Tag Archives: Lance Armstrong

“This yellow jersey will stand the test of time” bothers me

Chris Froome on his way to winning the Tour de France's second individual time trial
Chris Froome on his way to winning the Tour de France’s second individual time trial

With the latest revelations scheduled to come out within a few hours, we’ll have confirmation of the rampant doping throughout the pro peloton during the Lance era. Is it OK if that makes me feel it’s a bit disingenuous for Chris Froome to state “This yellow jersey will stand the test of time” without providing some context?

Specifically, that he’s thankful for the improved doping controls that allow a clean rider, like himself, to compete and win the Tour de France and further, that he can’t say, given the environment of earlier times, if he wouldn’t have ended up on such a list himself?

It’s one thing that those who were guilty of participating in doping during cycling’s dark years stay silent. There’s a sense of shame as well as the hope that the focus on Lance Armstrong would distract the public from thinking much of others. But the current generation of “clean” riders… are they actually better people than those who came before? Or seemingly-thankless beneficiaries of a new system that no longer rewards those who cheat?

Chris Froome doesn’t come across as an arrogant person, but I think the current crop of cyclists in general lacks a bit of humility when it comes to understanding the changed circumstances in which they engage their chosen sport. It would have been nice, on the podium at the conclusion of the Tour de France, had Chris Froome acknowledged that, and pointed out that riders didn’t decide to race clean to save the sport, any more than riders of the past cheated to destroy it.

Despite any revisionist attitude towards doping, he who must not be named (Lance) deserves severe penalties because of the way he destroyed lives, specifically Betsy Andreu and Emma, to protect the lie (that he was clean). Financial compensation to his victims, to an extent that it would be ruinous to the gains he received, is in order. But in the context of the sport, he stole his victories fair & square, just like many before and a few after him. His TdF wins should appear with asterisks, as should the majority of those who won during the period from 1992-2008 or so.

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–