By Sal Ruibal
I’ve been a bit stymied in my attempt to ride my bike for an hour a day instead of watching the Tour de France at the crack of dawn. Almost every dawn since the race began, cold rain has been pouring down. For some sick reason, showers reappear about every four hours.
I could be a dick and ride a groove down the ‘Tink trails, but that groove would soon be a ditch and then a canyon. So instead of riding singletrack, I’ve been singlespeeding on the CCT, a 41-mile, county trail that was recently renamed in honor of U.S. Congressman Gerry Connolly, a former county supervisor who had the vision to propose and build a multi-purpose trail that connected traffic-clogged Fairfax County with its network of beautiful parks.
When I did watch the Tour, I noticed that a lot of those skinny dudes were crashing hard on asphalt. I’ve done a lot of road riding and have had maybe three minor crashes, nothing serious. When I started to ride mountain bikes, however, I was biffing more than I was ripping.
I’ve had a hundred or so self-induced MTB race crashes (thanks, 24 Hours of Canaan and Big Bear Lake) but only one collision with another rider. We were so tangled up that we almost took off with each other’s bike. And we laughed about that.
But watching the “boys” in the Tour leave big patches of skin on the road is scary. They really are turning the pedals in anger. Yes, the Tour is a big money event and all that, but what’s the point of dedicating your life to being really pissed off most of the time?
One answer might be the ‘roids talking and the EPO keeping you up all night walking the floor of your Ibis hotel room in fear of having Jello in your arteries.
Competition is just one aspect of cycling, and one I’ve enjoyed over the years. But when I taught my son to ride, we kept to a mantra: “Who do we compete against? Ourselves.”
I’ve been last in races more than I’ve been first. Riding bikes isn’t my job, it is my passion. Yes, I get paid to write these screeds and I want to be the best bike blogger around, but I’m not going to elbow Gary Boulanger’s Mac into the gutter or put a stick in Andy Hood’s hard-drive.
Many riders have died at the Tour, some of them by sticking a needle in their veins. That has to stop. There would probably be more anger and doping in mountain biking if there was more money in it. If anger and doping brought more attention to the sport, I would pedal slowly away with mud on my face, singing a happy tune.