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Ignorance is Bliss
By Staff
Date: 7/5/2005
Ignorance is Bliss

Ignorance is Bliss
By Dave Shields

 Yesterday something very cool happened. I learned that Iím psychic. What else can explain my tabbing Dave Zabriskie to rise up and win a stage of the Tour de France? Check here.

 Since then, lots of people have asked me to use my powers of prognostication to give them the results for the rest of the race. They want to run to their bookies and make a little extra dinnero, but I canít do that. Iíve been handed a great responsibility. I must use this new found skill for the benefit of humanity. I feel the obligation to do something worthy of such a giftÖ like promoting cycling even harder. 

Hereís something I see in my crystal ball that Iím willing to give away. Sporting News Radio host Scott Wetzel will not win stage thirteen of the Tour de France. You can bet your life on it. At least one person, Scott Wetzel himself, is going to be surprised to learn how easy this prediction is for me to make. Yesterday in an interview on his nationally syndicated program he started off by telling me he could pull off the win, and that looking over the profiles heís confident that stage thirteen, a 173.5 kilometer charge into Montpellier, is the ideal time to do it. At first I thought he was just trying to be funny. After all, itís a pretty good joke. But as the interview progressed I became more and more convinced that he was serious.  

Wetzel threw out lots of arguments, all of which highlighted the cavernous gap in cycling knowledge for the average American sports fan. One of the primary reasons heís certain he could win is that ďthey donít go hard every day.Ē In his mind, the fact that good cyclists ride strategically, spending their fuel where they believe it will do them the most good, is proof that they arenít trying hard enough. He perceives cycling as a sport of effort only, entirely overlooking the things that make it so compelling for those of us who love it: alliances, strategies, intelligence, mental strength, teamwork, targeted objectives, preparation, and so much more.

 Wetzel suggested that cycling should be toughened up by eliminating eating, drinking, and bathroom breaks. ďAfter all,Ē he says, ďdo you ever see a running back sprinting for a touchdown while eating a cheeseburger?Ē Since Wetzel and I are both football fans, maybe I can put this in terms heíll understand. Heíd have a far better chance of scoring a ninety-nine yard rushing touchdown against the New England Patriots than he would of winning a Tour de France stage. Pro cyclists are so stratospherically superior to recreational bike riders that itís difficult to comprehend the gap until youíve experienced the race, first hand. When these guys take it easy, they are going fast. Really fast! Wetzel wouldnít beat the slowest finisher on the slowest stage, even if we allowed him to join the race two kilometers from the finish line and threw in a car to tow him up to speed.

 Sporting News Radio has invited me to go on-air with Wetzel again after stage thirteen. In the mean time, Iím sending him a copy of my novel. Hopefully heíll find the time to take a look at it and learn a little about this sport. If heís not overly committed to clinging to his obliviousness he just might learn something. If he is, maybe Iíll have to force him to watch the movie version (once I finally talk someone into making it). After all, anyone who believes they could easily reach out and grab the accomplishment of a lifetime ought to be willing to invest two hours or so getting a clue what it means.

Recommended reading: That's Why They Make the Big Bucks by Bill Oetinger an article explaining what sets a Pro Cyclist apart from amateur and sports commentators like Wetzel here.

Dave Shields is the author of Amazonís #1 Selling Sports Novel, The Race. In June the book became the first sports themed novel ever to win the Ben Franklin Award for Best New Voice in Fiction. See more at

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