Tuesday, September 9, 2008
I guess it's a good thing for American cycling and cycling overall. I'm sure UAR sponsor, Trek, is happy about this announcement. So now the question is - will he be able to take an 8th Tour de France victory?
Lance has always been an inspiration to every rider I've known. I went to college in Austin right when the name Lance Armstrong was 1st floating around. I have the "Winning" magazine (old-school road racing rag) when Lance was on the cover for winning the World Championship Road Race. He was 21 and it was before he had cancer. I was a fan after that - esp since he lived in the same town I did. One year, before the Ride for the Roses, he had an autograph signing at an Austin mall. Actually he was at Radio Shack - believe it or not. I went down to meet him and ask him his advice on places to ride in Europe, as I was about to embark on a European bike journey. When I arrived, there was nobody there. He was sitting at a table with his now ex-wife Kristin. I asked him if he could recommend some good cities for riding and how easy it is to get a bike on the trains. He pretty much blew me off. I looked behind me - I thought perhaps a line had developed and he wanted to hurry me along. No, he just wanted to kick it at Radio Shack and not be pestered by a silly young cycling fan like me. It was a bummer...to say the least. I also ran into him a few more times in Austin. Twice at mountain bike races and once outside Pure Austin. I asked him to participate in the King of Jester, a hill climb I was putting on. Guess what...he blew me off.
But my best story about Lance was my 1st ever encounter. He showed up to a mountain bike race and raced in the expert field. My friend John and I were on the start line waiting for the gun to go off, when Lance rolls up to the start - literally 10 seconds before the gun. I told John that he was lined up next to the current world champ. John had never heard of him. So the gun goes off, we all race for the holeshot into the trees. John and Lance are neck and neck...so John nudges Lance's elbow and sends him off the trail. I laughed pretty hard at that one. Seems that John didn't really care who he was racing. "Racing's racing", he said. I love Johnny Boy. He's a good man. Lance on the other hand...well he can certainly ride a road bike. I'll give him that.
I wish "Juan Pelota" the best of luck in his return to racing. There will be a lot of eyes on him, that's for sure.