Saturday, July 4, 2009
They come to you
The other day I watched a movie called "Hell on Wheels", or at least that was the English title, the German title is Hollentour with a accent on the o. The movie follows mostly German riders from the T-mobile team as the go through the 2003 Tour De France. The way they discuss the highs and lows of the tour are enlightening, to hear directly from a rider as he is within the three weeks of racing.
The other interesting and more fascinating part I found was a man retelling different lore of the tour. How it began as a publicity stunt of endurance. I mean 1903 had more carriages then bicycles or cars. The ability at the time to carry yourself across on country upon a bicycle was something to be marveled along with causing publicity.
The Bicycle was the most human powered way to travel, if you look at calories consumed by humans versus horses one could make the argument that bicycles are the most able and efficient way to travel. The importance of this is underestimated in the annals of history as the combustible engine was brought to fame shortly after the first bicycle boom of the 1890's.
If the engine hadn't come along, one could imagine a stretch of bicycles like a trade caravan stretching across the Middle East and China. Perhaps the western world would have had noodles a bit quicker had Marco Polo invented a bicycle for his travels.
The other important thing pointed out by this Tour historian as he argued it as the most famous sporting event. Bicycling races are free to the public, they come to you. You may have to travel a handful of hours to perch yourself ontop of a mountain, but you won't have to plop down a 30 or 40 dollars the way you will for football or basketball tickets. And while they zoom past sometimes so fast you only see them for a second, for that second though they are meters away from you, you could even smell their sweat in the breeze they create. The zero cost to watch a world class sporting event, allows people to spend their money on paint to put on the road to cheer their favorite riders. They also build large statues and place them roadside in fields of France.
Off to see the explosions tonight and hopefully ride people around if the rain holds off.