On the other hand, in the U.S., if an athlete in nearly any sport is caught using drugs to better his/her game, that person is out of the race; and if he or she is in the professional arena, the penalty may be much harsher.
It is no surprise that the front page of a European newspaper might outline the biking events of the previous week, while in the U.S. an article titled “Driver Faces Murder Rap in Bike Crash” detailing a drunk driver who killed a cyclists is a short column story no where near the front page.
So the distinction that makes cycling a whole different story in Europe is the way the people look at cyclists. In Europe a cyclists represents the hardships faced by middle-class working citizens, and the journey of doing everything it takes to gain a better life. While in the U.S. people think cycling is a hobby, for talentless athletes who want a leisurely activity, and can’t grasp the rules and strategies of a real sport.
No wonder the treatment of cyclists is so different. But perhaps there is a happy medium to be sought. If a European cyclist can be the best without the use of any drugs, perhaps that is the real underdog story Europeans expect form cyclists. And if Americans could learn to respect cycling as a sport for athletes with incredible endurance and a great deal of talent all might be well again.
But these two continents do not always see eye-to-eye. So until the tides turn, I want to ride my bike “across the pond” too.
Picture courtesy of SportsBloggo.com