PEZ Toasts The New Year
One year ago I was struggling to justify our place and brand of cycling entertainment in a world filled with tragedies that had real significance. I hoped that my spark of optimism might ignite a confirmation that writing cheeky observations on the sport of bicycle racing actually did serve some purpose beyond our being a decent daily distraction. Little did I know 2005 would explode like Lance on stage 1 of le Tour.
In spite of all the ‘bad’ news served to us by the popular media of large scale disasters, human suffering and fewer things to feel good about in life, I saw in my mirror the face of a guy who is also part of that ‘popular’ media – so I revived my battle cry of “shut up and do something about it”. Hey – it served me well 4 years ago when I launched myself over the cliff without a parachute and started PezCycling.
2005 proved to me we have a lot more common with these guys than just a love of bike racing.
And then true to form, pro cycling stepped up and once again gave us a year full of tales of triumph and glory, some of tragedy, but all compelling, and in some way inspiring enough to keep us pedaling forward. And making our jobs as reporters, observers, and chroniclers so much easier.
Our Charles Manantan did another top-rate job picking the racing season’s Top 10 Moments of 2005, but my year had it’s own top moments – that ultimately reconfirmed my belief that cycling is about so much more than just riding a bike – and that thousands of you think so to.
I’ll drink to 2005. And here’s to 2006 too!
2005 was my best season for riding to date, not only because I went to some of the best races, and did some awesomely epic rides while reaching the best form of my life, but because I met more cycling fans and PEZ-readers than ever before, and saw time and again how my own enthusiasm and love for cycling is shared by people all over the world.
Like most men in their 40s with jobs and families, I’ve lost contact with my core buddies, and since I work in a job where my office is at home and outside human contact is limited to telephone calls and emails, I rely on (and crave) my trips to cycling events not just to get closer to the sport, but to meet and connect with people who share my passion for cycling.
My trip to the Giro, was like winning the lottery, not just because the racing was by far the best of any GT last year, or because the riding was like quenching my thirst with a thousand bottles of Italian wine (or a hundred bottles of grappa), but because the human experience of being part of the sport was so personal, deep and enriching. The race entourage was filled with interesting, fun and genuine people – from the RCS’s Federico and Monica who were so helpful, to the other journos who were kind enough to compliment me on our work at PezCycling, to the many hostesses who always smiled for my camera (no matter how many times I asked for a pic), to other folks at the race or I met in the hotels or towns around Italy who I got to know and became friends with – people who all served as patches in the global mosaic that is the fabric of international cycling.
Upon retuning home my virtual office didn’t seem quite so empty, even if my long distance bill would never be the same again. This trip alone made my year, but I was lucky enough to have the best still ahead.
I consider our 2005 Tour coverage as our best yet – and am extremely proud of the coverage produced by the teamwork of the PEZ-Crew. But under all the stories and drama of the race, was my daily reminder that the PEZ-Crew – most of whom have yet to meet face to face, were sharing their own passion for the sport to offer up a different perspective of the sometimes ‘cold and impersonal’ Tour de France. That perspective was of the gathering of people from many countries and walks of life to celebrate life by following a bike race, either in person in France or by reading our reports on PEZ. Once again, people from all over being connected by cycling, and enjoying life. That’s a good thing.
We’d never met in person, but thousands of miles from home on a dirt road in the Italian Alps, a guy wearing the same kit as me jumps out of the crowd as I’m riding by. A chance meeting on the Giro’s Finestre with Nick O’Brien was another sign of cycling’s force to connect people.
I saw these sentiments repeated throughout the year, whether it was joining the Saturday morning club ride while on vacation in Kelowna, to being part of Giant Bicycle’s media team at the Giant Tour in Germany, to reconnecting with some new friends and meeting a few more at the San Francisco GP, to finally sharing with 35 other cyclists the once in a lifetime thrill of simply riding our bikes with Lance at the Tour of Courage.
Regardless of the time of year, what country you live in, your language, or the name of the cycling event, I saw that cycling, as one of life’s simple pleasures, is for myself and many others, the one common thread we need to enjoy life to it’s fullest.
So once again on behalf the mighty Pez-Crew, we humbly thank you all for tuning in, and for allowing us to be part of something good in the world.
Have a safe and Happy New Year, and be sure to say hello if you see us riding by.