Doesn’t Everybody Know about the Luz Ardiden?

I’ve only blown my cover a few times this summer, but when I have, OH, the looks I get.

It usually happens when I’m minding my own business, reading updates on my phone, and I start to mutter, not realizing that I’m vocalizing.

“That’s crazy.”

“LOVE that guy.”

“Contador better just keep on pedaling…all the way home to Spain.  Scrawny bastard.”


“Well that’s it.  Wiggins is down.  Again.”

“There is no way Sanchez is going to get by Voeckler today.  Not if he wants to get up Luz Ardiden tomorrow.”

Then I remember where I am and look up to see people who thought they knew me well staring, aghast.

It is a fact that I am not a cyclist.  I know how to ride a bike, but I don’t do it very often.  I do not like to go fast – not in cars, not even really on skis and I’m a half-decent skier, and absolutely not on a bicycle.  I do not follow cycling.

Well.  Except for three weeks in July, when I don’t so much follow cycling but rather give over half of my conscious existence to monitoring every moment of the Tour de France.

I lose interest in the average baseball game by about the bottom of the fourth inning, but I can watch every minute of a three and a half hour stage of a 21-stage race.  Three times.  Because that’s how many times a day each stage is aired on television.  Plus I read live streaming highlights.

I cannot explain this except to say that I am riveted by any demonstration of a person (or group of people’s) passion for something.  That anyone would love cycling so much that he would put himself through the monster insanity of this race is endlessly fascinating for me.  Obviously.

And just in case you don’t know…the Luz Ardiden is a particularly challenging section of the race that features a grueling climb in the Pyrenees, today tackled in stage 12.  This same section was made famous in 2003 when Lance Armstrong crashed climbing the mountain after snagging a handlebar on a little girl’s souvenir foodbag and then again had a mechanical problem later in the race, but still persevered to take the stage and later the entire race.  Often the rider who makes it to the top of Luz Ardiden first (when it’s a feature on the Tour) goes on to appear on the podium in Paris.

p.s.  Last year Andy Schleck was robbed when Alberto Contador sleazed out and attacked at the wrong time.  He’ll get his revenge.

p.s.s. Want to be impressed?  Watch team HTC bring Mark Cavendish in to win a sprint.



  1. John Lauber says:

    There is only one channel in my house during the month of July. On every tv, all over the house, all day. Phil and Paul are the best announcers in sports.

  2. ellen says:

    I heart Thor Hushovd of Norway, oh- and the entire group of Basque riders (and their fans). I had the pleasure of watching the whole group come right through my village three summers ago- it was an incredible day, the highlight being the very few seconds the riders all zoomed through. Wine tastings, giveaways, more wine, sunshine. A highlight of life in France, to be sure. Unfortunately, they are coming through right by Claude’s tomorrow (I saw signs yesterday announcing road closures), but we’ll be on the way to Toulouse and the airport :D


  3. Oh my, I love it too and I detest watching sports on tv. Except for the Tour! It’s endlessly fascinating. And the announcers are entertaining as well (accents are endearing). We are dreaming of a family vacation in France sometime to watch part of the race.
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