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   Cycling: Yes it is a Sport

by K. C., Bradford, RI

Football (ha), basketball (ha), baseball (ha ha). These are sports for the weak and feeble. If you want a real challenge I suggest that you take up pro cycling. Cycling is the most demanding sport, if you are serious about it. I don't mean a "bike ride" through the park on occasion. I am talking about mountains, big ones. I'm talking about the Tour de France.

Friends, Americans, countrymen, lend me your ears. You may recognize Greg LeMond from his Taco Bell commercial. What you may not know is that he has achieved the most prestigious award in cycling, finishing first in the Tour de France. Greg LeMond not only has accomplished this for three years but he also became the first American to be victorious in this challenging race in 1985. The closest win in Tour history came when he just beat out Laurnet Fignon in the last stage of the Tour.

When July comes, so does the most exciting race in cycling history. The Tour consists of 21 stages over a period of 23 days. Each stage consists of a race which may last up to six hours. The last stage is a parade down the Champs-Elysees in Paris. Three of the stages are time trials, two solo and one team trial. A cyclist's rank is determined by his overall time. The leader has the best time and signifies his status by wearing the yellow jersey. The body of the Tour is in the Pyrenees mountains. These are also the hottest days of the Tour. If you do not stay with the main pack (the peloton), you may fall far behind and lose precious time in the mountains. The hardest and most famous of these mountains is l'Alp d' Huez. Twenty-one switchbacks prove to be a strenuous climb. I would like to see an "in shape" football player just try to ride this climb. Cycling requires the most endurance and courage, more than any other sport.

Naming Greg LeMond Sportsman of the Year in 1989 was the best thing that Sports Illustrated has ever done. He definitely deserves this recognition and much, much more. He captured the hearts of the French people but he should be capturing the hearts of his countrymen also. I don't believe that some of my fellow Americans disallow cycling as a sport. Cyclists are some of the best-trained athletes. They must be in shape twelve months of the year because there is no off-season in cycling.

Friends, I plead with you to recognize the sport of cycling. These athletes are more in shape than some of your "American heroes." Expand your horizons to include the wonderful world of cycling.

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