Suggested Revisions for Lance Armstrong’s Screenplay

12.5.2005 | 5:09 pm

Editor’s Note: The complete version of this story is now available at Click here to read it!


FROM: The Fat Cyclist

TO: Mr. Lance Armstrong

SUBJECT: Re: First Draft of My Screenplay!!!


Hi Lance,


First off, thanks for letting me be one of the first people to see the screenplay you’ve just completed for your autobiographical movie. I loved it, and am absolutely positive that every cyclist in America would love it too. Cyclists will flock to this film, just as it’s written; they’ll love this window into your world, as well as the drama and pageantry that swirl around the Tour de France. In short, I feel confident, Lance, in guaranteeing that every single cycling enthusiast in America will go see this movie when it comes out.

Which is my gentle way of saying, Lance, that as written, your movie would be a complete and total disaster.

There are only about 6,000 cyclists in America, Lance. And this statistic is no less alarming even when you take into consideration that I just made it up. My point is: if you want this movie to succeed, you need to punch it up. Make it Hollywood-friendly. Give it some heat.

Here, then, are my suggestions for a rewrite of your screenplay, if you’d rather it be a summer blockbuster than an anonymous direct-to-DVD bust.


Change the Name

Yes, Lance, I know that your book, It’s Not About the Bike, was a huge success. But that book was for a different audience. Specifically, it was for an audience of people who know how to read. For a movie, you can’t go telling people what it’s not about. That would be like serving your head on a platter to the critics. I mean, can’t you just hear Roger Ebert opening his review of your movie saying something like, “Lance Armstrong’s movie tells us it’s not about his bike. That’s all well and good, but I wish he would have taken the time to decide what it is about.” (Note to Roger Ebert: I have copyrighted the preceding sentence. Hands off.)

So, then, what should you call the movie? I have a few suggestions:

  • Ride: People love one-word titles. They’re easy to remember. Also, it’s both an imperative verb and a noun, so it both describes what you do and what the film is. It sounds strong, confident. Manly. This is my number-one recommendation.
  • The Cyclist: This title makes it sound like you are really the only cyclist in the world. Everyone else is just a pretender. There’s also a decent chance that many people will mistake “Cyclist” for “Cyclone,” and we’ll get a fair number of tickets purchased by the disaster-film crowd. Hey, let’s not be picky; let’s get butts in seats any way we can.
  • Lance Loves Sheryl: This one’s risky. If you call it this, we’ll need to make sure that the movie trailers emphasize the love story aspect of your movie. The only way we’ll get a greater than .000001% female audience for this film is if we make them think it’s a romantic comedy.

Pump Up the Plot

Your life makes an inspiring story, Lance. Born into a humble, one-parent home, you showed great initial promise as a professional cyclist. Then you got cancer, but suffered through the treatment to emerge a stronger, more disciplined rider. Once you started riding in the Tour de France, you caught fire and won seven times in a row — showing a drive and consistency that is perhaps unmatched in the history of sport.

This kind of storyline is what we in the biz like to call a “non-starter.”

You know what they’re going to do when we pitch this movie, Lance? They are going to tear us to shreds. Here are the easy questions they’ll ask, and how I propose we revise your screenplay so we can be ready for them:

  • Where’s the villain? Of course, cancer is the real villain in your life, but that doesn’t exactly work on film, does it? We need someone who is doing his level best to thwart you — not just in racing, but in your personal life. I suggest Jan Ullrich is the right character for this role. We’ll have to tweak his personality a little bit since Ullrich is in fact one of the nicest guys in the whole world, but the motivation part’s easy: with each loss to you, Ullrich becomes more and more bitter, until he (let’s say in 2002) he snaps and vows he will stop at nothing — nothing!!! — to defeat you. He commences a campaign of underhanded tactics all geared toward securing the top spot on the Tour de France podium.
  • You mean once he starts winning, he just keeps winning? There’s never a serious doubt that he’ll stop winning? I’m sorry, Lance, but the first act (early promise) of your screenplay is incredibly ordinary, and the second act (enduring cancer treatment) makes you seem more like of a movie prop than an exciting film protagonist. We can tell those parts of the story in about twenty minutes anyways. Then there’s the third act: Tour de France champion. It goes like this: You win the Tour de France. Then you win again. Then you win again. Then you win again. Then you win again. Then you win again. Then you win again. It gets a little predictable, Lance. Think about this for a second: Rocky lost in the first movie, and that’s the only one that was any good.
  • At the end of the movie he just RETIRES?! I’m sorry to use bold, italics, all-caps and excessive punctuation, Lance, but that’s the way they’re going to say it. I can’t think of a more anticlimactic end to a movie than retirement. I suggest that in the movie, after your final tour you vow to fight crime, or discover a cure to cancer, or something. Remember this Hollywood axiom, Lance: Any scene featuring a retirement must be followed with a scene wherein the newly-retired person is gunned down by his enemy. See any cop movie that has ever been made for an example of this.

