I know it’s early on a Tuesday morning, the weather’s miserable (at least where I am), and the pound is falling faster than Geraint Thomas at a grand tour… but don’t worry, because it’s anti-cycling bingo time again!
And boy, do I have a rather unusual one for you this morning…
Over the weekend, the New York Post (basically the American Sun) interviewed a so-called activist who spends an hour every weekday and three hours at the weekend tracking the speeds of cyclists at a Central Park junction with a radar gun – before shouting at them through a megaphone.
“An aggravated activist is calling bull on Central Park’s spandex-clad ‘Tour de France’ bicyclists,” reads the Post’s opening paragraph. Line!
71-year-old Jerome Dewald told the paper: “If you’re in the crosswalk and these Tour de France guys come flying through, they can call you an a–hole, but by the time you say it back, they’re already 40 feet down the road. The bullhorn solves that problem.
“I’ve had a few guys assault me. One guy threw a bottle at me. One guy slapped the horn out of my hand.”
A video of the dandily dressed self-styled entrepreneur (we’ll get to that later) putting his megaphone to use managed to garner over 32,000 likes on YouTube last month.
Dewald says his campaign was inspired by the tragic death in 2014 of Jill Tarlov, who was killed in a collision with a cyclist at the junction. The cyclist was reported to have reached 35.6mph earlier in the day in Central Park. However, Tarlov’s widower told the Post that he has not spoken with Dewald and does not want to relive his wife’s death.
Nevertheless, the 71-year-old claims that things have got worse since 2014 and that “kids are going to get hurt, if not killed” by speeding cyclists in the park, unless better enforcement and infrastructure are introduced soon.
He continued: “It is not uncommon for the Tour de France guys, the guys with the $3,000 bikes and the $500 plastic pants, to come flying through here at a speed of between 28 and 33 miles an hour when people are in the crosswalk, even when the light is red. And they yell at you, too.”
Your bingo card may be filling up fast, but there’s a twist coming up that not even the caller saw coming.
In 2005, Dewald was convicted of fraud and larceny charges in Michigan for his role in organising two political-action committees during the 2000 presidential election – one which raised money for Democrat Al Gore, and one backing Republican George W. Bush.
“Dewald simply used the 2000 presidential election to create an air of legitimacy for his illegitimate objective: to funnel money to his for-profit consulting firm under false pretences,” Sixth Circuit Justice Ronald Lee Gilman, responsible for reinstating Dewald’s conviction after a successful appeal, said in 2014.
A later campaign organised by Dewald – this time focusing on marijuana legalisation – also came under scrutiny after other activists questioned his motives.
At least he’s worrying about “$500 plastic pants” now…
Responding to this morning’s story about the 71-year-old New Yorker who spends his days shouting at what he believes to be speeding cyclists in Central Park, road.cc reader SimoninSpalding said: “I am not sure that any of those people on bikes were wearing "$500 plastic pants" or were even close to being "Tour de France guys".
“What I saw was a nice peaceful scene with no motor vehicles where cyclists and pedestrians were doing a decent job of sharing a space without conflict.
“Apart from the idiot in the hat with a megaphone.”
Awavey, however, urged caution to those condemning the megaphone wielding pensioner, writing: “From that scene alone yes, and not saying the crazy old guy is right at all, but I do know friends who have visited the park to ride, and it can apparently get a bit intense at times of the day, with lots of club style riding going on, and the NYPD/park enforcement officers are often very visible in their presence checking cyclists for speeding.
“So I'd be cautious to judge what's happening there off a 30sec clip from the other side of the Atlantic.”
Rendel Harris, meanwhile, questioned whether the Central Park ‘world’ on Zwift contributes to the sometimes-aggressive style of riding witnessed in the park, “with people seeing if they can match their virtual race times with real-world ones?”
In the end, Simon concluded by arguing: “If I was an ‘activist’ interested in improving road safety and could spare one hour a day to do it, I would probably focus my efforts where there was a problem to be solved rather than randomly abusing people riding bikes.”
It’s been quite the week for the Catholic Church’s relationship with cycling. Yep, you read that right.
First, the Vatican sent a rider to the world championships, purportedly to bless the passing of the rainbow jersey from Alaphilippe to Evenepoel (I may have made that bit up).
Now, an Italian priest has been forced to apologise for conducting Mass… in his cycling kit.
Father Fabio Corazzina was taking part in the Peace Walk, an annual pilgrimage where around 100 cyclists ride their bikes through Sicily in memory of those who stood against organised crime on the island.
However, Father Corazzina’s outdoor mass for the devout cyclists in Mazara del Vallo – an image of which was posted on social media – was heavily criticised by the Bishop of Brescia, Pierantonio Tremolada, who accused the bike riding priest of making a “joke” of the scared rituals of the Catholic Church, reports the Giornale di Brescia.
In a warning letter, Tremolada expressed his astonishment that Father Corazzina did not “think about the consequences of such an act, which was intentionally spread through social networks. How can one not realise the perplexity and pain that this would have caused, and has indeed caused, in so many people who deeply love the Eucharist and place it at the centre of their life of faith?”
