The Tour de France has always been a bit of a mystery to me. Not in that I didn't understand it, but in the way that it was only something that I ever saw snippets on television in the wee hours of the morning. It was like watching an event manufactured for Hollywood rather than a bike race.
Consequently, in my mind I exaggerated a few aspects of the event, such as the sheer steepness of the climbs and the speed at which they fly up them. To me the Tour was a race of supermen, levels above anything else that I had seen or done.
Being able to sit and watch the Tour by the side of the road and ride some of the parcours has brought it all back down to Earth a little bit for me. Yes, the mountains are long but they are no steeper than the mountain roads in Australia. Yes, they ride up them fast but they don't fly past like freaks of nature in the big chain ring without a look of strain on their faces and the gruppetto rolls through at speeds that look achievable to some.
I'm not saying that I'm disappointed in what I've seen, I'm now just a little more realistic. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that this year's tour is being proclaimed as the cleanest ever with seemingly more human like performances from it's contenders. From close up, I certainly didn't see anything that made me think it was freakishly super human.