The Tour de France

– Eugene Yoon

On the surface, the Tour de France seems a simple athletic contest: the cyclist who completes a strenuous and often perilous course of more than 2,000 miles (or 3,200 kilometres) in the fastest total time wins.

Yet, the event is so much more than it seems. Steeped in history, tradition, and racing lore, the Tour defines endurance and global sportsmanship. Unlike professional sports played in stadiums and arenas filled with fans who’ve paid for tickets, ‘Le Tour’ stands alone in the sports world. Its arena extends past countries’ borders, and for fans like myself, it’s the best bargain in sports, because it’s free.

For the riders, it’s a job with a simple equation. While progressing along the course like chess pieces on wheels, they must face the limits of endurance. They battle severe weather and attempt to outwit and outrace each other while using the same strategy — conserve energy as much as possible for the times when it’s needed most.

It’s clearly a sport that requires and inspires plenty of passion, so it’s perhaps no surprise that the most successful cycling brands are the ones that have truly embraced the sport’s unique characteristics and appeal. It brings to mind a quote from Simon Mottram, CEO of Rapha, which to me sums up the challenging nature of the sport perfectly and shows he clearly understands his audience.

“Behind glory lies the misery of training, the slog of getting through bad days, the torment of going at less than your best and the absolute conviction that giving up is never an option. Herein lies the heroism of this beautiful sport, the inner revelation that makes the cyclist impervious to ordinary weakness because every ride he has ever made exposes him to that defeatist voice; he has known it, faced it and conquered the fear of it, again and again and again.”

I’m not sure about you, but I actually feel inspired to go for a ride.