Corazzina has since apologised for the impromptu Mass and has proposed fasting as a means of reconciliation (which should do wonders for his power-to-weight ratio… Sorry!).
Is just me or is there something slightly 'uncomfortable' about this image? pic.twitter.com/5fytt65UxQ
— Chris Sidwells (@ChrisSidwells) September 26, 2022
Maybe Tommeke was just giving Remco advice on how to deal with the pressures of being a young world champion?
At least there were no beans involved this time...
Not the first weird photoshoot with Boonen. pic.twitter.com/6D0u6DnuH6
— Graham Healy (@Healycycles) September 26, 2022
Ah, Mallorca – a cycling paradise for everyone from winter training pros to ambling cyclo-tourists like myself… And it’s also the home of controversial podcasts, apparently.
This week, s̶e̶v̶e̶n̶-̶t̶i̶m̶e̶ ̶T̶o̶u̶r̶ ̶d̶e̶ ̶F̶r̶a̶n̶c̶e̶ ̶w̶i̶n̶n̶e̶r̶ Lance Armstrong’s The Move podcast has set up shop on the Balearic Island, where the former world champion (he gets to keep that one, right Travis?) is pretending to care about the well-heeled fans who have paid $50,000 to enjoy his famously affable and convivial company while trudging up the Sa Calobra.
As well as those super-keen amateurs with more money than sense, Big Tex has also been joined by a veritable who’s who of the mid-90s to early noughties peloton: Big George Hincapie, historically big but now quite lean Jan Ullrich, and even bigger Johan Bruyneel (sorry, I couldn’t resist) for a special live post-worlds edition of his long-running podcast.
Oh, and Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish are there, too. And the internet isn’t happy.
While Ullrich (the subject of Daniel Friebe’s recent excellent biography) was and remains a more popular figure among cycling fans than his American counterpart – despite both riders being mired in the same murky depths – most of the online reaction has questioned why Cav and Wiggo (the former still makes his living from riding bikes, while the other has a high-profile punditry gig with Eurosport-GCN) would want to be associated with He Who Must Not Be Named:
Meanwhile, Mark Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins have been cycling in Mallorca with some American who didn't win the Tour de France seven times. I guess optics don't matter when you're retired (or nearly retired). pic.twitter.com/bTIeXrIREY
— Matt Butler (@mattbutler503) September 27, 2022
— dermot mc ginn (@dermmcginn) September 27, 2022
What a bunch, I idolised one of these guys growing up, yes I belonged to the Armstrong generation, then he almost ruined the sport I loved and let me down. I still do not know how I feel about him, what I do know is I am disappointed Cav is there.
— Jess Notzing (@JessicaNotzing1) September 26, 2022
And I wouldn’t be disappointed if he was retired. But as a active pro cyclist I don’t think he should be with people who have lifetime UCI Bans. Whatever you think of the ban. I don’t want to be overly critical - just I am disappointed.
— Jess Notzing (@JessicaNotzing1) September 26, 2022
What is it about these dopers you so admire pic.twitter.com/gf9Dokcq4p
— Bradders (@6WattsPerKg) September 26, 2022
Jeez Kav.. lay down with dogs, get fleas..
— keydefender (@keydefender1) September 27, 2022
Of course, Cavendish has in the past defended Armstrong’s character – if not his doping – citing the Texan’s personal support for and encouragement of the Manxman when he was at the start of his pro career.
Meanwhile, Wiggins’ attitude towards the American has oscillated as wildly as his own jiffy bag-encased reputation in recent years, from praising Armstrong in his first autobiography to calling him a “lying bastard” in the wake of his 2013 doping confession, and back to defending his “human side” and including him in his book of ‘Icons’ in 2018.
In any case, the condemnation of Wiggins and Cavendish’s stint in Mallorca (and even Armstrong’s continued status as persona non grata in a sport filled with the remnants of its not-so-distant past) highlights cycling’s ongoing struggle – almost ten years on from Oprah – to reconcile the apparent need for black and white narratives with its extremely grey reality.
And then, this guy come up and says, “Cycling is in much better shape now, the new generation are all clean” pic.twitter.com/Wv3zY9VcHI
— Simon Warren (@100Climbs) September 26, 2022
Mathieu van der Poel over hotelincident bij landing in Zaventem: "Ik dacht het zelf op te lossen en dat draaide verkeerd uit. Maar ik zou nooit iemand pijn doen."https://t.co/4YdBil2E5W #Wollongong2022 pic.twitter.com/AU3ADHWi4K
— Sporza 🚴 (@sporza_koers) September 27, 2022
On the same morning that a grainy eight-second video popped up online, appearing to show – albeit briefly – the incident which led to him being charged with assault the night before the world road race championships, Mathieu van der Poel returned home from Australia and told waiting reporters at Brussels Airport that he was aiming to “put this behind me and look forward again”.
