The Amgen Tour of California is kind of like that to me during the winter. I TiVo it (of course ... who wants to watch 500 commercials with grinning Bob overdosing on Enzyte?) during the day, then watch it when I get home, dreaming of riding the warm California hills.
Well, okay, the first few days were not exactly what I was looking for. Watching the pros ride long distances in a deluge is gratifying only in the sense that I can see that they, too, corner carefully on slick streets. And during stage 4 I kept trying to not look at the snow piled up at the edges of the road as a breakaway with Tyler Hamilton held off the peloton.
But by stage 5, things were looking warm and the sun was shining. And while I don't even want to try to do five-hour 200K - which the pros did that day - I do want to ride a bicycle fast in warm sunshine.
Speaking of Tyler ...
I'm going to rant a bit here. If you don't like to read rants, skip down to the end.
Sunday I was talking to some friends about the ToC, and my friend commented that "All of the dopers are back." He was referring to Tyler, of course, as well as Floyd Landis and Ivan Basso, who've also been convicted of using performance-enhancing drugs. But he then went on to put Lance Armstrong in that category, adding that Lance "just never got caught."
I won't get into whether or not Tyler, Floyd, and Ivan should be allowed to race again. As with anyone convicted of any crime, they've done their time and should be given the opportunity to resume their lives. Lance got into it with a journalist last week about this, and I agree with him.
But, just as it's not fair to continue to punish those who've already been published, it is not fair to punish thost who have never been convicted. Just because there is no fail-proof system for catching all dopers does not mean that we can assume that anyone suspected of doping and/or accused of doping is a doper. If we are going to assume that everyone that performs well on the field only does so because they are using performance-enhancing substances, then why should any athlete even compete?
Further, must we assume that anyone with the potential to do a crime has done that crime? By that logic, I am a murderer. I live on a planet where people keep getting killed, and I don't have an alibi for all of those deaths. My motive? Well, there's this blog where I talk about having to contend with automobiles - and thus drivers - on the roads where I ride. I'm probably trying to cut down on my commute traffic.
Those guys on Criminal Minds, who catch a serial killer every week, should be busting down my door any minute now.
Sorry. I just needed to get that off my chest.
One more thing, though. In this new "everyone pees in a cup and gives blood three times a day" world of WADA, it's great to see Tyler and Floyd are still performing pretty darned well. Ivan, however ... not so much. Makes you wonder.
Anyway, back to watching the ToC.
Last night, I had to do an hour and a half of tempo riding. Last week I was able to do this with the Harpeth Bicycle Club out at the Nashville Motorplex. That was a blast, since it was easy to maintain a 225-watt average riding a long flat oval over and over and over again.
But, since it was very cold last night, the bike club didn't do the track this week, so I had to put the Bianchi on the trainer. As I said, however, I had TiVo'd the ToC, so I watched that while I rode. It was still not as much fun as being on a real road, of course, but the time passed faster than it usually does while you churn away on the vomitron.
At the end of the stage, the peloton swept up a four-man breakaway (surprise) and the sprinters' teams set them up for the usual mass chaos. When you're on a bike on a trainer at this point, you really get into the action. It was funny looking at my numbers on the computer later, because about this point there's a gradual rise in power, then a spike as Tom Boonen and Mark Cavendish duked it out at the line.
Also, I have to admit that, about halfway thru my ride I finished a water bottle and flipped it thru the air towards the kitchen. That felt really cool. And then the Randodog got hold of it and chewed it up.
I may murder the Randodog.
P.S.: I wrote a bunch of stuff about my team, Gran Fondo Heart of the South, and our upcoming 517-mile race. It's on the site of the Greatest Bike Shop in the Universe, Gran Fondo.