At this point, it’s impossible to deny Lane Armstrong cheated. For a long time, I didn’t think so. At first, I though it was an anti-American bias in pro cycling. Also, I thought he’d be exceedingly concerned around his image, in order to protect his cancer foundation. With each revelation, it became harder to believe without a healthy dose of denial. Once the USADA published their report and Armstrong decided not to contest it, continued belief fell into the zone of conspiracy theory.
I’ve been a fan of Lance Armstrong since before he turned pro, back in the 1992 Olympics. His success was one of the things that inspired me when I got back into cycling when I turned thirty. My in-laws got me a USPS jersey, which I wore on my first century. My wife and I watched an incredible 2004 Tour de France while on a trip together–I remember overhearing her describe a stage he won on the phone. I remember being fascinated by Lance Armstrong’s War while overnighting during TOSRV 2009.
However, it was not the only thing. I ride because I love how it makes me feel. I ride because it forces me to be device-free, and think without direction or distraction. I ride because I have a wife and daughter, and want to keep my heart healthy. Lance Armstrong being a cheater does not take away any of those things.
While I’ll likely view professional cycling more skeptically in the future, life goes on. While I might get rid of my copy of Lance Armstrong’s War and other books, I’ll keep wearing the jerseys. I’ve made my own memories with them (and, as a piece of clothing, they are quite nice). I have my own motivation to ride. I hope those who were inspired to ride by Lance Armstrong have found their own inspiration in friends, health, or simply the joy of riding, and continue to do so.