"There has to be a little ball of guts inside you somewhere," said another. "And when you need it you've got to find it and use it."
"It's tougher than any sport," added Jim Rossi, a 23-year-old racer from Chicago who managed to qualify for the 1956 Olympics with one shoulder in a cast. The words were harsh and complaining, but they were spoken with the softness of a lover's endearments, for Jim and his colleagues were plainly in love with the sport they complained of so bitterly.
As it happened, Jim Rossi's trials and tribulations during the Kenosha meet more than justified his complaints. After taking bone-bruising spills in every one of the qualifying heats, he was badly enough injured in one of the championship races to be hauled off for repairs. (The championships are decided through point scoring based on four races: the 10-mile, the five, the two, the one.) But Jim bulled his way out of the first-aid station, rushed into the 10-mile race and succeeded in picking up enough points to roll away with the 1959 national championship before a screaming, cheering crowd of 7,000.
In Europe, a top bicycle rider can earn up to $80,000 a year, and 12,000,000 people may watch a single cross-country race. Riders in these countries are better known than statesmen or prelates, better known even than movie stars. But in the U.S. bike riding is a catch-as-catch-can business. "Over here," said Jim Rossi after his victory last week, "we amateurs can't even be sponsored. But tires cost $20 a pair, and in a hard race you're lucky if they last two-thirds of a mile. A custom-made bike costs about $150, and you need half a dozen or so. It costs each of us at least $2,000 a season."
Rossi does his best to raise the money for his exacting mistress by working as a salesman for an oil burner company. Bob Pfarr, a three-time national champ who tied for third place at Kenosha, is the co-owner of a gasoline station. Somehow or other, they manage to find two to three hours a day for practice, either early in the morning or late at night. Pfarr, for example, works so late at the filling station that he's forced to cycle out by flashlight, find a truck doing 30 mph on the highway and sprint past in an attempt to keep up his wind.
Nevertheless, despite the hardships and drawbacks they seem to take such pleasure in citing, the cyclists gathered in Kenosha last week are unremittingly true to their love, and the city itself seems to share their passion. Kenosha has been Unabashedly cycle-happy since the early 1920s, perhaps because virtually all the big names of six-day bike racing once trained there. The Wisconsin city boasts one of the finest natural clay tracks in the country, with turns banked at only 15� to insure the maximum in thrills and spills, and the last few laps in every race are invariably fast and tight—with the riders sprinting from 30 to 40 mph—and the finishes are almost always close.
"This is the cleanest, toughest sport in the world," said one Kenosha bike fan last week. "It's better than baseball."
A smooth ocean floor, to a fish, is like a too-well-engineered throughway to a motorist—there's no place to stop for a snack. A small artificial reef of castaway rubble, however, will act like a single hot dog stand or Tower of Pizza, promptly attracting all sorts of stoppers. The rocks will collect free-swimming larvae. The larvae will attract the small fish which in turn will attract bigger fish which will attract still bigger fish which eat the small fish. And there you are—a thriving, hiving colony—perfect as far as the sportsman on the surface is concerned.
Sometime this month barges will dump loads of rubble for this kind of underwater snack bar on the smooth sandy bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, 15 miles south of Asbury Park, N.J. The man-made reef will serve also as a study hall for Paul E. Hamer, a fisheries biologist for the New Jersey Conservation Department. Hamer, a 34-year-old M.S. from Rutgers, began working with the state fish and game division on summers away from school, now works full time for the state. He says that there is nothing unusual about artificial reefs. Conservationists have been building them out of scrap automobiles and refuse in a haphazard way since the 1920s, in California, Texas, Louisiana and Florida. The New Jersey project, however, may because of its careful preparation and supervision make a more exact science of the reef-building business.