Straight No Chaser: Sir Lance

By Desi Cortez
Updated: April 3, 2009

DENVER — I use to ride my bike . . . really fast, all day long, up and down Crenshaw Blvd, to my grade school Windsor Hills Elem, thru Baldwin Hills, all the way from Leimert Park to the La Brea Tar Pits, leave the house as soon as the sun rose, my half-box of Captain Crunch, with Crunch Berries consumed along with three glasses of Ovaltine as I’d sat 17 inches in-front of the TV watching Johnny Quest and Gigantor.

When I concluded that Saturday morning ritual, I hit the road on my Dragster, Ram twisted handle bars, banana seat, sissy pole, front shocks, 5 speed stick-shift, with parking brake . . . with a dime in my pocket in case I needed to make the dreaded emergency phone call . . . AX29560.

I wonder if Lance Armstrong had the same early training regiment . . . .

What does it take to become the fastest bike rider on the surface of the planet? Is it athletic talent?

Is it the rare ability to tap some hidden eternal kid power? Is it ADD, which simply grows with the kid, and becomes AADD – Adult Attention Deficit Disorder? Does it really take athletic ability to pump you legs fast . . . all day?

I recall my buddies, Dude, Arnold, and Horse-Head Rolland, they weren’t great athletes, but they could ride all day . . . great South Central LA memories. Still, I just can’t find that male softness, I can’t get-in-touch with my inter-male cheerleader. . . to actually consider Lance Armstrong a athlete . . . he’s a bike rider, no more, no less.

Please, let’s take off the PC gloves, just for a moment. There’s a world of difference between Bo Jackson, Deion “Prime Time” Sanders and Lance Armstrong. No? The first two are talented all-around athletes, and Armstrong is a bike rider.

Remember Pogo-Sticks and Hippty-Hopps, those big balls with a handle atop them, you sat on-top, bounced around on them . . . why aren’t they considered a sport?

Big Wheel Road Racing? They come out of the same category of recreational pastimes? What about climbing trees?

Skating? Do we consider folks who can skate . . . athletes? Crocket, you know, hitting those colored grapefruit sized concrete balls thru u shaped bent hangers with a giant hammer called a “Mallet.”

Click-Clacks, those giant marbles with a string going thru them, you popped them together in front of you until they decapitated you, or, exploded.

Darts? Checkers? Bowling? Are Pro-Bowlers . . . athletes?

Big Game Fishermen and Hunters, athletes? Killing dangerous animals could only be a sport – if Sword-fish could shove a hook down a midget’s throat and out his ass, and have him walk around in the park till a gay Defensive lineman ate him . . . and you brought that dude home.

Armstrong is a super guy . . . who can ride his bike all day long . . . that’s it.

Think about it, there’s some 67-year-old grandmother in Northern China who can ride her bike, up and down hills . . . all day long – should she be ranked nationally? No question she is in great shape, but is she really a world class athlete because she still rides a bike 40 miles a day?

Seriously Lance Armstrong is, in all reality, a Great White Hope Poster Boy, for a nation desperately and I do mean desperately in need of one. A guy – which the guy sitting in the office cubicle can imitate and emulate, ride to n’ from work dressed in his “biker gear.”

You know, the space cadet helmet which looks like a Hawaiian fruit bowl, the canary yellow stretch suits and Keebler Elf shoes, with water bottles flappin’ off their frail bodies, riding down the center of the lane as if they’ve got metal bumpers and tail lights strapped to their asses . . . forcing you to slow to their “high speed.”

What if the world’s greatest athletes had focused on riding their bikes really fast – all day? Wilt Chamberlain, Ali, Pele, Larry Bird, Roger Staubbach, Jim Brown, Tim Duncan . . . . Notice I included no baseball players .

We’d be saying . . . Lance who?

Now if he rode his bike and; ran, swam, stroked with a wooden paddle – that would be different, but that aint what he does. He merely rides – really fast . . . all day long.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve no problem with Armstrong, he’s just doing what he loves, and what I couldn’t do, nonetheless, my curiosity lies with the sports world embracement and elevation of the cyclist.

And I can only conclude a great deal of his popularity is – who he is, what he is, and those aspects of Armstrong . . . people, well, some people can really relate to – we’ve all rode a bike to the point of exhaustion and paid for it the next day, we can relate, it’s hard. We identify because we can walk outside and pretend to be, dress up like – Lance Armstrong.

You can’t pretend to be, dress up like . . . Ray Lewis or Peyton Manning. Well, clearly you can, but people will laugh at you . . . big time.

Little White kids in America know they can grow up to be Lance Armstrong, it’s a given, they stand a chance. This same group has basically concluded – they can’t grow up to be a NFL or NBA player . . . they understand it’s against all odds, an up hill battle.

Honestly, it’s their parents, the over protective mom who runs over the Phil Donahue/dweeb /nerd/ married to the company and the links absentee hubby/dad who concedes his man-cub to soccer, swimming, Extreme Badminton, Extreme Kite flying, Extreme Jacks . . . .

Extreme Jacks, that-cracks-me-up . . . because I could see it! No, wait . . . Extreme Horse Shoes! Extreme 4-Square – kids with helmets and chest pads, like baseball catchers done. ESPN would promote it, profit from it.

Make it an event for kids who can’t make their middle school basketball team.

Hey, the contemporary, average little Shawn O’Conner is no throwback relic, no Pat Buchanan/John Wayne Irishman. Today’s kid has to put on a safety helmet just to take out the trash . . . . This is a softer, gentler White kid.

And honestly, all satire aside, I know the lack-of-representation white folks have in the peasant class past times – has a great deal to do with class, and social mobility, the ability to climb the ladder without using sports/ gladiator activities as vehicles to do so.

White American’s developed diverse distractions, that’s what extreme privilege will buy you – extreme boredom, which has to be overcome. So you start jumpin’ off bridges with mini parachutes on, and they call you an Extreme Athlete . . . . Or, a fool.

Flip this script, and horrifically most young Black kids have concluded they can’t grow up to be dentist, architects, engineers or astronauts, and tragically, and, with good, but very limited vision, it’s their parents who put a basketball in their hands at three and not a E-Book. LeBron’s Basketball camp in Siberia, Black kids will be there. Astronaut camp in Huntsville, at the Redstone Arsenal . . . .

Don’t nobody know where it is . . .

How do you keep four Black men from raping a White women, or, from reading a book . . . give them a basketball. Yes, insulting, belittling Republican humor, ha, ha.

Still, it is tragically based in some truth. We’ve let our opposition, and sorry, but that’s who and what it is – define us. Far too many of us adhere to the low-expectations Rush and the Texas Ranger, Chuck Norris have set for us.

But back to bikes . . . Lance Armstrong is not a world class jock, he may put one on, but he’s a guy who can ride his bike really fast, and really far. Perhaps, at best, Armstrong may be a sportsman, but not an athlete. And there is a difference.

End of race.