Unfortunately, this article from Bicycling magazine is not online, but I couldn’t resist taking the time to repeat the story here:
The rider had flown by in a blur, on a black and silver Madone, in US Postal bibs and a Nike jacket – another wanna-be from the city, dressed like his hero, I thought. We were on River Road, my usual route across the bridge from New York City. I figured I’d play it cool and catch him on the hill ahead. But then I noticed: the chiseled legs, a worn Selle San Marco Concor saddle – not a poseur’s expensive carbon – a saddle bag. And as he started up the rise, he took both hands off the handlebar to take food from his pocket. Maybe he was someone.
I am no one, a Cat 5, new to my club, but I wanted to see. I dropped my hammer, up the climb, down the other side, but he was still out of reach. It took me 8 miles to work up to his wheel. And then. He looked back, “Do you know where this road goes?” And I was certain, but my brain had not caught up. “Oh, it goes to Route 9W,” I said. Then, finally, “Lance?”
I said “Wow, I’m Konstantin,” and then nothing, trying to be cool. I knew that one wrong move could scare him off. Everything about him was familiar, his body, the way he talked, the cadence. I had experienced him, but only on TV. He rode close to me, 5 to 10 centimeters from my handlebar, too close for comfort. He kept asking about the road. I listened. Answered.
At the juncture, he was going left, back to the city. I grew bold and asked if I could join him for the 15 miles home. He said OK, and that’s when it happened.
We talked. About everything – fame, the Tour, saddle position, food and wine, Russia (where I’m from), Ekimov, riding in New York City, which he does when he’s in town. Cars drove past, not noticing.
He is The Man, but he could have been any guy from my club, just out having fun, shooting the breeze.
– Konstantin Dzbibilov, Bicycling Magazine, May 2005