PS: This is the first part of a new piece I’m writing; next I’ll tell Lance about parts of the screenplay I think he should shorten or remove, characters that need to be created, changed, and deleted, and what to do about that pesky "first wife problem." I’ll link to the full story as soon as it’s published. Presuming, of course, that I finish it (I haven’t), and that someone accepts it.


PPS: This has nothing to do with cycling, but I spent most of the weekend sitting beside my 12-year-old son, building a video game with him. Mostly I just sat and gave suggestions and ideas; he did the programming and artwork (ie, he did everything and I was a backseat driver). What a pleasure it is to watch your own kid be not just better, but lots better at something than you are.

We finished it yesterday evening; he’s now posted the game — called "Meteor Frenzy" — on his website, Click the screenshot below to go to his site and try it out (requires Flash). Be sure to record your high score (I’m pleased to say that I currently hold the number 1 ranking, but I’m sure that will change.).



Oh, and to all the old coots who play this and then come back with suggested corrections on spelling and grammar for the game: that was all intentional. Evidently, using English that feels like poorly-translated Japanese is all the rage with teenage programmers these days.


  1. Comment by Unknown | 12.5.2005 | 5:17 pm

    awe. some.

  2. Comment by a | 12.5.2005 | 6:05 pm

    i now realize why i never get the high score on any video game… i suck.are there cheat codes available anywhere yet? i could use the help.

  3. Comment by Unknown | 12.5.2005 | 6:10 pm

    I love the game, especially the grammar. I "interpret" emails every day from Japanese engineers and I can say with authority that your son is down with the fake Japanese/English grammar. Despite many attempts this morning, I couldn’t get on the high score list. I’ll keep trying.cmh

  4. Comment by Unknown | 12.5.2005 | 6:15 pm

    I did keep trying and now I rule! I don’t know if I have ever been #1 at anything before. It feels good.cmh

  5. Comment by tayfuryagci | 12.5.2005 | 6:29 pm

    one of the coolest flash games ever. congrats!

  6. Comment by tayfuryagci | 12.5.2005 | 6:37 pm

    I felt obliged to say something about that lance dude. I don’t like neither him nor his friends. just a foreigners view…

  7. Comment by Julie | 12.5.2005 | 6:50 pm

    Great – I spend hours a day reading your blog and then everyone elses who blogs – and now I am going to get addicated to this game. Your sister might have to come up with a recovery program for this.Thanks for another great entry!

  8. Comment by Unknown | 12.5.2005 | 7:10 pm


  9. Comment by Zed | 12.5.2005 | 7:24 pm

    Wow. My snowman melt. I didn’t stand a chance. Kudos to FC junior. I got my no-longer-frosty butt handed to me in a jar.

  10. Comment by Unknown | 12.5.2005 | 7:28 pm

    jb – Somebody set us up the bomb!

  11. Comment by Jodi | 12.5.2005 | 7:35 pm

    my snowman melt. my snowman melt pretty good time.

  12. Comment by Unknown | 12.5.2005 | 7:35 pm


  13. Comment by pete | 12.5.2005 | 7:47 pm

    All your snow-fort are belong to us!At last, a competition where I stand a chance of winning a bag. There is a bag for this, right? Apologies to your son for filling up the high score table (PMX, since you ask) but that game is more addictive than crack. And I mean that as a compliment. Predict a few more hits over the next few days.Another fine post from yourself today. I think the only man suitable for the role of Lance’s arch-enemy would be Dolph "Ivan Drago" Lundgren. "Ride" definitely has the real blockbuster feel to it, but I think you have to be conscious of the need for sequels : "Lance vs Mecha-Ullrich" has a certain ring to it.Or, as you mentioned retirement, the Lethal Weapon angle with Mel Gibson as Ekimov and Danny Glover as Lance: "Goddamit. 21 days to retirement and I have to get mixed up in this!?"

  14. Comment by pete | 12.5.2005 | 7:51 pm

    Damn, I spent so long playing the game I got beaten to my crap joke. :-(Sorry Chris, but your time at the top is over. Of course, if you were to make a comeback, I’d have an excuse to do nothing but play this for hours tomorrow morning. Arf!

  15. Comment by Unknown | 12.5.2005 | 10:17 pm

    Thought you and some of the other northern states cyclist would enjoy this link about cold weather cycling.

