I like to listen to the occasional edition of Competitor Radio (I need to add them to my links list), and one episode this year included an interview with Steve Larsen. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Steve, but here’s a quick abstract:
Steve got set up on his bike by Greg LeMond during his younger days. When Lance Armstrong came on the scene, Steve was beating him … at least, at first. Lance, of course, rose to prominence almost immediately, leaving Steve (and everyone else) in his wake. Nonetheless, they both turned pro and went to Europe at about the same time. Steve’s road career went all right, but not great. He rode the Giro twice, but finished pretty low on the GC—almost a contender for the gatto nero, aka the black cat or last finisher.
So Steve got out of the road scene and then came to back to the US of A where he proceeded to tear up the mountain bike scene. For about five years, he ripped it up at courses all over the US, but when it came time to select the mountain bike Olympic team, USA cycling left him off the roster. Appropriately miffed, he stomped on his competition for about the next six months and then went and tried a mountain bike triathlon. When he enjoyed it, Steve decided to try out the triathlon gig.
Here’s the cool part: in his first-ever Ironman race, Steve survived the swim and then plowed through the bike and the run for a win. He could still count the number of triathlons he’d raced on one hand, he’d never run a marathon before, and he won Ironman Lake Placid. Just a month later, he raced with the best in Kona, Hawaii, and led on the bike, finishing in the top 10—a respectable place for anyone, but particularly amazing for someone doing only his second Ironman.
Probably the coolest part is the fact that, as he freely admits, Steve doesn’t know any other way to race than simply sticking his neck out and going for broke. So that’s what he does. Nowadays, because he loves to race, he continues to do triathlon, mountain bike and running races and has deservedly taken legendary status among triathletes.
So, does anyone else have a new cycling hero to add to the list?