In Childhood, Cycling

(Pic courtesy: Gawker)
When I was in my 3rd standard, my Tamil teacher taught me about a bird called ‘Annam’ ( or Annapparavai), a beautiful, white colored, swan-like bird. The specialty of this bird is that even if it was given diluted milk, it had the ability to extract pure milk and drink it.

My teacher would often say that the people who we meet in real life are like diluted milk. Every person has both good and bad qualities. Like the Annam bird, we need to extract just the good qualities.

For a long time, I thought that bird was real. Even after realizing that its a mythical character much later, that lesson got entrenched in my mind.

That early lesson comes to my mind again as I think of Lance Armstrong.

There’s no doubt that he made mistakes…grave ones. He cheated, he lied, he bullied. Yet, I can’t get myself to hate the guy.

You must give it to a guy who can raise over $500 Million for a foundation. Try raising even a small amount of money for a charity and you will know how tough that is.

He has given hope to many cancer patients. Just ask Yuvraj Singh. Ask his mother. Ask the mother’s of all the patients who were inspired. Now, lets talk again.

I have done a bit of cycling.. a tiny fraction but that’s good enough to appreciate anyone who rides the Tour de France. 3500+ kms at an average speed of 40kms. That’s frickin’ insane. With or without drugs, that’s just plain astounding. I tried attempting 40 kms speed and after 2 kms, my lungs were ready to explode.

I have read every book of his. I liked them all. Authoring a book is not easy. I’ve done four and I’m fairly confident that they suck. So, when I find a book with lucid narrative, I can’t help but appreciate it.

Cycling is not a popular sport. Not by a long shot as compared to Soccer, Cricket or even Golf. Yet, Armstrong made a fantastic name for himself and almost single-handedly made the sport popular for my generation.

I’m not for one bit defending what Lance Armstrong did. What he did was plain wrong. He deserves the punishment he got.

What I’m really hoping is that he gets a window of opportunity to get back to sports…be it cycling, marathons or triathlons. I strongly feel he deserves a chance, even if its not for himself but for the sake of so many people like me who have made mistakes in our lives.

I hated Mohd Azzaruddin and Ajay Jadeja for what they did. While I still arbor animosity, I admire their resilience for how strongly they have come back. With so much hatred, its easy for people to buckle down and disappear. These people chose to claw their way back.

I sure do hope Lance gets his chance. I would love to see him come back clean. You can be sure I will be rooting for him… even more than I did before.