Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Two wheels good: Citius, Altius, Fortius?

Two wheels good / A simple two-wheeler is the bicycle of choice
 for residents navigating the narrow streets and canals of Amsterdam.

With the London Summer Games just days away, it is with great interest that I read of the triumph of Bradley Wiggins, the first British winner in the storied history of the Tour de France.

Cycling's premier event finished its annual, three-week endurance trek Sunday afternoon under bright, sunny skies along the famous cobble-stoned Avenue des Champs-Élysées.

The Tour has become controversial in recent years due to doping allegations against seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong as well as the suspected and apparent use of performance-enhancing drugs in more recent years that has seen two champions ~ Floyd Landis and Alberto Contador ~ stripped of their titles. In fact, until this year, only two Tour de France champions since 1995 ~ Carlos Saestre in 1998 and Cadel Evans last year ~ have not become embroiled in controversy surrounding performance-enhancing drugs. Thus, it was very refreshing to see Wiggins, 32, vehemently deny that he was doping during this year's Tour.

Looking good in yellow /
Bradley Wiggins rides into Paris.
Wiggins won the Tour de France the old-fashioned way:

He e-a-r-n-e-d it.

Which brings us to the subject of the London Summer Games. The Olympic motto is the hendiatrus Citius, Altius, Fortius, which is Latin for "Faster, Stronger, Higher". The motto was introduced for the Paris Summer Games in 1924. Fast forward more than eight decades and, certainly, today's athletes, for better or worse, emulate the Olympic motto. They run faster, they are certainly of stronger build than ever before, and athletes definitely can leap higher, too.

But is it really necessary? Is it worth paying this price?

Through the looking glass /
Cyclists enjoy their ride

along Binnenamstel
 canal in Amsterdam.
Just for a moment, imagine this: Picture a modern-day Tour de France being contested using a simple, two-wheeler like those that are refreshingly commonplace in cities like Amsterdam, the Dutch capital of the Netherlands. Sure, it might take more than the currently-alloted three weeks to complete the Tour, but who cares? And, ask yourself, too: How would a modern-day Tour cyclist handle the demanding climbs of both the Alps or Pyrenees mountains riding a simple two-wheeler?
The answer is simple:
It wouldn't be easy. Yet, it sure would be pure sports.

Citius, Altius, Fortius?

Let the London Summer Games begin.

Amsterdam photographs by Michael Dickens, copyright 2012. All rights reserved.
Photograph of Bradley Wiggins courtesy of The Guardian.

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