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"Every Second Counts"

This is the second book I read in 2006 -- I was in the middle of two other books, but it was a quick read.

I was a little late to the Lance Armstrong autobiography party, and started with the second book instead of the first, but enjoyed Every Second Counts nonetheless.

From Armstrong's description of the unforgettable day on the 2003 Tour:

A flash of yellow caught my eye. A small kid was holding a yellow Tour souvenir bag, whipping it back and forth.

Uh-oh, I'm going to catch that thing, I thought.

Suddenly, the bag was tangled on the handle of my brake. I felt the bike jerk violently beneath me --

It flipped over sideways.

It was as though I had been garroted. I went straight down, and landed on my right hip, hard. I've crashed? Now? I thought, incredulously. How could I have crashed?

My next thought was, Well, the Tour's over. It's too much, too many things gone wrong.

But another thought intruded.

Get up.

It was the same thought that had prodded me during all those long months I'd spent in a hospital bed. After surgery. Get up. After chemo. Get up. It had whispered to me, and nudged me, and poked me, and now here it was again. Get... up.

Armstrong gets up, threads the chain back onto his bike, makes a "furious effort", and rejoins the lead group. Then...

No sooner had I gotten there than [Spanish racer Iban] Mayo glanced back at me -- and attacked again. I immediately jumped out of the saddle, charged up to his wheel, and slingshotted past him.

I was livid. I drove my legs into the pedals, adrenaline and fear and frustration in every stroke.

In a matter of moments, I was alone. I had bolted away from the group so suddenly that nobody could follow.

Armstrong continues to accelerate away from the field until he approaches the finish line...

I had given everything, and now I was wasted. The last few kilometers were one long grimace of pain. But finally the finish line was approaching, and adrenaline and anger carried me. I thought about the doubts in the peloton, all the whispers that I was too old, or too rich, or too distracted, or too American to win the Tour de France a fifth time. I thought, This is my neighborhood, and nobody else is winning this race.
Every Second Counts isn't a great book, but it's a serviceable book by someone who has done great things.


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