It's Not About The Bike: My Journey Back to Life
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""I want to die at a hundred years old after screaming down an Alpine descent on a bicycle at 75 miles per hour. I don't do anything slow, not even breathe. I do everything at a fast cadence: eat fast, sleep fast."
At twenty-four, Lance Armstrong was already well on his way to becoming a sporting legend. Then, in October 1996, he was diagnosed with stage four testicular cancer - doctors gave him a 40% chance of survival. On that day Armstrong's life changed for ever and in typical fashion, he met the challenge head on - this was one fight he was determined not to lose.
As he battled against the cancer invading his body and the chemotherapy that threatened to sap his soul, he focussed on his training and drew strength from the people around him who never gave up. Just sixteen months after Armstrong was discharged from hospital, he entered the Tour de France, a race famed for its gruelling intensity. Just a few months after that, he became a father.
It's Not About the Bike is the story of one man's inspirational battle against the odds, charting his progress through triumph, tragedy and transformation.
It's Not About The Bike was first published in May 2000. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey in January 2013, Lance Armstrong admitted to having taken performance enhancing drugs in all seven of the Tours de France in which he competed between 1999 and 2005. He was officially stripped of these wins by the UCI, the world governing body for cycling, in 2012."
whole day, six and seven hours, in all kinds of weather and conditions, over cobblestones and gravel, in mud and wind and rain, and even hail, and you do not give in to pain. Everything hurts. Your back hurts, your feet hurt, your hands hurt, your neck hurts, your legs hurt, and of course, your butt hurts. So no, I didn’t pay attention to the fact that I didn’t feel well in 1996. When my right testicle became slightly swollen that winter, I told myself to live with it, because I assumed it was
that no American had ever conquered before. I finished second in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, a classic race of 167 miles in a single punishing day. And I won the Tour Du Pont, 1,225 miles over 12 days through the Carolina mountains. I added five more second-place finishes to those results, and I was about to break into the top five in the international rankings for the first time in my career. But cycling fans noted something odd when I won the Tour Du Pont: usually, when I won a race, I pumped my
back on the street, and get a job to support your golfing. Just tell me. “But if you’re not going to retire, then you need to stop eating and drinking like this and being a bum, and you need to figure it out, because you are deciding by not deciding, and that is so un-Lance. It is just not you. And I’m not quite sure who you are right now. I love you anyway, but you need to figure something out.” She wasn’t angry as she said it. She was just right: I didn’t really know what I was trying to
endurance sport for that matter. Inevitably, some teams and riders feel it’s like nuclear weapons—that they have to do it to stay competitive within the peloton. I never felt that way, and certainly after chemo the idea of putting anything foreign in my body was especially repulsive. Overall, I had extremely mixed feelings about the 1998 Tour: I sympathized with the riders caught in the firestorm, some of whom I knew well, but I also felt the Tour would be a more fair event from then on. I
past two years was with me. It was stacked up and stored away, everything I’d been through, the bout with cancer, and the disbelief within the sport that I could come back. It either made me faster or them slower, I don’t know which. As I continued to climb, I felt pain, but I felt exultation, too, at what I could do with my body. To race and suffer, that’s hard. But it’s not being laid out in a hospital bed with a catheter hanging out of your chest, platinum burning in your veins, throwing up