Monday, November 30, 2009

So I Met Lance Armstrong

The best book I've read this year was Lance Armstrong's 'It's Not About The Bike'. It was Lance's first book (released several years ago), which details his battle with cancer, recovery, and his first Tour de France victory.

This summer, I got into cycling and triathlons quite a bit - which happened to coincide with the 2009 Tour de France. The 2009 version saw Lance emerge from retirement and finish a very respectable 3rd place - after a 4 year retirement at 37 years of age. I followed the Tour daily, read Lance's book, and have continued to follow his career and training pretty closely.

During the year of training for his comeback, Lance had a photographer document the entire process - which they have compiled into his newest book, Comeback 2.0. Tonight, in Northern New Jersey, Lance had a book signing - and I decided I'd turn out.

The signing was held at a fairly small book shop called Bookends, and when I arrived there were probably 200 people already in line. However, they seemed to be moving through the line pretty quickly, and within a half hour I was speaking with Juan Pelota himself. We'll get back to that.

This actually wasn't the first time I'd been up close with Lance. About 5 years ago I was in Austin Texas on a business trip, and at a certain point during dinner with some colleagues, I looked over to see Lance sitting at the table next to me. I don't recall much about the encounter; other than nobody at my table besides me seemed to recognize him, and he had very distinct eyes (no homo).

Back to this evening. They kept the line moving pretty quickly, so there wasn't really time for handshakes and photos. However, I had about 10 seconds with him as he signed my copy of the book. I thanked him for coming out, and said I was happy to meet him. He said, 'You bet. Glad to meet you.' When great athletes come face to face, it's rare to have anything beyond striaght-forward conversation. It's almost like we both recognized the epic greatness in each other, and little else needed to be spoken.

Here's his autograph in the book. It says 'Lance Armstrong 7' - for his seven Tour victories.

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