Today I Met Greg Lemond

by NAA

After the Saturday Spectrum ride (a good fast group ride with more than a few opportunities to mix it up in bunch kicks), Brooke, Ali and I extended our ride to get a little extra volume. Along with Ashley, Victoria, Liza and Helen, we had already stretched our legs on the group ride with a few fun lead-outs and were now soaking in the sunshine. A group of riders caught up to us over Arastradero, and I heard a familiar voice call my name:

“Hey, is that Amber I see?”

I turned to find Andy Ball, CEO of Webcor Builders, rolling up next to me. Andy is fantastic. He’s an avid supporter of cycling and especially women’s racing. He’s a true fan and has been a great source of encouragement to me and many other riders who have come through the Webcor program. He’ll also rip your legs off on the bike, so consider yourself forewarned should you ever join him for a “fun ride!”

“Hi Andy!” I said, surprised and pleased to run into him while out riding.

Andy gestured to his riding companion, “Amber, meet Greg Lemond.”

Whoa. The only thing I could think of to say was, “It’s great to meet you! By the way, I grew up in Reno.”

Greg Lemond grew up in Washoe Valley, just outside of Reno, but had commuted to school in Reno by bicycle (the long way – up Mount Rose and back down into the Reno valley via Mount Rose Highway) while growing up there. At least, these are the legends handed down in the local bike and coffee shops.

“You’re kidding, ” said Greg Lemond.

mt_rose_summit.jpg

[Photo of me cresting Mt. Rose Summit in 2006 after a long day in the saddle. Note the elevation. I cannot imagine this climb as a commute!]

We got to chatting about the roads around Reno, and especially the epic Franktown loop out in Washoe Valley, a perfect road for time trialing and the 2005 course for our Collegiate Conference Championship Team Time Trial. Actually, the first place I had ever seen Greg Lemond in person was when he spoke at the awards ceremony for the 2004 Collegiate National Championships in Madison, Wisconsin. We chatted about collegiate cycling being such a great feeder for the sport of cycling and about other strategies (time trialing included) to get people involved.

Talking with Andy and Greg (it’s my post; I can be on a first-name basis), I felt flooded with inspiration and gratitude for having found the sport of cycling, and the three of us connected instantly in this regard. The sport has (obviously) changed each of our lives profoundly and for the better, if for different reasons. In our conversation swelled a sense of urgency to share this wonderful experience with those who have not yet discovered it, to give back some fraction of the immense joy we’ve all gleaned from our respective experiences as cyclists.

Please don’t misunderstand; I do not place myself in the same league as Greg Lemond. However, I firmly believe that no matter what your level of participation, cycling offers everyone this ineffable, powerful experience of self-realization. While this experience is perhaps impossible to describe in words with any justice, the passion with which people like Andy Ball and Greg Lemond give back to the sport is evidence to its existence.

wccc_omnium_leader.jpgAndy and Greg give back in a big way. They support everything from grassroots events and programs to world-class athletes and teams, and their passionate generosity has changed countless lives, mine among them. I look at what they’ve done and continue to do for the sport and the people involved, and I can only hope to be able to give back on that scale someday. In the meantime, I do all I can to give back and support others in my own way.

I feel honored to be a part of the cycling community. I am deeply thankful for how the sport has changed my life, and even more for the phenomenal people with whom I get to share the journey.

How cycling has changed my life is fairly obvious. How it has changed other people’s lives might be less obvious, but equally if not more profound. I would love to hear stories about how cycling has changed lives from anyone who happens to be reading this crazy blog. I love these stories. They inspire me enormously, and I’m hoping that getting a few people to share their stories here will generate some good motivation for anyone who reads them.

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