Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong, he’s just like us!

I’m hardly what you’d call a cyclist. My longest ride is 50 miles, but I’ve only done that once. I’m not all that comfortable in spandex. While I love long rides when I’m actually out on the road, the whole ordeal of getting the gear on, making sure the bike is set up and making sure not to forget water and some sort of food often causes me to forgo the experience altogether.

Even though it’s worse on my back and left knee, the low-maintenance aspect of running often makes it a much more attractive option when it comes time to get off the computer (and the couch).

Even worse than the lengthy preparation necessary to go on a ride longer than 20 miles are the constant threat of flat tires. You’re cruising along, and all the sudden the bike starts bouncing a little more than usual. Next thing you know you’re slowing down even though you’re still pedaling with the same cadence, and soon the unmistakable feeling of aluminum against asphalt signals that it’s time to get off the bike. Well, unless you want to ruin your wheel, anyway.

So it was cool to read that Lance Armstrong had the exact same problem during today’s leg of the Tour de France. According to Jon Weiner of the NY Daily News, the seven-time Tour champion “(punctured) a back wheel tire with just 37 miles left in the 131-mile ride from Tonnerre to Vittel.”

Yes! It’s not just me! Even the best cyclist of all time gets flats, and he probably curses to himself just like I do! I always knew I was just like Lance, except for the bank account and the fact I’ve never dated an Olson twin.

Of course, since this is Armstrong we’re talking about, the flat didn’t cause the long delay it could have:

“Fortunately for Armstrong, his Astana teammates were right there to fix the punctured tire and help Armstrong catch up without suffering a significant loss.”

With a potential crisis averted, Armstrong got back on his bike and finished the leg unscathed. He still sits in third place, 8 seconds behind leader Rinaldo Nocentini of Italy and teammate Alberto Contador as the Tour goes to the Alps. You know, those mountain stages where Armstrong has traditionally dominated.

That Astana team must be a bunch of wizards when it comes to patching tires (unless the Daily News has it wrong and it was a more common tube-puncture, not a hole in the tire, which is less common). In my experience, simply changing a busted tube takes at least five minutes, and Armstrong’s team was able to fix his tire without losing any time.

I have an idea: maybe I should just hire a team to ride with me when I go across the Golden Gate Bride and into the Marin Headlands. Then I wouldn’t have to suffer the ignominy of sitting on the side of the road in my spandex gear, trying in vain to get my tire off with that stupid little lever thing. I mean, how much could Team Astana cost, anyway?

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