In 1999, the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame inducted Doug "the Bullet" Shapiro to honor his cycling career. Doug was also inducted into the U.S. Cycling Hall of Fame in 1997 as a member of the original 7-Eleven Cycling Team. Doug began his competitive cycling career at the age of thirteen in New York City. During his ensuing 17-year career as both a top amateur and professional Doug was on the podium for the Road Race and Time Trial events several times, at both National and World events. Doug was on the United States National Cycling Team most of his Amateur cycling career and was a member of the 1980 and 1984 U.S. Olympic Teams. The U.S. boycotted the 1980 Olympics and Doug recieved a Congressional Gold Medal at the White House to compensate him for his sacrifice. In 1985 Doug was the third American ever to complete the Tour de France while racing for the European Pro Team Kwantum Hallen, Doug finished 74th out of a field of 220. Doug was hired to be the right hand man and Domestic for Dutch Champion Joop Zoetemelk, 6 times second in the Tour De France.
In 1983, Doug came in third place at the U.S. National Pro Road Race Championships in Philadelphia. In addition to competing in the Tour de France, he competed in several editions of the Spring Classics, even cracking the top-10 several occasions. Doug won the Coors Classic Stage Race in 1984, America's version of the Tour De France in the 1980's. Today, Doug runs a company called Shapiro & Associates that provides expert witness services for bicycle accident litigation.
Oy Velo recently caught up with Doug to discuss his many accomplishments:
Oy Velo: Thank you for speaking with Oy Velo. I’m very excited to talk to you about racing in the 1980's.
Doug Shapiro: Any time.
OV: You were on the 1980 Olympic Team, which boycotted the Moscow Olympics to protest Russia’s invasion of Afghanistan, it must feel great to have fixed all of the problems in Afghanistan 28 years ago.
DS: I don’t want to comment on the political side of it, but it’s clear that the athletes are the ones who lost out there. The boycott, whether it’s Moscow or Beijing, makes a political statement at the expense of the athletes.
OV: Yeah, Oy Velo prefers the days when the athletes were the ones to make the political statements, like in 1936 when Jesse Owens debunked the Aryan superiority theory.
OV: Moving on to happier topics, how was the famous 7-Eleven team? You raced with Bob Roll, Chris Carmichael, Eric Heiden, Alexi Grewal etc.
DS: It was one of a kind, a really great experience. The team was the best of the best, and 7-Eleven was a really great sponsor. I actually have a life-size cardboard cutout of myself on a bicycle that 7-Eleven made up as part of their advertising campaign. They were exploding like Starbucks at the time.
OV: That’s great, did you get free Slurpies as well?
DS: Actually yes, we all received gift cards for 7-Eleven and this was in the days before gift cards. We could use them on anything in the store including gas.
OV: Do you still keep contact with your old teammates.
DS: Yes, though some more than others. It’s nice that so many of them have been able to go on and have careers in the bicycle industry, especially Carmichael, it’s amazing what he’s done.
OV: Who did you room with on the team?
DS: I roomed with Alexi or with Jeff Pierce. We actually called Jeff "Peppy" because he had so much extra energy. We would all be knocked out and he would always be up. He actually folded his laundry.
OV: That’s crazy, cycling clothes are designed to be wrinkle free and not need folding.
DS: Yeah, I wasn’t folding mine.
OV: You did well in the Spring Classics, was that something you focused on?
DS: Yes actually, I lived in northern Belgium and trained on the cobbles almost daily. The Kemmelberg was in my backyard. Those were fun races.
OV: You grew up in Queens, how is it that you became an Olympic cyclist instead of an Olympic stick ball player?
DS: Funny, my dad was actually good at stick ball. I started cycling at the age of 13. I played soccer at that time and went to watch a bike race in the city. I fell in love with it there and decided that’s what I wanted to do.
OV: I noticed that you went to school at the University of Florida, how did you decide to become a Gator?
DS: Actually, they had a good collegiate cycling program at the time, so I went there.
OV: Go Gators!
OV: Now it’s time for the "6 questions with Oy Velo" are you ready?
DS: As ready as I’ll be.
1) Which movie is better, American Flyers or Breaking Away?
DS: Well, considering I was in American Flyers when I was in the leaders jersey at the Coors Classic, I’m going to have to go with American Flyers.
OV: I can appreciate your sentiment, but I’m sorry, that is the incorrect answer. American Flyers was a horrible movie and Breaking Away was adorable.
DS: I agree that aesthetically, Breaking Away is the better movie. I really liked it. They actually both play a lot out here.
2) Name one of the four questions.
DS: English or Hebrew (ed. He did all four questions in both English and Hebrew)
OV: Okay, you get full credit there, it sounds like you might have been the youngest child.
DS: Nope, the oldest of three.
OV: Well, you paid attention at Seder.
3) Worse plague, frogs or boils?
DS: I don’t really have a problem with frogs, so I’m going to have to go with boils.
OV: Yes, I have to think that frogs are preferable to road rash and saddle sours as well, though they didn't make the list of plagues
4) Barry Manilow or Neil Diamond?
DS: I like the song America, so I guess Neil Diamond.
OV: Yes, Sweet Caroline is also near and dear to my heart.
DS: Yeah, I like that one too.
5) Is Manischewitz wine from Naples?
DS: No, it’s from New York.
OV: Okay, you get credit. It was a trick question. Manischewitz is from Naples, New York.
6) Who is older, Joel or Ethan Coen?
DS: Hmm. I can picture them, but I don’t know which is which.
OV: Okay, you get a half credit there. Granted, you didn’t answer the question at all (Joel is 53 and Ethan 50) but they are practically indecipherable even though they don’t look that much alike. It’s like they’re fraternal twins born three years apart.
Mazel Tov! You get 4.5 out of 6 Stars of David.