Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Seriously, why?

Date: July 25
Mileage: 15.1
July mileage: 693.5
Temperature upon departure: 65
Inches of rain today: 0.01"

Despite the cycling nature of this blog, I was not going to post about the Tour de France because well, I don’t watch the Tour de France. But I do read newspapers. And after yet another day of being inundated by dopers in the headlines, I have to say ... sad. Just sad.

As a member of the nonviewing general public, I am probably not qualified to comment. I've actually never followed the tour because I don’t find much personal entertainment in it. I tend to identify more closely with dog mushers and adventure racers than I do with skinny Europeans all hopped up on other peoples’ blood. I do admire fast pedaling as much as the next cyclist. But ... if the pros are all dirty, if they’re really all dirty (and why would I, a member of the nonviewing general public, have any reason to believe they’re not?) ... then what’s the point? Why not build a bunch of cycling robots and watch them do their thing? Since cycling is a competition of humans, doesn't it make more sense to watch humans?

That’s actually one of my favorite things about riding in the summer ... the cyclist watching is so much richer and more diverse. I wasn’t going to ride today because I wanted to rest up my knee as much as possible before the weekend. But a rare sunny morning demanded I at least make an appearance outside. I went for a quick ride out to Thane - just an hour out and back. As I coasted to a stop at the turnaround, I met an older man - maybe 70-ish - who was standing next to a rusty contraption of a road bike and snacking on a miniature bag of Doritos. He was wearing a pair of Docker-type shorts and I noticed he had knee braces, just like me. I asked him if he lived in Juneau. “No,” he said. “I’m from Seattle. My daughter lives here, in Auke Bay.”

“Really?” I said. “Auke Bay?” (Auke Bay is about 17 miles from where we were standing.)

“Yup,” he said. “When she needs me out of her hair, I go for a little ride.”

With that, he dug back into his bag of Doritios, and I turned around to make the half-hour trip home, thinking how lucky I am to be involved in a sport with no shortage of heroes.