From the Best of Chroniclesofmccloskey.com
I am going to “shift gears” here for a moment( no pun intended) and talk about a true American sports icon. The picture you see here is of yours truly in the foreground and a gentleman you might not instantly recognize if you are not a cyclist. This man is currently the only American to officially win the Tour De France. In fact he won it 3 times. His run was interrupted by an unfortunate hunting accident with his brother in law where he was accidently shot. He recovered and went on to win the Tour again. An astounding feat considering the scope of his injuries. I am speaking of none other than Greg LeMond.
I have had the good fortune to be invited to a charity bicycle ride in Maryland for the last three years where Greg was the featured guest. JR Ellis, Ken Krieger and I were invited each year by our friend Scott Weiner who is on the board of 1 in 6. 1-in 6 is an organization that was formed to help men who were abused as children. Greg is also on the board with Scott and devotes countless hours in serving the needs of men all over the country. The significance of 1 in 6 is that one out of every six men have been abused as a child. An astounding statistic that makes one take notice. Greg is not only involved in the organization but spends a considerable amount of time every year with many charitable organizations as well as his many businesses which are related to the bicycle industry. LeMond is an innovator. For instance, he was a seminal founder of the technology that inspired Giro Helmets. He worked with Boone Lennon, a former US Ski Team coach, to develop the aero bar which puts a bicycle rider in an aerodynamic position during a time trial in a bike race. In the 1987 Tour, Greg used the aero bar and his position allowed him to ride between 35-37 MPH during the final time trial of the Tour that year. Greg won by 8 seconds over Laurent Fignon, a Tour winner from France and very competitive rider. One of the interesting things that Greg recounted on our ride was that he was criticized for using the bar almost as if he was cheating. But Greg said that Fignon had the opportunity to use the bar but he and his coach Cyrille Guimard refused to use it. Over a 2500 mile race that averaged 25 MPH over three weeks, the race came down to 8 seconds. Had Fignon opted to use the bars, who knows what the result would have been but Greg was the innovative winner.
JR, Scott, Ken and I rode many miles with the Tour champion during these events and the interesting thing is that most of the people in the ride either were concentrating on their own ride or they don’t really know what Greg has accomplished in his 52 years. As you can see from the picture, he is older but the guy can still ride. You will also note that he has a camera around his neck. He is so comfortable on the bike that he can ride for long periods of time without his hands on the bars and take pictures of the Maryland countryside. Amazing!!
Again, LeMond is an innovator and his stories of the industry and his involvement are riveting and makes riding with him educational as well as very pleasurable. The nice thing about LeMond is that he is personable, will sign autographs for hours at a time and spends long hours after the ride talking to anyone who approaches him. A truly admirable way to live for a world renowned celebrity. No question is left unanswered and his passion for the sport of cycling has not dwindled one bit since his Tour days. As you take another look at this picture, you will see that I am saying something to him and he is amused. Imagine the patience of this man listening to my stories for 85 miles. But, this is LeMond. Professional, caring, innovative, and entrepreneurial. A true gentleman.
You will hear a lot about another Tour champion who has been disgraced. There have been many allegations and truths that have come out which contrast the career of Greg LeMond. In keeping with the guiding precepts of my blog, I always concentrate on the positive and the lighthearted stories. No matter what you hear, always know that there is at least one guy in the sport of bicycle racing who has always been a clean competitor and a true representative of the American spirit that went to Europe and competed against the worlds best on their stage. LeMond was a pioneer breaking into the old world network of European Road Racing. I am so fortunate to have made his acquaintance and look forward to riding with him again this summer. If I am invited Scott( hint, hint). If you would like more information on the 1 in 6 organization, you can view their web site at http://www.1in6.org. Thanks for reading.