Backpedal: Happy 50th Greg...

The Backpedal Series will revisit some of the more popular posts from the Claremont Cyclist. They may be posts that I liked, even though they weren't widely read, or they may be posts that struck a chord with the blog's readers and picked up larger numbers of hits. Some of the posts may contain new or revised information as facts have come to light.

I was recently poking though some blog statistics and was somewhat surprised to see that the post I rather quickly cobbled together last year, marking the 50th birthday of Greg Lemond, had quietly become the second most viewed post at the old Claremont Cyclist. The current crisis in pro cycling and Greg's vociferous arguments for change have brought him back to the forefront of efforts to clear out the sports riffraff and keep it relevant. So, what with that and the new Rapha video circulating around the wi-fi waves, in which the guys are shown riding and talking with America's cycling legend along the roads of his old stomping grounds, I decided it was an opportune moment to backpedal for a second look at this, originally posted on 24 June 2011:

Yes, the most influential American cyclist of the 1900s turns 50 years young this weekend (Sunday). Lemond ushered in a new era in cycling, not only in the United States, but worldwide. From athlete pay, to aerodynamics, to an elevated status of American racers, the changes and adaptations he brought to the sport are tied to its historical progression.

American sporting perceptions aside, or maybe because of them, Lemond, as an American, will forever be linked to some of the most noteworthy sporting accomplishments of all time. As a result his successes, his near-successes, even his failures have resulted in some of the most iconic images in the history of the sport of cycling. A few of my favorites are here.

I began my own racing career during Lemond's reign and, lamentably, never amounted to much by comparison. Though we are separated by only a year - I, the younger (at least I can lay hold to that claim) - I, like the vast pit of American sporting public, was largely unaware of the sport of cycling prior to the ascendancy of Lemond. It was Greg Lemond who ignited a passion in racing which has not dimmed, led me to immerse myself in cycling history, to the names Desgrange, Coppi, Anquetil, Merckx, Hinault, Kelly, and the many others, before and since. So, Happy Birthday Greg. Slainte.

The above video is kind of interesting. It actually shows little of Lemond, though he won the stage and moved into the top spot on general classification. What is interesting are some of the personalities being interviewed (including Lemond): Alexi Grewal, Connie Carpenter Phinney, and Andy Hampsten. It is a fun little trip back in time if you have not seen it.

Perhaps for obvious reasons (I was in the midst of my own comeback to the racing scene at the time), one of my favorite quotes from the above book:

"But I like the fact that a lot of people don't think I'm going to come back. It just gives me more incentive to prove them wrong. I do well in pressure situations. People think, he's not going to do well when there's a lot of pressure. But I do better when that type of battle is going on..."

And as for that Rapha video I mentioned at the top you can check it here at the Rapha site, assuming you have not seen it yet. I never weary of telling how I once rode with Lemond on a pre-Nevada City Classic ride, about the year 2000; although with some 100 or more riders as company, there wasn't much opportunity for chat. No where near as memorable as the Rapha ride, in other words.


  1. Greg is one of the great Cycling heros. Its funny how Lance supporters called him old, fat, and bitter up un-till a month ago long live LeMonster.

    P.S. I'm new to Claremont, fresh from Portland Any Ideas how I can get involved in bicycle advocacy in the region. the streets are so wide it seems like every street could have bike lane.

  2. Welcome to So Cal. There are a lot of options for advocacy, and I guess the two most regionally local would be the Pomona Valley Bicycle Coalition and the Inland Empire Bike Alliance. Both have websites. There are also a couple different group within the city, Cycle Claremont and the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee. The city is supposed to be presented with its LAB Silver Award on the 27th during the City Council meeting; might be a good place to meet some of the people involved.

  3. Cheers Michael, Thanks for the info, I don't Know how you guys Do it down here. I rode the "cop out ride''today and loved the ride but the cars, holy S@#! there not slowing down for anything, and don't seem to really care how close they come to you. I need to toughen up a bit i guess. Thanks for the info. I think I might check out that city council meeting.

    Thanks, anthony


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