Tour de France, the amazing and grueling three-week bicycle race across France. This is the 100th year of the Tour and since Alex is a competitive cyclist, we’re huge fans. The Tour is considered the most demanding sports event in the world — and with good reason. Over three weeks, 22 teams and some 200 riders chase each other across mountains and tough terrain for thousands of miles.
This year, there’s been a lot of excitement because the fabled Yellow Jersey — the Tour leader’s tunic of honor — has actually changed hands five times in the first week. This means that five different riders have out-ridden the entire band of competitors during long, grueling stages — something that’s not easy to do! All this translates into tremendous ups and downs, which makes for lots of thrills.
Cycling is a rough-and-tumble sport and not for the fainthearted. While we’re not pushing our pens or tapping our computer keys at 40 or 50 miles per hour like Tour riders, there are lessons to be learned for us from this high-speed race to Paris.
First and foremost, anything can happen! Last year’s Tour winner isn’t even competing this time around because of an injury. Another rider was eliminated because of a 7-second time gap. People are riding with broken ribs and fractures. So, everything’s up for grabs — there’s no sure winner. It ain’t over ’til it’s over.
Second, having a team makes all the difference. Sprinters turning on the gas in a Wild West chase to the finish line need lead-out riders to give them an edge. And the big favorites — the overall race contenders — with a shot at winning the Tour need teams of dedicated riders to help them get over the tough mountain stages and protect them from day to day. You can’t be a lone ranger and win the Tour.
And finally, you need to dig deep all day, every day. You can be winning the Tour and be on top of the world one moment, but lose it all if you lack focus or dehydrate yourself or don’t get enough rest or don’t rebound well from a rough day in the saddle. So being consistently attentive and staying motivated are key to success.
When I think about how these riders train and practice for months before the Tour, how they bounce back after injuries, and how they show up ready to ride day after day, it really inspires me to keep going myself. Right now, I’m in a sprint to the finish of my own and I’ve got to keep pouring on the gas. If the Tour’s rough riders can do it, well then, so can we! So let’s hop in the saddle and write on!