Tuesday, 24 August 2004
Lives Of Screaming Exultation
CREDIT: © Russell Standring/Grenoble Cycling Pages
WHERE: L'Alpe d'Huez, France. WHAT: one of bicycle racing's great moments.
MAP: L'Alpe d'Huez. Thumbnails  pop-up larger images.
The odds against winning a big lottery are overwhelmingly poor. Every punter acknowledges that, but hope springs eternal from the more certain knowledge that every time there is a draw, somebody wins. In the grand scheme of things most of us live humble lives, untouched by events of great moment. A much deeper thinker and more profound writer than your present scribe, Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) went so far as to aver that "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation."
However, just like there are lottery winners, there are always bystanders when events of significance occur. At the Tour de France 2004 stage of l'Alpe d'Huez, Russell Standring won the cycling spectators lottery. Lance Armstrong blasted up the mountain in the time trial, going so fast that he passed the second man in the overall classification, Ivan Basso, who had set off two minutes in front.
The catch happened directly in front of where Russell was standing, and he has the pictures as proof. Thoreau was born in the year that Baron Karl Drais von Sauerbronn 'invented' the first bicycle, but died before the first bicycle  races in 1868, so we assume he never screamed in exultation as bicycle racers flashed past. Le pauvre.
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Jules Laforgue (1860-1887)
"Ah! que la vie est quotidienne."
Oh, what a day-to-day business life is.
'Complainte sur certains ennuis' (1885)