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Every Second Counts

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Continuing the inspiring story begun in his first book, Every Second Counts captures the mind-set of a man who has beaten incredible odds and considers each day an opportunity for excellence.

Armstrong's previous book recounted his journey from a grim diagnosis of testicular cancer, which had spread to his lungs and brain, to a stunning recovery that culminated in his winning the 1999 Tour de France - the ultimate evidence that he had also won ...

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Overview

Continuing the inspiring story begun in his first book, Every Second Counts captures the mind-set of a man who has beaten incredible odds and considers each day an opportunity for excellence.

Armstrong's previous book recounted his journey from a grim diagnosis of testicular cancer, which had spread to his lungs and brain, to a stunning recovery that culminated in his winning the 1999 Tour de France - the ultimate evidence that he had also won a daunting battle with death.

His new book addresses the equally daunting challenge of living in the aftermath of this experience and making the most of every breath of life. Armstrong candidly discusses his prickly relationship with the French and the ultimately disproved accusations of doping within his Tour de France team, and he writes about his recent achievements, including celebrating five years of cancer survival and how he restored a magnificent chapel in his beloved Spain.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Given the choice between winning the Tour de France and surviving cancer, cycling legend Lance Armstrong has always maintained that he'd choose the latter. Indeed, a trophy may reward the victor's professional career, but defeating seemingly insurmountable odds changes every aspect of life.

Every Second Counts, the follow-up to the hugely successful bestseller It's Not About the Bike, opens a window into the mind and life of a man who has become one of the sports world's greatest competitors and most intriguing success stories.

Even after his triumph over testicular cancer, Armstrong's fight goes on. With his indomitable spirit and never-give-up attitude, he remains an inspiring role model to those who have yet to defeat their own demons. In this book, he reveals himself as more than just an athlete. Certainly, he provides details about his storied cycling victories; but he also reveals the ups and downs of his marriage -- entered into too quickly and far too young -- and discusses his intensely emotional reaction to visiting New York after the September 11th terrorist attacks.

Reinforcing the importance of living each day to the fullest in a motivational but never heavy-handed manner, Every Second Counts is an intimate journal that documents the strengths and weaknesses of the human spirit. It's an inspirational account that will leave readers with the feeling that they have met the man and engaged him in vibrant conversation. Bryan Hoch

The New York Times
Unlike his first book, It's Not About the Bike, also written with Sally Jenkins, a sports columnist at The Washington Post, this one discusses, with admirable candor, his experiences as a cancer survivor and the peculiar problems that come with celebrity. — Carolyn T. Hughes
Publishers Weekly
Armstrong-only the second rider ever to win five consecutive Tours de France-is a man with a healthy ego. And he has a right to one: not only is he one of the world's foremost athletes, he is a cancer survivor and advocate, philanthropist, devoted family man and, as evidenced here with the help of freelancer Jenkins, an accomplished memoirist. This second volume (after It's Not About the Bike) takes Armstrong through the summer of 2002. Though cycling brings him individual glory, it is very much a team sport, and Armstrong is always conscious of this in all aspects of life: "Anyone who imagines they can work alone winds up surrounded by nothing but rivals. The fact is, others have to want you to succeed; no one ascends alone." He gives generous credit to the many people who support him: family, friends, teammates, doctors, nurses, coaches and, especially, other cancer survivors, from whom Armstrong draws strength and encouragement. Armstrong believes cancer was his wake-up call: every second does count-both in bike racing and in life. The book ends on an uncertain note: Armstrong and his wife have separated; he is anticipating the 2003 Tour and contemplating what lies ahead when his racing days are over. But his strong message of hope shines through-this often moving, energetic story offers enough bike lore to satisfy racing aficionados, while still accessible for the reader who's more interested in Armstrong's inspirational approach to life. (Oct.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Unequivocally the world's greatest cycling race, the Tour de France is an arduous three-week, 20-stage ride that tests both the physical fitness and the mental toughness of its participants. These two books pay homage to the event in different ways. A beautiful coffee-table work produced in collaboration with the French sports daily, L'Equipe, The Official Tour de France celebrates the race's centenary this year. Interspersed throughout this definitive, year-by-year account are wonderful photographs, 200 in color and 500 in black and white. In an appendix, readers will find information on podium placings, total victories by riders, champions by nation, and winners of the yellow, green, and polka-dot jerseys. With a foreword by Lance Armstrong. Speaking of Armstrong, one quickly runs out of superlatives to describe the four-time Tour de France winner who has survived testicular, brain, and lung cancer. In his previous biography, It's Not About the Bike, also co-written with Washington Post journalist Jenkins, he documented his early life and career and his battle with cancer, culminating with his first Tour victory. Every Second Counts chronicles the challenge an athlete faces living in the aftermath of his experiences, when each day is a precious gift. The work describes his recent cycling achievements, being cancer-free for five years, and dedication to the foundation that bears his name, which helps cancer patients worldwide. An inspirational read that has the makings of another best seller. Both books are worthy additions for all public libraries. [Armstrong's book was previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/03.]-Larry R. Little, Penticton P.L., B.C. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-In It's Not about the Bike (Putnam, 2000), Armstrong related his battle with cancer and his incredible Tour de France victory. In this book, he gives a gripping account of his second through (record-tying) fifth victories at the Tour. (His latest triumph might be missed by less-than-thorough readers-it's at the very end, following the afterword.) One sees that Armstrong has grown up quite a bit since his first book. However, he still has a reckless streak, as witnessed by his fondness for diving into a place called Dead Man's Hole. There are glimpses into his personal life and reflections on his illness, but this memoir is unabashedly about the thrill of racing and winning with the U.S. Postal Team. Armstrong talks about his teammates with humility and admiration. He also deals frankly, yet with remarkable restraint, with the accusations of doping by the French. The cyclist still works with his Lance Armstrong Foundation against cancer, but readers get the sense that he is definitely looking forward. Warm and informal in tone, Every Second Counts is a must-read for cycling fans.-Sheila Shoup, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal - BookSmack!
"A little fear is good for you," writes He Whose Name Means I Kick Ass. Quick recap: elite triathlete (I predict he turns to Ironman, like me) turns cycling pro, wins rack up, 1996 cancer diagnosis, 40 percent survival rate. Not only does he live, but he also wins the freaking Tour de France. And every damn thing since then has been at full throttle with an eye toward helping others and fighting cancer. ESC shows that Lance has matured since 2001's It's Not About the Bike, yet he's still reckless from Texas, living happy and pedaling too fast-and that's good. He knows you're not supposed to arrive at the grave safely in a well-preserved body, but instead slide in sideways, totally worn out, shouting, "Holy sh*t, what a ride!" A lot of sports chumps have books: Dennis Rodman, Jose Canseco, Drew Brees, Michael Phelps, and David Beckham. But none of them holds a candle to Lance. Sure, this book gives readers the scoop on four balls-to-the-wall Tour wins as well as glimpses of a father finding work/life balance. But really this is about a man who has moved beyond cycling, even beyond cancer, and on to leading and winning. He writes that the lesson of illness taught him that "pain is temporary. Quitting lasts forever." If you've read it already and need an espresso enema, try his Comeback 2.0: Up Close and Personal (2009) or take a closer look at that Jocelyn Wildenstein*. (See LJ's original review, 10/15/03.) — Douglas Lord, "Books for Dudes," Booksmack! 1/6/11
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375432095
  • Publisher: Random House Large Print
  • Publication date: 10/7/2003
  • Edition description: Large Print Edition
  • Pages: 391
  • Product dimensions: 6.35 (w) x 9.55 (h) x 1.01 (d)

