By DAVID MCCOLLUM

LOG CABIN STAFF WRITER

Lance Armstrong’s confession to Oprah Winfrey has provided an easy conversation piece for a local bicycle shop owner.

But nothing more.

Erik Leamon, owner of The Ride in Conway, a popular business for recreational bikers through the region, said comparing his favorite activity to professional bicyclists such as Armstrong is not apples to apples.

"It’s like comparing guys who play city league softball to professional baseball players who get in trouble and whether it affects the love of their sport and if they’ll quit playing," Leamon said. "It doesn’t affect what we love to do.

"And it hasn’t really affected business except it’s something people like to talk about."

In a televised interview with Winfrey on Thursday, Armstrong, who faces a lifetime ban from the sport, admitted to the use of illegal substances and performance-enhancing drugs, something he has aggressively denied for years.

"Athletes are people you look up to and admire and we really like Cinderella stories like Armstrong’s," Leamon said. "You love to see somebody like Armstrong come from the dregs and redeem themselves, I enjoyed watching him. We like to have role models, then when things like this come out, it’s disappointing. But this has been around for a few years. Cyclists have known about this. I’m glad he (Armstrong) finally came out and admitted it.

"And it’s unfortunate that pro athletes think they have to do things to win our affection."

But he emphasized the difference in riding for fun and riding with professional stakes.

"I, and the cyclists I know, are not interested in going out and trying to win the Tour de France," he said. "I ride my bike because I enjoy riding a bicycle. It’s fun, it’s healthy and it’s good recreation."

(David McCollum can be reached at 501-505-1235 or david.mccollum@thecabin.net)