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Word had it that he’d been making the public-appearance rounds and setting his sights on 2010.
He has Dallas roots and a ranch in Dripping Springs.
An additional 8 to 10 golf-ball-size tumors were found in his lungs. Seeking the best specialists, some of whom happened to be at Indiana University Medical Center, he underwent a round of B. Once a year, now, he does blood tests, his levels normal, though the fears of remission always persist. “Back in ’96,” Armstrong likes to joke, “I was really, really pregnant! And as I listened I gathered that he had two main hurdles in this wild new race—beyond his physical prowess, his age, his health. Second, two words would now dominate his vocabulary: “transparency” and “authenticity.” Nobody would be able to call him a “doper” this time around, no matter how circumstantial or bogus the evidence.
”As I listened to him, my chief worry was that Armstrong’s cancer had returned. Perhaps he wanted me to be his Boswell, to document his fight going forward. Even in the 50-meter event [freestyle], the 41-year-old mother proved you can do it. First, he couldn’t just cruise up to the starting line; he would need the approval of the Amaury Sport Organisation (A. Like Carlos Sastre, who won the Tour this past July, Armstrong assured me that he would do whatever it took to become a contender—random blood samples and parameter readings—to prove he was a clean rider.
Especially when the item was picked up by the newswires and the blogs.“It’s where my kids roll around in the grass,” he told me, “and swim in their pools and throw their footballs and kick their soccer balls.” (His ex-wife, Kristin Armstrong, with whom he has remained quite close since their 2003 divorce, lives only a few miles away, so he spends a lot of time with their children, eight-year-old Luke, and Grace and Bella, their six-year-old twins.
Armstrong’s actually one of the best hands-on fathers I’ve ever met.) He told me he considered the photo and the article “an invasion.
While dining at Chef Melba’s in Hermosa Beach, California, Armstrong heard an obnoxious voice, with a thick New Jersey accent, coming from the table behind him: “Hey, kid, what are you gonna do for work this summa?! Furthermore, the editors had consistently promoted his Austin-based anti-cancer efforts, in glowing fashion, for more than a decade; it was best to cut them slack.
I knew a bit of his history as an advocate for others who shared the disease. Over time, he understood that survivors were sometimes too afraid, psychologically, to talk about cancer, let alone spread the word. But there’s no evidence to support that when you’re 38 you’re any slower than when you were 32.“Ultimately, I’m the guy that gets up. But when I’m going, when I’m on the bike—I feel just as good as I did before.”I wasn’t totally buying it. Every morning, Armstrong explained, he was up at training: riding his bike through the Hill Country, lifting weights, sizing up the European competition, jogging for ungodly miles around Lady Bird Lake.
So, in 2003, he created Live Strong, in effect an anti-cancer brand, designed to raise public awareness, largely through a Web site that could act as a gathering place for fellow survivors. I asked him, rather ungraciously, if he wasn’t too old to get back into shape that quickly. “Are you really 100 percent going to race in the Tour de France? He had hired former pro triathlete Peter Park—a Santa Barbara strength and conditioning coach who owns two California gyms—to whip him into shape.
Within a decade Armstrong had helped raise 5 million, his organization hosting bike-race fund-raisers across the country, creating survivorship programs, posting medical resource guides online. You know, little kids see Hillary Duff, and she has a whole arm full of them, and next thing you know teenagers start wearing them.” (That year John Kerry, a prostate-cancer survivor, wore one on the campaign trail. F., that my eyes bulged into saucers, like some boinged-out character in a Ralph Steadman illustration.) As the news sank in, though, I realized he was deadly serious. His main cycling coach of nearly 20 years, Chris Carmichael, had now picked up the pace.
Occasionally we bump into each other around town and talk about politics. So when he invited me to dinner in mid-August—at my instigation—my plan was to discuss the Olympics and his future in Texas politics.
Armstrong insisted he had something important he wanted to tell me in confidence.
He’s created a home that is immense and fluid, with beautiful dark woods and shades of maroon. ’ He’s like, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah.’ It was fucking crazy. I told him about how much [his paintings] have meant to me.”We moved out to the back terrace, overlooking the surrounding grounds, the gardens, a designer pool nearby.