Wikipedia defines hero as
A hero (from Greek ἥρως hērōs), in Greek mythology and folklore, was originally a demigod, the offspring of a mortal and a deity, their cult being one of the most distinctive features of ancient Greek religion.
Later, hero (male) and heroine (female) came to refer to characters that, in the face of danger and adversity or from a position of weakness, display courage and the will for self-sacrifice, that is, heroism, for some greater good, originally of martial courage or excellence but extended to more general moral excellence.
What do we use heros for? Inspiration I think. So who, or what, inspires us? Lance Armstrong? Sure, he fits the classical definition, adversity, certainly he had to overcome cancer, which is one of the biggest hurdles anyone could overcome and that's something many of us have been close to in some form or other. Lance represents hope, survival and the will to sieze the day. I'm still wearing my Livestrong band. I don't expect I'll ever stop doing so.
But anyone 'real'? I think so. I'm not inspired by Cadel Evans or Ryan Bailey or Anna Meares, because they're not people I can really relate to. They're born gifted athletes, and I have much respect and admiration for them, and I'm a fan, when Anna set that blistering time at Vodafone on Thursday last week I had a lump in my throat and couldn't stop cheering her on, and watching Ryan Bailey kick so hard it's almost inhuman to win sprints is incredible to watch, Cadel's endurance and courage ... Amazing stuff, but it's far removed from where I am.
The people I work with, those of us not born with genetic advantages that put us miles ahead before we start, but those for whom finishing mid-field in a D grade tour is a major achievement, for those who being promoted to B grade is the highlight of their cycling, for those who started off tootling on hybrids who can now rattle off a 100km ride without drama, or who have had serious injuries but who commit to taking the risk of training and aiming for goals, and putting everything they can into achieving those goals. You all know who you are, you're my inspiration. Thankyou.