Monday, July 28, 2014

Fast Lane

Tip your helmet for Vincenzo Nibali, 101st Champion of the July classic cycling pinnacle 2014 Tour de France. He completed its course of 2196.3 miles (3660.5 km) through England and France with bits of Belgium and Spain in a minute less than 90 hours at a world class average of 24.4 mph. On certain stages the pace was upward of 35 mph, but you must appreciate that 6 of the 21 crested mountains, and more were mercilessly hilly than flat. Nibali, like his heroic Italian predecessors Bartali, Coppi and Pantani, proved his climbing superiority, which typifies every cycling champion.

Not for 30 years had two Frenchmen also stood on the podium, but to relief of host nation Jean-Christophe PĂ©raud and Thibault Pinot came in 2nd and 3rd, less than 10 minutes behind. Americans and Tacoma were well represented by Tejay van Garderen in 5th place. And, for once in recent memory, drama was confined to racing instead of substance abuse allegations and xenophobic resentments. Spared these horrors, where was network news coverage? They dissect with rabid zeal ho-hum tennis matches and, yawn, terminally dull soccer games where a couple of dozen of players going at it for 90 minutes score a single goal. Are not cyclists also professional athletes? Why do they scare reporters?

Some days going by bike everyone feels as if he/she could compete with the best, then reality settles in as kids on single speeds muscle past. Society doesn’t normally run at closed circuit extremes, rather mundane motored speeds at a 25 mph mean, half that par pedaled. With no distinct demographic, bicyclists come in all shapes, situations and sizes; most profit through personal victories apart from pelaton. Hefty New Jersey native Scott Cutshall, whose weight topped out at 501 pounds, had doctors writing him off as dead until he noticed an outside example and realized that bicycles made motile sense, relocated to Minnesota, then settled in Oregon 320 lbs. lighter. No doubt, champions inspire wannabes, but so do stubborn adults who conscientiously choose to self propel despite arguments against, blogs about, taboos and terrors. Fast or slow, fear nothing and take whatever lane you're presented for the health of it.

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