Wednesday, July 9, 2008

How I Fell In Love (with a couple hundred men one july)

As with any good love story, I can't quite recall the actual day that I fell in love. But isn't that what love does to us? It sweeps us off our feet in a whirlwind, leaving us wondering if we can ever get enough. I do recall it was somewhere between July 3-25, 1999. It was the 86th Tour de France, when I fell in love with the race and a couple hundred men.

Cycling (not biking- that's what dudes in leather on motorcycles do) has always been a passion for my husband. So naturally his love for the sport, slowly began to wear off on me. That particular summer in July, the media caught hold of an American that was making a name for himself in the European dominated Tour. We all know now, that American was none other than, Lance Armstrong. Now a common household name, a World Champion 7 years straight and to me a personal hero, a beacon for hope in the fight against cancer.

I am still unsure as to how I got caught up in this whole Tour de France frenzy, that every July leaves me glued to my television at the crack of dawn (live coverage on Vs). Worried I am going to miss something major, so I better not venture out of the house until the stage has ended. The nervous feelings I still get, everyday watching this group of men battling unthinkable conditions with their bodies and a bicycle between their legs. Their bodies pay a price, no matter the weather conditions, they are on their saddles. Typically for 20 days and over 2,000 miles. Mountain climbs, sprints, time trials, and only two days of rest thrown in.

No other sport can compare.

It's not only the physical endurance that left me wanting more. It was the excitement of a break away from the peloton, wondering how far they would make it, before they were swallowed up once again by the group. Or watching a newcomer just hesitate in one moment, second guessing himself, that cost him a stage win. Even those moments where there are scary crashes and seeing the sportsmanship come out of that same man's fiercest competitor, when he gets off his bike to see if the man who just crashed was ok. They both hop back on their saddles and race up a few thousand feet in elevation to the finish line. What a rush.

I know I fell in love because it's the rawest display of human endurance, admiration, respect, and passion I have ever witnessed. I just wish the country I call home new what a beautiful thing cycling is.

This year there are 4 Americans racing in the Tour de France, one of which is my favorite, George Hincapie who has entered the Tour every year since 1996, Christian Vandevelde, Danny Pate, and up and comer William Frischkorn.

I cried on July 25, 1999, the day Lance Armstrong stood at the top of the podium, wearing a yellow jersey in Paris. Here's the shortest clip I could find paying tribute to his amazing Tour de France seven year streak:

If you get a chance, tune into the Tour, take a peek into what all the excitement is all about.

16 comments:

  1. I've never watched the Tour de France, but Lance Armstrong is incredibly inspiring. I'll have to watch the video when I get home and can watch it with sound.

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  2. I wish I loved a sport like that.

    I think I shall check out the Tour!

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  3. I've watched the Tour a while ago--it's thrilling. I LOVE endurance sports like cycling and marathon running. Lance Armstrong is amazing.

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  4. Would you believe that I've never watched the Tour? I guess I should check it out!

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  5. It's awesome to have something you love that much! Thanks for sharing your passion.

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  6. I never thought a bike race could be exciting but that little video clip sure got my heart rate up...I'll have to watch it some time.

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  7. I've never watched the Tour, but Lance is sure hot in those cycling shorts!

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  8. We've watched some of the Tour de France and always find it amazing to see how much endurance and strength these men have. Lance Armstrong is definitely an inspiration. I'm excited for the Olympics and love watching the swimming, track and field and gymnastics.

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  9. My hubby and I became obsessed with watching it when Lance was in it, but it just hasn't been the same since. I still like to tune in from time to time though. It is absolutely amazing that these people can do what they do. Crazy, really.

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  10. Maybe I should watch--I am a total football (American) girl myself but then I did go to Ohio State :)

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  11. we watch the tour everyday, just love it too

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  12. Cycling was big in my family when I was growing up. We went on vacation to Colorado Springs to visit the Olympic Training center, to watch the training in the velodrome. Also, my dad and stepmother organized local/regional races.

    I really hate being on a bicycle, but cycling is really exciting to watch. I can understand completely why you get such a thrill from the Tour de France (yes, we always watched it every year, too).

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  13. Lance is certainly an inspiration.

    My husband is a cyclist, but these days it's mainly bike commuting. I had a bike for a while but I sold it, it just isn't the sport for me :).

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  14. Lance is sooooo inspiring. Seeing that clip made me remember his feat again the way it happened. Not just the bachelor-hanging-with-Matthew-McConaghey guy the media shows him as now.

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  15. We watch every year at our house. It is amazing. I live in fear of crashes on the hills.

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  16. Lance really is an inspiration. It is sometimes easy to forget this when he is dating an Olsen twin and Kate Hudson or whoever he's been linked to this week.

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I always appreciate the gesture to stop and take a moment to comment. Thank you!