Not very much. I think the media has changed over the years. You would know a lot better than I, but pop culture today is about what Lindsay Lohan did yesterday, and what Barry Bonds did. It's not necessarily credible. I try to filter it through my own experience. Clearly Bonds is getting jumped on. Maybe for a reason, maybe not.
The book [Game of Shadows: Barry Bonds, BALCO, and the Steroids Scandal that Rocked Professional Sports] is pretty strong.
Yeah, I haven't read the book.
He did go from zero to 60. I mean, he was always great, but there was a quantum leap forward for all those guys.
And Tom, that's my thing: If you want to talk about going from zero to 60, well, let's just talk about zero. Zero for me was a 15-year-old professional triathlete competing with Mark Allen and Dave Scott, the best of the best. In pro cycling I was the youngest world champion of all time. I was winning stages of the Tour at 21. That had never been done.
You weren't going from zero to 60.
That's right. There's no mystery there. The progression was natural. The disease in the middle was the X factor, the one thing that said, "Okay, buddy, you're not sure you're gonna be here tomorrow or next week or next year. You better hit it hard." It really changed my focus and motivation as an athlete. But you can go back 15 years, and it's all there.
You have this unusual assortment of friends: Lyle Lovett, Robin Williams...
Tell me about Robin Williams.
Robin's friendship is really based on cycling. It's his favorite sport, his favorite hobby. He loves to collect bikes. I've never seen somebody with so many bikes. I've never seen him on the same bike twice. I'll say, "Jesus Christ, Robin, what are you doing with all these bikes, and what does your wife say?" And he's like, "I tell her, 'You know, I could be into...'" But he loves to bike. We ride if we're in San Francisco. We ride if we're here in New York. He's a fanatic, and he's been a really big supporter. He comes to the Tour. If I'm getting an award, or if we're having a gala for the foundation, he's always there. You can count on him, which is a true sign of friendship.
And good for comic relief at the right moments, too.
The thing about Robin is he's brilliant. Well-read. That's where his comedy comes from, his intellect.
Pretty good athlete, too.
You're right. He's impressive.
What about Lyle?
Lyle is not into cycling. Lyle and I met through motorcycling. We went on this trip to Baja.
Down on the Baja 1000 course, just cruising around down there on a big tour. And, obviously, he's another Texan, so he lives fairly close. Comes to Austin a lot and we see each other. Lyle's maybe the sweetest person I know. Never says a cussword. Never says anything bad about anybody. Never has more than one beer.
But he has nothing to do with cycling.
No. Not that I know of. Horses and motorcycles and music.
It would be a little hard to get a helmet on that head of hair, actually.
[Laughs] Never tried. He gets a motorcycle helmet on it.