Pedaling for cancer cure | AspenTimes.com

Pedaling for cancer cure

Jon Maletz

Chris Carmichael is no stranger to cancer. The president and CEO of Carmichael Training Systems and longtime cycling coach to seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong has witnessed firsthand the struggles of those ravaged by the disease. In 1996, He watched Armstrong battle testicular cancer that spread into his lungs and brain. He was also by Montreal Canadians player Saku Koivu’s side when Koivu began the long road to recovery after being diagnosed with Burkitt’s lymphoma – a malignant and highly aggressive form of the disease – in 2001.Carmichael’s mother survived breast cancer 12 years ago, and his friend Sheryl Crow is just beginning her bout. He is reminded of the disease continually, as scores of survivors have enlisted the help of CTS.”Cancer is something that has touched me in multiple ways,” Carmichael said Thursday. “It’s changed my life.”When asked if he was interested in supporting the first Ride for Cure in 2004, a benefit for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, Carmichael didn’t hesitate. In 2005, more than 400 participants took part in the ride, helping raise nearly $600,000. The 2006 ride takes place Sept. 9.Today, Carmichael will host a VIP ride for participants who commit to donate $1,500 to the foundation. Last year, 35 riders took part in the event, Carmichael said. He expects that number to increase considerably.”It’s a great cause, for all the right reasons,” Carmichael said. “This is a beautiful area that has a great history of cycling. There’s a lot of good synergy.”Participants will receive coaching tips from Carmichael at his training center at the Aspen Club and Spa – one of three in the country (Philadelphia and Colorado Springs) -before pushing off for a ride to Ashcroft and the Maroon Bells. Tennis star Chris Evert and husband, Andy Mill, a former Olympic downhill skier, are slated to take part.”We thought this would be a good opportunity to have a more intimate setting for donors,” Carmichael said. “This was something that a lot of people were interested in.”Carmichael, a former Tour de France competitor (1986), U.S. Olympian (1984) and coach, admits it’s tough to find free time these days. He’s busy supporting CTS cycling and mountain biking camps in Asheville, North Carolina, and Colorado Springs. He recently penned his fifth book, titled “Chris Carmichael’s Five Essentials for Winning Life.” And plans are in the works for him to host a television show, tentatively titled “Me Versus Me” – amateur athletes in all disciplines team up with experts to accomplish their goals – to air on the Fine Living Network later this year.But no matter how many directions he’s pulled, Carmichael said he’ll always be in Aspen to do his part to support breast cancer research. “It gives me the opportunity to meet everyday athletes and breast cancer survivors who are fighting just as hard as if they were racing in the Tour, only now it’s a race for life,” he said. “I have a lot of people I’m riding for.”Jon Maletz’s e-mail address is jmaletz@aspentimes.com