Don's Blog: July 28: O Canada!
Greetings from north of the border. I think in general, Canadians do not like that description of their fine country. In any event, the route has taken us into the province of Ontario, from the Port Huron Bridge in Michigan. We all assembled this morning at 7:00 a.m. for the bridge crossing and were then ushered into the customs area. At that point we had a half-hour wait while important matters were discussed, primarily what route we would be taking once in the province. The passports of the non-U.S. members of our group were examined, and then we moved ahead, led by the ABB van. It felt kind of like the Tour de France peleton being led out. (More on that event below.)
Pretty soon thereafter, we were riding on some fine country roads, aided by a nice tailwind. Young Steven and I found ourselves riding with Eberhard and Anja Messling, our two German friends with the tour. The couple runs a cycling tour group in Germany and are both excellent cyclists. We set up a solid pace line and rolled along at more than 20 miles per hour, right up to the sag stop at mile 35. We let them go ahead at that point, but it was fun while it lasted.
After that Steven and I completed the remaining miles together. It should have been 45, but we turned it into 48 with a few missed turns. No big deal, although we were both pretty thirsty and hungry by the time we reached our final destination in the city of London. We stopped at a Subway, where my American money was quickly turned into Canadian by the cashier, my first real taste of a different culture. From my early observations, one other area in which Canada contrasts with the States is in the overall cleanliness of the roads and towns. Trash on the side of the road, an ever-present eyesore in much of the U.S., is clearly missing up here. The same is true of the small cities we passed through on today’s route. Why is this elementary standard so difficult to achieve in the U.S.?\
The Tour de France Scandal
News of Tour de France winner Floyd Landis’ positive doping test spread among the group last night. It is too bad the sport of cycling has experienced so many performance enhancing drug scandals, this one just the latest in a long line. On some level, it takes away from the sport as a whole, even though it has no direct effect on an amateur group such as is our small cadre of cross country cyclists. Lance Armstrong’s seven tour victories raised the visibility of cycling in the U.S., attracting many new enthusiasts to the sport. To think that the only way to succeed at the highest level of the sport is through artificial means is disappointing and disillusioning, although it is the way of the world in big money athletics. And make no mistake about it; the Tour de France is a very big money athletic event. Millions of dollars in sponsorships and television rights are riding on the outcome each year. Armstrong’s unprecedented success was a cash cow for many companies and individuals. A disqualification of Landis, whose story added a new and fresh chapter to American cycling lore, would put a huge damper on the good feelings associated with cycling. Although it will not directly affect tours such as the one in which I am involved, the filter down effect will certainly have some negative overtones, and that is never a good thing.