The Dutch rider had been initially due to appear at Sutherland Local Court today, but the hearing was brought forward to yesterday to facilitate his flight home. He was fined A$1,500 (£909) after admitting two counts of common assault.
According to New South Wales Police, the 27-year-old pushed two teenage girls during a confrontation at the Grand Parade Hotel in Brighton-Le-Sands on Saturday night.
Faced with a plethora of television cameras when he stepped into the airport today, Van der Poel admitted to the assembled crowd of journalists that he had made a mistake.
“Of course I am sorry. I should have handled this differently, but unfortunately it happened,” he said.
When asked whether he should have contacted the hotel reception or his Dutch team prior to the incident, the Alpecin-Fenix rider said: “It was already late and I wanted to sleep. I thought I could solve it myself, but that turned out wrong. Unfortunately I can't change that now.
“There were stories about pushing and stuff, but none of that happened,” he continued. “I had one girl by the arm, certainly not with the intention of hurting her. Anyone who knows me knows I’ve never hurt anyone.
“I’m trying to put this behind me and look forward again. I’m happy to be back in the country. Now I’m looking for the peace of mind from home. It’s up to the team to handle it.”
Another story from the ‘What are the world champions going to do next?’ category for you…
While Remco Evenepoel told reporters in Wollongong that the only race on his schedule after winning the rainbow jersey on Sunday would be one “through the night clubs” (ah, to be 22 again), it now seems that the newly crowned world champion will make his debut in cycling’s second most famous garment on 4 October, at Binche-Chimay-Binche.
The rolling, sprinter-friendly semi-classic, also known as the Memorial Frank Vandenbroucke after one of Belgium’s most precocious and tragic cycling heroes, will mark round two of Remco’s glorious homecoming parade.
Y los sueños se hacen realidad no? Un pequeño Remco Evenepoel con la camiseta del campeón del mundo.😍💛 pic.twitter.com/9kzOLr8ltm
— Rodri (@RodriSabato) September 25, 2022
Two days before the race, a public celebration will be held in Brussels’ Grand Place, in honour of the 22-year-old’s remarkable achievements this year: a dominant Worlds win, a first monument victory at Liège–Bastogne–Liège, and Belgium’s first grand tour triumph for 44 years, at the Vuelta a España. Not too shabby, eh?
While the crowds will gather in Brussels and on the lanes of Wallonia to sneak a glimpse of Belgium’s newest cycling hero, Binche-Chimay-Binche will also act as the farewell party for another of the country’s stars.
Philippe Gilbert – the last Belgian to win the worlds road race before Evenepoel, ten years ago – will hang up his wheels next week after what should be a rather fitting celebration of Belgium’s cycling past, present and future.
Now come on, Remco, stick around for Il Lombardia. You know you want to…
World Championship Memories: The most 'Aussie' pictures of all! @SwiftConnor and @jakey_stewart enjoying a beer at the end of their races in Wollongong... That brings back memories for me that does ... Cold KB tinnys after a bike race in the 70s!
📸 Richard Scriven pic.twitter.com/UhemCImAaP
— British Cycle Sport (@VeloUK) September 27, 2022
On Saturday, when Annemiek van Vleuten launched an audacious late attack to win her second road race rainbow jersey – after a race spent working in the service of her Dutch teammates, just three days after fracturing her elbow during the mixed relay team time trial – the rest of the peloton must have been thinking: ‘Well, at least she’s retiring next year’.
That collective sigh of relief was stifled, however, when last night the 39-year-old superstar told Dutch talk show host Eva Jinek that she was reconsidering her plans to step away from the sport at the end of 2023.
.@AvVleuten kondigde afgelopen zomer aan volgend jaar te stoppen met wielrennen, maar haar prestaties dit jaar zijn zo goed, dat ze twijfelt. "Soms begin ik wel te twijfelen ja, dit is echt mijn beste jaar. (..) Ik word volgend jaar 40, dus het is eigenlijk ongelooflijk." #Jinek pic.twitter.com/AyjMgSNqtk
— Jinek (@Jinek_RTL) September 26, 2022
The Movistar rider, who turns 40 in eleven days, admitted to the RTL 4 presenter that she believes that 2022 was her best season yet – backing up her high placing on road.cc's Cycling’s Greatest Seasons list (which reminds me, I should probably update that) – prompting her to “doubt” her decision to retire before the Paris Olympics.
When asked by Jinek whether she still had the desire and hunger to win, after accomplishing virtually everything there is to accomplish in cycling, Van Vleuten said: “Winning is not my drive, continuously improving myself is.”
If she continues to improve on her superlative 2022, the rest of the peloton are in for a rough year. Or two…
Ryan joined road.cc as a news writer in December 2021. He has written about cycling and some ball-centric sports for various websites, newspapers, magazines and radio. Before returning to writing about cycling full-time, he completed a PhD in History and published a book and numerous academic articles on religion and politics in Victorian Britain and Ireland (though he remained committed to boring his university colleagues and students with endless cycling trivia). He can be found riding his bike very slowly through the Dromara Hills of Co. Down.