Riding with Armstrong and the Trek Madone

Lance looks thrilled

A couple years ago Trek unveiled their 2008 Madone road bike in Madison, Wisconsin. This new Madone was a break from the OCLV frames we’d seen from them in the past, so it was a big deal for the company. The Madone was launched with a lot of fanfare in a theater in downtown Madison with not only word wide press but their dealers as well. After the presentation was over, myself, a friend and a few marketing people from Trek decided to go out. It was still early and we’d heard Main Street was the place to be. Long story short – we stayed out to a point that the company’s marketing people who were with us and our ride back, called it a night. I’ve been lost in all sorts of foreign countries and found my way to my hotel so I wasn’t worried about getting back to the ours in Madison.

When the bars closed my buddy and I found a cab that would take us back to our hotel for the remaining amount of money we still had in our pockets. Good times.

The following morning all the attending journalists were going to ride the new Madone and the recently retired Lance Armstrong was going to join us. Needless to say that was like throwing chum into the ocean. All the journalists were worked up into a frenzy about getting a chance to ask Lance something. As we prepped our Madones in the hotel parking lot, Armstrong, out of the blue, rolled over looking to get the ride started and over with. I actually don’t blame him. He must have known he was going to get hammered with cycling questions during the whole ride. I had another idea though.

We rolled out of the hotel and immediately it began- the jostling to be next to Lance. I snuck my way behind him and I could already hear him fielding such questions as, “what was your favorite climb?” Finally, I slid in next to him and introduced myself. I asked the obligatory questions about the Madone, he responded appropriately hitting all the bullet points in describing the bike. After his replies I deviated from the script.

I launched into telling him about our time on State Street. He seemed to be honestly interested in the good time my BFFand I had. Perhaps it was the welcome break of describing over and over the ride qualities of the Madone that made my conversation interesting. By the time I was done regaling him with stories of passed students in the gutter, tossing a sofa into the street, running up bar tabs and waking up CyclingNews’ James Huang for cab money, it was well over five minutes. I knew that it was better to end the conversation on a high note of our stupid late night antics than just puttering out with a lame story of eating hotel breakfast food. I told him thanks, slid off the front and back into the group of quote hungry journalists.

Lance gives the low-down on the Madone

An American journalist rode over to me and asked me how I was able to spend that much time talking to him. I said think about it, he’s rich and (at the time) single, what do you think we talked about?

On press junkets the company educates journalists on their new product. But I like to think that on that trip I educated some people on the potentiality of the good times to be had on State Street.


  1. azcycledad says:

    I used to, many years ago, do celeberty interviews for the world’s airlines as part of the production crew. We would have to read bios and think up questions to enlighten our listeners about the personality of our featured artist. We usually never got into controversial areas and tried to paint the interviewee in a positive light. One time we had to meet up with Teddy Pendergrass and had chosen an attractive lady of color for the job as the interviewer. As the interview progressed she asked the obligatory questions about his career and the new record (CD’s were very new then)that was being released. But, Teddy was beginning to notice the under 30 lovely sitting in front of him and he began to flirt a little. She noticed that and, after some minutes, suddenly asked Teddy, “So, Teddy, how do you like your eggs?” With utter surprise we all began to laugh. Teddy the loudest! And, the rest of the interview went like melting butter on glass.

    I learned that the easiest way to get to a busy person’s inattention with YOU is to crack an unrelated joke or story that has nothing to do with why you’re there. We, from that time on, incorporated that technique into all our interviews–IT WORKS.

    What does this have to do with cycling? More than you might think. Diversion – LEGAL diversion – keeps us from burn out. Lighten up the seriousness of training and racing with something else from time to time. Go have some fun and maybe you too will get to spend 5 smiling minutes with ole LA talking crap. Atta-baby Neil!

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