On Tuesday, Lance Armstrong announced plans to return to cycling for the first time since he confessed to doping and the cyclist isn't sure what to expect.
"I'm well aware my presence is not an easy topic, and so I encourage people if they want to give a high-five, great. If you want to shoot me the bird, that's OK too," Armstrong told The Des Moines Registerof his decision toparticipate in The Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI) in July.
"To be honest it's not a statement, it's not an experiment," Armstrong said. "It's just me wanting to go ride my bike with what in the past has been a friendly group of people that share the same interests."
In January, Armstrong told Oprah Winfrey that he was doping during his seven consecutive Tour de France wins. He has since been stripped of his titles and lost multiple endorsements. But despite the scandal, RAGBRAI director T.J. Juskiewwicz said the famed cyclist would be welcome to return to the event, saying Armstrong is no different than any of the other participants. "They have a great time here, and they want to return," Juskiewiicz said following Armstrong's admission. "We are open to anyone that wants to come ride RAGBRAI."
"Who knows, we might get TMZ covering RAGBRAI this year," he joked. Though Armstrong insists he doesn't want special treatment, saying he's "just a dude like everybody who likes to ride bikes and likes to drink beer and has made his fair share of mistakes — and that's that."
However Armstrong is received at RAGBRAI, he has more pressing issues on his mind. According to reports, Armstrong is facing up to $135 million in liabilities from a series of lawsuits filed by in the wake of his confession. "I'm committing to working through them," Armstrong said, "and whether it's settling cases or whether it's fighting some cases — because some have merit, some don't. But I'm commtted to the process and that's probably as much as I would and could say about it. That's a tricky area there.
"Unless you have $135 million you want to let me borrow, or have?" he added.