Posts Tagged ‘sport and recreation’
Most Americans have probably heard of The Tour de France, but one might be hard-pressed to find someone who actually sat down and watched any portion of the race. However, this typical American approach to the race is in no way indicative of what happens in Europe, when everyone is literally on the edge of their seat for almost a month, watching their favorite riders barrel down mountain passes or try to get ahead of one another on the flat stretches.
For people in the United States, the idea of a bunch of grown men on bicycles pedaling through the countryside might not seem like a big deal. Worse yet, there might even be gross misjudgment in place that makes it seem like a delicate or easy endeavor to participate in.
The biggest mistake that people make when thinking about The Tour de France is thinking the race just lasts for a couple of days, or is actually not that long, but is spread out time-wise. In reality, the race is thousands of miles long, usually lasts for 21 days of continuous riding, and has been known not just to span France, but the surrounding countries, too. Riders have to navigate some of the steepest and most dangerous roads in France, and must be in peak physical shape to even think about doing a good job.
Broken up into daily segments, The Tour de France winner is the person with the shortest overall time. It is, in fact, possible to win the entire race but never win a segment. But it’s also just as likely to not even finish, as a number of tragic accidents and injuries are known for occurring each year. That’s the main difference between a simple little football game and this bicycle race–the stakes are high here, and even grown professional men have been known not just to get hurt, but to die, trying to take on the race.
It’s not just mountain passes, though. The race usually weaves in and out of cities, and traditionally wraps up with a triumphant sprint down busy city streets in Paris. The race is also known for varying in length, with the route changing every year. Sometimes, the difference can be as sizable as a few hundred miles, but usually it’s more of a matter of routes. Anyone who wants to participate, though, should be in top form, as even very athletic riders talk of experiencing a great deal of trouble at the prospect of tackling the race.
Aside from that, the race is known for being daunting emotionally, since much time is spent alone, unsure of one’s standing in the race, and dealing with the very real thought that, after the next hundred miles, 900 more are waiting. It takes a lot out of anyone, even a famous bicyclist, to compete in this race.
And while Americans might not have historically cared very much about bicycle racing, that all changed in recent years.. Not only were all of the Americans hanging on the daily results, but there was a huge rise in the popularity of long distance bicycling. Ever since this historic reign of terror, interest in the race has been the standard.
That one rider, who beat not only The Tour but also managed to triumph over cancer, is none other than Lance Armstrong. At the top of his game, truly, the man managed to win The Tour De France seven times in a row, often far ahead of the other riders. Armstrong is not just a legend to those in his home country, but also to many Europeans, who begrudgingly accepted him as one of the greatest cyclist of our time, and are just as excitedly rooting for him as he takes on the course as they are when their home country favorites whiz by.
But whether it’s cheering for an obscure 20-something who might just have his lucky day, poring over old film footage of racers making their way up the mountains in grainy black and white, or getting excited for Lance Armstrong and wondering if an American will ever do that well again, there’s no denying the appeal of The Tour de France.
Damian Papworth, an enthusiastic cyclist understands how crucial hydration is in the sport, at all levels. As such, he created the Cycling Water Bottle website, offering free information on bicycle water bottles