There Is No Lance

Washington ParkI’m no Lance.  You’re no Lance.  There is no Lance.

Since early childhood I have lived by the creed, before you judge someone else, “put yourself in the other person’s shoes.”  I am a cyclist, albeit, a sorry ass one at best.  Sadly I will never be compared to the elite cyclists one speaks of, in the same breath, with Lance Armstrong.

I am and will remain a huge supporter of Livestrong.  The work Livestrong does for cancer victims is excellent and incontrovertible. The organization and the people behind it, sans Armstrong, are absolutely amazing.

Even before Lance’s true confession, I have tried to put myself in Lance’s shoes.  First and foremost, it becomes extremely difficult, unless you have been diagnosed, been treated and lived with a life threatening cancer.

There are many of Lance’s detractors who have never had cancer, let alone been on a bike seat, or experienced the extreme sport of competitive cycling or can even begin to appreciate his inimitable brilliance and determination.

Still there will be many of Lance’s detractors who have been diagnosed with cancer, so thank God, I’m at a distinct disadvantage here.  I can fall back on the fact I have one sister who is a breast cancer survivor, another sister who is battling breast cancer as I write this.

I am here to say, I have a serious problem with many of Lance’s detractors who have never experienced his amazing journey from serious life threatening testicular and brain cancer to recovery.  Back to trying to put myself in Lance’s shoes, as a cancer survivor, in his case, it was nothing short of being raised from the dead.

The problem is he had already doped.  He already knew how to dope.  He knew the culture of doping in pro cycling.  He knew other elite athletes in his profession were doping.  So he doped.  Somehow he won.  It was off to the races.

His genius and competitive furor brings to mind Steve Jobs and his achievements in cycling why competing with co-conspirators were immeasurable.  If you have read the book or studied the life and work of Steve Jobs, the comparison to Steve Jobs, is to say Armstrong is also a complete asshole.  It begs the question, is ruthless determination, the price one must pay to celebrate incomparable success?

The saddest of all, for me in this and for other cycling enthusiasts is the effigy of a championship cyclist.  We may never know.  How tragic.  Lance will never know.  We will never know if he was truly a great champion.  If in fact, if there was someone who rode clean, who could remotely challenge Lance, will we ever know who the greatest cyclist(s) in the history of the sport is, truly?

I will say this, if they were complicit in any way, they aren’t going to receive a pass.  If they were innocent and Lance rolled over them, he needs to make it right.  I would hope he would.  If not, he’s still the biggest loser, because this is one of his only means of redemption.  The other, is to protect and nurture his love for his family, especially his children.

I can’t remotely place myself in Lance’s shoes when it comes to his admonitions, accusations and confessions.  Lance was larger than life.  For a time, Lance’s achievements were larger than his lies.  No more.armstrong confession

In the end, none of his perceived success either on the pro circuit or in his work for charity can be applauded.  Neither can it be easily and lightly be disparaged and denigrated.  Why?  Simply, no one can ever possibly imagine, or conceive to “put yourself in Lance Armstrong’s shoes.”  Lance Armstrong is an enigma.

I’m no Lance.  You’re no Lance.  There is no Lance.

What I know for certain is we can Livestrong!

Living Backwards, Still Moving Forward

Diane Petersmark, with Danny Altenburg and John Whittenhall celebrating the finish of a century ride bikeMS 2010.

My reflections on bikeMS2012:  With quiet courage and conviction, those I meet with MS radiate hope, determination and optimism.  Even afflicted with MS, spiraling their physical selves backwards, their indomitable spirit moves their minds and souls forward.   Their hope gives me hope.  There’s a better world out there.  They inspire me, the ordinary man.  They are moving forward into the hearts and minds of all of us. 

Maybe those of us who clicked in Saturday AM for bikeMS2012, can take away a valuable lesson.  It’s not just about raising money, or the route, or the weather, the wind or the ride, it’s about the challenges in our very ordinary lives of living backwards and still moving forward.  It’s about the challenge of living extraordinary lives, like living with MS.

I’m very proud of our supporters and my Team iDentifi.  Individually, collectively we scorched our goals both as athletes and fundraisers, exceeding $25,000 in contributions.  Thank you!

Who isn’t afraid of failing?!

The Wallenda factor is just a normal fear of falling!  Who isn’t afraid of falling?!

“Just in case you haven’t heard, the Wallenda factor refers to the fear of falling or failing. Shortly after Karl Wallenda fell to his death in 1978 (traversing a 75-foot high wire in downtown San Juan, Puerto Rico), his wife, also an aerialist, discussed that fateful San Juan walk, “perhaps his most dangerous.”  She recalled: “All Karl thought about for three straight months prior to it was falling. It was the first time he’d ever thought about that, and it seemed to me that he put all his energies into not falling rather than walking the tightrope.”

Life is like traversing a tight rope.
If you think you need a safety net,
It won’t be long before you fall. 
Live your life without a safety net,
Or be prepared to live your life
Closer to the ground. 
 
