Before Lance Armstrong Americans felt road bike racing was something done exclusively by effete European anorexics in spandex. Some of us American types took up mountain biking. Mountain bikers hurtled boulders and forded white water. Our bikes had thick tubes and wide tires. We had upper body strength and we spoke English. We did our best to feel superior.
But we were not.
By 1995 I had participated in a couple bike races and I knew first hand what it meant to be a 6'1" guy trying to beat a bunch of short wiry guys up a 12% grade for five miles on loose dirt. What it means is that you have to develop a strong foundation of intestinal fortitude and an impenetrable system of self-deception.
Bike riders lie to themselves continuously. This is how one endures hours of bone shattering jolts, torn ligaments, lacerations, abrasions, contusions, cartilage erosions, and muscles that burn so badly you're sure you can smell the hamburger. You lie to…