To some this may be meaningless but to some it could hit home. Man Night. That’s right, ladies, Man Night. It’s every Tuesday night and ladies, yer not invited. We all love our women but sometimes you have to get out and be with the boys. We call it magazine club in the winter when you can’t ride just to compete with the book club the ladies attend.
Anyway, me, Butter, Coach, Dawg-Auto, Napalm, the Grinch, Large Erect Johnson, The Q, and a number of other characters who come and go to the club, get together and break off a ride after work every Tuesday night that most would brag about for a weekend get. Knock out 3-4 hours of singletrack and then pour beer down our throats like it’s prohibition. This week it rained and then it froze and then it kind of thawed and then the sun finally came out yesterday. The dirt was like sweet velcro. You couldn’t go wrong; you couldn’t blow out of turn if you tried. It was like being on Ritalin, mushrooms, and speed all at once. Fuck if they had a drug like last night’s ride, no one would ever go to work.
The point? What is better than riding a bike? We’re a bunch of bike fags who can’t get enough, and every single member of our posse got into bikes one way or another because of one person: Lemond.
After several tall cold ones back at the trucks “Lemond” became the subject of conversation. How many of us got hooked on the bike thing because of “The Kid”? It seems we all did if you are between 32 and 40.
I had never even heard of road racing until a family road trip to Reno (ironic, eh?) for a family reunion back in 1986. I bought Winning magazine for some reason in a gas station which had Winning magazine for some reason. i still have no idea what inspired me to beg the ol man for three bucks to buy it. I had never even heard of road racing. He scoffed because there weren’t any big bucks or fish on the cover but gave me the cash anyway. I read that thing cover to cover about ten times in the back of the station wagon, gleaning every bit of information about him and the sport from its pages. When we got to Reno the latest edition had just hit the shelves and he had won his first Tour. I lived with those two magazines by my side and saved enough money to buy a road bike the next spring. I wanted to be like Lemond even though we lived in the backwoods of Idaho.
He was the fucking man. And he was cool. His personality was everything. When you read his interviews and read about his style you wanted to race road bikes. He wore his charisma on his sleeve every minute of the day. He created the bike industry as we know it: Giro Helmets, Oakley Factory Pilots, the aero helmet, Scott Clip on bars, Coca Cola. He was irreverent and unconventional. Lemond was the first person to torpedo “euro-logic” to the bottom of the Atlantic. He was a red blooded American taking it to the French, defying convention and America loved him like a son for it. Lance never accomplished half of what Lemond did in terms of inspiring a younger generation to ride bikes. Lance made the sport a business like any other American corporate machine. Lemond made the sport real.
It’s a heart breaker to see Lemond’s legacy go down the pipe. With his Lance and Floyd tangles, his wife and Andreu’s wife cat talking on the phone, and recent developments of “Uncle Ron” you can’t help but wish you were his PR manager and had stuffed a sock in his mouth, told him to be the better man and use the recent successes of Americans to build his image as the man who started it all. The sport is in a bad way these days. People check the websites to see what the latest scandal is, not the latest results. Cycling has become more soap opera or reality show than the cinematic masterpiece it once was. We need a Lemond right now to pull the ship out of the drink. We need that innocent, naive 25 year old with his wind in his hair and grin on his face heading into Paris to bring the hearts back to the sport.by