Today’s trainer ride was powered by organic fruit tarts and a YouTube clip of the 1986 Tour de France. It was Stage 3 to Lievin, a sprinter’s stage, and I already knew which sprinter would win the race. But I had to see it for myself.
Although he was part of the early and winning break, he flew under the radar for most of the stage, at most a few mentions. With less than a kilometer to go, another rider (whose name I can’t remember) attacked and it appeared that he might solo to victory with the break closing but still chasing only a few hundred meters from the line. “But I thought I knew how the story goes…” For a moment I questioned whether I recalled the right stage.
Suddenly they’re upon him – our doomed attacker. He is enveloped by the group, and then it’s an all-out frenzy to the line.
He seems to come out of nowhere and they yell his name – it’s so close they need to play the tape again, but the win is his.
The camera cuts to his interview, and I am strangely surprised – to so immediately recognize him. He’s obviously younger and stockier, with tousled blond hair and the brim of his cap turned up cheekily. But it’s him all right, only he was just an exuberant young bike racer then who had just won his first Tour de France stage. Not yet a legend. The same boisterous inflection in his voice, that the disease could not take away over the past decade. The same hearty and frequent laugh. He smiled with his whole face, and even then he was so quick to praise others, and to speak from the heart: “This is the best day of my career.”
He was always this way, I then realized. Effortlessly happy and positive. A ray of sunshine. The video was over. I switched over to music, and though my legs now felt heavy I pushed the pedals until my minutes ran out. And yes, I thought about time. The order of things and the seasons of life. The things that inevitably change. The things that stay the same.