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The Day I Met Lance Armstrong

The Day I Met Lance Armstrong

Bike Lane

    So there I was at seven thirty in the a.m., perched on my scooter at an intersection waiting to turn. I was sitting at the lights lost in my own thoughts when all of a sudden I became aware of a presence… no, not a poltergeist; a bloke on a mountain bike had pulled up along side me.

    Three feet away.
    Coulda touched him.
    Game face on… waiting for the green signal.
    Like an Olympian waiting for the starters gun.
    Focused.
    Committed.
    And dressed atrociously.
    Didn’t matter… it’s all about function.
    I actually laughed in my helmet, he looked so funny.
    (No, he didn’t hear me).

    Here’s the picture:
    Chubby guy, maybe thirty five years old and twenty kilos (44lbs) overweight.
    Ten year-old bike (at least) accessorised with one of those white and yellow foam helmets from the eighties strapped too tightly around his unshaven cheeks.
    Kind of like a chubby Adam Sandler.

    Some twenty five year-old sneakers providing a home to two lovely brown business socks!
    A sweat-stained grey training-shirt, not quite covering the totality of his ample tummy.
    Some too-small black track pants revealing some pretty significant (and hairy) calves and just a hint of ass-crack.
    Nice.
    Classy.

    All in all, quite the picture.
    So glad I hadn’t eaten.

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    I looked over at him.
    He looked back.
    I gave the obligatory head nod.
    As us hard-core(!) scooter riders do.
    He looked back, smiled and opened his mouth to speak.

    ‘He’s up for a chat’, I thought.

    I lifted up the visor on my helmet.

    “G’day Mate”.
    “G’day.”
    “How’s the scooter go?”
    “Yeh, pretty well.”
    “That’s what I need; a motor.”
    “You’re doing okay.”
    “I’m givin’ it a crack anyway..”
    “In training for something?”
    “Yep, gettin’ married in six weeks.”
    “How’s the progress?”
    “Great, lost six kilos (13lbs) in three weeks so far.”
    “Good for you man, that’s awesome.”

    He certainly was ‘giving it a crack’ and he turned out to be a really nice guy.

    Just then the lights turned green and a large group of cyclists (all on their five thousand dollar road bikes and clad in the obligatory lycra) sped through the intersection heading into the city. Lance Armstrong (my new friend) and I pulled away from the lights and the funniest thing ever happened… Lance decided that he would attach himself to the back of the peloton (bunch of cyclists) and ride with them!!

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    This was amusing for all kinds of reasons… but here are my top five.

    1. He was out of shape and relatively unfit – they were all serious, fit riders.
    2. His bike was worth fifteen bucks (max), weighed fifty pounds, had knobbies (off-road tyres) and a bell.
    3. They were all ‘in uniform’ and he looked like he’d just escaped from a shelter.
    4. His helmet made him look like he was about to be shot out of a cannon.
    5. He wasn’t one bit worried about what anyone thought – I loved that about him.

    So we were off…
    Lance and I followed the pretty boys on their over-priced ‘Giants’ and ‘Cannondales’ down the road.
    His legs pumped like angry little pistons and I laughed so much that my helmet started to fog up.
    Within one minute he had caught the group and I thought he was about to expire.
    I tried to recall my first-aid… “is it five compressions per breath… or four?”
    He looked in pain.

    “C’mon Big Fella”, I yelled through my helmet.

    His work rate increased.
    He was lovin’ the love.
    I decided not to overtake the group (not hard to do considering I was the only one with a motor) and to coach my boy to the next set of lights.
    Such fun.
    Lance and I sat at the back of the pack, I offered more encouragement and his rapidly fatiguing pistons continued to pump.

    About two km’s (just over a mile) into the journey he turns and yells to me “how fast am I going?”
    How funny is that?
    I laughed my guts out.
    Again.
    Only an Aussie bloke who’s near death would still care about… ‘how fast he’s riding’.
    If he was a she… not a chance.

    I looked at my speedo.
    “About forty (25mph).”
    “I’m flying.”
    (more laughs)
    “Yes, you are..”

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    And with those words.. the big man started to ‘hit the wall’.
    His legs began to turn to rubber, his pink cheeks started to turn a lovely shade of grey and the friendly dialogue came to a standstill.

    Lance began to drop off the back of the pack.

    “Champ… don’t let those pretty boys get away.”
    He mustered one final heroic burst, kind of like Sly in the first Rocky movie (the only good one) and momentarily caught the group again… he hung on for a bit and then surrendered to his screaming body.

    He was exhausted but triumphant.
    Strangely, I understood his triumph.
    To anyone else, me and my chubby athlete would have been a bizarre sight, but to us it was a significant moment.

    The ex-fat kid (me) was delighted to invest five minutes into the friendly chubby guy ‘training’ for his wedding day.

    We pulled up at the next set of lights and Lance was breathing like an eighty year-old smoker with emphysema.
    But he was happy.

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    “Thanks Man.”
    “You’re welcome… keep up the great work and have fun on the big day.”
    “I will…”

    We exchanged a few more pleasantries, the lights turned green, we gave the alpha-male nod and I left the exhausted, but happy, groom-to-be to finish his training session.

    I rode away with a big smile on my face.
    He was happy, I was happy… and the ‘real’ cyclists thought we needed help.

    As I continued my journey, I thought about what Lance had taught me:

    1) It’s really easy to connect with people when we want to – especially when we make it about them.
    2) Everyone responds to encouragement.
    3) Most people like some attention and care.
    4) It’s amazing what a little support (even from a stranger) can do to a person’s level of performance.
    5) When we slow down and notice what (and who) is around us, there are lessons to be learned.
    6) Helping a stranger can make me feel better than helping myself.

