The Lance Armstrong Intervention

09.9.2005 | 11:52 pm

Lance, have a seat. We need to talk. No, not later, son. Right now.

Lance, your friends and I have seen news stories about you coming out of retirement and racing in the Tour de France next year. To tell the truth, you’ve got us all worried.

No, we’re not worried about whether you could win an eighth Tour. The fact is, none of us care. Well, that’s not true. Your friend Al Trautwig cares, but he’s not really the guy you want to impress, is he? The truth is, you’ve definitely hit the point of diminishing returns on Tour wins. Not a single person in this room — put your hand down, Al — will think you’re a better man for winning eight times instead of seven.

I know what L’Equipe said. Yes, I know it was rude, and you’re striking back the only way you know how. But you need to start looking at the bigger picture.

Think back for a minute, Lance. A year ago, you were hinting that you wouldn’t race the Tour in 2005 — that you’d take a year off. You milked the "will-he-won’t-he" publicity for all it’s worth for as long as you could, then went on Oprah — Oprah, for crying out loud! — to reveal the stunning news that you’d once again do the exact same thing you had been doing for the past six years. And you said you’d be done after that.

And now you’re doing the same thing, Lance. You’re coyly telling us maybe you’ll race or maybe you won’t. Your reason may be different, but if you show up on Oprah again, nobody will be on the edge of their seat about why.

You know, Lance, it’s not even so much that you’re coming out of retirement. It’s why. If you had said, "I thought about it and I love racing too much and I don’t want to quit after all," we would have understood. But racing for revenge? Lance, you’re not in high school anymore.

Think hard for a second, Lance. A magazine in a different country said it thinks you took EPO. So how will racing again prove them wrong? If you win, they’ll say you’re doping. If you lose, they’ll say you lost because you finally came clean. And meanwhile, you’ll have demonstrated that all anyone needs to do to get Lance to jump is write an accusatory article. That’s hardly a position of power, Lance.

You know what we think really bugs you about that article, Lance? It’s that the article isn’t about what you’re doing now. It’s about what you did — past tense, Lance — six years ago. That article made you realize that the only Lance they care about is the one who’s racing. That no matter what you do from now on, it won’t matter to most people as much as what you’ve already done.

I think that you’re not afraid articles like this one are going to continue to be published. You’re afraid articles like this are going to stop. And then, sometime after that, articles about you will stop altogether. And you know what? They probably will. This year, next year, whenever.

Unless you come up with that cure to cancer you keep talking about. I suspect you’d get a fair amount of publicity for that. Maybe you should focus on that for a while.

And there’s one more thing, Lance. You kind of wore out your welcome last year. It’s not like by the end of the Tour last year anyone was saying, "I wish we could see Lance do this one more time." (Al, now’s not the time. Sit down, Al.) Phil and Paul were exhausted from saying your name nonstop. Your teammates were exhausted from riding for you nonstop. The American public was just glad that the Tour was over and that now they could forget about cycling forever since no other Americans race bikes at a top professional level.

Oh, they do? My bad. What are their names?

Huh. Never heard of them. We’re getting off-track here anyway.

We threw you a retirement party, Lance.  You see Jan standing over there by the lamp? He was there. See Phil and Paul by the window (cute of you to wear matching shirts, guys)? They were there. See George in those wacky Oakleys he wears? He was there. We were all there. We let you give a speech.

We gave you presents, Lance. It will be awkward if we have to ask for them back.


(Lance, my weight today is 163.8 lbs. Just thought you should know.)



Read this.

09.9.2005 | 9:12 pm

I’m working on a particularly tricky entry today, so don’t have anything to post quite yet. Gimme a couple more hours. However, I did just read Bob’s Top 5 for today, and recommend it very strongly to anyone who has ever done anything dumb on a bike. Click here to read it now.
Nice one, Bobby G.

A Note to MS 150 Contributors

09.9.2005 | 6:10 am

All four of my limbs are now accounted for, magic-marker-wise, for the MS 150 this weekend. I have heee-larious, cryptic things go on two of my limbs, but Riley and Peter: after ponying up big-time for the MS 150 (thank you!), you never sent me e-mail telling me what you’d like inscribed on the Fat Cyclist this Saturday.
Please e-mail me ( ASAP, and let me know.
‘Course, you’re not obligated  to use me as a billboard. That’s your call. I just didn’t want you to miss the opportunity because an e-mail got lost in transit or some such thing.
And for those of you who have got bracelets on order as part of this, my wife’s got all the product on order and is excited to get started making some cool jewelry for you.
To everyone who contributed: Thanks. I got generous donations from family, co-workers, and lots of friends I’ve only met through this blog. Some people who couldn’t afford to give, did anyway, and I know for sure some people gave for MS the same day they were giving for hurricane victim relief.
I love seeing this side of human nature.


09.8.2005 | 11:01 pm


Kool-Aid Dose #1

On Labor Day, Matt and I went on a 20-mile ride along some of the country roads around Sammamish, Redmond, Carnation, and Fall City. The weather went out of its way to be perfect, and I had hand-picked a course that was almost ridiculously scenic. By the time we had gone five or six miles, Matt was going on and on about what a great time he was having. And then at the end of the ride he talked about how great it is to go biking and see the country and how we’ve got to go again soon.

That’s a good sign.


