Lance Armstrong and I first met at the 1992 U.S. Olympic Trials in Altoona, PA when I experienced my first glimpse of Lance's powerful glare as a journalist covering cycling. Our first meeting was hardly cordial. I ambushed Lance immediately after the race, before anyone else could get to him, and asked some tough questions that Lance did not want to hear. But before the interview ended, we forged a professional relationship that would continue, roller-coaster style, for the next eight years. This memoir is about my time covering Lance before he became one of the most recognized personalities on the planet. Most of our interviews transcended into discussions on life. After that first meeting in Altoona, I made it my quest to be the first reporter running along side Lance whenever he raced in the US. I covered him as a freelancer for his hometown newspaper, the Austin American-Statesman, and wrote about him for a number of publications. In May of 1996 I pitched the idea of writing his biography, and he endorsed the idea. The next day, I was the first journalist to point out that something might be amiss with Lance. No one had any idea what would unfold. Four months later, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. He granted me an interview in the midst of his chemotherapy — just one of three journalists allowed access to him. This is the story of how he was then, and how he impacted my life. The public perception of Lance has changed dramatically since those days. I've come to determine that it really doesn't matter. Regardless of who he is today, or how I feel about him today, a simple truth reigns above all else. Nothing can change the past. We can only change our interpretation of it. The fact remains that Lance Armstrong influenced a lot of people. He changed a lot of lives. Some for good. Some not for good. I only know that he changed mine for the better. I can’t change that. I wouldn’t want to.
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About the Author
Born and raised in Wisconsin, John Rezell has visited 44 states, lived in seven, and calls Oregon his home. He began his newspaper career in high school, writing for the sports section of The Brookfield News. While studying journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, he wrote for the student newspaper and worked for the Janesville Gazette. Once out of college, he began a career of climbing up the newspaper ladder, beginning with smalltown journalism at the Jefferson County Daily Union in Fort Atkinson, WI where he was a do-it-all sports editor — writing, editing, layout pages and taking photos. From there he crossed the Mississippi River into Iowa to work for the Dubuque Telegraph Herald. Continuing his Westward march, he spent the bulk of his newspaper career at The Orange County Register in Santa Ana, CA. There he created the weekly cycling column, as he focused on off-beat sports like beach volleyball, surfing, running — any assignment that might include bringing suntan lotion. After a freelance career establishing himself as the premiere cycling journalist in the US, he became editor of VeloNews magazine. Later he started the e-magazine bike.com, and eventually came full circle back to newspapers as an outdoor columnist for The Register-Guard in Eugene, OR. In 2015, he will publish three ebooks. Two of the books (Taken for a Ride and A More Simple Time: How Cycling Saved My Soul) chronicle his early days of covering bicycle racing, including his relationship with a young Lance Armstrong (Taken for a Ride). The third book, You Can't Cook a Dead Crab and Eat It, is the life-changing story of how John and his wife Debbie decided to find the perfect place to raise their daughters. In 2005, they sold as much of their belongings as possible in an endless Moving Sale, packed the rest into storage and spent 85 days traveling 8,000 miles while living in a pop-up camper as they explored the American West in search of a place to call home. John is working on his next book, based on his outdoors column he wrote for The Register-Guard that focuses on adventures in nature with his family in Oregon and many National Parks.