Posted by: Budger | July 8, 2009

You’re No Lance Armstrong Part 2

So for those of you who need a little background, when I was first starting out on my riding adventures, about 3 years ago, I was polling some friends for some riding tips.  I got various responses back, but my favorite was from my buddy John, who replied at the end, “Just remember, you’re no Lance Armstrong.”  With all of the news lately of Lance and his comeback, I have thought about this a lot.  So I thought it was time to revisit, once again, the many reasons why I’m no Lance Armstrong.

First of all, let’s get the obvious out of the way.  I am not an elite bike racer; I’m overweight, can’t balance on one leg and getting on/off the bike is usually a disaster waiting to happen; and if I was to pedal faster than 30 mph, it would be a miracle, and I would wet my pants in fear.  My power/weight ratio is on the opposite end of the spectrum;  I have not re-mastered the technique of riding with no hands; I have to stop pedaling to reach for my water bottle; I consider it a good day if I don’t fall off my bike; and most importantly I can’t pee while riding the bike at 20+ mph (unless I’m scared – see above).  I am fascinated by this last fact, and would love to know how exactly the pro riders do that. 

But as much as I am not like Lance, I like to think there are a few ways I am like him.  I love to ride my bike;  Sunday Ride 002I do it for the sheer enjoyment as well as for my cause (my cause is the ongoing war of heart disease.);  I can laugh at myself;  we both have a hunk of metal in our shoulder (mine a pacemaker, his a metal plate and screws);  we both document our journey;  we are both advocates to others to get out there and do something;  and we both look good on a bike.  OK so I do it by having a color coordinated ride that’s pink, but hey whatever it takes.  

Unfortunately lately the reminders of why I’m not like Lance have far outweighed.  Two weeks ago I was doing a training ride and got heat stroke and bonked at 18 miles.  As I was sitting on the side of the road, wishing I would die in the sun quicker than I was, some guys came along and rescued me and got me to shade.  They were admiring my Madone, another way I am like Lance, and commenting on what a beautiful ride.  I told them it is a great ride, but even I realize that putting me on a Madone is like putting a restrictor plate on a race car.  They laughed.  Let me explain that my Madone was a reward.  My reward for sticking to it after my pacemaker surgery. 

Last week I was doing a training ride, and the support car pulled up along side as I was dying in the 100+ degree heat and offered, jokingly, to pull me.  “Come on pretend you’re Lance Armstrong and grab my hand.”  I laughed as I know that would have ended with me under the tire of the Tahoe squished like a bug.  My friends know that I am a huge admirer of Lance, so this is the big joke.  I was further reminded as I was pushing myself up the hill, that pro riders would probably not even recognize as a hill, and wishing the damn bike had a motor other than me.  But with every struggle comes a victory, and on the other side of the hill I came very close to mastering the art of peeing on the bike as I went screaming downhill at 28mph. 

When Lance rides in the tours on TV, I like to set my bike up on the trainer and ride with him.  I tell all my friends that I’m riding with my buddy Lance in the Tour de France.  And amazingly enough I smoke him every time.  He never makes it out of the TV.  I would have thought Lance could beat me since my average is only 12mph, but apparently I’m tougher than I give myself credit for, or so I like to believe.

In the last 4 days the reminders of why I am no Lance have been overwhelming, as my beautiful Leilani’s carbon fiber frame broke while I was riding in the TDF Stage 1 time trial.  Lance was pulling ahead, and I had to make the power move.  I readjusted in my seat, started pedaling as fast as I could and next thing I know the seat mast has broken.  Crack!  I got off the bike, and the seat fell off.

I was heart-broken, but I was OK.  The bike was not, and is currently going through the warranty process.  I have gotten very different recommendations on what to do, from it was probably a defect in the frame to the advice that I should not be riding a Madone.  On this last piece of advice I was so discouraged that I wanted to quit. 

I don’t like it when I’m told I can’t do something.  I started thinking of all of the things I do that most riders don’t do, and thought maybe this isn’t for me.  So I was in the middle of a major pity party – bawling on the phone to my friend, and mourning Leilani as they pulled the plug and tore the frame down.  And then I was reminded, thank you Shannon, I’m not doing this for anyone else.  I didn’t buy a Madone to show off that I can afford an expensive bike.  I bought it because I loved it when I did a demo ride.  Leilani was my victory.  And I don’t ride because I’m a pro racer.  I ride because I love it, despite all of my riding quirks that leave others cocking their head like a curious puppy.  Like Lance, this is too important, and despite what others say I will get back out there on the bike, that I am comfortable with, and ride.  My suggestion – take a few steps back when I’m on the mount/dismount and grab a picture; that’s when I show off my talents the most. 

So once again I proudly proclaim “I am no Lance Armstrong.”  But thank you Lance for giving me something to aspire to, for all of the inspiration and courage you give to the world, for working towards your cause, and for making this year’s Tour de France a heart stopper.  My dream is that someday I can ride beside you, for the one millisecond that it would take for you to drop me, so I can thank you personally.  And then afterward maybe I could show you why you’re no Rhonda Budge while I’m getting off the bike.  I want a rematch on that time trial.

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