I grew up around bicycle racing. Well, maybe not so much "around" but at least "nearby." When Mo Siegel, head hippie at Celestial Seasonings herbal tea company, got it into his head to have a bike race to promote his new brew, the Red Zinger Bicycle Classic was born. My father did a lot of business with Mo, so we got a lot of the early promotional material, and were invited out to watch the various stages in and around Boulder, Colorado.
We went out and watched future stars like Connie Carpenter, Davis Phinney, Ron Kiefel, and Alexi Grewal attempt to master the beast of a course that was The Morgul Bismark. In 1980 when the race morphed into the Coors Classic (a change from herbs to hops), we watched a young turk named Greg LeMond hone his skills on those same hills. In 1984, the film "American Flyers" was shot (in part) during many of the stages of that race. My older brother worked security and rode motorcycle escort for many of the races, and the widescreen version of the film includes a nice shot of his thigh.
Then bicycling faded into the background for a couple of decades. Greg LeMond won the Tour de France three times, and the Coors Classic attempted to evolve into an even larger race before it collapsed under its own weight. When Lance Armstrong showed up, cycling was ready for a renaissance. Or maybe I was ready for it, at least. With each successive victory, however, the soap opera that now surrounds most professional sports began to swirl in ever widening circles. By the time Lance had won his seventh Tour de France, retirement seemed like a relief.
Into this void came Floyd Landis. Defying odds and osteonecrosis in his hip, he became just the third American to win the yellow jersey in Paris. Then the doping allegations began. True or false, the story has done nothing but make me long for Tonya Harding to bring some class and decorum back to the sport. Will Geoghegan, Landis' manager, confessed that he had called Greg LeMond last Wednesday night and, posing as LeMond's uncle, threatened to reveal the secret that LeMond had been sexually abused as a child if LeMond showed up to testify. While Landis waits to find out if he will be the first person ever stripped of his title in the 104 year history of the Tour de France, Geoghegan will be entering a rehab facility. All in all, I think the whole thing would have been better if they had just stuck to herbal tea.