“What I look forward to is continued immaturity followed by death.” – Dave Barry
Another year slipped by recently—my fifty-eighth if you must know; or as my brother likes to remind me, closer to sixty than fifty-five. I look at it as fifty-eight years of great memories, many of them amusing and at my expense. Like the night my daughter was in high school and all of her friends were over the house. I can’t recall what I did, but whatever it was caused her to scream, “Why can’t I have a normal father like everyone else?” I can’t think about that night without smiling.
One thing that won’t get by me is le Tour, or what Americans refer to as the Tour de France. Le Tour is spellbinding, captivating and hypnotic all at once. Roughly two hundred professional cyclists riding 2,000 miles through bucolic countryside and medieval towns on their way to climb 22,000 feet into the Pyrenees mountain range and 25,000 breathtaking feet into the French Alps.
Imagine running several marathons a week for three consecutive weeks; now throw in the Pyrenees and Alps mountain ranges just for fun. Get the picture?
I got hooked on le Tour about ten years ago when I first started getting the Outdoor Channel. I’d be channel surfing, hit le Tour on the Outdoor Channel and the next thing I’d know two hours disappeared. Between the fluid rhythm of two hundred cyclists peddling in the peloton and the magical combination of lush countryside, fourteenth century fortresses or the spellbinding peaks of the Alps, I would go into a trance.
Le Tour radiates energy; an energy I’d felt in the midst of a marathon field. It’s inspiring and contagious. People get energy from different sources. Regardless where you access your energy—a rock concert, skiing down a slope or even a strong acting performance—latch onto it and don’t let go.
Perhaps my daughter was onto something many years ago when she suggested I’m not a normal father. She recently talked me into running the Philadelphia Distance Run with her this September. Most fathers my age will be there as spectators cheering family and friends, or simply watching thousands of runners who have nothing better to do on a Sunday morning than run a half-marathon. There will be many runners in the field older than me, for sure; but my contemporaries are not likely to be blasting Blink 182, Foo Fighters or Passion Pit through their iPods. I can’t help it.
Last week I went to watch my son compete in the Philadelphia Triathlon and listened as the athletes’ names were announced when they crossed the finish line, some in their sixties and seventies. These are the men and women who give me energy and inspiration, and assurance many good years lie ahead.