Tuesday, March 4, 2008

It's Not About the Bike

As you can probably tell, as of late I have been reading like a mad woman! It actually feels as though my life consists of work, running, reading, hanging with Sam and epsom baths! My latest read was Lance Armstrong's (with Sally Jenkins) It's Not About the Bike, My Journey Back to Life. It took me only the weekend to read through Armstrong's account of his life before and after cancer as an elite athlete. His narrative is genuine and unaffected. His story is motivational and inspiring.
In 1996, young cycling phenom Armstrong discovered he had testicular cancer. In 1999, he won the Tour de France. Now he's a grateful husband, a new fatherAand a memoirist: with pluck, humility and verve, this volume covers his early life, his rise through the endurance sport world and his medical difficulties. Cancer "was like being run off the road by a truck, and I've got the scars to prove it," Armstrong declares. Earlier scars, he explains, came from a stepfather he casts as unworthy; early rewards, from his hardworking mother and from the triathlons and national bike races Armstrong won as a Texas teen. "The real racing action was over in Europe": after covering that, Armstrong and Jenkins (Men Will Be Boys, with Pat Summit, etc.) ascend to the scarier challenges of diagnoses and surgeries. As he gets worse, then better, Armstrong describes the affections of his racing friends and of the professionals who cared for him. Armstrong is honest and delightful on his relationship to wife Kristin (Kik), and goes into surprising detail about the technology that let them have a child. The memoir concludes with Armstrong's French victory and the birth of their son. The book features a disarming and spotless prose style, one far above par for sports memoirs. Bicycle-racing fans will enjoy the troves of inside information and the accounts of competitions, but Armstrong has set his sights on a wider meaning and readership: "When I was sick I saw more beauty and triumph and truth in a single day than I ever did in a bike race."
I could not have read this book at a better time. While coming up to mile 6 in my half, I could not help but think of Lance Armstrong and everything he had to endure before winning the Tour de France. It definitely made me feel lighter on my feet and a new found strength from within.


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