Matt Ridley, The Rational Optimist says, “Pessimism is complacency.”   I think generally speaking I would have to say at times I exercised pessimism in certain situations.  I can relate it to looking in the mirror each morning and thinking, “I’m not getting any younger or thinner,  for that matter.”  I’m over that now!

To see the video – just click on the picture

Last year I spoke of challenges.  This year, I believe anything’s possible!  Last year I spoke of good fortunes, we were fortunate enough to have earned another year in business.  I said I was proud of the intellectual property (IP) and talent we had.  This year I am confident our talent pool here is second to none.    Everyone has bought into The Rational Optimist theme, “Everybody is working for everybody else.” Last year I said opportunities present challenges.

We have faced those challenges.  We have conquered many and we are prepared conquer the future.   While politicians in Washington scrum over the economy and jobs,  free market goes out and creates 100 mpg cars, even driverless cars. We need to tell our politicians…anything’s possible.This year we will focus again on making our products easier to use, easier to install and cloud ready.   Inside Integra, we will continue to concentrate on developing and acquiring better tools to do our jobs in a more productive environment.  Last year’s message was, “Attitude is everything.”   

This year we will continue  to encourage a positive attitude in the workplace, with our customers, partners and suppliers.  Everybody is working for everybody else (click on the picture to the left for the video) because again…. anything’s possible.  Finally, last year I predicted growth would be next our greatest challenge and we grew significantly.  We remain well positioned to take advantage of those significant gains in 2012 and beyond.

To see an awesome video – just click on the picture

I’ll leave you with a great video (click on the photo below) and when you feel that wave of pessimism coming on, remember, anything’s possible.

“We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, then is not an act but a habit.” — Aristotle

Life is Large!

A Trifecta! Klondike Bluffs in the foreground, Arches National Park and the snow-capped La Sal Mountains in the background. Awesome photography by Glenn Smith

Life is large!… and so amazing!

Don’t let  a few bumps in the road stop you from experiencing your potential.

You have an awesome future.

Don’t waste time on worry, anger or reproach.

Life’s too short.

The “what if’s?” can be endless.

The “why not’s” can be endless too.

Choose one and you will be lost in life. 

Choose the other and you will find endless possibilities.

 So “why not?”

Paint yourself with abandon!

Like an artist’s stroke of the brush, you are a Rembrandt or a Van Gogh.

You will never be a copy. You will never be a failure. You will always be a work of art, an interpretation.

How many times in your life have you said to yourself and nobody else, “I can’t do this anymore?”  If you’re still breathing you have asked yourself the question many times.

How many times have you “answered the bell” sucked it up and did what you thought you couldn’t do?

The answer defines you.

It matters little if you can’t do something you are physically incapable, totally unprepared, poorly trained or simply uneducated to do.  What matters is when there is that defining moment.  You can do it.  You’re in the moment.  You have summoned all your strength, including mind and spirit.  And you succeed.  That’s what defines you.

Some might view you as a success.  Others may view you as a failure. What’s vital is how you view yourself?  You will never be a copy. You will never be a failure. You will always be an interpretation.  You decide.

To illustrate I have included a poem I wrote for my dad who has recently passed away, a victim of Alzheimer’s.

 
If I Was An Artist
Father, patriarch, dad
And if I could paint
Mature, senior citizen , old man,
I would paint the portrait of a man
Provider, benefactor, success
Each word to describe him
Contrary, obstinate, cussed
Would be a different stroke from my brush
Non-conformist, contestant, maverick
Each phrase a different shade
Creative, inventive, colorful
From the palette of his life.
Environmentalist, naturalist, crusader
I would present him his portrait
Integrity, honesty, candid
With pride, his life a work of art.

You too are an artist. Paint yourself with abandon!

Livestrong Anyway!

Make no mistake about it, Lance Armstrong is no Mother Teresa!   If Lance is guilty of doping, what should we do?  Take away his bike? 

My message is less about Lance, the man and more about Lance, the messenger.

I am sure you have heard the expression, “Don’t shoot the messenger!”  Regardless of how you feel or think about the man, the message is clear, “Livestrong Anyway”.

Recently my sister Kay was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Thank God, she will survive, albeit after suffering surgery, chemo and radiation therapy.  For Kay, amongst  many untold stories, there is a long hard road ahead.  Our family, myself included, has always been an advocate for the fight to cure cancer.  We have friends and family members fighting Alzheimer’s, heart disease, cancer and MS.  We are no strangers to the challenges life imposes upon all of us.

I maintain a good fiction writer could tell a story as good as the story Landis has told about allegations Armstrong was doping (In 2006 Floyd Landis was stripped of his title after testing positive for synthetic testosterone).  Landis knew all the ins and outs of doping and he wasn’t the only malcontent that had hung out with Armstrong, so the courts will need plenty of corroboration from cyclists who either were complicit or witnessed the doping.  As soon as Landis came out with his story Armstrong should have sued him instead of dismissing him as a loser.  There’s too much at stake.

