Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The tree with the sweetest fruits

I'm beside myself with this tweet by fellow Texas cyclist Mitch Comardo, "The tree with the sweetest fruits has the most stones thrown at it." Mitch is a category 1 cyclist (the highest level of US amateur racing) from Houston. He just last week accepted a two-year suspension after testing positive for several prohibited substances.

There are some who note that Comardo accepted his suspension without protest or appeal, and who further suggest this is the sign of a gentleman. Other argue that a gentleman doesn't wait for urine lab results to incriminate him before fessing up.

Tonight, the online forums on the Texas Bicycle Racing Association website are buzzing.

I'd love for everyone in TX to be tested, the cost would be ridiculous but I wouldn't be surprised if a few others get lumped into the "other" group. I agree forgive him on a personal level though, I'd hate to be judged the rest of my life based on decisions I made 10-20 years ago. Maybe a race will test next year randomly but I doubt it.

and

You'd think at least you'd win local yokel events on the juice. Don't you realize how, from a pro's perspective, regional racing is? That's weak sauce, doping, of course, but what's worse is you still weren't fast. Look how easy races are this year for the ex-Toyota guys. That awakening (that you don't have pro talent) should have prevented this situation from happening to begin with. What were you going to do when you "made it"? Doubled up?

Whereas many are generally aware of pro cycling's history with doping, it seemed unlikely there was any in the regional amateur ranks. After all, it's expensive and dangerous and the rewards for all this risk just aren't there.

I never knew this kid, never raced with him. He was much faster than me. There's heaps of racers out there and there's bound to be a few maroons in the pack. What strikes me is his boldness. Tweeting on the "sweetest fruit" smacks not only of delusion but also martyrdom and unrepentance. Oh well, he's just a stupid kid with a cell phone.

I guess the greatest lesson from this scandal, other than how desperate we all were for a scandal, is the real purpose and value of our racing. Nearly every one of us will never race professionally and the vast majority will never race even at the elite amateur level. We will all likely outspend whatever we win by embarrassing factors. So it is to something other than victory or glory in which we must find purpose. Or we must redefine victory and glory.

I've blogged on this just recently, but today's news gives me even more perspective. Maybe looking for meaning in racing isn't the point. Maybe the purpose of racing is to help find meaning in everything else. In training and racing we struggle and in that we learn, about ourselves and each other.

Tonight I was honked at by some hillbilly. I reacted poorly, again, which gives me no satisfaction. But every hillbilly is an opportunity to grow, to redefine myself as a thoughtful and loving person and not a reactive one. And every race is an opportunity for sportsmanship, for fraternity, for redefinition.

My race this Saturday, the Texas State Championship road race, will field 125 riders from around the State. That's 124 men against which and in the context of whom I can refine my own character.