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Most of the days of July are Tour de France days. This world's largest cycle race, a 23-day, 21-stage bicycle road race is run over more than 3,500 kms. It has long been a household sporting name around the globe, even to those, like me, who are not interested in cycling. The race consists of 20 to 22 teams with nine riders each.1 My major intention here in this prose-poem, though, is not to describe the details of this major international sporting event. Rather, I want to describe and discuss the bicycle term, peloton, which, until last week, I had never heard of in my English speaking life. Thanks to my wife, who keeps me up to speed on many a contemporary aspect of culture, this term, peloton, is a key part of the language in the bicycle road race world.

The nuances and the varying significances, the strategies and the tactics, the meanings and the uses of the peloton can be googled on the internet. Readers will be supplied in such an internet search with more information than they will probably require, as I was. I discovered in the process and to my pleasure that I had been part of pelotons for decades. Let me outline my peloton experience briefly in what follows, the poem part of this prose-poem. -Ron Price with thanks to Wikipedia Encyclopedia, 22 July 2008.

We all have to make slight adjustments
in response to those around us riding
through the groups that are a part of
our lives here on this mortal coil--earth.

This is particularly true if we are at the
front of the group, if we are an example
in some way to those others behind us.

We in the front are not necessarily better
people---we are just the ones at the front
leading the way in some respect or other,
doing some special job, task, some work.

When crashes occur, those at the front
have less chance of falling over and they
can dictate the tempo to some degree,
initiate breakaways and decide tactics
in the face of strong, violent head winds.

Sometimes the peloton must be spread-
out, strung-out and at other times the
crunch of the group is tight and thick.

I’ve been watching this process for years,
little did I know, in groups of people who
were never riding bicycles at all, but who
drank great quantities of tea and coffee
and could collectively talk the back side
off a barn door as they slowly, seductively
insinuated a tour de force that has just
recently stuck its head above the ground,
the water’s edge: a tour de force that will
play an important part in the unification
of the peoples of the world, in the ongoing
and inevitable planetization of humankind.

Ron Price
22 July 2008
 
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