Day: June 24, 2009

My Journey Back to Life
by Lance Armstrong
and Sally Jenkins

All I knew about Lance Armstrong before I read this book was that he was famous, and he won that grueling cycling race, the Tour de France. I picked it up out of idle curiosity at a book sale. Like the title aptly says, it\’s not just about cycling. The beginning of the book describes Armstrong\’s childhood, how he got interested in bicycles, and his intense involvement with the sport from an early age. I knew very little about bicycle racing before, so all the little details were fascinating. I had no idea it got so technical- during training he would spend hours hooked up to computers, doing performance tests to adjust his position on a bike by the slightest increments, to find the position that used his body\’s energy most efficiently. Even when in the middle of a race the athletes had monitors hooked up to their bodies, radios in their ears. Here was a man whose entire occupation was about strength, endurance, and pushing his body to its limits. To go from all this to deathly illness in a matter of weeks. As I\’m sure a lot of you know (but I didn\’t), Armstrong was suddenly diagnosed with very aggressive cancer- in the testicles, lungs and brain. For a year he battled for his life, against the worst odds. He made an amazing recovery, and discusses in depth the experience of surviving cancer, both physical and psychological. When he tried to get back into the sport, he was dismayed to find that no one wanted him on their team- and then when he found a sponsor and got into racing, many publicly doubted that he could make a comeback. He proved them all wrong, in a blistering win that practically made him an American hero.

It\’s Not About the Bike is a well-written, engaging, and inspirational book. There were a few times when it got dull- the chapter about his creating a foundation for cancer patients was kind of boring to read about, I\’m embarrassed to say. And the epilogue, about his second win of the Tour de France (he went on to win it seven times in a row) was just too densely packed with details of the race and people involved, my eyes started glazing over. But overall a good read. An amazing story. My husband kept raining on this book, though. Every time he saw me reading it he scoffed, and pointed out the allegations against Armstrong, especially for performance-enhancing drug use, which were denied in the book. Having these negatives brought to my attention spoiled my enjoyment of the book somewhat. I feel like Armstrong was honest about his faults- he could be really aggressive and cocky, for example- but I guess you never know, when reading someone\’s autobiography, exactly how much is true or what\’s left out. In this case, I\’d like to believe the author.

This one I read for the Non-Fiction Five Challenge.

Rating: 3/5                     289 pages, 2000

More opinions at:
Ramblings of a Bibliophile
Clearly Confused
Reading Railroad
By a Hopeless Bookaholic

New words that I have found in my reading this week, from Almost Perfect:

Brux– \”He\’s bruxing. That\’s the noise a rat makes when it\’s really happy.\”
Definition: grinding the teeth

and from It\’s Not About the Bike:

Peloton– \”The spectator rarely sees the technical side of cycling, but behind the gorgeous rainbow blur of the peloton is the more boring reality that road racing is a carefully calibrated thing…\”
Definition: the main group of riders in a cycling road race

Velodrome– \”We went into a velodrome to look at my position on the bike and determine where I was loosing power.
Definition: an indoor arena with a banked track for bicycle races

Collate– \”That first week my mother picked up all of my prescriptions, collated my medical records, scoured bookstores for cancer material, and organized my schedule.\”
Definition: to gather or arrange pages into a proper sequence

for more wondrous words, visit Bermudaonion\’s Weblog!

DISCLAIMER:

All books reviewed on this site are owned by me, or borrowed from the public library. Exceptions are a very occasional review copy sent to me by a publisher or author, as noted. Receiving a book does not influence my opinion or evaluation of it

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