Bike racing – not the kind of weekend jaunts we do around here, but the real deal European racing scene – is fucking crazy. I mean, we as fans should feel this deep and abiding guilt about what we demand of “our” athletes. The doping is only part of it. Think of the most exciting thing in bike racing – the mountain stages in a race like Le Tour. What is it that we love most? The brilliant attack, the beaten face of he who could not respond, the ultimate pain we see in the faces of our champions. What is it Phil says over and over and over”
“He’s suffering like he never suffered before.”
We love that. I love that.
Daniel Coyle made that abundantly clear in “Lance Armstrong’s War,” made me feel this vague discomfort. Coyle’s back with the Floyd Landis story:
Landis jokes about his hip a lot. As Kay puts it, he’s a one-man comedy show. During my visit last month, the Floyd show consisted mostly of vivid, darkly funny monologues, most of which spring from his hourly epiphanies.
‘‘I got it!’’ Landis said. ‘‘When this is over, I’ll have the surgeons give me my old hip, and I’ll sell it on eBay. I’ll mount it on a trophy.’’ He pantomimed lying on a stretcher, talking to an invisible surgeon. ‘‘Excuse me, could I please get a to-go bag?’’
‘‘I need a cane!’’ he blurted out another time. ‘‘I’m going to show up at the tour with a cane, diamond tipped. Or maybe I should just go straight to the wheelchair. Motorized, with rims. Now that would be classic: drive up to the start, get out of my wheelchair and get on the bike! Yes!’’
The guy can barely walk. He can’t climb stairs. He can only mount the bike from one side.
This is gonna be a great bike race. Go Floyd.