Thursday, July 10, 2014
I love riding bikes, and have developed a real love of watching professional cycle racing. The Tour de France is the highlight of my summer, with most of the worlds best riders, spectacular scenery, and exciting competition. Someday I will stand on the side of a French road and watch 200 of the best of the best roll by. Yesterday's route was an unusual challenge with several segments on cobblestone roads. The Tour rides on cobblestones every year, the finish in Paris is on a cobbled street. The weather yesterday was rainy and miserable, even worse than my ride home from the office yesterday. There were a lot of falls. Chris Froome, defending champion, (last year's winner) abandoned the race after numerous falls over two days. The post race interviews were punctuated with complaints about the cobblestone sections and calls to the organizers to not repeat the cobblestone sections - citing that Froome had been injured and had to withdraw. They all seemed to miss one very important point, his falls and injuries happened on paved roads, not on the cobbles. Many-many riders fell while racing on very wet and slippery streets. Streets that were very difficult to ride on. A few falls occurred on the cobbles, as always happens, but for the most part the riders were cautious on the cobbles. What would have made yesterday safer, would not have been to bypass the challenge of the cobbles, but for the riders to agree to ride but not race in the very wet - very dangerous conditions. Tradition is that the race goes on in all weather, they have ridden up mountains in the snow. But nothing stops the riders from all agreeing that they will not challenge one another today. It happens, usually the day after a serious or fatal accident (yes people die in this race.) Why didn't the riders agree yesterday that it was too wet and dangerous to race, and agree to ride the course with caution and dignity leaving the racing for another day, on safer roads, with more riders healthy and able to participate. I wish Froome a fast and complete recovery, but the cobbles were not the cause of his withdrawal from the race.