What's Cool In Road Cycling

Lance Impresses At Cancer Fundraiser

Lance Armstrong spoke at a cancer foundation fundraiser last Friday night in Calgary, Alberta. Geoffrey Mar was one of 1300 who paid $350.00 a plate, while another 800 were turned away. Talking about the biggest battle of his life, Lance was passionate, sincere, and indeed the real deal…

– Reported by Geoffrey A. Mar – Like many of the 1,300 others in attendance I had been drawn to a fundraising dinner, held yesterday in Calgary on behalf of the Alberta Cancer Foundation, by the myth that is Lance Armstrong. The guest list included a seemingly incongruous mixture of Calgary’s power elite,roadies, medical practitioners, cancer survivors and the usual hoi polloi present to be seen at large Calgary fundraisers. The common thread for many was the opportunity to see and hear from the celebrated athlete and cancer survivor first hand.

Clearly at ease before the single largest fundraising crowd in the city’s history, Lance quipped about the Calgary weather and the sight of the snow from the airplane window, endearing himself even more to his already attentive audience. Electing to remove his jacket, wearing a simple blue and white checked shirt with no trappings of his remarkable success visible but for a stainless steel tank watch, Lance proceeded to candidly discuss, without notes, his personal battle with cancer.

The one thing that immediately stands out from seeing and hearing the man in-person is the absolute conviction and sincerity with which he delivers his message. For any who might have thought that the man is too good to be true, 1,300 Calgarians can unequivocally state that he is the real McCoy.

Lance’s clear message, that cancer can be beaten, fairly drips with the famous single- mindedness and determination with which he plies his trade today. Goal-oriented even in his battle with cancer, he relates how each blood marker test and x-ray became a signpost on his road to recovery. Throughout his presentation, a major theme is the role that the bike for him in his recovery. It was the bike, and his love for riding and racing, that provided him his ability to connect with the rest of the world and maintained his passion for living. Despite the title of his first book, one gets the distinct impression that, for Lance, it was very much about the bike – that his passion for the bike became a metaphor for his passion for life.

Lance is frank about the ease of his first four Tour victories. Relating an earlier conversation that evening with the racing-great Steve Bauer, whom he calls “Boo”, the previous four Tour successes were “blow-out rides” – but not the centenary edition. His difficulties throughout the 2003 Tour are well known. He compared reading daily reports by the global media (following the time trial at Gaillac to Cap’ Dйcouverte stating that he was not the same Lance, that his Tour was over and that Ulrich would be victorious after the final time trial to Nantes) to being told by some that he would not survive the cancer that had infected him years ago. His response to all on the road to Luz Ardiden will go down in the annals of sporting history.

On the penultimate day before the formal presentation of the route for the Giro d’Italia and subsequent to the unveiling of a favourable route for the Tour in 2004 for Lance, he spoke of his sporting future. The clear determination with which Lance expressed his desire never to be in a weak position like the 2003 Tour again, coupled with his comments about ‘…riding for free in 3 or 4 years’, should give the pretenders to his throne something to think about in the off-season.

Geoffrey A. Mar

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