We’re supposed to be angry at professional cycling. We’re supposed to be disillusioned and downplay the accomplishment of pushing pedals over the Alps, through endless sunflower fields, and across the beautiful cruelty of the Pyrenees. We’re supposed to give up on an entire sport.
“Supposed to” has never planted the seed of inspiration. “Supposed to” has never challenged anyone to greatness. “Supposed to” has never changed the world.
And yet, somehow, riding a bike can still accomplish all of those.
Photo: Presse Sports, B. Papon
Falling in love with cycling can be a lonely path – not all the time, but for a fair chunk of it. It’s repetitive and somewhat anti-social, considering the hours squired away with a two-wheeled machine as a companion. The pain becomes addictive; the thrill never grows old. No one has ever reached great heights in cycling without giving thousands of lonesome hours to the road and their bike.
You can learn to love football without ever having been run over by a 300-pound man. You can admire the anaerobic capacity and skills of soccer players without having calves the size of small cannons. You can even be thrilled by a downhill race, while your own skiing exploits are strictly limited to blue squares.
For some reason, cycling is different. Nearly every hardcore cycling fan has endured the bittersweet pain of their local hill climb. They’ve felt the endorphins rushing through their bloodstream just in time to push through the meanest of headwinds. They’ve danced on the edge of fun and fear as they scream downhill a little bit faster than they should. When they watch the Tour riders sweating and pounding their way up the Col du Tourmalet, there is compassion, and a sense of brotherhood in happy suffering. There is awe and respect for the magical combination of rider, mountain, and bike.
So upon the closing of the 101st Tour de France, Ibex salutes the riders and the spirit of one of the toughest sporting events in the world. We salute the local riders who hammer it out on weekly club rides and the commuters who pedal to work and to the brewery just because it feels good. Let the pundits and the commissions hammer out the cloud that’s hung over the pro side of the sport. We still believe in the magic; we will always believe in the joy.