Don't get me wrong. What he has accomplished in his life has been nothing short of amazing. His refusal to give in to cancer surely inspired others facing similar and even greater challenges, helping them power over their hurdles. But, when it comes to riding his bike...not so much.
Lance is kind of like ultra runner, Dean Karnazes. They're both stunning athletes. But they're also, in my estimation, pseudo-freaks of nature. They are not normal. They're not just regular guys who turned themselves into the monsters of their sports. They got extra helpings of genes most of humankind does without. I have learned from their accomplishments, and have applied nuggets of their training philosophies to my marathon adventures, to positive ends. But, I have not been inspired by either of them. I turn to "regular" folks for that.
My most recent experience of "inspiration" was during Rock and Roll Seattle, two weekends ago. As I approached mile 22, thinking just how hot and tired I was, wishing the last 4 miles would just be over, I saw, going in the opposite direction, at his mile 14 or 15, a very large man, plugging away at what was quite possibly his first marathon. He was showing no signs of being anywhere close to packing it in. For some reason I am inspired whenever I come across those who've taken it upon themselves to battle the plus-size they've become in an effort to release the runner within.
Speaking of first time marathoners; they are an awesome bunch. Deciding to run 26.2 miles the first time can be an exciting, heady experience. Sticking with it, pushing through the pains and progress of training, to the point where one actually "gets" the distance, and then tearfully shuffling across the FINISH line...for me, that's inspiring. That's why I follow so many runners online. I love finding a new person whose profile says "just hoping to finish my first marathon". They get me at "Just hoping...". Then there are those who finish their first marathon...and decide to do ANOTHER. Holy smokes!
Lance doesn't have to hope he'll finish the Tour. Karnazes doesn't have to hope he can run 50 marathons in 50 days or all the way from Napa to Santa Cruz. They just do what they do. Former Manchester United star Ronaldo doesn't have to hope he can slam a ball into the back of a net. He just does it. He claims he's worth the 90 MILLION euros Real Madrid just paid for him, and he may well be, in a business sense. He sells team jerseys, not hope.
I'm thinking genuine inspiration is born, in hope, at ground level, with life's minnows. Very seldom does it come from the top. Those who've got it at the pinnacle have a tendency to keep it for themselves, while they figure out a way to sell it. I like the free, amateur stuff way better.