We Ain’t Talking JACK Armstrong Here!

Published: Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 09:39 AM.

Let me give you the inside dope on Lance Armstrong. He rode a bicycle six hours a day for years and years…..practicing!!! I’m not one to criticize, condemn or point fingers. But folks, I don’t care about Olympics, touring up and down some hills in France or a hundred yellow shirts! Six hours a day and you’re not going anywhere seems a bit extreme to me. You’d have to be taking something to fall for the old “let’s take a few practice laps around Dallas, Fort Worth and Houston.”

David Mark and I each got a brand new Western Flyer one Christmas and you bet we did a little practicing. We drove to the mailbox and back to make sure we wouldn’t fall off and then we made a beeline down to Terry Kennon’s house to show off our new rides! We wanted those bikes above everything else. We’d cut out pictures of Flyers from the Sears and Roebuck Catalogue and accidently let them fall on the kitchen table. It was the only thing I listed in my letter to Santa. I prayed for a bike in spite of Mom’s teachings against beseeching God with selfish request.

It never entered our minds to “practice” riding a bicycle. We weren’t riding to build up leg muscles, enlarge our breathing capacity or sculpt our waistline. Shoot, we lived out at the end of the road. We surmised early in life that the purpose of any bicycle was to get you from point A to point B as judiciously as possible.

You cannot imagine the freedom built into that Western Flyer! The thirty minute walk to Carter’s Log Cabin Store for a cold NuGrape Soda could be “wheeled out” in a few minutes. It was the same going to the Saturday afternoon matinee at the Park Theatre; or hustling out to Junior’s J & J to pick up a loaf of bread for Mom. The biggest gain might have been the baseball games. We could get to them quicker. And stay later. We would measure off the sundown curfew and play until the last possible second—and hop on our bikes and pedal like madmen for the house!

That iconic picture of the kid on his bike with a baseball glove hung on the handle bars and a bat slung causally over one shoulder wasn’t some kind of Norman Rockwell painting for us.

We’d build ramps out of barnyard lumber and attempt to jump that big ditch behind George Sextons’s house. We took clothespins and clamped baseball cards on the fender guard so the spinning spokes would sound like a motor rocketing us toward town. We learned to pedal with “no hands”. We could get going pretty fast and step up on the seat with one foot and wave at Mary Hadley or Cynthia Wheat.

There is a lot more to riding a bike than a yellow shirt at the end of the day.               

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