Saturday, November 22, 2008

Lance, Dope, Cancer and Understanding

Google's spell checker is on the blink today so I apologize for bad spelling:
Ocassionaly I seem to hit a nerve. I'll try to keep it up. I am refering the comments generated by my last post. Click on that and read if you want this to make any sense. The Lance/ doping thing really sticks with me. As a cancer survivor he is a very important role model for me. In so many ways I emulate what he has done. I want to give back and to support those with cancer. I like the mission of the LAF, they helped me immensly. I also want to make a comeback to being an athlete and he has shown me that it can be done. I apperciate his work ethic and determination.

I just think that eventually the other shoe is going to drop and it will become clear that everything he has done on a bike is a lie. (I already believe that.) So I am in a wierd place, feeling ripped off and inspired at the same time. It is about the difference between choosing to believe to keep from being disappointed and believing what I see and reconciling the difference.

Lance is almost not real. I mean really, he is a BRAND. He has approached his whole career that way. There is merchandise. There are millions in endorsments. He creates a small industry by existing. There are numerous people that make a living off him. All of those people are invested in the lie continuing.

Then there is addiction. Imagine the feeling of being Lance. Incredible power on the bike, you are untouchable in the mountains. You win the biggest race in the world. You get power, money and the adulation of the masses. Everything tells you that you are the greatest. For someone with and addictive personality, this is a recipe for substance abuse. It allows the person to hide from their true demons in a warm fuzzy glow. And the man has demons; he grew up without a father, angry and abandoned. I can easily see how long term use of perfomance enhancers would change your opinion of yourself. Eventually I can see believing that the enhanced performance is coming from me and my training rather than the needle. It would just become a part of you.

When you strip away the BRAND of Lance Armstrong you get a man. A man like everyone else with faults and strenghts. That is what I can accept. I see a man in turmoil fighting like a gladiator to maintain a lie. Ultimatley that lie is a lie he is telling himself. We all do that. Unfortunatley that is how we keep from growing as indviduals. So I take the man and see him for what he is (in my eyes). I still hold him as a role model. I also feel sad for him and wish him healing and inner peace. I have an autographed Lance Armstong picture that I count as a prized possesion.

OK I think I can be done with this topic. I just needed to wrestle with it a bit, thanks for humoring me.

In recovery news: I went to Stanford yesterday. Mary was so sweet to drive me. The appointment went really well. The Doc said I am looking great and recovering as expected. I don't have to go back until the 19th (three weeks)!!!! I am tapering prednisone (steroid) I have been on a pretty high dose and it is one of those things that you cant quit cold turkey. As a result I have had some moments of incredible fatigue that sometimes is accompanied by anxiety or mood swings. Not fun! Those are my complaints. Mostly I am feeling really good and better daily.

Thanks for reading.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

saw spencer twice today, once at a wedding. somehow seeing him out and about makes me feel good. his morale is up! i am optimistic,

Anonymous said...

I too feel the same. There is no doubt that what he has accomplished off the bike is truely inspirational. On the bike, as one who has been following the sport since the Lemond days, you can't feel but skeptical. At the end of the day, only he knows for sure. But I agree with your sentiment: he truely is a driven person. And he will do anything to get what he wants.

Stephanie Cirillo Gorden said...

Hi Spencer,
I sent you an email a while ago about this -- I am sure you are going through so much that you may not not have the time/energy to chat with us, but I wanted to again extend an invitation to you and Sarah to come visit our group on Facebook. It's all of us dorky MGMers from Robinwood and Circle View blogging around, catching up and giggling at ourselves.
You guys have been mentioned a few times and I know everyone would love, love, love to hear from you. I think we could lift you up a little and make you laugh.
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=36954517739
I really enjoy your blog, btw. Just know that all your old friends are thinking of you and wishing you well.
-Steph

bikesgonewild said...

...such a bloody dichotomy, isn't it, spencer, this whole lance thing...

