Friday Group Ride #143

Is it me, or is this quickly becoming the longest off-season in the history of professional cycling? Maybe it’s that I was so busy at the end of the summer that I missed the Giro d’Lombardia, but it feels to me like a long time since I watched a road race that mattered, and even the Tour Down Under seems an eon away.

Exacerbating the issue is the Arm(strong)ageddon that has subsumed all the positive things happening in the sport like a wild fire in dry scrub. It’s gotten so I don’t even mind the usual off-season dreck about rider X is looking forward to a strong classics campaign, or rider Y is ready to put last season’s disappointment behind him. I am reading those things now with a keen eye on the future. This is how whalers felt about land sightings, I bet.

The first question I have is: Is it just me? Am I the only one feeling this way? Sure, I am watching cross races and distracting myself with my own off-season adventures, but more than any fall/winter I can remember, I am missing pro road racing.

The second question is: When do you think we’ll have this feeling behind us? I am imagining Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne and Het Volk will be big races for me. Will they allay this horrible sense of longing, or will it last all the way to the Giro?

This week’s Group Ride is about moving on. What’s it going to take for you to put this whole mess behind you and get back to talking about the races? Or are you over it already, happy to have the brain space for something other than skinny people on plastic bikes? What are you looking forward to for the 2013 season?

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  1. Ransom

    I like the Arm(strong)ageddon thing. Funny.

    As much as I’d like to see it in the rear-view and then turn my attention to where we’re headed, I’m on tenterhooks to see what comes of all that. Bicycle racing is wonderful and beautiful, and I don’t think it will ever be ruined, it does seem like we’re at something of a crossroads, and I want to believe that ten years from now, young racers who have only recently had to make that horrible choice mostly won’t regard it as a choice. “You’d have to be crazy to do that.” That the ones who opt not to use PEDs won’t wind up as second-string domestiques for their trouble.

    Sure, there’s a *massive* amount of negativity associated with the whole thing, but again I reference the rear-view mirror. Isn’t it exciting that we have this milestone, this point in time, and this big lever to wedge under things like the UCI? Not just rumors and mumblings to be shrugged off; we *know* things have been rotten, in the concrete sense which involves not just hearts and minds sense which moves people, but courts and dollars sense which moves corporations and sanctioning bodies.

    Or maybe I’m just out of sync as usual. I ended up off the bike during the end of Summer and have skipped ‘cross season, and am starting to try to get in some miles just as we head into Darkness and Holidays. It could be that my head is also many miles behind everybody else…

  2. SusanJane

    I’m of two minds about this off-season. First, it does give us time to deal with the LA fallout as it ripples across the whole cycling world and the general public. Major things are shifting not just the usual riders and teams, maybe even changes in the UCI, points, transparency, etc. Having time to work this out is important. But… my second point isn’t what you think. The Tour Down Under is a problem and so are all these ultra early races. Riders are pressured to ride even when their targets are in July (!). Some riders have to show good if they want to ride anything major four or more months later _yet_ are still expected to ride at the end of the season. I believe this remains the greatest reason to dope when put along side the ridiculous points system.

  3. randomactsofcycling

    I’m over it. Regardless of any off-bike dramas that may occur, the actual racing is always interesting and enough to push any other rubbish to the back of my mind.
    What I can say about all the ‘rubbish’ currently circulating is that I do hope the UCI is usurped by another, competent, organisation.

  4. Flogger

    Yup. Feels like MSR is about a year away. Exacerbated for me by the self-immolation of the NHL. And it got cold early this year in New England – I’m already ‘riding’ in the basement.

  5. Chris

    I’m excited for the Classics as always. I’m not excited for the Tour on mainstream TV where we get to hear about the scandals ad nauseam, again.

  6. Doomsday

    Meh. I am NOT missing pro cycling and I’m not excited about 2013 at all. I reckon I’ll feel a bit differently in the Spring–just need to take a break.

  7. Nick

    I look forward to KBK and Omloop the way that I used to look forward to the weeks leading up to Christmas. By the end of February I’ll sucked in again. Strade Bianche!

  8. Hoshie99

    I am too busy watching & racing cross to miss the pro road season this year.

    Like others, I also need a break given the PED kerfuffle(s).

