I seriously got into cycling in 2005. I was definitely one of the people who were inspired by the attention that Lance Armstrong brought to the sport. My reasons for competing were personal, but I have to credit 'The Lance Effect' for helping solidify my ambitions by providing a reinforcing culture. Being apart of something that was beyond my own selfish aspirations helped justify all the long miles and intense training. I felt like I had joined a new culture... a brand new world of positive choices and group harmony.
How ironic is it that I am seriously contemplating a long-term break from competitive cycling, as the world seems to be turning against one of my heros. Just as with my beginnings, I am not thinking about quitting solely because of Lance's demise, but I am definitely not inspired by this hostile climate of hatred. The cycling lifestyle no longer seems quite as rosy. What I thought was a world of empathy and understanding, of competitive fellowship and healthy lifestyle choices seems more like one of jealousy and judgement.
I suppose what stings, is the hatred that my fellow racing acquaintances are spewing. I really want to feel like I belong to something... but not sure I can fit in, when my perspective is in such stark contrast with the people I ride with.
Maybe my loyalty to Lance is partially my dad's fault. He wore a Livestrong bracelet. He found hope and support within the Livestrong foundation. I can't seem to shake that image.
I liked the idea of the U.S. winning the Tour De France 7 times in a row. I liked the fact that George Hincapie won a stage in 2005 (turns out he was doping... oops). America prides itself on success... it is one of our values... Lance (and Floyd Landis for that matter) represented the U.S. When they won, we cheered and felt proud. Maybe that is why there is now hatred... a defense mechanism, what other response can we have?
Well, how about feeling SAD? I suppose a man, however, would sooner raise his fist, then shed a tear. And yet, thinking about the stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, deppression, acceptance), I can suggest that we have been in denial for so long, that anger has finally progressed. Perhaps, then, I am just further along on my journey, as I am saddened by the state of affairs... hopefully acceptance is just around the corner.
But you simply can't take back all that has been given. So, feeling sad isn't really necessary, for me personally... rather, I feel inspired by the past and motivated by the potential of my future... with or without cycling.
Most likely I will start training again this winter... but for now, allow me a period of mourning... a pity-party, as I feel sort of alone within the sport right now. The American Equity team seemed to disband in July, so that adds a bit to my isolation... it was nice to be able to share the lifestyle with a group of guys that 'got it'... I got used to deriving energy from the team's enthusiasm and reinforcement... which made it disappointing as we slowly started engaging in our individual pursuits. Perhaps once I get a chance to re-affiliate I will find some inspiration.
If and when I start training again, I will resume posting... until then, enjoy the cycling lifestyle, and please don't discredit all of the great people who have helped make it what it is.