I think I am on record stating that bike racing is dumb and its practitioners somewhat dumber. I think I am on record that “world championship” masters bike racing on the track is especially dumb. You are 70. You beat one other person. You are not a world anything. You are a dude with a big belly who spends $700/month on an ex-Olympian coach and thousands more on the highest tech equipment available so you can ride faster (for a 70-year-old) for two kilometers than one other ancient fellow.
However, Sir Beater of One Other Person on Earth non-World Champion, you are only marginally more pathetic than the rest of us who race bikes. Why is this? Because there is no ridiculousness of which you’re guilty that the rest of us aren’t, too. You just can’t split hairs in a sport where people shave their legs.
And although it will be a long-away day before I recognize anything about the global significance of your accomplishments, I am more than willing — today — to respect your effort. And I respect every person who takes the time and effort to compete fairly. Competition is draining and requires preparation and intelligence, and much more of all those things if you are to be any good at it.
Sure, I think your faux world championship old fellow I-beat-one-other-dude-on-earth championship jersey is silly, but I have high regard for your effort. And that’s what bugs me about doping at the amateur level. And it’s what really bugs me about newly minted asshole Clayton Shepard, who won a couple of medals at masters worlds in LA a few months ago and then won a sanction from the UCI for being a provisional doper. It seems that Dr. Shepard (he’s a dentist) got a bit carried away and tested positive for GW501516, also known as GW-501, GW516, GW1516, GSK-516 and on the black market as Endurobol. It was invented in the 1990s and was abandoned because it caused cancer to develop rapidly in virtually all organs.
Not that rapidly developing cancer is important when you compare it to a fake world championship race for hobby bicyclist senior citizen dentists.
Anyway, here is how the race unfolded when Dr. Shepard came to race on the track at L.A. and went back to Minnesota crowned Champion of the Entire World of Men of a Certain Age Riding Bicyles, Namely 60-64 Except for Those Who are 59 but Turn 60 in 2017.
That is the link to the 60-64 worlds scratch race. The race is 30 laps, 7.5km. It starts at 4:58:56. One lap to get up to speed and then it’s game on. The perp, Clayton Shepard, is number 389. Mike Hines, a friend of mine and multiple champion, is 371.
Here is Shepard going from the gun and dragging a guy with him. Shepard pulls through too hard and gaps the guy out, who is aero AF to try to get back onto the wheel of this quickly moving cement wall. Shepard is casually looking across the track while pulling solo and checks to see how far he has to go to get around. Because when you are riding that fast on a velodrome you always want to gaze around. Maybe you might know one of the three people in the stands!
Here is Shepard after getting his lap and then riding straight through the field, at 30 mph, and going solo again, because why not? 30 mph is not that fast for a car.
And here is a nice view of him and his pot belly in his ultra-non-aero Sherman Tank position, riding solo as he boringly clocks out 31 mph laps. Trackies will tell you, as will all racers, that when you are riding solo and being chased by an entire field, an aerodynamic position doesn’t matter at all, and in fact, the bigger around you are the better the wind flow. Totally natural and normal. Move along, there’s nothing to see here.
Eventually Hines jumps across and catches Shepard as he is taking his second lap on the field. Unfortunately there is a crash at about ten laps to go, 5:04:00. Then they do a re-start for the last ten laps, and we have a break of four dudes, including Hines, who is the 2017 US national champion in the 2K IP, and who raced with distinction as a senior amateur (2nd at U.S. Crit Nationals), and has done hundreds of races in his successful career. Oh, he’s also a genetically gifted aerobic and anaerobic beast. Notably, Doc began racing in 2012 and has done less than 40 road races his entire life. Totally normal that he would go from pack finisher in Minnesota to ass-kicker in SoCal against tried and true racers.
They restart at 5:24:00 and give the four dudes in the break their gap, and so of course(!) Shepard goes straight to the front and drags the group around like some pro dog walker hauling around a bunch of scared puppies to take his second lap on the field and their first.Of course it still looks like he’s out on a coffee ride, a mere 31 mph, while all the rest are bleeding out of their ears and crouched down like beetles in a hurricane trying to hang onto the juggernaut from Minnetonka.
Doc Shep hasn’t quite mastered the art of faking a little bit of pain and effort to make it look less ridiculous (Cat 5 Provisionally Suspended Doper), though, because his breakmates are getting gapped with his beastly pulls, sitting up straight. Think that’s normal or natural or easy? Try it sometime! Hines is on the back, trying to stuff his organs back into his mouth.
Now they lap the field and Doc of course rides through the group again because there’s no one else in this race but him. Hines throws down hard and comes around Shepard with three to go, which is kind of a not an ideal move as his break companions get a free ride to the sprint. Hines leads out the last three laps; maybe he’s seen the writing on the syringe?
In the last lap Shepard puts away the coffee cup and powers past Hines, ho-hum, with a rider from Guyana passing Hines for second.
So who is this douchebag? Well, from his FB site, here he is fishing. I think I remember that training manual in Chris Carmichael’s early days, before he was sued for doping young athletes, “Bike Racing Conditioning through Pro Bass Shops.” Was this photo before he got on a program? Because now his legs are a block of muscle and mass, and as everyone knows, we gain muscle mass as we age due to greater levels of testosterone in our system and a more active endocrine system.
See? All you have to do is go fishing, yank a few teeth, and get a little older. You will get those legs, too!
And the obligatory FB page grab, https://www.facebook.com/clayton.shepard.7, doubtlessly edited by now as he demands a B sample and tries to explain how he’s a victim and blah blah blah low T tainted meat etc.
So far, there’s really nothing to this story. Doc Shepard appears to be a cheater. He appears to have cheated with drugs. And he appears to have been punished, at least provisionally. And of course I still appear not to care …
But I do. And what I care about are not the silly jerseys and the cheap medals (I tape my winning numbers to my front door, yo, both of them), but the disrespect. I’ve seen Mike Hines train and I’ve raced against him. He is very good. He works very hard. He takes no shortcuts. He has overcome horrendous injuries. He has won races in virtually every discipline in virtually every age category.
And some of this could be said about virtually anyone who’s pinned on a number for more than a couple of seasons. Maybe racing doesn’t make you a pro, but it makes you a whole lot more skilled on the bike than the rest of the people out there riding. And in my opinion, it’s the effort and commitment that deserves respect, regardless of what you think about the particular event and regardless of how you finish. No win is easy. No win is a gift. No win comes without going deep, either mentally or physically, and usually both. For a lot of people, just getting to the line is an odyssey.
Respect is important. It’s through riding and racing with people that you come to appreciate them. It’s through shared endeavors that you can put aside your differences long enough to agree on the rules and follow them; this is what breeds respect, and it’s why people who respect each other work so damned hard not to offend. It’s why respectful societies are less violent ones, more equitable ones. It’s why we agree to abide by the results.
Doc Douchebag takes the admitted absurdity of racing in your underwear, and through it he tarnishes the good character and earnest efforts of truly decent people. He takes the position of Vince Lombardi–that winning is the only thing, as big a lie as was ever told.
My hat’s off to every racer who competed, my hat’s off to every racer who won a heat or an event or a jersey, my hat’s off to people who cared enough about our silly sport to do it right, fairly, and with respect.
And my hat is especially off to the drug testers. Another one bites the dust.
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