Couple shows support for Armstrong

July 22, 2004|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

MONT ALTO, Pa. - Drive by 306 Park St. and it's not hard to learn who Curt and Tawnya Finney idolize as their hero.

White sheets hang on either side of the Finneys' front porch proclaiming their support for Lance Armstrong, five-time winner of the Tour de France, now under way in Europe.

Five pillowcase-size sheets hang over the porch roof from upstairs windows, each noting the consecutive years from 1999 through 2003 that the Texan has won the international bike race.


On Wednesday, Armstrong thrilled the sea of frenzied fans crowding his path in the French Alps as he pedaled up one of bicycle racing's most famous peaks - a feat that is expected to lead to his sixth consecutive Tour de France victory.

The Finneys have never met Armstrong, but both are rooting for him from Mont Alto.

"It would be pretty neat to meet him," said Tawnya Finney, 36. "Next year, we're planning on going to Europe to see the race."

She and her husband, 38, watch the race every day on cable television. "She tapes it for me so I can watch it when I get home from work," Curt Finney said. He works as a finish carpenter for a local building contractor.

Tawnya teaches at Waynesboro Middle School.

Knowing the Finneys, it's not hard to figure out why Armstrong is their hero. Both are ardent bikers - road and mountain.

Five years ago, the couple organized Appalachian Outfitters, a mountain bicycle club that runs the miles of trails at Michaux State Forest. They also organize road trips.

"If this was Tuesday night, you'd see six to 10 riders leave here and head out for a 30-mile ride," Curt Finney said.

Both ride as much as they can.

"I try to ride four or five times a week," Curt Finney said. It's not unusual for him to cover 30 to 45 miles on the road on a weeknight or 70 miles on a Saturday or Sunday, he said.

Tawnya said she, too, rides a lot, but not quite as much as her husband.

He's also done some mountain bike racing and has the scars to prove it.

A spill in a mountain competition in California left him with 120 stitches on one knee.

"I was in fifth place in a 24-hour race when I tried to pass two riders," he said.

He said he's been racing competitively since 1993. Today, he rides in the expert veteran class, he said.

"You put yourself against yourself in competition," he said. "It's a chance to get away, to push yourself physically and mentally."

The Finneys own five bicycles between them, and they plan to buy two more this year.

"It's just part of the addiction," Curt Finney said.

That addiction is handed down to the family dog, an 8-year-old chocolate lab. They named her Coda after a bicycle equipment company.

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