As I watch the tour de france with the average speed around 40 Kms/hr and as I traveled through Chennai stuck in traffic, averaging less than that, I briefly (very, very briefly) considered using a cycle as transport. Here are some major benefits if I did decide to cycle more often.
1. Traffic won't be an issue.
2. It will spare the environment.
3. It is friendlier to the pocket with the ever rising oil prices.
But now I can rationalize my non-cycling decision.
1. I am most likely to destroy the basis of the theory "it's like riding a bike". I haven't ridden a bicycle since childhood and I tried it for a short while on a holiday and did not get far. So I don't want to deprive the next generations the usability of this phrase :-)
2. I currently don't own a cycle - but can be remedied and so not a good enough reason.
3. If I manage to get past the first two issues, I doubt I can ride at 40+Kms/hour (or half that speed) -so I am not likely to travel significant distances.
4. The classic excuse - it is either too hot or rainy to cycle by choice.
5. Eating can be hazardous on a bike (this year's tour already has had feeding station accidents). Why I should think of eating while riding a few kms I don't know - but definitely a consideration?
6. Since the tour is my motivation, I need similar scenic roads to ride in. The beach is an option - but not its approach roads.
7. The big bazaar crew may spring the "bhesh badalo" stuff on me (going by the "appearance is more important" concept behind the ads). I am just throwing that in - as I don't like those ads :-)
Whew! Now I no longer feel guilty of my choice. I can go back to wondering about how tour cyclists are able to ride at such speeds for such long spells and climb the mountains (and they are no small mountains). Yes, doping comes to mind immediately, but as I said before it somehow still fascinates me. I don't follow a team/cyclist as I learnt it is dicey to support anyone as almost all of them are implicated in scandals (and you never know when they will be banned). I rather follow the event and imagine what it would have been like in the pre-doping days.
Interestingly, in each team there is only only one yellow jersey candidate and one sprinter and rest are largely called "domestiques". There are specialized roles within that for each of them (lead out man for the sprinter, lead out in the mountains for the team leader, etc.). What is the motivation behind the "domestiques" - is it just money as they rarely get the glory? Is it the fact they may one day be a Yellow Jersey candidate?