That’s when the sport seemed far away in Europe and otherworldly to someone that rode his Fisher Paragon in the Eastern Washington shrub steppe desert. Theirs were names told in stories of epic heroism on roads in France. I studied them, watched grainy videos recorded from Satellite TV and learned to ride road. Fell of rollers in the back of a bike shop, read Eddie B’s eat horse-meat book, and was thrilled to get even an hour of Tour coverage on ABC with ridiculous commentary from Adrian Karsten.
Like other mountain bikers, I wanted to get faster by spending more time on the road. This was when the American sport of mountain bike racing was getting overrun by World Cup-class Europeans who were fitter, thinner, and faster. Everyone was turning to road and riding bikes like the carbon-tubed Epic Allez or picture-perfect painted Colnagos, and fishing-lure-green Treks.
The story of a coke-can shimmed Aero Bar, invented by a Triathlete, WWII vet in Idaho was marvelous. Later came the Americanization of the Sport with Lance Armstrong.
What a rich history and dark side this sport has had in the 20 odd years I’ve been into it.
Fignon was many things, a complex character, a true Frenchman and a champion. He blamed his cancer on the dope he took and maybe his death will signal a turning point in this decades-old battle with the two speeds in the peloton. I expect other old pros are wondering about what they did to their bodies. Time for them to come clean too.
RIP Laurent. Today you’re trending on Twitter. I’ll remember you for the wins, the 8 seconds, and the courage it took for you to tell us you doped.
In another time, you were Young and Carefree.
Photo uploaded by BeWePa.