I tend to leave any directs news-realted items off this site, preferring to blend the topics into poems and prose. However, the announcement on Friday the 24th, by Lance Armstrong, that he is dropping his fight against allegations that he doped and cheated while racing, hit a nerve with me.
I got both of my feet into biking because of him. He was a true inspiration when he came back from battling cancer, and put that repaired and renewed body into the saddle and conquered literal mountains. I saw that and lived it. Swept up in the emotion of what he went through, with the memory of my mother’s and grandfather’s battle with cancer, I took this to heart, mind swimming in raw energy, and hit the saddle myself.
Of course my first serious bike was yellow, to match the color of his cancer foundation. Each weekend hitting the trails, going for raw speed, and the thrill of freedom and the simplicity; just me and this machine. 20 pounds of titanium and carbon fibre going downhill at 35 mph, hoping a deer is not around the next corner. Oh, and no helmet of course.
I took my lumps and bruises, A few crashes here and there, and 3 concussions, but I lived and loved every minute. Each one became a story and a lesson (except for the helmet, I keep forgetting to wear one). I looked forward to July and the Tour de France, the ultimate bike race and the raw will and power deep inside individuals. The endurance and strength it takes to survive 3 weeks in the saddle.
During all of the time Lance raced, he faced allegations. He faced media scrutiny and questions of his honor and integrity, and each time he has passed, and had no known (going by what is publicly available) failed tests. I have read all of Lance’s books and I have read the other side, both biking in general, and words of his accusers, people who have admitted and been convicted of cheating. At that time, in the throes of the racing world, I steadfastly held onto to each word and each denial of Lances, and kept on riding.
Being human, and looking up to the people and heroes on pedestals, I went through my phase of doubt, and the “what if”, and promptly donated every piece of yellow clothing and accessory that had the words Lance Armstrong or Livestrong on them. You just never know and with so much doubt, and got to me at times.
Which brings me back to today and the announcement of him giving up the fight, while still maintaining his innocence. Two large sponsors, Nike and Anheuser-Busch, are stikcing with him. What do I think of this? Has this changed how I feel? I have mixed feelings, and trouble leaning one way or another. I find it difficult to believe, that if he did cheat, enough money could be used to pay of individuals with knowledge, so they would keep quiet. Human pride gets in the way, and if I knew that someone cheated to beat me in a race, there would not be enough money to stifle that pride, as the goal is to stand atop the pedestal. There are accusations of course, from people he raced with and teammates, but they themselves have admitted and been convicted of cheating. How much weight do their words hold? What motivations do they have?
In the end, I do not care anymore. Lance has stood for a lot of good, and helped through his foundation a lot of people, and their battle with cancer, and that means thousands of times more than a bike race.
For me, I still have a passion for biking, and my mother who survived cancer, and wonderful memories of my grandfather. That matters more than anything.