Kool-Aid Dose #2

Flash forward to Tuesday evening. Matt e-mails me saying that things have come up, he won’t be able to bike in to work with me the next morning. Then, at 7:30 the next morning, right as I’m about to take off for work, Matt calls. He’s managed to juggle his schedule, so he can ride in after all.

That’s a really good sign.


Kool-Aid Dose #3

Yesterday, on the ride home from work, I started talking to Matt about trying to make it up Thompson Hill Road — a very steep hill about a mile long — with just one stop, instead of two. "Go slow, use a low gear, try not to go anaerobic," I advised.

Matt churned up the hill in a low gear, and got past the first point where he usually needs to walk it. I expected him to get off between there and the second place he’d been dismounting, but no. He kept climbing toward the second place he usually stops. Matt wanted to clean Thompson Hill.

As he got to the final third of the climb, Matt started wobbling. That’s when I told him something important: "You’ve still got one more gear you can go down." Matt shifted into his granny and pulled to the top. He was suffering, but he put his head down, and he cleaned it.

Matt’s hooked.


Today’s weight: 164.4 lbs.


09.8.2005 | 12:13 am

Even as I did my best to make my wrecks in yesterday’s post sound spectacular, I was acutely aware of one glaring fact: I’ve never wrecked really badly. I’ve never had to stay the night in a hospital because of a bike wreck. I’ve never had to wear a cast, or have a blood transfusion, or have more than a few stitches.

I may be jinxing myself by saying this, but I’ve gotten off easy.

My sister Kellene, on the other hand, has wrecked pretty darn bad.


Watch that first step.

Kellene lives near Fruita Colorado, which means she has easy access to a mountain biker’s paradise. High-desert riding, canyons, and (cue ominous music) cliffs.

A few years ago, Kellene and a friend went out riding on a popular mountain bike trail called Mary’s Loop. It’s not an especially technical trail, but there are lots of rock ledges, and there’s definitely some trailside exposure. And in at least one case, there’s a rock ledge with trailside exposure. Here, Kellene clicked out with one foot — leaving the other one in — and used her foot to boost her bike up onto the ledge.

And that’s when she lost her balance.

Tipping over toward the foot that was still clipped in, Kellene was unable to click out. It’s happened at one point to pretty much every mountain biker that’s ever bought clipless pedals.

For Kellene, though, this meant a fall off an overhanging cliff.

She dropped eighteen feet, straight down, and landed on a large, flat-topped boulder.


Damage report

If you’re the squeamish type, you may want to skip the rest of this post. My daily weight’s posted at the bottom, and tomorrow I promise I won’t be talking about wrecking bikes anymore.

OK, you’ve been warned.

Kellene broke her right wrist, and ripped opened up her knee so you could see everything. She smashed her jaw. She broke 14 teeth, and put her lower row of teeth through her lower lip, nearly severing it.

I swear, I still get sick just thinking about such a fall and the resulting carnage.

Amazingly — and let’s face it, cruelly — Kellene didn’t lose consciousness from this fall. In fact, Kellene’s day had just begun.


Help may — or may not — be on the way.

Luckily, Kellene’s friend had a mobile phone with her and made a 911 call. Consider, though: how do you tell an ambulance where you are when you’re on somewhere on a trail that’s known mostly by its nickname? And how do they find you? In this case, they didn’t — the ambulance searched, but never found Kellene.

The second call Kellene’s friend made was to her husband, Rocky, who works at a bank. And wears a suit. Rocky, unlike the ambulance, knew exactly where Kellene was and drove out. I’m tempted to say something like, "Rocky broke all kinds of speed limits getting to Kellene," but the fact is Rocky breaks all kinds of speed limits when driving to church. So I’m guessing Rocky’s rate of speed in reaching Kellene cannot be expressed with conventional mathematics.

When he got there, Kellene had been at the bottom of this cliff for about an hour. Think about that for a second. Rocky took off his leather loafers and climbed down the cliff in his banker’s suit, then helped Kellene use her non-broken wrist and non-split leg to climb back up that cliff.



They sewed Kellene up, gave her a cast, and wired her jaw shut. This, she says, is what nearly drove her over the edge. Sometimes you feel like you’re suffocating; sometimes you feel like you’re drowning. Once her jaw healed, she had endless trips to the dentist to reconstruct a set of teeth for her. Which, by the way, now look considerably better than most people’s real teeth. Having your dentist be a mountain biking buddy, a close friend of the family, and the most anal-retentive person in the whole world is a good combination, if you need a whole new mouth.

They wouldn’t finish finding and extracting broken pieces of Kellene’s teeth from Kellene’s lips for six months.


My sister could kick your butt.

Amazingly, Kellene seems just fine now. I can’t see any scars on her. She says her lower lip is pretty much permanently numb, but all things considered, things could’ve gone a lot worse.

So: does Kellene still ride? Yes, she does. In fact, she’s headed over to Vail, CO today to go mountain biking for a week with some friends.

And does Kellene ever ride Mary’s Loop? Yes she does.

And does Kellene ride the part where she fell off the cliff? No. Are you crazy?


Today’s weight: 164.8lbs. Frankly, I don’t trust today’s weight. How could I lose 1.4lbs in a day? Am I extra-dehydrated or something?


Bonus Cyclingnews article: Cyclingnews has published my satire piece, "Lance Armstrong to Come Out of Retirement." Click here to read it.

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