Sunday, August 12, 2007

Tour de France

Once again, the Tour de France
Is won by Mr. Armstrong, Lance,
Who captured all the famous scalps
On his traversal of the Alps,
And well deserves that yellow top,
As cream of this year’s cycling crop.
For seven years his swaying bum
Has brought him to the podium,
And all the rest, though fast and fit,
Are surely sick of watching it.

And, as the Champs Elysées cheers,
Our minds fly backwards several years,
To that great day when Stephen Roche
Made his Parisien approach.
When Ireland watched him cycle in,
As though out on a Sunday spin,
Afraid that this most friendly chap
Would blow it on the final lap,
And let go of the handlebar,
Or be run over by a car.
Oh how it gave our hearts a lift
To see him not arrive adrift.

And yet, the memory that really
Stands out isn’t Stephen’s wheelie,
But rather at the presentation,
When the leader of our nation
Tried to steal the rightful thunder
From our Irish cycling wonder.
As Charlie waved his arms aloft
(And here in Ireland thousands scoffed)
Millions, staring at his face,
Thought Mr. Haughey won the race,
And from Bangkok to Yucatan,
They wondered how so old a man
Could triumph on so long a trek
With such a hard and wrinkled neck.

But I, whose energy is spent,
While cycling up a slight ascent,
And must dismount to take a pill
When halfway up a little hill,
I must salute those gallant men,
Who sprint up hills and down agen.

But one quite nagging thought persists
About these sporting masochists –
They pump those legs up mountainsides,
Ten thousand feet and more besides,
In hot and very humid weather,
Backsides made of hardened leather,
Pedals strapped onto their feet,
Sweating madly in the heat,
Muscles straining, brows perspiring,
Gulping air and slowly tiring,
Resisting every urge to throttle
The wag who hands an empty bottle,
Panting as the climb gets higher,
Praying they don’t burst a tyre.
A thousand miles and more they do it –
Why on earth do they go through it?
Why do they persist in straining,
Yard by yard without complaining?
The only reason I can see,
That they’d endure the misery
Of heat and strain and hurt and bugs,
Is if they all were high on drugs.

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