Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Trio joins Armstrong, others around San Fran

Ian "Fresh" Burns, Jono MacBeth and Brad Webb
In their day jobs, Ian “Fresh” Burns, Jono MacBeth and Brad Webb are, respectively, the design coordinator, grinder and bowman for BMW ORACLE Racing.

In the pre-dawn hours, however, they’re Lance Armstrong followers. At least for today.

The trio joined the cycling star, the all-time winner of the Tour de France and, perhaps, the most famous survivor of cancer, for a cycle around San Francisco this morning along with employees of Oracle Corp.

The ride, organized as part of the Oracle OpenWorld technical conference, helped promote a dual green/exercise initiative from Armstrong, who’s urging city dwellers to ride to work instead of driving as a way to get healthy while reducing one’s carbon footprint.

“He’s a hero of mine, and I think to a lot of people around the world,” said MacBeth. “The fact that he beat cancer and won the Tour de France seven times is amazing.”

The 50-minute ride avoided many of San Francisco’s famous hills and instead took the cyclists along the Embarcadero, the waterfront drive along San Francisco Bay.

“I was nervous the whole way,” said Webb, the bowman who braved the pointy end of the 90-foot trimaran USA. “It was nerve-wracking.”

Everyone was a winner in this ride, and afterwards the crowd of some 100 cyclists gathered for breakfast and a question and answer with Armstrong. One of the questions from the crowd came from a woman whose sister has cancer.

"The most important thing I can relate about having lived through cancer is to be an engaged patient,” Armstrong (left) replied. “Understand what’s going on with your body and establish a relationship with your doctor. 

“When I had cancer in ’96 there was no Google, you couldn’t get on the Internet and search about your illness. We had to go to the bookstore. Now, with the Internet, the patient is empowered,” said Armstrong.

Armstrong said that his involvement with cycling is winding down. While he’ll do events like the Tour Down Under and Tour de California, he won’t compete in the Tour de France.

Armstrong said he plans to compete in the New York City marathon this fall, and hopes to compete in triathlons after deciding if he can still swim. 

“Cycling is a very political sport, it’s not a perfect science,” Armstrong said. “You have to manage 200 guys, the elements and things like cobble stones. One day the guys are your allies, then your enemies the next. It’s like wrapping chess, NASCAR and the Tea Party into one.”

The BMW ORACLE Racing cyclists finish the cycle with Armstrong