American history is littered with tales of great pioneers. Settlers moved west into previously uninhabited land in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, establishing the settlements which would evolve into the United States we know today. Following his great ancestors before him, Greg LeMond also battled difficult terrain (mainly the Alps and the Pyrenees) as he ventured into strange new territories.
Unlike the pioneers of yesteryear, LeMond was not in fact discovering new land. Instead he forged a path into the equally alien world of professional road cycling. Much in the same way that many of us Brits look at American Football and think it is a truly ludicrous sport, cycling was similarly frowned upon Stateside in the 1980s. One man helped to change those perceptions.
Greg LeMond was born in June 1961 in California and raised in Washoe Valley (imagine cowboy country and your mental image won’t be far wrong). He initially took up cycling as he was advised it would help in his ambitions to become a skier. However after bombing around on his bike he decided that two wheels were far better than two weird long things strapped to your feet and started to compete in cycling seriously. Weekends were regularly spent piling his gear into the back of the family VW campervan, setting off to various races around California, winning, and getting back in time for school. The kid was a natural, as they would probably say on American sports commentary.