You may be familiar with Lance Armstrong.
From 1999 to 2005, he was one of the most powerful athletes in sports. Today, he is a controversial figure. But regardless of what you know or don't know about Lance Armstrong, you don't know Armstrong as a railfan.
Or at least, he sure looks like a railfan in his latest podcast.
In addition to his athletic palmarès, Armstrong founded the Livestrong Foundation, an organization that has raised hundreds of millions of dollars for oncology and support for individuals with cancer. He co-authored a book with Sally Jenkins entitled "It Is Not About The Bike", which is a #1 New York Times best seller. He had his hand on political levers big enough to both pass Proposition 15, a $3 billion bond initiative to benefit cancer prevention and research, and to call-off a federal investigation into sports doping. In recent years, Armstrong is an organizing force behind WEDU, which, among other things, is a family of podcasts (The Move and The Forward) that feature noted guests such as: Alex Honnold, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Sami Hagar, and Jason Isbell.
In the most recent edition of The Move podcast, Armstrong and his co-hosts, JB Hager and George Hincapie, conduct a live show from Violet Crown Cinema in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The show set is adjacent to commuter tracks, and it previews this year's edition of the Tour de France. It is likely to be among The Move's most watched podcasts of the year.
And, here is where things get interesting.
At the beginning of the clip below, a train interrupts the live podcast. But, where the co-hosts treat the train as a minor distraction, Armstrong disengages completely so to watch it pass--he even goes so far to rotate his shoulders away from the camera. After the motive power clears the frame, Hincapie attempts to restart the conversation. But as you can see in the video, Armstrong is mentally absent so long as the train is in view--live camera, production values and podcast be damned.
It is a classic gambler's tell.
Everyone: these are the actions of a railfan.
Lance: we know, because we live in this world too. And, it's okay.
The world knows Lance Armstrong as a lot of things--he is a complex and polarizing figure for sure. But, I think we just saw a glimpse of something that we didn't know. Lance Armstrong just may be a railfan. And so, to Lance, the invitation is yours: embrace your railfan impulse. Jump in with both feet. Build the railroad.
Believe me, the water is great.