Meet the Author

Lance Armstrong
Champion cyclist Lance Armstrong continues to make winning the Tour de France his annual cycling goal. He also oversees the Lance Armstrong Foundation, a nonprofit organization that assists cancer patients around the world with managing and surviving the disease. He lives in Austin, Texas. Sally Jenkins is a columnist for the Washington Post. In 2002 she won the Associated Press's Columnist of the Year Award. She has co-written many bestselling sports books, including It's Not About the Bike and Reach For the Summit with Pat Summitt (Broadway Books).
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Pitched Back

So, it looks as though I'm going to live--at least for another 50 years or more. But whenever I need to reassure myself of this, as I sometimes do, I go out to a place called Dead Man's Hole, and I stare down into it, and then, with firm intent, I strip off my shirt and I leap straight out into what you might call the great sublime.

Let's say it's my own personal way of checking for vital signs. Dead Man's Hole is a large green mineral pool gouged out of a circular limestone cliff, so deep into the hill country of Texas that it's hardly got an address. According to conflicting legends, it's either where Confederates tossed Union sympathizers to drown, or where Apaches lured unsuspecting cowboys who didn't see the fall coming. In any event, I'm drawn to it, so much so that I bought 200 acres of brush and pasture surrounding it, and I've worn a road into the dirt by driving out there. It seems only right that a place called Dead Man's Hole should belong to a guy who nearly died--and who, by the way, has no intention of just barely living.

I stand there next to a 45-foot waterfall and examine the drop--and myself, while I'm at it. It's a long drop, so long that it makes the roof of my mouth go dry just looking at it. It's long enough for a guy to actually think on the way down, and to think more than one thought, too. Long enough to think first one thing, A little fear is good for you, and then another, It's good for you if you can swim, and then one more thing as I hit the water: Oh fuck, it's cold. As I jump, there are certain unmistakable signs that I'm alive: the press of my pulse, the insistent sound of my own breathing, and the whanging in my chest that's my heart, which by then sounds like an insubordinate prisoner beating on the bars of my ribcage.

I come up whooping through the foam and swim for the rocks. Then I climb back up and towel off, and I drive home to my three kids. I burst through the door, and I shout at my son, Luke, and my twin daughters, Grace and Isabelle, and I kiss them on the necks, and I grab a Shiner Bock beer with one hand and an armful of babies with the other.

The first time I ever did it, my wife, Kik, just looked at me and rolled her eyes. She knew where I'd been.

"Was that clarifying for you?" she said.

At what point do you let go of not dying? Maybe I haven't entirely and maybe I don't want to.

I know they're out there, lying in their hospital beds, with those damn drip poles, watching the damn chemo slide into their veins, and thinking, This guy had the same thing I do. If he can do it, I can, too. I think of them all the time.

My friend Lee Walker says I got "pitched back." What he means is, I almost died, and possibly even did die a little, but then I got pitched back into the world of the living. It's as good a description as any of what happened. I was 25 when cancer nearly killed me: advanced choriocarcinoma spread to my abdomen, lungs, and brain and required two surgeries and four cycles of chemotherapy to get rid of. I wrote an entire book about death, called It's Not About the Bike, about confronting the possibility of it, and narrowly escaping it.

"Are you sure?" I asked the doctor.

"I'm sure."

"How sure?"

"I'm very sure."

"How can you be so sure?"

"I'm so sure that I've scheduled you for surgery at 7 a.m. tomorrow."

Mounted on a light table, the X-ray showed my chest. Black meant clear; white meant cancer. My chest looked like a snowstorm.

What I didn't and couldn't address at the time was the prospect of life. Once you figure out you're going to live, you have to decide how to, and that's not an uncomplicated matter. You ask yourself: now that I know I'm not going to die, what will I do? What's the highest and best use of my self? These things aren't linear, they're a mysterious calculus. For me, the best use of myself has been to race in the Tour de France, the most grueling sporting event in the world.