    Thanks Lance.
    Enjoy your wedding day and your life with Mrs Lance.

    More by this author

    Craig Harper

    Leading presenter, writer and educator in the areas of high-performance, self-management, personal transformation and more

    Do You Make These 10 Common Mistakes Before Weighing Yourself? If your Childhood Sucked – It’s Time to Stop Blaming Your Parents! Exploring Relationships with the Single Weirdo Education Should be More than Academic Basics How to Stop Being an Over-Thinker

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    Last Updated on January 3, 2020

    The 10 Essential Habits of Positive People

    The 10 Essential Habits of Positive People

    Are you waiting for life events to turn out the way you want so that you can feel more positive about your life? Do you find yourself having pre-conditions to your sense of well-being, thinking that certain things must happen for you to be happier? Do you think there is no way that your life stresses can make you anything other than “stressed out” and that other people just don’t understand?  If your answer is “yes” to any of these questions, you might find yourself lingering in the land of negativity for too long!

    The following are some tips to keep positive no matter what comes your way. This post will help you stop looking for what psychologists call “positivity” in all the wrong places!  Here are the ten essential habits of positive people.

    1. Positive people don’t confuse quitting with letting go.

    Instead of hanging on to ideas, beliefs, and even people that are no longer healthy for them, they trust their judgement to let go of negative forces in their lives.  Especially in terms of relationships, they subscribe to The Relationship Prayer which goes:

     I will grant myself the ability to trust the healthy people in my life … 

    To set limits with, or let go of, the negative ones … 

    And to have the wisdom to know the DIFFERENCE!

     2.  Positive people don’t just have a good day – they make a good day.

    Waiting, hoping and wishing seldom have a place in the vocabulary of positive individuals. Rather, they use strong words that are pro-active and not reactive. Passivity leads to a lack of involvement, while positive people get very involved in constructing their lives. They work to make changes to feel better in tough times rather than wish their feelings away.

    3. For the positive person, the past stays in the past.

    Good and bad memories alike stay where they belong – in the past where they happened. They don’t spend much time pining for the good ol’ days because they are too busy making new memories now. The negative pulls from the past are used not for self-flagellation or unproductive regret, but rather productive regret where they use lessons learned as stepping stones towards a better future.

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    4. Show me a positive person and I can show you a grateful person.

    The most positive people are the most grateful people.  They do not focus on the potholes of their lives.  They focus on the pot of gold that awaits them every day, with new smells, sights, feelings and experiences.  They see life as a treasure chest full of wonder.

    5. Rather than being stuck in their limitations, positive people are energized by their possibilities.

    Optimistic people focus on what they can do, not what they can’t do.  They are not fooled to think that there is a perfect solution to every problem, and are confident that there are many solutions and possibilities.  They are not afraid to attempt new solutions to old problems, rather than spin their wheels expecting things to be different this time.  They refuse to be like Charlie Brown expecting that this time Lucy will not pull the football from him!

    6. Positive people do not let their fears interfere with their lives!

    Positive people have observed that those who are defined and pulled back by their fears never really truly live a full life. While proceeding with appropriate caution, they do not let fear keep them from trying new things. They realize that even failures are necessary steps for a successful life. They have confidence that they can get back up when they are knocked down by life events or their own mistakes, due to a strong belief in their personal resilience.

    7. Positive people smile a lot!

    When you feel positive on the inside it is like you are smiling from within, and these smiles are contagious. Furthermore, the more others are with positive people, the more they tend to smile too! They see the lightness in life, and have a sense of humor even when it is about themselves. Positive people have a high degree of self-respect, but refuse to take themselves too seriously!

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    8. People who are positive are great communicators.

    They realize that assertive, confident communication is the only way to connect with others in everyday life.  They avoid judgmental, angry interchanges, and do not let someone else’s blow up give them a reason to react in kind. Rather, they express themselves with tact and finesse.  They also refuse to be non-assertive and let people push them around. They refuse to own problems that belong to someone else.

    9. Positive people realize that if you live long enough, there are times for great pain and sadness.

    One of the most common misperceptions about positive people is that to be positive, you must always be happy. This can not be further from the truth. Anyone who has any depth at all is certainly not happy all the time.  Being sad, angry, disappointed are all essential emotions in life. How else would you ever develop empathy for others if you lived a life of denial and shallow emotions? Positive people do not run from the gamut of emotions, and accept that part of the healing process is to allow themselves to experience all types of feelings, not only the happy ones. A positive person always holds the hope that there is light at the end of the darkness.  

    10. Positive person are empowered people – they refuse to blame others and are not victims in life.

    Positive people seek the help and support of others who are supportive and safe.They limit interactions with those who are toxic in any manner, even if it comes to legal action and physical estrangement such as in the case of abuse. They have identified their own basic human rights, and they respect themselves too much to play the part of a victim. There is no place for holding grudges with a positive mindset. Forgiveness helps positive people become better, not bitter.

    How about you?  How many habits of positive people do you personally find in yourself?  If you lack even a few of these 10 essential habits, you might find that the expected treasure at the end of the rainbow was not all that it was cracked up to be. How could it — if you keep on bringing a negative attitude around?

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    I wish you well in keeping positive, because as we all know, there is certainly nothing positive about being negative!

    Featured photo credit: Janaína Castelo Branco via flickr.com

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