Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Tour de France: Uphill

LS commented the post "Tour de France: Blood, sweat and no gears":

"LS said...
No gears? Those were really hard times then! Did they walk up the Alps?"

Yes, apparently some did. This photo is from Col d'Izoard, a mountain pass in the alps 2361 meters high, that Le Tour has passed 31 times since 1922.

When climbing uphill 1100 meters with an average gradient of about 6-7 percent, with the steepest part being 14 (!) percent, on a gravel road without gears I think you'd be forgiven if you walked up... It still today causes a few cyclists in the tour to call it a day and quit.

Imagine going first up, then down on a fixed gear bike... Suicide!

In the tour of 1949 the two italian legends and rivals (although the teams were national at that time) Fausto Coppi and Gino Bartali battled uphill to Col d'Izoard. They both punctured on the climb, but despite their serious rivalry each time the opponent waited. At the end of the day Coppi let Bartali win the stage, it was his 35th birthday after all. :)
A little different from Lance Armstrong's "Pas de cadeux"-attitude (no gifts) in the later years of his career.

Even the downhill can be quite adventurous too, as shown in 2003 when Lance Armstrong had to take a shortcut to avoid a crashing Joseba Beloki.



LS said...

I forgive everybody that walks up a hill, myself included. So many times I walked and O.K. sped up effortlessly far ahead of me - it was simply not fair (I am pretty sure I only had 3 gears and he had 10 too, but that is another question).

This will to do something like this - bike a mountain, hike the coast of Sweden, and climb Mt Everest - do you think that is something humans have had all the time? Is that something inherent in man's (men's especially) psyche? Did some Vikings decide they had to sail around Greenland for fun, Polynesians to swim from Hawaii to Tahiti, and Persians to cross the Gobi desert on foot? Just because... it was there? I don't know, I am just amazed at the willpower and dedication some of these things take. I would not do it. I am fine with a day hike to the Arethusa Falls in the White Mountains.

O.K. said...

I suspect "because it's there" is a more common reason behind actions than one would think, even in more everyday things. Perhaps especially among men.

And regarding 3 vs 10 speeds, it is all about willpower... ;)