  16. Comment by Shadow | 12.5.2005 | 10:59 pm

    GAAAAAAAH! You guys are amazing at this game! The highest I get is around 2,000, but some of you manage to get past 50,000! I didn’t even know that was POSSIBLE… wow… Anyways, I’m so glad you guys think it’s so good!To Nikared: You don’t suck. These guys are just better than you. And me. And FC. And a lot of other people, I think.To JB and Al Mavia: YOU HAVE NO CHANCE TO SURVIVE MAKE YOUR TIME. HA HA HA.I made another game awhile back, and recently modified it, so it has a working high score board too. You can see it if you want.

  17. Comment by Unknown | 12.6.2005 | 12:08 am

    Excellent game, even better than the Achoo game.Botched

  18. Comment by EricGu | 12.6.2005 | 12:17 am

    Interesting that you write a long post with a short note about a game, and nearly all the comments are on the game.Oh, and how about this for a title?Lance-a-lotAdd in some music – oh, I don’t know, something like this: you’re gold, baby.

  19. Comment by Fat Cyclist | 12.6.2005 | 1:25 am

    lowPHAT – yep, i did notice (with no small amount of pride) that my son totally stole the show today. botched / nathanv / tayfur / cyclingchic / caloi / chris – thanks for the kind words. i’m sure my son is following comments closely today.chris – sorry you’re not in #1 position position anymore. at least you’re still on the board, though. i no longer even have a prayer of getting in the top 10.shadow scythe – hey, shouldn’t you be doing your homework?the_cosh – holy smokes. 103,000? that’s some serious eye-hand coordination you’ve got there. we’ve never even tested it at that speed. do the meteors and the snowman still move reasonably smoothly?the_cosh, again – also, thanks for noticing the lance thingy i wrote. jb / al maviva – um. i don’t think i know what the next line is.robby – thanks for the link; i’ll check it out.errorista – you’ve seen your fair share of this kind of badly-translated-japanese, no?nikared – no cheat codes as far as i know, but you may want to check with the_Cosh, who seems to have the ability to reach unbelievable scores.

  20. Comment by Glen | 12.6.2005 | 1:27 am

    Cool game – much cooler than the games I used to try and code for my Sinclair ZX Spectrum (anyone remember them ?) At first i couldn’t figure out why the snoman was bobin’ up and down…until I got seasick, queasy and then melted….doh !

  21. Comment by Fat Cyclist | 12.6.2005 | 1:31 am

    scotxc – i didn’t have a sinclair, though i thought it was cool how compact they were. i started on an hp85 (BASIC), a friend’s trs-80 (more BASIC), and an apple ii+ (BASIC and PASCAL). i still have the hp85 (my first computer). i’d love to have a trs-80, just for nostalgia.

  22. Comment by Unknown | 12.6.2005 | 1:54 am

    Dearest Fatty, UR 6 t0tl N003. Respectfully, and Ever Your Servant, a7 ma^1^a

  23. Comment by Big Guy on a Bicycle | 12.6.2005 | 2:14 am

    Wow, I’ve played twice and gotten better every time. I’ll have to drain the water from my monitor before I try again.I thought Simeoni was the enemy? On second thought, he makes a pretty weak enemy for Lance-y boy. He’s only quasi-evil. He’s the Diet Coke of evil. Just one calorie – not quite evil enough. Maybe if he had a frickin laser-beam attached to his frickin head?

  24. Comment by Tom Stormcrowe | 12.6.2005 | 2:20 am

    Hey fatty! Check out the new space here……note the new URL attached to this post!

  25. Comment by Unknown | 12.6.2005 | 3:29 am

    Heyyyyy… my first home computer was a Timex Sinclair! I was working with a Digital mainframe at work at the time. 2k of ram… can you imagine EVER using that up?I’m already a huge fan of your son, and so is my little grandboy. I’m going to go and practice on the game while he’s out with his mom and then I can be #1 for a while… until , oh, maybe even two or three minutes after he gets home.Thanks for all the great entertainment!Can’t wait for the screenplay. "Axle Man" has a nice ring to it and it would also lend itself nicely to parody, dontchathink?I saw an interesting commercial with a car and a cyclist but I hmmmphed it at the end because the cyclist put his foot down at the stop sign. Obviously just some lame actor.Hugs,MuMo

  26. Comment by Unknown | 12.6.2005 | 3:36 am

    My score, I’m ashamed to admit, was a dismal 6800. I could not stop laughing because that dang snowman seemed to be breathing about the same as I do! All times my snowman melt! Cry me! (Shake fist at wicked clever child!)

