Again, It's Not About the Bike
? or how three amateur riders experienced the 2002 Tour de France
kept us current translating the radio reports. We had got to know him and his family while we shared a picnic waiting for the excitement to come. From Jocko we knew that Lance was in a lead group chasing Jalabert who had broken away for nearly 100 km. Jalabert?s lead was shrinking. Suddenly, Jaja was in sight and he went by at a good pace--maybe 25 kilometers an hour. Thirty seconds back came three more: Roberto Heras, Lance Armstrong, and Joseba Beloki. Lance was shouting orders at Roberto. It sounded like, or rather looked like,? Andelay, andelay ? or? Allez, allez .? I didn?t really hear anything because I was so overcome; I started to lose all my senses. Blood rushed to my head, and when I opened my mouth to yell, nothing came out. I just gulped like a guppy, and then they were past us, heading up to the finish. All the multilingual chatter was that Lance had started his push at a bend in the roadway just prior to passing by our vantage spot. He was definitely really kicking it over as they went by us. As they went out of sight I found my voice. Only then, I yelled to my teammates, ?Go Lance!? as the peloton came sweeping by.
Shortly, we heard from Jacko that Lance was pouring it on and did pass Jaja and pull away from the other two to take the stage and the yellow jersey. It was the day he called Heras , l? homme, ?the man,? and said he couldn?t have done it without him. We later read that he was yelling for Heras to slow it down some as he could barely hang on. It seems it is difficult for novices to tell what kind of masterpiece is right in front of them. As I said earlier, bicycling racing is not a spectator sport.
However, we saw Lance take the yellow jersey right in front of us, on a mountain we knew because we rode up it, every bite-sized kilometer. We were there for the key moments of the 2002 Tour de France. We were very happy. Together, as Dunk Rock Roadies, we had climbed where the Tour gods climbed and we felt young.