Saturday, July 23, 2011

WAY TO GO CADEL


Man, what an extraordinary effort Cadel Evans pulled out of the bag to wrest the yellow jersey from Andy Schleck when victory was just within Andy’s grasp. What a fantastic result, for the strategies and tactics of the past three weeks to build to such a point where the ultimate prize was to come down to man against man in one last ditch effort for overall honours.

Without the companionship of team mates on the road who pull each other along and pace them, it was up to each man to dig deep from whatever reservoir of energy he had left after the punishing 3293km of constant pedaling. Brothers Andy and Frank Schleck are masters at staying near the front of the peloton, sticking with the pack, pacing themselves until the right opportunity comes along to make the move which will bring everyone else undone.

Well, Andy almost made it, but he didn’t count on one determined little Aussie battler with a big heart who dug deeper than his rivals to take the yellow jersey on the most important day, the one which would assure his arrival in Paris as the victor. To see Cadel’s usual intense face break into that broad grin, and see him fighting back the tears as he hugged his team mates was kinda nice.

To invest that much over such a long time and live with disappointment year after year while you chase your dream, is something I find hard to imagine. To keep pursuing the dream in the face of disappointment, that takes courage. For most of us, the give up line comes all too soon, preventing us from achieving all manner of things we might have seen as part of our future. There’s a lot to be said for having mates on the road with you, encouraging you when the going gets tough, challenging you when you start to slack off, helping you stay focused

There can only be one winner in the Tour de France, but Cadel would be the first to admit he wouldn’t have made it to the winner’s podium without his team mates. Their job was to see he had every opportunity to perform to the best of his ability, sacrificing their own dreams of success in the process. What an amazing role to have, knowing your main purpose is to help another succeed. The funny thing is, it ultimately doesn’t come as a detriment to the one making the sacrifice, for the joy that comes from a shared victory is often sweeter than one achieved alone.

We could do well to take a leaf out of Cadel’s training manual. Maybe we need to sometimes put our own dreams on hold, and instead help others to reach their full potential. You never know, in the process we may just find a greater purpose.

Friday, July 22, 2011

NEARLY TOURED OUT

Only two nights to go before I can have a decent sleep again. Have travelled the length and breadth of France over the past three weeks courtesy of SBS as Le Tour sucked me in yet again, following those intrepid guys as their legs propelled them up hill and down dale, through breathtaking scenery and exquisite historic towns, up excruciatingly steep mountain roads and down the other side at death defying speeds.

Laid on the floor in front of the fire last night after the Alpe d’Huez stage started, only to go out like a light and wake up at midnight just as they were about to top the brutal Col du Galibier. Contador had made his move to the front, the Schleck boys were motoring along, but where was Cadel? Missed all the drama with his bike mishaps so was rapt to see him work his way back to those wily Luxembourg brothers.

There’s really only one night to go in terms of the overall result though, as the final day is pretty much a leisurely ride into Paris to set up the sprinters for one last roll of the dice for glory on the Champs-Elysees. So the big question is, can Cadel Evans pull out the time trial of his life tonight and pull back 57 seconds from Andy Schleck to steal the yellow jersey from him in this final battle for top spot on the podium.

After all the effort he’s put in over the past two days in the Alps that’s a pretty big ask, and he could well find himself in the runner’s up position for the third time in his career. For his sake I’d love to see him do it and reap the reward of years of hard work and dedication, but everyone else vying for that coveted maillot jaune has worked just as hard and is equally deserving.

Might have to have an afternoon nap so I can go the distance. Go for it Cadel.

Monday, July 11, 2011

THE CENTRE OF WINTER



Rain, sleet, snow, black ice, mountainous seas, power cuts, biting gale force winds ready to rip the feet from under you, what a lashing our island State has had these past few days. Things have abated a little but it ain’t over yet, and this description of a Minnesota winter seemed quite appropriate at the moment.

All the seasons here in the north move toward their own end, except winter, which moves towards its centre and sits there to see how long you can take it. Spring twitches impatiently in its seat like a child wanting to go outside, straining toward summer, and summer, all lush and showy, tumbles headlong toward the decay of fall. Fall comes and goes so fast it takes the breath away, arriving in brocades of red and gold and whipping them off in only a few weeks, leaving a landscape ascetic, stunned with loss.

Marya Hornbacher - The Centre of Winter

There's something about winter though, wild as it may be, that makes you feel alive. The extremities might be suffering, nose dripping, my eyes might be watering from the gust of wind sneaking behind my glasses, but compared to some places on the planet we have no idea what cold really is. Venturing outside might not be at the top of the list when things look bleak, but the landscape takes on a beauty all its own under a coating of snow, and with the warmth of a cosy fire beckoning we know we can wait out the next months until the seasons turn and the cycle begins anew.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

BATTEN DOWN THE HATCHES

Man what a night. Was lucky if I managed 3 hours sleep, and it wasn’t because I was out raging all night. It was the gale force winds that were raging, coming straight off Antarctica and roaring down our mountain like a freight train with no mercy for anything in its path. Some slept through it, but they were certainly in the minority.

Power was off for four hours, I was amazed when it came on again, I hate to think what the linesmen had to do to make sure we could all have a cup of tea and toast for breakfast. There was a lull around 6.30am, thought it might’ve been finally blowing itself out, but it was short lived, just a prelude to starting up again and it’s been flat out all day, more on the way tonight and tomorrow and snow predicted down to 300 metres.

145kph winds were recorded off the Tassie south coast this morning, 7 metre waves, with 12 metre waves expected during the day. I could just see the surfers champing at the bit, strapping their boards to their cars and heading for the action, drawn to it like a magnet, but I wouldn’t like their chances on a day like this.

Pot of thick hearty vege soup has been simmering for a few hours. Staying in on a Saturday night in front of the fire sounds good to me.