Lance Armstrong: Of Lance We Sing

Lance Armstrong     Photo: Shannon McIntyre

It's not easy to add up all the ways in which Lance Armstrong has earned the title of American hero.

First he was the fiery phenom, a brilliant athlete on the brink of greatness. Then he showed us the vulnerable, terrified, but always valiant young man who barefisted the cancer that nearly killed him. And then he became the determined comeback artist, reasserting himself step by step. Finally, in a rush of glory, he was the triumphant winner of the 1999 Tour de France; husband, father, and mature champion—a man now "leaner in body and more balanced in spirit," as he puts it.

To which we would submit one more thought: A world that gives us Lance Armstrong is a world where it's a lot more fun to ride a bike.

In the following pages, Armstrong and his coach, Chris Carmichael, reveal the surprising fitness strategy that got Lance ready for last year's Tour—a plan that can put you at the head of the pack, too. After that, we celebrate the distinctive regional styles of bicycling in the U.S.A., and offer an array of bike reviews sure to make your head and pedals spin. All of this is inspired by the resolute Texan's shining example.

In his forthcoming autobiography, It's Not About the Bike, Armstrong tells of receiving a visit from a worried friend on the eve of the penultimate stage of the 1999 Tour, a crash-prone time trial. Armstrong's friend advised him to go easy, not to gamble his lead by pushing too hard.

The soon-to-be-champion was having none of it.

"I'm going to kick ass," he replied. "I'm giving it everything. I'm going to put my signature on this Tour."

And so he did.

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