The Tour de France started today. It hasn’t been convenient to watch it, unencumbered by children, so I recorded the OLN coverage of it and have studiously avoided reading any live updates or results so I can be surprised at the outcome when I settle down to watch later on, after the kids are asleep.
I am not, particularly, a sports fan, but I caught a bit of the Tour last year, about half way through it when I was flipping channels during a treadmill run, and I was instantly hooked. It’s a fantastic spectator sport, with a sprint to the finish at every stage. The athleticism of the competitors, though, is beyond compare. What their bodies go through is incredible. 3000 miles, 18 stages in 22 days (two rest days or something like that), the risk of crashing or being accosted by a crazed fan is constant. I can’t even begin to imagine the condition they need to be in to qualify, let alone finish. Obviously, I am now a cycling fan, and am therefore disproportionately excited about this day. I have been waiting since last July for it.
And then, of course, there’s Lance. The man is a machine. He’s amazing. I read somewhere his resting heart rate is 32 or something silly like that. He’s won what is considered to be the toughest sporting event in the world more times than anyone else. The whole cancer thing just makes it all the more impressive. To win the Tour in such a decisive way after coming back from the dead puts him beyond the inhuman category (into which all Tour participants fit, in my opinion). And he’s not bad to look at, to boot. I have to admit I have avoided learning too much about the man because I would be so disappointed if he turned out to be a jerk. I want to believe he is a hard worker with more guts than any other human being in the world. I don’t want to think he dopes or abandons his family or whatever… I want to think of him as a spectacular athlete, and there is no one who can argue that he is. I have to admit I did start reading his “autobiography” today… the cancer story is interesting to me from a professional point of view. But I’m still impressed by the athleticism. I would be impressed even if he hadn’t survived metastatic cancer.
I think, though, that even when Lance Armstrong retires (after another win, I hope… I may be the only non-American rooting for him), I’ll keep watching cycling. I love the strategy, the team mentality in a sport where there is one winner. I love the speed and the spectacular crashes. I enjoy watching the exciting finishes, the sprints that you never know who will win until the last second. The logistics of riding up a mountain, and a mountain lined with 100,000 drunken, obsessed fans is entertainment far more worthy of spending time on than anything else on tv these days. So I have something to watch for almost a month. My only dilemma will be when it conflicts with Canadian Idol, the only other thing worth watching. Heck, even the commentators have a fan club, and are sheer entertainment in and of themselves.
I have been writing this from the comfort of my couch, on my new laptop (another blog) after keeping the kids company while they were watching a cutesy kids movie. I think that I will pack them off to bed, pour myself another gin and tonic, and start up the Tour. I may get a blog or two in during the next three weeks, thanks only to the iMac, but don’t count on it.