Every time I win another Tour, I prove that I'm alive--and therefore that others can survive, too. I've survived cancer again, and again, and again, and again. I've won four Tour titles, and I wouldn't mind a record-tying five. That would be some good living.

But the fact is that I wouldn't have won even a single Tour de France without the lesson of illness. What it teaches is this: pain is temporary. Quitting lasts forever.

To me, just finishing the Tour de France is a demonstration of survival. The arduousness of the race, the sheer unreasonableness of the job, the circumnavigation of an entire country on a bicycle, village to village, along its shores, across its bridges, up and over the mountain peaks they call cols, requires a matchless stamina. The Tour is so taxing that Dutch rider Hennie Kuiper once said, after a long climb up an alp, "The snow had turned black in my eyes." It's not unlike the stamina of people who are ill every day. The Tour is a daily festival of human suffering, of minor tragedies and comedies, all conducted in the elements, sometimes terrible weather and sometimes fine, over flats, and into headwinds, with plenty of crashes. And it's three weeks long. Think about what you were doing three weeks ago. It feels like last year.

The race is very much like living--except that its consequences are less dire and there's a prize at the end. Life is not so neat.

There was no pat storybook ending for me. I survived cancer and made a successful comeback as a cyclist by winning the 1999 Tour, but that was more of a beginning than an end. Life actually went on, sometimes in the most messy, inconvenient, and un-triumphant ways. In the next five years I'd have three children, take hundreds of drug tests (literally), break my neck (literally), win some more races, lose some, too, and experience a breakdown in my marriage. Among other adventures.

When you walk into the Armstrong household, what you see is infants crawling everywhere. Luke was born in the fall of 1999 to Kristin (Kik) Armstrong and me shortly after that first Tour, and the twins came in the fall of 2001. Grace and Isabelle have blue saucer eyes, and they toddle across the floor at scarcely believable speeds. They like to pull themselves upright on the available furniture and stand there, wobbling, while they plan how to make trouble. One of Isabelle's amusements is to stand up on the water dispenser and press the tap until the kitchen floods, while she laughs hysterically. I tell her, "No, no, no," and she just shakes her head back and forth and keeps laughing, while the water runs all over the floor. I can't wait for their teen years.

Luke adds to the bedlam by riding his bike in the living room, or doing laps in a plastic car, or tugging the girls around in separate red wagons. He is sturdy and hardheaded. He wears his bike helmet inside the house and refuses to take it off, even when we go out to dinner. We get some interesting stares--but anything is better than the fight that ensues if you try to remove the helmet. He insists on wearing it just in case he might get to go cycling with me. To him, a road is what his father does for a living. I'm on the road so much that when the phone rings, he says, "Daddy."

One afternoon I went to pick my family up at an airport. Luke gave me a long stare and said, "Daddy, you look like me."

"Uh, I look like you?" I said.

"Yeah."

"Are you sure it's not the other way around?"

"Yeah, I'm sure. It's definitely you that looks like me."

Also milling around our house are a cat named Chemo and a small white dog named Boone. I trip around all of them, watching my feet, careful not to step on a critter or a kid. It's been a chaotic few years, and not without its casualties. There have been so many children and adults and animals to feed that sometimes things get confused and the dog winds up with the baby food. One day Kik handed me what was supposed to be a glass of water.

"This tastes like Sprite," I said.

"Just drink it," she said.

I could never seem to find the right keys to anything. One time I pulled the ring of keys from my pocket and stared at them in their seeming hundreds, and said to Kik, wonderingly, "I have the keys to the whole world." She just said, "Perfect."

The reason I have so many keys is because I need so many homes and vehicles, in various countries and counties. I spend most of the spring and summer in my European home in Girona, Spain, while I prepare for the Tour. When the racing season is over, I come back to Austin. Our family lives in a house in central Austin, and we also have the ranch in the hill country. But my favorite home is a small hideaway, a one-room cabin just outside Austin, in the hills overlooking the Colorado River. Across the river there's a rope swing dangling from an old bent oak, and on hot days I like to swing on the rope and hurl myself into the current.

I love the tumult of my large family, and I've even been accused of fostering a certain amount of commotion, because I have no tolerance for peace and quiet. I'm congenitally unable to sit still; I crave action, and if I can't find any, I invent it.

My friends call me Mellow Johnny. It's a play on the French term for the leader of the Tour de France, who wears a yellow jersey: the maillot jaune. We like to joke that Mellow Johnny is the Texan pronunciation. The name is also a play on my not-so-mellow personality. I'm Mellow Johnny, or Johnny Mellow, or, if you're feeling formal, Jonathan Mellow.

Sometimes I'm just Bike Boy. I ride my bike almost every day, even in the off-season, no matter the weather. It could be hailing, and my friends and riding partners dread the call that they know is going to come: they pick up the phone, and they hear Bike Boy on the other end, demanding, "You ridin', or you hidin'?"

One famous November day during the off-season, I rode four and a half hours through one of the strongest rainstorms on record. Seven inches of precipitation, with flash floods and road closures everywhere. I loved it. People thought I was crazy, of course. But when I'm on the bike, I feel like I'm 13 years old. I run fewer red lights now, but otherwise it's the same.

Some days, though, I feel much older than a man in his thirties; it's as if I've lived a lot longer. That's the cancer, I guess. I've spent a lot of time examining what it did to me--how it aged me, altered me--and the conclusion I've come to is, it didn't just change my body; it changed my mind.

I've often said cancer was the best thing that ever happened to me. But everybody wants to know what I mean by that: how could a life-threatening disease be a good thing? I say it because my illness was also my antidote: it cured me of laziness.

