...so what's it like to ride with a sports legend, a hero? Do you play golf, what would it be like to play a round with Tiger Woods? uh huh that's what it was like except there was more, so much more...See the thing about Lance Armstrong is he IS that rarest of people/celebrity who not only inspires but can transform a person's life through hope (in the active sense of that word). Before I get too far here I am not saying my life was transformed per se' but I know someone who was! (if you missed part 1 of my story you can read it here first)
The first thing people ask me about meeting Lance, were you nervous? (curiously I must say not a bit) which is weird for me because I thought for weeks about what would/should/should not say, what would I ask him? I even thought of asking him about Bono and about a lunch they shared in France -- love to have been a fly (are there even flies in France?) on that wall listening to those (cause hall of famers) but I digress.
The next thing people ask is, what did you talk about? The day we rode I was wearing three photo buttons one of my cousin Dale (Hoss) Lewis, one of Ellie Potvin and one of Brandon Elam ~ cancer took Brandon & Dale atrociously early in life and seven year old Ellie is in the battle of her young life. I knew Lance had met Brandon so I started talking about him -- right away Lance remembered and we talked about how Spencer Lueders while on stage with Lance in front of thousands turned around and
presented his LiveStrong national fundraiser award to Brandon. I came to know Brandon and his parents Scott and Anita about a year before he died and I know how much Lance's friendship meant to him, it's not a stretch to say outside his family, Spencer and a few close friends Lance meant everything to Brandon - transformation, check! I know too that Brandon was smiling on me as I rode with Lance in my pink spandex which gave Brandon (and Lance) the biggest kick!
I talked about Ellie's story and Dale my inspiration for Buttons of Hope -- I think Lance got the button thing -- just in case I gave him one with a picture of him and Brandon and one of Ellie.
- Why is Lance the only human who looks good in a bike helmet?
- Riding knowing in a instant he could be a mile up the road before I could....well you know
- He looked "tour ready" to me
- As a bonus got to meet and ride with world class cyclist Davis Phinney who was just about the nicest man you can meet and his incredibly tall LiveStrong junior cyclist son Taylor Phinney
- The top fundraiser Zang Toi designs the clothes in NY, rides in a kilt and that is just perfect!
- Given the chance Lance quickly and politely declined my "setting him up" with pink Mojo gear!
- A couple of deserving kids road too and Lance gave them time like he would for the President
- I have never seen a person more natural speaking to a crowd or one on one
I know it sounds like a lovefest and that's because it was -- I can be a pretty cynical guy sometimes but really the weekend was perfect. I met some amazing LiveStrong fundrasier/advocates, some heroic survivors, the LiveStrong staff who are unsurpassed in what they do and more importantly how they do it! Austin is a bit weird, wild and fun -- I enjoyed it with the group from 24 Hours of Booty who are reinventing the charity fundrasier (we need more of this). Special thanks to Spencer, Betty Otter-Nickerson (LAF),Natalie Seeboth (LAF) especially Ellie, Brandon, Dale and of course Lance -- you do walk ride the talk and it makes all the difference!
And BIG thank you to Liz Kreutz for the fantastic photos -- she is the PRO!
and it wasn't all me --my wife Rhonda got to meet and greet and then proceeded to drop me a like a bag of dead armadillos over 60 miles of the Texas "hill country" on Sunday! Thanks honey!