The Explainer: Prayers for “The Deuce”

Send this guy all the good vibes you can muster.

Send this guy all the good vibes you can muster.

Kids.

I spent Saturday down in Denver at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show, with my 13-year-old daughter, Annika (a gorgeous five-foot-nine-inch blonde, who already has me rethinking my position on gun-control). It was terrific walking the aisles with a budding bike geek, who spent much of the time admiring (and hinting I should buy) some of the most beautiful bikes I’ve seen in ages.

The show also provided a rare opportunity to catch up with old friends, including my buddy Patrick O’Grady, Andy Hampsten and Ron Kiefel and my favorite crazy person, Gregg Bagni. One thing I missed, however, was the chance to catch up with Red Kite’s own Commander in Chief, Padraig, who had planned to be there, but had far more pressing issues at home.

To explain, Padraig and his beautiful wife, Shana, welcomed a new member to their family on Friday. This seven-pound, six-ounce young man is as-of-yet unnamed, but sports the moniker “The Deuce” in honor of his birthday, 2/22. The Deuce is off to a bit of a shaky start and is spending his first few days in a neo-natal intensive care unit, so our thoughts, warmest wishes and best hopes are with the Brady family, Patrick, Shana and big brother Philip. Nothing is more important.

I fully trust that in 13 years, Padraig, you will be strolling through the aisles if the 2026 NAHBS with “The Deuce” and he, too, will be trying to talk you into buying that really beautiful titanium ‘cross bike. Of course, it will be his birthday, so you will have to comply. Start saving your pennies, my friend.
– Charles

Okay, dear readers, it’s time again to sort through the inbox and see what folks are talking about. Let’s start with a follow-up to a story that had long since slipped to the back of my mind.

Hello Charles,
Just read your Explainer about the alleged intentional cycling crash caused by Jonathan Atkins. (see “Assault and bikery in the first degree”)I am a very experienced rider and didn’t even know who this guy was until today when he intentionally nudged me into a ditch during the group Airport ride in Atlanta GA. I rode back into the group after recovering and rode beside this guy and let him know what I thought of his actions in a very verbal exchange. He was very rude, defensive, and gave a ridiculous explanation for why did what he did. He then asked for my name and I made him give me his name first. I know one of his team members Dan Busch (nice guy) and wanted to know for sure if Jonathan Atkins was on his team so I began to ping the internet for information. I’m not one bit surprised with what I have just found; this guy should not be riding with anyone. I will now see if I can add any support to the criminal charges against this guy (yes he was that appalling). Any advice is appreciated.
– Christian

Dear Christian,
As far as I can tell, there was no action taken by prosecutors in this case and Mr. Atkins, as you noted, continues to ride for the Beck Janitorial Cycling team.

I find your story disturbing on many levels, not least of which is that this fella appears not to have learned from his past mistakes. If the details surrounding your incident are true, then you should probably contact USA Cycling and, if you so wish, his sponsor.

Even if this occurred during a training ride, USA Cycling does have the authority to strip a rider of his license. It may be time to raise the issue with the sport’s governing body.

Finally, the thing that gets my interest piqued is that the team lists Mr. Atkins as a “mentor” for younger riders. I generally applaud the idea of older riders – he’s 47 – setting aside their own goals and imparting hard-earned knowledge and an appreciation of the beauty of the sport to those just getting started. Of course, if this story and the May incident prove to be true, he’s the last guy I’d want teaching my son about the intricacies of the sport.

Please, Christian, let me know how this pans out. We’ll follow-up. Meanwhile, the rest of you can feel free to weigh in with comments below.
– Charles

Regarding my recent “Tale of two lawsuits” column, several of you felt that I had been rather dismissive of the readers’ lawsuit against Lance Armstrong and his publishers.

One comment, posted below the story, argued that there were ample reasons for the suit and suggests that I may have mocked the basis of the suit:

Let’s turn this around and ask the question, if someone had filed a lawsuit in 2005 claiming Lance Armstrong had cheated Lance & Co. would have responded with a defamation suit, assembled an army of lawyers who would have humiliated and impoverished the plaintiff(s) into surrender even though the assertions of the plaintiff would be borne out in later years by the admission of Lance Armstrong.

So I can’t mock any plaintiffs’ claims. If memory serves me correctly Lance Armstrong effectively silenced by payment, threats of legal action leading to poverty and outright slander those who called into question the honesty of his wins. I can’t excuse bullies.
– Dave

Dear Dave,
I have to agree, particularly regarding your last comment. Indeed, it’s my general disdain of bullies that was probably at the root of my issues with Mr. Armstrong in the first place.

