Saturday, January 19, 2013

In An Odd Sequence Of Events, Lance Armstrong Even Changed My Life In Tampa

When I watched Lance Armstrong's TV event "confession" with Oprah Winfrey the last two nights, it's easy to write off Armstrong as a control freak who justified using illegal drugs because everyone else was using them.

But what complicates the Armstrong issue is that after he whipped cancer, he was also serving as a source of inspiration and hope for people with cancer during his seven Tour de France wins while he was doping and steamrolling anyone who told the truth about his drug use.

As he won Tour de France after Tour de France, his popularity grew -- and more and more people bought those plastic yellow bracelets and also bought into the Armstrong source-of-inspiration story line.

And even my life was profoundly shaped by Armstrong through the oddest of circumstances that involved shifting from newspapers to bicycle advocacy in Tampa.

Here's what happened:

Because Armstrong was winning Tour after Tour after Tour, road bicycling grew in popularity in this country. And as a result, road bicycle sales increased in 2004 and 2005 in the Tampa Bay area.

At the same time, I was a business reporter for the Tampa Tribune covering business news that had a sports focus and decided to report a story on the increased sales of road bicycles in Tampa Bay.

Among the stores I visited for interviews was the Carrollwood Bicycle Emporium, owned at the time by David Luppino. I got to know David through writing the story.

In 2006, David and I discussed the idea of me doing marketing and PR for his bike shop. So, I left the newspaper world and entered the bicycle arena as David hired me for the last five months of 2006 to do bike PR for him and work with him on putting on the first Bicycle Bash in October 2006 in Tampa.

When those five months ended, I recruited other bike shops in the Tampa Bay in early 2007 to create a group of retail bicycle stores to grow bicycling in the area. I would advocate for bicycling on behalf of these bike shops and put on the annual Bicycle Bash event as part of my charge for the next six years.

SWFBUD was born.

So, I look back and I'm amazed at the sequence of events.

SWFBUD got created because Lance Armstrong's Tour wins prompted a spike in bike sales, which prompted me to do a business story, which got me in touch with David Luppino and Carrollwood Bicycle Emporium, which led me to get other bike shops to join in, which eventually culminated with creating SWFBUD, which kept me going on the bicycle advocacy front in the Tampa Bay area for some six years.

Strange how life works and how complicated life can be.


RIc said...

Miss your leadership here in Tampa - What a great impact you had!

Anonymous said...

Alan, I usually love your writings but your Lance apologetics sicken me and reek of rationalization. Just because some good came out of The Lance Lie does NOT assuage the great harm he perpetrated upon others to become what he was. You, like many others who see themselves as a beneficiary of The Lance Lie, highlight those contingent goods that resulted from the higher interest in cycling in America to help lessen the blow of the truth: that Lance is and was a sociopathic megalomaniacal jerk who sought self-aggrandizement by manipulating the public and destroying the lives of those who spoke the truth.

Alan said...

To anyone who thinks I'm apologizing for Lance,

I'm not.

And I didn't say I was a beneficiary.

The fact is his ruinous actions and pathological life choices triggered a sequence of events that impacted me.

That's all I'm saying.