Friday, August 10, 2007

Wild Blue Yonder

On the demise of Discovery, just a few thoughts off the top of my head for now:

I had somewhat mixed feelings, which I think mirrors some of the issues in cycling. I've been annoyed at Johan for signing OP riders, and the team's deafening silence on doping issues, and have had my suspicions that Johan is of the old guard. But, how he runs a race is one of the more beautiful sights in all of sports. (see Disco Apocalypse entry) It's like how I feel about Lance - I don't always like him, but I sure do love to see him ride.

Yes, I think Levi will land on his feet, as suggested at VeloNews. But he's a guy who particularly benefited from having a strong team around him, and had finally gotten back to one, so there's something sad in that. Maybe he can go back to Rabobank, they have a rock-solid support team now!

Disco had such a good team atmosphere, despite whatever class system went on, I worry about the guys in that respect also. They seemed to flourish in it; will they be able to continue on the same track with other teams? Guys like Popovych, Danielson, Brajkovic. Johan had great patience in developing riders, I hope they can find that elsewhere. We've seen what a difference team atmosphere can make, like how T-Mobile killed Bobby Julich and others. I'm sure some things were done wrong at Disco, but a lot was done right, it was a tight operation. If the staff all find jobs elsewhere, do they bring that, or does it get diluted?

I agree with Marty, Bruce Springsteen's Dublin Sessions CD is awesome traveling music. And so it is with that version of Blinded By The Light that I think of one of the probable stumbling blocks in finding a new sponsor. Johan's signing of four OP riders. I don't want to go too far on that bandwagon, of it being the sole reason for Disco's demise, but it made an impression. It rankled me, and many others, from the start, and perhaps gave insight into Johan's blind need to win. Yes, it is confounding that the GC and Team winner of the Tour can't find a sponsor, but would the picture be different if it had been Levi on the top of the podium? And I don't just mean the American angle.

Though I thoroughly enjoyed the book, Daniel Coyle was tiresome with his Tom-Wolfe-wannabe symbolism in Lance Armstrong's War. But the basic ideas did have merit, including the river of money flowing beneath the feet of a bunch of (mostly) guys who by luck or design caught the Blue Train. That flow just came to a screeching halt and I imagine some people are going to have some sleepless nights. Here's hoping they followed the age-old advice to diversify and aren't all left holding empty baskets.

Lance and Johan's comments strike me as a tad disingenuous - we might be back if the sport figures itself out. Oh, please, don't do us any favors. ;-) How about staying and fighting and making sure it does? It's a little like - we can't find a sponsor - oh, we didn't want you anyway. Yeah, right, 'cause you had no fun winning the Tour again, huh? Are you telling me Lance can't float them a year to see if the situation improves? Heck, he can even incorporate the cancer thing - Team LiveStrong. Ah, well, as Lance said, I'm sure we haven't seen the last of some form of this program.


cat2bike said...

Hear, Hear!!! Julie, you hit the nail on the head!! i often wondered why Lance didn't take over the team sponsership, hell he has enough money!!

I think Johan is old guard too. Tinkoff, said he wanted to see some new blood in cycling, and to get rid of all the Belgies!! Well, I happen to be Flemish, but he does have a point. He doesn't want any rider with a doping past. Tinkoff, JV, Bob Stapleton, they are the wave of the future of cycling!!

Love the way you think Julie!!


RipCurl said...

Nicely written! Were we separated at birth? I know - no resemblance, but you have a knack for capturing the thoughts darting around in my mind. (Not the first time). Shame mine rarely make it out into the wild as polished and articulate as yours consistently do.

Waddy said...

It's my first visit, Jules, but I'll definitely be coming back regularly. Truly enjoy your take on things. Rip said it well. You take the things careening around my mind and a few I hadn't yet considered and put them in black and white.
Yeah, I've always had a soft spot for The Band. Soul music. As for "The Rider", I mistakenly read "The Tour" before I was aware of "The Rider". It's been tough to motivate myself to read "The Rider", but I'll get to it. I always seem to have a couple others on deck to keep me from it, but one of these days.

Julie said...

T - I love the way you think, too! Argyle rocks! I'm excited for Floyd, too, how great has it been to hear about him riding for three weeks?! That's where he belongs!

Rip - you do just fine, and the feeling is mutual. :-)

Waddy - glad you made it over! The Rider is the Tim Krabbe book, you must mean The Race (in your comment above).

Waddy said...

Yes, my confusion. I do mix up the titles. I did read and LOVE The Rider. I liked the mixing of real history with fiction. The feeling of actually being on the bike with him. Bringing it down to what it actually smelled like to be there. That book was a very sensory experience. Perhaps even one that a non-cyclist could appreciate. Like a virtual bike ride. One of the first cycling books I read that wasn't about big pro cycling. Made me realize the depth of the cycling world in Europe outside of the professional ranks. Very cool, indeed.

jessica said...

hey julie - if you have a second, could you elaborate a bit on your daniel coyle/tom wolfe comparison? I read coyles before dugards (as it was out before dugards) and found them so different, of course.

Reading Johan's "sport figures itself out", comment, I heard a distinct Ping in my brain - because it felt disingenuous.

Julie said...

Waddy - exactly! I always want to give The Rider to friends who can't understand why a rider can't just break away on a flat, or why it matters to have someone on your wheel, etc.

Jessica - I'm thinking of Wolfe's books like The Right Stuff and Bonfire of the Vanities, where he comes up with things like, well, the Right Stuff, and Masters of the Universe, etc., catchy phrases and metaphors to set the scene. Wolfe used them enough so you got the concept, but didn't overuse them. I thought Coyle overused them, in quantity and in trying too hard sometimes to make one up. I swear to god if he said Juanita Cuervo one more time I was going to smack him (in my mind of course, only having the book to smack in person). That one was the worst - that's something you say, like, twice at most, as a fun insight. He used it every blessed time he mentioned Sheryl, drove me nuts! But, ahem, I'm known to be a picky one, just one girl's opinion. :-)

Anonymous said...

Julie, thank you for your last paragraph. I have felt this way about Lance for a while. Though he evidently does remarkable things for the cancer community, I haven't seen him step up and be a leader for the sport of cycling. The very sport, I might add, that got him where he is today. No disrespect for his accomplishments, which are remarkable, I just have a strong ethic about the powerful giving back to those that aren't.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I don't have and account and forgot to leave my name on the post above: catherine

jessica said...

Those details (cuervo) just came rushing back to me - i had put those out of my head! But yes, I do see exactly what you are saying. I didn't make the connection to Wolfe but I do remember thinking that it felt like an attempt to fill up a page to hit a certain text quota.

thanks for the elaboration!