10 years ago, I was in love with the Tour de France. I was obsessed with cycling. I raced my bike weekly at local criterium races, I commuted to and from work on my bike, I spent weekends in the saddle with all my racing friends, putting in hard days riding to some far away mountain and then climbing the narrow little roads that were sketched on top of it. I loved when July rolled around because it meant one thing: the Tour de France was happening. The big show. The World Series of cycling. And it was a good time to be American and into cycling. Lance was headed towards his fifth tour win with the US Postal team. Everyone knew who he was, everyone knew his team and he was in righteous Nike commercials. And if you were a road racer, you felt like regular folk would give you just a bit more respect when you told them you were a cyclist. I loved it. I was absolutely enthralled with the world of cycling. I moved to California to race because that meant I would be one step closer to fulfilling the dream I had of being a professional racer. In short, cycling was my life and I lived for the the Tour.
Fast forward ten years. Armstrong wins a record shattering 7 consecutive Tour titles, and then he’s publicly disgraced when it comes to light that he did, after years of denying it, dope. The American who won the Tour after Lance, Floyd Landis, was disgraced when his doping tests came back positive from the Tour just a few months after winning the event as well. As for me and my dream of riding a bike for a living. Well, I moved to California and started racing. As luck would have it, I was hit hard by a car just a few weeks after moving out there. When I finally got back on my bike and started racing, what can I say, I realized I didn’t have quite as much talent and commitment as a bigger, more competitive CA field had, and I realized that I maybe didn’t want to do it anymore. It was rough. But I moved on
The Tour has been going on for three weeks now. Anybody watching it? I do, and I still love it. I will always love cycling, but I also get frustrated these days when folks who’ve never ridden like to bring up Lance or doping or the french or any of the negativity that seems to surround the sport of professional cycling like a nasty fog. The sport definitely lost something, especially in the eyes of Americans, when everything started going south with Lance. And I’ll admit I don’t follow cycling as closely as I did. But it seems like it’s a non event now in the states, even though we have some great riders who compete.
Today,in honor of the sport I love, I’m asking everybody who reads this to please watch The Tour. It was a great day that made me remember how much I loved the sport. Today’s stage was Alpe d’Huez, the notorious stage that Lance took on Jan Ullrich famously in 2001 with “the look”. It’s still really exciting to see guys fight for the finish on this gruelling climb. I hope you’ll watch.