Monday, December 27, 2010

Pasta and mayonnaise

In a recent interview with Ekstra Bladet, former Tour de France winner and manager extra-ordinaire, Bjarne Riis contends that many young riders "are spoiled so rotten that they must be spoiled before they will be required to do something" (sic). Since my Danish is not that great I too was forced to read these comments in Cycling News. Clearly something got lost in the translation.

For example, Bjarne who ate spaghetti and ketchup in Luxembourg recommends that young riders should "get the right diet," and "settle themselves in a place where there is someone who can ride the motorcycle to pace [them]." I assume he means Luxembourg. No self-respecting Belgian would eat ketchup with anything. Mayonnaise perhaps, but not ketchup.

It is customary for the older generation to lament the good fortunes of youth and the downfall of values. Obviously Bjarne knows what he is talking about. After having spent some quality time on Fuerteventura (in the Canary islands) engaged in team building exercises, the manager of Saxo Bank claims young people "would rather have an expensive vacation."
Things to do after spaghetti and ketchup
Or a nice car perhaps, preferably with their name and logo on it?

I don't think the problem is that young people are "spoiled rotten." Undoubtedly they are, especially in the US where it is customary to find 13 year olds riding $5,000 carbon fiber frames with $3,000 Zipp wheels, a $3,000 SRM set, and a ton of GPS gadgets, heart rate monitors and the like.

Instead of sleeping in tiny apartments in Luxembourg, these California kids have their own bedroom and bathroom in a 5,000+ square foot McMansion. There they relax in their oxygen tents while playing the latest version of Call of Duty Black Ops on their XBox. And instead of eating pasta with ketchup they swallow vitamins, minerals, micronutrients and munch on the latest builder bar from Clif.

There is no lack of motorcycles to pace them. Or physiological tests to guide them. There are sweat tests, wind tunnels and gadgets galore.

The kids are spoiled and it probably would be better if they weren't. But how are we to change the fact that their parents have tons of disposable income? Or to turn back the clock and get rid of the iPhones, XBoxes, flat screen TVs and BluRay players?

The problem is not that they are spoiled. The problem is a loss of perspective. Everyone wants to go to Harvard at 5, climb Everest at 10, and win the Tour de France at 15. And it isn't just the kids. It is their overachieving parents and win-obsessed coaches.

Unlike what Bjarne wishes for, clubs and teams are not places where people "learn something," There is no time to learn. Everybody is too busy living. Teams turn into sweatshops where kids are driven to win to add kill stickers to the team van and please the sponsors.

Look how many wins I have.

The American mantra is, you can have your cake and eat it too. Furthermore, you don't have to wait, you can have it right now with some ice cream on top;  and then you can have it over and over again. No money? No problem, we got you covered. Just sign on the dotted line. We will take care of the rest.

You see the economy is already on the mend. People spent more money this Christmas than they have since 2007. Never mind that half of the country has zero net worth or that the foreclosure crisis has yet to get rolling.

Optimism is one thing, but delusional optimism is another. Just ask Sarah!
Bringing home the bear

No comments: