Monday, July 25, 2011

Why I Watched Le Tour

Ride Day (Saturday)
time- 2:05
distance- 28mi

There were two choice for the blog about this workout. The one I went with and "Oh God, I'm So Slow And Climbing Hurts So Much." I tried to skew more positive.
Let this be said about my ride on Saturday, and then we will move on. It hurt. It was slow. I went down the mountain to Haleiwa, around, and back up Pineapple Hill. This is a ride I do nearly every weekend, and it was getting, while not easy, much less hard before I went to the mainland for three weeks.
That seems to have fallen away. It hurt, it was slow, I wanted to stop at least once during the climb, but I didn't. I kept Strength Through Suffering squarely in mind and fought through it. Next time will be a little easier.
Anyway, on to le Tour.
You may wonder why I watched a month long tv show about guys riding bicycles endlessly through France. Simple, I want to be a faster cyclist. Get it? No? I shall elaborate.
I believe in the Learn From the Best school of athletic thought. And who is better at riding a bicycle than the guys in Le Tour?I wanted to see what it is they do that I don't do. How do they ride? Can I see what is going on in their heads, in their legs, in their hearts? I think I can. Watch the face of a Tour de France rider as he attacks the Alps. There is a level of brutal suffering there that you rarely see anywhere else. This shit hurts. The whole time. There are probably points where it hurts less, but like a tattoo on your ribs, "hurts less" is relative to what your current definition of "hurts" is.
Contador and Schleck define "Suffering"
There is learning to be had in that. How do you force yourself to suffer that much? If I can learn that, I can get faster. So I watch.
I'm not watching for technique. I don't know nearly enough about cycling to be able to watch Schleck or Cav or Contador and think, "Oh, ok so he's in this gear when attacking and his knees are pointing at this angle when blah blah blah." No, not so much. But I am watching body positioning and trying to compare it to how my body feels when I'm riding full out or struggling up my own personal Alpe d’Huez. I'm watching the best and trying to absorb through my television (or through my in-law's television- *aside* The best way to make your in-laws think you are strange is to turn Le Tour on, sit down, and watch it. They will come in to the room, "Watcha watching?" "The Tour." "...oh." Then will stand for a minute looking at the TV wondering what you could possibly be seeing, make a noise, and leave. *end aside*) something of what makes them so good. I want that determination. It's the same reason I watch Mike Phelps destroy other swimmers. I want to have his fish-babies.
Also, if you a re a fan of cycling, as I seem to have become, Le Tour is good fun, good sport, and good TV. And can be as brutally unpredictable as any great NFL game. I submit the following:

And you finished? Seriously?
Yeah, that car just swerved to avoid a tree, hit Juan Antonio Flecha, sending him down into the path of Johnny Hoogerland, who flew (flew!) into a barded wire fence. James Harrison can only dream about doing that much damage. This happened during Stage 9. The amazing thing? Hoogerland finished the stage. He got up, dusted himself off, and got back on a new bike. Le Tour sent a doctor on the back of a motorcycle to him, who leaned off the back of the bike and taped his leg up while they were both moving.
Also fun to watch is just about every finish, especially the sprints. How, after 195km, can there still be a sprint in the last 500m? Doesn't that blow your mind? A race that takes three hours should not still be exciting in the final 20 seconds. But because of team work and strategy it still happens. Watch the Manx Missile get launched by his teammates and tell me cycling isn't a team sport. (Honestly, I wanted to provide a video link to this, but after 15 frustrating minutes on the YourTubes and Googles I gave up. I'm sure you can find one.)
I loved watching this year's Tour, I feel like I learned and was inspired. And that's what it's all about. Congrats to this year's winner, Cadel Evans. The first Australian Tour winner ever.
For more on Le Tour, this link and this link lead to good write-ups by professionals.

1 comment:

  1. This is also a good article.