Aftermath: The Dawn of a New Error

After participating in the Bicycling Fall Classic the Sunday before last, I was in desperate need of some de-Fredification.  Therefore, this past weekend I selected a rugged all-terrain bicycle and sought terrain upon which Freds fear to tread, by which I mean "dirt:"

At this point various commenters usually heckle me for my choice of grip, but if being comfy is wrong then I don't want to be right:

I suppose people think grips like this are "dorky," but if I was worried about people thinking I was a giant dork then I wouldn't be riding a bicycle.

Anyway, as a busy person who has to juggle watching up to five different compelling television series a week, I don't always have time to venture far from home in order to de-Fredify myself in the wilderness.  Fortunately though we now have Cunningham Park in Queens, which offers far more entertaining off-road riding possibilites than its suburban location would suggest.  The only real problem (besides all the broken glass) is that, as the day wears on, certain sections of the park do become thick with people in velour tracksuits who think that the granny gear/small cog combo is the optimal gear selection for any terrain. I always try to be polite when riding behind such people, waiting patiently for a safe opportunity to pass.  Unfortunately though what inevitably ends up happening is that they sense that someone is behind them, turn around to see, and then fall down with all the grace of a triathlete.

Of course, the real key to cycling is preparation, and as I injected my pre-ride EPO into my scranus I couldn't help but think of this whole doping shitstorm--which, like any severe weather event, has had both positive and negative effects.  On the plus side, "Saturday Night Live" used it as an opportunity to bring back Jean K. Jean.  ("You ever be at a fête and throw down some gruyère?")  On the negative side, it's emboldened people who nobody gives a shit about to confess their own EPO use.  Sure, those affidavits from the likes of David Zabriskie and George Hincapie were pretty juicy, but now we're hearing from this guy:

Basically, he's a fun-run bottom-feeder (or, if you prefer, a "Foot Fred"):

Hesch, a self-described “profligate road racer,” said that over two years, beginning in August 2010, he injected himself with EPO 54 times before an empty EPO vial was found in his bag and he was reported to antidoping officials. In that time, he won nearly $40,000 in prize money in more than 75 races, including international competitions, United States championships and local road races.

“You get a little money at one race, maybe $1,500 at another,” Hesch said. “And it adds up quickly.”

Who turned to EPO after a bike crash:

This job does not come with workers’ compensation. In May 2010, Hesch was cross-training on his bicycle along Highway 1 in California between San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay when he was hit by a car.

“It was one of those instances I should have been dead,” Hesch said.

He picked himself off the road and received only six stitches to his left elbow, a few deep bruises, minor road rash and a dislocated shoulder. He was able to walk away from the accident but was not able to train adequately for nearly five months.

For the fall racing season, he decided he deserved some extra help to get back on track.

For the most part I was unmoved by this tale of somebody who refuses to get a real job, though I was interested to learn that apparently one side-effect of EPO is that it causes extremely arrogant victory celebrations:

Easing into the finish chute in his Team USA jersey, Hesch stopped a foot away from the finish line, laid down on his stomach on the road, took a whiff of the asphalt centimeters from his nose and performed five push-ups, a pre-victory celebration.

With Lemma sprinting toward him, Hesch smiled and got back on his feet. He broke the finishing tape with his hands above his head.

What a douche.

Sadly, the cycling world will probably refuse to acknowledge one of the most important revelations to come out of Shitstorm 2012, which is that virtually all of this bicycle marketing is complete fiction.  For years sponsors have attributed rider performance to the layup and modulus of their crabon or the "beefiness" of their bottom brackets.  These claims are often humorous enough on their own, but when you think about them as you read a sworn affidavit in which your favorite rider reveals how he changed blood so often it was like the "Signature Service" at Jiffy Lube (and just as slipshod, too) it all sounds totally absurd.  I'd like to think that the scandal will usher in a new age of admitting that all of these bicycles are pretty much the same, though unfortunately the consumers and the press will continue to embrace the concept that the crucial difference between winning and losing is an oversized headtube or a squiggly fork.

Nevertheless, being terminally naive, I continue to hold out hope that one day race bike ads will look like this:

Alas, the truth is that in cycling the only real heroes are the commuters.  The regular people.  The rank-and-file.  The ones who don't take the bus, even when it rains.  Recently, BikePortland featured a photo gallery of these unsung heroes, and to my mind the winner is either Insouciant Fixie Guy:

(Seconds after this photo was taken he ran into the back of a Subaru Forester.)

Or else Rube Goldberg Contraption Guy:

(Why pedal with two limbs when you can pedal with four?)

Between these two riders I have no idea why cycling for transportation isn't more mainstream in America.

Holding a crabon bicycle aloft mightily with one hand:

And busting a sweet circa 2007-style elephant trunk skid:

Insouciant Fixie guy would totally do that if he weren't in imminent danger of splitting his pants.

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