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Rush Limbaugh has his . . . well, here is mine. This is my record of news stories and issues that interest me. You can also find more headlines at the site where I serve as editor: The Common Voice.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Two for The Greenville News

I didn't get to go out to Donaldson Center last night like I hoped. Plans were for me to meet some folks that I have met through Facebook and my The Greenville News cycling blog. Guess it will have to wait until next week.

The Greenville News had a neat article about the BJU Wellness Challenge yesterday. I ended up being quoted in it. Thanks, Mike, for a good piece and I hope it will be a challenge for other individuals and companies in the area to "step it up." Hey, and thanks to you Jim for introducing such a great program to campus!

I also published to my The Greenville News cycling blog my review of the book Lance Armstrong's War. In the interest of keeping it archived, I'm going to republish it here in this post.
Battle of the Books
September 8, 2007

Lance Armstrong is a hero.

Lance Armstrong is an egotistical jerk.

Lance Armstrong is the ultimate athlete.

Lance Armstrong is a cheating doper.

Lance Armstrong elicits different reactions based on who you talk to and what they believe about a man who is one of the most colorful sporting stories in history. In the last several years books have been written from these different perspectives. With all the doping going on in the ProTour, I decided to pick up some of these books to educate myself.

The most recent book I've gotten around to in this series is Lance Armstrong's War: One Man's Battle Against Fate, Fame, Love, Death, Scandal, and a Few Other Rivals on the Road to the Tour de France by Daniel Coyle. This book follows my more recent read, From Lance to Landis: Inside the American Doping Controversy at the Tour de France by "├╝ber troll*" David Walsh (read review here). These two books made for an interesting juxtaposition.

Coyle spends the first part of the book painting a picture of Armstrong and his friends/rivals. His description of Armstrong doesn't delve much into his childhood or his fight with cancer, but introduces us to him as he begins to prepare for the 2004 Tour de France. Most of that is in the form of flashbacks to previous years and how that motivated him for this particular Tour.

To be honest, having just read From Lance to Landis, I had a hard time getting into this portion of the book. I typically can knock out a book in no time. This one? Not so much. At times Coyle's style made me roll my eyes. He has a tendency to fall in love with his metaphors and descriptions.

However, by the time I moved into the second section where Lance actually starts participating in the 2004 Tour, I found it to be most engaging. To a degree the book became less about Lance and more about the race through his eyes. The writing style even seemed to improve - or maybe I just didn't notice it because I was too intrigued by the story.

I would definitely recommend the book to cycling fans - whether you like Lance or not. While I came into the book expecting it to be an Armstrong defense, I came away with a different perspective. Coyle actually does quite well at painting a picture of the man - with strengths and weaknesses. Sure, many of us hope for a book that handles the sticky questions of the doping allegations with a little more research. In his defense, that was not the intent of Coyle's book.

When I finished the book, I was left with the impression that Coyle had an amount of admiration for the man, but also a bitter taste in his mouth because of the experience. Perhaps I am projecting my own feelings on the writer. That is how his book left me. Lance Armstrong is strong in many ways, but he also has glaring weaknesses. There is much to admire about him, but in my mind, also much to pity.

Perhaps that is a testament to Coyle's fair treatment of the man. Depending on your views on Lance going into the reading, you will most likely come out without altering them. At least you will have more information on which to base your conclusions.

* A "troll" is one of Armstrong's enemies. In the world of Armstrong, you do not want to be a troll!
Right now I am reading a cycling book that I find much more enjoyable: Tour de Life the story of Saul Raisin. A review should follow in a week or so. It is hard to find time for recreational reading.

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