  27. Comment by Conejita | 12.6.2005 | 3:39 am

    107,700 points!!!! Take that The_Cosh (This is of course meant as playful banter)!!!!!!!!!!!!

  28. Comment by Unknown | 12.6.2005 | 3:54 am

    Fat: I think we need to sex it up at bit. Some thoughtsThe Jan Ullrich character: I see Rutger Hauer from Bladerunner. Now, Hauer might be getting a little long in tooth but he still has that sense of menace about him.I think something in the plot about Lance’s first love, the mother of his darling children being killed by the evil Ullrich. Lance, stricken by a killer illness that leaves him weak and near death himself, vows revenge. Hauer/Ullrich sneers and laughs: You puny, weak, American fool! I crush you! HaHaHa!"Lance, of course, recovers and, in a climactic scene, confronts Hauer/Ullrich mano a mano in a high speed descent from the Alpes D’Huez (or however those garlic eaters smell, I mean SPELL it, HaHaHa!). Gunfire is exchanged. Lance shoots out Hauer/Ullrich’s tires (I see product placement for the gun AND the tires). Hauer/Ullrich crashes in a fiery explosion. Lance glances over his shoulder at the fireball and quickcut to a victorious finish in Paris on the big wide street. But, the victory is bittersweet. His best friend, his sidekick, Hincapie, didn’t make it. Close up of Lance, think Paul Newman in Hombre (Hey Hombre!). He turns to Ms. Crowe.Music (where’s the guy from the Eastwood westerns?), credits and out.Got to get rid of the cycling gear, though. I mean, who doesn’t look like a goof wearing – what are those, BIBS? Oh man.Helpfully,ellrod

  29. Comment by BIg Mike In Oz | 12.6.2005 | 4:02 am

    Surely the movie must be called "American Flyers 2: The Armstrong Chapter". Kevin Costner can put in a cameo as Lance’s dad asking for money from his estranged son.I’m heading over to junior fatty’s gamers heaven to spend the rest of my life. I thought I was over my video game addiction when I got 98 seconds on advanced minesweeper but I’ll have to go back for more hypnotherapy in the new year.Ellrod – If Rutger Hauer is playing Jan, Kevin Costner could take the lead as Lance.

  30. Comment by Shadow | 12.6.2005 | 4:14 am

    Conejita: 100,000?! AAAAARRRRGGLBLBLBLBL! You guys are amazing, seriously! I tried editing the game to not lose lives, and at 100,000. I, nor my dad, could even react to the speed. Jibble-eh.Musemonkey: That’s okay. You just need practice. If you wanna get to the high scores, then you needa lotta practice. More practice than is not uncanny. I hope that last statement was not too confusing.

  31. Comment by Unknown | 12.6.2005 | 4:15 am

    What a great game, who needs another movie when we have a game this. I’m not going to bed until I get above 4000, I may never sleep again.

  32. Comment by Unknown | 12.6.2005 | 4:17 am

    Big Mike – Look, either it Kevin Costner playing Lance’s Dad and trying to hit him up for some dough (but, look, something screams Terms of Endearment about that, don’t you think? Although Shirly McLean playing one of Lance’s lost testicles has a certain snap to it) or Lance himself, although KC has a certain over the top Roberto Benigni kind of thing when compared to the real Lance Armstrong, don’t you think? Although KC is a ACTOR and he must be able to tone it down. Or we could fill his head with Botox. Workin’ on it, Big Mike,workin’ on it. Dances with wolves, wolves chasing and pulling down Ivan Basso and tearing the body apart in a bloody feeding frenzy. Lance victorious! Lance howls at the moon! Owwooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!e

  33. Comment by Unknown | 12.6.2005 | 4:25 am

    Can I get some sympathy for a sec? If Shadow Scythe were YOUR nephew, what would you get him for Christmas? See? Impossible.My nephew not human. My nephew most powerful brain.My nephew ruin best holiday shopping plan.

  34. Comment by tayfuryagci | 12.6.2005 | 7:03 am

    Does anybody here -even in the smallest amount possible- like Lance-Dude?

  35. Comment by pete | 12.6.2005 | 11:39 am

    Conejita – Oh, IT’S ON now, dude! ;-0 (GAH! 400 short…)Fatty/Scythe – As you will now have seen, the animation as still fine at that speed, but you don’t have so much time to look at it. Really, once you get past about 90,000 you just have to let go of your conscious self and use the force.Tayfur – H’mm. I certainly don’t "like" Lance: he does not come across as a very nice or likable person. Conversely, it’s impossible not to admire his athletic achievements, irrespective of what else you think of him. Irrelevantly, my cycling hero has always been Greg Lemond.

