My son Alex is an enthusiastic cyclist and the annual Tour de France is a much-loved sporting event at our house. It lasts for about three weeks in July and ends in the heart of Paris. Along the way, there are flat stages, mountain stages — and spills and thrills galore. The scenery is fabulous and the incredible feats of endurance and derring-do by the world’s top cyclists is mind-boggling. As a writer, one of the things I enjoy most about the Tour is listening to the patter by a trio of colorful commentators: Bob Roll, Phil Liggett, and Paul Sherwen. They love cycling and it shows! They’re also anything but shy about coining new words or verbs that deliver visual punch and appeal.
Bob Roll, a U.S. cycling pioneer, in particular, really has a way with words. During one stage, he described a hard-driving group of riders as “mad-dogging” it down the road in search of a stage victory. He admired another rider’s skill at “frappeing” (guess that’s how you spell it!) his competition as he smoothly worked his way through a crowd of cyclists. Here are a few more gems:
“He’s heading into the stomach of the valley…”
“He’s plowing his lonely furrow over the road…”
“He’s battling with the slopes of this climb…”
“He had the audacity, the cheek, the foresight to attach himself…”
“These guys don’t look as if they’re putting fire into their work…”
“I had today dog-eared in my book…”
Sharing these colorful phrases gets my creative juices going: it reminds me that we can find word-powered inspiration and energy everywhere and anywhere. We just have to look, listen, and learn.