While reading through Heft on Wheels a few weeks back I made some mental notes, mainly of the the authors remarks about how he read in Lance Armstrong‘s book, It’s Not About the Bike and was inspired to climb Beech Mountain in North Carolina.  Mike did it to prove something to himself, but I was curious why it had inspired him, so I ordered a copy of the book and read it over about a weeks time.

Wow.  That’s about all I have to say.  The book is as the title suggests, it’s a story about a cocky kid who was dealt a few bad cards in life and rides his bike to get away from the troubles he has.  Only, it’s not about the bike or riding at all.  Sure this book has a few paragraphs in a chapter here and there about the technical aspects of riding and why Lance rides and all that stuff, but it’s much deeper than that.

Having known little about Lance Armstrong prior to reading this book, other than he’s won the Tour de France 7 times and a slew of other races, has had one nut cut off, used to date a few celebrities and started the Livestrong movement making it fashionable to wear a yellow rubber wristband, I knew very little about who he really was.  His book reads more like a confession, about riding too hard and too fast, racing one day and literally having surgery to remove cancer the next day and his intense physical pains while going through chemotherapy treatments.  Lance also goes into great detail about the emotional bonds between his friends, being stabbed in the back by some sponsors and still fully embraced by others.

It’s an inspiration to say the least and makes it easy to identify what it must be like to live with cancer, from both a first person point of view and through the eyes of his family.  Nothing is left untouched, even the conception of Armstrong’s first child had details most would never dream of sharing.

For cycling fans, there are some really good passages about how Lance gets spanked early on in his riding career, then post-cancer training through Europe and how he prepared himself for winning his first Tour.  While all this is going on, he confesses his emotional sins about not wanting to race, to drink beer and play golf and work whatever crap job he can just to feed those habits.

Cycling fan or not, this is a book worth reading, if nothing more than to see the struggle that Armstrong has survived through and now thrives from.  Having read this, I feel a bit more proud to support his cause in the 2009 Philadelphia Livestrong Challenge.

As a side note, Amazon has this book used for as little as $4 shipped, click here to order one.