Friday’s Mailbag: The Bergman letter and the Tour of California (circa 1971)

The Mailbag is a regular feature on VeloNews.com. If you have a comment, an opinion or observation regarding anything you have seen in cycling, in VeloNews magazine or on VeloNews.com, write to WebLetters@InsideInc.com. Please include your full name and home town. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.Applause for Bergman’s confessionEditor:This might sound crazy, bit I actually sat at my computer this morning and applauded. I didn't applaud for Tom Boonen or Carlos Garcia Quesada and their victories at the Ruta del Sol or for any of the other victorious cyclists featured by

The Mailbag is a regular feature on VeloNews.com. If you have a comment, an opinion or observation regarding anything you have seen in cycling, in VeloNews magazine or on VeloNews.com, write to WebLetters@InsideInc.com. Please include your full name and home town. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.


Applause for Bergman’s confession
Editor:
This might sound crazy, bit I actually sat at my computer this morning and applauded. I didn’t applaud for Tom Boonen or Carlos Garcia Quesada and their victories at the Ruta del Sol or for any of the other victorious cyclists featured by VeloNews. Instead, I applauded for Adam Bergman and his victory over drug use and deception. I only hope that other professional cyclists who find themselves in his situation have the courage to step forward with the truth.

Dave Rohlf
Golden, Colorado

Second that emotion, and add a few questions
Editor:
I applaud Adam Bergman’s “coming clean” about his EPO use as a great first start in his readmission to the sport. I would like to ask him more about his experiences with the culture that enabled him to go down this path, in order to learn how to prevent this sort of thing happening to other cyclists.

How did he get his dope? What was his motivation? How easy was it to get EPO and learn how to use it? What tricks did he learn (unsuccessfully) to avoid detection? Who knew about his use? Who supported him? How many other cyclists on the US circuit are delving into EPO and other drugs to support their passion to be the best?

Only when these questions are fully answered can we truly see all of the challenges that face the dream of a clean and healthy cycling community — and be able to take further measures to make that dream become reality.

Brett Stav
Seattle, Washington

Get thee behind me
Editor:
Thank you for publishing the open letter by Adam Bergman. We all have little devils in us which are usually not as helpful as Didi in the Tour de France. Adam seems to have taken a big step in understanding how difficult, valuable and important to be honest with yourself. Good luck, Adam, and I hope you continue to choose the right path.

John Otridge
Kensington, Maryland

Well done, Adam, and welcome back
Editor:
I was touched by Adam Bergman’s letter. He made a couple of very profound observations and statements. Everyone makes mistakes, and I’m a firm believer that it’s how you own up to your mistakes that forms your character. Adam has owned up to his, and I hope others will follow his example. Hopefully his words might deter someone who is thinking about experimenting with performance enhancing drugs.

Adam, well done, we welcome you back with open arms.

Corbett Mortensen
Omaha, Nebraska

Best wishes for a speedy comeback
Editor:
I don’t know Adam personally, but as he is a local rider, I have followed his progress over the years. It is certainly unfortunate that he succumbed to the lure of doping, but that said, I have nothing but admiration for his efforts to come clean about the matter now. Personally I wish him a speedy comeback to the sport.

Justin Haley
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Admission took courage
Editor:
As a teenage bike racer, I’d like to thank Adam Bergman for living up to what he did. The fact that he admitted fault, unlike the majority of those caught doping, gives hope that maybe he can be trusted to race clean in the future.

His courage is to be admired; in a situation where he could forever hide behind a questionable test, he admitted to a mistake nobody could prove he made. That right there takes balls. His apology does not make what he did acceptable, but it goes to show he is a good guy who just made a really, really bad mistake. In a time where most of us have are going to smoke that occasional joint or do something equally as stupid, Bergman’s example of making the most out of a horrible situation needs to be observed.

If you read this, Adam, I would like to personally thank you for taking accountability for your actions. It seems like your conscious is on point, and like me and every other person on this planet, you made a mistake. You’ve got better character than most of the heads racing in Europe who will never admit to doping, and that right there is more important than winning any bike race.

I have faith that you will make a successful and honest return to bike racing, and I can’t wait to see you racing again soon.

Chris Hong
Atlanta, Georgia

A man admits youth’s error
Editor:
The letter from Adam Bergman on your web site was great. He was young at the time, made a mistake and now is taking responsibility at a time when it would be easy to stay low and just get on with racing.

Most of us have done things at that age that we’re not proud of. He was in the public eye and so his mistake has followed him. The kid is obviously a crazy natural talent and will be winning again soon with a clean conscience. Rock on, Adam.

Rob Kelley
Geneva, Illinois

Meanwhile, at the previous Tour of California
Editor:
Looking over the start list for next week’s Tour of California, I couldn’t help but notice that only a handful of the racers had even been born when the first Tour of California was run in 1971.

Peter Rich, owner of Velo Sport Bicycles in Berkeley, promoted an eight-day, 10-stage, 685-mile road race for amateurs that, unlike the current edition, involved some climbing. In the Amgen tour, the highest altitude is about 2000 feet in stage 2.

In the 1971 Tour of California, stage 9 started in Squaw Valley at 6200 feet and over the next 100 miles climbed, in succession, Luther Pass (7740), Ebbetts Pass (8731), and Pacific Grade Summit (8050), finishing in Bear Valley at 7073 feet. I’m out of breath just typing this!

Even though Peter’s Tour of California was longer, further, and higher, I can safely predict that Amgen’s professional race will be faster. Thanks to Peter Rich for the memories, and thanks to Amgen for promoting another great race. I hope we won’t need to wait another 35 years for a sequel.

Laurie Schmidtke
Santa Cruz, California

Laurie, check back on Saturday for a story about Tours of California past and present from VeloNews editorial director John Wilcockson. — Editor


The Mailbag is a regular feature on VeloNews.com. If you have a comment, an opinion or observation regarding anything you have seen in cycling, in VeloNews magazine or on VeloNews.com, write to WebLetters@InsideInc.com. Please include your full name and home town. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.