It is Bastille Day.
Vive la France!
It is also up to Stage 10 of Le Tour de France.
I don't know why I like watching this so much every July, but I do. Those three weeks of 2013, during my Year Without A Summer, were something special.
In college my last bicycle was a fairly decent Raleigh I'd bought new from a bike shop in Evanston freshman year, using the proceeds from my first Federal income tax refund. (grin) Alas, my bicycle days are long gone. The bicycle itself was destroyed by the elements in North Carolina - it should never have been stored outside under plastic, but that wasn't my decision. Sad, really. It was silver with blue accents. But Greensboro in the summer was brutal hot, humid and hilly -- not the freewheeling flats of Chicago and Evanston. And those tires were wholly unsuitable for the rough streets of Laurium.
The race begins on the Fourth of July, this year in Holland, then Belgium, then cobblestones (!) and finally into France by Stage 5, I think. Monday was a rest day, but the first nine days were amazing. The coverage on now NBCSN, previously Outdoor Life Network/OLN/Versus, is superb. But there were conflicts with other Fourth of July events and so the on-screen NBCSN schedule didn't match what they showed, so I saw very little of Stage 1. But I've pretty much been able to catch parts of the morning live coverage, afternoon and midnight repeats for the rest. Thankfully our big trip South was before all this. (grin)
Lord knows who will win, because there were a couple of horrendous high speed crashes and some amazing breakaways that actually worked. An Eritrean rider has become the first African to lead any of the divisions -- the polka dot jersey for the King of the Mountain points. I've been watching this for at least ten years and am finally beginning to understand how the teams, the peloton, the breakaways work. And how wind changes things, etc. Fascinating. And quite beautiful to watch.
I know of no other sport where the spectators can literally be in your face until the last moment during the steepest mountain climbs. Today was the first day in the Pyrenees. A couple of Category 4 climbs, second easiest, and 12 miles plus of an HC -- beyond category -- climb. Nine miles of greater than a 9% grade. Twice this tour they've been on grades of 19%. Uphill. And racing to beat the other guys.
Anyway, only three days in the Pyrenees, then a few days until the Alps. All too soon Le Tour de France will be over until next year.
We'll always have Paris... (sn*rt)
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