In July of 2001, I was on my honeymoon in Paris. I will never forget sitting in our quaint hotel room with faded walls and dusty rose curtains, watching French television early one evening. The commentator was so engaged I could not look away. The Tour de France captivated me as I watched Lance Armstrong climb L’Alpe-d’Huez and give Jan Ullrich an over the shoulder glance before taking the lead on the ominous climb. I know the sport of cycling has its issues, but it was the moment I fell in love with grand tours and I have been chasing them ever since.
We left Paris the morning of the final stage of the race on the Champs-Elysées. We were getting in our taxi as they were setting up the barriers and all I wanted to do was stay. I was in the city of love, on my honeymoon, watching a legendary race unfold in the surrounding shatteringly beautiful countryside of France. I vowed I would someday sit on the lawn at a French Chateau and feel the wind of the peloton as they streamed through the countryside.
Since that moment, I missed the Tour of California by two days, the Giro d’Italia blew by us in 2014 as we were crossing the border into Austria, and we intersected the Tour de France path in 2014 more times than I can count without ever catching a glance. When we left Spain on the day the Vuelta a España was scheduled to begin, I had to laugh or cry.
The reason for all these near misses revealed itself this week in flying colors. My husband asked if there was anything I really wanted to do before we left Europe this Spring. We both laughed as I said, “See a bike race!” I resigned myself to the fact that there was a reason why I have not realized my Grand Tour vision during our time in Europe. When I chose to stop the chase, the race came to my doorstep, literally.
The Tirreno-Adriatico was celebrating its 50th year and since it does not have the Grand Tour glamour, it is a very accessible race. There was no waiting on mountain passes or booking hotel rooms and sitting with three kids on the side of the road for hours watching the grass grow. We woke up to find the big names in cycling were all in our town. It was a Wednesday and all the team cars and busses were parked on our street. I was giddy and just ran around looking at the riders faces, trying to figure out what was happening, and then it hit me.
As Alberto Contador, Mark Cavendish, and Fabian Cancellara raced down our street in the individual time trial, they were so close I could touch them. There were few barriers and fans ran across the road in between riders displaying the Italian appetite for cycling with flying colors.
I could hear the disc wheels on the warming pavement. I could feel the breeze created by sheer human power as the riders came out of the turn. I could feel gears vibrate and shift with changing cadence and it was as if this race was all for me. I had made no effort or plans to see this race so why was I here in this moment? I was here because I had made no effort or plans. I was no longer trying to figure out how to make a dream come true. When I let it go, it arrived in a very obvious way. Next time I hope to take an even shorter course to the finish line and trust in my dreams at their inception and then get out of the way, fast!
Today, you can deliberately articulate one dream you have for yourself …
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