Monday, July 25, 2005

Congratulations, Lance!

"Without heroes, we're all plain people who don't know how far we can go." (Bernard Malamud)

My weekend report is nowhere near as exciting as Lance Armstrong’s. The Austin cyclist has done it again, winning his 7th straight Tour de France. Austin has gone Armstrong wild again, with yellow signs everywhere during the weeks of the Tour. I’ve seen everything from “Go, Lance, Go!” to “Vive La Lance” and “Le Tour de Lance” and signs advertising “The Tour de France Televised Daily Here!” on establishments ranging from sports bars to coffee houses and even at Central Market, where there was a daily podcast as well as the television coverage.

Lance’s latest and final victory as a professional cyclist has not been free of controversy. As usual, newspapers were bringing up dark mutterings of blood doping even up to the last day of the Tour. Lance is probably the most drug tested athlete in history. Funny thing is, all of the tests are negative. Get it, people? He doesn’t use drugs. He doesn’t need to use them. Lance is one of those rare natural athletes who push themselves body and soul to accomplish the goal. He defeated cancer when the odds were extremely low. And he’s won the Tour more times than anyone in the history of the race.

There are also those who dislike Lance because they believe that either a) he did something to warrant his divorce from Kristin, the mother of his son and twin girls and/or b) he is grandstanding and possesses an ego the size of Texas. While I’ve heard the rumors in Austin about the causes of the divorce, the point is, it’s their business. I hope Kristin is dating a wonderful man and is just as happy as Lance & Sheryl. As for the other, if Lance has a big ego, he hasn’t displayed it. He is a much nicer athlete than many professional ones. Think of the NFL, MLB and NBA players who not only need lessons in basic manners but also pepper their sports careers with drug convictions, DWI’s and worse. Lance is friendly and approachable to fans and the press. He’s never been videotaped swearing at photographers or pushing around a cameraman. He acknowledges that he is the best in his sport…if that is what warrants the ego talk, well, hey, the truth is the truth. And I can’t help but admire a man who holds a fondness for Tex Mex food from Chuy's and Shiner Bock beer much less convince Nike to come out with the 10/2 line, where each purchase means the company donates to the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

The city of Austin is already planning the celebration party. Last year a good half mile of Congress Avenue was closed off to accommodate the crowds and live music stage. Everyone from professional artists to kids to adults were enlisted to chalk paint the street with messages such as LiveStrong! The bands performing were Robert Earl Keen, the Steve Miller Band and of course, Sheryl Crow. Lance even sang along on a few songs. The Capitol was lit in yellow, then in blue for the official yellow jersey/LiveStrong colors and the Postal Team. I’m sure this year will be just as festive. After the win yesterday Lance announced to reporters that he and Sheryl were taking the kids to a beach in the South of France for a week, where he intends to sit around in the sand and drink lots of beer before returning home to Austin. The party will be held shortly after his return.

In other bits of Lance trivia, his first Austin home is up for sale. Casa de Linda, named in honor of his mother, is a gorgeous 4,950 square foot house listed at $3.5 million dollars. Anyone need a home with two boat slips and palm trees lining the property?


Twin Kim said...

"Vive le Tour, forever" ~Lance Armstrong on the day of his seventh Tour de France win.

Lance Armstrong, you are an American Hero. You, unlike others in sports idolized by fans and the media, personify courage, strength and dignity. You have shown us that it is still true that in America that if you have a goal and work hard, you can attain it.

You showed us that there are men and women who stand on death's doorstep but don't cross over. You showed us years ago that there is dignity and honor even in sharing a personal medical crisis with the world. You were strong but scared and we were, too. You triumphed and the world took heart. Rather than hiding your light under a barrel, you chose to spend your time, money and trade on your sports fame to give others hope as well.

Thank you, Lance Armstrong. Congratulations on a stunning career and an exciting start on your retirement. Thank you, too, for introducing the International media to the best damn beer in Texas!

Kaya said...

Ahh, I knew you'd find a way to mention Shiner Bock!