Words and Photos by Sal Ruibal
What’s up with all the brouhaha about Lance Armstrong tweeting a photo of himself laying – or is it lying – on his really long couch with seven Tour de France championship yellow jerseys shining like a constellation above his reclined self?
After a hard ride, I also like to take a hot shower, slip on some lycra and listen to Motown on the original vinyl. “Chain, chain, chain…” you got it.
After all, Lance and I have earned a nap on our respective couches: two old bike dudes past our prime, dozing off while watching college football and drinking a Shiner Bock or two. I like to prop up my legs with a couple of pillows to let the lymph drain. I really don’t know what lymph is but it doesn’t sound like something I’d want as a beer chaser.
Some folks have accused Lance of egregious arrogance with that pose, mocking the morality moms at USADA, WADA, UCI, CBS, PBS and NAMBLA.
But I see a different Lance now, a Lance who in many ways is just like us: We all have a bunch of Nike yellow jerseys hanging around and we’re just too damn lazy to take them down.
Being a mountain biker, I collected the Tour’s polka-dot best-climber jerseys, which really add a masculine touch to my room of repose. It looks like Minnie Mouse got run over by a steamroller. I do have one maillot a’ pois rouges signed by Richard Virenque, who by all accounts rivaled Lance in both couch conquests and needlepoint.
Ree-shar, as the French call him, was also known as the “Housewife’s Friend.” I have no idea what that means but it certainly sounds skeezy. Last time I saw Virenque, he was selling a line of jewelry he designed himself.
When I saw the Lance photo, it reminded me of something else: the inside of the infamous U.S. Postal Service Team bus. In the 2001 team video, Road to Paris, the USPS guys are riding in the bus to the early-season Circuit de la Sarthe stage race in France. The seats are not set up like a school bus or Greyhound, but in two rows lengthwise, their backs to the windows. Or like two really long couches.
In the tweeted photo, Lance was in a place and a position where he felt comfortable. It just made us feel uncomfortable and Lance is a master of making people uncomfortable.
On the other hand, he is wearing shorts and a t-shirt. We should feel lucky that he didn’t pull a Burt Reynolds.