I was working up to a post on my mixed feelings about what Lance has done for bicycling, and of bicycling understood exclusively as anything but a practical means of transportation in general, but Tanya says it better:
I watched a few segments of the Tour de France while it was going. Its pretty neat to see how amazingly fast the riders can make a bicycle go. But on the other hand, it doesn’t fascinate me near as much as just seeing someone toodle along on a bicycle carrying a baby, dog, or a couch. (speaking of couches, I have a strong urge to pull one with a cargo trailer. If you are buying a couch and want delivery, let me know. You can ride on the couch :) ) I wonder if Lance rides places for transportation. Does he get groceries by bike or by Subaru? I suspect most of the riders probably don’t use a bike for the more mundane things, and that’s to me what’s coolest about bikes–their practicality.
Jim links to an editorial about Dubya’s privileged time budget for exercise, which asserts that the rest of us normal peoples’ jobs are too demanding to permit an hour or two of exercise daily. I commented there “How many peoples’ demanding jobs are within an hour’s bike ride of their homes?”
How many people even know what’s within an hour’s ride of their homes? Even those with bike racks on their cars? How many people would think, if you suggested seriously that they ride 1-2 hours daily, “I’m not Lance!”?
They’d be right about that, but wrong that they need to be anything like Lance to ride far more than they think they can. I know that when I was in the best cycling shape of my life, I could put out for 30 seconds the kind of power that Lance can sustain for 30 minutes. If I trained as hard as he does, I suppose I could get that up to maybe 3 minutes. I’m not Lance; bicycling is not my sport, or something I train for–it’s just how I live. I wasn’t born with enough midi-chlorians in my blood; the Force will never be with me. I won’t sleep in an oxygen-deprivation tent. My would-be competitors aren’t driven to take drugs to come close to me.
What Lance says about bicycling isn’t about the bike, or even mainly about bicycling at all. Besides the significance of genes, Lance is about an amazing capacity for suffering. Lance is about clawing one’s way to the top–over the top–with one testicle left, having left the other as a deposit in his grave. Lance is, in short, scary, the way gods are scary. I bow to him.
Lance sells a lot of extremely refined Trek bicycles to people who have no idea why they might need them. Lance makes it safe to be seen on a bicycle without being considered a girlie-man, which is important mainly if you were worried about that in the first place, and, well, we should be careful of what we wish for.