"Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph." - Thomas Paine, 'The Crisis,' (December 23, 1776)
July is a tough training month for me. It's not the Independence Day holiday, or the seemingly endless stretch until the next three-day weekend, or the meteorological/climatic conditions - in and of themselves - which make it this way.
Take 198 bicyclists in Spandex. Sprinkle generously with the seemingly encyclopedic knowledge, accents and anecdotes of English cycling commentators Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen. Top with Bob "Bobke" Roll. Serve for 23 days. The Tour de France is both an inspiration for me to get my (fat!) self out on the road (on the bike or on foot) during the month of July, and a justification to stay shackled to my television.
I was into cycling before it was acceptable to enjoy it in America. I started riding (in the bike shorts and the jersey with the pockets on the back side) and following the sport when the only American names in the professional peloton were Jacques Boyer and Greg Lemond. Europeans and English had daily and nightly telecasts on the tube. Americans had to settle for a digest of the Tour's previous week on CBS.
We have it so much better now. And not.
Take this weekend, for example. Versus/NBC showed the first three weekend stages, then replayed the broadcast at least three more times during the day. Great if you missed a part of the stage; not so good if you felt suddenly compelled to forego mowing the lawn...or doing that run in the late afternoon.
Sure, I'm blessed with a gym with cable television, good treadmills and air conditioning. It only makes me feel guilty when the peloton begins to suffer while climbing the Alps and Pyrenees. I grip the handlebars of my exercise bike/elliptical trainer just a little tighter, push a little harder, and thank whatever gods may be that I can take a day of rest should I feel a little beat up.
Rather than make life more simple this month of July, however, I made a pact with myself. I'm going to run outdoors in the elements during at least one workout of the day. No comfortable air conditioning. No Tour de France on Versus or NBC while I work out. No; watching the boys on the tube will be my reward, rather than my consolation.