Masiguy is expressing what a lot of cycling fans are feeling today. Vinokourov’s positive test was fodder for conversation at the Farmers Market tonight. I got the sense that even the folks who’ve been holding out hope that this might be a clean Tour are seeing the light.
If you love cycling, you choose to love it in spite of the doping scandals. Doping has been part of the sport since competitive cycling’s birth, and although the drugs of choice change with the decades, doping’s presence is a constant. So you either embrace cycling for all the right reasons — because it reflects our capacity to do seemingly amazing things under the harshest conditions — or you can turn your back on it.
Does that mean I accept doping? Nope. I’d like to see it eliminated, though I doubt it will be. But I don’t see it as the defining characteristic of cycling, and I don’t think I’m alone. The images of Hampsten, in the snow, on the Gavia, or Lemond charging down the Champs d’Elysee ultimately say more to many of us than the notion that some of the most stirring performances are drug enhanced. The reality of doping makes me more than a little sad, but it’s an idea that — for me at least — can coexist with cycling’s ideals.
Tonight, between conversations about Vino we went for a fast ride. It wasn’t my best night, but for a while I was full of energy and riding hard. It was the kind of experience that defines cycling for me. And it has nothing to do with what’s happening thousands of miles away in France.