I paid little attention to the faux exploits of Dan Bilzerian as he pedaled his way to a cool million or so in a bet about whether or not he could ride from Las Vegas to Hollywood in 48 hours. But I did pay attention to the controversy it generated in my little corner of the universe, because shortly after winning the bet Bilzerian posted a Facegag video with this charming bit of literature:
Two things stand out:
- Hates gays.
- Hates cycling.
So he’s probably not going to be someone I invite to my next Gay Men’s Fitness Ride. But what bothered me wasn’t this painfully short dude trying to make up for it with daddy’s money and a bushy beard, but it was that people in my cycling community got their teeth caught in their zippers over it.
Bilzerian allegedly spent upwards of $60k at local bike shop Helen’s in Santa Monica and another bundle on the coaching services of Nate Loyal. Then, after the ride he stuck a fork in their eyes by laughing at our “fake” sport, pocketing a ton of money, and merrily skipping back to his stock-in-trade of misogyny, small penis machismo, and Instagram blather.
This pissed off some other Westsiders, one of whom is named Tony. He was not, shall we say, amused, and a host of other cyclists were enraged at the insults that Shorty sprayed on our sport like a fire extinguisher filled with shit. Bilzerian had succeeded in doing what he apparently does best: Playing to his audience (non-cycling misogynistic gay-hating couch potatoes) and showing the middle finger to everyone else. Oh, and picking up a cool million.
So first things first, and you’re not gonna like it. This was an impressive athletic accomplishment. I don’t care if he drafted. I don’t care if he had 7-time-Tour-de-Doper Lance Armstrong offering coaching advice. I don’t care if he rode a recumbent.
What matters is that an avowed non-cyclist pedaled from Vegas to Hollywood in 48 hours. It’s a long ass way and most Americans, let alone the congenital sloths who make up Bilzerian’s fan base, couldn’t do it if their clogged arteries depended on it.
But it gets better. The dude proved that you don’t have to be very fit or very athletic or very ANYTHING to ride your bike hundreds of miles. If you have the desire, motivation, and money, you can do it, and better yet, you don’t even need the money. Anyone mildly desirous of getting in shape and having fun can, with a bit of preparation and commitment, ride a bike incredible lengths and achieve amazing stuff.
For that Bilzerian deserves credit. He’s the ultimate Fred and he did it his way. What’s not to like?
Now that you mention it, a couple of things, for example, he’s a homophobic misogynist who beat self-important cyclists at their own game.
Can I back up a sec?
Bilzerian didn’t beat anyone except another gambler. He didn’t win a bike race. He didn’t pin on a number. He didn’t contest an event with multiple entrants under a set of rules. He sure as fuck didn’t line up at San Dimas. He bet some other dude some money and won and claimed to have mastered the sport of cycling, which according to him isn’t even a real sport. I won a game of flag football against some little kids, proving that the NFL is a joke.
And the people who helped him on his way? Well, they got paid for it, and apparently they were paid pretty well. If Bilzerian had come to me after getting run over by a truck I wouldn’t have turned down his case just because he’s a douchebag.
The only thing this guy did that bothers me at all is this: He created a division among good people where none needs to be. Tony was right to take a stand and criticize the guy’s misogyny and hatred of gays and he was right to scorn Bilzerian’s claim that he has somehow exposed cycling as a non-sport. But Helen’s and Nate were also right to take the money and do the job. If every bike fitter and bike shop had to police the politics of their customers before providing their service, there would be few bike shops and even fewer bike fitters. In fact, providing services based on the customer’s sexual orientation is exactly what the states of North Carolina and Mississippi have just done, and it’s not turning out well for anyone.
The wasted part is that Bilzerian was introduced to the nicest bunch of people and invited to be part of a global fraternity. We are men, women, and children of every persuasion, ethnicity, nationality, and political belief. We ride for fun, for work, and for transportation. And for the most part we prefer riding to not, and are happy to see new people share in our passion.
Small Dan Bilzerian couldn’t see, or wasn’t interested in the gift. And instead of politely handing it back with a “No, thanks,” he urinated on it, then dumped it on the dinner table.
That’s too bad, but not for us. The gift is eternal and easily washed off, re-wrapped, and passed back on to your friend, your spouse, your child, your grandchild, or the neighborhood kid.
And if he ever gets tired of being a professional douche, he’ll find that the gift is all cleaned up, ready, and waiting for Dan Bilzerian, too.
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