With baseball season in full swing, the NFL season just a few short months away, the turmoil of trades and signings within the NHL, and the Olympics right around the corner; the real athletes, the real excitement, is often buried underneath the mainstream sports. That’s right, I’m talking about the most dedicated, craziest, down right win hungry, athletes in the world; the men who partake in the Tour de France.
“The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will” – Vince Lombardi
Lombardi, a legendary man and football coach, nailed these bikers on the head with this one. They’re all strong, they’re all knowledgeable about their craft, and they all have some of the strongest wills to win, stronger than any other type of athlete in the world. First off, no one has watched the Tour de France since Lance Armstrong retired, when we Americans aren’t winning we act as if it’s just not happening. So an MLB day game will replace the bikers countless miles on the television. But for those who follow biking, this is like 21 days of pure bliss. From July 2nd through the 23rd, bike fans will be sitting in front of their television watching a pack of bikers, ass to elbows, as a man with a beautiful voice chatters away filling the dead air while the pack moves along. Until finally a few bikers streak out in front, looking for the finish line and the glory of winning a stage. There is no mass of fans cheering and rooting for one racer in particular as they ride up mountains and through cities. So clearly the bikers are not racing for fans, it’s not an NHL Finals where the team hoists the cup and thanks the fans for their support. It is purely for the win, the will to win.
This will runs so deep, that they all cheat to win. They all dope. Doping, in a nutshell, is when the rider injects EPO into their system, a drug that increases red blood cell count and carries more oxygen through their bloodstream, which gives them more energy/stamina. Then after the race they quickly partake in a complete blood transfusion, pumping clean blood they had drawn weeks before into one arm and drawing the EPO infested blood out of the other arm. If you ever encounter this question in trivial pursuit, you’re welcome. But how crazy is that? Sure, other sports use PEDs, they take roids they use deer antler spray and all other types of crazy stuff to get an edge. But these bikers aren’t trying to get an edge, they’re trying to remain competitive. When Armstrong was caught they had no one to give his trophies to because the next ten racers had been caught doping as well. They sit for up to an hour and have their blood drawn and replaced; if that is not dedication, if that is not what Vince Lombardi is referring to as “will,” then what is?
*Image courtesy of http://www.billbonebikelaw.com
I’m not telling you to watch all 21 days of the race, hell, I’ll probably watch a collective twelve minutes of the whole race. I don’t know why I don’t find an enormous pack of bikers winding through the streets of France and racing against a clock as riveting as our European counterparts, but I know that it would be a helluva lot more competitive if they let the boys dope. Only thing that would make it even more exciting is if they strapped some motors on those bikes. I may not be able to name more than three professional bikers, but damn do I respect their will to win, Lombardi would too.
*Image courtesy of soccer.altweet.com
Maybe this is where they find the will to win. Hell, I’d go through a blood tranfusion for this.