As you’re probably well aware, Austin’s own Lance Armstrong claimed his 7th consecutive Tour de France title earlier this morning, following the mostly ceremonial 21st stage in Paris.
Numerous yack radio pinheads — from those regularly employed to the barely-hanging-on Scott Ferrell (whom, while manning the graveyard shift on Fox last week, denounced Armstrong as “a femme”) have diminished Armstrong’s accomplishments. While paying lip service to the notion that competitive cycling requires greater fitness than say, talking about the NFL for 3 hours, the ignorant-and proud-of-it crew are quick to remind us that Lance is “only riding a bike”.
It’s a fuck of a lot harder than it looks — and it looks pretty hard from here. I read an article a few years ago in which Armstrong attended a Stone Temple Pilots concert and ate exactly three (3) Doritos from the backstage spread. No more, no less. I don’t know how many of you have the discipline to limit yourself to exactly 3 Doritos (nor can I vouch for Armstrong having done so without the aid of illegal substances), but I suspect Mike Francesca can’t make such a claim.
I don’t pretend to be an expert on cycling, but from the layperson’s perspective, I’m blown away by the sort of things Armstrong has to contend with. Those shorts. Having to make sure all the syringes are properly disposed of. Riding through the dangerous mountains while assholes are yelling “Your old lady did it with Clapton!” inches from your face.
And with all of that in mind, rather than equate Lance’s record run with the more mundane sporting milestones, I would rank his 7 Tour victories atop the following moments in Sports History.
1) Bobby Bonilla Threatens To Show Bob Klapisch The Bronx.
OK, not an athletic endeavor, per se, but it did put “I’ll show you the Bronx” into the popular lexicon.
I think you could make a case for Kobayashi being the Lance Of Competitive Eating. They’ve both won a signature event on foreign soil, been subjected to scurrilous doping allegations, and each have a training regiment that would kill a normal human.
3) Bill Maher Refrains From Masturbating For 3 Weeks.
Though I have no evidence this ever happened — can you prove Joe DiMaggio hit in 56 straight games? I mean, were you there? — certainly we can all agree this mythic achivement is right up there with winning the Tour de France.
To summarize, while I’m encouraged at the way the American mainstream has embraced Lance Armstrong, the tendency to qualify his greatness says a lot about our lack of sophistication, and really needs to stop NOW. I’m doing my small part, and I hope you will as well.