Before I was diagnosed, I was a slacker. I was getting paid a lot of money for a job I didn't do 100 percent, and that was more than just a shame--it was wrong. When I got sick, I told myself: if I get another chance, I'll do this right--and I'll work for something more than just myself.

I have a friend, a fellow cancer survivor named Sally Reed, who sums up the experience better than anyone I know. "My house is burned down," she says, "but I can see the sky."

Sally was diagnosed with rampant breast cancer in the spring of 1999. The disease had reached Stage Three and spread to her lymphatic system. She was facing both radiation and chemotherapy. Right away, all of her smaller fears disappeared, replaced by this new one. She had been so afraid of flying that she hadn't flown in more than 15 years. But after she got the diagnosis, she called an airline and booked a flight to Niagara Falls. She went there by herself and stood overlooking the roaring falls.

"I wanted to see something bigger than me," she says.

Mortal illness, like most personal catastrophes, comes on suddenly. There's no great sense of foreboding, no premonition, you just wake up one morning and something's wrong in your lungs, or your liver, or your bones. But near-death cleared the decks, and what came after was a bright, sparkling awareness: time is limited, so I better wake up every morning fresh and know that I have just one chance to live this particular day right, and to string my days together into a life of action, and purpose.

If you want to know what keeps me on my bike, riding up an alp for six hours in the rain, that's your answer.

Oddly enough, while the near-death experience was clarifying, the success that came afterward was confusing.

It complicated life significantly, and permanently. The impact of winning the 1999 Tour de France was larger than I ever imagined it would be, from the first stunned moment when I stepped off the plane in Austin, into the Texas night air, to see people there waiting. There was yellow writing painted on the streets, "Vive la Lance," and banners stretched across the streets, and friends had decorated our entire house with yellow flowers, streamers, and balloons. I was bewildered to be invited to the State Capitol to see our then-governor, George W. Bush, and afterward there was a parade through town with more than 6,000 cyclists (in yellow) leading the route. People were lined up five deep along the sides, waving signs and flags.

I didn't understand it: I was just another Austin bike geek who liked his margaritas and his Tex-Mex, and Americans weren't supposed to care about cycling. "You don't get it," said my friend and agent, Bill Stapleton.

I lived in a constant, elevated state of excitement; the air was thin and getting thinner, and compounding the excitement was the fact that Kik and I were awaiting the birth of our first child, Luke. I kept waiting for things to subside, but they never did--they just got busier. Bill was swamped with offers and requests and proposed endorsements. He struck some handsome new deals on my behalf, with prestigious sponsors like Bristol-Myers Squibb, Nike, and Coca-Cola. With the deals came new responsibilities: I shot half a dozen commercials, posed for magazine ads and the Wheaties box. I earned the nickname "Lance Incorporated" and now I was a business entity instead of just a person.

From the Hardcover edition.

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First Chapter

Chapter 1



Pitched Back



So, it looks as though I'm going to live--at least for another 50 years or more. But whenever I need to reassure myself of this, as I sometimes do, I go out to a place called Dead Man's Hole, and I stare down into it, and then, with firm intent, I strip off my shirt and I leap straight out into what you might call the great sublime.

Let's say it's my own personal way of checking for vital signs. Dead Man's Hole is a large green mineral pool gouged out of a circular limestone cliff, so deep into the hill country of Texas that it's hardly got an address. According to conflicting legends, it's either where Confederates tossed Union sympathizers to drown, or where Apaches lured unsuspecting cowboys who didn't see the fall coming. In any event, I'm drawn to it, so much so that I bought 200 acres of brush and pasture surrounding it, and I've worn a road into the dirt by driving out there. It seems only right that a place called Dead Man's Hole should belong to a guy who nearly died--and who, by the way, has no intention of just barely living.

I stand there next to a 45-foot waterfall and examine the drop--and myself, while I'm at it. It's a long drop, so long that it makes the roof of my mouth go dry just looking at it. It's long enough for a guy to actually think on the way down, and to think more than one thought, too. Long enough to think first one thing, A little fear is good for you, and then another, It's good for you if you can swim, and then one more thing as I hit the water: Oh fuck, it's cold. As I jump, there are certain unmistakable signs that I'm alive: the press of my pulse, the insistent sound of my ownbreathing, and the whanging in my chest that's my heart, which by then sounds like an insubordinate prisoner beating on the bars of my ribcage.

I come up whooping through the foam and swim for the rocks. Then I climb back up and towel off, and I drive home to my three kids. I burst through the door, and I shout at my son, Luke, and my twin daughters, Grace and Isabelle, and I kiss them on the necks, and I grab a Shiner Bock beer with one hand and an armful of babies with the other.

The first time I ever did it, my wife, Kik, just looked at me and rolled her eyes. She knew where I'd been.

"Was that clarifying for you?" she said.



At what point do you let go of not dying? Maybe I haven't entirely and maybe I don't want to.

I know they're out there, lying in their hospital beds, with those damn drip poles, watching the damn chemo slide into their veins, and thinking, This guy had the same thing I do. If he can do it, I can, too. I think of them all the time.

My friend Lee Walker says I got "pitched back." What he means is, I almost died, and possibly even did die a little, but then I got pitched back into the world of the living. It's as good a description as any of what happened. I was 25 when cancer nearly killed me: advanced choriocarcinoma spread to my abdomen, lungs, and brain and required two surgeries and four cycles of chemotherapy to get rid of. I wrote an entire book about death, called It's Not About the Bike, about confronting the possibility of it, and narrowly escaping it.

"Are you sure?" I asked the doctor.

"I'm sure."

"How sure?"

"I'm very sure."

"How can you be so sure?"

"I'm so sure that I've scheduled you for surgery at 7 a.m. tomorrow."

