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Pope John Paul II reverses time in order to avoid
being DQ'd on the Vatican 200 in 1979.

(Closing) Time to Reform
by Kevin Bruce

This week I endured two major disappointments. The first disappointment was my having been disqualified from the Early Bird 200 for not getting to the first control on time. This failure was entirely my fault, and I make no excuses. I do, however, feel that some discussion on this topic is necessary to address the situation I faced so that others do not find themselves similarly frustrated in the future. I humbly suggest that the rule governing control closing times as handed down by the Audax Club Parisien is in need of reform.

The other disappointment was that I did not get elected Pope.

Both failing to make the first control and not being elected Pope involved nearly impossible demands for me. The impossibility of making the first control began when I overslept on Saturday morning, and did not get to the start until twenty minutes past seven in the morning.

Starting my ride at 7:25 AM under weather conditions of intermittent rain, I had to stop twice before reaching the first control at Whytecliff: once to put on my raingear and once to remove it. Each stop took about five or six minutes. As it turned out, I arrived at Whytecliff at 9:07, twelve minutes past the control closing time – an amount of time equal to what it took me to put on and remove my raingear. My desire for both staying dry and feeling comfortable created the impossible demand of getting to the control within the prescribed time window.

The impossible demand for my not being elected Pope is that I am not Catholic.

Why is it that only Catholics can become Pope? For all the talk one hears about modernizing the Church, one would think a bit more lenience should be in order. For my part, I was raised Anglican, declared myself an apostate at the age of fifteen, and in recent years have adopted Buddhist sympathies. With such a broad range of spiritual and secular experiences, I believe I could breathe new life into what has become an often-maligned institution. If I were elected Pope I would make some changes, but would proceed cautiously and attempt to balance the traditions of the past with the progressiveness of the present. For example, as Pope I would continue the proscription that clergy and nuns cannot marry, but I would allow them to have all the sex they desire just to open up a few more possibilities on dating websites.

The most confounding thing about missing the first control is that, had I continued, being late out of Whytecliff would have had no bearing on my ability to reach the second control at Iona within the prescribed time limit. The second control closed shortly before 1:00 PM, thus I would have had nearly four hours to cover a mere 50 km. Why can we not have closing times for controls that come within the first, say, 50 km of a ride calculated differently than the remaining controls? What if someone has a flat tire or other mechanical issue in the first 10 km? Why should that result in a DQ? Reform is needed.

Speaking of reform, as Pope, I would reform the titular references in a way that puts a friendlier, more avuncular, face on the office. For example, I would replace the title “Your Holiness” with “Your Hilariousness” because it is more to the point. To be fair to the new Pope, however, he is regarded as one of the more modern-thinking pontiffs in many years. I heard on the radio this week that immediately after taking his vows he updated his Facebook page with the message, “OMG!!! just got elected pope!!!”

It is folly to think that the Audax Club Parisien will change its rules any sooner than the Catholic Church will change theirs. As one who must now live with a “DQ” beside his name in the record book, I must also live with the disappointment that I will never get to wear the white robes and red shoes of the papal vestments. (If I may digress for a moment, aside from the occasional circus clown, the only man besides the Pope I’ve ever seen wearing red shoes was a drag queen performing as Judy Garland singing ‘Over the Rainbow’.) In lieu of reform to the existing Audax method of calculating control closing times, I propose the following guideline:

Any controls within the first 60 km from the start should be information controls only. That way, riders who miss the official closing time can prevent being DQ’d by simply subtracting five minutes from the closing time printed on the card. Yes, I am advocating cyclists be allowed to continue riding by encouraging them to cheat. After all, if it is an unstaffed information control, who would know they’ve lied besides God? Half of humanity does not even believe in God, and half of those that do, believe in an agnostic deity in which case God is not going care if you lie like cheap broadloom. Thus, in order to maintain the integrity of Audax Club rules while making allowances for the imperfect nature of humanity, I suggest adopting the philosophy succinctly summarized by HH Munro :

“The fashion just now is a Roman Catholic frame of mind with an Agnostic conscience: you get the mediaeval picturesqueness of the one with the modern conveniences of the other.”

Since reform is unlikely, one must acknowledge the small mercies of living, and therefore being DQ’d, in modern times. In the past 1300 years, no fewer than nine popes held the position for less than a month before they died, which is to say they were DQ’d by God. And let us not forget the very first Pope, St. Peter, who, although he was appointed by Jesus Christ himself, was DQ’d by being crucified upside down. Fortunately for us, the Audax Club does not advocate similar methods of chastening. We should be grateful.


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March 17, 2013