Where I live, you can see a lot of cycles. It is a bit of a rocky stretch and not the kind you’d like to spend a sleepy morning trudging over. Cycling comes to the rescue there, considering the cost of India’s favourite cars just went up. I remember falling over a couple of times when Grandpa taught me to ride a bicycle. We would practise on summer mornings when the grass would still be wet with dew and the air pleasantly cool. Considering the associations I have with cycling, thinking dope in the same line jars. And jars badly at that.
Consider the media attention that Lance Armstrong’s “confession” on the Oprah Winfrey show has received. Whopping figures, I can tell you.
Apparently, he has confessed to almost everything – from doping to being a bully to winning those seven Tour De France victories bolstered by blood dope. Well, well. This coming from the man whose cancer awareness venture – LiveStrong – gained him many supporters even from the non-sporting fraternity. The man with millions of dollars in sponsorships, millions in fans. When you see someone who had that kind of stature not many years ago and is today dissolved to a shadow of his former self, you feel several emotions. Being disillusioned is one of the dominant ones.
What, I wonder, was behind this sudden decision to come out clean? Will it motivate his former sponsors to renew their ties with the tainted hero – you know, reform sells. Nike, it seems, has even hinted at the same. For the larger mass though, rebuilding the trust that Armstrong has lost and associating him with our favourite brands again seems unlikely. There is no dearth of celebrity endorsers on the arena and while Armstrong was in a different league altogether, why would – given a choice – firms sign up somebody with contestable credibility?
Ah, life used to be simpler. As I walked back to my room this evening, I spotted a lonely cycle at the stand. The paint was a bit faded, the tyres rather squishy. But as I looked on, the stand transformed into the backyard of my childhood. Two potted plants of dahlia, a badminton set and a milk bowl for the colony’s cat. And Grandfather standing by the door, waiting for me to cycle out to another beautiful day of my summer vacation.