My first time with Lance Armstrong was in the summer of 2000.
I was participating in the American Lung Association’s BIGRIDE. But first, a bit of background is needed.
In 1998, I decided to try to get my shit together and get me some edu-ma-cation. I enrolled in an art school and my goal was to be Frank Kozik, basically. Let’s just say, I got enough out of school to get myself into trouble. Repeatedly.
So in December ’98, I was getting ready to finish my first semester at an officially accredited university.
Then my father died of a massive coronary heart attack. Dead. Gone. 3 days before my first semester ended. Fuck.
My uncle had been appointed as executor of my father’s will and long story short, he had a lot to take care of.
Around New Year’s I had to move into a new room with one roommate and I read in one of his magazines about the BIGRIDE. ‘Sounds interesting’ I thought. ‘If there was only a way to do it for Heart Disease… but we take the opportunities we get, right? So I discussed it with my uncle who told me, “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, it’s for a good cause and, to be honest, it’s something none of the people you are friends with will EVER do. You should do it.”
I signed up that evening.
Living in San Francisco, you would think I had more than enough rides to prepare. I didn’t. I never even rode Mt. Tam. I had never covered 100 miles in one day (recommended by the organizers as training.) I didn’t do shit. My roommate (who turned me on to DC years ago) will testify that my training consisted of 12 packs of Budweiser longnecks and 1 pound boxes of Cheez-its. No. Joke. I rode maybe 150 miles TOTAL before the ride.
(He later told me everyone had a running bet that I wouldn’t last a week. Turns out sheer will counts for more than training in some cases.)
To the point:
I wasn’t a cyclist by any means, and I was ill-prepared for what lay ahead of me. But, I soldiered on. Day after day, mile after mile. By the time we reached our first rest day, I was absolutely fucked. My Achilles was creaking like the hinge in an old haunted house outside of Spokane.
I got over it and got even stronger. I was never the fastest or strongest, but I could grind down the mileage day after day and only had a few lost miles due to mechanicals and one or two days of ‘Camp Crud’.
I think it was in New Ulm, Minnesota when a large group of us were in some redneck bar and we convinced the barkeep to run the TDF on the TV. It was the same day when Armstrong pulled up to Pantani and was like, ‘Come on…Let’s do this…’ and pulled Pantani to the top then handed him the stage, as a show of respect.
Try to explain to a bunch of rednecks why an American would throw away a win to an Italian; especially when it’s a “buncha faggots on bikes” and you’re gonna have a hard time.
It was the best afternoon of the entire 48 days. (40 days in the saddle, 8 rest days.)
To this day, I still remember how awesome it was watching a part of history while making my own history in a similar fashion. I had no idea about doping or Festina or stages or points or anything. (I’m still clueless, more or less…) But, I knew one thing. An American was going to win the biggest bike race again, and I was doing something similar.
Years later Big Jonny said something that stuck with me to this day. “They all dope. All of them. If they didn’t, the same guys would win, just going 5kmh slower.” (Not guaranteed to be an 100% accurate quote.)
It doesn’t matter to me. What he did, doping or not is an achievement for any person. 7 time winner of the arguably hardest race in the world. Doped or not, that’s something.
What kills me is he used his success to propel his cause (noble as it may be) and in respect profited financially from it. He gave hope to so many other survivors while only achieving it through doping.
Lance, I will never respect you for doping or lying for all these years. I will never look up to you as a role model. I will never forgive you for year after year of lying to my face.
But, what you did was, without a doubt, amazing.
You fucking liar.
—BP aka Christian Cotterman, Bigride 2000 rider and still avid cyclist.by