The way the cycling world is today I figured I’d share a story from teammate and good friend Barron Gira. Enjoy.
“So I’m in a bar in East Moline, IL in late Fall 1989. I’m with guys, co-workers, non cyclists but definitely sports minded.
I look across the bar and see a cyclist, one i know. I double take, wipe off my beer goggles and confirm from afar that I am looking at THE Greg LeMond. The same Greg LeMond who 5 months earlier, with Scott Aero bars and a Giro “aero” helmet, reeled in Lauren Fignon on the final stage to win the TdF. I watched it live and then about 100 times on my massive VCR, taking in all the glory over and over.
So I say to my coworkers, “guys, you won’t believe it, there is Greg LeMond.” “Sure, it looks like him by he would likely be training or something, not hanging in Illionis farmland.” I know one thing…that is Greg Friggin LeMond.
So Greg starts walking toward us, going to the bathroom. As he brushes by me, i say “Greg” like I’ve know him for years. He snaps his head around, looks through his 3 pairs of beer goggles and without hesitation says, “my name is Jeff” and continues to the can. My buddies, who overhear this, start razzing me up and down and get me going. Now I know even more than ever that this is Greg F’n LeMond. So i say to my buddies, “how much if i prove it’s him?” They all get bold and pony up $1k between them. All beer talk, but I don’t care.
Here comes “Jeff” back from the bathroom and looking right at me. This time i stop him and whisper, “hey Greg, my buddies here don’t believe you are Greg LeMond, but i know you are. They put together some money if i prove it’s you.” He asks, “how much?” As quick as i tell him $1k, he is handing me his license. Minnesota drivers license, stamped clear as day, GREG LEMOND!
I raise his license over my head and my buddies, all over 6′ 3″, blow by me and swarm GL as if we were back in Paris in July after he reeled in poor old Fignon. Greg is loving the moment. I look over and his buddies are rushing us, clearly thinking Greg is getting beat up or something. They join in the conversation, asking how we could possibly know who he is. We ask what Greg is doing there and i am amazed when they say they are all buddies just going hunting. (i guess it defines who LeMond is/was that he goes hunting even after it almost ended his life 2 years prior)
I don’t think Greg or his buddies truly understood, 5 months after his victory, how much more well known he was than in June of the same year.
We talk a bit and i ask him to sign something for me ($1 bill in other post). After asking my name, he happily signs it and hands it back to me. Clearly my name got lost in translation (loud bar, beer goggles), but even funnier is that he signed it “Jeff.” He laughs and re-signs it as seen below. I have had this for the last 24 years and now this story seems very appropriate and even a bit more special.
As we head to the parking lot about an hour later, i look over and see Greg and his hunting buddies piling into a Chevy Nova (ala “Breaking Away”) with a bike rack on the roof. So fitting.”