Up to a certain point in my life I always had bikes and now I go into Decathlon and look at the racing bikes and think I'd like one of them again. When I bought Joe and Ben BMX's and other Mickey Mouse bikes, I had one eye on the racers thinking, we should be buying them those instead of these. In 1975 one day on the marshes near our school, I found a rusty racing bike dumped in the long grass behind a row of houses. I picked it up and was surprised at how light and big it was, looking at it I could see that it was different to any bike I'd ever seen, it was a racing bike, that was obvious, but it had a massive Chainset, but no deraileur. On closer inspection I noticed that the rearblock was single speed but tiny, this I realised was a bike built for speed. The back brake seemed to have been dismantled and removed completely leaving only the front brake. I pulled it out of the long grass and onto the pathway and tried to put the chain back on, but even this was weird as the chainset seemed to be seized one way, I got it on though realising that the wheel turned just one way. As I wheeled the bike along towards the road to give it a go, I noticed that the chainset turned as I went along instead of free-wheeling, and I recalled from some vague reference point in my life that this bike was a fixed wheel bike, probably used for track racing.
Once on the road I managed to get on it and cycled on the flat tyres a little to see how it felt and it seemed there was promise. The rims were straight, it was a bit rusty and one or two spokes were missing. The seat was a stupidly thin one with the name 'Brooks' on the back of it. Over the coming months I cleaned it up replaced some of the spokes and the brake rubbers and started to develop calf and thigh muscles like never before. The bike took 3-400 yards to get up to somewhere near top speed because of the gear combo, but man was this a fast bike! Over the coming years I cycled everywhere with it. When I left school in 1976 I got on my bike and cycled to my Nans house in Hastings, averaging 20 mph. Drivers that I used to work with in Tilbury docks claimed to have clocked me cycling at 45mph!
I had the bike for a few years and bought a 10 gear racing bike in 1977 and I can't recall what happened to the 'Fixy', It probably was stolen, but I've not no recollection of that happening. But what I do recall was how much I loved cycling and how I could go faster than anyone else that I knew. I repeated the Hastings trip several years later with a group of mates, going via Camber sands and returning via Ashford, all in one day. As much as I could I tried to get them to cycle in a Peleton using the same stream-lining tactics I'd seen in the Tour De France, they humored me, doing it a little, but knew that there was no way that they'd be able to keep up with me.
In the 1980's & 90's I would watch the Tour De France in awe of their stamina and strength, especially the mountain specialists and I still think of these long distance races as being one of the greatest sporting events ever. I've never got that obsessed with it, but was always aware of it and noted the names Laurent Fignon, Greg Lemond, Miguel Indurain, Luc Leblanc, Jan Ullrich, Bjarne Riis, & Claudio Chiappucci. and more. The riegn of Indurain and his total dominance kind of put me off it a bit and Armstrong similarly, what was the point of watching if it was already a foregone conclusion and then there was the drugs aspect of it. Fortunately I was never that hooked on it, but I could have so easily been as I do love cycling and I'd loved to have been in a cycling club and it's still something I consider every now and then.
I didn't see the Oprah Winfrey interview and wouldn't want to watch it to give the bloke viewing figures and my time. His actions haven't impacted on my life at all other than turning me off of watching the race, but leading up the race I read a short piece by Rebecca Cooke who had just retired and started to get some sense of how much of an absolute scumbag this bloke is. A couple of days ago I saw Rebecca Cooke interviewed on the BBC on their breakfast program and I wanted her to resort to swearing in order to demonstrate how disgusted she was. But being British she'd never resort to such a thing.
Tonight trolling around the BBC website I found this and read the comments at the end by the followers of the sport and I ended up in tears reading what the people were saying. Looking further again I found this piece where Cooke speaks about it and again I sat there in tears...
Cooke makes the point elsewhere, that kids that take this sport up make massive sacrifices, as do their families to pursue their dreams to be like Armstrong. Those same people off the back of their committment and training make their way up the ladder of success, only to get so far because they don't take drugs. All their committment, which inlcudes a financial investment comes to little or nothing or renders them debt ridden for the rest of their lives chasing their dreams. Their dreams and successes are thwarted by the likes of Armstrong who reap the financial rewards. Armstrong by the looks of it is a very wealthy man off the back of cheating.
Lance Armstrong is scum.