    I will be looking forward to some nice spring rides after the winter.

  9. Hautacam

    I’m with Doomsday. I’ve pretty much lost interest in pro cycling, with the possible exception of a couple Classics and the queen mountain stages of the TdF. LA didn’t do this to me; as I’ve suggested in other posts, I was on my way out long before. I think Operation Puerto was the final nail.

    I’m glad the cat is amongst the pigeons, as Paul and Phil might say, and I hope that good things come out of it. Heaven help this poor sport if it goes back to business as usual.

    I think it would be great to see the riders and teams take matters into their own hands and establish a new governance structure. Just plain shut out the UCI and replace it with something of their own design, with some sort of separate, central medical control that is responsible to the riders and to the sport as a whole and not to any one team. Develop a pension plan or profit-sharing structure that rewards long-term performance (year over year) and not just one set of results. Maybe chuck the silly parts of the equipment design restrictions while they are at it, and replace them with some scientifically-sound engineering requirements for crashworthiness, durability, etc. — you know, one or two frames per rider, per year; if you use more absent a crash, then you take a points penalty for the year. Get a grip on the media rights stream as well.

    Sounds a little bit like F1, which is scary, because that is a pretty nutty organization in its own right. But boy does it make money.

    Looking forward to riding in dry weather again, but not putting much mind to the pros.

  10. Vince

    I feel the same way but I think I attribute it to the fact that, for whatever reason, this last pro season didn’t seem to satisfy.

    Maybe that’s a good thing because I’m hungry for 2013 to start

  11. Souleur

    yes sir, longer than a double century into a north headwind

    perhaps its information overload, perhaps its all the tweets, twits and twats, perhaps its all the lack of competition in that wiggo smashed it in the TdF in a very unassuming way.

    maybe its the way interbike and opportunities have gone by to show us new goodies…have slid by and been..well, not really impressive. Technology has seemingly come to a standstill, carbon weaves are maxed out, garmin has done well to bring us goods, and how do you perfect a 700g frameset??

    I dunno, but yes, its been a long ride

  12. Gary

    Agreed. The dope-plosion is seemingly without end. The day of the USADA report, I told a friend on email that it’s time to get comfortable in your favorite chair, get the popcorn and beer and watch the show. It has become at least as entertaining/depressing as it appeared it might.

    I’m more in the total rewind mentality these days. Everyone of us started out just riding our bikes because we like riding. Time to revisit that basic activity and mentality. Pro cycling can do whatever it wants to on it’s own dime.

  13. DavidA

    I think there is alot to look forward to this coming spring in Pro cycling…Peter Sagan is the new Boonen the man for the future. Cav is going to pull something special out of the bag I would imagine and Wiggo is going flex his muscles in that way that only he can do. There are alot of new and Hungry young Neo-pros on the way up….Jetse Bol…Sven Van Dousselare and a host of other Dutch and Belgian up-starts to leads the way.

  14. Steve

    Its going to take a total overhaul to get over this hill. Right now I just see more hill. Fans don’t trust the UCI. Fans don’t trust most cyclists.

  15. mck414

    I also feel this off season is dragging on with the whole LA affair blowing up. However, for all those who wish this ugly story to disappear remember we all thought after Festina that cycling would finally clean itself up, the Operation Puerto, and now Arm(strong)ageddon. Which just goes to prove, the sooner we “forget” the past, the sooner we’re doomed to repeat it.

    Personally I’m hoping the Arm(strong)ageddon reasonates for a very long time and affects so many people that the young stars of today’s peloton won’t have to think twice about doping because it’ll have destroyed so many careers and legacies that doping itself becomes a pariah.

    And yes, I am myopic.

  16. armybikerider

    I’m feeling a little lukewarm toward pro cycling this year. It might be all the negativity and cynicism, but more likely it’s simply information overload.

    Between the Doug Report, Pez Cycling, RKP, Steephill TV, the magazine sites (Velo, RBA and Bicycling), Elcyclista, the Italian Cycling Journal, Embrocation Cycling Journal, and even Prolly is not Probably I’m not lacking for fresh content like I did in years past.

    It might also be that I’m logging more miles on my bike than at any time in my life and I’m moving away from racing toward simply enjoying the ride.

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