» Meeker Madoff With The Spoils

Meeker Madoff With The Spoils

Meeker Madoff With The Spoils

First off. You aren’t ready. Go get a fresh cup of coffee and come back.

As a mutant teenager, I was a bit of a willful pariah. I knew too much too soon. I watched my peers invest hours upon hours in video games, while I read books–not school books, just books. I jumped about without purpose to keep my sanity, and I got labelled crazy. I was dark and sarcastic. Why? Because, at the time, I determined that the game was rigged. When you believe the game is rigged, sometimes you just withdraw from it. Back then, I believed that playing a rigged game made you an accomplice to your subordinate position in life, compliant with the construct. One of the reasons I got into bike racing was because I believed that the sport was clean. I thought it was an outlet where I could succeed on my own terms, an activity worthy of my best effort, a place to prove myself…to my self. I was right, and I was wrong.

Not long ago, I was playing Monopoly with my 5 year old son. He’s learning to add and subtract. I was joking, trying to cheat, and he said, “Daddy, when you cheat, you win and you lose.” It was a perfect moment. He beat me. I coached him; but, when the bones hit the board, I kept landing on his property. Clean game; it was fun for both of us. I lost, but I won.

Richard Meeker is a Masters bike racer with enough National Championship medals to make Captain Kangaroo scream NO FUCKIN’ WAY! Meeker recently tested positive and joined the ranks of tainted cyclists like Lance Armstrong, Contador, Hamilton…let’s just stop there. Meeker was revealed to be a snake oil salesman, but for how long? How many races, sprints, primes, breakaways, bridges, pacelines, or otherwise did Meeker influence throughout his career? Ultimately, he broke the rules of the game, or tried to make up his own, and he got caught. His attempt to double down on his lie, like Lance’s, was just sloppy sad–picture the townspeople chasing the charlatan from their town.

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The fact is: frauds win. They are in the game for whatever they can suck out of it. In their mind, if you’re not cheating, then you aren’t trying hard enough. They convince themselves that their actions are acceptable. They quote warlike mantras like “all is fair in love and war” and “it’s not cheating if you don’t get caught.” Life is survival of the fittest, right? For a fraud, a community–where the citizens behave honestly and honorably–is one ready to be exploited…one ready for the kill…one ready to get the life sucked out of it. The self-centered actions of a few can ruin the game for everyone.

In every corner of society you will find greed. Somewhere, there is a church lady siphoning the picnic fund. Why? They want to win. They want to get ahead. They want more…everything. They want to win so desperately that they would ruin the game for everyone else. It’s the honorable people that keep the game honest and make mastery of the game a worthwhile pursuit. I think we all fight with greed sometimes. Some people are honest by nature. Others, like me, work hard to fight our narcissistic demons. It’s funny, because the people who truly deserve the most in life often end up with the least. They risk everything–WITH HONORABLE METHODS–and they usually end up with the least in terms of material reward. In my eyes, these people are greedy in an altruistic way; they want the game clean for everyone. Greedy people like Bernie Madoff, Lance Armstrong and Richard Meeker are greedy in a narcissistic way. They want reward without risk. They want to rig the game. They want the guarantee of material reward for their investment of time.

But, wait. What is the purpose of the game, “your game?” Why do you go to school? Why do you get married? Why do you start your own business? Why do you race bikes? Why do you go around in squares? I argue that the real joy in life is the pursuit of your goal…the process, the struggle, the hardship. “It’s not the goal, it’s the journey.” The daily lessons, rewards and setbacks add up to a full life. Sometimes you liquidate everything to buy a piece of property. Sometimes your business goes bankrupt. Increasing your level of risk increases the consequences of failure and success. The daily “struggle” is where you can shake what you were and become something new, something better, something different, over time.

Cheating the game cuts out the hardship. It cuts out the risk. Frauds don’t learn how to play the game better. They learn how to profit from fraud. Sneaking a hotel piece and placing it on your property might increase your chances of “success” but it doesn’t make you better at the game. “Success” without risk, stacking the game in your favor, is nothing to be celebrated…even if your new position of influence allows you to do great things for others. Why? The position obtained dishonorably pushed an honorable person out of the game. How would the latter have given back to society if he or she had achieved a similar level of influence? The erosion of fair play and trust leaves a game only played by frauds, trying to out-fraud each other.

When Meeker tested positive, I felt sorry for him and for the sport of bike racing–again! Bike racing is a wonderful sport but the idea of fair play has been an illusion for too long. Popular opinion of the sport is something akin to the WWF–it’s kinda fun to watch but it’s all fake. The “winners” of the sport insist that they can only compete if they drink the Koolaid. Train wreck. Many confirmed cheaters remain in the sport in some capacity, insisting they’ve found some balance in their lives. Same Koolaid. Future train wreck.

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Riders like myself have been racing for decades…in my case, over 20 years. We’re the insiders. Occasionally, we’re allowed to jump into a pro race. We’re decent, but we rarely see the podium. We’re pack fodder, but we are the TRUE sport of bike racing. We fill the events. We help promoters turn a profit on their efforts. We mentor the youth of the sport. We propel the industry forward by spending our lunch money on new products. We grow the sport at a grassroots level. Why? Because we love the game. We know about the circus in the pro ranks. We want so badly for clean riders to win pro races; we want them to win and push out the frauds. We want bike racing to be born again. Riders like myself have been the domestique “heart and soul” of bike racing for decades…all the commitment without the fame. Riders like myself have kept the game clean with the hope of paying it forward for future generations.

The generation inheriting the sport of bike racing is skeptical of riders like myself–racers that have been around for a while. That’s a fair call because they see a dirty game. They want what I wanted at their age. They want to push themselves. They want to see how far they can go. They want to see what they are made of. They want a pursuit worthy of their time and they need the game to be clean. They question racers like myself because we evolved in a dirty era. To them, I have the following: Get over it.

To all those fresh-faced, hungry kids with snappy legs I offer this message…here’s the cold water to the face. The game is rigged, but it isn’t totally rigged. There are fakes like Meeker and Madoff in all walks of life; some get caught…most make off with their self-entitled “winnings.” They try to ruin the game for everyone with their fukyallitude. Their duchebaggery truly has no limits. But, bike racing is still a sport worthy of your best effort because it challenges you against the elements like no other sport in the world. Don’t withdraw from it. Sure, you compete against other racers but the real challenge is for your self. Learn to use bike racing as a catalyst for personal growth: physical, mental, spiritual, selfless growth. Learn to risk big in bike racing then use the tactic in life as well. Don’t try to monopolize the game by rigging it. There isn’t anything wrong with losing the game so long as you offer up your best effort, have some fun and learn about yourself. The race of life is going to throw narcissistic frauds at you at every turn. Attempting to play the game clean isn’t a trivial pursuit. Learn to enjoy the process of winning rather than the win. If you find yourself rigging the game to win, remember that you will ruin it for everyone else; eventually, you will find yourself an unwilling pariah of this world because you never truly understood the game in the first place.

When you cheat, you win and you lose.

Walkman Sports

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