Being There

Like many thousands of Australians my sleep patterns are being transformed in the next three weeks by the Tour de France.

During the first three stages of the Tour I have enjoyed watching a Specialized video.

I think it is a great example of what Roger Caillois called ‘mimicry’. In his discussion of Caillois’ work, Calvin Ashmore observes:

Mimicry is about developing and participating in an imaginary universe. … Mimicry is about becoming another, to participate within this illusory world. Mimicry is about becoming another character and behaving as that character, temporarily shedding one’s actual identity. … Human mimicry is found in ritual and performance, as well as in make-believe. The simulated nature of make believe is the essence of spectacle, and lives on in the eyes of the witnesses in addition to the players.

The video puts me in the pavé story and I am confident the young rider will hold off Tom Boonen! It takes me back to my first racing bike and gears (1963).


Ready to Perform

This year I started watching the Tour de France whilst I was in Europe and was able to see the end of the Tour on SBS on my return to Australia last week.

The SBS coverage of the Tour has been outstanding this year. The images from the race, particularly from the helicopter cameras, have  added to the excitement of Cadel Evans’ achievements.

From a performance point of view I have been interested to read about and listen to what is being written and said about the youngest winner of the Mountain Bike World Cup in the late 1990s and the oldest winner of the Tour since 1922.

I noted in particular:

  • Cadel’s early sport activities and choices.
  • The recognition of his ability and talent in 1998.
  • The support and belief of a small number of people in his ability.
  • The lessons of resilience.
  • The coming together of a supportive team.
  • The role of a charismatic coach in Cadel’s flourishing.

It is fascinating (and exhilirating) how all these came together in 2011 and provide, I think, a great opportunity to explore the interaction between fitness for purpose, readiness to perform and the magic of success.

Photo Credits

Cycling Central website front page (accessed 26 July)

Cadel Evans wins the Tour de France 2011

Performance Narratives

I am back in Australia after a visit to Germany.

On my return I have come across three different resources to fuel my interest in performance narratives.

1. Team BMC

James Bennett has posted a great article on the Drum website. In a post titled Cadel Evans and the Armstrong parallels, James points out:

  • Cadel Evans’s references to how he structured this year’s season around the Tour de France sounds like what another guy who was good at winning Le Tour used to say.
  • Lance Armstrong changed professional cycling by focussing exclusively on riding to win just one race a year (albeit the biggest race of the year).
  • He did that with the backing of his directeur sportif, Johan Bryneel, who created a squad of riders whose sole objective was to drag Lance around France, because he believed that Lance could win the race.
  • Evans joined forces with American Jim Ochowitz. He  is an Olympian who founded the first ever American-backed cycling team, 7-Eleven in 1981. It then became Motorolla after a change of sponsor, and was Lance Armstrong’s entrée into the European peloton in 1992.
  •  In an interview with the ABC this week, Jim Ochowitz repeats the single-minded mantra Lance wrote about in his best-selling book, It’s not about the bike. “We’re only here for one reason and that is to race for Cadel,” Ochowitz says.

I liked in particular the point Jim made in his interview:  BMC has “Tour-winning experience to call on”.

  • George Hincapie, was Lance Armstrong’s right hand man, safeguarding the Texan through the incessant bumping and jostling for position in the peloton. Now the American veteran is using his vast tactical experience (this is Hincapie’s 16th Tour de France – equalling the record set by Belgian Joop Zoetemelk) to shepherd Evans through the race.
  • In the Tour’s first week, which traversed the often windy flatlands and rolling hills of northern France, it was Hincapie who rode in front of Cadel Evans, keeping him well positioned and safe from a nervous peloton as crashes ended the hopes of many touted as contenders for this year’s race.

2. Hawks’ Huddle

Adam Simpson talks through a Quarter Time Huddle for the Hawks. I found this a fascinating discussion of the practice of information sharing.

3. A Different View of the Tour de France

Sport involves a great deal of ritual. I think this video from Remi Gaillard has some interesting insights into Tour de France rituals.

Photo Credit

Tourwinnaar Lucien Petit-Breton