I’ve been watching the Tour de France religiously each July since my Dad introduced me to it around age 10. I would watch the Saturday/Sunday coverage of the week and immediately following would hop onto my bike and tear off around the block with the voices of the British commentators echoing in my head. Anyone who has visited my home in the month of July or worse, vacationed with us during July has seen the addiction, uh, I mean passion with which I follow this event firsthand. While coming to a foreign, historic, art-filled, cultural city like Paris with my full family is as once in a lifetime as it gets, seeing The Tour on our penultimate day in Paris on one of The Tour’s most prestigious stages was the ultimate.
Yes, cycling has some flaws, many of which have played out in ways even the best marketer wouldn’t wish on their worst enemy. But in spite of the flaws, I can’t get past what makes the sport so great. Immense strategy. Team over the individual – 6-8 riders on every team of 9 are riding for one leader and will sacrifice their standings, rank and fame to ensure the success of this pre-defined leader. The magnitude of racing over 21 days, 2000+ miles and unimaginable elevation change, never mind weather, crashes and a filled schedule from wake until sleep. There’s the color and pagentry of Grand Tour cycling. Today for the first time we witnessed the sponsors parade which arrived in Paris roughly 90 minutes ahead of the riders and lasted for at least 45 minutes. Modified cars wrapped in LCD screens, performers harnessed into or even above these cars, music blaring and sometimes even freebies being tossed. It was truly a circus. Borderline ridiculous but they clearly knew their audience and were clearly thrilled to have made it through the final day of twenty one straight parades around France. Only a few of these riders are wealthy from cycling. Most won’t ever get rich from cycling. They dedicate themselves to a sport for the sport. Most have been riding competitively since their early teens and few names will ever be memorialized like Hinault, Merckx, Lemond, Indurain or Froome. It takes passion to do this. Plain and simple. That’s why I love it. That’s why seeing the biggest race in this sport on the final day of this year’s race was so cool to me. Bucket list item checked. I hope one day to get back and see it again.
It needs to be noted about how great and patient my family was with me yesterday. I had done some research on where to view but was constantly worried about not finding a good spot. They put up with the jumpiness from me that ensued. Moreover, they wandered around in a steady rain for about two hours as we awaited the riders’ arrival in Paris. A cold rain with a steady breeze. Then they put up with me as I watched every lap of the race. I’m grateful for their toughness and support of me when staying in a warm, dry museum or apartment would have been much easier.
Here how our day played out in pictures.
Caption: “I’ve ridden in this rodeo before.” Great idea.
This time we play “Where’s Stewart?” Little did she know she’s illegally standing in the flowers. But a view from a hill beats one from below it.
For now Paris, Au Revoir.