The Tour de France

Each July for the past decade or so, I’ve been riveted by this race, especially the dominance of Lance Armstrong. Riding more than 2,000 miles in 21 days is a super-human feat. Perhaps that is why performance-enhancing drugs became the norm and the sport is suffering from a blackeye. Well, Lance is gone, and superstars like Floyd Landis (last year’s winner), Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso have all been implicated in the doping scandals. Now, though, cycling is likely entering a new era as drug testing has become more sophisticated and the chance of getting caught is hopefully dissuading riders from using. Despite the black cloud and the withdrawal of many superstars, I’m still watching. George Hincapie from Greenville, S.C. — whom many local bikers know personally — won Saturday’s prologue in London. Something about mind-boggling, physical feats like this race — where riders burn more than 6,000 calories a day — draws me in.

High-elevation fun

Friends Donna and David Francis are building a home way up on Wolfpen Mountain, and I mean way, way up. Got to be over 5,000 feet. They hosted a July 4 party complete with live music, barbecue and a big fire pit. The site also provided the best view around for Lake Junaluska’s fireworks, along with dozens of smaller, private fireworks displays that were taking place all over Haywood County. Mix in lots of good friends and cold beverages and it was just a great time. Something about spending time high on a mountain that is just exhilarating. A great mountain evening, and this year there wasn’t even a dog fight.

Rain

May and most of June were way too dry. Now, though, we’re getting those thunder boomers that send signals to my body that summer is truly upon us. So enjoy. A few weeks ago my kids and I were in Charleston and we just kept strolling as a thunderstorm swamped us. Saturday my wife and kids went out specifically to just walk in the rain. Next storm, put on your swim wear and try it.

— By Scott McLeod

This Must Be the Place

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