From the BSNYC Culture Desk: "Comeback 2.0: Up Close and Personal"

Firstly, if you follow Fat Cyclist you already know that he applied for a job with Team RadioShack. You also know that general manager Johan Bruyneel actually replied and offered to fly Fatty out to the team's training camp in Tucson, AZ and give him a Trek Madone if he raises a certain amount of money for World Bicycle Relief and LiveStrong by Friday, December 11th. (If you don't follow Fat Cyclist, simply re-read those last two sentences.) Well, even though "bro-ing down" with a bunch of roadies while they train and try on their new shorts sounds a lot less fun than drinking and sleeping in, Fatty really wants to go anyway. So, if you help him raise the necessary funds, he's giving you the chance to win a Gary Fisher Superfly, the Madone (which will be signed by the whole team), and even some bonus prizes. If you're feeling randy and want to join this orgy of altruism, be sure to donate today.

Speaking of Team RadioShack, its most famous rider is certainly Lance Armstrong, and he is a man who plays many roles. In fact, his public personae are so diverse it can be difficult to keep them all straight. If you sometimes find yourself getting confused, here's a little tip: look at his shirt. This will tell you which role he is playing at that particular moment.

For example, when he's bike racer Lance Armstrong, he wears a cycling jersey:

When he's the founder of the Lance Armstrong Foundation and he's fighting cancer, he wears a dress shirt:

When he's Lance Armstrong the art collector and music fan, he wears something untucked and conservatively hip:

When he's Lance Armstrong the friend of Matthew McConaughey, he wears no shirt at all:

(Some people don't let you wear shoes in their houses; Matthew McConaughey doesn't let you wear a shirt around him at all.)

And when he's Lance Armstrong the bestselling author, he wears a shirt that's open at the collar and that falls stylistically between the cancer-fighting shirt and the art-collecting shirt:
But that's not all. Sometimes the different Armstrongs have "collabos" with each-other, in which case you get to see all of these shirts at once. This is the case with "Comeback 2.0," Armstrong's book documenting his return to professional racing and featuring photographs by Elizabeth Kreutz. I was fortunate enough to receive a copy of this book recently, and so I figured I'd put it through its paces on the BSNYC/RTMS Test Sisal:

While your copy will simply look like the one above, mine also included a special limited edition cover customization kit which is not available in stores:

Simply placing the kit on top of the book allows you to start imagining the possibilities:

At first, I was reluctant to open the cover customization kit, since my plan was to forge Armstrong's autograph on the book and offer it for sale on eBay as soon as I was finished with it, and by including the sealed kit I'd doubtless be able to increase the reserve. So instead I used the miracle of "computers" to play with some different looks. Here's the "Unibrow:"

Here's the "Angry Scotsman" (not to be confused with David Millar):

And here's "Grandpa:"

Ultimately, though, I simply couldn't resist the kit's allure, and so I tore it open and augmented the cover thusly:

This was even more fun than the "Leaders of the World" fold-in featured in the most recent issue of The New Yorker. At first glance it's just their guy and our guy:

But simply fold the page and it becomes this kooky hybrid:

You can't do that with computers.

Best of all, after using the cover customization kit I still had a pair of eyebrows left over, so I used them for the author photo on my copy of "Patrimony" by Philip Roth:

Now he looks like a British judge.

Of course, everybody knows the old saying about books and covers and how you shouldn't judge the former by the latter, and even though this was probably the most awesome cover I'd ever encountered I knew I'd have to actually read the book too. Furthermore, when it comes to old-fashioned printed matter, if you've read my prior book review you know I believe that the best place to read words on actual paper is in the restroom. However, this was no ordinary book; this was a book by Lance Armstrong, a hero to millions who beat cancer and went on to win the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré two times. (Only like ten other riders have won multiple Dauphinés in the race's 62-year history.) I couldn't read this in just an ordinary restroom, and my own restroom would certainly not be "epic" enough for a reading endeavor like this. (Plus, I was out of toilet tissue.) Instead, I'd need to go someplace where both books and restrooms are housed in a suitably inspiring and monumental structure, and where my literary experience would be imbued with a real sense of occasion. After some thought, I finally settled upon the facilities at the New York Public Library on 5th Avenue:

