Paris-Roubaix was never of high interest to Lance Armstrong. The cobblestone classic is just too damn dangerous for a man who needs a smooth, meticulous and injury-free build up for the 2010 Tour de France.
So instead of battling in the Hell of the North, Armstrong took on the ruthless and cutthroat Pinewood Derby competition in Austin, Texas. With his son Luke, they went mano-a-mano with all the other cub and boy scouts and their little carved wooden cars.
It was no picnic, folks. Not a Arenberg Forest Paris-Roubaix kind of disaster but still brutal. As Lance himself noted on his twitter feed, “major technical difficulties for “The Current” in the derby. @lukearmstrong and I are reviewing things. Wasn’t our year.”
Apparently the wind testing of the car at a Nike facility and the power and weight analysis carried out at an Oakley research lab had little positive effect.
As detailed in the wiki, a pinewood derby car kit costs around $4, a set of modified wheels and axles can sell for more than ten times that amount. These aftermarket items are legal under some rules since the parts originally came from an official Boy Scouts of America (BSA) kit.
Make no mistake, the Armstrong team went full gas on this competition. A team of Trek engineers flew in just to give Luke a few “design pointers.”
Plans for a remote controlled electric motor developed specifically for “The Current” car by electronics giant and Armstrong sponsor Radio Shack were shelved at the last minute.
The final pre-race tune-up took place at Armstrong’s Mellow Johnny bicycle shop in Austin, where top shop mechanics worked around the clock to “help” Luke tweak the car’s acceleration.
The Pinewood Derby began in 1953 and like Paris-Roubaix is considered a classic, a rite of passage and a demanding competition where only the best need show up. That’s just how the Pinewood Derby rolls, baby.
Here’s to a big win next year for team Armstrong. You can bet a Roubaix cobblestone the new wooden block has already been ordered.