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Viral Video: Lance Armstrong fixes a flat (but probably not his rep)

Outside Magazine tries to recast (and rehab) the disgraced Tour de France champ in this how-to-change-a-flat-tire video.

Spring is the season when casual bike riders pull their two-wheelers out of hibernation and hit the streets and trails of the Northwest. If you are like me and have never bothered to learn how to change a flat tire, why not finally get help from the best? Outside Magazine, in a charming effort to rehabilitate the disgraced Tour de France champ Lance Armstrong, has installed him as our host in this short how-to video.

The magazine always hates when one of their super heroes turns out to be merely human after all, whether it’s a mountain climber who dies in a fall, a big wave surfer drowned in the sea or an endurance athlete like Armstrong who cheated his way into the history books then lied about it for years. Nothing blurs Outside’s rose-colored view of the world, or casts a pall over its monthly gift guides and best-of lists like the untidiness of death and ignominy.

So it’s no surprise to find Armstrong looking humble (or is he faking it?), affable (is that smile genuine?) and likeable (really?) as he walks us through a few simple flat-changing steps. Outside has decided to poke fun at his ruined image, with Armstrong playing along. Even the video’s website caption is an off-hand joke: “Cycling’s most infamous rider has been looking for work lately. We caught up with him at his latest bike-shop gig to hear a few pointers about what to do when you break down.”

The video begins with a “Hi, I’m Lance Armstrong,” introduction, then an on-screen text reminder (“7 Time Tour de France Champion”), followed quickly by a cheeky asterisk next to the graphic (“Hey, I didn’t write the script,” shrugs Armstrong).

Well, unfortunately Lance, you did write the script. And all I could think of when watching him pretend to be just another bike shop gear-head were the unsightly skid marks of his career: the lies told, the friends betrayed, the entourage stabbed in the back. As the camera kept cutting to a close-up of his hands inserting a fresh innertube, I even wondered if those were really his hands or a body double’s.

This silly little video seems unconcerned with the distracting issues of Armstrong’s trust and credibility, and as a baby step in his career makeover it’s harmless. But do Armstrong and Outside really believe we're ready to forgive and forget?  

For more Viral Video nuggets, go here.


Rustin Thompson is a filmmaker, film critic and indie radio deejay. He enjoys strong coffee, red wine, IPAs and his wife and grown children. He is comfortable with the fact he will never be rich, but grows petulant if he thinks too much about it.

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