Now that Lance Armstrong has announced he will take part in a recreational bike ride across Iowa this summer, the question is: How will other cyclists treat him?
“I’m well aware my presence is not an easy topic, and so I encourage people if they want to give a high-five, great,” Armstrong told the Des Moines Register. “If you want to shoot me the bird, that’s OK, too.”
The disgraced cyclist plans to join in the RAGBRAI, an annual weeklong trek that stretches between the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. Billing itself as the world’s oldest, largest and longest bicycle touring event, the ride will run 406 miles across the state from July 21-27.
The acronym stands for “Register’s annual great bicycle ride across Iowa.” As many as 10,000 people participate each year.
Armstrong has been at the RAGBRAI before. This time, he will be joined by staff members from a bicycle ship he owns in Austin, Texas, and plans to stick around for at least three or four days of the ride.
Less than a year has passed since he was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and acknowledged on national television to extensive use of performance-enhancing drugs during his career, so he suspects that not all riders will be happy to see him.
“To be honest, it’s not a statement, it’s not an experiment,” Armstrong said. “It’s just me wanting to go ride my bike with what in the past has been a friendly group of people that share the same interests.”