So I'm on the road again for a tour, this time to talk to people about my book. I feel very disconnected from the other Tour, the one that is winding its way through France this month. This is the first time in six years that I haven't raced the Tour de France. Of course I would prefer it if I could be there to defend my championship, but I believe it does no good to sit around spending energy wishing things were different. So I don't. Apart from checking race results now and then to see how my friends are doing, I'm removed from the racing part and focused on what I'm doing now: Clearing my name and explaining to people how the antidoping system that governs Olympic sports like cycling is set up in a way that's very unfair to athletes-and it's killing the sport I love.
Fortunately, I did get to race my bike last month for the first time in way too long, at the Teva Mountain Games in Vail, Colorado. It was outstanding. First of all, things weren't hectic like they have been since this mess started. There were no lawyer meetings or conference calls-it was just me on my bike turning the pedals. It also felt good to be in a race atmosphere with all the riders and fans. And I raced a mountain bike instead of a road bike, which I hadn't done in... I don't even remember how long. Ever since I first broke my hip in 2003, I hadn't ridden on the dirt because I was afraid of falling and wrecking it even worse, but with my new hip replacement I'm as good as new. Of course, I'm in the worst shape of my life, and Vail is at such a high altitude that I could feel my heart pounding in my head after my warm up, before the race even started. And I got beat by quite a few people. But whatever, it was a fun break.
Now it's back to the story that never ends. At least, that's how it feels to me. As I've said before, I know that this will never go away completely. Once a reputation gets tarnished like mine was after last year's Tour, there's no way it will ever be back to what it was before. No matter what the verdict of arbitration panel deciding my case, I will still be the punch line of some people's jokes. Belief is an interesting thing. People form them based on what little information they're told. That's why since the beginning I have made my case as transparent as possible, to let people see all the information before deciding what to believe. One thing that I have been both impressed and humbled by is how many people have taken the time to look at my case and see all the flaws in the testing, and how many people have supported me along the way. It's been an honor to talk to many of them on the book tour.
I'll be checking in again soon and I'd love to read and respond to your comments or questions.