Hey Greg? Need A Favor…

by Rich on July 17, 2017

While taking a break this week from the continuous stream of The Office that never seems to end at my home (I have a 17 year old son. He’s on his 10th time through the series. Thanks Netflix), I scanned through the upper, triple digit channels from my local cable provider and was somewhat startled to discover that we are smack dab in the middle of the The Tour de France (TDF). Who knew? I mean, other than the Europeans and Lance Armstrong? One of most grueling endurance events to be held on the planet is underway, and I didn’t even know. How does that happen?

I am of an age where I actually remember Greg Lemond on the cover of Sports Illustrated. That’s a thing that happened. In our current post-Lance Armstrong world, that may not seem significant, but in 1989 it was. An American! Winning the TDF! Beating the Europeans at their own game! It was incredible! Most of us had only maybe heard of the TDF. Sure, we all loved Breaking Away (sidebar: what a cast! Dennis Quaid, Daniel Stern, Dennis Christopher, Jackie Earle Haley? Seriously, you recognize EVERYBODY in this movie! If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor. Amazing. But I digress…). So we kind of knew about this thing that had been going on for the last 85 years or so, but we didn’t REALLY know it. And then we did. In a big way! And we owned it. And everybody wore those little cycling caps to school and talked about Greg Lemond teaching those nasty Euros a thing or two. But then doping.

But here’s the thing… I want to like it again. Do I want it clean? Maybe. Or maybe I just want a level playing field. I mean, have you seen the course? It’s 2200 miles long. That’s like riding a bike from L.A. to Detroit. (Or Detroit to L.A., if you are clearer headed). So, maybe instead of no performance enhancing drugs, we just declare that, unless the DEA will arrest you for it, anything goes? I mean, let’s face it, no sane, normal human would do this without help. Heck, I DROVE from Phoenix to Atlanta and had to slam three 5Hr Energy drinks. These guys are on a BIKE!

And it’s not like the sport was once puritanical and then got dirty somewhere along the way. Virtually right off the bat there were guys using some kind of PED. Back then it was ether and alcohol to dull the pain. Then it was amphetamines to give them energy. Once science caught up, it got fancy. And look, I’m not saying I think that’s necessarily the way to go, but kids, the cat’s out of the bag. The horse is out of the barn. The worms are out of the can. And they ain’t going back.

Bicycle technology has exploded with carbon fiber and other lightweight materials. Training has gotten smarter and so has strategy. Maybe it’s time to let medicine and science catch up?

Again, I’m not “pro-doping”,  but man… I sure wouldn’t mind watching the TDF and not wondering who’s getting away with it and who isn’t. And to be frank, it wouldn’t kill me if Lance Armstrong got his titles back. As an American, sticking it to the French is almost worth it on it’s on.

One of most grueling endurance events to be held on the planet is underway, and I didn’t even know. How do we get it back?

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