Monday, August 31, 2015

Danny Pate is Great: And Also a Bit About Michael Barry

I sometimes wonder if I'd be a better person if I used drugs. Would Steve Jobs say of me, as he said of Bill Gates, He’d be a broader guy if he had dropped acid once or gone off to an ashram when he was younger?

I also have this curiosity about performance enhancing drugs: would I be a better person had I done EPO or HGH or testosterone or steroids?

Setting aside:
  • Bitch tits. 
  • Tiny testicles. 
  • Trouble with virility.
All that aside.

Had I doped, would I be, in the words of Our Lord Steve, a broader guy? Had I been on US Postal Service (USPS) and doped, would I be one of the cool kids?

Danny Pate seems to be having some of the same questions about himself. Consider a recent admission on Twitter:

Pate has been one of Danielson's chief apologists, in fact, going so far as to offer, on Twitter, ten reasons why Danielson doped. A few choice, extremely persuasive examples:

I'd intended to embed just one, but they were too damn good. Also note, Tommy D, that Pate has just written your book for you, one of the many in the Lance Armstrong And My Part In His Downfall sub-genre.

Before I was distracted by Danny Pate I sat down here to write about Michael Barry's book Shadows on the Road, a very serious confession and memoir, written by a cyclist who at least has notions of what it means to put words together into sentences in paragraphs and books (three already published, two of them now farcically silent on the role of doping and a fourth, we're told, on the way).

Shadows on the Road, Barry's third book, is situated firmly in the deep, moist, stanky bunghole of the aforementioned Lance Armstrong And My Part In His Downfall sub-genre. It also sits in the even deeper and moister, but less stanky crevasse of a genre I explored gently but thoroughly in my previous post on Charly Wegelius' Domestique--the bike racing as masochism genre.

Like Wegelius, Barry must craft a plot that does not follow a popular arc; it does not rate highly on Vonnegut's story graph:

It is the story of the mildly happy boy whose dreams are fulfilled and then, basically, dashed. It's the story of the un-winning professional. The task of Wegelius and Barry is to assure us that un-winning is not the same as unsuccessful.

Wegelius is less rhapsodical, he accepts the downward arc of his narrative and makes the most of it. Look, being a pro mostly sucks, he says, but life isn't that great either.

Barry tries to be more upbeat. He does this through the old trick of all losers--by falling back on the old belief that riding a bike is somehow, in itself, redemptive. In fact, Barry employs a saying, "ride till you see Jesus" to motivate himself.

His books include several references to prayer; saying prayers for safety, for whatever. The higher power is that of the alcoholic, the force up there that is fairly invisible.

What is he praying to? He doesn't say. Maybe it's the PEDs.

I keep coming back to riders like Pate, hoping they do more than tweet. We need more stories than those of Lance Armstrong and my part in his downfall. Pate's jokes about Danielson led Jonathan Vaughters, the DS who brought Pate to the World Tour, to respond:
Vaughters is right but he's also the one who's been holding the microphone for the past decade, along with the other USPS alumna. It's time to hear from some others--those who, unfortunately, won't be signing book deals to describe what it was like to toil anonymously in the peleton for a decade.

As salacious as the USPS story was, we've had enough of Inside the US Postal Bus.

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