Bikezilla

Ride the Puddles

A Conversation With Bill Strickland: Part 1: The Beginning

Posted by bikezilla on April 27, 2011


Part 1, Emma O’Reilly’s Anger at Bill Strickland, Part 2, Part 3, Bill Strickland’s NPR Interview, Part 4, Part 5, Postscript

A few days ago I was a “follower” of Bill Strickland’s ( editor of Bicycling Magazine, author of “Tour de Lance”) on Twitter. Evening came and, poof, without personally having made any changes, I was no longer a follower.

So I made a snippy lil Tweet about being “blocked” by Bill Strickland, aka @TrusBS on Twitter.

Later that day Bill Tweeted back that no such thing had happened. He said that he not only did not block me, but that he had no idea who I was.

Ok, whatev. “Interesting”, I replied. “Was it “magic? Follow gremlins?”.

Blah, blah, blah.

God, this Lance Fanboy is such an ass!

Then Bill, right the “Lance Fanboy Ass”, took the time to discuss my concerns and my irritation with him and with his writing, specifically with his relationship and history with Lance Armstrong, with his role as Lance Fanboy Ass, with his lack of truthfulness about Armstrong’s doping and poor behavior, with his ambiguous answers to those accusations.

Remember that this first section of conversation occurred via Twitter, in 140 character blurbs. Most of that format / editing has been left intact.

On Twitter 22 April 2011:

Bill Strickland

“Read your site after clicking it off your profile…don’t see reason for special enmity. Lots don’t like me or my writing.”

Bikezilla

i never said you weren’t a good writer.

Bill Strickland

“The way I always think of it is: If you take the time to read, you deserve to have an opinion.

Well, whatever you don’t like —my reporting, ethics, or whatever: My job happens to occur in a public arena, so…

…it’d be dumb of me to expect the public to not comment (bad or good).”

Bikezilla

true dat, and negative interest is still interest

Your print version of the LA article is a great reference. But I don’t buy the Naivety Defense

Bill Strickland

“…not “he can’t have been that naive,” but, “if he’s was that naive, what were the factors in this story that led to it?”

And that, also, could be something that more interesting than damning for a reader…

Agree. I say in the story it very well might have been “willful.” It is a powerful thing to believe, more so to want to believe.

I think more people used to read/listen to understand. Now we, as a society, I think, do so more often to argue”

Bikezilla

I don’t see that as a factor in this particular debate. I think people resent being fed a fantasy as if it was fact.

Bill Strickland

“to consider rather than dismiss belief, will, hope—fantasy, etc.”

Bikezilla

but at very least you had suspicions for years. and you never addressed them, at least not in print. there was no balance

the only factor many of us see is that it was willful. Removing the blinders would have serious negative repercussions.

Bill Strickland

“Although, I wish more people (in general, not just w/doping) would read not to dispute but to try inhabit. So, for instance…”

Bikezilla

It also looks like “well, the LA gravy train has stopped, so now is the opportune moment to turn”

Bill Strickland

“…while to others it looks like I’m wrong & he’s clean, or that I’ve been influenced, or betrayed him…”

Before we could complete our conversation I had to leave. I’d been in McDonalds on my lunch break and had to return to work. But I came away from it feeling that he hadn’t so much answered anything as he had obfuscated.

As I drove from account to account around Chicago’s far north side, I realized that I had more to say and more questions than Twitter, with its 140 character limitation, could do justice to.

So I asked for permission to email Bill, and from that sprung the conversations that this series of articles will be based on.

One of the first thoughts that Bill shared with me was about the notion that he’s become rich due to his relationship with Lance:

“By the way, why do so many people think I’m rich? Don’t you guys out there know any other writers? Of all the ones I personally know, only one, *** ****, is wealthy. Someone tweeted once that I was a sellout; when I came home from work that night, my wife, Beth, asked me where I’d been hiding all the money.”

And later:

“And, I mean, hell, I DO have more money than I ever thought I would when I was a kid on food stamps. Maybe I am “wealthy.”

That IS a pretty common belief. Not necessarily that he’s wealthy, but that he’s done damned fine for himself based solely on his connections to and history with Lance Armstrong. I suppose it also depends on where you set the marker for “wealthy”.

Personally, I have to believe that’s true. It’s not reasonable nor believable to say that he did not profit from that relationship. But how much? To what extent?

With a little digging you can find out a few things about Bill’s success over time.

By age 35 Bill had 3 books in print. They were all non-Lance.

He held the top job at the world’s largest cycling magazine for about five months prior to Lance Armstrong’s first Tour de France victory.

The bulk of Bill’s non-fiction writing and most of his six books have not been about Lance Armstrong.

The book that gets the most critical acclaim is his memoir, Ten Points. It likely did the most for his career among New York book editors, too.

What about his upcoming projects?

“The next three books I’m considering with my agent aren’t about Lance or doping, and only one of them is about cycling.”

So what is Strickland’s career built on, where is it going, what does it rely on?

Is his writing ability the prime moving force? Or is it his relationship with and connection to a single professional cyclist, Lance Armstrong?

Is it possible for his stories to be viewed without the taint of Armstrong? Was he beholden to Lance? Is he still?

Is Bill simply a liar? Is all his future work already suspect?

— I’m not sure how many parts this will be in, or exactly what timeline I’ll use to put them up.

Part 2 should be coming in 2 – 3 days.

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