The Tour de France kicked off yesterday — I watched the Rotterdam prologue off the Tivo last night — and caught Lance’s solo ride through the streets with mixed emotion, caught up the explicit allegations of doping leveled against him by his disgraced former lieutenant, Floyd Landis. I have been a cycling romantic since the 1970s, when the movie Breaking Away inspired me to take my grandmother’s college graduation present and convert it into a classic Raleigh 12-speed racing bike that I rode all around New Haven and Cape Cod in a pair of sneakers and gym shorts. It was the European mystique of the sport, the wonder of what I think is arguably man’s most noble form of transportation, the sensation of flying down the rolling hills of the mid-Cape that addicted me to cycling forever.
In 2004, when Lance won the Tour, I was inspired to get back into cycling with a vengeance, pouring thousands of dollars into the helmets, shoes, gruppos I was ignorant of in the 1980s. Soon I was putting in hundreds of miles per week, hauling myself around the back roads of Cape Cod with my friends.
That all ended over Memorial Day weekend in 2006 when I was hit head on by a car and absolutely destroyed myself in a disastrous crash. So ended my cycling, forbidden by a wife unable to think about me out there in harm’s way, a would-be organ donor at the mercy of every teenage drive texting away behind the wheel.
Yet still every July I tune into the dulcet tones of Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwin calling the most extraordinary athletic contest in the world, one so brutal that yes, indeed, to survive the riders turn to testosterone patches, EPO, and blood transfusions.
And yes, I remain in awe of Lance, his comeback, his survival, his fighter’s spirit. It’s just very sad to see him in this, his last Tour, saying his farewell to a sport he transformed under the damning cloud of Landis’ specific and detailed allegations.
I don’t know if I will watch again after this.
One thought on “Hero worship and suspension of belief”
I don’t think anything Landis says can be taken seriously. He denied doping for how long? Now he admits it and wants to take down a bunch of riders, not only Lance, with him. I hear jealousy in the accusation. With all the testing at all the events that all of the riders participated in, I think Lance would have popped positive somewhere, at sometime, if Landis was telling a whiff of truth.
As for Lance leaving the TdF, I hope he does continue to ride some of the less hyped rides, like the one in CA, to help promote the sport. He’s got his dream team at the TdF, and Radio Shack has pumped lots of money into sponsorship, so it would be foolish to blow all that publicity.
Of course part of me is just wishing I could have my own Chalk Bot (specially designed by the LiveStrong organization for the TdF) to write messages on the street. Things like “Slow your roll, School St has a speed limit of 25mph”. And then I would put it on repeat.