Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Tour

I'm certain you've been following the Tour this year? I hear it has been pretty good, but honestly I've not been paying too much attention. Not owning a television means I have to watch the stage somewhere else, or follow along online. I've tried, really I have. But after hearing riders complain that Stage 3 was too hard I kind of lost interest. Couple that with the ongoing Lance Armstrong doping investigation, and yesterday's "Shiftgate", I cannot wait for this years race to end. I'm totally burned out on it.

I think it was my friend Chris Potter that put the Tour in perspective in about 2000. We were gathered at Ft. Panic for our daily stage watching/beer drinking/meeting of the minds, and Potter remarked how much cooler it would be if the riders didn't have extra bikes, team cars, radios, etc. "Like it was in the old days." I can kind of remember laughing him off at the time. But now, I think he is right. I was researching some tour history, looking specifically for the story below:

In the 1913 Tour Eugene Christophe crashed on the Tourmalet. He had just taken the lead when he laid it down on the mountain. "He was unhurt, but his front fork had been snapped in two. As Christophe stood over his ruined machine, Thys (his main rival) sped away alone towards the stage win and overall victory.

Another man would have given up there and then. Not Christophe. He wept, but as he did so he picked up the pieces and set off on foot. Eight-and-a-half miles away, at Sainte-Marie-de-Campan, he found a forge. The race rules forbade outside assistance, but Christophe was a skilled mechanic and forged a new fork from 22mm steel. As Christophe gripped the frame in one hand and a hammer in the other, he allowed a seven-year-old boy to work the bellows that supplied air to the fire. For this assistance, the race marshal who policed the operation imposed a 10-minute time penalty. Then Christophe filled his pockets with bread and set off over two more mountains for the stage finish. He arrived three hours and 50 minutes after Thys. Remarkably little, all things considered, but the Tour had gone."

That is the stuff of legends. You tell that story to people and they don't believe it. In this day and age where a guys mis-shift can cost him the race, and people call his rival un-chivalrous for racing onward, I feel like I just don't care anymore. They don't wait for the leader in F1 racing if he blows and engine do they? If you see Usain Bolt lose a cleat from his track spikes, are you gonna jog in place till you see him get it fixed? Hell no, this is racing.

1 comment:

ron k. said...

I totally agree. Part of the race is keeping your equipment usable.