Saturday, July 5, 2008

Pedal Power

It's Tour de France time again.

I first became interested in cycling back when Greg LeMond was making us proud, becoming the first american to win the Tour. Greg may have been as dominating as Lance Armstrong had it not been for a hunting accident. After seeing Greg, I spent several summer days on my old 12 speed leading the tour against an imaginary peleton that could never catch this young american rider!

Then, youth and passion faded and life, work and family took over.

It was several years before Lance reinvigorated interest in cycling in the US. The amazing story of this cancer survivor (given almost no chance to live, much less ride professionally again) beating cancer and returning to win the tour an astounding 7 times in a row, captured the hearts and imaginations of the country.

It was Lance's story that hooked me into watching the Tour. Without Lance, I doubt there would have been american TV coverage without the drama that Lance brought to the sport.

It was also right about this time that I was invited to pull the old 12 speed out and join the Focus on the Family "Bike Ride for the Family". We rode from New Braunfels, TX to Houston. Three days, about 240 miles.

It was my first long ride and I was hooked. Soon I was searching ebay for a "new" bike. I found a nice used Cannondale, made the move to clipless pedals (where the shoes actually clip right into the pedal) and started riding regularly.

I was able to ride Houston to Dallas the next year with Focus on the Family again and this year, helped organize the inagural "Ride for the Homeless" with The JOY FM. We rode from Brooksville to Bradenton in 2 days and had a great time. The ride was a mix of experienced riders and first timers, much like the Focus on the Family rides were. We had a few minor mishaps (Carmen going pedals over helmet - and breaking the helmet!) but no real injuries.

It was also the first ride for my youngest son, Daniel (genius #3). He had a tough first day (brake pad rubbing the wheel, gear shifter not working, strained back) and had to leave the ride after that first leg, but I think the bug has bit. He's still riding and wants to upgrade his bike and start clipping in. He's 16, athletic, slim - who knows, maybe he'll really catch the fire and I'll be watching the tour from a team car as my son leads the breakaway ...

Until then, I think I'll take a ride this afternoon. For a time it'll be me leading the tour again.