It’s Not About the Bike

Armstrong, Lance. It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life.New York: Berkley Books, 2001.

I read this in one sitting, again as a passenger on a trip from Maine. I had the luck (?) of traffic on my side so instead of the usual 4.5 hours to get home it took us over six.

I will be 100% honest. I don’t know what to think about this book. When I first finished it I was expecting some sort of lesson to be learned, some sort of moral to the story. Instead I found the ending as well, an ending. The end. I’m not sure why it wasn’t more for me. I guess it’s because in comparison with Matthew Long’s recovery back to athletics Long’s process was more drawn out, more detailed. I felt that Long’s experience was more painful and not as easy to cope with emotionally. I think that was due, in part, to how little time Armstrong spent describing his road to recovery. In comparison to Long, Armstrong made it a much simpler process with much less emotion. To be fair, one man was hit by a bus and another was hit by cancer in three different areas of his body. Only two similarities really rise between the two men. Both men were ordained by doctors to die and both had an insane willpower to defy all odds and, ultimately, get back to the sports they loved so much.

Everyone knows Lance Armstrong’s story – man with cancer defies the odds and wins the Tour de France a shocking seven consecutive times. But, as the title of Armstrong’s story suggests it’s not about the bike. Instead it is about a different kind of competition. Fighting cancer. Ultimately, as near death moments will do, cancer changed him. It woke him up to the possibilities of a fuller, more meaningful life. He never would have become a philanthropist without the experience of personal pain. It’s Not about the Bike is that journey from hotshot cyclist to a powerhouse with a greater purpose.

Favorite lines: “If there is a defining characteristic of a man as opposed to a boy, maybe it’s patience” (p 65). “During our lives we’re faced with so many different elements as well, we experience so many setbacks, and fight such hand-to-hand battle with failure, head down in the rain, just trying to stay upright and to have a little hope” (p 69). Finally, “We watched the World Series and tried to act like we were interested in the outcome – as much as anybody really cares about baseball before brain surgery” (p 110 – 111).

Author fact(s): Two of my favorite details about Armstrong as the person (and not the writer) is he is also a marathoner (three times) and allegedly agnostic.

BookLust Twist: From More Book Lust in the chapter called “Best for Teens” (p 23)

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