...when i was in the hospital for a serious heart operation due to hereditary problems in july '02, i literally had no family support whatsoever...friends, yes...but i looked up at lance on the tube & thought to myself "cycling dude came back from deaths door...there's my inspiration"...
...initially, i honestly didn't care if i lived or died...i needed to be inspired to live in ways most people w/ close families might not understand & lance's kicking ass in france was it...hey, the inspiration was there, doing what i've always loved best, riding the bike, so i took it & i've never looked back...

...so while i'd like to think they ALL did it clean, that would be naive...i also note we pile it on lance's shoulders in particular because he was the most successful in that time period...whatever the case, he did it better than the rest...

...& while i've heard ol' lance is not particularly pleasant at times because he is so bloody driven, i'd still like to look him straight in the eye, shake his hand & say thanks...

...beyond that, i'd only wish that our beautiful sport be totally clean here in the present...the past is the past...

...you & i, spencer, were dying men in the past but this is "now" & amazingly we're both men w/ futures, albeit due to medical science but none the less, we've both drawn something strong from mr armstrong...

...anyway, my friend, the truth is you yourself have served as great inspiration to everyone who knows your story...& the story goes on as we wait to hear of your first easy ride...& there will be both a lot of joy & hard work in coming back...

...some day we'll ride...you're well rounded in your interests but you are a cyclist, sir...

Spencer Rubin said...

Hey BGW,
Good point about lumping the illness of PRO cycling on the shoulders of one guy. He has been the face of cycling to the mainstream so I guess that is the price he pays. But if he is guilty, then there are a lot of riders that are too.

As for ging through a major health crisis without the support of family... Yikes. I cant imagine the gumption that it would take to fight thru that. I truly am the luckiest guy in the world to have such a wonderful family to support me.
Spence

Calidad said...

Even though I am normally a judgemental, sanctimonious jerk, somehow I just cant bring myself to dump on LA for not coming clean. It's not that I think he didn't cheat -- I think it is quite obvious that he did -- it just seems to me that nothing would be solved if he did.

For me the problem is our culture, or at least the culture of our recent history. Our leaders and heroes have had to lie to us. We want things that we can't realistically have: cheap energy, an eternally booming economy, undefeatable athletes. So they lie to us, to get our votes, our consent, our adulation and our money.

I hope that the page can get turned -- that Obama can treat us like adults and tell us the truth, for instance. I don't think the sportsmedia industrial complex will stop foisting lies on us until we have changed our culture significantly.

bikesgonewild said...

...calidad...good points...a p.o.v. i can mostly relate to...& hey, you don't own a patent on being a judgmental, sanctimonious jerk...believe me...

...spencer...i hope i didn't come across as someone i'm not because like all of us, i have my doubts, my fears, the things that scare me but my situation was such that it was literally sink or swim...
...in a sense, i realized how alone in this world i was, feeling betrayed by a body i'd worked hard to take care of through riding & hiking (my diet has been pretty much exemplary for years) & as i said, initially i just didn't care if i lived or died...so, our intrepid lance-ster was a piece of driftwood to hang onto until i decided to swim...

...as far as friends...well, i literally cried every time a friend walked into my hospital room...not because i was scared or worried for myself but because that person's presence spoke of "care" & it made me realize i had a responsibility to not just accept the medical help being offered but to turn it around & say "i don't know what i've done in my time to deserve this precious gift of life you're willing to give me but i'm not going to squander it"...

...spencer, i rode yesterday for three solid hours, miles of steep winding climbs through damp forested hills, miles of fast plummeting dangerous descents w/ spectacular views you only have time to sense...i never stopped for more than a 30 sec 'back stretch'...i thought about how gracefully you've faced your situation, how far you've still got to go but i was comforted by the fact that the character you've shown will eventually see you doing your own long amazing rides...

...& i guarantee you, you'll do it w/ a different perspective than before...

...hey...sorry if i'm getting all long winded & introspective here but there is fresh beauty to be seen beyond the horror of the last few months of your life, now that your situation is stabilizing...

...well, anyway, it's wet, cold & rainy outside & i'm gonna go ride my cyclocross bike for a few hours...
...why ???...because i'm alive & i can...
...see ya, bud...