Tyler Hamilton, the Olympic gold medalist who recently confessed to doping and accused Lance Armstrong of using performance-enhancing drugs, spent the weekend leading bike rides for Outside in Aspen, an annual summit we host. Last night, Hamilton went to dinner with friends at Cache Cache [pronounced cash cash], an Italian French restaurant that also happens to be one of Armstrong’s favorite Aspen hangouts. (Armstrong has a home here, but Hamilton thought the seven-time Tour de France winner was out of town.) During dinner, Hamilton left his table to go to the bathroom. As he walked out of the bathroom, an arm blocked his path. It was Armstrong. The two hadn’t spoken since Hamilton’s 60 Minutes appearance.
“He wanted to get into it,” Hamilton told me this morning. “I was like, ‘Let’s step outside and talk away from the crowd, but he wouldn’t. He said, ‘No one cares.’" Then, according to Hamilton, Armstrong began to berate him.
(Armstrong’s version of the encounter is a bit more tame: “I said, ‘Hey, what’s up?’” he says. “It was certainly awkward for both of us. It was truly uneventful.”)
Hamilton went back to his table and the restaurant’s owner, Jodi Larner, a good friend of Armstrong’s, told Hamilton that he could finish his meal but wasn’t welcome back at the restaurant. I was eating dinner at a restaurant next door from Hamilton along with a couple of other Outside editors and sales people and a group of Eddie Bauer athletes. As we walked out we passed Hamilton, who was shaken. And, despite the twittosphere’s hope for more details, that’s pretty much where the story ends: two guys who don’t feel very kindly toward one another ran into each other at a bar. “I was rattled,” Hamilton told me. “I still am.”
Today I rode up Independence Pass with Hamilton and a group of eight riders. Hamilton was gracious and patient with the last rider in our peloton (me), and seemed to be having a good time. He threw snowballs at his friends, cracked jokes and, during one break, played baseball with a stick and a rock. Then he and two other riders posed for a photo. The photographer asked them to say something funny. The men said, "Lance."^
^ This was changed from an earlier post. Originally we reported that Hamilton said "Lance" too. He disputes this.