Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Book Review: Lance Armstrong, Its Not About the Bike

An autobiography by a sports figure, ranks right up there as a classic, eh? I think the title grabbed me "It's not about the bike", so I picked up the book. I thought, "Wow, here's a guy, that in all likelihood, felt he was going to write one book in his lifetime (he since has a few other credits with other writers), and he's a hero cyclist, and the title he, the ultimate US rider chooses, "its not about the bike"...this should be good".

I love being on my bike. I don't find it particularly interesting to hear about others riding their bike, nor watching other people while I am sitting on my couch, when I should be out riding my bike. Mostly, this book made me want to be out on my bike, riding up Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Hood, riding to Seattle, something long and hard, something to give me some sense, tiny tiny sense, that I am connected to that machine, the universe, that its like an an extension of my body, your legs churning and you are one, looking out across the horizon.

He's right, it really wasn't about riding. Its about relationships, quite a bit about his battle with cancer that makes the Tour seem easy, its about people and faith and determination, its about friends, family, children, and cancer, a personal story about IVF, etc. Its something we all hope we never have to deal with but all our lives are touched. Lance shows how perseveres. And he does it as a hero should, with dignity, here's my favorite story, makes me mad every time I think about it:

When the French company Cofidis decided to dump him while he was in his 3rd session of chemo (Nike, Oakley, and other sponsors stuck by him through his ordeal, doing the right thing), he doesn't rail on them in the book. As a classy sportsman, he just tells the story, the reader is allowed to draw the conclusion, and the most ironic statement of the book was a line where the representative of the French company says "People in France won't be able to understand paying somebody when they aren't working...". That is the final sentence of that chapter. I loved it.

None of us ever know what turns life will take. One day we're at the top of our game, it can all be taken away so quickly, by luck or chance. Ultimately, you find out who your friends are not when you are the top of your game, but at the bottom. Lance got to find that out.

I really enjoyed this book. its a quick one, 4-6 hours. 4.5 out of 5 stars if you're a Lance fan, or a current/former bike jock. Probably not recommended if you don't ride. But then again, its not about the bike. Really, its not....

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