Greg LeMond was in the Bay Area recently, helping his wife move their daughter into a local university. Like most former pro cyclists, LeMond brings a bicycle with him everywhere he goes. And, as a native of California and Nevada, LeMond was especially eager to catch some saddle time on familiar roads, the same he trained on as a budding junior racer in the late 1970s.
So when a two-time world champion and three-time Tour de France winner asked if I'd like to join him on the eve of Interbike, it's pretty easy to say yes.
One thing I've learned about LeMond, both from the man himself and Procycling's feature editor Daniel Friebe, is his propensity for bringing a whole new meaning to Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). Don't get me wrong: LeMond can multi-task with the best. He wanted to ride around the Santa Cruz Mountains outside Saratoga and Big Basin. Having only my last-minute Interbike planning left before leaving for Las Vegas September 23, I decided to join LeMond to gain insight into his current state of mind, and find out how he's coping with life in general.
He's working hard to get his life back in order. As Procycling reported in Issue 107 (January 2008), LeMond's life got worse before it got better during the 2000s. His oldest son Geoffrey hit rock bottom, then patched things up with LeMond after a knock-down, drag-out fight. The oldest of three LeMond kids, Geoffrey is now an avid cyclist for the first time in his life, riding several French alpine passes with Greg , including the 2007 L'Etape du Tour. LeMond the younger cuts a similar figure on the bike as Pops, and has also placed highly in the Chequamegon Fat 40, the mountain bike race won by Greg in 1990 and '91.
Greg (L) and Geoffrey LeMond at the 2007 L'Etape du Tour
Although the 47-year-old LeMond has added weight (he's pushing 205) and his once California-blonde hair has greyed, the passion for cycling oozes from his sky-blue eyes as intensely now more than ever. And despite the extra girth, there's no mistaking the familiar LeMond position on the bike, which this time was a steel LeMond Poprad cyclo-cross bike, which LeMond believes is the ultimate travel bike for on and offroad riding. He's also getting interested in tubulars once again, and thinks there's a way to incorporate disc brakes on road bikes with carbon clinchers to save weight, increase braking power, and eliminate blow-outs, like the ones he witnessed in droves during L'Etape last year.
LeMond's mind is always racing. He's a continuous fountain of ideas, either for elementary and high school bicycle racing curriculums or new saddle and pedal designs for his LeMond Fitness line. Yes, he's none too pleased at how the business relationship to produce and distribute his LeMond line of bikes has soured with Trek the past few years, but is determined to get others hooked on cycling in whatever capacity necessary. He's seen a lot over the years, and realizes there's more to cycling than racing at the highest levels.
Whatever the outcome of the legal wrangling with Trek, it's apparent Greg LeMond loves the same thing we do: endless ribbons of pavement on which to ride, a clear 75-degree day, and the company of fellow cyclists to remind us why cycling will always matter.