suffering at the tour

My wife Jan and I are big Tour de France fans. From the onset, the tour has been beset with scandal and scoundrels, but I count the two thousand mile race across France as the most arduous sporting accomplishment possible. To complete this race that climbs mountains on will power and descends at sixty miles an hour on two wheels requires embracing suffering.

An online friend recommended “Hell on Wheels” a movie about the tour, and features two riders from the Telecom team who are past their prime. One a great sprinter trying to remain relevant, and another a climber as they face the hardship of this twenty-one day test.

Near the end, one gentlemen, probably a coach presents a soliloquy on the commitment to succeed from a small chapel in France that has been converted to a cycling shrine:

For me, suffering has two meanings.
Suffering can be negative.
If you try to suffer for its own sake,
that’s bad. That’s unhealthy.
There’s something wrong in your head.

But when you talk about suffering that
you must get through and you can
survive through enormous effort,
that is something else. That is positive,
good and beautiful. Beautiful because you
think of courage, of stamina, loyalty,
the willingness to make sacrifices, modesty and love.

From this perspective, the suffering during training,
during sporting competitions, while doing one’s job,
which all require great effort, is the same as religious
suffering. It is love. It is beautiful, I like that.

Delivered in French of course – so it is full of passion.

May you sacrifice and suffer with passion for a higher goal.


19 Comments on “suffering at the tour”

  1. Shannon says:

    My favorite tour story is how back in the day, before things were televised rival fans would run out of the woods and beat up the cyclists from the opposing team. Crazy!

  2. Thank you for sharing these wise words. I’ll take them on location with me. I’ve taken on a very hard project, a 6 part mini-series. It shoots for 3 months. I don’t have much time to blog when I’m on a project, but I’ll always get around to a visit with you. _Resa

  3. Eric Alagan says:

    The Tour de France is one of my favourite sporting events and you’re right, Bill – it is wrecked by scandals and scoundrels.

    Interestingly, the best part of hard bicycling, for me, is the shower that follows – the water cascading down one’s body – soothing and relaxing. Its not the same but reminds me of the Japanese style saunas – from the hot house plunging into heart-stopping freezing water.

    • billgncs says:

      yes Eric, water after to remove that grit of salt that coats us… a delicious feeling indeed.

      Last year we were in Provence near a couple mountain stages…. wow! my cycling there was a couple trips to the cafe with my daughter πŸ™‚

      Someday, I want to visit and ride a stage ( leisurely, of course )

  4. I love this line: May you sacrifice and suffer with passion for a higher goal. What a wonderful poem as well.

  5. Clanmother says:

    Ah! A thought to take with me today! Thank you, my dear friend. πŸ™‚

  6. susank456 says:

    Yes, love what you do and love your life. The only way to live. Oh, and live it honestly, to yourself and others.

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