Bicycles and Books

In preparation for a cycling holiday I am due to go on later this year I decided to sign up for ‘Ride’ classes at the gym. I haven’t cycled regularly since I rode my bicycle to school many years ago so was a bit nervous. Reactions like ‘Are you sure you can manage?’ from friends didn’t help. Suggestions were given like using a stationary bicycle at the gym and doing my own thing at a more moderate pace instead of attending a class. But that seemed far too boring. So I went ahead and booked. On the online class booking app I was instructed to ‘choose

Me cycling in Munich in 2014

my position’. I chose the bicycle as far away from the instructor as I possibly could. I fished out of my cupboard my brand new, frightfully luminous pink, disgustingly revealing padded cycle pants. When I added the demure little skort over the top I looked suitably modest. I was ready. Let the Ride begin!

Now, before I let you know how the Ride went, I’ll talk a bit about books as no doubt you’re wondering what books have to do with bicycles.

Well, when contemplating a boring session on a bicycle by myself, my helpful friend suggested I listen to an audiobook while pedaling away. Good idea! I had recently finished listening to the audiobook The Lioness of Morocco by Julia Drosten. This book would’ve kept me in the saddle for almost 13 hours – a decent amount of training for a holiday I would say. But would it have kept the boredom away? On the whole, yes. It’s a charming romance set in a place and era I know very little about. The main character is a likeable, although rather simplistic, Englishwoman. What I did feel got a bit longwinded was the ‘saga’ nature of the story. The family and their children, and children’s children got me wondering when it would end – a bit like a gym cycling session? Another saga I’d recently finished was the historical novel Sarum by Edward Rutherford. In this ‘novel of England’ the story follows five families from 7500 years BC right up to 1985 AD. Eight hundred and ninety seven pages – and about one year – later and I would’ve had calves like a Tour de France cyclist had I listened to that while training.

Well, back to my Ride session. I did pretty well thank you very much and didn’t suffer too much from sore muscles in the derriere the next day. Success! Whether I continue with the classes or do my own thing in the gym, my holiday is approaching and time is short. So, to hasten my training along, perhaps I’ll increase the speed on my next Audible book – Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – and instead of training to a saga, I’ll puff away to a short story. Either way here’s to bicycles and books!

A story well told and revealed in The Armstrong Lie

A review by Brenda Daniels

The Armstrong Lie is the fourth release in Cinema Nouveau’s short Doccie Fest. It documents cyclist Lance Armstrong’s revelation of drug use during his famous Tour de France wins.

The documentary swings into immediate action with Armstrong’s interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2013. Here he admits to using performance enhancing drugs during his Tour de France cycling.

It then goes back a few years and picks up the story in 2009 when Armstrong chose to make a comeback to the Tour after a four year break. At that time the documentary was intended to film his return to the sport. The comeback turned out to be his downfall, however, when the truth came out.

The documentary changes tack accordingly.

Documentaries can be obviously subjective, inconclusive and, at times, tedious to watch. The Armstrong Lie is none of those. It contains only real footage, and lots of interviews with cyclists and Armstrong himself. Apart from one short spell of slow-moving action three quarters of the way through, this two-hour film is an interesting, compelling watch.

What emerges is the enormous extent of the lie, Armstrong’s arrogance, his level of power, his almost constant lack of conscience, and his overarching thirst to be the best. It was these traits that helped Armstrong use performance enhancing drugs with such professionalism that he went undetected for so long.

It is quite clear that other cyclists, including those within his own team, were also guilty of drug use. But Armstrong’s fame, his romantic story of recovery from cancer, and the fact that he earned $120 million, served to make the Armstrong lie a much greater betrayal.

The Armstrong Lie opens at Cinema Nouveau in South Africa on 13 June.

Cyclist Lance Armstrong being interviewed after cycling. Photo: Supplied

Cyclist Lance Armstrong being interviewed after cycling. Photo: Supplied

The film poster for The Armstrong Lie, releasing in South African cinemas 13 June. Photo: Supplied.

The film poster for The Armstrong Lie, releasing in South African cinemas 13 June. Photo: Supplied.