Well, the Tour de France has gotten into full swing. There are plenty of sites that cover The Tour, so I’m just going to relay what this event means to me. The Tour is the single largest free sporting event in the world. Where else can you get that close to the competitors, to cheer them on, and be part of the experience?
I can’t even tell you where my interest in cycling began, or how I ended up being interested in the tour. None of my friends were into it, my only biking experiences were with my family, going out to parks and what not. Maybe it was when I got my first ten-speed, a Huffy Omni-10. But that still doesn’t explain how I ended up pre-empting some of my summer activites to watch high-lights of the race on regular tv of all places. I would leave what ever I was doing to go home and watch. I even wanted to start racing. But racing was not to be, I didn’t have the drive. It didn’t stop me from ridng too fast around town imagining I was a pro-cyclist. So, I’ grew up watching the likes of Greg LeMond (USA), Bernard Hinault(FR), and Pedro Delgado(SP). I had a lapse for several years, probably due to the big broadcasters dropping coverage and lack of any way to follow. High school took my attention to friends and girls, the bike gathered dust in my parents garage. Riding, took a back seat to everything.
I picked up following the Tour in the mid 90’s, just enough to see Miguel Induráin dominate, then fell off again. It wasn’t until moved to Columbus, Ohio in 2000 and picked up mountain biking in 2001, that my interest in biking was revived. I once again began to enjoy the agony of a hard ride, be amazed at what abuse the body could endure, and how much fun cycling was again in my life. Mind you, what I was doing was nowhere near what those at the pro level were doing, but it re-enforced my respect for those who sit on a bike and using just the human body push themselves beyond what even they thought capable.
The Tour isn’t without its problems and the past few years have seen it take quite a hit from illegal doping by it’s biggest stars. This to some, has diminished the importance and grandure of the Tour de France. Not me, because despite those few bad apples, those who felt that they could not win with out cheating, there were plenty of riders who chose to do it on their training and heart alone. They may not be the biggest names, but they’re there racing, giving it their all, clean. We can’t forget about them or lessen their efforts. Besides it’s the one sport where there are actual consiquences for being caught doping, including manditory suspensions and fines. No silly one race and a two dollar fine, like all other sports (basketball, football, baseball, etc), no it’s a full two year suspension, which could actually ruin your career. Last years Tour was no exception, and it was met with more doping scandle, this time it was the “winner.
Still my excitment for this event is not diminished, I would be lying if I said that it didn’t disappoint me, but like I stated earlier, there are still plenty of riders who race clean. So, I follow the tour(via my computer) religiously for these three weeks, and this year the tour is wide open and hopefully it stays clean. I figured a few teams would be at the top and after todays prologue, my gut was right. The teams are CSC ( a fav since 02), Discovery, and Astana. Some of my current favorite riders are: David Zabriskie (Team CSC), Levi Leipheimer (Disovery), Jens Voigt (Team CSC), and Erik Zabel (Team Milram) just to name a few.
Dave Zabriskie Photo ©: Fotoreporter Sirotti
Levi Leipheimer Photo ©: Fotoreporter Sirotti
Jens Voigt Photo ©: David Reinhardt
images pulled from www.cyclingnews.com
We all have our own feelings about the Tour de France, though its not the only race I follow, it is one of the biggies and I enjoy the spectacle. I enjoy watching all of the pain and glory that is a grand tour.
Thanks for reading, Patrick
If anyone has their own thoughts and feelings about the Tour feel free to submit them, or leave comments.