Local cyclist to spin his wheels with the best | AspenTimes.com

Local cyclist to spin his wheels with the best

Rick Schultz isn’t easily rattled in the presence of stars and celebrities, but the prospect of taking a ride with one of the most remarkable bike racers in the world has him spinning his wheels, literally.

The Aspen cycling fanatic and partner in the Stars memorabilia shop plans to seize an opportunity in April to ride with Lance Armstrong and possibly Greg LeMond and Miguel Indurain. While riding with that legendary trio would be a dream come true for a hard-core cyclist, to do so while supporting a good cause makes it the opportunity of a lifetime, said Schultz.

Schultz, 31, has entered the Ride for the Roses Weekend 2000 – the major fund-raiser for Armstrong’s cancer-fighting foundation. That in itself isn’t that big of a deal. The ride in Austin, Texas attracts thousands of participants who just have to pay a $50 entry fee.

But Schultz has enlisted in Armstrong’s Peloton Project, heavy-hitters among the fund-raisers for the weekend event. He hopes to raise at least $3,500 in contributions from friends and businesses in Aspen.

Armstrong, who capped a miraculous recovery from cancer by winning the 1999 Tour de France, founded Ride for the Roses Weekend four years ago. It regularly attracts the cycling’s biggest stars, such as three-time Tour de France winner LeMond, of the United States, and Indurain, the domineering Spaniard. Both have been listed as possible participants in this year’s event.

Schultz said his inspiration to go through the hassle to get involved is two-fold. He is a “big fan” of Armstrong and his own family had a recent life-threatening brush with cancer. His mother survived breast cancer two years ago.

If Schultz meets his goal, it will entitle him to participate in a small, private ride with Armstrong and other heavyweights of the cycling world as well as a 100-mile public ride on a different day. Despite spending time with celebrities such as Muhammad Ali and Pete Rose as part of his business of collecting memorabilia, the prospect of taking a private ride with Armstrong and other cycling stars leaves Schultz in awe.

“I was wondering the other day if they go slow, if you can draft off them and ride in a mini-peloton,” said Schultz, who’s training for the event at least five days a week.

Armstrong’s cycling success isn’t the only reason he is an idol for Schultz and countless others. His battle with cancer is viewed as his greatest victory.

Armstrong was America’s top cyclist and rising international star when he was diagnosed in 1996 with advanced testicular cancer which had spread to his abdomen, lungs and brain. “His chances were fifty-fifty at best,” according to material from the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

Just two years later, Armstrong had beat the disease and returned to cycling. He dominated the Tour de France, the sport’s most difficult race and one of the most grueling of all sporting events, last summer as a member of the U.S. Postal Service team.

Schultz, who is about the same age as Armstrong, said it shocked him into thinking about his own mortality when a world-class athlete like Armstrong was stricken by cancer.

“When Lance got it, I was all freaked out. God, that guy’s younger than me,” he said.

Helping with this particular fund-raising effort, he reasons, is “almost as a karma thing.” He said he will soon crank up his fund-raising efforts by approaching friends and business operators he knows. People who want to contribute can contact him at 920-2920 or P.O. Box 1326, Aspen, CO 81612. All the funds Schultz collects, he said, will be given to the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

The Ride for the Roses event grossed about $1 million last year, before Armstrong’s instant popularity as a Tour de France winner. This year’s event will be April 7-9.

A Web site on the Lance Armstrong Foundation and Ride for the Roses – http://www.laf.org – is set up to provide more details.

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