Friday, July 17, 2009

When's That Tour de France Thing, Anyway!

Lance Armstrong, 2009 Tour de France, Photo by Ricardo Horsham, Some Rights Reserved, CC BY-ND 2.0
A buddy of mine wonders how I can stand to watch Pro Cycling and the Tour de France. He likens it to watching paint dry. (I have to admit, those cyclists wear colorful jerseys.)

To which I ask him how he can stand watching baseball on TV? Zzzzzzzzzzz....

(Before any Hot Moms hit snooze, here's some Lance Armstrong eye candy.)

In case you've been sleeping through it, please know the 2009 Tour de France is going on right now. And Lance Armstrong is doing extremely well in his comeback. The guy hasn't cycled in Le Tour in four years (after winning seven in a row). Midway through this year's three-week long race, he was in third place, just seconds off the lead.

For the uninitiated, road cycling is a sport of gods. It may seem like nothing more than pedaling bikes, but Tour cycling requires strength, endurance, team tactics, and individual smarts. No fat guys standing out in left field, waiting for something to happen. No one sitting on the bench, chewing tobacco and waiting to go in. These cyclists pedal their butts off each day. If there's a crash, they get back on the bike and keep going. Rules state they must finish each day within a certain time after the first guy crosses the line, or they get booted from the race. Most fight hard to just remain in the race, and would only leave the Tour if they broke a bone. Even then, they'd go kicking and screaming.

Imagine cycling 100+ miles, eating, sleeping, then doing it again the next day - and repeating this pattern for 21 stages over the course of 23 days. (The first stage is usually a shorter distance.) I cycle 50 miles and it's a long ride for me.

The Tour de France has no substitutions. Only two days rest in three weeks. These guys are studs.

My kids and I have watched the Tour of California in person a few times, and even gotten some autographs from George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer, and others (making all the road trip planning even more worth it.)

And now we are watching Tour de France coverage together on TV. (Family time, Tivo style.)

We revel in the beauty of the French countryside and the architecture in its towns. We marvel at the peloton's changing shape, from fat blob to thin stretched line as riders whip up the pace. We oooh and ahhh when a cyclist wipes out and goes flying.

As for Lance Armstrong? From reading his book, "It's Not About the Bike", I sort of figured he was an egotistical bastard. (Compare his writing to his ex-wife Kristen Armstrong's blog at Runners World. She is grounded, self aware, compassionate, evolved.)

In previous Tours, I always rooted for someone, anyone else to win - Jan Ullrich, Andreas Kloeden, Carlos Sastre. Anyone but the man who acted like the world revolved around him.

But then I read somewhere that Lance, during grueling training rides and races in Australia and California, realized how much work the domestiques do for their team leader. Apparently he wondered if maybe this Tour de France was meant to teach him something else. Maybe it was his turn to ride in support of others and give selflessly to the team.

Yeah, right. Beautiful sentiment, but clearly from watching the first half of this year's Tour, he wants to win. He's been kicking ass so far. (Lance tweets about it, too.)

And for once, I've been cheering him along. Why my change in heart? Who knows - Lance Armstrong is older, wiser, nicer, but he still has that competitive fire.

Or maybe I'm older, wiser, nicer, and not so judgmental. (Then again, maybe it's simply the fact that for a brief few seconds, Lance and I appeared together on TV. Gotta love my fifteen frames of fame!)

Go Lance! Win the Tour.

Flickr photo by Ricardo Horsham, Some rights reserved (CC BY-ND 2.0)

9 comments:

ChocDrop said...

It is good to see some family time being together. This is a good way to do it. Great job bringing the fam back to the fore-front and not just for the sport.

skywind said...

The sports spirit is eternal. Has manifested the people positive upward spirit. : )

katherine. said...

I dated a cyclist for a while. We watched (and rewatched via tape) every moment of every day of the tour for a couple years.

They are amazing athletes. And Armstrong in the front of the pack in his sport...

However...LiveStrong, his ongoing battle against Cancer will be his greatest legacy...unless of course, he runs for office...smile

When you watch with the kids...do you wear yellow?

Jess said...

Yeah, I don't watch the race, but I will catch the highlights if I see it on TV. It is a sport that I cannot fathom actually doing...I would die 1/2 mile in. Unless of course there is beer at the end...THEN I might be persuaded to finish an entire mile.

T said...

I love to watch the tour while I'm on my bike trainer in front of the TV! What inspiration!

:)

GO Lance!

Homer and Queen said...

I do watch it hit and miss, amazing athletes! I have always cheered Lance on and hope he does REALLY well. Thanks for the nekked pic!

dadshouse said...

I have dark blonde hair and fair skin, so I look terrible in yellow. And THAT is why I don't go win the Tour every year. (Haha.)

I watch in my pajamas. 6am, baby! Even with Tivo letting me sleep in a bit, I watch in the morning so I know who wins before I read the results on Yahoo.

So, hot moms - I posted that naked Lance on a bike link for you. Who is posting a tastefully naked Shakira or Megan Fox link for us hot dads? Ha.

Hubman said...

Lance is my freakin' hero!

I've got a professional colleague who has done fitness testing in the lab for him for years (pre-cancer, even)- he's not as arrogant as his public image, or so I hear...

Sandi said...

I root for Lance because he is a fellow cancer survivor kicking some major ass. LOVE IT. :) haha

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