RAGBRAI XLII Countdown – July 20-26, 2014
Friends of RAGBRAI

RAGBRAI news team

Lance Armstrong to return to Iowa to ride 2013 RAGBRAI



Bicyclist Lance Armstrong, who began the year in a televised confessional with Oprah Winfrey in which he admitted to doping his way to seven consecutive Tour de France wins, has chosen a different yet familiar sort of hot seat this summer — a sweaty bike seat amid the Iowa corn fields.

Armstrong said Tuesday that he will return to our sun-baked byways this month for his fifth visit to The Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa. This would mark his first major public appearance since his mea culpa in January that reversed years of his impassioned denials and triggered scorn and lawsuits aplenty.

But he doesn’t plan to helicopter in and out on a quick, single-day jaunt.

Armstrong said that he and his staff from the Mellow Johnny’s bicycle shop he owns in Austin, Texas, will linger at least “three or four days” on RAGBRAI starting with the July 20 expo held in Council Bluffs on the eve of the ride.

This year’s 41st RAGBRAI, July 21-27, winds 406 miles from Council Bluffs to Fort Madison — the second-shortest route in the annals of the world’s oldest, largest bicycle touring event that was created by a pair of newspaper columnists.

“To be honest it’s not a statement, it’s not an experiment,” Armstrong said Tuesday from Aspen, Colo. “It’s just me wanting to go ride my bike with what in the past has been a friendly group of people that share the same interests.”

Armstrong was feted by huge crowds in 2006 during his inaugural RAGBRAI, in the immediate wake of his initial retirement from professional racing. Armstrong told reporters that year that while Sen. Tom Harkin had long lobbied him to join the ride, it was a group of cancer-stricken Iowa bicyclists who approached him during a dinner in Indianapolis whose pleas made the difference.

He most recently joined our pork-and-pie gauntlet in 2011 and flew all the way from Paris, France, to Carroll for the occasion.

The 41-year-old cancer survivor, stripped of his Tour de France titles by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), realizes that he returns this year as a much more controversial, humbled sports icon.

Armstrong told Oprah that he quit doping after his seventh and final Tour de France victory in 2005, but that has been disputed by a USADA report.

“I saw my son defending me and saying, ‘That’s not true. What you’re saying about my dad is not true,’” Armstrong said in the interview of what prompted his belated confession. “That’s when I knew I had to tell him.”

The logical, cynical reaction might be to lambaste Armstrong for taking advantage of our landscape of “Iowa nice” as the first rung on his long climb toward rehabilitating his public persona.

Armstrong himself admits that he’s simultaneously curious and insecure about how this first serious mingling outside of a handful of private charity events might unfold.

“I’m well aware my presence is not an easy topic, and so I encourage people if they want to give a high five, great,” he said. “If you want to shoot me the bird, that’s OK, too.”

He called himself a “realist.”

“I’m a big boy, and so I made the bed, I get to sleep in it.”

36 photos: Lance Armstrong on RAGBRAI
Video: RAGBRAI director thinks Iowans will welcome Lance Armstrong back.
Video: Armstrong does Q&A session during 2007 stop in Spencer
Video: Armstrong on why he enjoys RAGBRAI

RAGBRAI Director T.J. Juskiewicz, who said publicly in January that Armstrong was welcome to return to RAGBRAI, said that Armstrong is no different than the 10,000 other bicyclists who ride annually.

“They have a great time here, and they want to return,” Juskiewicz said.

He added, “We are open to anyone that wants to come ride RAGBRAI.”

He did see the humor in what could become a bizarre international media stir as the church ladies in small town Iowa try to sell their homemade fruit pies.

“Who knows, we might get TMZ covering RAGBRAI this year,” Juskiewicz joked.

To be clear, RAGBRAI never has paid Armstrong a dime in appearance fees, although it’s an unwritten rule, Juskiewicz said, that all Tour de France champions — whether or not they have been stripped of their titles — ride for free.

Regardless, Armstrong has bigger financial worries. By some accounts he’s facing as much as $135 million in liabilities from multiple lawsuits leveled by the government, insurance companies and others.

“I’m committing to working through them,” he said of the lawsuits, “and whether it’s settling cases or whether it’s fighting some cases — because some have merit some don’t. But I’m commtted to the process and that’s probably as much as I would and could say about it. That’s a tricky area there.

“Unless you have $135 million you want to let me borrow, or have?”

Nike even has announced that it will let its contract with the Livestrong Foundation and those ubiquitous yellow wristbands expire next year — a deal that according to the Associated Press is responsible for about one-fifth of the $500 million raised by the cancer-fighting charity since it was founded in 1997.

Armstrong also has had to distance himself from Livestrong in one of the myriad complications of his scandal. He’s “not a part of that organization anymore,” he said simply, “and don’t see that in the near future.”

RAGBRAI then seems to provide Armstrong an oasis in which there’s “nothing set up, nothing coerced, coordinated, composed,” as he put it.

He also praised Juskiewicz as a “great friend and a great supporter through all this.”

“Dude, you learn a lot about people when stuff like this goes down,” Armstrong said. “The first 24-48-72 hours, you never forget those calls, and he was one of them.”

But Armstrong also insists that he doesn’t want special treatment. He’s “just a dude like everybody who likes to ride bikes and likes to drink beer and has made his fair share of mistakes — and that’s that.”

At least that will be that until the tires get dipped in the Missouri River at the start of the ride, and the high fives and bird-flipping begin in earnest.

