Alexi Grewal getting ready for American comeback at 50 years of age
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Friday, February 18, 2011

Alexi Grewal getting ready for American comeback at 50 years of age

by Conal Andrews at 10:07 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Former Olympic champion ready for three year ‘prison sentence’

Alexi GrewalThis week has seen the retirement of Lance Armstrong, who is heading towards his 40th birthday. The Texan was one of the oldest riders in the peloton but another big name rider, who will be 51 on September 8th, is coming back.

Alexi Grewal has been building form over the past few months and is getting ready to compete in the Callville Bay Classic on February 24th. He’s drawn up a list of events to come after that, with the Redlands Classic (March 31 – April 3) and the Tour of the Battenkill (April 9 - 10) being marked as tentative, but the Tour of the Gila (April 27 – May 1) and the Iron Horse Classic (May 27) listed as confirmed.

After that, he hopes to ride races such as the Nevada City Classic in June, the Cascade Cycling Classic in July and August’s world amateur championships qualifiers in Fort Collins.

“How do I turn back now?” he asked rhetorically on his online blog. “Just today I unpacked a complete Leopard bike. All 15 or so pounds of it, she was lighter in the box than my Trek is without her wheels. Over the last few months everything I have needed to do this has arrived just on time. Even a coach, Crazy Ed of all people, has had an incredible input into my training plan, introducing some things so simple and revolutionary that we both agree I should keep them secret.”

Grewal was one of the US’s best riders in the 1980s, beating Steve Bauer to win the Olympic road race in Los Angeles in 1984. He competed with the Panasonic, 7-Eleven and Coors Light pro teams.

Now, two decades later, he’s back, wanting to prove to himself and his son that he can be competitive again. “I set a three year timeframe on this mission, thinking I would get as good as a fifty year old can get in that time and having a desire to retire before I pass my prime,” he wrote. “I figure there is around one thousand days that I have left to serve. From what I hear one learns a lot from being in prison, and while mine is likely to be more interesting than the one Lance might be headed toward, I am sure it will be a lesson worth learning. Who knows, we both may get out at the same time?”

After his retirement, Grewal worked as a carpenter. He said that he’s scared about how things might go for him, but has plenty of life experience to give him strength too. “The general feeling is one of fear, big time. Such a total risk to think at fifty I can ride with the big dogs,” he admitted. “I have included a picture of my “big dog”, she is my timber framing saw. I will bet few pro riders can handle her, but she purrs for me. She is a twenty six pound sixteen inch inline circular saw, with no blade guard, ten pounds heavier than my Leopard bike. So I know danger, and this will be that.”

When he lines out in events such as the Tour of the Gila, he will be competing against riders half his age, or even less. That’s intimidating, but he’s got plenty of people backing him, willing him on, and he’s willing to endure it and see how it goes.

“It is a bit mind boggling. But I want to race, and I think I can. It is only a thousand more days in this prison, and I will never have this chance again… What do you think, can I stay in the field?, can I be a player? Would you take the same risk with your history? What if you had no choice? Could you go for it? Would your community be behind you? Well mine is, they would likely kill me if I did not do this.

“After all it is only about three and a half years. Ezekial once was asked to lie on his side for 390 days. At least this prison won’t be boring.”

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