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July 26th, 2009
07:00 AM ET

Dear President Obama #188: Inspiration on two wheels

Reporter's Note: President Obama likes basketball. President Bush liked riding bikes. I apparently like writing letters to the White House because I haven’t missed a day since Inauguration..

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/HEALTH/07/16/athletes.comeback.endurance/art.armstrong.afp.gi.jpg caption="Cyclist Lance Armstrong in the Tour de France."]

Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

It is with dismay that I will watch the Tour de France come to an end today. No more endless discussions about drafting, team strategy, climbers, sprinters, pelotons, breakaways, catches, cracks, or kilometers. I’m quite down about it, and I suspect my family is delighted. They take reasonable interest in the Tour, but my desire to talk over every stage is something that they endure with looks that would make you think I was discussing the annual wheat harvest forecast.

Of course, I also get much more interested in cycling myself at this time of year. I slap on my cycling shorts (which my wife once greeted with “You look like Baryshnikov. Seriously, people aren’t going to know what to do with their eyes.” She is quite the kidder.) a biking shirt, my helmet, and some of those little half gloves that make me look like an extra from Oliver Twist. Then I launch myself onto the roadways, where I spent a couple of hours passing and being passed by all the other middle-age guys who are doing the same thing. “Quite a Tour this year. Seen Lance? Man, those guys can ride.”

I can’t help it. I just find everything about this event inspirational. OK, well maybe not the doping problems that have plagued the sport in past years. But the rest of it? You bet. The guys on the Tour this year are riding close to 2,200 miles in about three weeks. Up enormous hills, through endless valleys; rain, sun, and wind; in top health and while injured, all to claim a yellow jersey in a sport that a lot of people could not care less about. That’s why I watch the Tour.

It’s not really about bicycles for me. It’s about persistence. It’s about not despairing when the days are long, the task too hard, and the competition unyielding. It’s about a lesson in life, riding on two wheels, from which we can all learn. Victory does not always go to the cleverest, the strongest, or even the fastest. It goes to the team and the leader who can bring their best effort every day with no promise of reward, but simply because that is what excellence is all about.

Ahhh…I think I need to go ride now. Sure, by mid-autumn I’ll be slacking again, but for now I am inspired, the family is amused, and life is good. Call if you can. And if you want to ride, I’ve got some great trails to share.

Regards,
Tom

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

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