Go Dad Go!

A self-important blog about riding bikes, raising kids and the all-too-rare nexus of these two pursuits.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Final Update -- from July 24


Given the level of anti-American sentiment prevalent in the world today, I'm certain that there are many people in Europe and elsewhere -- maybe even some cycling insider-contrarians here in the U.S. -- who aren't happy that an American won the Tour de France for the eighth straight year. What I'm hoping Floyd Landis' victory will reveal , though, is that American stars come in many stripes -- that not all Americans, let alone American cyclists, are just like Lance.

Which isn't to say that Lance's story is anything but remarkable; in my esteem, it's the crowning sports story of our time. Still, a Lance-idote is welcome, and we got it in Floyd. Yes, they both rose from improbable backgrounds, but the similarities don't extend much further. Even their names illustrate the distinctions: Lance Armstrong, Superhero! vs. Floyd Landis, guy down at the bowling alley. Lance hangs out with Bono; maybe now Floyd will get a chance to meet Kid Rock. Lance flew in his private jet from race to race; last year, Floyd rode his bike to the formal pre-Tour Phonak team presentation in Tours, France -- from Spain. Maybe it's no surprise that their relationship grew a bit rocky after Landis left Armstrong's Discovery team: these are pretty different personalities we're talking about.

But what we noticed during the Tour, of course, was how differently Floyd won. Very little seemed calculated, except perhaps how Team Phonak would lose the Yellow Jersey after the Pyrenees. With Lance, very little wasn't calculated. Supported by the dominant team, he rode carefully and consistently; usually, once Lance took the Jersey, he kept it the rest of the Tour. Floyd, meanwhile, won the jersey, then lost it (by choice), then got it back, then lost it (by imploding) and then got close to getting it back, and then finally won it back for the last time, all without the help of a strong team. And in this very different kind of victory, we were treated to a very different kind of Tour, one that echoes back to the pre-earpiece eras of Merckx, Hinault, Roche and LeMond. A new era, said many French writers and riders, of panache.

Besides, the cycling world is flat, and it's hard to say Landis represents just the U.S., let alone one slice of America. He rides for a Swiss team that's directed by a Belgian. His notable teammates are from South Africa, Belgium, Germany and France, and he lives half the year in Spain. He has his classically American traits -- he's confident, even brash at times, and I don't think he speaks another language. But he can also be very personable, even deferential; Karen melted whenever he'd humbly say, "Thank you Frankie" at the end of an interview. He's a different kind of American and a different kind of champion, and considering how this Tour started and how it looked like it might go, he's just the antidote we needed.


Not that Landis was the only piece of this Tour worth remembering. As Kiernan poignantly put it, this Tour was about heart, and for many reasons -- for Merckx's and Voigt's deep-digging team play, and Dessel and Pereiro riding their careers into another realm as they defended the Maillot Jaune, and many other shining examples of riding on heart and heart alone. Fitting, then, that it would be the gutsy riding of David de la Fuente, who worked so valiantly to keep hold of the Polka-Dot Jersey, that would win him the Most Combative award and vault Romas into second place, just one point shy of overall winner Tony. Tied for third were Kat and Christian, who moved ahead of Dan and Kelly on the strength of their two-jersey performances. Tony takes home about $220 (depending on whether I get the last few entry fees this week!), while Romas wins about $110, and Kat and Christian split about $60. Jordan carries the Lanterne Rouge and gets her entry fee back. You'll remember that Angela (aka Mom) won the CTS jersey, which she's donating to an auction benefiting Oakland schools, and the blood pressure monitor goes to Everett, for losing three riders to crashes. Thanks again to the very, very generous donors of these great bonus prizes. (Winners -- except Mom --- please email me the best address so I can send your prizes!)

It is difficult to believe that about 24 days ago I was on the verge of scrapping this game, and of perhaps not watching the Tour. As the doping scandal unfolded, I found it hard to imagine that this Tour would prove worth following. But then I received about thirty emails in about twelve hours, all of them telling me I was nuts, and that the game had to go on. For this, I thank you. For had I not followed the Tour this year, I would have missed out on a truly remarkable story. As the modern-day American philosopher Cameron Crowe once wrote, "We live in a cynical world," and indeed, it's easy to slip into cynicism about many things, cycling included. But over the past few weeks cynicism lost out to heart, and belief, and idealism. I said it many times over the last seven years, and I hope to say it many more times as I continue to follow this beautiful sport: I feel privileged to have been a witness to this Tour.

Which is why this game will happen again, and why we're going big next year. Evidently my brother's friend is creating a database for tracking this game for the final project of his Access class, so the sky's the limit in '07; we're shooting for 100 entrants, we're donating 10% of the pot to the LAF (or maybe the FLF, if it's up and running by then) and we're going to have a blast following the Tour once again.

Just 343 days until the Prologue in London.


Winner Tony Farrell
Second Place Romas Pencyla
Third Place Kat Campbell and Christian Newman
CTS Jersey Angela Fee
A&D Monitor Everett Harper

Final Standings
Player Points
Tony Farrell 109
Romas Pencyla 108
Christian Newman 101
Kat Campbell 101
Dan and Kelly Fee 90
Jodi Hall 81
Wes Cole 81
Elizabeth Eppler 77
Tad Sennott 76
Rachel & Robin Bordoli 73
Walter Lamerton 72
Andy Sessions 70
Paul Keys 70
Pete November 64
Brandon Correia 59
Dave Fee 59
Tom Lariviere 57
Robin Fee 56
Everett Harper 48
Julie Mikuta 48
Rob Kelley 45
Richard Stagliano 40
Doug Hall 39
Bob Fee 32
Jon Chapman 32
Annetta Stroud 31
David McCarthy 31
Jim Fee 30
Pam Stover 30
Alan Levy 27
Angela Fee 26
Anne Mahle 25
Peter Lester 24
Kiernan McGuire 22
Michael Fee 20
Greg Widmyer 16
Karen Fee 15
Steve Earhart 14
Don Fee 8
Jordan Cantwell 7


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