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July 27, 2003

washingtonpost.com | Extra Ordinary In Ways Unseen

Sally Jenkins takes us beyond what Lance Armstrong has done to what does Lance Armstrong mean? Was his success, even in the face of cancer, predetermined by his genes, or is there something more at work?

She offers her perspective as an author who co-authored Lance Armstrong's books, It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life and the forthcoming Every Second Counts.

She compares Lance's stage win with the way he fought his cancer:

He fought like that on the climb up Luz-Ardiden to victory in the Pyrenees, after crashing last week. The thing you can't know about Lance on a climb, until you've seen him do it in person, is that the effort is so severe that his eyes become completely bloodshot from burst capillaries.

"Why do you do it?" I asked him once. "What's the pleasure in riding a bike up a mountain for six hours?"

"I don't understand the question," he said.

"Well, there has to be some pleasure in it," I said. "I mean, your back hurts, your neck hurts, your butt hurts. What's the payoff?"

"I still don't understand the question."

I went away baffled -- and convinced that unless I could get him to talk to me on the subject, I'd never understand him. After a couple of days of thought, I realized I'd been asking the entirely wrong question.

"You don't do it for the pleasure," I said. "You do it for the pain."

"That's exactly right," he said.

If you want to know to what extent Armstrong's success comes from being a mutant, and to what extent it results from pure will, check out this column.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 27, 2003 in Rider profiles | Permalink

Comments

Frank -- that last link to the Lance Mutant story is messed up... looks like it's incomplete.

Kepp up the excellent coverage -- you're my link to the tour while I'm off on the road! :-)

Posted by: Mike Rohde at Jul 28, 2003 7:56:54 AM

What is the purse (amont of money) Lance won for this race? Not including endorsements, just the race itself

Posted by: John at Aug 1, 2003 9:06:09 AM

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