Saturday, April 11, 2009

Phil Liggett, Paul Sherwen ... and J.R.R. Tolkien.

So why am I linking the two legendary Tour de France television commentators with the even more legendary author of the Lord of the Rings? Well, let's first look at J.R.R. Tolkien. He not only came up with the Lord of the Rings books, he created languages for his characters, sketched out huge family trees, wrote myths and histories that pre-date his trilogy by thousands of years, and created a unique Middle Earth geography and topography; all done over the span of a lifetime. In other words, he seemed to live in what he created ... and allowed us to live in them too, through his books.

Listening to Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen cover bicycle races like the Tour de France, Paris-Roubaix (coming up tomorrow on the Versus channel), or the Tour of Flanders (last Sunday), I get that same kind of feeling ... that this isn't just one race on one particular day they're describing. It's part of a great history and tradition, filled with endless stories and visual images, and yes ... even it's own geography (because bike racing is all about a love and exploration of place). I really admire people like that, who can build a deep and rich mythology around the things they love.

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