Last Saturday the Tour de France kicked off and by now it's well underway with most of the cyclists in the groove. This is by far my favorite sporting event of the year and lucky for me it lasts for 3 weeks as opposed to one Sunday afternoon. There are many things I'm really looking forward to this year as the race unfolds. Here is my list:
- No organized cheerleaders with cheesy choreographed half time programs. I had to get that one out of the way first. It's really nice to know that there are only true crazed fans lining the streets and mountains dawning their devil and Elvis costumes holding their cow bells waiting for the riders to pass. It's also nice to know that I won't spot Mick Jagger out on the route waving his flabby arms around. What a relief.
- Epic crashes. I'm not really into watching people getting hurt but the TdF really does showcase some spectacular bike crashes. I still remember the rider last year who whipped everyone to top of a major mountain pass only to ride off of the road and over the barrier on one of the first downhill turns. He ended up sliding 50 or so feet down a hill and his bike kept going. As he scurried back to the road he was left standing there with no bike to ride. You just can't script drama like this.
- Speculation on who is doping. It's actually been quite fun in years past to speculate who is doping and who is going to get kicked out first. Can you say Ricardo Ricco? You could see that one coming from a mile away last year.
- Bob Roll talking with his hands. Even though he has vowed not to pronounce it the Tour "Day" France this year I still get a kick out of watching him talk with his hands. I'm not sure how he ever communicated with anyone while he was a racer but I bet he has some really good no hands riding skills.
- Lightning fast tire changes. The Indy 500 has nothing on the a TdF team mechanic who can chase down a bike with a flat, change the tire and give the rider a push away in 2 seconds flat. Amazing.
- Sprint Finishes. It's mind boggling to me that the sprinters can generate that much power after riding 115 miles and they do it all while banging into each other going 40 MPH. I was really hoping to see Robbie McEwen pull one last victory out this year but he's not racing. So I guess I'm pulling for Thor now.
- Natural breaks on the fly. I thought I had good bike handling skills but these guys put me to shame. No way I'll ever attempt that.
- Rule bending. I know it's against the rules to draft off of cars or hang on to them but you see it every year. I still laugh every time I see a domestique drop back to the team car to fill up with water bottles and every time he takes one from the team director he holds on to it for 5 seconds and then gets a really good shove off with the last bottle taken. I guess if I were riding that far every day I'd do the same thing.
So there you have it. You can be sure that I'll be tuning in every night to watch the best sporting event on earth.
Lance Amrstrong 10th place.