For my part, there are lots of questions.  How many of us could have endured Armstrong’s road to a cure from a tumor that had metastasized to his brain and lungs?  How many of us could have endured the challenges of winning seven 7 consecutive Tour de France races, typically 21 days of racing and covers 3,200 kilometres (2,000 mi) championships?  Is he less of a champ if he was cheating or only if he is caught?  Could it be said he won fair and square since most likely everyone was cheating?

In 1998 the race stopped in protest at what the riders saw as heavy-handed investigation of drug-taking allegations.

In 1998 the Festina team was disqualified after revelations of organized doping within the team.

In 2006 Floyd Landis was stripped of his title after testing positive for synthetic testosterone.

In 2007 team Astana abandoned after Alexander Vinokourov was caught doping

In 2007 Michael Rasmussen was removed by his team while wearing the yellow jersey for lying about his whereabouts during a team training session in Mexico.

In 2008 Riccardo Ricco was kicked out of the race after testing positive for CERA

In 2008 Moises Duenas Nevado was kicked out of the race after testing positive for Erythropoietin

In 2008 Manuel Beltrán was kicked out of the race after testing positive for EPO

In 2010, Alberto Contador,  the three-time Tour de France champion was provisionally suspended by the international cycling federation after a small amount of the banned drug clenbuterol was discovered in one of his samples by a laboratory in Cologne, Germany.

My message is Livestrong Anyway!  LIVESTRONG  http://www.livestrong.org/ has a life of its own.

Many good-hearted folks worry about the consequences of the weighty accusations and bad press about Armstrong which Livestrong and Armstrong must endure.  A friend of mine, pictured here below has raised thousands of dollars for Livestrong and for a cure.  She recently wrote, “It makes me nervous for Livestrong and the 28 million people living with cancer.”  So what happens to an organization built on the courage and determination of one man?  The organization is built upon people who are dedicated to the fight against cancer; who have family members with cancer or who are cancer survivors themselves, such as Doug Ulman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Livestrong.  Whatever the outcome, what the many volunteers and the organization Livestrong has done for cancer victims cannot be undone, which has  all been great.  Excellence survives!

In any case, I’m a much bigger fan of Mother Teresa.

Anyway

People are unreasonable, illogical and self-centered.
Love them anyway!
If you do good, people will accuse you
of selfish, ulterior motives.
Do good anyway!
If you are successful, you will win
false friends and enemies.
Succeed anyway!
The good you do will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway!
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway!
What you spend years building may be
destroyed overnight.
Build anyway!
People really need help
but may attack you if you help them.
Help them anyway!
Give the world the best you have
and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you’ve got anyway!

Written by: Mother Teresa

Whatever the outcome, whatever Armstrong  has done, what Livestrong has done for cancer victims cannot be undone, which has been all great.  Even Mother Teresa had her doubts about her God, so why should we doubt Lance, the supreme being of cycling?

Was it so long ago?

Who amongst us never experienced the thrills and spills learning to ride a bike? You may still remember the cement sidewalk in front of you, rushing closer and closer until you kissed its rough surface with your face, your hands or your knee. Then, finally you were able to roll over those cracks (the one’s that broke your mother’s back) spinning freely, and spoiling gravity’s hold upon you. It is your first freedom ride, a ride outside your parent’s grasp, still sharing a rewarding moment in time with Dad, Mom or both.

If you never tried cycling, you’re never too old to acquire some pedal power, whether it be a beach cruiser or a sleek racing bike. You are just a few bumps and bruises away from one of the best of times life affords us.

Many of us have always had a bike. We will take it for a casual spin, but the bike spends more time resting in a corner or hanging from the ceiling of the garage. At the opposite end of the spectrum there are a select few who have become elite cyclists, who have made a profession out of cycling. The most famous of all cycle races, the Tour de France is in its 4th day of 21 days of speed and endurance racing.

A growing number of us have taken up cycling as a sport, like tennis or golf. We may ride 4-5 times weekly on local bike paths or the more serious among us, cycle on the roadways, preferably in bike lanes, where afforded us. The more serious riders may have taken to Event riding, from charity rides, like bikeMS, a weekend ride; to endurance rides, like Ride the Rockies, a seven day ride through mountainous terrain. Club rides are also popular, for the social aspect and riders gather based on skill level and ride in numbers before or after work hours and weekends.

Where the rubber meets the road, there are always conflicts of interest. Those of us who are more taken to automobiles than bikes may not appreciate the sight of spandex in its many shapes and sizes, slowing or getting in the way of our progress. Some cyclists are rude and blatantly disobey the rules of the road. Some are ignorant or unaware. Some are just plain day-dreaming or not paying attention, as they should, in traffic, where the same rules apply for both cyclists and automobiles. Subsequently the same applies to motorists. One might suggest, the same personalities whether on a bike or in an automobile act in much the same way.

Cyclist or motorist, let’s reflect back on our childhood memories; those precious moments we share in common, when we first learned to ride a bicycle; then try to getting along. It could be, “just like getting back on a bike”.

Share the road.

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