And since this was going to be an "epic," I donned an appropriately "epic" reading outfit which consisted of my Rapha hat, jacket, and scarf, my ironic reading glasses, and of course my Philip Roth novelty eyebrows:

Now suitably attired (and probably on a NSA watchlist of some kind), I got on my bicycle and headed towards Manhattan, but not before stopping in Brooklyn for some gastrointestinal "inspiration:"

Unfortunately, while my East Coast burrito was decidedly sub-"epic," it was also excessively "inspirational," and by the time I reached Prospect Park my inspiration was becoming desperation. In fact, I very nearly abandoned my plan altogether in favor of the sort of restroom in which you would barely bother to peruse a supermarket circular:

However, I thought to myself, "When Lance Armstrong broke his collarbone, did he abandon his comeback plans? No, he did not. He adapted to the circumstances and pressed on." Similarly, while I was in abdominal distress, I was not about to go scampering into a porta-potty, so I too adapted and chose the nearby Brooklyn Public Library instead:

It's not quite as magnificent as the New York Public Library, but it's still big, and it's got gold on it.

Upon arrival, I noticed a fellow cyclist having trouble with his bicycle:

Normally, I might have offered my assistance, but since my situation was critical I chose to ignore him--though I did take the time to properly lock up my Scattante (yes, they'll even steal a Scattante in Brooklyn) next to an old Schwinn:

I also did not have time to ponder the inspirational quote engraved by the entrance:

I, too, was filled with longing, though this longing was not enshrined in my heart. By now, I only longed for one thing, which was to enshrine myself in a stall and adopt the position of Rodin's "Thinker" or this deity with the rabbit ears:

For a brief moment I worried that all the signs in the Brooklyn Library would be in hieroglyphics, but fortunately the one most relevant to me was in English:

Fortunately too there wasn't a crowd and I had the run of the place:

Not only that, but the restroom featured all the amenities. There was a locking door:

Plenty of "supplies:"

And even a hook:

On which I was able to hang my Rapha hat:

Thus ensconced, I began to read. First, in lucid prose, Armstrong told the story of how and why he decided to return to the sport:

Then came the photographs, which were of the highest quality, and which were explained in more lucid prose by Armstrong himself. The first thing that struck me was how much he and I have in common, especially when it comes to visiting restrooms, for at that moment I too was in an aero tuck:

Speaking of restrooms, here's the author proving to the drug testers that he does not use a "Whizzinator:"

But Armstrong's comeback wasn't all bathrooms, and he spent time in all sorts of different settings in the course of his comeback. Here he is in Hawaii on the phone with Dr. Dre:

Even though I was in a far less idyllic setting, I decided to make some phone calls too, and so I whipped out my trusty StarTAC and made prank calls to "Bicycling" magazine. (Bill Strickland falls for the "Fredsayswhat?" thing every time.) Of course, there are also lots of family photos and race photos too, but even though I was thoroughly engrossed in the book the fact is that all restroom visits must come to an end, and so I got myself together, stepped back out into the lobby, bid Bert and Ernie adieu, and left:

Then, on the way back through the park, I saw a woman walking an aardvark:

Once I was back on the test sisal, I skipped ahead to the end of the book. I guess I must have gotten Armstrong's personal copy, because mine had an alternate ending:

That's not exactly how I remember things going down, though perhaps he'll remedy that in Comeback 2.1.

Yes, at first glance, it would appear that both Armstrong and I fell short of our goals. He had to settle for third place, and I had to settle for the Brooklyn Public Library. However, as he says, "in some respects the winning-or-losing aspect of it doesn't matter as much now. What matters most is continuing to dream the dream: to envision challenges, take them on, try your best, and let the chips fall." I feel exactly the same way, though my dream was simply the dream of relieving myself. At any rate, it's good to have Armstrong the bike racer back, if only because instead of turning up on stupid celebrity blogs like Perez Hilton he's once again turning up on stupid cycling blogs where he belongs.

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