Keyboard warriors, dopes and Dynamo

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I started riding with London Dynamo 10 years ago, at a time when my options were to basically, ride by yourself, or ride with clubs that didn’t seem to race much. I feel the need to vent…

Over the years we have faced so many critics, so many challenges, and recently a challenge that is the bain of cycling, doping.

This was an emotional week for many of us, we had heard of the tragic news of a fellow Dynamo who took his own life, he had battled depresion for many years with the help of a loving family and many good friends until at some point, this still wasn’t enough, we miss you Terry.

As one of the older guys heavily involved in racing I am sometimes the go to guy when people have questions about joining our various teams or the guy who goes ‘whoa, this person is fast, lets get them racing’, I’m not the only one, the club is filled with inspiring individuals who bring so much time and expertise to cycling that it still blows my mind when I hear some barbed off the cuff statement on social media from guys I generally consider my mates.

The events of this past week served to really piss me off.

At 14 years old we saw a young lad with oodles of talent start riding with us, we had eventually opened membership to juniors and this kid was incredible, Gabriel was his name.

Over the next couple of years he really showed amazing promise there were people who could see this talent that stuck their necks out and said ‘lets really back this lad’ one of those people was my partner Tracy.

In recent years Tracy has taken to full time coaching numerous top athletes, as well as people simply wanting to find a route into this fine sport, the late hours and early mornings rarely put a dampner on her and she throws herself at her job. I support, I listen, I see when she has faced criticism and assure her ‘some people are simply dickheads, forget them’.

On Thursday night after Gabriel’s admission had been made public and the furore had fully peaked I saw my Tracy, drained, sad, she had been crying, the words ‘what’s the fucking point’ came out of her mouth, for a girl who’s earned a Commonwealth medal, numerous Henleys and returned from a life changing injury to keep racing her bike this was not cool, not cool at all! She like many of us had enjoyed that glow in the achievements of this young rider and took pleasure encouraging and supporting the next crop of talent, but now, yeah, it felt more than a little hollow.

By Friday, more comments across social media, many from those who have never stepped up to face a bike race in their lives let alone given anything back to cycling, takers, leeches. Our club’s name got bandied about again, hell its fun to take the micky out of any opposition, but many had crossed the line. Still I bit my tongue.

Alas for me my primary concern was still about Gabriel, what the hell had gone on here, is he ok, how does a 17 year old kid who had earned a season with prestigious Catford Banks Cycling Team find doping to be his only pathway to success? More speculation across the forums and more names getting bandied about, onwards to naming other riders, coaches, the fall out was huge, the damage to peoples reputations vast and the irresponsibility of people’s vitriol immense. To all of us, cycling is a passion, to some of us this forms part of our actual income, do you understand my rage now?

Those that knew little, said much, those that knew much, said little. Again we are talking about something that effects a young persons life, it beggars belief!

Catford and our club London Dynamo, made statements about our zero tolerance policies. This somehow fuelled even more debate and speculation, seriously? There was some grain of truth in some points raised about Gabriel’s case, his age, the timeline, the access, the very direct and honest statement. Things to my mind still don’t fully stack up, only one person will know the details. Maybe one day outside cycling he will devulge all but for now our club members and riders who knew Gabriel were swinging between being massively pissed at being associated with this mess to thinking ‘hang on a minute, is there worse stuff to worry about outside of this cycling game, yes there is, make sure the lad is ok first’.

Through all of this craziness I first and foremost support my partner, then I support my friends, many happen to be members of this club that has worked extremely hard to create good relationships with everyone, from local leagues, others clubs onwards to local councillors and residents pushing for changes to cycling access or facilities. We have hosted races, talks, coaching sessions, supported events, riders, and good causes, we have tried to answer any person who has had some run in with one of our membership personally and attempted to find an amicable truce, all simply so we can keep doing what we love and spread our enjoyment of cycling and racing.

Sunday I went out for a brutal ride with my club mates, good banter and hard work, as we approached our third hill rep of Leith Hill we saw cars stopped and some chap flat out in the road on his back, he’s been hit by a car, we stayed with him and those tending until we knew he was going to be looked after properly then carried on pedalling. Where are the hate mongering keyboard warriors when situations like this arise? Who reflects on how outstanding my friends are in what could have been a very bad situation? Too busy finding some other pointless soap box to stand on I’m sure.

I will forgive those that have decided to swing a few punches our way yet again, you clearly feel the need to vent, I get that, as utterly misguided and delusional as that may be, I mean hell everyone needs a scapegoat for all those races you didn’t win or those team contracts you never got to sign right, or something who the fuck knows?? I also know your words are as empty as your actions, but one piece of free advice from me, if you wish to personally attack those I care about and gain more than a long winded post such as this, do me the honour of aiming that criticism to my face, we might both walk away enlightened.

Finally, to those that have shown a little empathy and support and bravely trod the ‘I have mates in that club, shut ya trap’ path, good on you, legends thank you.

Stu Spies
London Dynamo