Monday, June 30, 2008

It's July again...

As I type this, it's still June, but in a few hours it will be July.

On the 3rd I see a new orthopedic specialist and hopefully get the pin out of my thumb and get some news about my knee and elbow. I'm obviously hoping to get some good news about my recovery and when I can start trying to get back on a bike again. On the 9th, I go back to the neurologist and will likely get the ok to stop wearing the neck brace/ collar. My neck feels pretty good now with only some minor pain in my current range of motion. Hopefully I can begin to start working on getting the strength in the muscles back too- 6 weeks in a collar robbed my neck of strength.

The month of July certainly holds other happenings (like our National Sales Meeting), but as a dedicated bike nerd, it's obviously important because of a certain bike race in a certain country that yearly attracts our total attention... yes... le Tour de France.

Last year's Tour, with all of the drug scandals and the crowning of a winner who was gifted the jersey with less than a week to go when the yellow jersey at the time was pulled from the race by his own team, was a different race. Numerous riders were caught or implicated in doping scandals and the very rich and brutally beautiful image of the race we love was kicked into the dirt and trampled.

With a few stages remaining in last year's race, I found myself no longer able to watch the race I have loved for well over half my life. I turned my back on the 3 week spectacle that has held my rapt attention since I was a 12 year old boy first falling in love with a sport that happened on the other side of the world. My heart had been bruised. My faith had been taunted. My love had been abused. Last July hurt the heart of my cycling passion.

Obviously, that's a lot of melodramatic feeling for a bike race. I agree with that assessment, but having made a living off this wonderful sport and industry since I first entered the workplace, the Tour is important to how I pay my bills as well as my cycling passion. Over time, I got over my disgust and my disappointment. I don't place too much importance on athletes because they are just people, like me, and though they can be inspiring and entertaining, they also make mistakes and bad choices. Athletes are not role models or heroes- they are good at a sport/ game. They can be admired, but they should never be idolized and I lost sight of that.

This year's Tour looks to be a really great race. It's too bad that ASO and UCI are in an ego pissing match. It's also too bad that Contador won't be there to defend his title from last year- and earn it outright. If this year's Giro is an indication, the racing in July should be pretty great to watch. After the Tour last year, I wasn't so sure I'd be looking forward to the race this year, but I find that I am. I haven't paid much attention to the pre-race hype this year and don't really know that status or condition of all the contenders and the teams... but my curiosity is coming back around.

This weekend, when the Tour kicks off, I'll be really excited to watch it and read about it. I'll be drawn to the faces of agony on the long climbs, the tongues wagging in the breeze during those epic breakaway attempts and the gritted teeth of sprinters dashing for the line. My heart rate will climb as I watch leadout trains getting their designated sprinters set up. I'll get anxious watching time splits during crucial time trials. All the love I have had for the sport for 26 years will somehow blossom again and show itself.

And that's the thing; this is MY favorite sport and the Tour is one of the most incredible spectacles in all of sport- that is truly impossible to deny. 3 weeks of amazing racing is something that I love. The sport belongs to the fans and I am still a fan. I guess I always will be too. I hope I will anyway.

So long live the Tour. Long live cycling. Long live the love of a sport that has been beaten and bruised but has refused to go away.

I love this short ad by VS for the Tour- it sums things up pretty well;

(PS- Notice the poll on the left of the blog page. I am undecided on whether or not I am going to attempt to do my yearly daily coverage of the Tour this year. Part of me wants to and part of me doesn't. So place your vote and help me make up my mind.)


Anonymous said...

Here's hoping for a nice boring TdF off field and an exciting one on field, I actually love this years course, shorter stages and less TT'ing should make for realistic and achievable aggression for the majority of riders.

I'm liking Jens, Stuey, Fabian and CSC in the first week, but not Sastre in the pointy bits, there I expect to see Cadel, Zubeldia, Soler, my favourite Cunego and a couple of others.

I don't think Valverde will show much there, and I suspect Periero will be the better of the two riders for that team.

Josh Boggs said...

I knew you couldn't stay away from Le Tour! I remember the disgust in your July 07 blogs. Let's cross our fingers for no scandals this year.

J said...

Ah you too are in the wars! Sounds bloody painful!! Best of luck with the ortho specialist and neurologist, I hope they have good news for you.

I am the same school of thought as you about tdf. Last year was a shamble and after a week I just couldn't be bothered with following the GC. What annoyed me was the bad image the whole scandal gave cycling and the non fans making comments to me that all pro cyclists are dopers ): Well this years tdf does sound interesting and maybe I will be sucked backed into all the moves and events. Definitely the shorter stages make for interesting watching with hopefully lots of attacking. And well that Sir definitely makes for witty and intelligent insights and observations for non other the yourself! Look forward to reading it!!

Donna T. said...

Tim - glad to hear your recovery is going so well! That's fantastic news!!

I know what you mean about the Tour DAY France. I wanted to stay away, too, but I think I'll be drawn's kind of addictive. But, I'll also try to make it to a stage of the Longsjo Classic this coming weekend in Fitchburg, MA. Will your team be riding, by any chance?

Stay healthy....

James T said...

I can't say exactly why, but I am really excited about the Tour this year. Maybe I will be disappointed, but going in to it I just can't wait. I have followed every Tour since the mid eighties; some I have obviously been more excited about than others, but I have never considering giving up on the Tour. Yeah there have been some lowlights; the Festina mess and all of the scandals in recent years, but it is still the greatest sporting event in the world.

I hope you'll decide to cover it. I have always enjoyed your perspective in the past, even if it was commenting on the various scandals.

Sascha said...

Thank you for reminding me that I have to delete all the cycling blogs who want to recap the TdF every day from my RSS reader. I usually remember sometime in the fall to re-add them :)