In Lance Armstrong's Austin, beer-fuelled disappointment
At a bike shop in a hilly area of Austin, local cyclists gathered on Thursday over beer, wine and pizza to watch disgraced cyclist and Austinite Lance Armstrong confess to Oprah Winfrey that he used performance-enhancing drugs.
Surrounded by bicycles, dozens of people and a few dogs crowded around a single flat-screen television near the cash register at Nelo's Cycles. They wore cycling gear or jeans, brought their own chips and salsa and were joined by television crews from everywhere from Texas to Denmark.
"Every time you hear the word 'sorry,' you have to chug a beer," a Nelo's employee yelled moments before the interview began. Groans floated through the room as Armstrong answered "yes" to Winfrey's initial questions about whether he doped.
Like many people in the Texas capital, which is home to a Lance Armstrong Bikeway and the Livestrong cancer foundation Armstrong started, English teacher Paul Lister closely followed Armstrong's career.
An avid cyclist, Lister chatted with the cycling champion and cancer survivor at cycling events and local music shows over the years, he said.
Now, he said, he and his students are heartbroken.
"I had exalted him as the quintessential, all-American story," Lister said at Nelo's. "He epitomized the American spirit of overcoming adversity, taking over the world."
Lister said that he does not think Armstrong redeemed himself as a cyclist and competitor.
"As far as restoring his reputation as a human being, maybe," he said.
Armstrong, who has been stripped of his seven Tour de France titles, told Winfrey that he cheated in every Tour win.
"I view this situation as one big lie that I repeated a lot of times," Armstrong said.
Not everyone in Lance's city adored him.
Austin cyclist Corinne Karmiel said she grew up watching the Tour de France but had not considered herself an Armstrong fan.