Category Archives: Personal stuff

More memories of Lance… the Version 2.0 reboot

Lance Armstrong getting a kiss from his girlfriend, who’s holding their new child, immediately after winning the 2009 Nevada City Classic.

I created this post after going through photos I’ve taken over the years, looking for something that might catch my eye, maybe something to use in a promotional email.

Of course, I’ve got a ton of photos dealing with past trips to France, and that being on my mind a lot lately, I started focusing more on photos that were personal (meant something to me) as opposed to strictly business stuff. Below is the result, initially posted in a bicycle racing group on Facebook.

Lance’s new beginning, Version 2.0, began quite symbolically. The photo above came just moments after winning the 2009 Nevada City Bike Race. A new baby, a kiss from his girlfriend, and all looked quite on track for a comeback. And there was this feeling that maybe he was doing this to prove it could be done clean this time. Were we naïve? I don’t think so. It played into his hubris; this idea that he was so arrogant, so believing in himself that he was going to show the world it could be done without doping. Without, of course, admitting that he’d doped for the previous TdFs.

Initially he was an open book for testing, before shutting the door on the science that he claimed would prove he was clean. We’re still looking for answers on that; Lance still, to the best of my knowledge, claims to have raced 2009 clean, taking 3rd in the TdF.

2009 was the second year I brought my son to the TdF. Curiously, Lance didn’t mean that much to him; he was more caught up in the spectacle of the TdF in general. To my son, Lance was “just zis guy, you know?” It was a year later, 2010, that things became more interesting, as Lance’s fall from 3rd to pack fodder saw Chris Horner waste his best shot at a TdF podium in service to a guy who just didn’t have what it took.

I believe Lance could have stopped after taking 3rd and likely gotten away with his records intact. The French were happy; they had their perfect story. The heroic effort that fails. They celebrate effort more so than success, and that was the big flaw in the Lance story. Until 2009 when all that changed. But Lance V 2.0 was still built upon the core code of Lance V1.x. It was destined to fail, because Lance couldn’t help but fall back to his vindictive nature and desire to use every trick in the book to win.

It just might not be my year… time to let go of being Forrest Gump?

The picture may be fuzzy but not the memory. Turning 61 today put me in a reflective mood. I put replays of Tour de France stages on the shop TV, recalling stages I’d seen in person… in this case, Ventoux from this past year, the stage where Froome, Porte and Mollema ran into the back of a suddenly-stopped official’s motorcycle, wrecking Froome’s bike (causing him to run up the mountain on foot, something never seen before at the Tour de France).

The end of Forest Gump? I’ve been there so many times, but it might be coming to an end. Since 2000, I’ve been to the Alps or Pyrenees for every TdF except one (the year Sastre won, and did that really count?). I was there, at the exact spot, where Lance gave “the look” to Ulrich. I was just 50 meters away from the carnage on Ventoux. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. OK, maybe not the last.

This year it likely comes to an end, like tears in the rain. The demands of brick & mortar retail, as well as the finances, likely won’t allow me to go. Some of the biggest suppliers in the industry have gone out of their way to undercut the local bike shop by charging us higher prices than other venues, venues that provide little in the way of support for cycling in general and the customer in particular. Any idea of taking it easier as I, er, mature (if 61 is considered mature) has gone out the window. But that’s just background; it could have been anything that derailed my ridiculous obsession with seeing bike racing in France first-hand.

I haven’t completely given up. I’ve drawn up contingency plans, a shorter trip (just 8 days instead of the usual 13). It would likely be solo, as my son, who’s traveled with me the past 7 trips, has a summer school class he needs to take. It hardly seems worthwhile though, doing something less-than-optimal and wondering if I’d be doing it just because it was an obsession, not something enjoyable.

If you’ve ever thought about seeing the TdF in person, and if you’re in any way compulsive or establish routines that become rituals, don’t. It’s unbelievable how easily you could get sucked in. The atmosphere is incredible. The roads amazing. The people friendly. And the sport itself, the spectacle, well that just blows away any notion of what’s humanly possible on a bike. Doped or not.

Turning 61 today, I figured maybe I would have an easier time giving up on the ‘Tour. More maturity, less obsession, time to move on. An earlier Plan B involved me heading to the Giro d’Italia in place of the Tour de France. The idea being, something different, something happening at a less-busy time for the shop. Even if that could have worked out, this winter convinced me the last thing I wanted to do was head to the mountains in Italy in May, while there’s still a really good chance for extremely-cold & nasty weather. Another way of saying I’m done with winter, and I hoped that writing about it might help. Didn’t work out that way!

(Back on Oct 31 2013, I included something in a blog piece regarding my “Forrest Gump” nature- “Ah, the “Where’s Waldo” thing. That’s because I was there. I was at each of Lance’s Tour de France rides starting from 2000-on. I was at the first USPS training camp that Lance attended. In 2007 I was outside the hotel in Pau moments before Vinokourav was busted for blood doping and his team sent packing. I was there for Lance’s “comeback” TdFs, where many of us had this sense that Lance was trying to prove to people that he could win, clean. I was in France August 25th of last year, when it all came tumbling down. I was in Austin Texas, at Lance’s bike shop, the day his sponsors pulled out. I’m either Waldo or Forest Gump.)