Every July I lose myself to the Tour de France. I know it will happen and I accept it. It is like losing yourself in a good book. For 21 days I follow the race as it travels through France and the surrounding countries. Each morning I watch the live coverage and in the evening I listen to the recap which usually includes interviews and historical information on the tour.
The Tour de France is a stunning athletic event in beautiful surroundings. It is about teamwork and sacrifice. It is artistry on wheels. I know of no other sport where nine players truly work together as a team to support the team leader. Each team member has a specific role; to go back to the team car to get provisions; to set the pace for the team leader as they ride up the mountains; to protect the team leader in the peleton. And these roles may change during the race depending on the stage. And then there is the individual time trial, the “race of truth,” where the rider tests his skills against the clock riding as fast as possible to the finish.
The support the team members give each other is not unlike the support artists give each other. We cheer each other during our successes and support each other when we’re down. We share our experiences and mentor those who are new in the field. We push each other up the mountains that challenge us and help each other through the slumps when we “hit the wall.” We may work independently but we wouldn’t survive without our team, our network of artist friends.
The 2007 Tour has finished. For the eighth time Discovery Channel (formerly Postal Service) put a winner on the podium in the yellow jersey. For the ninth time an American stood on the podium, also from the Discovery Channel team, in third place. In fact, Discovery had three team members in the top ten finishers and won the team compeitition Now that is team work.
The Tour is a diversion and diversions can be good. Diversions allow us down time; time to re-group and refresh. But now it is time to get back to work. So au revoir, Tour de France, until next July when I will lose myself for 21 days in the whirring of bicycles against a backdrop of sunflowers.
A Tour de France Sculpture in Pau, France (from the TdF blog).
To see some of the best pictures of the Tour de France, other bike races, and cyclists, visit Graham Watson’s site.