Mounted on a light table, the X-ray showed my chest. Black meant clear; white meant cancer. My chest looked like a snowstorm.

What I didn't and couldn't address at the time was the prospect of life. Once you figure out you're going to live, you have to decide how to, and that's not an uncomplicated matter. You ask yourself: now that I know I'm not going to die, what will I do? What's the highest and best use of my self? These things aren't linear, they're a mysterious calculus. For me, the best use of myself has been to race in the Tour de France, the most grueling sporting event in the world.

Every time I win another Tour, I prove that I'm alive--and therefore that others can survive, too. I've survived cancer again, and again, and again, and again. I've won four Tour titles, and I wouldn't mind a record-tying five. That would be some good living.

But the fact is that I wouldn't have won even a single Tour de France without the lesson of illness. What it teaches is this: pain is temporary. Quitting lasts forever.

To me, just finishing the Tour de France is a demonstration of survival. The arduousness of the race, the sheer unreasonableness of the job, the circumnavigation of an entire country on a bicycle, village to village, along its shores, across its bridges, up and over the mountain peaks they call cols, requires a matchless stamina. The Tour is so taxing that Dutch rider Hennie Kuiper once said, after a long climb up an alp, "The snow had turned black in my eyes." It's not unlike the stamina of people who are ill every day. The Tour is a daily festival of human suffering, of minor tragedies and comedies, all conducted in the elements, sometimes terrible weather and sometimes fine, over flats, and into headwinds, with plenty of crashes. And it's three weeks long. Think about what you were doing three weeks ago. It feels like last year.

The race is very much like living--except that its consequences are less dire and there's a prize at the end. Life is not so neat.

There was no pat storybook ending for me. I survived cancer and made a successful comeback as a cyclist by winning the 1999 Tour, but that was more of a beginning than an end. Life actually went on, sometimes in the most messy, inconvenient, and un-triumphant ways. In the next five years I'd have three children, take hundreds of drug tests (literally), break my neck (literally), win some more races, lose some, too, and experience a breakdown in my marriage. Among other adventures.

When you walk into the Armstrong household, what you see is infants crawling everywhere. Luke was born in the fall of 1999 to Kristin (Kik) Armstrong and me shortly after that first Tour, and the twins came in the fall of 2001. Grace and Isabelle have blue saucer eyes, and they toddle across the floor at scarcely believable speeds. They like to pull themselves upright on the available furniture and stand there, wobbling, while they plan how to make trouble. One of Isabelle's amusements is to stand up on the water dispenser and press the tap until the kitchen floods, while she laughs hysterically. I tell her, "No, no, no," and she just shakes her head back and forth and keeps laughing, while the water runs all over the floor. I can't wait for their teen years.

Luke adds to the bedlam by riding his bike in the living room, or doing laps in a plastic car, or tugging the girls around in separate red wagons. He is sturdy and hardheaded. He wears his bike helmet inside the house and refuses to take it off, even when we go out to dinner. We get some interesting stares--but anything is better than the fight that ensues if you try to remove the helmet. He insists on wearing it just in case he might get to go cycling with me. To him, a road is what his father does for a living. I'm on the road so much that when the phone rings, he says, "Daddy."

One afternoon I went to pick my family up at an airport. Luke gave me a long stare and said, "Daddy, you look like me."

"Uh, I look like you?" I said.

"Yeah."

"Are you sure it's not the other way around?"

"Yeah, I'm sure. It's definitely you that looks like me."

Also milling around our house are a cat named Chemo and a small white dog named Boone. I trip around all of them, watching my feet, careful not to step on a critter or a kid. It's been a chaotic few years, and not without its casualties. There have been so many children and adults and animals to feed that sometimes things get confused and the dog winds up with the baby food. One day Kik handed me what was supposed to be a glass of water.

"This tastes like Sprite," I said.

"Just drink it," she said.

I could never seem to find the right keys to anything. One time I pulled the ring of keys from my pocket and stared at them in their seeming hundreds, and said to Kik, wonderingly, "I have the keys to the whole world." She just said, "Perfect."

The reason I have so many keys is because I need so many homes and vehicles, in various countries and counties. I spend most of the spring and summer in my European home in Girona, Spain, while I prepare for the Tour. When the racing season is over, I come back to Austin. Our family lives in a house in central Austin, and we also have the ranch in the hill country. But my favorite home is a small hideaway, a one-room cabin just outside Austin, in the hills overlooking the Colorado River. Across the river there's a rope swing dangling from an old bent oak, and on hot days I like to swing on the rope and hurl myself into the current.

I love the tumult of my large family, and I've even been accused of fostering a certain amount of commotion, because I have no tolerance for peace and quiet. I'm congenitally unable to sit still; I crave action, and if I can't find any, I invent it.

My friends call me Mellow Johnny. It's a play on the French term for the leader of the Tour de France, who wears a yellow jersey: the maillot jaune. We like to joke that Mellow Johnny is the Texan pronunciation. The name is also a play on my not-so-mellow personality. I'm Mellow Johnny, or Johnny Mellow, or, if you're feeling formal, Jonathan Mellow.

Sometimes I'm just Bike Boy. I ride my bike almost every day, even in the off-season, no matter the weather. It could be hailing, and my friends and riding partners dread the call that they know is going to come: they pick up the phone, and they hear Bike Boy on the other end, demanding, "You ridin', or you hidin'?"

One famous November day during the off-season, I rode four and a half hours through one of the strongest rainstorms on record. Seven inches of precipitation, with flash floods and road closures everywhere. I loved it. People thought I was crazy, of course. But when I'm on the bike, I feel like I'm 13 years old. I run fewer red lights now, but otherwise it's the same.

