Come Nov. 16, our community gets another chance to celebrate the accomplishments of people who have made cycling in America fun, important and healthy.
To the average sports fan, the names of Doris Travani-Mulligan, Mike King, Beth Heiden and Vince Menci won’t jump off this page. But the folks at the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame know this quartet is worthy of induction into the sport’s shrine.
And in the near future, our sports section will feature each individually.
But what’s on my mind now revolves around the long-term health of road racing as a legitimate sport — and, in turn, the future of our Hall of Fame itself.
Lance Armstrong, exposed as a paper tiger more than a year ago, took the air out of road racing when he admitted to cheating during all of his Tour de France wins.
It saddens me that we must beat Armstrong’s dead horse in order to have any discussion of the current state of cycling.
But perspective is needed before we pedal into a conversation with Hall of Fame President Anthony Costello.
Since the Armstrong Lie was revealed, Costello has seen his facility’s sponsorship take sharp hits.
He has seen his induction committee have to look beyond the tainted late-20th century road racers to embrace worthy Hall of Fame class members.
Costello and his board have created new events. He led the charge to make the Hall of Fame an educational element for our kids. Ideas that could enlarge the museum aspect of the facility have been discussed.
All the while, Costello has been forthright with the media when discussing the state of competitive cycling in the world, nation and Davis.
I asked him to address the benefits of having the Hall of Fame in town (it relocated here from New Jersey four years ago).
“The USBHOF has three main benefits,” Costello said. “It has the potential to be one of the region’s greatest tourist attractions — driving traffic to downtown (Davis).
“It fits very nicely into our notoriety as the world’s greatest cycling town. In fact, it’s such a large part of that narrative now that it’s hard to imagine describing Davis’ prowess as a cycling community without also saying the USBHOF is also here.
“It also gives us great leverage to attract other cycling-related events: Livestrong, Amgen Tour of California, etc.”
The hall includes a fascinating, ever-changing exhibition of early cycles, spotlights the evolution of racing and cycling and pays homage to the greatest bicycle-riding athletes of the past 120 years.
However, some of the facility’s spokes are broken.
“The excitement about relocating the hall here has been somewhat overshadowed by the difficulties the competitive cycling industry has faced in the last two years,” Costello told me. “Since we consider induction into the Hall of Fame the pinnacle career achievement, we find ourselves at the center of any controversy related to doping, cheating or the modification of competitive results that might be considered as part of an induction application.
“Because our broad mission is to celebrate, preserve and protect cycling as a sport, we also share an obligation to try and improve the sport for future generations.”
Talking with Anthony, one hears/sees the depth of his disappointment in someone like Armstrong.
“The kind of cheating that has come to light over the past few years would completely destroy the sport if it were allowed to continue,” the Davis man continues. “Painful as it may be to redefine what fair competition is, it must be done now for the best interests of the sport.”
Nonetheless, Costello is optimistic …
“Five years from now, we believe cycling will have overcome the challenges of this era and (will) be looking back on this as an important but not defining part of our legacy as a sport.
“What we’re most interested in immediately is making this year’s induction dinner a spectacular event for the great men and women being inducted — and a very successful fundraiser for the Hall of Fame.”
Costello, local trustee Brodie Hamilton and a board spread across the nation are working to those ends.
Visit www.usbhof.org to learn more about the induction ceremony on Saturday, Nov. 16, at Freeborn Hall at UC Davis and all the accompanying weekend festivities. Drink in the website, then visit the Hall of Fame/museum at Third and B streets.
Even the most accomplished road racers can take a wrong turn.
Thank goodness people like Costello are around to give them a better road to travel.
While I Have You Here: I’ve know Paul Hasson for a little over two years. He’s one of those guys you just wanna hug to thank him for all his does for our kids.
He’s coached Little League, he’s the head coach of the Davis Junior Blue Devils’ littlest warriors and he just gets it in mentoring our kids.
That said, do I feel stupid.
In a Thursday feature about his assistant football coach Seth Clark (“More Than Meets the Eye”), I called him Paul Masson.
Oh, not once. Twice.
To Paul, my apologies.
In my defense, it was late when I finished that feature. My thoughts probably were on Paul Masson. Wasn’t he the guy who made those nifty red wines?
— Bruce Gallaudet is a staff writer for The Davis Enterprise. Reach him at [email protected] or 530-747-8047.