|J, Greg, and Myself at the 2009(?) Interbike trade show.|
When I first became conscious of bicycle racing was when a guy named Greg Lemond won something called the Tour de France. I didn't know who he was or even what the race was at that time. But I knew how hard it was to ride my bike fast. And if this Greg guy could go over to some foreign country and beat them on there home turf well then he was pretty cool in my book.
A couple years later when I was riding more and enjoying the freedom that a bike can give a 14 year old. He won another Tour de France. Well, that's all the inspiration I needed. This guy was the man as far as I was concerned. I mean, he was on the cover of Sports Illustrated for crying out loud!
From then on if I was suffering up a climb or out sprinting for city limits signs with friends. It was Greg Lemond that I wanted to pretend to be. And this continued on until I discovered cars and girls.
Fast forward to 2003...
I am married, about 50 lbs over weight and having my doctor giving my the long face about my blood pressure and cholesterol. I decided to start doing something about it. I wanted to pick an activity that I enjoyed and could do whenever I had time. So I picked up a bike (Actually my ex-wife and friend's pitched in and got me a new road bike for my birthday.) because I always enjoyed the freedom and fun it provided me.
Of course by this time Greg Lemond had long since retired and Lance Armstrong was well into his reign as the next Merican bad ass. Greg's name would pop up every once in a while in the cycling media but I was surprised to find that he was mostly complaining about Lance and what he perceived as a questionable relationship with a Dr. Micheal Ferrari. I had no idea what any of this stuff was about. But like most people I had drank from the Lance kool aid completely and wondered why Greg would say such things about a fellow Tour champion. I was quickly developing an opinion that Greg was a bitter ex-bad ass that was trying to drop a turd in the punch bowl of the next guy's party.
This opinion of mine continued on for quite some time. Every article that had Greg's name attached to it seemed to have some complaint about Lance or Floyd (Landis. Who appeared to be the next American bad ass in line.).
There was the whole debacle with Trek about the Lemond brand of bicycles (Of which I use to own one. And my wife still does.) Basically Greg was bad mouthing their golden boy Lance and Trek wasn't going to have any of that. So they stopped promoting his brand and let it wither on the vine. This is all allegedly of course.
But there are other examples of Greg popping up in places it just didn't seem to make sense. Even so much as to have him involved in the Landis trial. Which I'm still not totally clear on what the relevancy of Greg's testimony was. Talking about the sexual abuse he endured as a child. While I thought (And still do.) it took a lot of courage to come out to the media with that. I'm still not sure what that had to do with Landis doping or not. Other than maybe Floyd not having the best/professional people working for him (One of his main employees threatened to go public with the Greg's story. And drunkenly called Greg making fun of him. Nice...)
A little side note to the Landis story. After Landis admitted to doping one of the first things I read about it was him apologizing to Lemond about the whole trial affair. Which Greg graciously excepted and pledged his support to Floyd for coming out and telling the truth. Now THAT, is a class act. Makes me all warm and fuzz just thinking about it.
And then there was the whole ambush at Lance's announcement to returning to professional cycling at Interbike. Which I have to admit I still think was kind of a cheap shot. Stealing someone else's lime light for your own agenda doesn't seem like the correct way of going about something. All in all it was hard to think of Greg in a positive light.
But then I started thinking. Maybe he's doing all this because he genuinely cares about the sport. And then it really hit me.
Greg is right.
Greg's ideas about how to figure out if someone is cheating are square on. Use VO2 max. Use average wattage. There are only so many watts a human can produce that isn't geared up. If they are on the juice the numbers won't lie. He's trying to make people open their eyes to what is real and what's synthetically fabricated.
And all the attacks he made on guys that I perceive (Or perceived.) as innocent have there validity too. When you look at all the information and circumstantial evidence against them. It is completely overwhelming.
I believe now that he's doing all this because of his stature in the sport and because he cares what's happening to it.
While I don't always approve of his methods to get things out there. But I do believe what he says is the direction we should be heading. As a sport we've had our heads stuck in the sand far to long. And to just have the simple understanding that if an effort that an athlete makes is unbelievable. There is probably a good reason.
So my apologies Mr. Lemond. I thought poorly of you for speaking your mind in a public forum. A really hypocritical thing for someone like me to do (Considering where I am airing all this out.). But after being around this sport for a while. And developing my own opinions through all of this. I feel like I have a greater understanding of the what and why you do the things you do.
Rubber side down,