Posted by Jonathan Maus ( Publisher/Editor ) on September 25th, 2005 at 10:16 pm
The LiveStrong Ride with Lance Armstrong was on Sunday morning out at the Nike Campus. It was my first big bike event as “authorized media” and I made the most of it by hanging out with Lance all day. OK, OK, I’m just kidding. Actually it was quite the opposite. We were officially warned to not get closer than 12 feet from him or we would be banned from future Lance events. I’m not kidding. The PR person actually read this to us in an “official memo”. Isn’t that weird? But I guess that’s what happens when you’re bigger than the Pope and Michael Jackson combined. So, I’m sorry I didn’t get to ask any of your great questions.
Anyways, on to the report…
It was still dark when I got to the Nike Campus and made my way to the media briefing. After hob-nobbing with real journalists (like from the AP and stuff!) over coffee and bear claws, the Man of the Day showed up for a little talk. I was pleasantly surprised to hear him go on and on about the Portland bike scene:
“We decided to come to Portland because this is one of the greatest cycling communities in the world…just this morning I read a story in the local paper that was all about bikes and I didn’t know whether to be excited or jealous, because we have nowhere near all that (bike stuff) going on in Austin.”
The best part is when he said our bikey-ness should be, “modeled around the country.” And it just might be because that quote got into the AP story on the ride that is already popping up all over the country.
After the briefing, we checked out the opening festivities. I ran into a few friends and ogled Eddy Merckx and George Hincapie while Lance made a grand statement from high atop a bridge looking down into his sea of supporters. The morning sun rose behind Lance just as he read the LiveStrong manifesto. It was a powerful moment that reminded everyone what the ride was all about.
Once Lance took off with his group of “VIPs” we hopped into the media vans and drove to the first rest stop. We waited for Lance with cancer survivors that lined up with pom-poms and bright yellow shirts eager for his arrival. Anticipation grew as Lance’s group rode toward us…but he missed the turn into the line of survivors! Not missing a beat he calmly turned around and came back…only to continue down the road without stopping, leaving deflated pom-poms and hopes in his wake. We were all surprised that he didn’t stop. I felt horrible for the PR ladies running around with their Blackberries and radios trying to figure out what the heck was going on.
Turns out, he just didn’t feel like stopping. Oh well. So we hung out and talked with survivors and snapped photos as more and more riders filled the grassy lot, waited in the porta-potty line, and scarfed PBJs.
Luckily, about an hour or so later, Lance rolled in. People converged on him like locusts, snapping photos and leaving their coveted places in the potty-line without a second thought. Lance was all business. He shook a few hands, and was off again.
I did my best to snap some photos and talk to people. I met a guy named Brian Wilson who had a picture of his dad taped to his frame. Brian’s dad died of pancreatic cancer about a year ago today and rides like this, and the supportive LiveStrong community, have helped Brian deal with the loss.
Back at the start/finish line, I just missed Lance’s group rolling in. Not a big deal until I found out that my friend Dat Nguyen (Shift volunteer and active bike event organizer) was in the group! I couldn’t believe it (and neither could Dat). Once he got his breathing back under control and called a few friends on his cell phone, we rode to the MAX station and made our way back to town.
I took more photos of course. Check them out if you’d like.