.

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLaunchpad McQuack

Sad to say, Lance's net worth is being estimated at $125 million. Why he doesn't just go away is perplexing. He duped us all and became a filthy rich man for doing so. Think of all the riders who rode clean and have nothing to regret. I think of Roy Knickman, a classy rider who now works as a firefighter in CA, as a guy who presumably enjoys the wealth of having done it right, or Eric Heiden, giving back as an orthopedic surgeon. Lance apparently lacked the character or abilities to take pleasure in the things he was capable of doing without the dope, or to move on...

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEd

Excellent post Dave! I fully agree with the "Asshole" assesment. People just don't like them. Inspirational cancer survivors are all around us and most are far better people than him. Glad I never wore the bracelet.

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMidland

Wasn't Armstrong under some training program with Carmichael or some such? Surley he would have had knowledge of Armstrongs doping? I know one of his Drs was said to be involved. Sad Sad Sad times for AMERICAN Cycling, But then Corp. greed was also to blame. Think of all the money they made. Plus all the media coverage and the TDF was made famous in a way it never had been. I have to admit that I like everyone else pulled for Armstrong in every race. Trek bikes who the heck where they? wonder what problems THEY will have now?

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Crump

My thoughts after watching the first segment aired on Oprah’s channel: “Why is he doing this on Oprah?” I would have rather seen it as a print interview with one of the cycling publications. By his own admission this is much too late, and as I see it this is just a ploy to gather some sympathy from the general non-cycling public, who let’s face it, don’t really care whether he doped or not.

January 18, 2013 | Registered CommenterDave Moulton

Dave. Once again Corp America stepps in, maybe Oprah needs the money for her struggling network? the exposure is good for her. The only thing I would like to see is Lance in a JAIL uniform.

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Crump

It was the same old Lance. Evasive as possible, saying some things but avoiding others. Oprah is not the right person to conduct such an interview to satisfy the knowledgable cycling community. She doesn't possess the sporting knowledge to dig deep enough. I doubt tonight's will be any more illuminating. Likely to be about the charity side of things. Poor Betsy Andreu still has no closure.

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJW

The evil that men do lives after them. The good is oft interred with their bones. So let it be with Armstrong. The nobel Travis hath told you Armstrong was ambitious. If it were so, it was a grievous fault, and grievously hath Armstrong answer'd it. Here, under leave of Travis and the rest -- for Travis is an honorable man.

So are they all honorable men. T'wood not be so if winning wasn't everything. The losers disappearing in the dust of history, the winners raised to heights of nobility and noted in books and tablets for ten score years.

Armstrong was a hero, faithful and just to his fans. But Travis said he is ambitious, and Travis is an honorable man.

Armstrong hath brought many medals to America, and bicycle sales did rise. Trek sales soared to unimaginable heights, did this in Armstrong seem ambitious?

When he crashed Armstrong did bleed. Ambition should be made of sterner stuff. Yet Travis said he was ambitious, and Travis is an honorable man.

I speak not to disprove what Travis says. But here I am to speak what I do know. You all did love him once, not without cause; what cause forces you then to hate him now?

Oh judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts, and men have lost their reason - bear with me.

The power of the win is overwhelming. Beware . . . beware . . . beware. And do not forget what you did know . . .

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJames Thurber

That's a mighty High Horse you're sitting there Mr. Jim Thurber.

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTony P.

In 1964 there was a great scandal in Britain involving a cabinet minister, Lord Profumo. He was having an affair with a "call girl" named Christine Keeler, who had ties to a Russion spy. When reports of the affair surfaced, Profumo took to the floor of Parliament to deny them, but was soon forced to confess and resign in total and complete disgrace. He spent the rest of his life working among the poor in the slums of London, right up to the time of his death a few years ago. Lance should do as Profumo did, and not let anybody hear from him again. He won't do that because he has no honor and no shame.

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJim in Atlanta

Lance was presented with the Faustian bargain. 1) Ride clean and keep his mouth shut. 2) Ride clean and expose the cheaters. 3) Ride dirty and possibly win. The average moral guy would choose #1. The real hero would have chosen #2. Lance chose #3. He is now paying his due (Faust had 24 years to enjoy, so Lance screwed this up too!). Not only will he pay, but the sport of cycling will pay (talk is going around about banning cycling from the Olympics), and his charity, Livestrong will pay) So sad.

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTony

This isn’t about Lance. Lance is a tool used by many other people to make lots of money.
The U.S. Postal service sponsoring a team to race in Europe? How ironic the USPS simultaneously was starting delivery service in Europe. They used Lance as their vehicle into the European market. But he had to win for people to pay attention, and that in the only race that mattered. Also there’s a limited time frame you can use an athlete for marketing.
This day of admission and exposure was planned with as much effort as his team’s doping (and they knew it would happen). It was planned that he take the fall so that the Master Planners, those behind the scene: sponsors who attached themselves to the Institution of Lance, the governing bodies and government officials who protected him, the advisors and many legal teams supporting the fraud, would all be protected and innocent because Lance said it was him with a character flaw. Those many people will keep their money, Lance would continue to be taken care of and the sport of cycling can now just go away because no one in America cares about it (as was the case before Lance in spite of LeMond’s wins), it’s useful life ended.
What about the drug manufacturers, doctors and pharmacies culpability? And this for FDA regulated pharmaceuticals. Shows that, like gun laws, you can’t keep drugs from being used illegally through laws and regulations. Those same laws actually protect criminals.
And all that money will stay with those really responsible. But at least they won’t have to confess, because Lance did that for them…

January 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

Steve: "What about the drug manufacturers, doctors and pharmacies culpability?"

