Why we watch
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.