Posts Tagged ‘Tour de France’

I’m not sure if Jo’s walking today, but we’re on a mission to find good food no matter what.  Tighten your seat belts because we have to drive to our walk today at col du Mont de Fourche…unless you’d like to cycle to the top of a pass once part of the Tour de France.  Or you can give this big boy bike a try.

Usually our walks end with a tasty bite.  We’re going to turn that around: start and end with a walk and focus on the food in between.  Be a rebel with us!

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During the Tour de France, the routes are heavily decorated with a variety of decorations.  Of course, bicycles figure heavily and, as yellow is the color of the jersey, the “maillot jaune”,  worn by the winner at the end of each stage and, of course, at the end of the race, many yellow bikes are seen.  This one would be a bit uncomfortable, to say nothing of not having gears, and how long would the rider’s legs have to be to reach the pedals?  Odd, indeed.

© janet m. webb 2014

If you’ve been following my blog for awhile, you’ll know that my husband loves cycling and we both love watch bike racing, in particular, the Tour de France.  Despite all the drug usage and Lance’s nose-dive from fame, the fact that anyone can complete this race is a miracle in itself.  Cheating, in one form or another, has been taking place since the race began, when some riders took a bus for part of the trip!  There are now riders who pledge that they’re riding clean.  Understandably, thanks again to Lance, many are skeptical of this, but I hope it’s true.  Once you understand bike racing even a bit, it becomes a fascinating sport to follow, particularly when the long hours are enlivened and enlightened by the knowledgeable announcers.

Last year, my husband and I were fortunate enough to be able to be in France during the time of the Tour.  Even better, we were able to be at the end of one of the stages.  It seems funny, even weird, that people would gather for days just to see cyclists whiz past in a matter of seconds, but that’s all part of the fun.  We hiked up over 7km, the end of which had the steepest grade, even including all the mountain stages, of the entire race, just to reach our vantage point 25m from the finish line.  We also sat or stood out for hours for this privilege.  The weather was terrible and we had a blast!  We’d do it all again in a heartbeat, this time hoping for better weather and maybe catching the end of a sprint stage.

Here’s a photo of the winner of the stage and, ultimately, the entire race, Vincenzo Nibali.  This flat bit was at the end of well over a hundred kilometers AND that last, terrible climb.  The cost is written on Nibali’s face.  But the victory is worth the cost.

copyright janet m. webb 2014

After I posted my first entry, I remembered the fun I had taking photos of the 2013 Tour de France…from the comfort of my home.  I was enthralled by the colors and blurs that I saw from a certain angle while viewing the competition on my laptop.  I think this photo of the screen of my laptop aptly shows both the speed at which the ride occurs and the effort put into every stage.

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Yes, it’s Friday and time (eventually) for the Weekly Photo Challenge.  But as I work most of the day today and won’t get into the challenge until late afternoon/early evening, I decided I just had to have a post to tide me and you over until then.  (Do you like the way I assume you’re waiting with bated breath for my daily post?)  🙂  I just finished the 5-Day Black and White Photo Challenge, so I’m in the monochrome groove right now, plus a photo came to mind as soon as I saw the theme of “Wheels.” Turns, so to speak, out that the photo I chose is a different one, but I hope you enjoy it anyway.  🙂  It’s a memory of our time in France during Le Tour de France last July and all the decorations we saw.

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In July, we spent several weeks in France.  While we were there, we checked off two life goals we’ve had:  attending a stage of the Tour de France and spending time on a barge with online friends.  Both were adventures, although of very different sorts.  Not sure which will appeal to you more, so I’m offering a photo of each.  Have a marvelous weekend filled with adventure!!

The agony here isn't only of defeat.  Nibali, the stage winner and leader of le Tour

The agony here isn’t only of defeat. Nibali, the stage winner and leader of le Tour

To read more about our Tour de France experience, you might enjoy the pre-Tour post, our adventures just getting to the stage, and our rainy day experience at the stage.

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Come with us as we meet our friends and explore the river on their barge and going through a lock into the small canal on our way back.  No chance of getting seasick and lots of fun guaranteed!

 

The Tour de France is over for another year, although professional bike racing continues.  When it’s Tour time, the subject of Lance Armstrong is never far away, at least for now, in these years close to his tumble from grace.  I have some random thoughts about Lance.

If you believed he wasn’t doping, you were living in cloud cuckoo land.  If the next best riders in the world were having wins taken from them for doping, there’s no way Lance could have been that much better just naturally.  But therein lies my title.  He WAS the best.

He was the best at doping and winning, the best at doping and not being found out.

He was the best at bringing the sport to prominence…before he was the best at bringing it down in the eyes of many.

He was ultimately the best, but not the only, to steal the joy of winning from others.  It doesn’t feel the same to win the Tour de France, or any other race, when the person in first is disqualified.  Sadly, the ultimate winner was often someone far down the list, as doping was quite prevalent.

He was the best at not only despising but crushing people, big and small, and at destroying lives while pushing himself up on the pyres of those lives.  He’s still the best at not apologizing for it.  Maybe he’s the best at defining the word “amoral.”

In sport where cheating has ranged from, in the old, quaint days, taking a bus or train rather than riding, to sophisticated blood doping, he is unique in combining so many negative things.  He did start LiveStrong which I hope will survive and has done so much for people with cancer.  But one right doesn’t mitigate a lifetime of wrong and, in many cases, what I would be tempted to call evil, at least in his personal dealings.

But perhaps Lance might, totally inadvertently, be the best thing that’s happened to cycling for a long time.  Last year, the winner of the Tour, Chris Froome, stated that he, his team and many other riders were vowing to ride clean and so far, nothing has disproved that.  This year’s winner, Vincenzo Nibali, viewed as a clean rider, said,

Steps have been taken and great progress has been made, and with it so my results have arrived.
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I have to thank them (doping controllers) because without these iron controls maybe I wouldn’t be here today.

I know that as long as there are sports, there will be those seeking an illegal way to be better than others.  But in the world of professional cycling, maybe the best cheater will turn out to be the best thing for a sport where doping was getting out of control.