Sunday, July 25, 2010

An end to this year's Tour de France

Just had a sweet little moment between Brady and I, and it prompted me to jot it down in blog form so that I can remember it vividly at a later date. You see, Brady has become addicted to this year's Tour de France. He's watched nearly every stage, and I shouldn't admit this, but I've even let him stay up until 11 pm to watch some of the longer mountain stages! He asks a ton of questions every stage, but he probably knows more about the TdF than most Americans and maybe even more than the casual cyclist. He gets it.

He understands the yellow, green, polka dot, and white jerseys. He understands the rainbow jersey of the world champion, the difference between a sprint road stage, a mountain stage, and a time trial. He understands the country jerseys of the national champions. He knows all the teams, all the major riders, who the best climbers are, who the best sprinters are, who the best time trialists are, and what it means to be a "GC contender." He understands strategies for sprinters on the lead out, how to reel in the breakaway, why the riders in the breakaway work together and draft to stay away from the peloton, why they attack on mountain stages, and also about sportsmanship and when not to attack (I'll not touch that debate here!). He even refers to the yellow jersey in it's proper French name, the "maillot jaune." (Pronounced ‘MY-OH jzone’ for you non-francophiles.) He's even asked me, "Which team is Jerome Pineau on?" I said "Quickstep." And he replied, "Oh, so he's teammates with Sylvain Chavenal then." The point is that it's really impressive to know all this for a 5-year-old, and it should emphasize just how immersed he's become in this year's Tour.

What has made this Tour so special is that we've watched all the stages together, often at night, and often with him resting his head on my arm on the couch. It's not just an interest in cycling, but a time for us to be together and share in something. That's why today, the last stage in the 2010 Tour de France, was a little emotional. At the end of the broadcast, they did a 5-10 min. or so highlight montage set to music (Kings and Queens by 30 Seconds to Mars if you are curious). He was silent the entire time and I even thought he may have dozed off. When it was over and we turned it off, I asked him if he was still awake. He said yes. I asked what was wrong. He said, "I just feel like I'm going to cry." I said, "I know, it's sad when it comes to an end, but there will be another Tour next year and we'll watch it again." I said come on, let's go get lunch. As I walked out of the room, Alex (who isn't that interested in the Tour but watches from time to time) was following me, but Brady wasn't there. I walked back into the room to get him and there he was in a silent cry--the type of cry where he doesn't make noise but is the beginning to a total breakdown. He was bawling and I was having a hard time not getting choked up while I was trying to comfort him. I didn't want it to end, either.

But there is a happy ending. He started to feel better and we all ate some lunch together, and he went on and on about how someday he wants to be the national champion so that he can wear the USA jersey in the Tour de France when he gets older. And that he and Alex can be on the same team together just like the Schleck brothers (although Alex's favorite riders are Sammy Sanchez and Alessandro Petacchi). It was cute. But in reality, the odds of him being a professional athlete of that caliber are infinitesimal, but boy what a cool story this would make if he ever did. Of course he's also 5, and next year he may have no interest in cycling. Who knows? But for now, we're looking forward to our yearly Tour watch together in 2011.


When I woke Brady up from nap yesterday, I asked if he had a good nap. Thinking that maybe his feelings had calmed a bit after not thinking about it for a while, his reply: "Yeah. [Long pause] But I wish the Tour wasn't over." I feel bad for the little guy.

Oh, and one other thing I forgot to share when I first wrote yesterday...when I was making lunch for Brady and Alex after the Tour finished, they were sitting at the table waiting for me to finish. Some movement caught my eye and I looked over there and saw Brady mimicking Andy Schleck's celebratory fist pump after he won Stage 8 (see video below). I watched him for a few seconds and then he noticed me and sheepishly stopped as if embarrassed. I asked what he was doing and he said nothing. I asked if he was pretending to be Andy Schleck winning a stage and he smiled and shyly said "Yeah" with a great big grin. He's just too funny.

And Alex wanted to wear an orange tee shirt this morning to school to be like Sammy Sanchez (he wears an orange jersey)...these kids are crazier than I am. :)

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