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The ups and downs of having an opinion

Michael Creed gives a big grin one of the teams action photos.

Michael Creed gives a big grin one of the teams action photos. (Image credit: Jonathan Devich/

Question: How do you know when it's the off-season?

Answer: When riders start updating blogs.

Every off-season riders start blogs with the best of intentions but between traveling, getting your head kicked in and the constant talking of yourself those best intentions wither and die.

And unless you're willing to talk about the well-paved path of team camps, new teammates, equipment and season goals you're going to upset someone.

Beware those who dare to share an idea. With Twitter and Facebook there is a tremendous amount of noise out there. And to be noticed or stand out you have to create a tremendous amount of noise.

Pandering and placating are a must. Being self-effacing and self-deprecating is considered professional and humble. And confidence is being a snob.

Now, there is an argument to be made that criticism comes with the territory and people don't want to be mentally challenged when watching sport. They use sport to relax and unwind, not to hear the ideas and morals of some skinny guy on a bike. If you are willing to accept praise for your ideas, you must be willing to accept criticism for them too and I agree.

I have a very thin skin. I think almost everyone does, especially pro cyclists even if they won't admit to it. Eventually most get tired of talking about themselves and opening up to criticism and stop using the Twitter account or blog for anything other than team PR or sponsor spam.

Allow me to get grandiose about blogs for a second. With all the noise out there, there is no room for a nuanced view. You're either right or wrong. You either love or hate someone or something. You can generate so much more energy and passion with love or hate than with something in between and while that might be the essence of being a fan, I think that viewpoint is reactive, over emotional and ultimately shallow.

But, here I am writing a blog for a site that hosts a forum that thrives off this. Why? First I was begged [ed. if you say so Mike] and second and I wanted to put my two cents out there about Vino and LBL.

Assuming the emails and story is true I don't think there is any great scandal. Vino really wanted to win the race, enough that he offered a great sum to a person who was in a position to beat him. Now, if Kolobnev wanted to win the race more than Vino, he could of denied the offer. But at the end of the day, Kolobnev decided the money was a better route. If anyone should be mad here it would be his team.

They pay him and support him to win races, not to sell them. Otherwise, I don't see why anyone can have a complaint. Kolobnev put himself in the position to be bought off, he earned that. Nobody else in that field could. It's not as if Vino bought the entire field and made the race a farce.

I've been offered money a few times, and I honestly can't remember a time I agreed to take it. But I feel like I'd be misleading if I said it's never happened but I'm getting old now and my memory is gone. I do however remember when I was with Rock Racing, buying some riders to help out with defending the lead in a race overseas. Did it seem shady? Yeah. Would I brag about it? No. But we needed the help and they needed the cash.

To quote Verner Moller from his book "The Scapegoat" that chronicles the events surrounding Michael Rasmussen's exit from the 2007 Tour: "Morality is fundamentally about empathy, that is the ability to put one's self into another person's position".

Morality in cycling has become a quasi-religious movement with sinners, saints and vast spaces between. Black and white. Virtuous and indignant. And to me that's a shame.

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Follow veteran professional Michael Creed as he embarks on the 2011 season with the US-based Continental squad Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth.

Creed has been a professional since 2000, races on both road and track (where he's a multi-time national champion), and has ridden for teams such as Prime Alliance, US Postal Service, Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team, Team TIAA-CREF, Team Slipstream, Rock Racing and Team Type 1.

The 30-year-old American pro has a wealth of experience, a keen sense of humour and will be providing insight into a season in which he hopes to bounce back from a few rocky years in the US peloton.