Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Cycling Inquisition - Latin America

Recently published is this interview I gave to Cycling Inquisition, which primarily focuses on my experiences racing in Latin America. Thanks to Lucho for the opportunity to share some great memories with his readers. Excerpt below.

"Joe Papp is known by many for having been a key witness in the Floyd Landis USADA arbitration hearing. Papp was called on during that hearing because of his experience with taking testosterone as a cyclist. While that portion of Papp's career is of great interest to some, I think it's been well documented already (see here and here). As such, I felt that there were other things that I'd rather ask him about. Plus, as I've stated before, the subject of doping is not of great interest to me, particularly when more important topics like De Vlaeminck's hair plugs can be discussed. As a matter of fact, I can tell you that my mental list of things I'd rather not do reads like this:

1. I don't want to discuss doping, it's more boring than listening to Sean Kelly do race commentary

2. I don't want to split my scrotum in half while trying to hop over a parking meter, I suspect it would be more painful than listening to Sean Kelly do race commentary

3. I don't want to sniff Sean Kelly's freshly used chamois, because I fear that it will actually be more pleasant and exciting than listening to him do race commentary.

Even if we put my list aside for a second, I feel that the mere mention of doping seems to bring out the uninformed, as well as the (seemingly over-informed) conspiracy theorists. You see, my interest in Papp's career is based on his ample experience racing in Latin America, which I find to be highly unusual for an American cyclist. After all, how many American cyclists can say they've been to Cuba, let alone raced the Vuelta A Cuba five times? Although I'm Colombian, I know little about the inner workings of races in South America, and I imagine that few people in the English speaking world do. Joe is certainly unusual in that respect, and I thought others would enjoy his insights and observations. Some of you may think that interviewing Joe and not asking him lots of questions about doping would be like:

Interviewing Michael Jordan and not asking him about basketball, or

Interviewing the singer from the Crash Test Dummies and not asking him about their groundbreaking and inspirational hit "Mmm, Mmm, Mmm" , or

Interviewing Miguel Indurain and not asking him about his Muppet-like unibrow.

If that's your opinion, you're entitled to it...but you're also wrong. Because I said so.

Also of interest to me, I must admit, are Joe's efforts to be reunited with his Cuban wife (who is also a cyclist). It's a complicated subject, since politics, travel restrictions and general international craziness are a huge factor in any dealing with Cuba and Cuban citizens. Having lived in southern Florida around plenty of Cubans, I can tell you that prior to September 11, Cubans were perhaps the only people in the world who had a harder time traveling than us Colombians. For us, getting a visa in order to take a vacation in the US (or pretty much any other country) could take up to a year, and that's if you got approved. Few ever did. Cubans had it worse, and they never even stood a chance, and still don't.

So, in my attempt to continuously shed some light on the subject of Latin American cycling, I contacted Joe to ask him a few questions. I'd like to thank him for agreeing to do the interview."

Read the complete interview here.

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