Roger Marolt: Roger This
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado
What would I do if I could be Lance Armstrong for a day? One thing for sure, it wouldn’t be EPO, HGH or even a nonorganic filet mignon – too many people watching.
The first thing I’d do is wake up with the sun, a steaming cup of coffee and a copy of a wishy-washy, easy-to-read newspaper like the weekend edition of USA Today. I’d take it all in on the porch with the hot but harmless early sun beating down on the bare skin of my chest. I’d make sure to down a couple of sugar doughnuts just because I probably haven’t had anything like that in about 30 years.
At about 8 a.m., I would head downtown and try to find me at my office. I mean, as long as we are talking about the impossible, there’s no reason why I couldn’t be him and me at the same time. I’d know that I, Roger Marolt, totally appreciate what I, Lance Armstrong, have accomplished in winning seven Tour de France titles while never actually thinking that bicycle racing is a major big deal or understanding how one guy in the history of a sport that, before his time, nobody in this country cared about came to be an American hero – no offense to Greg LeMond.
I think this would be my best shot at having a normal conversation with someone in Aspen who isn’t all freakishly star-struck by me and more focused on kissing my butt than just shooting the breeze and telling it like it is.
By midmorning I’d be ready to ride up to the Maroon Bells. I’d throw on some plaid surfer shorts and a tie-dyed “Keep Austin Weird” T-shirt and blaze up there at Tour time-trial speed. My goal would be to pass about 200 Lycra-clad riders and change bicycling fashions forever. On the way down, I’d stop at the East Maroon portal and jump into the creek to cool down. I’d coast back into town with my shirt off and stop at the Hickory House for lunch. What the heck – I’d have a beer in the middle of the day, too.
After hitting the shower, I’d call the Jim Rome sports radio talk show sitting on the bricks by the Mill Street water fountain, and I’d get airtime for sure because of who I am. With the sound of kids laughing and playing in the background, I’d talk for an hour about nothing but baseball and Texas Longhorns football. The only cycle we’d hash over is the one where the hardest part is hitting a triple, and the only dope we’d discuss is Bud Selig.
Then, I’d call a news conference for 3 p.m. While the world gathered recorders and notepads, I’d head over to the park and gather my thoughts while hustling anyone I could find in a few games of horseshoes. I’d think about the things that I told me when we met at his … my … his office earlier in the morning.
“Now, listen closely,” I’d say when all the satellite hookups were linked. “You all have done one hell of a job exposing the sport of cycling as the dirtiest fun and games ever known. Bravo. Hopefully, things are changing for the cleaner, because of you. Great. What I think you’ve lost sight of is that this is about an entire sport, not just me. Hell, I’m retired.
“But, I understand that you need closure, because as long as there are ‘ifs’ and ‘buts,’ you’ll never let this thing die the death it deserved a long time ago. What good did it do to dog Bonds or Clemens after everyone already knew how screwed up baseball got? The sport is getting better now. If appropriate, history will punish those guys. Isn’t that enough?
“So, since you prefer to try cases like this in newspapers, magazines and 15-second sound bites, I think it only fair that you finally give me that trial by a jury of my peers. That’s right: Let the peloton decide what should be done, and I’ll accept the sentence. If they think my yellow jerseys should hang in someone else’s closet, so be it. If anyone I raced against can make an honest case that they deserved them more than I did, and they can get a majority of the top 10 racers in the world at the time to agree with them, I’ll give the trophies up. Maybe it wasn’t all fair and square the way you see it, but I know it was in the eyes of the guys I did battle with.
“Is that enough laid on the line for you? I hope so because in five minutes I’m going to be Roger Marolt again, and then you got nothing.”
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