Friday, August 1, 2008

So Long July ... by guest blogger, Steve Head

Over 30 years ago I read J.P. Donlevy’s ‘The Saddest Summer of Samuel S’. I’ve forgetten the plot. The only character I remember is Samuel S. But I do remember the title. It’s like the guitar riff from the Stone’s ‘Satisfaction’.

I can’t say 2008 has been my saddest summer but the blues are just starting to lift as we enter August. I spent most of July immersed in a spectator sport. Starting the Saturday after July 4th the Tour de France bicycle race started in the Brittany region of France. And for the next 22 days I watched segments of live coverage, rebroadcasts, and prime time highlight coverage of the 3,500 kilometer, about 2,170 miles, of racing on cobble stones, through villages, over historic bridges, up and down the Pyrenees and then the Alps.

This passion woke me for one 5:30 am early broadcast and a couple 6:30’s, at night I’d click off the prime time show, hop in bed looking forward to watching the live morning coverage before going to work. I watched the leaders of the various individual competitions change hands. And I saw a lot of bike crashes on slippery wet and dry surfaces in towns, on mountains, and on the long rides through the countryside.

It was with pride that I watched the 2 American sponsored teams, Garmin Chipotle and Team Columbia. George Hincapie, veteran who helped Lance Armstrong, shepherded the young Team Columbia to a good showing, including 4 stage wins by Mark Cavendish, a British cyclist to watch for in the Olympics. And American Christian Vandevelde of Garmin Chipotle finished in 5th place in the General Classification category, only 3 minutes and 5 seconds behind the winner.

But on Sunday the 27th the 95th edition of this bicycle race finished in Paris as the remaining 145 riders circled the Champs-Elysees eight times. And I was sad. The feeling is similar to finishing a good book. It was fun to do and it would be great if it could go on, but it had to come to an end.

I miss seeing and listening to the blend of US, British, and Australian commentators, along with the on-the-road reporting crew, from Versus TV, formerly Outdoor Life Network, who were the guides of the Tour. Coverage was on-the-road action, Tour history, personal recollection since most of them are former Tour riders, and gorgeous scenery.

And even though I know at the end of next July I’ll still feel the same let down at the completion of the Tour, I’ll still watch. And I might even trying doing the on-line fantasy bike team competition Versus started this year. And over the coming months I’ll check into the Tour website, ( to learn of the plans for 2009 and look at press releases.

Maybe it is time to revisit Donlevy and Samuel S. I remember being glad I’d read it and hope it will be satisfying once again.

No comments:

Post a Comment