Thanks For The Ride
And So It Ends
The Tour De France ended today, and Spain continues to cement itself as the leading International Sports power; they have the top player in the ATP Men's Tennis Rankings, The reigning World Cup Champions and now the Yellow Jersey.
But this Tour also marks the end of the competitive cycling career of Lance Armstrong, and he leaves a legacy that any athlete will be hard to match.
To start with, he managed to take a sport that was seen by many as an obscure sport practiced by foreigners and by eccentric Americans in funny clothes, and turned it's greatest challenge into an annual event. I would speculate that the Tour was one of the highest-rated programs on the Versus network. Even I would sit and watch Lance bide his time until the difficult mountain stages and then watch him make his move. I can imagine that his successes also got many folks to dig their bicycle out of the basement or garage, or get a bicycle and start riding.
His courage in the face of Testicular Cancer was an inspiration to one and all. When he managed to win, if not dominate in a few cases, the Tour after his diagnosis and treatment, the world over cheered him on. He also realized that he was not only a hero, but a voice. He rallied people to "Livestrong", using a yellow bracelet as a symbol. His unflappability in the face of never-ending accusations of doping or other forms of enhancement, including recent ones from two of his American rivals, is a lesson that many celebrities could learn from as well.
But his largest contribution may be the one that is rather obscure. Cancer, to me, is seen as either a woman's disease; with the focus on Breast, Ovarian, etc, cancers, or a lifestyle disease, the Lung Cancer that affects many smokers. Along with former Pittsburgh Penguin Mario Lemieux, Lance showed the world that Cancers can affect anyone, at any time.
We've not heard the last of Lance, I hope. He's too much of an inspiration to many, including me.
Thanks for the memories Lance.