Late July, my wife and I were standing on the Champs Élysée in Paris. We watched the final stage of the Tour de France, saw Lance finish for the last time in his career, got close enough to Alberto Contador to see the stitching on his yellow jersey, and did the wave with about a billion fans who were in the middle of the biggest spectacle in cycling.
Being at the Tour is a big deal for any cyclist, particularly if like me you've been a rapid cycling fan most of your life. It was everything I thought it would be. I took, oh, about a thousand photos that day, some of which you can see here. And I'll get around to writing about the experience so if you haven't been there, you can get a glimpse of what it's like.
I spent last Thursday through Monday at a different kind of cycling event, the JDRF Ride to Cure in LaCrosse, WI. This was my third Ride to Cure, but it was the first time I didn't have my bike with me. Instead, I had a bag of camera equipment so I could play the role of Ride photographer.
I took about 2,500 photos while I was there. Of the people. Of the events. Of the Ride itself. And what I captured was, in its own way, more exciting than the Tour de France.
I spent those days with 250+ riders, and what seemed like that many volunteers, family and friends. Their motivations vary. Some live with Type 1 diabetes, or have a family member, friend or co-worker who does. Some have no connection to the disease at all. Some are casual cyclists who are satisfied with riding a few miles; others want to finish the century course as fast as they can. They're all ages, and from all backgrounds.
To a person, they're focused on wiping out diabetes, they're motivated, and they joyfully celebrate what they've accomplished.
Through the viewfinder, I saw thousands of smiles, countless small moments of celebration, people who are too humble to use the word "epic" go beyond themselves to accomplish great things, and watched everyone – everyone – say no to diabetes.
Watching a race is one thing. Seeing life-changing, life-affirming moments – everywhere I looked, every time I turned around – is a magnitude greater.
Want to see more from the LaCrosse Ride to Cure? Visit my Flickr gallery for a few of my images from the event. And, visit the Ride to Cure page on Facebook to see what other riders have to say about the experience.