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Lance Armstrong visits Griffith Park


It started as a tweet from one of the world's greatest cyclists:

"Hey LA - get out of your cars and get on your bikes. Time to ride. 7:30 tomorrow am. Griffith Park, LA Zoo parking lot. See you there.." Lance Armstrong wrote Wednesday on Twitter.

The message spread quickly, and when 19-year-old Richard Ponce of Silver Lake saw it online, he immediately got on the phone and called his friends to join.

"I've been following Lance Armstrong, and he's always been a hero to me," Ponce said this morning, perched atop his yellow bicycle in the zoo's parking lot. "He comes to L.A., brings everybody together."

Sure enough, hundreds of people turned out this morning to ride for an hour alongside the seven-time Tour de France winner in Griffith Park. Some woke up early and drove to Los Angeles from San Diego and other Southern California cities. Others, such as Ponce, live just a few minutes away.

Armstrong arrived at the parking lot a few minutes after 7:30 a.m. and was surrounded by cyclists hoping for autographs and a handshake, and news crews hoping to catch the athlete on camera before he sped off.

"It's mayhem; it's crazy," said Dave White, 27, of Burbank. "I'm looking for an autograph."

In a black jersey and yellow helmet, Armstrong led the group through three loops around a section of the park. Not everyone at Griffith Park knew what was happening. As the cyclists went by and photographers positioned themselves along the route, onlookers wondered about the commotion.

"Did you hear this? Lance Armstrong is coming by!" one woman, who said she was visiting from New York, told a friend near the Wilson-Harding Management Center. "What?" the friend asked. "Lance Armstrong is coming by! That's why all the photographers are here," the first woman said.

Most riders said they wanted to get a glimpse of Armstrong, the man they had seen so often on television but seldom, if ever, in person.

Some said he had inspired them with his story of battling cancer. Margaret McGlynn, 44, said she is on a Disney triathlon team and trains on her bicycle in the area about twice a week.

McGlynn said she went to see him "because he's awesome," but also because members of her family had been diagnosed with cancer in the last year. She held up her wrist, which sported a yellow Livestrong bracelet.

The ride ended about 8:30 a.m. and most of the cyclists, after trying to get an autograph at the end of the ride, talked of beginning their days and going to work.

Armstrong said he enjoyed the event, and joked that a couple of the cyclists had given him a "hurt on the climb" up a hill.

"It was good," he said. "Be back soon."

A little later, he sent out another tweet:

"Great ride in Griffith Park. Thanks, LA!" he wrote. "... Off to Montreal ..."

-- Ari B. Bloomekatz in Griffith Park

Photo: Lance Armstrong, in the center of the pack with a yellow and black helmet, leads hundreds of riders around Griffith Park. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (20)

I'm in this picture. Does anyone know if it's possible to request or purchase a high res version? Oh and thanks Lance for making my day!

Thank you LANCE! It was a great ride.....truly awesome.

I was there and it was amazing! Can't say I could keep up with the man, but he did get me out of bed at 5:20. Thanks Lance!

Awesome. Twitter is good for something after all!

"Hey LA - get out of your cars and get on your bikes. Time to ride."

-- Lance Armstrong

"Some woke up early and drove to Los Angeles from San Diego and other Southern California cities."

-- LA Times

So, people drove to ride their bike? No thanks, Lance. Go back to France.

Fun ride today! Thanks Lance

OK, this is the little push I needed to finally get on Twitter. I read that Lance did the same thing recently when he was in Glasgow, Scotland, and about 400 locals showed up for a ride. I cycled in Griffith Park alone last night but had no idea Lance had thrown an open invite to riders for this morning otherwise I would have been there in a heartbeat. Oh well, next time!

I am so bummed I did not know about this. I have the day off and would have definately joined the ride. Can anyone tell me when Lance Armstrong will be back in the Los Angeles area again for "anything"? I'd like to say I rode with this exceptional human being, and I have some posters I'd like to get autographed.

Hope to see his advice of getting out of our cars and onto our bikes followed beyond his presence here in LA.

What an amazing story. I love that Lance did this! Makes me want to get more involved with Twitter :-)

I was there too - woohoo! Lance is a hero and was such an inspiration to me while I was battling cancer. Yes, some of us had to take our cars to ride with him, but all the more reason to fight for better bike paths in one of the most bike -unfriendly cities in the world.

Right on, Lance, we were honored to have you in LA. Come back soon.

why drugs work

Lance Armstrong inspire many people including me. We can learn many things from him like -never give up, live life to the fulliest.

Who cares?? This guy just loves the attention, too bad he doesn't give it to his kids.

Brilliant. Spontaneous mass exercise. How absolutely cool was that?

Thanks Lance.

-Los Angeles

It's awesome to know that the best rider in the world doesn't forget about his fans. It's the best thing "The Lance" can do to inspire the experienced as well as new riders in the sport. Thanks Armstrong, you're the best ever.

Hey T, you'll have a different perspective on what Lance is all about when you or someone you love is diagnosed with cancer. Til then, can it. Or better yet, get a bike.

Lance does it again!! He is just amazing...If any of you guys are looking for an awesome nutritional program and high quality pharmaceutical supplements for better performance please come check us out at gsysconcepts.

@dds What did you expect? This is Los Angeles =P

I am almost willing to bet there were more cars parked in the LA Zoo parking lot than riders on their bikes.

I would have ridden my way there to join them (about 40 miles round trip) but I teach at Santa Monica College from 7 to 8am.

Next time perhaps =)

Thank you Lance for providing us Los Angelenos with a great reason to ride our bicycles. Your friends at yikes ID, the leading provider of visible identification for cyclists and runners, are behind your cause to fight cancer.



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