PLEASE excuse my 3-4wk absence from the blogging world; however, you must understand that from Saturday, July 2nd until Sunday, July 24th, 2011, I was possessed by a small European event called the Tour de France. Or, as most cycling fans prefer to call it… “The Race of Truth”. 21 stages. 200 riders. 3430.5Km (over 2000 miles for my metric challenged friends). An epic battle and physical display of courage by freaks of nature, who can maneuver a bicycle up, down, and around a mountain for a time frame that would make most people exhausted from the luxurious comfort of driving in a car – let alone on a machine that only works when you push the pedals over and over and over again. Go ahead and throw in a 6 day visit to Jamaica last week (I’ll save that story for another blog), and voila! you have the recipe for an absent-minded blogger.
Congratulations to Cadel Evans of BMC Racing Team – 2011 winner of the maillot journe (yellow jersey) and the 1st Australian to win the Tour de France. Also, congratulations to the Manx Missile Mark Cavendish – Team HTC-High Road – 1st British winner of the Green points jersey, as well as an amazing performance by Team Garmin Cervelo for best overall team in the 2011 Tour de France. I’m still happy and proud as hell of Andy Schleck and Frank Schleck taking 2nd and 3rd place on the podium for Team Leopard Trek. Like they’re my friends or something. You follow people’s careers long enough (and on Twitter), and you get this false belief that you know them. Trust me. I don’t. But, great champions deserve great recognition. Let’s be real here… if you can haul your body for 3 weeks of torture around France, and over the Pyrenees and the Alps, then shouldn’t you be called a champion for just completing the tour? In my best Shakespearean voice “me thinketh yes!”. What an accomplishment!
I think Bill Russell had 11 NBA Championships. This feat can never be duplicated in the modern era of basketball. Jack Nicklaus won 18 professional majors in golf. Beyond impressive. Muhammad Ali – He’s called the greatest of all time for a reason. Putting this all into perspective… Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France 7 times. No typo. 7 times! That’s gotta be the most dominating achievement in sports. Ever. Sure, Brazil has won 5 World Cups in futbol; but, that’s a whole country over a couple decades! This is why I continue to be an enthusiastic fan (and part time participant) of cycling. I welcome you to challenge me on this. We could use a little friendly banter on this blog. Join the conversation! LIVESTRONG is my charity of choice by the way. Care to learn more? If you’d like to join the fight against cancer, please visit: Livestrong.org.
It’s like sometimes I want to be annoyed when I see one of those “26.2” bumper stickers on the back of a car. Oh, so you think you’re better than me? Then I catch myself, and realize that you deserve to put that on the back of your car. Why? Because running 26.2 miles and being able to say that you’ve completed a marathon is a freakishly cool life accomplishment. Alas… Tour de France is over! So, hear me now… believe me later… I’m going to complete a stage of the Tour de France before I die. Let me rephrase that. I’m going to ATTEMPT to complete a stage of the Tour de France before I die. Okay, let me revise my words slightly again… I’m going to SEE a stage of the Tour de France before I die. Baby steps people. Baby steps. Who’s with me? Vive le Tour! Before I go too far away from my beloved cycling, let me boldly promote the Boston Globe’s SPECTACULAR photos from this year’s 2011 Tour de France – http://bo.st/qzIuv6
Right about now, you’re probably wondering what the heck does all this have to do with a TRAVEL blog? I think Dhani Jones explains it best on his show Dhani Tackles the Globe. If you want to learn more about a culture, explore the sports that they play and love. Spend enough time in New Zealand, and you’ll quickly become a fan of rugby. I guarantee. I still remember Queenstown, New Zealand (Nov 2005) watching the All-Blacks thrash Ireland on tv. I was a rugby fan before, thanks to growing up in England and experiencing World Rugby Championships in Dublin, Ireland (1999); But, after sharing good times in a Queenstown bar with local Kiwis admiring their beloved All-Blacks, I gained a whole new appreciation for the sport of rugby. And for the country of New Zealand. Just a breathtakingly beautiful country. Fantastic people too. STILL one of my all-time favorite travels.
In the same respect, I don’t think it’s possible to live in Brazil and not be a fan of “the beautiful game” – futbol. Writing about sports and culutre is bringing back fond memories of July 9th, 1994 in Dallas, Texas, watching the World Cup quarter-finals between Brazil and Netherlands (Holland). The images of bright orange drenched Dutch, singing and chanting non-stop, while a hoard of green and gold clad Brazilian fans blew whistles, banged on drums, and danced the samba in the aisles. These memories will forever be etched in my mind as one of the greatest cultural experiences of my life. Brazil won – 3-2, and went on to win the 1994 World Cup vs Italy in Pasadena, CA. It was the first time that a World Cup Final had ever been decided by penalty shots (3-2). Sports in N. America? It’s hard to explain the energy and adrenaline of a college football rivalry game. Texas A&M vs Texas. Michigan vs Ohio State. Alabama vs Auburn. USC vs Notre Dame. OU vs Texas. The list goes on and on. Just something that changes your life and gives you a whole new appreciation for culture through sports. Suddenly, my sorrow of the Tour de France being over has been relieved. I just remembered… the 2011 professional cycling season’s not over just yet! We still have La Vuelta a Espana in August!
Remember: Join the Conversation! In the meantime… TRAVEL | EXPLORE | DREAM | DISCOVER