French Cycling & Tour de France
La Diadème Doré Gilded Crown
23“Why do they always finish at the top of a mountain.” Rhetoric by Ian Wright, Cyclosportif
Cyclosportif is a form of group ride particularly popular in France. It’s an organized mass participation event where riders, who start in waves, are timed, given a result, and awarded prizes like a competitive form of an ultra-century ridden as an unsanctioned race. The most prestigious of the genre, L’Etape du Tour is an annual summer event allowing recreational riders to experience a stage of the Tour de France
just prior to its arrival. One must register far in advance for admission, and starting position is at premium. Occupying the front lines of staging is a class of VIP riders. Yet like the French national creed of Liberté-Égalité-Fraternité, cyclosportif is a race for all with equal exposure to the grandest riding and greatest guest riders.
Invited to L’Etape when it finished on l’Alpe d’Huez, my hosts aranged accommodation worthy of a climber’s Elysian col. We stayed in a halet and dined upon the terrace at evening overlooking great mountains. Seen in the distance with its alpenglow mists was Mont Blanc in silhouette. Just as its magnificence was being noted by the innkeeper, rays of the sunset hit the points of the great white peak transforming it – in a shimmering moment – into a golden crown. Its effulgence about us was much like the brilliance of cycling’s reign there in the French Alps.
France’s ancient landmarks attest: 24“With glistering spires and pinnacles adorned, Which now the rising sun gilds with his beams…” A country which promotes the sport’s most watched and benchmark event, it is the culture which brings us many of our racing terms, traditions, and concepts. Cycling’s free, egalitarian, and fraternal appeal gives all riders a chance to be royalty for a ride.
Prayer for French Cycling & TdF
“Remove not the ancient landmarks which your fathers have set up.” 25Proverbs 22:28
We are thankful for exceptional riding experiences and traditions, and the history of effort that came before us. We confess our occasional undeserved entitlement and elitism. We pray blessing upon French cycling and cycling’s greatest event, Tour de France.
Ponder Do I look down on others or snub someone because I think I’m better? Affirm I see strengths and weaknesses in myself and others and appraise equitably. Watch for beautiful mountaintop moments on the bike and in life.
23“La Luchonnaise,” Cyclosportive 18th June 2005, Ian Wright’s event report. www.pyreneesmultisport.com
24Paradise Lost, by John Milton, an epic poem in blank verse, published 1667.
25Amplified Bible, Copyright © Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation