What to do? I’m in a real fix here. With fanatic devotion I’m getting Le Tour updates at every wi-fi hotspot in the northwest.
I grew up in a household of fans. Dad cussed the Wildcats through each and every game and Mom desperately coaxed each Bengal receiver. I vividly remember a spring evening in ’92 when the University of Kentucky men’s basketball team had a heartbreaking end to a season that made legends out of country boys. Now some 17 years later an aspiring young Kentucky politician is having it held against him that he attended the university that won that game. To that a little part of me still says, “Good. Let him go be Senator there.”
Anyway I bring all this up to say. I’m not into being a fan. That March Madness night put me on a path of questioning why anyone would get a whole mess of very real emotions tied up in the performance of strangers. To my pragmatic mind that is about as crazy as crazy can be. So a few years later as I made my way to the University of Kentucky, I seldom stood in line for tickets or tailgated at football games. To me it made much more sense to cheer my own self on through my very amateur but all me pursuits.
This brings me to my current condition. I gotta bad case of Lance Fever. Just to save a little dignity I tell myself that it is as much fascination as fanaticism. The Lance Armstrong story is fascinating. Surviving a really bad cancer prognosis to consecutively win Le Tour De France seven times is nothing short of a true to life fairy tale. For my part I believe him to be the best known combo of both athletic aptitude and dedication that we have on planet Earth.
I’m glad he is back in the saddle. I cringed as he started down the road of retired athlete frequenting tabloid covers with a rotating list of pop tarts.
Now with him poised to take charge of another Tour, here I go getting all giddy. Lance in Le Tour is about the only time I get the least bit patriotic. Yellow is the new red, white and blue. It is painful to be nine hours behind Le Tour and with only sporadic internet access. Will I miss another timeless moment like the great Ulrich stare down when he passed that big German while powering up the Alps? How many times will the French papers claim he is doping?
The thought of parking the van and flying to Paris for the finish is on my mind. Steve and I both looked a little blue this afternoon, sitting in the rain in a rain forest, when it dawned on us we could be in Europe this summer. Seriously though I’m glad I’m not there. I don’t do crowds and hassles well which is in reality what a trip to Le Tour would be. Someday I’ll go bike a few kilometers of the route myself and try to imagine what it would feel like with his lung capacity and quads.
Few athletes can make a legitimate come back after retiring. Win or loose Le Tour he has already proved himself a force worthy of the ride. His genuine efforts to continue cancer awareness by riding makes him not just an amazing athlete but earns him a place right there with Bono and Gates as one of the great humanitarians of our day.
Now perhaps I could close this little therapeutic journaling session by declaring that it is OK to be a Lance Fan- clearly if anyone is worth it he is. Call me jaded but I can’t escape feeling that it is a little tacky or silly to use so much energy hoping a perfect stranger rides his bike better than another perfect stranger. I’ll just settle for using an old therapy trick and give my condition a different name. I’m not a fanatic. I’m an admirer. Sounds better, doesn’t it?