I am a triathlete, but like most of you reading this I stumbled into the sport from another area. For me it was swimming and deep inside, regardless of my love for triathlon, I am still a swimmer. I have since grown to love cycling and of course running, though it was in cycling where I found something that I had never been able to get from the other sports in my life. This single event each year in the world of cycling gave me something to obsess over, to watch each day on the television, to research, to visit and watch in person, cheering on the side of the road with the millions of other celebrating cycling fans. This event, the Tour de France, is an epic race. There is no doubt to this, controversy aside, that it is an incredible feat of physicality, team work and mental toughness. Every July roughly 20 teams, each consisting of 9 riders, play a huge game of cat and mouse across France in order to earn their team leader the coveted Maillot Jeune, or yellow jersey, and win cycling’s version of the Stanley Cup...or the Champions League.
In the process they will race upwards of 3,500km across vast mountain ranges and will take part in mile long 60 kph sprints followed by multiple 25km alpine climbs the very next day. For the swimmers and runners out there it gives us an epic battle to follow, a month long super bowl…or like having our team reach the playoffs…every year. It seems an impossible task, superhuman almost, and for many riders both past and present this is true. However, drug controversies aside it continues to draw us back, many to the roadsides and small towns of France where for 3 weeks each year we can draw chalk on the roads, drink beer alongside fellow fans and cheer loudly and wildly at the speeding peleton of brightly coloured riders streaming past at 45kph on their way to yet another sprint or mountain top finish.
This year with Canadian hopes firmly resting on Victoria native Ryder Hysjedal’s shoulders (and Bradley Wiggins for those back in the UK) I urge you all to read the articles, watch the highlights and cheer on the 200 riders as they vie for glory in the countryside of France. I am happy to admit that I love the tour, just as much as any other sporting event, and if I’m being honest - probably a little more.