Some days, though, I feel much older than a man in his thirties; it's as if I've lived a lot longer. That's the cancer, I guess. I've spent a lot of time examining what it did to me--how it aged me, altered me--and the conclusion I've come to is, it didn't just change my body; it changed my mind.

I've often said cancer was the best thing that ever happened to me. But everybody wants to know what I mean by that: how could a life-threatening disease be a good thing? I say it because my illness was also my antidote: it cured me of laziness.

Before I was diagnosed, I was a slacker. I was getting paid a lot of money for a job I didn't do 100 percent, and that was more than just a shame--it was wrong. When I got sick, I told myself: if I get another chance, I'll do this right--and I'll work for something more than just myself.

I have a friend, a fellow cancer survivor named Sally Reed, who sums up the experience better than anyone I know. "My house is burned down," she says, "but I can see the sky."

Sally was diagnosed with rampant breast cancer in the spring of 1999. The disease had reached Stage Three and spread to her lymphatic system. She was facing both radiation and chemotherapy. Right away, all of her smaller fears disappeared, replaced by this new one. She had been so afraid of flying that she hadn't flown in more than 15 years. But after she got the diagnosis, she called an airline and booked a flight to Niagara Falls. She went there by herself and stood overlooking the roaring falls.

"I wanted to see something bigger than me," she says.

Mortal illness, like most personal catastrophes, comes on suddenly. There's no great sense of foreboding, no premonition, you just wake up one morning and something's wrong in your lungs, or your liver, or your bones. But near-death cleared the decks, and what came after was a bright, sparkling awareness: time is limited, so I better wake up every morning fresh and know that I have just one chance to live this particular day right, and to string my days together into a life of action, and purpose.

If you want to know what keeps me on my bike, riding up an alp for six hours in the rain, that's your answer.



Oddly enough, while the near-death experience was clarifying, the success that came afterward was confusing.

It complicated life significantly, and permanently. The impact of winning the 1999 Tour de France was larger than I ever imagined it would be, from the first stunned moment when I stepped off the plane in Austin, into the Texas night air, to see people there waiting. There was yellow writing painted on the streets, "Vive la Lance," and banners stretched across the streets, and friends had decorated our entire house with yellow flowers, streamers, and balloons. I was bewildered to be invited to the State Capitol to see our then-governor, George W. Bush, and afterward there was a parade through town with more than 6,000 cyclists (in yellow) leading the route. People were lined up five deep along the sides, waving signs and flags.

I didn't understand it: I was just another Austin bike geek who liked his margaritas and his Tex-Mex, and Americans weren't supposed to care about cycling. "You don't get it," said my friend and agent, Bill Stapleton.

I lived in a constant, elevated state of excitement; the air was thin and getting thinner, and compounding the excitement was the fact that Kik and I were awaiting the birth of our first child, Luke. I kept waiting for things to subside, but they never did--they just got busier. Bill was swamped with offers and requests and proposed endorsements. He struck some handsome new deals on my behalf, with prestigious sponsors like Bristol-Myers Squibb, Nike, and Coca-Cola. With the deals came new responsibilities: I shot half a dozen commercials, posed for magazine ads and the Wheaties box. I earned the nickname "Lance Incorporated" and now I was a business entity instead of just a person.

Copyright© 2003 by Lance Armstrong with Sally Jenkins
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 34 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 34 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 19, 2009

    Good read.

    Good for anyone in the cycling or cancer world. Or for a good inspirtation.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2008

    Fabulous Sports Memoir

    How would you like it if you went into a doctors office for a routine check-up and you were told that not only you had cancer but that your chances of living and defeating cancer were less than 20%? Lance Armstrong did not crumble or fall apart upon hearing this news instead he said to his wife ¿we hit hard ships in our life but it¿s the good ones tha¬t count¿. This memoir describes how he lives his every day after being told the defecating news. Every Second Counts is a very moving and inspirational book. For Lance ¿cancer¿ was a cure to life. For him when he got out of the hospital he truly lived like ¿every second counts¿ That¿s is what this fantastic inspirational sports memoir is about. In the memoir Lance also details the hard times a person in the public eye has to go through. Like scandals, Lies, and rumors. For example, Lance had rumors of him doping. Only because he was winning!!! This book describes how he fought through lies and personal problems. Another example absolutely no one ever thought he could win the tour after beating cancer. To him the only way of beating the battle of cancer was to win the tour and prove cancer was not going to beat him. Every race he did not race to beat a person or a team he raced to beat and prove to everyone he did and always will have beaten cancer. In this wonderfully written book lance describes how he became a true inspiration for all cancer patience and there families. He also talks about each tour victorie. After you read this book you will be uplifted and very thrilled that you read this masterly crafted book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2008

    This is a great book that everyone would love.

    Some one call 911 ¿we have a male about 35 looks like he had a crash on a bike¿! That was only one of my many accidents, but the time I was most worried was when I was diagnosed with cancer. This memoir was about lance Armstrong about how he had cancer and than was able to win seven tour de France. He also had children after his cancer. He was the first person ever to win seven Tour De France right after overcoming cancer. It said in the book that now people look up to him because he was able to do that. His kids names were Luke and his twins that are coming Lance never says their names in the book. Also in this book he was a father to his children not just a rolemodle. His son Luke looked up to him. He wore a helmet to the store when him and Lance went out. When Lance was little he was the only kid that he new that was interested in bikes and racing. I think that you should read this book Every Second Counts by Lance Armstrong and Sally Jenkins because it is very interesting. It makes you want to read it all the time the when I was reading it I could not stop. I completed the book all in one day. The reason that I wanted to read it was because I new that lance is a great person and that he was able to defeat his cancer that was spreading all through his body and the doctors said that he was surely to die. I also want to read his other book it is called Gone With The Bike. It is a very good book for teens, also it is enjoyable for adults too. I highly recommend this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2007

