Le Tour and Steep Climbs

There were a number of motivators for me to get into cycling. The catalyst, of course, was the running injury and the inability to do anything else for exercise. There were also some friends who cycled and the availability of a cycling club at work, which certainly helped.

Another seed had been planted long ago. I had almost forgotten about that one until recently. Like many other cyclists, it was the Tour de France, although it was not the actual Tour. I had not been a fan of the sport of cycling before jumping onto a bike of my own. Sure, I would follow some of the provocative stories, such as Lance Armstrong, Floyd Landis and all the doping controversies (not going there on this blog). Last year was the first time I actually sat down and watched a stage of the Tour.

It should come as no surprise to anyone who reads this website that I’m a sucker for nature and good photography. It was not the actual Tour that inspired me, but these images from Boston.com’s wonderful Big Picture series. I remember that image #6, the one with Bradley Wiggins riding down the Col du Tourmalet, especially caught my eye. It was mind-blowing that man could achieve such heights and travel to such beautiful places on human-powered two wheels. Even though I wouldn’t ride a bike for another couple of years, it remained in the back of my mind.

That also explains why the first organized ride I signed up for was Tryon’s Tour de Leaves, which was more than I was ready for at the time, but that’s a subject for another day. The rest is history. I’m fortunate to have been able to climb to some spectacular heights and see some amazing sights in the brief time I have been riding. There will be many more to come.

Now I am a certified cycling fan. This year I even joined a Tour de France Fantasy League along with some other bloggers (thanks to Mr. Patterson from Languedoc.) I’ve actually done pretty well in the league, currently in 5th place out of 32. For awhile I was 2nd and then 3rd, but have dropped as of late. You can see my team here.

I have learned a lot about riding from the Tour in the brief time I’ve been watching. Most notably, I’ve learned that there are superhumans on this planet. I’ve become a relatively strong rider, but the guys climbing these difficult French hills make it look sickeningly easy. I’ve learned a good bit about descending just by watching and emulating their body movements, and have become a lot more confident in the last couple years, although not quite dangerously so.

And like many others, I have fallen in love with the French climbs that I’ve seen on TV. I long to ride the great ones, such as Ventoux, Galibier, Alpe d’Huez, and countless others. I may even make a trip next year to do so, assuming I can work a couple other things out. Until then, I’ll keep watching and dreaming.

Here is this year’s Boston.com Tour pictorial.


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