Ah, 1999—those were the days. It was summertime and we were in Holland for our annual visit with my wife’s family. Normally I didn’t spend a lot of time with the Dutch paper, but on this day a story caught my eye. A young American cyclist had recovered from testicular cancer and surprised everyone by winning the Tour de France. The French were saying, “How is it possible? It’s not possible.” But I said, “Sure it’s possible” (sotto voce: “for an American”). That was the beginning of a great love affair.

The next summer when we were in Holland, I made it a point to watch the Tour live on TV. That’s a leisurely business of viewing castles from the air and waiting for breakaways by ambitious riders. Lance Armstrong won again, and I was hooked. He has the perfect name for a sports hero, no? In my mind I saw the arm on the baking soda box, but with a sword in place of the hammer.

I read his book, It’s Not About the Bike, and that impressed me even more. His story wasn’t just about sports, it was about life: surviving, overcoming odds, doing your best, and offering yourself in service to others. When a friend’s sister was diagnosed with cancer, I passed the book on to her.

In 2001 we moved to Holland. From then on I was able to follow the Tour intensely. Cycling is huge in the Netherlands. All the races—the Giro, the Vuelta, the Tour of Flanders—are shown on the...

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About the Author

Timothy P. Schilling studied English at Princeton and theology at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, and earned a doctorate in practical theology at the Katholieke Theologische Universiteit te Utrecht. Since 2003 he has served on the staff of the Center for Parish Spirituality, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.