During my Sunday radio show on Newstalk ZB I was asked a direct question by Tony Veitch.
"Would you ride with Lance Armstrong on Tuesday morning?". Mr Armstrong, the world's most infamous sporting drug cheat, has issued an open invitation to Aucklanders to go for a bunch ride with him along Tamaki Drive at 6am.
I immediately informed Tony that I would never ride with him. "Why would I ride with such a man?". A man who mislead the world and dealt to his enemies in harsh way. He used to be one of my heroes but that honour went as soon as he plunged a needle in his arm. Into his Armstrong strong arm.
On Tuesday I'm riding with Lance.
Why did I change my mind?
Well, mostly, because I was asked to. I will be manning the Newstalk ZB radio bike to report for ZB, Radio Sport and our newsroom. I suspect I'm the only member of staff with a bike and the ability to ride it. I'm not seeing Leighton Smith or Larry Williams putting their hands up for the gig. So I'm getting paid for it. Which now that I come to think about it is no excuse at all.
I'm doing exactly what other bike riders did because of Lance. They wanted to get paid and so to compete with the best they had to commit the same sin. That is his greatest blow to the sport. While Mr Armstrong was free to do what he wanted with his body, the fact that one of the best was taking the juice was the reason so many others took the plunge. When one person cheats others will follow. That's a truth. Meanwhile it is on record that Mr Armstrong harried and bullied other members of his team to drug and if they didn't comply they were out. There are no end of riders whose lives, careers and aspirations were destroyed by Mr Armstrong's single-minded and selfish desire to be the best.
But now that I've folded for filthy lucre and will be slipping on the lycra at 5am I'm perversely intriqued and excited by the event. So many questions.
How many will turn up? There could be 10. There could be thousands. The remarkable social media reaction to triathlete Cameron Brown's ride with Mr Armstrong in the weekend shows how divided the city is. For all those who thought that Cameron Brown's ride was despicable, particularly as he took his son along for "inspiration" from a drug cheat, there were as many who said why not. Lance Armstrong has done his time and a number of mea culpas so he can be an inspiration. "Aspire to be me but a better me who doesn't cheat" is a worthwhile message. Then there's his support of cancer sufferers which is a good thing. Is turning up a show of support for Lance or perhaps just a chance to observe infamy in action?
Will there be protests? Will the peloton be pelted by eggs thrown by fanatics whipped into a frenzy by Facebook? Will Tamaki Drive motorists, often infuriated by pack riders, choose to do a little swerve to show their outrage?
Will there be traffic chaos? Choosing to do such a well publicised stunt at rush hour on a major arterial route could well be the worst decision Lance has ever made.
But the most pressing question is why? Why is Lance Armstrong pulling the stunt? He must know that he's one of the most divisive characters in sport. He must know that this thing was going to bring out the haters. Is he hoping for redemption? Is he blind to it all and believes he's still the real deal? What will this thing achieve, other than being a right royal circus?
Only Lance Armstrong can answer that and so far he ain't talking. I hope on Tuesday he does and I hope he chooses to do it with skinny, guilt ridden man on board the first ever Newstalk ZB radio bike.
- Andrew Dickens is the host of the Sunday Cafe on Newstalk ZB