I've watched those seven rounds of Tour de France.
I've loudly cheered and been amazed by Lance.
I've marveled at his superhuman strengths;
He's pushed performance now to brand new lengths.
And I admit I sometimes feel inspired,
My very modest burners getting fired
To kick my own athletics up a notch,
To feel a bike seat chafing at my crotch,
To try a little harder to increase
My speed, or some endorphins to release
While pushing up a slope to hold my pace,
Engrossed in my own private little race.
"Who cares?" a person very well may ask,
"To ride as fast as Lance is quite a task.
You're much too old and fat to have a chance
At races in Ventura, much less France."
That's true, I'm sure, but not quite on the mark;
I think that anyone who feels that spark
To push the pace to see what he can do,
Should do it – take the chance and follow through.
Sure, Lance can blow the doors off folks like me;
He's faster far than I could ever be.
For starters, Lance's body's not like mine;
Genetics matters at the finish line.
I know he's young and has no major flaws;
He has the time to train each day because
He has a lot of money and support
From sponsors who finance the cycling sport.
But there's a common thread from Lance to me:
The way to be as good as we can be
Begins somewhere inside the human brain.
It make us want to strive, to push, to train;
I think it's something basic, innate, pure,
And maybe best to cultivate, not cure.
Each person who has felt an urge to race
May find it makes his world a better place.
It's heresy, I know, but it's the truth
We need to do much better with our youth –
To teach them when it's all been said and done,
That sport means active fun for ev'ryone.
We grownups should endeavor to inspire
The flame that each child feels, his inner fire,
Not chiding him and yelling up a fuss.
We need to play together – kids and us.
'Cause there's a huge, wide spectrum found in sports,
And competition levels of all sorts.
It's not always about who wins the prize;
The perks are there for all us little guys.
Elitist competition on TV,
The only active sports that most folks see,
Where winning's everything – as some insist –
Is just one item on the total list.
Olympics competition's one extreme –
Where just one race can make or break your dream.
You might win GOLD when you are at your peak,
And then retire from sports that very week.
But what if in your 50-second race
You're five short milliseconds off the pace?
You finish sixth; you've missed your only shot.
Four years from now some new kid will be HOT!
The Pros perform for money, glory, fame,
But racing for yourself is not the same.
Spectator sports are structured to amuse;
Nobody wants to watch his hero lose.
But sports where you yourself participate
Are more about the challenge than your fate.
It's fun to finish third or fourth or fifth;
Nobody really loses – isn't myth.
Oh, goals are part of competition, sure,
But winning isn't what an amateur
Should ever make his single-minded end,
All other goals and motives to transcend.
You gain some things each time you join the race,
More vital than to win or show or place.
Not everyone who races has the same
Big dreams or motives – needs to make a name.
For most of us it's nice to beat someone,
But that's not all that makes bike racing fun.
You gain each time a finish line is crossed;
Not winning never means that you have lost.
The only way to lose is not to try,
To merely sit and watch the world go by.
To folks who never race, just watch instead,
The guy who comes in last comes out ahead.
Now, even Lance has had a narrow call,
A crisis where he might have lost it all.
He says that beating cancer, not the Tour
Was his most treasured moment. He is sure
That if he had to choose between his fame
And merely feeling fit to play the game,
He'd give it up without a second thought,
And be content with chances that he's got.
I know my biggest challenge year to year
Is just to get my lazy butt in gear
To get out on the road each chance I get
To push myself to strain and pant and sweat.
But even if I fail to get in shape
To make spectators stand in awe and gape,
I'll be a faster, stronger, better man,
Which somehow seems to be a decent plan.
Like Lance, I know that winning isn't all;
There's more to life than racing's siren call.
We may not be the fastest or the best,
But we can still enjoy the simple test –
To try to do as well as we can do,
To try to catch whatever we pursue,
With what we have for time and aptitude,
And that's what's most important, I conclude.
And quite unlike most other TV sports,
Which need two teams and referees and courts,
Like football, hockey, soccer and the like,
You only need a road to race a bike.
Last updated Oct 5 2005