Friday, August 28, 2009

Lance's Secret Tour de Plano (or "Home Tweet Home")

As you probably know from my Tour de France posts over the years, I"ve been a Lance Armstrong fan for quite some time now. When I got on Twitter a few months ago, I started following his feed (along with nearly 2 million other people), and it's been fun to follow his globetrotting since this years Tour ended. But the location of today's tweets surprised me: He was back home in Plano!

Most die-hard fans know that Lance grew up in Plano, even though he's more closely associated with Austin (and thinking of the terrain of both places, Austin obviously wins hands-down in terms of having the best hills for cyclists to train). But he's had a complicated relationship with his hometown over the years, with a lot of that stemming from some school officials at Plano East Senior High who didn't want to let him graduate because he had missed so many days of school to ride in bike races. He's evidently been invited back a few times in an official capacity, but he's turned it down every time so far.

So it was probably fitting that his visit was of the quiet variety. It started out with a simple twee this morning: "Tour de Plano bike ride today." Unlike the one in Scotland last week, where he invited anyone in Glasgow to join him (and hundreds did), it's unknown if anyone was even riding with him. But he tweeted his way down memory lane, posting pictures of some old haunts: Armstrong MIddle School (no, it wasn't named after him); Plano East; Southfork Ranch; the house where he grew up in Plano (I know roughly where it is, because a friend of mine grew up across the alley from him); and even a little sample of a Plano street that's paved in brick.

The crazy thing for me is that part of my teaching route directly overlaps the place where Lance was riding. If only it had been a day earlier, we could have possibly crossed paths. (It's not as if I could have gone riding with him, of course, since my knee has a way to go before I'm even riding full revolutions on a stationary bike.) But if I'd passed him on the road, my thought would likely have been "Hey, that guy looks like Lance," but would I have really known I was in the presence of the real thing?

At any rate, what's become a fun hobby was a lot more fun today when the landmarks being tweeted about were so familiar.

UPDATE: The Dallas Morning News chronicles the ride and notes that the Richardson BIke Mart, which actually hosts a "Tour de Plano" ride on Saturdays, was inundated with calls from Lance's Twitter followers wondering if the ride had been moved a day earlier.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: From a tweet by Lance the next day, " I actually had someone ask me (in ohio) how I did in the TdP... I said I won." Why yes, Lance, I'd say you did.

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