Jeri and I arrived in Austin, TX today a lot earlier than we expected. Knowing that we had 4 hours before our dinner appointment and that it was 74 degrees and sunny outside, I decided to go for a leisurely walk. It ended up being a lot tougher than I expected.
When I left the hotel I knew exactly where I was going – Mellow Johnny’s. I did not know what I would find there. Would the Yellow Jerseys still be there? They are gone everyplace else. Would the pictures of Lance in competition and training and out for fun still be there? They seem to have been replaced everyplace else with pictures of him with Oprah. It seems dumb now, but I even wondered if the bike shop would even be open.
It was open. When I went in I tried to be subtle, but the first thing I looked for was the jerseys. Yes, they were still there! Yes, the pictures were still there. And yes, a few of his bikes were still there. I wandered a while, picked out a t-shirt for Jeri and socks for me, and paid. As I was about to leave I wandered into one more little room in the back. It was gone! The black #28 Armstrong jersey that he wore on the last day of his last tour was gone.
To me that is the coolest bicycle jersey ever. The entire team got in trouble for trying to start the day wearing these jerseys. For almost 2 hours of coverage the TV people had nothing to talk about but the 28 million people with cancer in the world. Team Radio Shack won the team event and when they stood on the podium the black #28 jerseys were back on. It was that “screw you” attitude that was so cool! “Up yours tour executives, we are going to do this one last call out to survivors everywhere.” They did not say this, but that is what I saw.
The walk back to the hotel was a lot longer even though it was the same distance. Why did that missing black jersey affect me so much? After a couple blocks it clicked. Lance is gone. I look everyday at twitter and there is nothing there. There are only repeats of “the interview” in the news. Even the dialogue between fans and critics on other social media is almost non-existent. There seems to be someone everyday out for a little bit more of his blood, but even the harshest critics are starting to be embarrassed by these “leeches”. He is just gone.
As I said on Anderson Cooper a couple weeks ago, I can only speak for me. I never even knew Lance, but I miss him. I miss the possibility, the hope, the mystery, and the fighting spirit. I miss the attitude that it can and will be done. While he is gone I will try to adopt some of his attitude and fighting spirit. There will be other mysteries and I know the world is full of hope if I just look for it. I will look. As I do maybe someday I will see that “black #28” jersey on the man who wore it in France once again.