All The News (except cycling) That’s Fit To Print…The New York Times

What does it take to get some press coverage for professional cycling into The New York Times? While I don’t turn to the NYT for cycling information, I do notice when articles appear about the sport. They’ve done a competent job of covering the Tour de France with writers Samuel Abt and Frank Vescey, but I was rather shocked that not one iota of ink was spent on covering Lance Armstrong’s stellar victory in the Dodge Tour of Georgia. I distinctly remember one of the cycling websites mentioning that the NYT had a reporter on location and I’d be rather curious to find out the fate of his/her race reports. If Lance Armstrong kicking ass on his native soil, Super Mario Cipollini winning a field sprint, and exciting racing on a daily basis from domestic as well as Euro-pros doesn’t warrant coverage, what does? Even having Sheryl Crow show up in a helicopter didn’t do the trick. Not even the specter of calamity (the U23 rider Craig Lewis getting creamed by an SUV during the time trial) piqued the Times’ interests. Sadly, I think pro cycling is doomed to even deeper obscurity and marginalization once Lance Armstrong retires (and I’d be willing to bet big bucks that if he wins his 6th Tour de France this year he’s going to pack it in on the podium).

I’m heading up to Richmond, VA on May 8th to check out the CapTech Classic and am curious about how the Fox TV coverage will pan out. Maybe there’s still hope. I’ve been heading up to Philadelphia for the Corestates/First Union/Wachovia/Whatever Big Bank Rules Philly Now race for the past 6 years and am truly impressed by the support of cycling exhibited by a major metropolis. It seems that San Francisco is also equally enthusiastic about their San Francisco Grand Prix. I’m crossing my fingers that the Pro Cycling Tour will propel domestic professional cycling out of niche obscurity, but perhaps domestic cycling’s heyday will always be the early 20th century, never to be repeated again.

Only about a month or so ago I had the good fortune to spend a week in Hawaii. While most of our time was spent on Oahu, we made a detour to the Big Island where I found a bike shop in Hilo very reminiscent of this New Yorker cover. None of the bikes were new, but it was a pleasant trip down memory lane all the way back to the Mongoose I cruised around South Orange, NJ on in my youth back in the 70s. Bikes were stacked together, hanging from the ceiling and parts were strewn about in bins and on shelves. The owner, Bill Jackson, was super friendly, laid back, and full of stories about each of the bikes in the shop such as the old school Cannondale mountain bike, the Steelman ‘cross bike, his sweet ti singlespeed he got off of ebay, 80s road bikes with Grip Shifts…We were there just as the shop was closing at 5pm and a friend of Bill’s showed up with a whole bunch of beer to kick back before heading out on a ride. It’s shops like this that keep the lore and legend of our sport alive and I rue the day when these repositories of cycling history go belly up and fade into the woodwork. The owner of this particular shop had carved out his niche in Hilo and seemed to be doing alright, and he talked about some grand masterplan of taking his used bike/part business online. He offered to set me up with a mountain bike and take me for a ride, but sadly we were pressed for time and were flying back to Oahu early the next morning. One of these days a big bag of cash is going to drop out the back of an armored car while I’m out on a ride and all that dough is going to finance a long-term, I mean really long-term, stint in Hawaii on the Big Island.

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