Thursday, November 7, 2013

Hey Ryder, Fuck You.

Sometime shortly after the turn of the century, I was learning how to mountain bike, and someone gave me a copy of Chainsmoke 2.  Chainsmoke 2 was one of those early mountain bike films, before Freeriding really took off and began to dominate the sport from a marketable visual perspective, and it mostly focused on professional racers, but it was a little different than the run-of-the-mill downhill bike porn because it actually had some great footage of the XC race scene in the early 2000's.  I was psyched about that.  And maybe 10 minutes in (I know how long because I used to play the video while I was donning my Gary Fisher riding ensemble, getting ready to go ride) Ryder Hesjedal would grab a holeshot and ride up some insanely steep section of a race course out West in his big ring, all skinny, power, and glory, and disappear over the other side of the hill.  One word would come out of my mouth: Badass.  And then I'd go ride.  In my head, I could ride like that.

Might as well steal this one from Youtube at this point.  It's all stolen anyway.

Much coverage in the news this week (like most weeks) and some pretty bad news for professional road cycling, but this time the culprit is one of our own.  I guess not, it turns out.

Hey
Ryder,
Fuck 
You.

Honestly, that one hurts me a little.  There's not much I can say about it that hasn't already been said in the mainstream media that's way more timely and better written than this rag, and the damage is already done and all that.  But damn.

Still, I'm just a fan, and despite my fantasies to the contrary 12 years ago, I've never had that kind of power.  But plenty of other guys did - or might have - guys I know and respect and still see on the local goods sometimes.  And it's those guys that really ended up holding the bag for Ryder's greed.

Erin Bishop put this photo up on big blue yesterday.  It's just sad.  Jeremiah and JHK, all the clean riders, taking a back seat in an up-and-coming sport to cheaters.  Shortly after this, Hesjedal got a pro road racing contract, departed for Europe, and made a whole life for himself on the basis of his "talent" as a mountain biker.    That's a whole lot of money, fame, a house in Europe, the adoration of his country, Sportsman of the Year in Canada, etc, etc.

Ouch.



Photo: When VeloNews named Jeremiah the "revelation of the season" in 2003, they only knew the half of it. In his "breakthrough" season, when the NORBA Nationals were a huge scene with international riders and tons of fans, Jeremiah and plenty of other riders were racing and training to be the best athletes they could be. It's a damn shame we look back at images like this one, now knowing that the honest, hard-working and inspired athletes were up against cheats - and not just up against them on the racecourse, but in the job market and bicycle racing history. Jeremiah's third place at Mt Snow was a HUGE deal back then. Now knowing he was the CLEAN winner, with JHK (at left) the only other CLEAN rider on that podium, really changes what would have been. Another HUGE CONGRATS to you for all your success, Jeremiah!

Look, I don't really care that another pro roadie got popped for drugs.  If that surprises or dissapoints any fan of cycling at this point in the game, it's probably worth admitting that it's going to get worse before it gets better.  And hopefully some notion of clemency and forgiveness can happen on a large-scale, global level that will allow that sport to move forward before it completely goddamn implodes.

But this sport isn't that sport.  So don't give us that bullshit, Ryder, about "everyone was doing it so I had to cheat too blah, blah, blah..."  You were a mountain biker.  It was a pretty clean sport (I hope, God, I hope) save for a few assholes like you who cheated to get to the top.  In my head, that's way, way different than leveling the playing field in the pro road peloton where you pretty much had to juice just to stay in line.  You cheated because you wanted an advantage, and you thought you'd never be caught.

Maybe the real drag of this, though, is that there's no punishment.  Ryder cheated, now nothing happens because of some randomly selected eight-year statute of limitations on the matter.  Ryder gets to keep racing, even though his whole career is founded on the same artificial legs and stolen money that righteously sacked other riders. He, as they say, "can't give back the legs, won't give back the money."

And really, I guess maybe he shouldn't.  That's dirty cash.  I'm not sure JB would take it anyway (though I do hope JB would spit on him.)  But it gives me pause, and I wonder what would make us - the fans, fellow racers, sponsors, all of us - feel better about this.  Maybe if Ryder self-served a two year ban on his own volition, though he might as well retire at that point.  But that won't happen, and it doesn't matter.

Indeed, the only real consequence is that we all know now.  Sure, this blog might be tiny, and my readership (that's you, Dad) probably doesn't identify with this quite as strongly as I do.  But, even if it's all we've got, I guess it's still our role as a mountain bike community to call this one out for what it is and not forget.

Hey Ryder, Fuck You.

If nothing else, maybe the sale of those awful POC shades will take a little hit, and thank God for that.
Ryder Hesjedal
You can take this picture down if you have to, Blogger, but you know what ugly is now.
To the guys that raced clean, dreamed the big dream, and had to watch Ryder sprint away time and time again, I'm really sorry that I looked up to him.

Up, up, and onward.

11 comments:

  1. Agreed. Love your succinct analysis of one of the few North American drug cheats in our li'l mountain-biking world. No wonder he was destined for the euro peloton (not that there's anything wrong with racing in Europe, other than feeling you have to step on others to get to where you hope to be).

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  2. Definitely needed to be said and you did it with intensity which is Awesome!

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  3. Considering what sport it was, I can't argue with a thing you said. I rode in the Pro road peloton in Europe, I drank the kool aid, because I knew what everyone else was doing. And you pretty much had to, if you wanted to keep racing. But I would have never thought the wild, crazy and sometimes really insane mountain bikers were doing it. It just didn't seem part of their culture. If you told me someone was smoking pot, I wouldn't have batted an eye. But doping to win, never in my wildest dreams. Shame on you Ryder.

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  4. It's your blog, so I'm not going to complain about your opinion, but why doesn't Pantani get similar treatment? You seem to praise him and mourn his passing.

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    1. Yeah, I thought about that. I guess, in my head anyway, Pantani has paid for his iniquities. And the more the truth comes out about Lance Armstrong, the more I like Pantani. http://blueridgeracing.blogspot.com/2013/01/the-new-courchevel.html

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