Lanterne Rouge

I’ve been really enjoying watching the Tour de France this year. Those gruelling climbs in the Pyrenees and the Alps, the flat racing around the city of Tours recently, the sprint finishes, the helicopter shots of them breezing along at 35 mph through beautiful French countryside, the way that two or three riders make a break early and hang on for ages and then a few kilometres from the line the peloton appears like a swarm of brightly clad bees and just swallows them up. I especially like the lanterne rouge, the award given to the man finishing last. Given that he may be last out of 180 odd riders, the lanterne is highly sought after. After all, the rider has to finish within a percentage time of the man finishing first, so the lanterne rouge winner has cycled 3000 plus kilometres and shown huge endurance and had to compete within a set time. And in a world (our whole world, not the cycling world) where winning, being first, being top dog, being the outstanding candidate, is more and more the be all and end all, I think it’s great that the last man in gets a prize, for finishing and not dropping out. Three cheers for all those who come last and still succeed.

My favourite song about cycling is this Billy Childish classic, Medway Wheelers- a song about the cycling club his mother was a member of in the 40s and 50s. Cracking video too.

I’ve posted Medway Wheelers before so we’ll have a different Billy song for today’s mp3. Billy’s new band The Chatham Forts (or CTFM) have recently released an lp and two singles. It’s a bit of an angular, ’79 punk style thing, apparently having been inspired by finding a book of lyrics Billy wrote 36 years ago and deciding to record them as an album.

I Should Have Been In Art School