It's July and summer is in full swing in the Northern Hemisphere. Vacations, swimming, barbequing, and yard work fill our free time. And if you’re in our home, it’s all of the above AND Le Tour de France. The voices of the commentators (often in French from the French broadcast) and the sounds of yelling crowds resonate through our house.
My husband sits quietly watching and almost seems to study the strategy of each cyclist and team. He calls for me to watch with him when the cyclists go through the beautiful historic villages. The townspeople are all out in the streets cheering the athletes on and the tv camera pans out to really capture the magnitude and beauty of this event. This bicycle race is like no other to my husband. Not only has he been a cyclist for most of his life, but he was born and raised in France until he was 12. This ride is in his blood.
The Tour de France is 111 years old, but has been held only 101 times, as it was cancelled during the two World Wars. This ride of epic endurance is over 2000 miles over the course of 3 weeks. Although the bulk of the ride is in France, it often begins in another European country. This year it began in the United Kingdom.
The popularity of cycling is definitely on the rise, but the recent statistics of the Tour de France are still a bit surprising. Recent reports said that in the first 3 days of the Tour over 2 million fans were on the streets of the county of Essex in the UK watching the ride. It is being said that this year’s Tour is the most watched ever with an estimated 3.5 billion people worldwide watching. Now that’s impressive.
A few years ago, our family was fortunate enough to be in Paris for the final stage. The energy of the crowds was contagious. Standing on the bridge by the Louvre with thousands of other people just to get a glimpse of the riders and cheer them on was amazing. To share in this historical sporting event was a moment that we will never forget.
So we are barely finished with week one of Le Tour de France and I am perfectly content with being a “Le Tour Widow” for two more weeks. Don’t get me wrong- I do appreciate the sights, the sounds and the pure athleticism of the Tour. But for my husband it is so much more. It relaxes him, creatively inspires him and motivates him to keep riding his bike. Now that’s three weeks well spent.