Was a bad week for those named Armstrong. The first human ever to step foot on extraterrestrial soil dies, and Texas Johnny gives up fight to retain claim to another unprecedented accomplishment, winning 7 Tour de Frances.
Americans paid respect to quintessential spaceman Neil Armstrong. During the Summer of Love, 1969, recall listening alone but attentively to staticky radio halfway through night shift as this historic event remarkably unfolded. Must have been among the few who didn't catch the television broadcast witnessed live by hundreds of millions. You lose so much of life at work; without you important stuff occurs, kids grow up, and what good world has to offer goes to someone else. Every once in a while, though, an indelible memory is made on the job. Neil's was special beyond measure, what reporters dubbed "the right stuff", where fabulous preparedness seizes golden opportunity. All work should be so rewarding, but most resembles mind numbing drudgery or soul strangling slavery. These days budget conscious congressmen question billions spent exploring space, without which there'd be no personal computers (shrunk to fit aboard spacecraft) or thousands of other innovations that needed an extraordinary problem to solve. Explorations provide answers but raise more questions. Once Americans had hubris and stamina to tackle extreme challenges, but lately seem incapable of sensible enthusiasm or simple logic. Due to effective propaganda everyone became your enemy except billionaire exploiters who really do suck life from rest of world.
What can you say about Lance Armstrong? Arrogant? Duplicitous? Incredible? Unlike trickle down conservatives who pretend, he singlehandedly created thousands of jobs among bicycle component manufacturers serving wannabe racers. By giving up his fight against USADA's witch hunt, he finally showed real class. These governing bodies who suddenly get scruples shouldn't be allowed to retrospectively enforce rules. Everyone competing years ago took something to get an edge. From alcohol to anabolic steroids, substance abuse has been rampant in cycling since its inception. So Lance is banned from racing forever. Why should he care? Now he's just like anyone who rides to ride. He can still wear yellow, just like Labann. Memories and scars mean more than medals and trophies to those who've been there and done that. Any notion you are better because you pedal faster than others can only be described as delusional and ridiculous. Just as car racers' best seems a snail's pace compared to orbiting space debris, bicyclists will always be outdone by own contempt for cooperation or someone else who's faster or jealous.
Labor and leisure are intertwined in cycling, as much a form of transportation as a holiday recreation. If motoring weakens resolve, maybe pedaling restores strength lost to luxury.