It's Not About the Bike by Lance Armstrong
Harvey Frommer's Sports Book Review
IT'S NOT ABOUT THE BIKE - MY JOURNEY BACK TO LIFE by
Lance Armstrong with Sally Jenkins (G.P.Putnam's Sons, 275 pages,
$24.95) is one of the most remarkable books about sports and life that
has come along in a long while.
This book will move you.
It begins with these words: "I want to die at a
hundred years old with an American flag on my back and the star of Texas
on my helmet, after screaming down an Alpine descent on a bicycle at
seventy-five miles per hour. I want to cross one last finish line as my
stud wife and ten children applaud, and then I want to lie down in a field
of those famous French sunflowers and gracefully expire: the perfect
contradiction to my once anticipated poignant early demise."
Lance Armstrong by his senior year in high school was
already a professional triathlete and was training with the U.S. Olympic
cycling developmental team. And as most sports fans know, Lance Armstrong
was the number one cyclist in the world in 1996, when excruciating pain
put him down.
It was determined that he had testicular cancer and that
it had spread to his lungs and brain. There were doctors who predicted his
chances of survival as being very slim.
By taking the most aggressive kind of chemotherapy and
submitting to three major surgeries to get at tumors, Armstrong by 1997
was declared cancer-free. In 1999, the racer many called "The Golden
Boy of American Cycling" astonished the world by winning the Tour de
France and setting a new record for speed. What he did ranks among the
greatest comebacks in the history of sports. But it was more than that.
As Armstrong writes: "Illness is universal - we've
all been sick, no one is immune. Winning the Tour was a symbolic act,
proof that you can not only survive cancer but thrive after it."
IT'S NOT ABOUT THE BIKE is movingly written, with
inspirational accounts of coping, conquering and prevailing against all
odds. There are insights here into the world of a top-flight cyclist, but
more important than those are the insights into a man who was scarred
physically and emotionally and came to view his cancer as a "special
The book is truly as its sub-title declares - about
Lance Armstrong's journey back to life. In all, this is a remarkable
memoir filled with the kind of macho voice one would expect from a lanky
kid from Plano, Texas who was raised by a tough single parent. Lance's
voice and thoughts come through loud and clear. This is the best biography
of a cyclist I've ever read. It belongs in a special place on your
Bookends: THEY EARNED THEIR STRIPES (Sports Publishing,
Inc, 176 pages, $29.95) is a loving and lavish look at the Detroit Tigers
from the pages of the "Detroit News". For nearly a century,
1,300 players have worn the distinctive emblem of the Tigers. This book
celebrates a lot of them and many of the franchise's marvelous moments
through the decades.
# # #
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About the Author:
Harvey Frommer is in his 38th year of writing books.
A noted oral historian and sports journalist, the author of 42 sports
books including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and
"Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his acclaimed REMEMBERING YANKEE
STADIUM was published in 2008 and his REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK: AN ORAL
AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOME OF RED SOX NATION was published to
acclaim in 2011. The prolific Frommer is at work on When It Was
Just a Game, An Oral History on Super Bowel One.
His work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times,
Washington Post, New York Daily News, Newsday, USA Today, Men's Heath,
The Sporting News, among other publications.
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Frommer along with his wife, Myrna Katz Frommer are the authors of
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