Sunday, January 23, 2011

Riding unaided

John Galloway, of the Sofaboy Chronicles asked via twitter if people would like to comment on Lance as a round-up of opinions for his next podcast.  As I have the face and not the voice for radio, I write it here. 
Guilty?  Innocent?  Ultimately, it doesn’t matter.  The cloying, unwavering credulity or the obsessive odium of many will not change this: people still have cancer, are depressed, struggling, addicted, poor, hurting, and/or tired. We are all on a journey to the finish line; there is no cure, and how can it -and ultimately, real hope- be found in a guy who was just lucky to survive cancer, who like us, is just lucky to ride a bike.

He's not there -nor any of my favourite riders or Directeurs Sportif - when I struggle to find time and energy to get out of bed to go for a ride let alone get up a hill. And he was definitely not there in that room while I watched a loved one vomit again and again, not just from the chemo, but because her body was on its way out.
To all the doping talk, including the forum troll doomsayers, I say this - I am not made disconsolate by yet another doping story or rumour, nor if alleged or admitted dopers rode right past me could I scrounge up enough hate to boo. 

I have many reasons for my lack of despondency, most of them based on a sound and realistic view of sport's place - and its stars - in society.

But the main reason I was reminded of while out riding with my stepdaughter yesterday, who constantly bugs me to take her for a ride somewhere. 

She has absolutely no idea who Lance Armstrong is or any other rider. She deals in generic terms like 'I want to be a bmx rider' or,pointing to someone in my cycling mags,'is that your favourite bike rider Rachie?'.

But I will never forget her face when she rode her first metres unaided. Nor will she.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The one where I defend Lance

You know that I’m not a big Lance fan.  Well, I actually now call it like or respect/dislike – sometimes the ratio for this is 30%/70% sometimes 10%/90% but I’ve read some things this week that prompted me to actually defend him.  Yes, you read that correctly.  These are just points to consider. 

  1.  He actually never said his appearance fee for TDU was going to Livestrong, Rann’s office did.  Why can’t he keep it – dude’s gotta eat, feed five kids, jet to upkeep and has won 7 tours.* 
  2. Regarding his appearance fee and the amount each year, why is this such a problem other than you just don’t like him? The economic impact in SA of the 2009 TDU alone has more than returned on the investment. However, I do think Cadel’s rainbows in 2010 and great sprinters/probably Robbie and Stuey’s final year this year deserves more kudos for 2010 and 2011 numbers.  I have worked in a government agency where football teams were paid similar annual amounts with similar purposes in mind (not tourism of course, but you get my drift) and with similar economic benefits.  Perhaps SA Govt could’ve negotiated better in regards to allegedly having to pay to use Livestrong for its hospital/research centre in addition to Lance’s fee or perhaps a “visit Adelaide” on the Radioshack kit for a year – surely what SA has paid is up there with Twitter – however, as it was an appearance fee just to Lance, then maybe that wasn’t on the table.   Sure, I don’t like how the TDU and associated media coverage appears to be all about Lance at the expense of other and homegrown riders (e.g. noone’s making a big thing about it probably being the last one for Stuey and Robbie),but still. 
  3. As to his donation to the QLD flood appeal this is what some people had an issue with a) he should donate his entire appearance fee b) he should’ve kept quiet about the donation, perhaps consider this – a) did you donate YOUR entire wage this week, did Harvey Norman donate all his profits this week? b) Lance sure does tweet about a lot of things especially pertaining to brand Lance/cancer charity/image/PR or insults for latest investigation or court case, but he might not tweet that he helped out someone he knows who isn’t doing so great or that he donates to such and such a charity (and I don't just mean the UCI) – maybe he does think that is unseemly.  However, when he does tweet about a donation (e.g. Haiti) perhaps he’s tweeting it to his 2 something million followers to create awareness so they too will donate.  Sure, saying an amount might not seem cool, but he also has powerful and cashed up mates he could be challenging to make a similar or larger sized donation.
 Anyway, I'm sure I'll go back to not defending him shortly.