Why we watch

Why we watch

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The tour has been over for a week now, not that I really noticed.  And that should have been a capital ‘T’ in “tour”, right?  Mea culpa.  And a yawn. Don’t get me wrong –I have nothing against the tour.  I even think the route was fine (they rode their butts off around France, what more do you want?).

I’m just not much of spectator.  I’d rather do.  Let me make a more direct analogy: I’d rather have sex than watch porn.  Dig?  So when the tour ends, it’s a welcome return to focus on my own riding.  No commentary, no sponsors, no EPO, just a skinny white guy suffering up a hill — which is right where I want to be.

But here’s the hypocrisy: I just learned that I will be on site for the final two stages of the Vuelta, and I got really excited.  (The trip to Spain is for a wedding, and the timing is purely coincidence.)  So why, if I’m ambivalent to someone else’s suffering, or success, on a bike, am I so excited to be there? This required some soul searching, aided by alcohol, bien sur.

The answer is pretty simple: chance.  The chance that something unusual, something unexpected, will happen.  An early break will hold out against the freight train of humanity chasing it.  A lone climber will light up a 10% grade and summit with a 2:00 lead.  A sprinter will take a straight line, never glance back, and hit the line with clear air behind him.

Chance is enough of a reason for me to watch.  On any given day, any rider could win a stage– that’s exciting.  Of course, the days also add up, and that, I confess, is also worth watching. Ansel Adams said, “Chance favors those who are prepared.”  I bet a few tour champions would agree.

// Racing

  1. You make a great point on watching versus doing. But, I have to say, if you get the chance to overnight on the roadside before the race finishes at a mountaintop, take it. It is an experience that you won’t easily forget!

  2. @frank
    spot on Frank. I slept partway up Ventoux in 09 and was woken early, in darkness with the taste of last night’s vin rouge still fresh, by the crowds starting to walk and pedal their way up the hill – packed up the tourer and joined in to see them go past 2k before the finish. Good times that I will not forget and tonight (downunder) I will be watching from the couch – tomorrow I will get out for a ride in the hills, but … I know where I would rather be

  3. @tommeesee

    @frank
    spot on Frank. I slept partway up Ventoux in 09 and was woken early, in darkness with the taste of last night’s vin rouge still fresh, by the crowds starting to walk and pedal their way up the hill – packed up the tourer and joined in to see them go past 2k before the finish. Good times that I will not forget and tonight (downunder) I will be watching from the couch – tomorrow I will get out for a ride in the hills, but … I know where I would rather be

    Overnighting on roadside was fantastic, and the vino hangover was a killer for us, too! Here’s my story on our experiences: l’Alpe in 2003 and Pla d’Beret where I basically ended Salvodelli’s career in 2006.

    The best was l’Alpe where we rode over the wet paint in the morning from all the painting the fans do on the road…then rode through the finish area. So cool. I took the tires off and stored them since. Sadly, the paint has somehow evaporated in the years since, but I still have my memories.

    Ventoux will be the next big venue.

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