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Friday, January 18, 2013

Why One S.F. Cyclist Doesn't Give a Shit That Lance Armstrong Doped

Posted By on Fri, Jan 18, 2013 at 8:02 AM

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Everyone is talking about Lance Armstrong. "Will Armstrong go to prison?" ponders the Guardian. "What's the Oprah angle?" asks the New York Times. "Should we forgive Lance Armstrong?" the Chronicle asks its readers (spoiler alert: We should, comes the ruling from The Mommy Files, but not before he has earned his atonement through indentured servitude and public shaming.)

It isn't just the media. I hear it from my friends and family. I see it on Facebook and on Twitter. One of my co-workers, bless his heart, seems legitimately aggrieved by the whole ordeal.

And so given that just about everyone is offering their two cents on this latest object of national indignation, I feel obligated as a guy who tries to write thoughtfully and knowledgably about topical issues relating to cycling, to offer my own thoughts on the matter:

Ahem.

I don't care about Lance Armstrong.

I don't care about him because while I am a cyclist (like Lance Armstrong, but really, not at all like Lance Armstrong), my decision to bike to work every morning has as much to do with America's fallen cycling hero as a driver's decision to take the 101 to the office owes anything to Dale Earnhardt.

I don't care about him because that surge of exhilaration I feel when I suddenly find myself going faster than car traffic on Valencia at rush hour does not come from a Livestrong bracelet.

I don't care about him because though Lance Armstrong has slithered off the Oprah's set into a likely future of legal trouble, tabloid coverage, and fading general ignominy as people move onto the next thing, I still get to keep my bike (until it is stolen).

Maybe this shouldn't come as a surprise. I'm not a hardcore organized sports person. To the extent that I care about baseball, I wasn't much moved by subsequent (and at this point, predictable) revelations about Barry Bonds or Jason Giambi or Angel Pagan. I don't care that Lance Armstrong was juicing, and when people come to his defense, saying that everyone in pro cycling is juicing, I don't really care about that either. My cycling interests pertain more to getting where I'm going and not getting crushed by a bus on my way there.

To get a more balanced perspective, I texted my friend Alejandro. As I've stated before, Alejandro is a very serious cyclist. The kind who rides a bike and who wears cycling clothing like those of Lance Armstrong. The kind who might actually feel that his sport has been tarnished in some way.

"Are you sad/upset/disturbed about Lance Armstrong?" I asked.

His response: "Ambivalent, I guess."

In this week's column, the New York Times' Gail Collins asks: "Now that Lance Armstrong is disgraced, people, how many of you ever plan to think about the sport of cycling again? Can I see a show of hands?"

You won't see my hand, because I care about cycling -- the fun and practical thing that I do everyday.

As for any thoughts I might have on the use of performance-enhancing drugs by cyclists: God forbid I try to make my morning commute without having had at least one cup of coffee.


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Ben Christopher

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