Bikes vs. The World: Round #3 – Lance Armstrong vs. Neil Armstrong

Nov 21 2005

Yeah, I know, this one is obvious. If you gave a 7-year-old kid a cycling blog, this is probably the sort of crap he’d come up with. But come on, I can’t keep filling this page with arcane nonsense or no one will want to read it.

Category Bike Culture:
Lance Armstrong
Pop Culture:
Neil Armstrong
Claim to Fame: First man to win 7 Tours de France First man to walk on the moon Neil; More danger + fewer moonwalkers than TdF winers = more greatness
Overcoming Adversity: Beat post-metastasis testicular cancer Flew 78 Korean War combat missions Draw; both things are known to kill you
Portents of Future Greatness: Won World Title at only 21 Recieved Air Medal and two Gold Stars at only 21 Neal; Lance risked losing, Neil risked his life.
Famous Quote: “F@¢& you, Chiappucci!” “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Neil; for obvious reasons
Dirty Little Secret: Urine samples from 1999 Tour win apparenly show evidence of EPO use Someone else wrote his famous quote, and he misread it (said “for man” instead of “for a man’) Neil; I like his version better, anyway
Hounded By: French journalists jealous of success Conspiracy theorists saying the landing was faked Draw; both persecutors lost their credibilty long ago
Disregard for Self-Preservaton: Ignored swollen testicle until it became too big for him to ride a bike Used Purdue engineering degree to become test pilot Lance; Ignoring cancer is way risker
Presidential Appointments: Two (Presidential Council on Fitness, President’s Cancer Panel) One (presidential commission investigating the Challenger explosion) Lance; more commitees = more greatness, even if Neil was vice-chair of his
Civil Actions: Tons; he’s sued or threatened to sue everyone from journalists to soigneurs to mechanics Just one against a barber who sold his hair clippings without permission Neil; his suit only asked that the hair be returned or the money donated to charity
Lasting Contribution to Society: Emblem of hope for sufferers of debilitating diseases Emblem of humanity’s abilty to achieve the seemingly impossible Draw; both achievements undermined somewhat by drug allegations / Cold War subtext.

What irony that the winningest rider in the history of the Tour de France would turn out to be the first Bike Culture icon to loose a “Bikes vs. The World” event, in a near-blowout 5-2 decision. I suppose the competition was pretty tough, though, with his opponent being one of only 24 people to ever leave Earth’s orbit, and one of only 12 to walk on the moon. Still, Neil had a 41-year head start on Lance, so perhaps the younger Armstrong can add to his palmares a bit over the coming decades.

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