Location: Seattle, Washington, United States

What you have here is an old guy. In education for 30 years, started teaching elementary, ended as library and media director of community college. I've enjoyed mountain climbing, sports car rallying, was pipe major of a bagpipe band, played guitar and sang during the folk revival, walking and hiking later in life. Now fairly sedentary. Enjoy reading, esp. mysteries and fantasy, but my reading is pretty eclectic. Enjoy movies, giving Netflix a workout.

Friday, July 30, 2004

The Tour de France: For the last several weeks I have been watching the Tour de France bicycle race whenever I could. To me these bike riders are superb athletes even those who ride at the back of the peloton or the pack. (Oh, don’t we get very French when we watch the Tour?) Day after day they ride 100 miles or more, then take a day off to ride individual time trials. Out on the road by themselves, with no one in front to draft, just their own individual effort. And then there are the mountains. Some days there have been five mountains to climb.

The crowds have been stupendous. One day this last week it was estimated that there were a million people by the side of the road. Most are cheering the riders on, no matter the country they are from. But sometimes I think they are crazy and are going to cause serious injury to the riders. This was especially true on time trial days. They crowded the route, barely giving a lane for the rider to get through. They wave flags in their faces, run along side and generally encourage a rider. But, as Lance Armstrong said in an interview, sometimes they spit on riders and throw water bottles at them.

Lance Armstrong should win again this year, for an unprecedented sixth time. No one has won that many Tours. A couple of riders have won five times. When I left home for a weekend at our cabin Lance was ahead by a total of 4:05 minutes with three days to go. It is incredible to watch his leg speed on the climbs. It seems never to vary. I was once upon a time casual bike rider. I cannot conceive the condition these riders must be in and stand in awe of that rate. Of course credit must go to Lance’s team, U.S. Postal, for allowing him to win. They have set the pace for him every day.

Other riders have put in incredible rides. Jan Ulrich from Germany originally was thought to be a challenge to Armstrong, Ivan Basso from Italy challenged him for a couple of tough days in the mountains, and Thomas Voelker held the yellow jersey for ten days. The mountains and an unorthodox climbing style undoubtedly did him in. But all the riders are champions in my view. Three grueling weeks. I’m sorry I’m not at home where I can watch the end of this race inParis.

You may note a discrepancy between the time these are posted and the time they are written. Electricity at the cabin but no telephone connection. So I write ‘em when I can and post ‘em when I can. I did arrive home Sunday night to see a replay of the final sprint through Paris and to see Lance on the podium for the 6th straight time. Stupendous! Sorry this is a bit out of date.


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