Example Amgen Tour of Ca?
Just two weeks after pleading guilty in a major federal fraud case, Amgen, the world’s largest biotechnology firm, scored a largely unnoticed coup on Capitol Hill.

The language buried in Section 632 of the "fiscal cliff" law delays a set of Medicare price restraints on a class of drugs that includes Sensipar, a lucrative Amgen pill used by kidney dialysis patients.

The provision gives Amgen an additional two years to sell Sensipar without government controls... it is projected to cost Medicare up to $500 million over that period.
Amgen employs over 70 lobbyists to get what the company wants fron Congress and US citizens.

Welcome cycling fans to higher prices!

January 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJack

Yes Jack how ironic that the producers of a banned substance (EPO) sponsor a sport of its most pervasive users.
How ironic that the very drugs that caused Lance’s cancer are then the very ones which allowed his miraculous recovery (and transition from mediocre to star cyclist).
See Lyle Alzado on the cover of Sports Illustrated 1991; Ken Caminiti who said baseball was saturated with steroid use, in Sports Illustrated 2002. Both ostracized by their chosen sport after such disclosures. Both dead shortly after.
And Lance has the audacity to form a foundation to make us “More aware of Cancer”. Just who are the cancer in our world…?

January 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

An interesting article in the NY Times. It seems no mystery to me where LA and the other pros got their supply of EPO. Direct from the manufacturer no doubt; they were actually acting as human Guinea Pigs and testing the product.
The Tour of California really needs a new sponsor, but sadly that is not going to happen, given the current economy and the bad taste left by this whole sordid affair.

January 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDave Moulton

"We didn’t look on it as cheating, the entire Tour de France field was on dope, it only becomes cheating if a substance is banned and only a few do it."
-- Dave Moulton, May 2007

"I am frustrated with people who still say, 'Lance doped in an era when everyone doped, therefore it was okay, and the playing field was level.' It is not okay .. everybody and his brother doping sure as Hell doesn’t make that right."
-- Dave Moulton, January 2013

I seems as if someone has allowed himself to be swept up in the current spate of media-fuelled Lance-bashing.

As far as I'm concerned, if someone wants to dedicate his life to sport, let him do to himself whatever it takes to become a winner. Who cares? Those who don't want to get involved in doping can found a drug-free league or go into another line of work -- such as building world-class frames, just as you did.

January 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterUri DeYoung

I agree with Uri - if a person wishes to push the limits on what his / her body will do - let them. The testing / prohibition issue has reached lunatic proportions. Soon we'll be into modifying DNA (if we haven't begun already) at which point testing becomes silly.

But please, take the money out of it. Let anyone compete - run the Tour de California from the Oregon Border to Tijuana along any biway or highway the riders wish. First to arrive in T.J. wins.

The award - a pound of Velveeta Cheese - a fitting award - perhaps a slightly faded, off-color yellow jersey.

January 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJames Thurber

If Dave's comment "direct from the manufacturer" is possible, imagine the fallout if Lance does tell all, assuming he knows.

Can a non-US physician (or lab technician) get these drugs directly from the manufacturer? Does anyone here know more about this?

Personally I don't watch the TofCA because of how Amgen involvement tarnishes the image-credibility of cycling.

January 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJack


"Difficult to use Google Translate to read the full text, your emotion, so I go looking for your information. As from China, the dream became cyclists. Work for it."

Translated by Dave using Google Translate. My first comment from China that I remember.

January 22, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterjie

Some of the younger guys are getting really cheesed off being asked about Armstrong. It has nothing to do with them, they feel. See how Mark Cavendish reacted when a journo asked him his opinion: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-PGsHoVYTk

January 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMartin Hayman

My thoughts run pretty much along the same lines and I've expressed them on my blog. I too am especially tired of hearing the "everybody was doping" canard. As you say, two wrongs don't make a right ... and it's not true.

I also hail from the British cycling scene of the '60s and found the North American scene exclusionary, hyper-competitive, and not much fun. I rode my last race in my forties and switched to randonneuring, which is, generally, less about competition and more about camaraderie.

I'm also a two-time cancer survivor and my fund-raising hero is the late Terry Fox, whose namesake foundation, in contrast to Livestrong, continues to raise tens of millions every year for direct cancer research.

January 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRaymond Parker

Lovely post, Dave.
Fortunately the yellow texan has moved out of the limelight, let's hope he it stays that way.

February 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohann Rissik

I know this is late but I would like to "vent" with this comment...

I am pretty much in alignment as Steve and Jack. I think the point that most miss is that professional sport is not sport, it's business. In my opinion, to destroy a "hero" under the circumstances like LA does little for anyone other than to display a bigger ego than that of the "hero". I chuckle at the absolute mess created by this "justice" and that all the second place finishers to receive the fallen "hero's" wins are also corrupt. Would it not have been better to leave the "hero(s)" of the past be and focus on the future? If the ruling bodies really want to eradicate doping then lets draw the line, excuse/forgive/ignore the ones we think/thought/proved did what they did as it matters little and now only matters that it will not be tolerated in the future. Money and time wasted only to hurt the sport (entertainment) we love.

As far as sport goes, I think it is only sport at the grass roots level. As I stated above, at this time anyway, big business controls sport and so it is just business. Rules of the "sport" are bent/broken for the sake of television cameras and having a "hero" in the lead, unless it makes sense for the "story" to do otherwise.

Ya, I know I'm a cynic, but I am more disillusioned than ever with professional "sports". Why watch, just get out and ride. The real sport is in pushing your limits against your mates!

End rant.

May 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDarren
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