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Chasing the Jersey 2002
The daily journal of a cancer survivor and his wife as they follow the 2002 Tour de France to support Lance Armstrong
My name is Jerry Kelly and I’m a cancer survivor. My wife and I became active supporters of the Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF) when I was diagnosed with testicular cancer two years ago. My dad had died of a brain tumor just three years before my diagnosis and my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer one year after me. Angie, my wife and I decided to go to France not only to support Lance, but hopefully continue to spread the mission of the LAF to fight cancer and support cancer survivors. We left for France on July 17, 10 days into the Tour and the first day in the mountains.
The following entries are written by both Angie and Jerry.
(Angie)We had no idea it was going to be so difficult to get to France. The flight from Birmingham, Alabama was delayed, then we sat on the runway for over an hour because Vice-President Dick Cheney’s plane was taking off from Atlanta, Georgia and they closed the airport. We finally got to Atlanta and the British Airways flight we were on was delayed because it was late landing – the VP still – so we were late departing. The flight itself was great. We watched Monsters, Inc. and had a nice dinner, a little sleep, breakfast, then we were on the ground in London. But we were still late! We only had thirty minutes to get thru customs/security and on to our flight to Toulouse. Thankfully there was a woman there from British Airways waiting for us and rushed us straight thru and to our connection or we never would have made it.
(Angie)The flight to Toulouse was short but I had to sit next to a very stinky man. Once we arrived in Toulouse, there were more problems. We were halfway through the customs section when French security stopped Jerry and me. He said something about security, but our very poor French ensured that we didn’t understand. In a few minutes there was a long whistle, then a very loud explosion that shook us both. After a moment we looked at the security guard and pointed at the door to proceed. He gave us a quick “No” shake of the finger. Shortly, another whistle and another explosion. The security then waved us through. We then discovered that they had blown up two pieces of unattended baggage. We made our way to the baggage pickup only to discover that Jerry’s bag was missing. The thought did cross our minds that Jerry’s was the bag that was blown up. The British Airways clerk soon discovered the missing bag with all his clothes and shower/get ready stuff, was still in London. We decided to go ahead to our hotel and scout the Plateau de Beille for our location tomorrow and hopefully the airline would send the bag to the hotel.
We drove to the very top of the mountain, a very long climb! We went into the building to go to the bathroom (of course) and to get a snack. In the bar there were a huge group of French and Spanish people watching the Tour (Stage 11), so we crowded in with them. Close to the end of the stage were two US Postal riders, including Lance and an Once Spanish rider. We were right on the Spanish border and the crowd was cheering for Joseba Beloki, the Spanish rider. Lance broke close to the finish and won the stage. We were the only ones cheering. The entire place cleared out as we stood alone and clapped as Lance pulled on the yellow jersey!
We drove to Ax les Thermes and found our hotel with no problem. Our room is small, but has a water closet(toilet), however the shower is outside and down the hall. I was almost glad we didn’t have our shower stuff so I’d have an excuse not to use it.