Further Musings on Greg Lemond, Wimping Out, and Life in General

By Chris Kostman

Originally published line in ULTRA Cycling, Winter 1995

This was a sequel to an article called "The Wimp Factor," which appeared in the Fall 1994 issue of ULTRA Cycling. Click here to read that article.

On Greg Lemond

O.K., O.K., cut the hate mail. So I fingered Greg Lemond for being a wimp just days before he announced his retirment due to a degnerative muscle disease. Yes, of course I apologize to Greg. And yes I do feel a wee bit sheepish. He is only human, and a quite extraordinary one at that.

But you should know that I actually wrote that article way back in the Fall of 1993. It was originally slated to go in Bicycle Guide, but a change of ownership sent that article to the cutting room floor. So by the time it came out in Ultra Cycling, it was over 15 months old. How was I know to know that our beloved Greg was getting ready to retire, sooner than planned, a man whose spirit would outlast his body?

I was there, in person, the day Greg made his big announcement. I stood just thrity feet away and listened to a man resigned to his fate. I listened and pondered Greg's words just like all the other journalists and fellow pro racers (Andy Hampsten, Nelson Vails, Mark Gorski, and John Tomac, among others) who were also on hand.

I feel for Greg, and I'll miss him dearly. He was the champion of champions, and no words I could ever write would do him justice. So all I'll say is "live long and prosper, my friend."

On RAAM 88

From the accompanying article recounting my romantic experiences in the 1988 Race Across America, you'll know that I, too, have dropped out of a big, important race. That experience was one of the most traumatic of my life, one that took me several years to get over. For years I truly believed that my DNF in 88 more than obliterated my triumph over the same course in 87. The demon of RAAM 88 rode my hard and left me for dead for too long.

But eventually I saw the sunrise.

RAAM 88, DNF and all, actually did more for me and my career than the previous RAAM 87, where I earned my RAAM ring and went down in the record books as the youngest ever finisher of a RAAM. Strange, but true.

For example, it was literally during RAAM 88 that I developed the concept and business plan for my company, Kostman Sport Group. KSG would be an event production, publishing, design, and consulting firm run by yours truly and integrated directly with my own racing career. And so it is, almost seven years later, that KSG is a growing and thriving concern, thanks to that RAAM where I DNFed.

RAAM 88 also played a pivotal role in launching my writing career. Prior to then, I'd only written freebie articles for the UMCA and PBAA. But in 88 Bicycling Magazine wanted a RAAMer to cover the race for them. They ended up having a crew member for Rob Kish do the article, but they liked my writing samples so much that they invited me to visit them after the race and write some other articles. Thus, my first paying gigs as a writer were on double century training for Bicycling and a cover story on my Chris Kostman Ultra Stout bicycle for Rodale's Bike Tech. Those two assignments proved to be my proverbial foot in the door as a writer and editor, paving the way for a full-time career. In 1993 I published 65 articles, thanks in part to that RAAM where I DNFed.

RAAM 88 led to many, many other breakthroughs and opportunities, far more than I can recount, or can even appreciate myself. By being humbled, by being beaten down, by being forced to join the ranks of others who have "wimped out," my humanity grew and I discovered a resonance within myself and with others that never ceases to astound me.

But I was lucky. I could have just wimped out and had nothing come of it!

So without any apologies, let me reiterate my deeply rooted conviction that the vast majority of those who do wimp out in cycling (i.e., life) are making a big mistake. So hang tough and don't trust fate to teach you any rich, enlightening lessons with the reverberations of your wimpiness. Just keep up the pace and finish the race, if you dare.