Blog.

It has been some time since I have written.  But the presence of this site, my business site more or less requires I do.  As you can see I am a carpenter, a structural timber builder, or in other words a starving artist.  So if you like art, you will like my buildings, and they will like you, or even be like you since you may have a part in their design. More on that later.

I also am slowly finding myself getting back into cycling, which at one time defined me, and at one time I had a certain mastery of.  I am working with Racer X Cycling both as a coach and hopefully somewhat as a director. 

In the intervening spaces of my life I have also been immersed in what is called Christian ministry, though I would hate to be described as such it is impossible to divorce myself from the  perspective the experiences that being among the homeless and among the “churched” has brought me.

And so..  It seems it is time to comment on the ethos of the current situation in the competitive cycling world, in particular the  Lance Armstrong Affair,  Or the end of doping as we knew it.   Not to think doping is over, not all.

In my day doping was entrenched in the European Racing Scene, it was the mode of the institution.  On my first foray into racing in Belgium as an young ambitious not greatly talented rider doping I encountered an entire culture of doping on the most basic and dirty level.  Many aspiring riders, from Australia, England, America, New Zealand made their way to Belgium to try their hand in the races there.

The close proximity of races, economy of life and opportunity to test oneself in the birth place of Eddy Mercks enduced many  to try their hand there.  I was one of them.  We encountered a more realistic version of life in racing there than was available in our home countries.  The racing was fast, difficult technically, organized in the sense that there were combines inmost races, and contained such a huge different types of riders, who rode for different reasons in the events.  Many were working men, who like the amateur competition and were often older, some were aspiring pros, and many it seemed just must have loved it, because overall it was a tough environment to race in.

From the beginning of my time in Ghent, doping was understood to be a part of the cycling culture.  The culture was divided into more than one part.  A definite upper and lower class.  Some of the riders came from  better circumstance, some did not.   Some of the cycling gurus reminded me of the worst of seedy boxing promoters, doing whatever they could to get a few good stupid horses in their corner so they could claim to have a stable.  They rented rooms to the riders and kept them on the stuff, some of the guys just scared me, just a rough crowd, maybe something like roughnecks.  Performance enhancing substances were very common, but among the guys fighting for survival there was much less intelligent use of them, and in some races in Ghent especially it seems as if I was racing with a subhuman species, contorted in mind and body by inbred genetics and drug use.  At bit reminiscent of a real Gotham City, replete with Harvey TwoFace,s and Jokers.

After graduating my initial schooling in the realities of bike racing in Belgium I then found the same culture in its different National guises in each European country I competed in  In Holland in France in Italy, in Spain, no matter where I went or who I raced against, professional or amateur the dark parts of cycling culture were always palpable if not openly visible.  With some I felt little or no revulsion, especially the Eastern European riders, what choice do those men have?  Yes they had a choice, but one I could understand more readily than others.

None of the recent news about Lance is really new.  He did not invent the system, no not at all.  In my first Professional season my team Director Peter Post made a point of bringing me to the start of one of Cycling,s most famous races (a race I was  not scheduled to race) to lecture me on the importance of “doing what the team Doctor told me to do” i.e. taking what the team Doctor told me to, without asking questions,  Peter made a point of giving me this lecture in the main hotel  lobby where many of the big teams and most of the UCI officials and media were also staying. He had little or no concern that our conversation was private.  No one ever tested positive while on a Panasonic Team.  Very impressive all things considered.

But today our Dark Knight is Lance Armstrong, whom I have no hate for, in fact a sort of respect for. Of course the evidence is conclusive, but WE and I mean WE which means everyone who knows cycling has known that of course Lance did it better and more persuasively than anyone else.  He perfected they system, and in all likelihood never thought himself anything other than the protector of cycling’s history, myths and Legends, his own version of a Batman. 

The conclusions he reached were the same as mine, that is was impossible win at the highest professional level consistently without doping.  It is an opinion that no one yet has convinced me different of. Though many are now trying, the fact is they all have been part of the system, either in actually using PEDS or turning a blind eye to them or worse. 

By now even the non -cyclist has heard of Lance’s fall from grace, and maybe even a fall from power, and that perhaps is the redeeming factor in all of this, it took the highest to fall to shed light on a practice that includes all, low and high.  

Sports that benefit from PEDS more than any others are sports that involve the melding of the mechanical and the human body.  The bicycle is the epitome of that relationship, man and machine becoming one.  The machine cannot develop beyond pedals, wheels, direct transmission of power through a crankset and chain, it is all in the motor, and that is the man. 

So let it go at that.

 


Comments

william hemeon
12/17/2012 4:44pm

Alexi, keep on riding and writing, I appreciate your openness and candor. For me there has always been something spiritual about riding, The bike is my religion and the roads are my church.

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Joseph Flanigan
12/18/2012 5:34pm

Tom Horn was a professional frontiersman. The story of Tom Horn is good to remember because in the end the people who hired him, hung him. Interestingly his hanging was done by an automated process. Professional anything is about earning money based on the job description of who is doing the hiring. A risk all professional jobs have by dedicating time and talent for treasure is being hung-out-to-dry. I know you and Tyler, I have seen your hearts. I am proud to call you heroes.

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Joe Englert
02/13/2013 1:42pm

Hey Alexi, your quite a guy. Always loved watching you ride and win. I remember that great old Crest team back in the days. Wondering if you ever get out to California to do rides of any type?

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Anne Darken
03/23/2013 7:50pm

I grew up in Boulder and was looking at a Facebook posting of the old red zinger race which made me think about cycling, which I haven't followed in years, Nashville not being a cycling kind of town. You were always my favorite back when we were young, so I googled you and found this website. Good luck to you in all you endeavors, I always thought you were very cool and was so happy when you won the gold medal. Ill follow your blog from now on.

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03/30/2013 11:52pm

Good post. I just wish I had a video of the '88 Redlands Classic.

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04/30/2013 2:32am

You have used the most artistic way of expression.Its seems like you are sharing live depiction of some of your tough personnel experiences.

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06/27/2013 8:46pm

Exactly sachin it seems alexi has been through many hardships but he has came above all very well. Alexi keep on writing about Lance we still love him!

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Sunil Thomas
09/07/2013 5:09pm

Alexi: Great to hear that you are doing well, despite being a starving artist. I'm a member of an Indian American church with a large youth movement. We don't have too many sports heros in the Indian American community. If you are ever in NJ, we would be proud to have you say a few words of encouragement, including sharing your trials and tribulations, to our youngsters.

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10/22/2013 2:21am

Alexi I appreciate your work, and I must say you have done a great job and keep writing. I am always looking forward for your post.

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jeff
02/04/2014 3:29pm

Man, you were one of my favoite riders from so long ago...just guts....you really ought to write a serious book Alexi....you have the talent and the words and the honesty...do it bud....I will buy...and I can help write if you need....but I don't think you need any help at all...

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