Sunday, July 25, 2010

Into Paris

It's been a few days since I wrote anything here, and I think it's because I've been feeling so many things watching the Tour, too many to convey in words. This year's Tour has been stunning. It's over, and I have a lump in my throat.

Apparently Contador and Andy Schleck really are friends, so the drama, the anger, the quest for revenge was that much more powerful. Such a rivalry. So enthralling, and now it's in the books. Next year, Andy Schleck may just win the whole thing. After that terrible gearing problem, which had Andy dropping back, there was the climactic Col du Tourmalet where he kept trying to shake Contador off his wheel, but couldn't quite do it, and Contador gave him the stage win. Who of us bike riders hasn't slipped a chain due to poor gearing going uphill? Then, in the time trial, Schleck almost got the better of Contador--both of them so tired, but Schleck had the edge--a chip on his shoulder, something to prove. Still, Contador was the superior time trialist, and he fought the exhaustion and gained time during the stage, and beat Schleck. But not by so very much. If Schleck had had better weather on the road in the prologue, he might have won the Tour.

Watching Radioshack on the podium for the team championship, we see that Lance has a bit of a tear in his eye. This is his last Tour, and he knows it.

It's all so wonderful. No sport is more majestic, asks more from its competitors. The great length of the Grand Tour means that many stories unspool from the wheels, as the gorgeous panoramas wind away into history. The commentators, some of whom have been doing it for 30-plus years, are the most poetic of any sport, because poetry is simply the nature of the race. I would like to rhapsodize further about it, to convince those who think I'm crazy to care so much about this sport, this race. But maybe you'll watch one stage of the race this year, or this final stage again, which airs on the West Coast at 5pm, and the fever will catch you. Once it does, you've got it for life. Or maybe you'll start riding your own bike and remember that feeling of freedom, and it will get under your skin, change who you are, how you think of yourself. It happened to me.

I can't convince you. But if your mind is open, check out the highlights reel on Versus.

Long live the Tour! Long live cycling!

Now I'm off to find ways to deal with my post-partum depression.


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