Dear Readers -
My previous post “Impetus” sparked conversation between myself and friend/teammate Lars. He wrote this following my post, and frankly, I wish I had written some of these insights. Without further ado, meet Larson Schindler, aka Diesel, aka Bacon Schindler (Strava), aka the faceless rider.
Editor’s Note – Rouleur is French for wheeler , someone who can ride all day over rolling terrain, and Baroudeur is French for valiant fighter; taken together, a rider daring enough to go on a suicidal solo effort (Daily Peloton’s Cycling Dictionary).
By Larson Schlinder
When bullied by classmates, through repetition a mold is formed and it becomes a hard one to break. He suffered from a broken heart and misguided soul because his father abandoned him at very young and impressionable age. I tell myself that he got into cycling because he became recluse and took comfort in sport. It was a means to temporarily alleviate the pain and suffering. That was the predominant, overriding reason why he did what he did. Initially it was not to seek fame and fortune, nor to satiate the appetite for winning. The reasons were pure and well-intentioned.
The unraveling of the dynasty has not been a particularly painful nor surprising one, for me at least. I have been more interested in the notion of ‘public reaction’ and ‘fallout’. Essentially, how people went from being staunch yellow-bracelet wearing supporters to outspoken critics and crybabies. It has taught me an invaluable lesson on the fickle matter of human nature. I have learned that a good majority of critics tend to be the most hypocritical. I have learned that we as a society sensationalize and therefore place greater emphasis and emotional effort on our fallen sports heroes than we do with our nation’s corrupt leaders. I have learned that we suffer from a selective memory, and there is direct correlation in those who have benefitted the most and have also now ostracized him the most. I could go on but it’s exhausting and perhaps a bit aimless; citing all the flaws of people’s premeditated resentment.
I don’t lay awake at night as fallout reaches full-blown proportions or because of shattered dreams of cycling’s uncompromised innocence. Nor am I desensitized or obtuse to cycling’s “troubles” or “challenges” but I don’t despair either. It’s easier to criticize and maim the image of a fallen hero than to take the opportunity to gain some introspection; perhaps not be so quick to place someone on a pedestal, or pour one’s entire emotional capacities into what they consider or perceive to be “hero” material. Maybe it is time to recite our own idiosyncratic existence and our greater imperfections. I for one know that if it would not be for my friends’ ‘forgiveness’ and ‘compassion’ I would be destined to die a lonely soul; a complete deconstruction of life precipitated by impulse and stupidity.
I’d rather empathize with the man; show some compassion and accept his fatal flaws as being no different than those residing deeply inside of me, in all of us. That’s what makes us human; showing dignity to someone beaten to a pulp from all ends. I think of his comeback and how he inspired me to buy my first road bike. How he animated a race and therefore made watching Tour de France repeats on Versus for hours on end a worthwhile endeavor. I am grateful for what he has helped me achieve.
Cycling has given me so much. I think of the fitness gained through a training regimen which at least in theory, rivals those of many professional athletes. I take great pleasure in cycling because of its uncomplicated, undefined and unpretentious nature. I happily accept the inherent risks associated with this sport including broken collarbones and road rash because the benefits far outweigh the negatives. I think of my friends and family; their unwavering loyalty and support for my spandex-wearing ways. Without cycling there would be such a huge void in my life.