A week ago today we were at the Tour de France's individual time trial in Bordeaux, France. We had been in the Pyrénées for days before that, climbing famous "cols" (mountain passes) like the Col du Tourmalet and roads to dead-ends in beautiful ski areas like Superbagnères and Pla d'Adet. We stayed in Luchon-Bagnères to watch the end of one stage and the start of another. But it wasn't until that day in Bordeaux of NOT climbing the hills that I finally stopped to fully appreciate one thing: We were in France, at the Tour de France! It took me over 50 years to get to the Tour, and I may never experience it "live" again, but there we were.
I've always liked riding my bike, but it wasn't until five years ago–the summer of 2005–when I really got into bike racing as a spectator. The timing was strange, since American Lance Armstrong had just retired after winning his seventh Tour de France. Lance didn't get me into bike racing. My wife did. When I came home one night after riding up Torrey Pines hill 50 times in one day (just to see if I could; 162 miles, over 20,000 vertical feet of climbing), she said to me with a concerned look on her face, "Why don't you try racing OTHER people?" With that, I joined the San Diego Bicycle Club (SDBC) and dabbled in some bike racing. I've raced "track" at the velodrome, I still race time trials, and I will try some road/crit racing again someday. I'm not very good at it, but I love it.
By experiencing bike racing personally, I got a dose of the incredible adrenaline that comes with the sport. That personal racing experience turned a potentially boring spectator sport into something I really enjoy watching. (Having played football and soccer made those sports more interesting to watch, too. This formula didn't work on me for baseball because I thought it was pretty boring even when I played it.)
This doesn't explain WHY I'm so passionate about cycling now, but I am. I'm glad of it.
- I'm glad I have a passion to follow.
- I'm glad it can burn 7,000 calories in a day.
- I'm glad there are a few million other people "into it" enough to make the Tour de France the incredible event that it is.
- I'm glad we went to see the Tour de France live.
We finally made it to Cycling Mecca. We were at the Super Bowl of bike racing. And I'm so glad it sunk in before it was all over.
Vive le Tour de France!