27 Responses on “Lance Armstrong to return to Iowa to ride 2013 RAGBRAI

Brad

July 12, 2013 at 3:55 pm

I am sure all of the haters are “perfect” people. 500 million dollars was raised for cancer research. I don’t care how many lies he made, how many lives have been saved because of the 500 million dollars? Cancer sucks, at least he did something to help people beat it. Two high fives from me.

Carrie Grote

July 18, 2013 at 11:21 am

I am so happy to see Lance come out of the shadows and hold he’s head high after a horrible year. Yes, us Iowians just like to have fun and have fun……………life is too short and Lance sure knows that because when u get a diagonoises like cancer u have to live day by day………….Rock on Lance!!!!!!!!!!

jose

July 19, 2013 at 11:30 pm

lance siempre sera mi idolo, lance armastrong eres el mejor por siempre!!

Peter J Taylor

July 24, 2013 at 4:25 pm

I think it’s great that Lance is riding in RAGBRAI. A lot of people make mistakes in their lives and this was one of Lance’s. He is still a great guy and is always welcome in Iowa. I wish I was doing the ride this year and had a chance to shake his hand. Keep up all your good work Lance, and remember to LIVESTRONG!

Check This Out

September 26, 2013 at 3:35 pm

My relatives every time say that I am wasting my time
here at net, however I know I am getting familiarity everyday by reading such nice content.

my website :: Check This Out

http://imgur.com/

January 16, 2014 at 3:36 am

you are truly a just right webmaster. The web site loading velocity is amazing.
It sort of feels that you’re doing any unique trick.
Moreover, The contents are masterpiece. you have performed a fantastic activity in this topic!

my website :: Clash of Clans Hack; http://imgur.com/,

Build Your Own Garden Shed

February 22, 2014 at 9:06 pm

These are actually wonderful ideas in about blogging. You have
touched some pleasant things here. Any way keep up wrinting.

My website Build Your Own Garden Shed

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Advertisement

Latest Blog Posts

  • RAGBRAI XLII Expo Gearing Up With Great Vendors!

    You can find it all at the RAGBRAI Expo, where RAGBRAI begins! Rock Valley Iowa serves as the host for the expo, held from 12:00 noon until 9:00 p.m. on ...

  • Tour de Cure: June 7, 2014 in Clive, IA and June 28, 2014 in Coralville, IA

    Tour de Cure is more than just a cycling event. It’s a life-changing event. A day full of fun and excitement where riders of all levels join forces in the ...

  • RAGBRAI Training: The Secret to Training for RAGBRAI

    by Coach David Ertl I can already see the responses to this title and several will likely involve beer.  But to your dismay I will not be talking about that aspect of ...

  • RAGBRAI Week-long Rider Registration Deadline is April 1

    Your week-long rider registration must be finalized by April 1 (registration, waiver, and payment).  All week-long rider minor waivers must be postmarked by April 1.  Any groups will weeklong riders ...

  • RAGBRAI 2014 Registration FAQ

    The RAGBRAI XLII weeklong rider registration deadline is coming up ( entries due April 1) so we thought answer some of your most commonly asked questions to help make the ...

  • RAGBRAI 2014 Route for Saturday, July 26: Independence to Guttenberg

    Day 7: Independence to Guttenberg And now: The hills. The final day’s 3,000-foot climb is just about twice as high as most of the previous days. So if riders didn’t know ...

  • RAGBRAI 2014 Route for Friday, July 25: Waverly to Independence

    Day 6: Waverly to Independence The route zigzags northeast toward Tripoli (pronounced trih-PO-la, by the way) and then curves past the Sweet Marsh Wildlife Management Area, a refuge for deer, doves and various ...

  • RAGBRAI Training: Training Plan for RAGBRAI 2014 and How to Use it

    One of the most popular posts I write each year is this one – the one that has the training plan in it. Once again I have put together ...

  • RAGBRAI 2014 Route for Thursday, July 24: Mason City to Waverly

    Day 5: Mason City to Waverly Riders can rest their weary bones where older bones have been resting for a long time: at the Fossil and Prairie Park Preserve and Center ...

  • RAGBRAI 2014 Route for Wednesday, July 23: Forest City to Mason City

    Day 4: Forest City to Mason City Wednesday’s trek is the second-shortest of the week at barely more than 41 miles. In the wake of Okoboji it will rate another amphibious ...

Latest Videos

  • Spring fever? Here's how to get your bike road ready

  • Tour the RAGBRAI XLII route with a flyover

  • RAGBRAI Director T.J. Juskiewicz shares tidbits about this year's ride.

  • RAGBRAI announced its third shortest and second flattest route in its history on Saturday. Watch the full announcement party.

  • The overnight towns are announced for 2014

  • RAGBRAI and Bacon Fest are teaming up to create the "Bacoon Ride," a new event coming in June 2014.

  • Take a look back at the Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa in 2013.

  • Nana's Delicacies served fried Jell-O, fried Klondike Bars, and Krispy Kreme cheeseburgers just outside of Hedrick.

  • RAGBRAI announced the 2014 logo on Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013.

  • "Christmas in July" was a hit in Runnells last week during RAGBRAI 2013

Find us socially

Email Signup

Sign up for the latest RAGBRAI news and notes (if there is no news in a day, you won’t get an e-mail).

© 2014 RAGBRAI | Terms of Service | Privacy Policy