As the sun comes up on everyone’s July 4th holiday celebrations here in the United States, Laura and I begin our three-week celebration of what we believe to be the greatest athletic event and grand spectacle in the world, the Tour de France. As we all enjoy the red, white and blue holiday, take a moment to add some yellow into your life. Here are a few photographs from our journey to the 2003 Tour de France.
For 16 days, Laura and I enjoyed the racing, the sights of France and the wonderful people welcoming us with open arms. One memory always stands out. On the day of the climb of the famed Alpe d’Huez, we awakened to find a paraglider taking off in front of our tent pitched in the French Alps. The night before we fell asleep to Dutch, German, Spanish and Italian fans singing patriotic songs and heartily roaring with delight. The climb bore the names of all their favorites painted on the 21 switchbacks snaking a path up the mountain.
That Tour was won by Lance Armstrong, his fifth consecutive victory, tying him with some of the greatest riders in history. Armstrong went on to win seven Tours. His legions of adoring fans anointed him as one of the greatest Americans ever. His victory over cancer and his domination of cycling’s most well know event stirred the patriotic fervor of American fans quick to leap onto bikes for Armstrong’s victory ride during a time when people wanted to eat “American Fries” because of their hatred of anything French.
Our very early and open disbelief in Armstrong over his doping, his blatant intimidation of anyone questioning him and his use of millions to cover up his long list of lies is well-known. I include only one picture of Armstrong. There are many others. I admit the sale of prints to his fans, along with the publication of a story about our Tour adventures, helped pay for some of our journey. His now well-known deceit did nothing to keep us from enjoying our fabulous times. Cycling is a wonderful pursuit and a fabulous sport. Our return trips to other great races in Europe brought us great joy. Our riding continues to keep us happy and fit.
One final holiday note, on July 5, our family will celebrate the birthday of my beloved wife, Laura. To me, that is a holiday. The 2003 Tour is just one of the many adventures we have shared together and tried to share with all of you. I thank the Lord for Laura and am truly blessed by her presence in my life every day.
Happy 4th to our great country and all of you. As well, Vive la Tour.