    Mentor from Texas

    Armstrong, a native of Texas, was reared in Plano and owns a home in Austin, and says he is a regular guy and he may well be, but his passion for action in the fast lane has been lifelong. His friends tried to get him to slow down especially after his three children were born, for if no other reason to be around to see them grow up. He said, ¿I love the tumult of my large family, and I¿ve even been accused of fostering a certain amount of commotion, because I have no tolerance for peace and quiet. I¿m congenitally unable to sit still I crave action, and if I can¿t find any, I invent it.¿ He was ecstatic at winning the 1999 tour de France, but when he realized that some people regarded the win as a fluke and accused him of not training enough and he heard the rumors that the reason he had won was because two notable champions were absent from the field, it gave him a new motive. That, alone, made him want to win another one. He had beat the odds of cancer by his undaunted nature and he would work to win the same way. He states that a near death experience had made him even more intrepid. ¿I began looking for reasons to be aggravated on the bike ¿ he said. ¿I catalogued each expression of skepticism, every disbelieving remark or expression of uncertainty by an opponent, and used them to challenge myself. I kept a list. It was an old competitive habit that went back to my childhood in Plano, when I¿d never had as much money as the other kids, or played the right sport. (They didn¿t force you to play football in Texas, but they sure wanted you to.) I didn¿t have the right conventional parents, either. I¿d always been underestimated, and I knew how to put it to good use. I thrived on long odds.¿ The 2000 race was the 87th annual edition and would cover 2,274 miles and 23 days, counterclockwise around France. Armstrong says it is actually a high-speed chess match on bikes. Reconnoitering the route was important so various members of his team, the U.S. Postal, had different roles in helping him map out the terrain. He practiced the race, climbing every mountain, some of them twice. He won the tour but lost the gold in 2000 Olympic games. He experienced great disappointment. In November of 2000, French authorities announced that Armstrong was under investigation for doping. He was the second American to win since the beginning of the races in 1903. He had won two consecutive tours while native Frenchmen had done poorly. It was a long-drawn out battle with the French courts. During this time, Armstrong moved his family to Spain. Armstrong believes in restraint on the subject of religion. ¿I think too many people look to religion as an excuse, or a crutch, or a bailout,¿ he says. ¿I think that what you¿ve got is what you¿ve got, here and now. Even when I was looking straight at death, I never thought there was something on the other end.¿ He says J. Craig Ventner articulated it like this: ¿It¿s unequivocally clear that life begins at birth and ends at death, and if most people on this planet understood that, they would lead their lives very differently. We find religious or mysterious forces to fill in for our inadequacies, but heaven and hell are both here on earth every day, and we make our lives around them.¿ Armstrong shows a very pensive side as he describes the friendships he made with other people trying to beat cancer and those who didn¿t. Armstrong describes being a mentor to younger riders and the issues of being a professional rider and the toll it takes on family. His perception of teamwork is quintessential. He says this: ¿It takes eight fellow U.S. Postal Service riders to get me to the finish line in one piece, let alone in first place. Cycling is far more of a team sport than spectators realize, and it¿s an embarrassment worth cringing over that I¿ve stood on the podium of the Tour de France alone, as if I got there by myself. I don¿t just show up there after almost three thousand miles, and say, ¿Look what I did.¿ When

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2006

    Inspiring

    When he was 25, Armstrong was diagnosed with cancer. It had already spread to his abdomen, lungs, and brain. It might have been terminal, but two surgeries and four courses of chemotherapy later, he was well again. Well enough to compete in the Tour de France bicycle race that he won in 1999. And four times since then. Although the book is not all about the Tour Lance also goes off into side stories about his family, friends, training, and cancer. One of my favorite side stories is when he and one of his good friends collage go for a bike ride, and Lance scares collage because he is flying down the hill and is going to fast. In this book lance says ¿The fact is that I wouldn¿t have won even a single Tour de France without the lesson of illness. What it teaches is this: pain is temporary. Quitting lasts forever.¿ This book is so inspirational, it teaches you to never give up, and to always try your hardest. Reading this book makes you feel like you could do anything if Lance can do it why cant I. One of my major likes is how in depth the book goes about his stories about the tour. Lance talks about his breathing techniques, what he is thinking at the time, and the constant burning in his legs. What I did not like about the book was how lance didn¿t give himself enough credit. I mean he won the tour five times, he defeated cancer. He needs to talk about his victory more in the book. I think people should read this book for one reason it is a good inspirational book that you will not walk away from saying that was a waste of my time. It will have you looking at life in a whole new way you¿ll never take for granted your heath again. You will walk away from this book feeling good about yourself and inspired. Lance won the tour de France five times defeated cancer and succeeded in his dreams, why cant you?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2004

    Inspirational

    I really think that this book is great! Maybe at first it may seem dull. I mean come on, who reads about cycling? This book can change your whole view of the cycling world. It's truthful and very understandable. It's great for young readers like me!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2004

