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Go Lance Go! (No wait, come
By Chip Haynes
Editor Note: This pieced first appeared in the Wire Donkey Bike Zine. Subscription information follows this essay.
As in years past, it's good news, bad news. Good news: Lance Armstrong tied Miguel Indurian's record for five consecutive Tour de France wins this year. Way to go, Lance! And equally good news, he immediately said he was coming back to try for six in a row--to hold the record alone. I hope he does it. The bad news? Well, this year's win was the slimmest yet--just 61 seconds over his rival, Jan Ulrich. In years past, that lead has been six or seven minutes, not just one. Hmmm...
Of course you know where I'm going to go with this. I really do appreciate all he has done for bicycle racings, even if 95% of Americans couldn't possible care less. The French love him, and he's a Texan. Some good must come from that as well. Still, I keep looking for the Great American Bicycle Person, and some odd reason, I keep expecting him to be it--but he ain't.
We need a Great American Bicycle Person. We need to have someone we like and trust to tell us what to do--to ride our bicycles, exercise and eat right. To take care of ourselves, because we sure aren't these days. I think Lance Armstrong could do that, if he would so choose. But (so far) he has not. Now he had chosen to sell Subaru cars after last years win, and lately promote Nike shoes, and that's step in the right direction--no pun intended. (Shoes offering more exercise than cars, as it were.) Bit still, where's the incentive? Why should the average American care about bicycling? Here's the one person to get us a good reason to ride, yet he remains surprisingly silent on the subject.
Keith Kingbay was Schwinn's "Ambassador of Bicycling" for a great many years. He'd go around to Schwinn shops around the country, talk bicycling and lead rides. He'd talk to a reporter in every town, and generally get a little pro-bike press where ever he went. Sure, he was out to sell Schwinn bicycles, but he did it by promoting cycling to the general public. A real soft sell all around. He made you want to ride a bike. He made it look like a good idea. (And it was.)
Schwinn is busy these days--too busy selling bikes to promote bicycling. Keith Kingbay is long gone, and no one hs stepped up to take his place. Armstrong could do it. So could Schwarzenegger. Even Lou Ferrigno. (He won the stationary bike race on "Banzai", didn't he?) We're in desperate need of a Bicycle Guru here in America--someone to get us up off our fat backsides and out on the road--but gently. (So I guess that rules me out.)
I don't expect the President to appoint one--he's far too busy saving the world to be bothered with such petty domestic issues. So it's up to us. I'll be taking nominations. Who do you think has the best chance of being heard as The Voice of American Bicycling? We need to draft that person and have the get the word out before it's too late. Okay, yes, it is already too late. So we need to get the word out before it gets any later. Geez.
The Great American Bicycle Person needs to get out there and get folks riding bicycle for their health as well as for America--it's the patriotic thing to do. Mom, apple pie and Bendix hubs. But let's not lose sight of the other Great Goal: Go, Lance, go--six in a row!
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