No, I don’t think doping is, was or ever should be acceptable, but I took far more seriously the bullying of teammates, witnesses and critics. I think the Reasoned Decision shows that USADA did, too. Had Mr. Armstrong simply been a doper, I really doubt that this case would have progressed as it had.

You are correct in saying that any similar suit filed during the days of Armstrong’s ascent would have surely resulted in an immediate countersuit that would have crippled the plaintiffs and the lawyers involved. He used his money, his power and his lawyers to scare critics – and potential critics – into silence.

But, I still have a problem with the whole premise of suing someone for the contents of an autobiography. To begin, the whole concept of an autobiography is an exercise in self promotion. The author – with or without the help of a co-author – uses the opportunity to present himself or herself in the most positive fashion. If there is anywhere where the old rule of caveat emptor should apply it’s reading someone’s story about themselves. Come on.

I’ve read a number of them and my ingrained bullshit detector has been triggered on more than one occasion.

But seriously, what are the damages these “vexed, annoyed and injured” readers suffered? They paid out twenty bucks for what turned out to be a work of self-promoting fiction. They fell for it. Now, they know the truth. BFD. I would much rather see a lawsuit from riders whose careers had been cut short by bullying tactics (Christophe Bassons or Filippo Simeoni, to name just two) or even those who gave up on the sport because Armstrong and his ilk ruined their opportunities to compete fairly. What about folks like Emma O’Reilly, Betsy Andreu, Frankie Andreu, David Walsh? Those folks suffered real and quantifiable damages. But a cadre of now-disappointed, yellow-wristband-wearing fans, who got the wake-up call a little too late? Sorry. I don’t see the harm, beyond getting a reminder of their own gullibility.

This suit, these plaintiffs and these claims are being assembled for a hoped-for class action suit against Armstrong, the publishers and others. This is not about recovering every reader’s twenty bucks, but to allow a creative law firm the opportunity to score big on contingency fees. Let’s say they win a $10 million suit against the defendants  A win would be that each affected reader would get a note telling them that they are a plaintiff in a successful class action suit and they will be eligible for, what, 10 bucks worth of credit toward books? Meanwhile, forty percent, plus expenses will go to the law firm. For individual plaintiffs, the outcome is essentially meaningless. For the lawyers, the case is a crap shoot, with at least reasonably good odds for a pay out at the end. This one ain’t about justice, my friends. It’s just business.

Obviously, as an attorney, I admire their pluck, but viewing it as a hypothetical juror, I doubt I’d go for a big damages award. Part of the onus is on the consumer to read with a critical eye, no?

Yeah, the good thing is that, if successful, the suit will result in the proceeds of Mr. Armstrong’s “unjust enrichment” being taken away. (Of course, if the publishers are held liable, perhaps they can, in turn, sue him for having misled them.) Personally, I’d like to see any money go to the people who suffered actual harm, not those who are merely “vexed, annoyed and injured” by reading what they could have guessed was bullshit.

Bottom line, though, I’m still really uncomfortable with that suit and what it means for anyone who writes anything that purports to be “non-fiction.”

Now, of greater interest is the Department of Justice’s decision to join Floyd Landis’ “whistleblower” suit. I’m intrigued. I do wonder about the damages claim, but I am going to spend time this week, working my way through the suit, supporting documents and briefs and speak with far more experienced attorneys about their thoughts.

Feel free to weigh in on this one, too. You can write your comments below, or send an e-mail to Charles@Pelkey.com.

Meanwhile, keep “The Deuce” in your mind. Let’s send this little dude some seriously good vibes, folks.
– Charles

Small HeadshotThe Explainer is a weekly feature on Red Kite Prayer. If you have a question related to the sport of cycling, doping or the legal issues faced by cyclists of all stripes, feel free to send it directly to The Explainer at Charles@Pelkey.com. PLEASE NOTE: Understand that reading the information contained here does not mean you have established an attorney-client relationship with attorney Charles Pelkey. Readers of this column should not act upon any information contained therein without first seeking the advice of qualified legal counsel licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.

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20 comments

  1. bigwagon

    “You are correct in saying that any similar suit filed during the days of Armstrong’s ascent would have surely resulted in a countersuit that would have crippled the plaintiffs and the lawyers involved. He used his money, his power and his lawyers to scare critics – and potential critics – into silence.”

    Regardless of what you think about Lance, people have been using lawyers to do this since there have been lawyers.

