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A Miscellany 36
Tour de France

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Once again I am turning into a July couch potato with the Tour de France broadcast live for three hours every morning, something I was drawn into by the Lance Armstrong phenomenon.

Superficially it looks like a pretty dumb form of competition - most days it's just 180 guys cycling together in the pelaton for about 180 km, then several of them breaking into a mad sprint for the finish in the last km., after which nearly all the participants are given exactly the same finishing time. And you wonder "What is the point?"

And yet when you become attuned to the nuances, the many races within the overall race, it becomes quite interesting. And you realize that individual wins are due to team efforts. And team wins are due to individual efforts. Still, it is more than that. It goes beyond the team level. To succeed, cooperation with rivals is essential. By sharing responsibility of leading, allowing the other to recover while drafting, allows competitors to do better than they could alone. Then those who want a moment of individual glory have to make a timely decision on when to cease cooperating so as to nip the opposition at the line.

Some call baseball a metaphor for life. Others make the same claim for football (in all its variations.) But as I watch the Tour de France unfold for three weeks each July, I consider it is better metaphor.