By Matt Walthour
He beat cancer. What more can a person ask for in his life? You fight the hardest fight of your life and you come out on top, is there more you want? Is there more you can attain? Of course there is, I think it relies in that person’s desire, but from what I have read and seen I think it also becomes about living a renewed life, a real second chance. That person may have a feeling of “nothing can stop me now, if cancer didn’t get me what can? What is riding over 2500 miles in 3 weeks on a bicycle when you were at death’s door?”
I personally feel this is what drove Lance Armstrong to win a record 7 Tour de France championships, one of the most grueling events in all of sports. I think he felt that strong desire to keep living, to keep riding at a truly unprecedented level, like none other ever has, and quite possibly, none other ever will again. He also is pretty much an athletic freak. His heart is almost a third larger than that of an average man. During what seems like very rare moments when he is at rest, it beats about thirty-two times a minute—slowly enough that a doctor who may know nothing about him would call a hospital as soon as he heard it.When Armstrong is exerting himself, his heart rate can edge up above two hundred beats a minute.Could I be wrong that this is how he won so many races? Of course, but being a fan of the sport, a fan of Lance, reading many of his books and articles, this is what I have personally derived out of his journey to dominance.
Many people including ex- teammates have always thought it was performance enhancement drugs and until this very day and even into the future they always will. They have yet to prove that he has and they keep at it with a vengeance still trying to prove him wrong. Is it jealousy at this point or are they really that concerned about making the sport “clean”. During the height of his cycling career for those 7 years, Lance had been the most drug-tested athlete, about 200 times in fact. So lets just say that’s enough and leave him and his legacy at peace.
Well, either way I really enjoyed watching Lance win all those tours and races and win in many other races throughout his career. The highlight for me was watching him in person at the 2002 Tour de France. To be present on the Champs-Elysees in Paris on the last day of the tour, to watch the parade of people, cyclists and the eclectic sponsorship caravans and, of course, Lance Armstrong and his team cross the finish line was truly something to cherish for a lifetime. I guess it would compare to witnessing the Boston Red sox win their first world championship after well over 80 years.
Lance did retire once back in 2005 after winning his record seventh Tour de France, but came back in 2009 to try to win an even more unprecedented eighth tour, but came in only third, ONLY third, that was after 4 years off. As much as I enjoyed watching Lance ride, I sure hope he stays retired. I like to remember him as going out on top, but I guess with some athletes it’s hard to stay away from the “game”.
Like with any sports figure you enjoy watching in your life, you feel kind of sad when they retire. Its like you lost a friend someone you could always count on for some enjoyment or even motivation. I will miss watching Lance ride, watching him dominate like he did for so many years. But I know he will never retire from his ride with cancer. He fights that fight everyday; he seems to work tirelessly on his Lance Armstrong foundation (now called livestrong), a foundation he started in 1997 to help raise awareness for cancer, to date the foundation has raised well over $10,000,000.00. I believe that will leave more of an impact on this world than his unprecedented 7 tour victories. So let Lance ride off into retirement knowing what he actually did on the bike helped him do so much more in this world off the bike.