I'm getting there.Whatever that means.It's a process. You know, I did this for 20 years. That may sound funny because I'm only 34, but I started doing pro triathlons when I was 15.
So you can't reach up and switch it off.
No, it's a hard shift. I mean, physically it's difficult, because the body has been used to doing that for so long. For over half of my life, every day exercise, exercise, exercise. If you took that away from anybody it would be a dramatic adjustment. On the emotional side, it's a different set of challenges. But I've been busy as hell, which has been good. It keeps me going and motivated.
One of the things that I went through when I retired is that I had such a routine. I would get up at six in the morning and I would have a flight plan. I knew where I was going to land at 6:30 every night. Now I've got to get up in the morning and follow my own flight plan, and I haven't completely worked out that regimen yet. Is that part of what you're going through?
Well, my life before was very simple: eat, sleep, train. That's it. There's nothing else. And everyone leaves you alone and lets you do that. Now, in my new job as a cancer survivor and as a person who wants to effect great change in that arena, it's much different. I'm in meetings or I'm traveling more.
World's greatest athlete, staying tuned up all the time. How much of that are you doing now?
I've had about six months when I've completely let myself go.
But your version of letting yourself go is different.
Yeah, but when I finished the Tour on July 24 I looked at myself in the mirror and said, "That's it." I mean, I was 3 percent body fat. I was in the best shape of my life. I said, "Hey buddy, that's it. It's over. Take a good look, 'cause it's never coming back. You'll get soft, you'll breathe harder, your ass will hurt more when you ride, your back will hurt, you'll start to lose it." And I knew that.
You didn't train every day?
No, I had no desire to train. I still like to go out and do stuff, but I didn't do much. I would run occasionally; I would ride occasionally. And the travel doesn't help. When you're on the road that much, really the only thing you can do is run or go to the gym. You can't take a bike everywhere you go, because you don't know where you are and it's hard to carry a bike around. But now, in the past week, I've been getting back into it.
What does that mean? Are you riding every day?
Whatever I can do. I'm working with a trainer, somebody who actually goes around with me. Because I can't miss that component; otherwise the balance is way off. I've done it too long. And it doesn't need to be six hours a day. Like, yesterday we rode two and a half hours. The day before we did a 5K run in the morning, and in the afternoon we did a little ride followed by some core exercises and stretching.
What's the objective?
The objective is to limit the slide. I'm 15 pounds heavier than when I finished the Tour. And just to feel good. When I exercise every day I feel a lot better. It's funny, I was mountain biking last week with Laird Hamilton, who is the toughest of the tough dudes. And he's not particularly complicated, a pretty straightforward guy. And we're just riding along, talking about this whole thing, what you do when you retire, and he says, "You're not going to like yourself out of shape." And it's true. I don't need to have 3 percent body fat, but I want to be fit and healthy and feel good.
What's your diet now?
Well, it's gotten better [laughs]. I eat a lot less now than when I raced. When you exercise six hours a day your body's gonna need some food, decent food.
Do you have a regimented diet of some kind?
No, I'm a big fan of traditional European food. I like cold beer, good red wine, and good food, but I don't eat a lot. I read somewhere that one of the healthiest places is Corsica. A lot of olive oil, a lot of fish, a lot of red wine.
When was the last time you had too much to drink?
Recently. I mean, for 20 years I lived like a monk, but now if you open a bottle of red, I'll be the first one at the table.
Or crack a Corona?
A cold Corona with lime. Or a margarita with great tequila, not too sweet, no salt. Sign me up. I love that. I love it.