    On the topic of updating ongoing cases, any idea what’s going on with that Strava lawsuit out west?

  2. Maremma Mark

    Thanks for the update on the arrival of “The Deuce”, I’ve been checking back hoping to find news so it was with great joy that I saw his photo. He already looks like a “rouleur” and I’m sure he’ll be bugging his parents for that Ti cross bike in a few years.

  3. Patrick O'Brien

    Nice read Charles, thanks.

    Long live the Deuce! Twenty years from now we will hear some race announcer scream, “How did Deuce Brady win that sprint? Here came out of nowhere, was on the guys wheel for a second, then blew by him to win by twenty feet! Here comes his Dad, Patrick, for a big hug on the podium!” Live long and prosper son!

  4. Jesus from Cancun

    Padraig, my youngest son spent his first week of life in the hospital in IC. He is now a 4 year old atomic powered little rascal. I am morally with you 100%.

    And, Charles, talking about the bullshit books… I miss Tuesdays with Wilcockson. Sincerely. I am guessing by now that they won’t be back… am I right?

    1. Padraig

      Everyone, thank you for your kind words. I often tell people I think I’m one of the luckiest guys in cycling because our contributors are writers I admire and enjoy reading and our readers are as warm and intelligent a bunch as any publication could hope for. Never has that been more true than now. (The beer fund comes a very, very close second.)

      The Deuce, whose given name is Matthew, is doing much better. I’m working on a post that will go up soon.

      I especially want to thank those of you who have shared your experiences with your children. The experience, strength and hope you have written about is a tremendous benefit to me and my family.

  5. Michael

    When my boys (identical twins) were born, on June 7, one (Josh) was fine, but the other (Zach) a little guy came in a under 2kg (about 4.3 lbs) and his lungs weren’t inflating fully. He had to spend about a week in the NICU. Both boys are doing fine now, with Josh being loud when hungy Zach being migraine when unhappy and weigh in at ‘risk of hernia’ and ‘serious risk of hernia’ when going to the change table. I cannot say all my hopes and prayers to The Deuce, but he can come in third! :)

  6. Chris

    That picture brings me back to the when my son spent his first week under the care of the neonatal nurses and docs here. He’s 2 1/2 now and I’ve felt a certain kinship with Padraig every time he writes about his experiences with his first. Wishing Padraig, his wife and The Deuce all the best.

  7. John in Miami

    Charles,

    I like these “update” Explainer columns alot. A topic sometimes does evolve and a revisit may include new considerations. My suggestion however —> how ’bout a column on the NAHBS. We read columns from techies and other cycling reporters who look at trends, the flash or the off-beat. What say you or Annika about the designs you both saw?

  8. Jeremy

    Congratulations on the new addition. Remember that these little guys are stronger than we think.

    My 18m/o spent 4 long weeks in the NICU right after birth, but he is an absolute maniac now, and tough as nails. We always say “If his eyes are open, he’s on the move”, and there’s no slowing him down.

    Good luck to you and your family. And a special congrats to your wife as well.

  9. John Borstelmann

    Great news about the Deuce, Padraig! Long may he live and thrive. Thanks, Charles, for your usual insightful thoughts and wisdom. Maybe Annika should learn some martial arts at least!

  10. Gary

    I showed the sonogram image to my wife who is a diagnostic medical sonographer. She said it’s really hard to tell from one still image what is going on–you need a moving scan. Anyway, the baby–Matthew–looks good. Viva il Duce! (Maybe not the appropriate reference.) Thank you for sharing this. My wife and I are looking forward to an update. Virtual community; interesting times.

  11. Patrick O'Brien

    Excellent!
    When things settle down I would like to know how you will explain the nickname Deuce (even though it is “way cool” as Charles says) to Matthew, and maybe your wife, later on.

  12. Dale

    Before I begin my comment, I too would like to offer my best to the Deuce. We are crazy when our child is in a situation beyond our (or his) control. Hanging out at the hospital was absolutely the best use of your time.

    As for Mr. Armstrong:

    I was one of those people who were amazed and very proud of his performance after his cancer recovery. I even thought he would be acknowledged as one of the premier cyclists in history. I was gullible. It looked too good to be true, and as the years passed – and reports came in from Europe – I began to doubt.

    Now that some of the facts are out, I see his worst crime was the intimidation of competitors, friends(?), and others. I would like to see the wronged parties made as whole as possible, but to enrich a bunch of lawyers through class action suits by book/wristband/livestrong donors would be corrupt.

    We used to cal this piling on.

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