I don’t know how to describe the feeling I have right now as I read the Wall Street Journal’s article on Lance Armstrong. I have a heavy feeling in my chest.
Since I learned how to ride I have been a huge fan of the bicycle. I still can picture every bike I’ve owned since I was 8 years old. The pride I had when I got my pastel blue GT Pro Performer, the excitement of being surprised on my birthday with my first mountain bike, a chrome Fuji Thrill. I have never lost the love for bicycles (I should take a picture of the bike wall in the garage) and the feeling they give me when I ride.
Being a bicycle enthusiast July is a special month for me, the Tour de France! I felt lucky to have been the age to witness the epic cycling battles between Lance and Ullrich. They are ingrained in my memory with such inspiration and excitement. I worked in restaurants back then and there wouldn’t be a TV in the place that wasn’t showing the tour and everyone in the building knew better than to think about changing it! My productivity might have suffered a little……
I was one of the first in my area to sport a Livestrong bracelet, I didn’t take it off until years later when it broke and I retired it. I read all his books. I hate to admit it but they were some of the first books I ever read for fun and not for school or work. I have USPS gear and multiple Lance Tour shirts that I still wear to this day. (looking pretty worn though…)
I don’t care if this makes me a sheep, but Lance Armstrong changed my life. I watched, read and listened to him and he changed my perspective on myself. I was in awe of his abilities and it made me dream bigger for myself.
I knew he wasn’t perfect, no human is. I read things that put him in a bad light and knew that he in fact was a prick and had an ego at times. I find it funny that as humans we love to put people on pedestals and then work to tear them off. Of course he’s a prick at times and with his success how do you not get an ego about things. Lance having flaws made him even more real for me. I liked the fact that he might make a bad decision or lose his composure, everyone does!
As I watched Lance’s last tour it was bittersweet for me. I saw a legend and I saw a man. On one hand the legend with a lot of media build up, “will he win?”. Ultimately the story was about a man, a man losing to more capable riders, but more so I saw a man, a man that was pouring everything he had into that last race. I was proud of him. He didn’t win the race but he earned my respect once again.
Flashing forward to this morning, over the past years I had gotten so used to the different governing bodies trying to charge Lance with wrong doing as my alarm went off I didn’t even really pay attention to what was being said about him. Then I see my twitter feed and I go to the WSJ article. My heart sinks.
I don’t know if I blame him. It’s been years of being beat down for his achievements. Lance once said “A boo is a lot louder than a cheer, if you have 10 people cheering and one person booing all you hear is the booing.” He has to be tired and frustrated with the constant investigations that never result in conclusive findings. I feel he has come to terms with the result of him deciding to stop fighting, so he did. He’s ready to move on at the cost of public opinion.
I won’t say that I haven’t thought about this day and if it would come. I’ve kept it in the back of my mind only as rambling thoughts, but now I’m forced to come to terms as well. Lance Armstrong you are a legend in your own time and no governing body or loss of titles will change that in my mind. You inspired drive and hard work in me. Lance showed me it was okay to fail and be imperfect because that’s what training is for. I thought if this day came I would think less of the man, but I don’t. I respect his decision and understand that he needs to lay it to rest. At the same time I can’t help but be depressed that it’s all come to this. You’re my boy Lance, keep your head up!