Tag Archives: Lance Armstrong

Allen Lim on balance & struggle & white picket fences

Allen Lim discussing Life, the Universe & Everything at a surprising industry seminar.
Allen Lim discussing Life, the Universe & Everything at a surprising industry seminar.

I seem to have a fondness for the Midwest in the winter. Usually Trek (near Madison, Wisconsin) but today I find myself in Minneapolis for Frostbike, a conference/show of extraordinary quality put on by another of our major suppliers, Quality Bicycle Products (QBP). Yesterday was a productive combination of workshops and seminars.

Today it was more workshops and more time looking at cool product, but the real gem came at the end when I attended a talk by Allen Lim, inventor of “Skratch” sports drink. I thought he was going to talk about the sports drink, figuring it would be good to learn about the latest research and whether Cytomax should forever remain my drink of choice (the short answer is yes). But that’s not what was on his mind. He talked about mid-life (40, which seems so young to me now!), and in 2005 trading in a life of continuous change and lack of “balance” for a white picket fence with the love of his life. And you’re thinking this is a happily-ever-after story. Uh… not quite. His wife was raped and left for dead during a trip to Europe, and upon physically recovering, turned to heroin and cocaine. The marriage didn’t survive. OK, why are we hearing this? Because Allen doesn’t believe in white picket fences.

From that story of tragedy he went into sports, specifically cycling. Now keep in mind I’m not so good with names so I really didn’t remember all the connections between Allen Lim and Floyd Landis and Lance Armstrong. But this wasn’t about them either. He did make light of the ridiculous notion that Lance’s downfall was so shocking that it was destroy cycling, mentioning that it wasn’t likely the doping scandal in the Olympics race-walking competition wast going to cause people to stop walking. But then he came to his real message.

“Be uncomfortable and never stop trying to figure it out. But you never will. If anybody tell you you’re supposed to be comfortable they’re just trying to sell you a load of s__t.”

He told a story about Michael Creed, a very talented racer who almost but never did quite make it to the top of the game, going to someone about to quit during a stage race and telling him “I know it hurts. I know you want to stop. But this is the only way.”

His message was that life isn’t supposed to be easy; the human body is designed to suffer, the mind is designed to be challenged. Some will embrace that and accomplish great things; others will choose an easier way and define happiness as finding “balance” in their life. Allen Lim makes one thing clear. He doesn’t believe in “balance.” He believes in pushing the limits for what you choose to do, regardless of the effect on other parts of your life. Or, to paraphrase Nietzsche, That which doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.

As much as I can relate to Michael Creed and Allen Lim’s view of struggle and challenge being a good thing, his extremism on the subject helped me to recognize that it’s not a message that can, or even should, be embraced by all. I can’t let everyone off the hook though; I doubt that game-changing accomplishments will ever come from seeking out the white picket fence lifestyle. –Mike–

What a total waste of talent, time & hopes & dreams.

Lance Armstrong at 2009 Nevada City bike race, final tune up before his comeback TdFs.

The Internet has this way of bringing things back to you at peculiar times. Tonight I was researching something called “flip book” software, for our next email flyer. It’s a way of simulating turning pages on the ‘web, useful for advertisements and presentations. In searching for the most-approrpiate software for the task, Google+ reminded me that someone made a remark regarding one of my photos from the Nevada City Criterium in 2009. Someone who apparently didn’t bother to read the caption was asking where the photo was taken.
Lance coming through with 1/2 lap to go, is family cheering from the sidewalk. Should have been the stuff of life-long memories, not an endless nightmare.

Worst-case scenario, and pretty much what many, perhaps most of us, were thinking at the time? That Lance was coming back to prove that he could win “clean.” Somehow, some way, that’s how we read it. I can’t really come up with any good reason to support that thinking, but the fact that that was what we were thinking gives pretty strong credibility to our claims of earlier cynicism (regarding Lance being “clean”).

Lance probably was the best TdF racer there ever was. In a clean race, many (including myself) feel that the organization behind him and his own personal talent and drive would have prevailed, without doping. But instead we’ll have a history with 7 empty spaces, as if those tours never existed.

The ASO, the organization that runs the Tour de France, is not without blame in all of this. Their attitude, for years, had been that a positive doping test was indicative of a world gone wrong, a race out of control and in danger of becoming irrelevant as a sporting event and spectacle. Is it any wonder that, with such an attitude, they didn’t catch many dopers? Ideally, we need to recognize that it’s normal, not such a terrible thing, that those who promote the sport aren’t so good at testing for doping. Ideally, it should be the responsibility of the USADA or WADA to do the testing and sanction those caught. It just makes sense.