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The basic story here is awfully familiar : healthy, cocky, young athlete is stricken with cancer and faces a fight for his life.  But what's truly remarkable is how differently the story ends than those we've become used to over the years.  Just thirty years ago, in Brian's Song, the story revolved around the courage and grace with which Brian Piccolo, a 26 year old football player for the Chicago Bears, struggled against certain doom, and how he touched the lives of those around him.  Today, not only did Lance Armstrong survive testicular cancer--the same cancer that killed Piccolo--he was actually able to return to championship bike racing and win that Tour de France thing. Nor is this a rarity, there are numerous other pro athletes who have survived cancer and returned to compete at a level at least equal to where they were prior to their illness.  In fact, it is almost tempting to become blasé about such stories.

So the great service that Armstrong provides here is to detail just how frightening it still is to face such a disease, no matter the survival rate.  In particular, the rather gory detail he goes into about the manifestations of the cancer, and the treatment process, serves as a helpful reminder of the psychological, as well as physical, costs that survivors pay even as they return to health.  Modern medicine is capable of some amazing things, but it still requires a healthy dose of the human spirit to overcome illness.  Lance Armstrong is nothing if not spirited.

The book may not turn you into a cycling fan--it didn't me.  But it will more than likely get you to root for Lance Armstrong, and the other brave folks who have fought back, successfully, against cancer.


Grade: (B)


See also:

Sports (General)
Book-related and General Links:
    -Lance Armstrong On-Line!
    -EXCERPT : Chapter One of It's Not About the Bike
    -EXCERPT : It's Not About the Bike
    -INTERVIEW : with Lance Armstrong (Cycling News, December 15, 1997)
    -INTERVIEW : Lance Armstrong:  facing cancer, fatherhood, and the future (Book Page)
    -INTERVIEW :'s  Laura Okmin spoke with Armstrong who was in Monte Carlo, Monaco near his home in Nice, France (CNN/SI, July 2000)
    -PROFILE : Lance Armstrong's Tour de Force (Bill Shepler, In a Positive Light)
    -Lance Armstrong (
    -ESSAY : Triumph of the cure : Lance Armstrong beat testicular cancer and then won the Tour de France. Was it a miracle or is he a poster boy for the power of modern medicine? (Arthur Allen, July 1999, Salon)
    -ESSAY : Backpedaling : Armstrong's threat only adds to suspicion (E. M. Swift, December 14, 2000, Sports Illustrated)
    -ESSAY : Tour d'Amerique : Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong used a triumphant whirlwind return to the U.S. to peddle a message of hope (Leigh Montville, August 9, 1999, Sports Illustrated)
    -ESSAY : Of Lance We Sing (Outside Magazine, May 2000)
    -ESSAY : Surviving Cancer (American Fitness, Sept, 2000)
    -DISCUSSION QUESTIONS : It's Not About the Bike by Lance Armstrong   Discussion Questions (Blue Ridge Community College)
    -LINKS :  Sports > Cycling > Racing > Cyclists > Lance Armstrong (Google)
    -ARCHIVES : "Lance Armstrong" (Find Articles)
    -ARCHIVES : "Lance Armstrong" (Mag Portal)
    -REVIEW : of It's Not About the Bike ( Janice A. Farringer, January Magazine)
    -REVIEW : of It's Not About the Bike (SHELTON CLARK, Book Page)
    -REVIEW : of It's Not About the Bike (Elliott Vanskike, Sports Jones)
    -REVIEW : of It's Not About the Bike (Claire Martin, Denver Post)
    -AWARD : It's about the book : Literary Lance wins British book prize : William Hill Sports Book of the Year award (CNN/SI, November 28, 2000)

    -Cycling News
    -CNN/SI Cycling
    -Bicycling Magazine
    -Tour de France
    -LINKS : Lance Armstong Online Cycling Links