  36. Comment by Unknown | 12.6.2005 | 2:04 pm

    Fatty, Lance DID say he was going to help find a cure for cancer on the Barbara Walters Special the other night. It was as boring as him announcing his retirement [or him winning another Tour de France]. Trust me, nothing short of him a) being gunned down or b) gunning down someone himself, will save this movie. And I say you keep the "pesky first wife incident" in the movie. What’s a good celebrity autobiographical movie without a little domestic disturbance. Right, Tina? Even if you have to make it up. Much more interesting. Much.

  37. Comment by Unknown | 12.6.2005 | 2:16 pm

    How do you like anybody you don’t really know personally? I like Lance as much as I can within that framework. I’m sure he’s a real jerk to deal with a lot of the time, a real Type A jerk. But I admire the massive amount of charity work he does, it’s no mere publicity campaign, and I know he does a lot of good things, quietly, for the sport. He takes particular interest in young riders. His accomplishments are without parallel, though it’s pretty clear he has feet of clay. It’s hard to say how much of his jerkiness – the lawsuit threats, the complaints in the press – is high strung pro riders and trainers being really catty, or legit jerkiness. I am a Type A jerk, I work with a lot of Type A jerks, and a lot of my friends are Type A jerks. So it doesn’t bother me if people I like act like jerks sometimes, as long as they don’t cross some lines that I think are inviolable. Lance has certainly been a jerk at times, but then he’s also been a real prince at times, along with being the greatest rider in the history of the greatest race. Fully human, in other words. I like that, or at least don’t dislike that. As for accomplished guys around biking I "like like," I’d love to have a beer with Andy Hampsten or Bob Roll. They have an exuberance about bikes and life that is flaky enough to be actually likeable and maybe they are even fun to be around. Hampsten’s win in the Giro, nailed down in an outrageous climb and descent in a blizzard, was so epic that it’s up there with Schilling’s stapled ankle game for the Sox, the Immaculate Reception, and Willis Reed’s limping out onto the court. Bobke might even be my cycling hero… he got paid to ride and be a goofball, and now gets paid to hang out, drink nice wine, insult the French and toss off non-sequiturs and be a goofball? Man, that’s a good life. He’s probably fun at parties too, providing he keeps his clothes on. I’m sure somebody around here knows him and could comment…

  38. Comment by Fat Cyclist | 12.6.2005 | 3:13 pm

    i like lance. i admire him, too. but i always root for ullrich.

  39. Comment by Zed | 12.6.2005 | 3:53 pm

    Ummm … forgiveness, Tayfur, but I like Lance. Granted, I haven’t met him personally yet, either. I probably never will. But his personality has a lot of the same flaws mine does, even if he has more money to show for it. I don’t think of him as a role model or anything, but I certainly find him interesting to read about.

  40. Comment by Unknown | 12.6.2005 | 4:33 pm

    I liked Lance, now I am sick of him and Sheryl on Oprah, On the NFL on SNL, I am not bitter,um maybe i am. I am grateful for what he has done for the sport and for cancer research. I think the only thing he could do that would make me happy is show up at Norba Nationals for the next couple of years and race, maybe Mtn Biking would rise from the ashes then. But really, his foundation sent a Cease and Desist order to Skidstrong an organization whose sole purpose was to help out of luck, injured Bike messengers. I mean, how the heck are they going to hurt the image of the LAF?I won’t even get into doping, I am convinced they all do it. They are all guilty, but I would be to if it meant a few years of million dollar contracts, ban me for 2 years, who cares, as Chapelle says… I’m Rich B………!

  41. Comment by tayfuryagci | 12.6.2005 | 6:29 pm

    you have to respect someone with his achievements but you have to root for ullrich. :D (I’m kidding please don’t torch me as they do on jap sites.) (I just love comebacks but it doesnt seem possible anymore.)torching, flaming, bumping his thread, sageing his thread… gotta lay off the japanese.

  42. Comment by tayfuryagci | 12.6.2005 | 6:29 pm

    you have to respect someone with his achievements but you have to root for ullrich. :D (I’m kidding please don’t torch me as they do on jap sites.) (I just love comebacks but it doesnt seem possible anymore.)torching, flaming, bumping his thread, sageing his thread… gotta lay off the japanese.

  43. Comment by tayfuryagci | 12.6.2005 | 6:30 pm

    dough! double post! blast you locas service provider blast you!

  44. Comment by Unknown | 12.7.2005 | 5:00 am

    Your son is only 12? Wow, I am both amazed and angry (kids aren’t supposed to be that smart so early!) … Congrats. The last time these two emotions were experienced at the same time was when I discovered there was no Santa.


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