Friday, July 15, 2022

The Strong Men


Wimbledon has come and gone. People hitting a ball over a fence for a lot of money. And the ball sometimes goes so fast, it's difficult for anybody to see never mind the guy at the other end of the court.

Being my age, I think I had the best of tennis with John McEnroe, Bjorn Borg, Connors, Nastase. Days when they seemed quite normal and they could hit the ball without making a noise like a constipated piglet.

Tennis is divisive in a friendly way, I’m a Federa person. My friend’s a Nadal person. I think everybody likes Djokovic, but nobody admits it. 

I didn’t get to see the final this year but there was the whole Australian controversy, then Nadal moaning about his abdominal tear and quit - two minutes later he’s on a jet ski bouncing over the open waves.  He always seems to be carrying some injury. Or is it gamesmanship?

And also the South African/ American talking/ English educated, with American girlfriend tennis player who claims to be a Scot, was voicing his support for of Scottish Independence.... although he’s never actually lived here. So that speaks volumes. 

'But tennis players are hard men,' I hear you cry, 'out in that heat, hitting a ball over a fence for three hours.'

Alternative  hard men are sitting on a bike for four and a half hours in 37 degrees of heat peddling up an Alp that is 2 1/2 times the height of Ben Nevis. And when I say hard men I mean brutally hard. 

So the Tour de France started in Copenhagen. (?)

Stage 2 - the race was going quite quiet at one point, two wheels touch; Wout van Art goes down, gets himself back up then doesn’t realise the support car has braked  so Wout  and the wing mirror have a physical altercation. Wout decides to lead the race to keep out of trouble.

The next day a motorbike clips a hay bail,  knocking it into the  road a little. Jack Haig goes in to it, comes down, fractures 3 vertebrae, 4 ribs, gets on his bike and stays there for another 3 hours. Primoz Roglic also comes down,  disappears for a couple of minute then he’s seen cycling like a mad thing to get on the back of the peleton. He casually explains later, in broken English,  that he had disclocated his shoulder and had to find a spectator with a chair because he 'has a technique’ to relocate it. He cycled on but confessed the miles over the cobbles gave him pain that made his eyes smart. 

Some strange spectator was sitting with her feet out – they never understand the speed these guys are moving at - and caused a multiple pile up.  Daniel Oss when down, got back on his bike. Once past the finish line the x-ray showed 3 broken vertebrae. In his neck.

Apart from that madness and the heat there’s a wonderful camaraderie about it all. The two main rivals just couldn’t get rid of each other at the top of an alp, and they were actually laughing with each other in an 'anything you can do, I can do better kind of way'. The highlights later showed the 1986 similar feud between Greg Lamont and Bernard Hinault. In the end, they came over the line hand in hand as they thought that was a fitting end to the gladiatorial duel they were having.

The Tour De France directors also had an interesting take on a protest that blocked the road, they refused to televise it. While the viewer, watching live, waited the helicopter  camera zoomed round on Alps, local cathedrals,  some horses, some cows, the stunning scenery as the leader, the chasers and the peleton were all held on the road at the correct time gaps – bearing in mind that they are dealing with elite sports men with no body fat. They tried to keep them rolling slowly just to keep warm and keep the muscles moving. 

The situation was dealt with and the race rolled on, with the commentary saying that it was good Bernard Hinault was secure  in one of the team cars and not in reach of the protestors as he would have lamped them. He has previous for this seemingly.

A few years ago the French farmers staged a protest about something and the French police dispersed the crowd by using... tear gas. Totally forgetting that the cyclists were about to cycle through,  breathing difficulties and sore, eyes resulted.

If it was an environmental protest then why they didn’t sit across the track at Formula One. Then again  maybe not.

Just google Bernard Hinault and Greg Lamond / or Tadej Pogacar and Jonas Vingegaard for the wonderful clips on You Tube.


  1. You and my younger brother need to get together to talk tennis into the wee hours!

  2. Tennis has love, bikers have orthopedists.