Let me begin this by saying this is by no means a pitty party post (PPP), it’s more of an open letter, or apology – the latter of which I’m still not sure I owe to anyone, but it’s easier to make mends than it is to carve a soap box from stone. And I suck at using a chisel.
This perspective is from my photo spot for the evening, at the Giro VIP tent, the epicenter of it all. Coincidentally, Giro issued a statement on their Facebook.
Cross Vegas, year after year, is a giant event where people from all over the USA come to enjoy an evening of racing. Yes, it’s also a party. Beer and alcohol are served, people get drunk and have a good time. Each year, racers air the flyover, take beer handups, get heckled and best of all, race bikes. I can recall beer being sprayed in some capacity every year I’ve been in attendance, during the Wheelers and Dealers event…
This year, it was elevated and not in some insignificant metric. It was exponentially elevated, even during the pro race. Beer was thrown, “hooker cards” were thrown, words were thrown. Even trucker hats from a components company were thrown at the pro field.
It was disrespectful and looking back on it, I’m not happy with my behavior either. While I didn’t throw anything, I certainly engaged with the behavior by encouraging beer handups, joining in with the shouting / heckling and yes, documenting it with my camera.
Initially, I didn’t think I did anything wrong. I’m just there, shooting photos, documenting the race. No harm done, right? Well… right and wrong.
My modus operandi for the Radavist is about having fun and trying to not take cycling so seriously, but even this went over the line, considerably. I think Dan Chabanov’s perspective is spot on. People want to party at cross races and people want to race. Don’t push the party on people who want to race and vice versa…
“I know of no racer, not one, who’s going to begrudge anyone the right to have a great time at a cyclocross race. We want you to come out and have a swell time. But don’t show up if your goal is to force the party on the racers. The flip side of the super-serious bike racer is the ass yelling at that racer to have more fun.” – Dan Chabanov
So, where am I going with this? I’m not sure exactly. As I said, I didn’t throw anything all evening, except for some high fives, but I could have done less to encourage the beer throwing. Part of growing a community is nurturing it and making it a positive environment.
All I want is for cycling to be a positive community and I know that I’ve got a reputation in the industry for being a party animal, but I’ve never been accused of being disrespectful. Not like last week. It bums me out, but I can’t say that because I’m sure Sven and Lars were pretty bummed out as well.
All the phone calls, emails, comments, Tweets, Instagram comments from anonymous trolls, (mis)directed at me had me in a deep, dark place. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt that way and I needed a solid few days on the bike to clear my head and gain perspective.
It’s tough to even comment on it, but I can say that if I could relive that evening, I would have handled the situation a lot differently and in saying that, I’m admitting wrong doing. Encouraging raucous behavior at a professional race is in no way cool, or acceptable, so for that, I apologize.
Please, please, please, let’s all take a moment to learn from this and move forward into the rest of the season with a positive perspective. Partying is great, taking racing seriously is great, just don’t push either on people. Having fun is important to me, but being responsible takes precedence.
Love you guys,