Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Tour in Print

Just finished Bike Tribes and on to the next book.  Blazing Saddles: The Cruel and Unusual History of the Tour de France.  I don't really care what people think of professional cycling with the Armstrong debacle and all dominating the past several months of the news.  The tour still has quite a bit of history that most people in this country don't care to know about because it's French and by definition, any red-blooded football-watching, pickup truck-driving, gun-loving American can't possibly be interested in it.  My passion for the tour didn't kick in until 1985 when American Greg Lemond battled the Frenchman, his teammate Bernard Hinault for the title.  This book is about the aspect of the tour that is not covered by the mainstream media.  Speaking of the tour, the only poster of this epic bike race I keep in the house is the one I have in my bedroom.
Photographer Robert Capa captured the essence of the tour that most Americans will never understand. French cycling fans will stand on the side of the road for hours to just get a glimpse of the race fly by.  A 10 second blur maybe? 30 at most depending on how fast the peloton is going at the time.  This 1959 photograph tells so much about the tour without even showing any image of a cyclist or a bicycle.  Only someone who has watched or participated in bike race in person will fully appreciate Capa's masterpiece.

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