Spring’s road rites

Everybody has a transformational experience at some point in their life. It might be a kiss. A leap. A pill. Or a bike ride. This weekend concludes what is known as Holy Week among the road racing community, connecting the Tour of Flanders in early April with Paris-Roubaix this Sunday. An ocean away, we watch the races, be they live or recorded, and are swept away by the willpower and finesse these events require. For the athletes, the experience is no less transformational. It allows them, as us, to see ourselves anew after a winter of deprivation and denial. This is their moment when they will redefine themselves on farm lanes barely wide enough for a car yet, by virtue of tradition, capable of funneling the ambition of scores of the world’s toughest athletes into a sharp point. It is a rite that has meaning beyond any one race.

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