A Tour of Survival for Riders

David KleinContributor IJuly 21, 2010

PAU, FRANCE - JULY 20: Spaniard Alberto Contador, in the yellow jersey, rides up a climb during stage 16 of the Tour de France on July 20, 2010 in Pau, France. The stage, between Bagneres-de-Luchon and Pau, featured four major climbs including the Col du Tourmalet. French rider Pierrick Fedrigo won the stage while Contador retained the yellow jersey. The iconic bicycle race will include a total of 20 stages and will cover 3,642km before concluding in Paris on July 25.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

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David Klein


                                                  A Tour of Survival


I don’t watch much of the Tour de France. I would probably rather watch baseball and paint dry to be honest with you. I will say that they accomplish an amazing feat, riding 2,200 miles over 21 days; most of it up high mountain passes. That’s incredible endurance and fortitude to last that long on a bike.

For comparison sake, imagine riding the equivalent of three Mount Everests, up and down. The Tour de France is also like completing a marathon every day for 21 days. When we say the best athletes in the world, the Tour de France showcases them.

I couldn’t last 10 miles on a bike uphill. I went biking over Memorial Day weekend, but that was all downhill. These guys do it over and over again. And how do they bike so close together at that breakneck speed? I’m getting nervous just thinking about it.

The only competition I can think of that may compare is an ultra marathon race where runners log anything more than 50 miles. I’m not sure what it takes to be a Tour de France cyclist or an ultra-marathon runner; I don’t want to find out.

This year Lance Armstrong has fallen out of contention. The seven-time winner took a tumble in the early stages and now has ruled himself out of the race. Saturday, he finished 4:35 back in 100th place, the fourth straight day he's lost time to the leader. The 38-year-old American has said his victory hopes are finished. He's 36th overall, 25:38 back.

Andy Schleck of Luxembourg kept the yellow jersey. Schleck stayed ahead of two-time Tour champion Alberto Contador of Spain, who trails Schleck by 31 seconds.

I would be happy biking even one mile of this Tour de France course. Maybe it’s me, but sitting on top of a rigid seat for 21 days straight sounds like purgatory. That doesn’t mean I’m not impressed by what these riders can do and endure. They are truly outstanding athletes.