O.K., these things happen in bike racing. I just had no idea they might happen with me in The Car. Too late now.
It was 96�, and here was Discovery rider George Hincapie taking eight water bottles from Bruyneel and stuffing them down the back of his jersey. Except when Hincapie got back to the front, he radioed, "Hey, where'd everybody go?"
Peeing. Most of the riders in the race were all peeing by the side of the road. The leader, Armstrong, had decided to pull over and pee, which meant everybody could pull over and pee, because that's tradition.
Bruyneel, however, sped on like Joey Chitwood on acid. Suddenly, as I was fearing for the lives of a happy group of French schoolchildren, there was this loud thump on my door. I gasped, sure we'd hit a cop or at least a cow. No, it was Armstrong, grinning like Bart Simpson. He'd smacked the door as he pedaled, just to scare the spleen out of me.
I rolled down the window and mentioned that we were kind of busy and could he come back later? And he said something I'll never forget: "You really look old!"
It's a very odd thing to chat for a minute with Lance Armstrong out your car window at 36 mph.
How are you? Some heat, huh?
Sure is. O.K., got to win the Tour de France now, see ya.
After four hours of seeing only cyclists' butts, I didn't notice or care who had won the stage, only that we'd mercifully stopped. Armstrong had not lost a second of his lead. At 34 he looked like a mortal lock to win a never-to-be-matched seventh straight Tour. Unlike some people, this guy apparently never gets old.
Afterward, I saw him at the hotel and asked if, by making this his last race, he was leaving one or two more Tour wins on the table.