Tour de force
It's that time again - the Tour de France. I'm no cyclist, not having been on bike since my student days. Back then I used to cycle to the tennis courts on summer evenings, and cycle out with friends on the quiet country roads around the village. But over the past few years I've become besotted by the Tour de France, that epic 3 week unfolding drama. We holidayed in the Bordeaux area one year just before the Tour passed through, and it was evident in even the smallest of hamlets that something of the magnitude of a royal visit was about to happen. Everything that could be was painted, swept, polished, renovated. And unlike a royal visit, no-one would even stop - unless they fell off. I started watching the race on TV. At first it was the footage of France that drew me in. Then gradually, almost without noticing, I began to pick up some of the technicalities. And now it's a highlight of my year.
It's one thing to watch it from the comfort of the sofa, but almost unimaginably another to ride the actual route within the same timeframe, a week in advance of the Tour itself. However that's what a friend is doing this year - riding the route for charity. The Tour de Force takes riders on some or all of the stages of that year's Tour, raising money for the William Wates Memorial Trust to help the most disadvantaged young people keep away from a life of crime and violence and fulfill their potential. Imagine riding the daily hell of the Tour without having chosen this as a career, without the corporate resource of the big cycling teams, without years of finely-tuned training programmes. Have a look at Tony Does TDF and you'll see someone doing just that - and perhaps consider donating to the charity if you feel moved to.
You weren't going to get photo of me on a bike to illustrate this post, so I popped out from work to take some cycling-themed photos in the neighbourhood. The last photo below is one of the bike stores for cycle commuters at the University of Edinburgh.
And bon courage to Tony as he approaches the Alps!