by Andy Hoffman, MilesFranklin.com:
I have been an avid cyclist for 30 years, with my first memories of riding going back to a lengthy paper route at age 12. Better yet, at age 15, I had a girlfriend in Massapequa (Long Island), several years after I had moved to Syosset. She lived 45 minutes away by bicycle, so when my parents couldn’t drive me, I did my best Lance Armstrong impression to get her house – on dozens of occasions. Lance Armstrong wasn’t Lance Armstrong yet, but I certainly possessed his fierce determination, and love of the road.
In many ways, Lance Armstrong represents all that’s good in mankind. He’s far from perfect, but his journey from a poor, broken home in Plano, Texas, to near death via testicular, lung, and brain cancer, to winning seven straight Tour de France titles, is nearly mythical. Moreover, he has not only become a GLOBAL diplomat for the sport, but a symbol of America’s greatness – at least, what’s left of it. Lance achieved his accomplishments with a rare grace and humility, using his fame to become one of the world’s great philanthropists, and – more importantly – inspirational leader for youths afflicted with the world’s most deadly disease.
In his 2000 book – It’s Not About the Bike – My Journey Back to Life – which I proudly display on my book shelf, Armstrong’s biographer writes of Armstrong’s extraordinary lung capacity, likely the primary source of his dominance. That and – oh yeah – the competitive fire of Joe Montana, Michael Jordan, and Tiger Woods, combined with the inner strength developed from winning a personal war with mortality…