    the real Lance Armsrtong

    This book takes you along on Lance¿s journey. From cancer to winning The Tour De France, I felt like I was right there with him the whole time. The book made his training sound glorious. While I was reading all I wanted to do after I finished was to go out and ride my bike. It inspired me to train, not as much as Lance does of course but train none the less. Another positive to the focus on how much Lance¿s trains is that it shows that he really has to work at what he does. It shows his determination to the sport and to his team. Not only did reading about how much he trains make me want to get on the bike, it inspired me to try harder in all things I do. The book did a really good job of showing how much Lance has to defend his honor. The book goes into great detail about all the drug tests he must take just to prove he is clean. He tells how annoyed he is with the whole thing and you can tell that it upsets him a little bit. When he writes about it, it makes you feel compassionate for him. I think I may hove gotten just as annoyed by the 5:00 in the morning surprise drugs tests as he did. This book is told from the inside of cycling. You learn about things the average spectator of cycling would not know. I also really liked how Lance gives credit to everyone around him. He gives credit to everyone on his team for helping him and he knows that he could not win the tour without them. He spends a lot of time giving credit to everyone around him. I like that because not everyone can win, and it makes the people who help out the winner feel really good about it. Another thing I really liked about the book was how intimate Lance got. He talks about his family problems. He goes into great detail about how hard it is to be away from his family and what it was doing to his marriage. He gets very intimate when he talks about cancer. He does not hold back when he talks about how hard it was for him. He is not afraid to give the details that no one wants to hear. It makes you feel like you are there with him, and makes you relate to the situation. This book can touch anybody¿s life. Anyone would enjoy reading it. It¿s very inspirational and insightful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2004

    Not as good as 'It's Not About the Bike'...was good

    I read Lance's first book twice becuase I loved it so much. It was very inspiring. So then I decided to read this one, and it was good. I enjoyed how he kept his story going, but I still like his first better. I saw sad to read about Kik. I wanted them to stay together. I felt bad for her. She was alone a lot of the time when Lance was training. I hope he wins his 6th in a couple of weeks. Best of luck for him.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2004

    This Book Can Climb Any Mountain!

    Beautiful and well written book. A book for the ages, and gives a perspective on life's troubling times. This book taught me what hard work could bring. Thanks Lance!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2004

    Never Say Die, Never Give Up

    This book is a book that should be read by everyone. Reading about how Lance Armstring can battle cancer, go through chemo, and turn around and show the world that he is still here, is amazing. He breaks down every step he had to take, every session, every appointment, every opponent, every injury, and put it together and made an incredible biography out of it. I believe that he is an incredible role model, for he says that he feels better by helping out children with cancer, or anyone with the disease. He also shows everyone that faith is stone. If you just believe it, will all work out. I liked how he reacted to all of his tests, and when we had been accused so many times by the French. He just continued his life, cycling and not worry about it. Lance, you are incredible.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2003

    Profound Must Read for Everyone!

    It was an honor to read this book. At times funny, at times charming, at times deeply moving, at times thrilling... and most of all, at all times like being with and learning from perhaps one of the most impressive human beings of our time. To say this is a MUST READ is an understatement of grand proportions! Deeply inspiring!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2004

    Best Sports Book out...fun to read.

    Lance almost bears all in his stories about winning the last two TOUR de France races. Having watched the last TOUR and now having read Lance's book I appreciate more the torture of the TOUR...it must be an incredible thrill to win this unique event. To Lance, good luck make it SIX, and I pray you and Kik get back together.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2003

    Wonderful!!

    This book is truly my favorite. A very moving book.Parts of the book had me crying. I wish more people would read this book because they don't know what they're missing. I just hope Lance keeps writing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 16, 2003

    A great read!

    It's hard to think of it this way, but this book was a more enjoyable read than 'It's Not About The Bike'. Hard to think of it that way, as we are speaking about a person's life experiences, but it was 'entertaining' to hear about what jumps through his mind at different points in his ride through life. If you have ever watched Lance ride a bicycle, you have probably put yourself in his shoes at least for a second, and wondered what it would be like. This book helps answer some of that for you. The writing style is captivating, and down-to-earth. It's good to hear he sits back and has a beer (and listens to Marley!). Makes it all seem that much more amazing. A regular guy goes all out and achieves his goals. So.. sit back, relax and hitch onto Lance's wheel as you follow him along through a crazy stretch of road. Peace

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2003

    Another Yellow Jersey, Another Great Book...

    Lance's straight forward, tell it like it is style is evident again. He is a master at making his life and experience relevant to all. He inspires on the bike and in print. He truly is 'driven by what's inside...'

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 10, 2003

    Family, Teammates and Cancer Survivors mean more than wins!

    Lance fans and even those who nothing about him will love this book, I finished it in two evenings. His amazing comeback from cancer gave him an insight into how to live his life better and Every Second Counts proves it. Lance is very honest about himself, he doesn't claim to be perfect and knows he didn't get where he is by himself. His humility and acknowledgement of the importance of his teammates, family and friends is refereshing to see in this day of athletes who think they did it all alone. The sections dealing with his work with cancer patients and survivors let you see Lance as a deeply caring man who is dedicated to helping defeat the disease and help others survive as he has. For those of us who are Tour de France and cycling fans, the inside information on what goes on in the peloton and this years exciting race are fabulous. The book is remarkably candid, Lance is in a class by himself!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 30, 2003

    Ride with me

    Mr. Armstrong's decision to share his journey is touching and therapeutic to me. I consider myself a private person and ask myself if I had the same experience could I share so much of me. He turned himself inside out(pretty much like I would a pair of socks). He reminded me its O.K to be human, to feel pain, hopelessnes, despair and even anger. But He did not stop there. He acknowledged these feelings/emotions and used them to transform and rejuvinate rather than debilitate. Sharing all the details was a welcomed and gentle invitation to journey with him and I am so glad I did!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2003

    'Anticipating' Lance rules...

    It's not about the bike, has bin a great insperation to me. Lance has shown that if you cant play wiht the big boy's,Dont play at all!!TRU champ, and my hero.I sugest to all school teacher's to incurage your student's to read both book's.Inspire them.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2003

    As thrilling as a ride on the Madone.

    An excellent read, with a different perspective than Lance's first book. I immensely enjoyed the extra chapter on this year's Tour de France and especially Luz Arden.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2003

    Your last book helped me, Lance

    I'm looking forward to reading more about Lance's amazing life. Can't wait for 'Every Second Counts.' Ride on, Lance.

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