Friday, April 15, 2011

What are we Thinking? Ramblings on Authenticity in Cycling

If you ask me what I am thinking right now, I am thinking "What am I thinking right now?"

Because that's what you asked me.

What you were really asking was, "What were you thinking before I asked you what you were thinking?"

Normally when someone asks me "What am I thinking right now?" I don't say all this (what I've just described) because it's too complicated, and I would be being a douche, big time.

I just make something up and say, "[X] is what I'm thinking about..." reasoning that, if I'm saying X, X must be what I'm thinking right now. Right?

The point here is that sometimes, you leap before you look. Actions precede, and sometimes determine, thought.

I think of the words of E.M. Forster: "How do I know what I think until I see what I say it?" And of Joan Dideon's words: "I write entirely to find out what I'm thinking, what I'm looking at, what I see and what it means."

Racing a bike is something like writing--you don't know your form until you test yourself in a race. The limits of my own strength or weakness come to me in racing in packs, surrounded by my allies and enemies, rather than alone against the clock. It's like 100 people writing one story.

The hard side of this is that the only place the poetry of the complete race remains is in the memories of those there, those who wrote it. Races are not like words, which last as long as litaracy and bytes. Races vanish as memory fades.

Races also change in the memory. Was your first race of Spring as easy as you remember racing to be? Mine was not; in my head, it was written down as less painful.

In Italy, the police are searching the hotel room of previously busted Michele Scarponi, looking for dope, and searching Katyusha's hotel rooms. Thomas Frei, suspended for EPO micro-dosing in 2010, anticipates his return to the sport, as does twice-busted Ricco.

And, of course, here in MABRA we discover that one of our own, a mentor, has been cheating, using chemicals not his own.

When we ride in groups, when we race, we trust that the story of the race, the words of it, are ours. The knee pain I feel, your attack on lap three, my wheezing trying to hold Rugg's wheel, your pitiful attempt to outsprint D.J. Brew--they're ours. They come from us, and I can be sure of that, from all of us. And I know my words are mine, and I trust your words are yours. Not those of a drug-induced cheat.

I take our words, what we write together when we ride together, to be true. The deflating effect drugs and cheating is that it makes the memory of those races false. It's not the results; it's the memories of the events and the coherence of the present.

That's what I'm thinking right now.

For me, bike racing tells me who I am, to some extent, and this requires authenticity and doesn't have much to do with winning and money.

This is why I say, to those who steal this authenticity from me, in the authentic words of Bob Roll, "feel free to FOAD*."

*fuck off and die