“Here's a guy who rides around on a bike all day long. To win, basically what he needs to do is go faster than everyone else and cross that finish line first.”
“I want to ride his bicycle!”
“I was so drugged up I could barely see. That's the only reason I went out with her.”
“I beat French people”
“I had a bike once, but someone stole the saddle. I didn't realise for three weeks.”
Lance Cleveland Manhands Armstrong III was born in Austin Texas in 1972. His father Chakademus was an Amish plumber, who was forbidden by his faith from using tools of any kind in his work, relying instead on his limbs and teeth to repair leaks and unblock toilets.
Lance accompanied his father on many evening and weekend calls, and remembers seeing his father "sunk to the (arm)pits in human-links in the bathrooms of swanky houses in uptown Austin." These experiences convinced the young Armstrong that he would not be subject to a similarly grinding working existence. He determined to see the world and leave his mark.
Introduction to cycling
Lance's first experience of cycling was at the age of 17 when he was forced onto two wheels by bullies at his high school. He had never ridden a bicycle prior to this due to a childhood fear of human-powered moving mechanical objects. His tormentors wished to exploit this phobia and see the cowering, tearful Armstrong flounder and fall. However, it became apparent from the first pedal stroke that Lance was a natural. He easily out-sprinted the would-be assailants and demonstrated remarkable bike-handling skills, popping wheelies and performing doughnuts with aplomb.
Lance's stock rose immeasurably after this event and he still refers to it as a pivotal moment in his young life.
"Afterwards guys would stop me in the hall at school to chew the fat or exchange high-fives. And the girls, who previously didn't know my name, started treating me nice. Two of them even blew me inside the vaulting horse during gym class."
Lance's talent on two wheels became quickly apparent to his teachers, and he was soon representing his school in prestigious regional bikes races. In his first two years of competing, Lance won nineteen of the twenty-one races he started - a Texas all-comers record to this day.
Lance graduated high school in 1990 and despite his inability to count to sixteen without taking his socks off, was accepted as a student at Yale University. He thrived at college, majoring in philosophy and pure mathematics, and in his sophomore year winning the prestigious Max Planck prize for the science major most likely to score and have friends. He also led the Yale Corinthians cycling team to victory in the annual Ivy Saddle Race three years in a row.
Lance turned professional in 1993, joining French team Pifpaf Zizi Fantastique. His ascent to the top of the professional ranks was spectacular. In his first year as a pro, he won the Tour de France, the Tour of Italy and the Fresno Wheelers' Hootenanny - the first time this triple crown had been achieved.
Subsequent seasons proved to be just as fruitful for the Texan. The high point of his success was in 1994 when along with winning just about every professional bike race he entered, he took bronze in the men's figure skating competition at the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer.
Cancer Diagnosis & Treatment
In 1995 Lance was diagnosed with cancer. He refused conventional treatment in spite of his doctors' grim prognosis, and chose instead to rely on a bizarre regime of positive role-play and imagery. His friend and coach Jim Ochowicz recalls at this time that Lance had a boxing ring installed in the garage of his Austin home where he would black-up, don boxing gloves, an afro-wig and beat up a cushion that had had the word "cancer" embroidered on it. When Armstrong felt the "cancer cushion" had taken enough punishment, he would stand over it in the manner of the young Ali goading Sonny Liston and repeatedly demand "What's my name?" Ochowicz claims Armstrong became very adept at aping Ali's voice. "If Lance hadn't clearly been a 77lb white man, you'd have sworn Ali was in the room."
Doctors were amazed when just eleven days after his initial diagnosis, Lance's cancer went into remission.
Post-cancer, Armstrong's physique was markedly different. He lost 50lbs in body weight and was 14 inches in height. This gave him an increased competitive edge in the high mountains of the major tours when power to weight ratio is paramount.
He won seven Tours de France in succession, and in 2005 became the first yellow jersey wearer to lap an opponent during the event.
He retired in 2005, having exhausted the French nation's patience absolutely.
Stuff that Lance did that I doubt you know about
- He can wield a mace with amazing accuracy.
- He once tried hunting, but decided that it was not "bicycly" enough for him.
- He is actually a transformer, but a really lame one, because he can only transform into a lame bicycle.
- To win his third Tour de France, he didn't use drugs, he just travelled forward in time to get to the finish line first.
- Russell Crowe declared that Lance Drugstrong is the shit. But the good kind, like Inna-Gadda-Da-Vida.
- Lance beat Neil to the moon.
- Martin Landau is one of Lance’s fathers