Jeremiah Bishop is reportedly coming to the Pantani ride. Ben King, evidently, has volunteered for beer handup responsibilities. I read all of this on big blue, so I know that it is 114% true.
I don't think I ever expected Jeremiah to turn up for the Pantani. Not because he isn't into a disorganized, underground 50-miler with low expectations for signage, support, and so forth, but simply because he was actually, tangibly, financially the victim of the sort of drug-sport that Pantani represents. I've written a few times about the nature of drugs in cycling and the long-term benefits that an athlete might derive from EPO, and I've sworn to never utter the words Ryder Hesjedal on this blog ever again. But I'm breaking rank here in order to make a point about The Pantani Ride that I think is relevant: that "Pantani" is sort of a misnomer for what it is we're trying to do out here in a couple weeks.
I don't guess Jeremiah ever met Marco Pantani. Different eras, for the most part, and different disciplines as well. I could be wrong about that. But the culture that Marco was a core member of - EPO and doping in elite professional cycling - was certainly one that hurt JB. Indeed, JB's incredible bike handling skills and engine weren't quite enough to get him over the hump from pro mtb racing into pro road cycling in the late 90's, not when the likes of Roland Green, Hesjedal, and a bunch of Canadian dopers were stealing the wins, the money, and the limelight.
It's worth pointing out, I suppose, that JB did manage to win some races against those guys - largely the technical, muddy, West Virginia-sort-of tracks where his handling could give him enough of an edge to actually win. But on a clean course with a bunch of climbing, for the most part, dope always wins, and for sure guys like Hesjedal, Roland Green, Seamus McGrath took advantage of that, took advantage of guys like JB who weren't willing to cheat, and while JB stayed back in the USA and a part of the mountain biking circuit that we look back upon with much nostalgia now, guys like Hesjedal made the upgrade to Europe, to the road, and most profoundly to the money.
|because cheaters like to party too.|
Though it goes without saying that such a role is absolutely vital:
A name is just a name, and I get that. But sometimes, and for some people, a name actually represents something else. Like, for example, what if we called it "The Hesjedal Ride"? Would JB still come? Would anyone? Would I get a letter from Ryder's attorney, demanding that I either pay him royalties or change the name? Would that letter have a return address? Would it be possible that I could take a shit in an envelope and mail it to that address? Inconvenient, sure, but I'd be willing to charge everyone attending $1,000 if it meant that it would get Ryder's attention in such a way that I might receive SASE from Ryder Hesjedal that I could defecate in and mail back to him. And your $1,000 means that you can shit in it too.
At some point, you have to admit that you're just carting around a bad idea, prodding it along even though the usefulness has pretty much expired. Pantani was a cheating fuck. I loved his courage, I loved his defiance, I loved the way he stood up to Lance Armstrong, and simply refused to back down, but still, Pantani is no hero.
The Pantani Ride, on the other hand, is a free celebration of our local dirt, early season fitness (or lack thereof), blowing up on 20% inclines, and getting to rub elbows with some local guys that happen to have once been cheated out of an entire lifestyle. When Shawn and I first started this thing, it was just the two of us, and Pantani had been dead for only a year, and I don't think we ever considered that his iniquities had actually affected people that we knew. Greene County is a long, long ride from Italy. But not too far, it turns out.
Continuing to call what we're doing out here "Pantani" is starting to feel a little bit like Weekend at Bernie's, where we are just sort of propping up this dead idea of Pantani and carting him around in a way that isn't accurate (or healthy.) So I think this might be the last year we call it that. Pantani 11 will be the last Pantani. Not sure what we'll call it next year, but it'll be year 12, so it'll have to be Whatever12. Not Whatever12, specifically, but you know what I mean. I just can't watch the future of the sport - talented kids like Charlie Ormsby or that newly minted pro Bryan Lewis - trudge up brokenback if it's in Pantani's name.
So that's about that, then. Oh, right, the weather. Whole bunch of snow still out there atop the pop as of today, but it'll be 60 degrees and sunny all weekend so that stuff is on limited time. How limited? Like any misnomer, you just never know how long a thing will hang around.
Only way to find out is to keep moving forward, keep looking up, up, up.