Being immersed in the cycling world like I am, it is hard to ignore all the Lance craziness that is going around. Did he dope? Why did he give up? What is he hiding? I’ve read numerous articles on the subject (not neccessarily for my own benefit, but so that I could look like I semi-knew what I was talking about at the shop when people asked me about it) and some of them made me very sad and some made me very happy. There was one on MSN that I shot a very angry email to after I read it because it was so egregiously false and self righteous on the part of the author. But I also read the article in News Week that mirrored my own sentiments about the whole thing. And how do I feel? Well, let me give you a little history.
I grew up with Lance, I started working at the shop in 2001, right smack dab in the middle of Lance mania. In between the years of 2001 and 2006, the most common question I was asked at the shop was “Is this the bike that Lance rides?” and I was all too happy to say that yes, Lance Armstrong, the best cyclist in the world rides a Trek. He was a sense of pride for not only Trek riders but all cyclists in general. If Lance could bring cycling out of the “ESPN 8 de Ocho” phase, then being on a bike must be pretty cool. Then he retired and the “Lance thing” died down a little bit, and I don’t have an issue saying that more people were interested in bikes when he was riding one competitively. Yes, there were and are other great cyclists out there, but none could inspire the average person to get off their couch like Lance could.
When he came back, it wasn’t really the same. There was more drama than needed with both him and Contador on the team and he didn’t win, so people didn’t seem to care that much. But wait, once he was accused of doping by the USADA and stopped fighting the charges, everyone was interested in Lance again, and everyone has their opinions about him.
I believe in Lance. That’s not to say that I believe everything that he says, and that I believe he didn’t dope. No, I think that he probably did dope, but everyone else was doing it too and he was just levelling the playing field. What I believe is that this is a man who beat a particularly nasty case of cancer and went on to win 7 tours, raised a ton of money for cancer research and encouraged people to get out there and ride. In my mind, there is no single person who did as much for cycling as a sport than Lance, and I think we owe that to him.
I believe in Lance, and I still wear my Livestrong band.