Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Le Tour Des Wimps?

No no. I don't really think those guys that ride in Le Tour are wimps. They're pretty badass when it comes to dropping the hammer.

However, they flat and a mechanic comes leaping out of the team car to change the wheel-- or even provide a new bike.

They don't do anything besides ride.

Okay... bear with me for a few minutes. Sherman! Set the WayBack machine...

A long time ago, in a Tour far far away... the cyclists were allowed NO support. They rode on single-speeds. The roads? Well, many of them would give a modern XC-er pause. You want to talk "badasses"? Those racers in the early Tours were the baddest badasses.

My favorite cycling story is the one of Eugene Christophe (Pardon my lack of accent marks) and his broken fork in the 1912 Tour De France. See, on stage 6 his fork snapped. So he runs several miles to the next village and stopped at a blacksmith's to fix it. That's right-- fix. No team car came up to dispense a new bike. Tour judges observed his repair efforts and penalized him 10 minutes because he had the shop boy (apprentice?) work the bellows. The rules of the time forbade outside help.

That's one thing that drew me to mountain biking. Self-sufficiency. That's a quality that I've always valued. I think it would be awesome if we could see just a little bit of that self-sufficiency creep back into Le Tour.

Another thing that bothers me about the support "infrastructure" of Le Tour is all the cars cars cars! And trucks and buses! I wonder what the "carbon footprint" of Le Tour is? It just seems a little excessive to me. A bike race that probably has more automobiles on the course than bikes!

Eh. Just something I think about as I lounge on Le Futon sipping tea in the AM.

A recent email from Dirt Rag had a link to this article:

Brain Farts: Self-Supported Road Racing?

Awesome! I can totally picture the XtraCycle team support bikes laden with water bottles and wheels. It's like recapturing the early spirit of LeTour with an extra measure of badassedness thrown in! I love it.

Pass the donuts.

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