The Man and His Fans

Last week, my friend Sandy e-mailed me and asked, “Want to meet Greg LeMond?” I nearly fell out of my chair. I’m not usually one to be enamored with celebrities. In fact, I worked a catering gig in L.A. for a while to pick up extra money in the 90s, and most of the time I couldn’t even remember movie stars’ names.

But when I had the opportunity to meet this phenomenal endurance athlete in person, I felt like one of those giddy teenyboppers waiting to meet the Beatles.

The evening was a kick-off for the Tour de Cure, a benefit ride for the American Diabetes Association — and to help find a cure for diabetes. Greg LeMond was there to offer his support for the cause and encourage the riders committed to this event.

I’m a huge Tour de France fan. And it all began with him. I remember racing home from my Charles River Wheelman rides on the weekends just to watch the paltry 20 minutes of TDF coverage on ABC’s Wide World of Sports. Greg broke with French tradition by becoming the first American to win this event in 1986.

A year later he was accidentally shot by his brother-in-law in a hunting accident. His body received a hail of 40 bullets, many we discovered that night are still lodged in his liver and heart. Yet two years later, he managed to win the Tour de France again — on the last day of the event by making up a deficit of 50 seconds and beating Laurent Fignon by a mere 8 seconds. He won the Tour a final time in 1990.

It was so nice to meet Greg in person and hear him recount the most memorable race of his career besides the TDF. For him, it was wiping out on the cobblestone streets of Paris-Roubaix at 47 mph.

Here we are pictured above with Sandy’s daughter Nikki. I’m beginning to think this kid is my good-luck charm. A couple of month’s ago, we posed with Lynne Cox. Gee Nikki, who’s next? Tiger Woods? Lance Armstrong? Tom Brady? One thing is certain: “There are few things that you can't do as long as you are willing to apply yourself.” — Greg LeMond.