by Chris Brewer
Greetings from the finish of Stage 7 here at the 2009 Tour de France from the small, picturesque country of Andorra. We?ve had a great time chasing the Tour since we left Monaco a week ago, and you can follow along all the way to Paris at www.livestrong.com/lance-armstrong, but that?s not the point of the story I?d like to tell you today.
My travelling companion is my good friend Randy Day. We met three years ago through Team LIVESTRONG as he joined us to ride across Iowa at RAGBRAI and spread the word about the LIVESTRONG mission, just like another 100 or so folks are getting ready to do again this year. Randy, a veteran of 15 RAGBRAI?s, has also raised over $6500 for the fight against cancer, and it?s a fight he takes very personally.
We spent the day yesterday high up on the final climb on a mountain called Andorre Arcalis. It?s cycling tradition to paint or chalk messages on the road to help inspire your favorite rider. ?Go Armstrong!? or ?Allez, Contador? for example. But Randy took it a step further, as you can see in the video below?
Last night at dinner I couldn?t help but note just how emotional the experience had been for him and asked why. ?Six year ago I had no idea who Lance Armstrong was. But then I found a lump on my neck, went to get it checked out, and was soon diagnosed with advanced lymphoma,? he said. ?My doctor suggested I read Lance?s book ?It?s Not About the Bike? and being a recreational cyclist I also started watching the Tour de France.? He went on to say that the book inspired him to fight his disease ? originally thought to be incurable ? and that Lance?s performance in the mountains showed him the fire that a cancer survivor could produce no matter what the odds.
Randy never expected to one day actually be on the same mountain at the same time Lance was once again racing, and this time Lance?s doing it to spread the word about making cancer a global priority and on behalf of the 28 million cancer survivors around the world, including Randy.
?I wanted to leave a little of the LIVESTRONG message here on the mountain for friends of mine in Iowa who couldn?t be here because of this damn disease, especially for Vern, who?s entering hospice. He?s just 45?? Randy said, tears forming in his eyes.
It was a special time on the mountain yesterday, Lance showed everyone he?s still among the top cyclists in the world and Randy got a chance to give a little something back to the man who inspired him to fight on behalf of some very special cancer survivors ? LIVESTRONG!
PS ? and today is Randy?s 57th birthday ? Allez, Allez, Allez, Randy!