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On Lance Armstrong and open water success

Next week the Tour de France begins.

It's one of my favorite times of year when I enjoy the ability to telecommute, work via phone and Internet while sipping coffee and watching the colorful peleton ride through France on my TV screen.

Sherpa thinks I'm nuts. (Well, he thinks that in general, but this is one specific example.) In turn I will randomly shout out names of Tour riders -- "Alberto CONTADOR!" -- just to get that quizzical look.

I am a Joanne-come-lately to the sport of cycling and while I had heard of Lance Armstrong's feats on the bike, didn't really pay attention until his seventh and final Tour de France win.

Armstrong put cycling on the American sports radar. His triumph over testicular cancer and his passion for cancer research and helping those with the disease through his Livestrong Foundation have made him a household name. His yellow bracelets helped spark the message band phenomena and he has helped bring healthy living to the forefront of many American's lives.

But, he just can't seem to stay out of the tabloids.

This weekend The New York Times ran an article about Armstrong, wondering if his penchant for getting in the gossip columns, most notably through the high profile women he dates, hurts his ability to be a serious spokesman and fund raiser for cancer research.

Sometimes, I'm not sure where I fall on the Lance Armstrong pendulum. I respect and awe the cyclist. I can get completely nauseated by the celebrity. But that's par for the course in the sports-entertainment industry.

On a much more mundane level, I had an extra open water swim session on Saturday as I coaxed some Buffalo Triathlon Club members out to Lake Erie.

For the record, I swam 200 meters continuously -- on three different occasions. My head was down in the water. I was gliding in my freestyle motion. I was in a rhythm.

I was swimming and it put me on an endorphins high for the rest of the weekend.

I make no promises about Sunday's Quakerman Triathlon in Orchard Park, but I'm pretty confident that the backstroke won't be in my repertoire.

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