Whenever I broach the subject of riding a bicycle for fun to a friend or acquaintance, the narrative is very predictable. They ask if I mountain bike, to which I say, that I ride road. They’ll then likely ask how many kilometres I’ve ridden, or what my longest ride was, but it’s all generally steering towards the money question: ”So what do you think of Lance?”.
I grew up riding as a child always wishing for more gears on my ‘one by six’ CCM bike, mostly for going faster down hills, but didn’t see the bicycle as much more than a mode of transport. A way to get to the corner store for a treat, or to get to and from community soccer games, or friends houses during the summers. I dabbled in trail riding and cross country mountain biking, but it never really grabbed me like riding road eventually would. As much as it pains me now, the brash Texan was the reason for me (and likely a few more) getting a road bike and seeing it as something more. I bought into the hype hook line and sinker, rocked the yellow bracelet and even a Giro special edition helmet later on during the ‘comeback’. I even saw the insane following surrounding him at the 2009 Tour de France in Monaco and beyond during said comeback and definitely wanted to believe.
While it was all very exciting, as people suspected, Lance was indeed a cheater and the best of all amidst the majority the peloton playing a dangerous game of biological one-upmanship on the road. He bullied and strong armed his way to cycling supremacy and everything was always on his terms, or not at all. In short, it was an astounding fall from grace and influence for one of the biggest names ever - period.
But in the end does it really matter?
To me, not really. I’m probably not unique in the world of cyclists and fans who are jaded by much of the business of racing, and really, with stakes this high, who can be surprised. For me, it’s all about the bike - the amazing places I see on my bike, the people I meet, the feeling of accomplishment and most importantly fun of the ride. I’ll let that other American have the last word.