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One last ride with Lance

The first call Tuesday morning came from DeeDee Keir: Where could she see Lance Armstrong?

Then Debbie Jones joined in. So did Joe McCommons, Cecelia Howell and a dozen or so others.

Just a day earlier, Mr. Armstrong announced his retirement, culminating at this year's Tour de France. During the press conference, he said he probably wouldn't be embraced by the fickle French people on his final foray.

And that was enough to make McDuffie County show him the love.

Dozens lined up at the intersection of Wire Road and Augusta Highway to watch the blob of bikes pass by. DeeDee was armed with a neon yellow sign reading "Lance: This is not France, but we still love ya!" Debbie had her digital camera. Cecelia brought Ben, Jr., and Ben III. And the Tour de Georgia volunteers, like Roger Mast, had their brooms to sweep away any potential-accident-causing gravel.

The procession began with a car from Mr. Armstrong's team, eventually followed by a cavalcade of police and other official vehicles. Then the photographers sitting on the backs of motorcycles whizzed by.

Finally a lone cyclist, who many people assumed was last year's champion Mr. Armstrong, came through, many minutes ahead of the rest of the riders who remained in a tight pack. (For the record, that cyclist was No. 133 -- Dan Bowman of Team TIAA-CREF.)

Finally, the glob of 150 or so riders came through, passing by the spectators at the corner in less than a minute. In the middle of the group was Mr. Armstrong, blending in with the other jerseys and just passing through the McDuffie County countryside.

I never imagined McDuffie County could become so captivated by cycling. But I'm glad they did. Let's hope someone will take notice and keep our county on the Tour de Georgia map.

Even if DeeDee Keir won't be able to cheer for Lance Armsrong in the future.

I'm still in shock a little about the whole Chris Tucker thing. Almost 110 on the interstate? In a car that costs more than $100,000? On his way to church?

I guess that gives a whole new meaning to "godspeed."

And furthermore, can you hear the jokes about McDuffie County already processing in his mind.

Someone once said -- and I'm paraphrasing -- any publicity is good publicity. I guess we'll see.

And finally, I can't say enough about Joseph Greene. I've long admired him, and learning that he is taking time to share his cancer survival story with others makes me look up to him even more.

I've lost a close friend, a mother-in-law, a father-in-law and many others to the monster. But I'm thrilled to know that we've got such a champion on our side in this fight.



Web posted on Thursday, April 21, 2005











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