I read this again in a Sport's Illustrated article last week that was chronicling Lance's predicament. It described racing bicycles as (essentially) an introverted man's sporting event. It went on to say that many high school kids get along with cycling based on a pre-disposition to not compete in a team sport because the need to have time by themselves... an outsider's sport.
This infuriates me. I thought we got rid of this attitude 10 years ago during Lance's first promenade. Maybe this was the attitude during the 1970's but it absolutely should not be how the sport is perceived now.
Maybe living in Colorado has jaded me since I get to see these 15 year old Clif Riders dominate the fields every weekend but c'mon. Legitimize the sport mainstream America. There are plenty of exceptional athletes who came to cycling from another background. Brian Jenson was a phenomenal runner at a collegiate level (came to mind off the top of my head). And he's just a local KC pro.
I want to shake these journalists sometimes. I ran track in jr. high and some high school, and it was boring out sprinting other suburban white kids. I played high school lacrosse and could be considered mediocre to good. Hell, I worked at a sporting goods store selling sporting equipment to "real" athletes... something about baseball bat's and soccer cleats doesn't turn me on. Sport's Illustrated could never tell me that I'm an introverted geek with no friends who rides a bike just to get away from it all.
At the end of the day, in this era, cyclists are as much or more talented than the large majority of high school athletes. I see that drive every weekend on the race course. Some 15 year old kid took that fire that I had in my teenage belly and left it all on the course so he could absolutely demolish a fully developed adult cat3 racer who trains constantly day in and day out.
Maybe the main stream media see's these young athletes as introverted because they don't adhere to traditional American sporting events. But in my mind these athletes are driven. In no other sport can you work and train and claw your way to the top and not be praised.
And for the introverted part, I dare someone not to be taken into a Bad Goat party and not have the time of their lives.