Dirty Words | Fear of the Unknown

By Sal Ruibal

I can’t even get angry with humanity anymore. Everywhere you look, somebody or something is blowing up and the TV and the Internets are full of looping video of flames and smoke and body parts.

Some people are getting blown up with missiles from our drones. Some people are getting killed or maimed because they happened to be watching a sporting event that attracts a lot of people.

And not just at the Boston Marathon. In March, a suicide bomber blew himself up during a traditional Afghan game of buzkashi, a game of horse polo played with a dead goat, killing at least 10 spectators in the northern province of Kunduz. Among those killed were the district police chief who is the brother of Afghanistan’s Speaker of the House.

Don’t laugh about the goat. Just think what a bunch of spandex-clad guys on mountain bikes must look like to them. Anyway, we are all “them.” We are people who like to play our games in public, just like the runners in the Boston Marathon and the goat smackers in Afghanistan.

But we have to get serious. People are out to get us because there are some real psychos out there of all skin colors and languages who can’t stand the idea that other people are enjoying themselves. There is something about laughter and love and the shared enjoyment of our bodies that makes them want to kill.

How can we protect ourselves from these nimrods? That’s a tough question. Our sports are played out on dirt trails and paved roads that meander all over the place. How can you secure a 24-hour mountain bike race that twists and turns and climbs all night? How do we check every car parked along the roads in a 100-mile gran fondo?

There were 60,000 spectators on the course of the 2012 Cyclocross World Championships, crammed into a one-half-mile square course on a dozen big sand dunes. It also happened to be across the road from a big Belgian military base and armed helicopters flew overhead all day.

We live in a warrior nation that has been at war of some kind pretty much every day of my life. We learned to duck under our desks in fourth-grade because the Russians might drop an atomic bomb on us. In high school, we saw the Palestinian terrorists kill Israeli athletes and themselves at the Munich Olympics. I was a soldier and carried a gun.

Now we see grainy video of guys in black hoodies and caps who might have improvised explosive devices in their backpacks. How many guys do you know who wear black snap-brim caps and hoodies? Probably 70 percent of the Bike and Paved staffs.

We’re all both suspects and suspect-seekers. Fear of the unknown. Fear of the known we’ve seen on TV a hundred times in the last week.
There is no answer other than resistance. Resist hate, resist ideology, resist fear. Laugh in the face of evil. Evil hates laughter. So get out there on your bike and laugh your ass off.

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