Blog Post #403: The Grueling Race – Le Tour de France – and Lawson Craddock

Blog Post #403: The Grueling Race – Le Tour de France – and Lawson Craddock

Taken from:

For many years the sports highlight of the summer has been the Tour of France bike race.  Yes, I was caught with Lance Armstrong and his multiple wins (and later disbarment).

From this other article (, I see that the race is “Harder, Hotter and Longer”.  It is set over 23 days (of which 2 are rest days) and over 2,200 miles.  I tried various combinations on Google Maps and from Austin Texas, I would have to go outside of the United States to get to 2,200 miles (even farther than Quebec or Vancouver BC).  It means from 3 to 6 hours every day sitting on a bike seat (not all that comfortable) – and peddling. This article says that Ironman Competitions are about 17 hours – and with 17 hours, Tour de France riders are about on stage 4 (a long ways from the last stage – stage 21).

For those of you wanting to lose weight (tongue-in-cheek), each stage will burn from 5,000 to 7,000 calories.  The average winner’s speed (on a bicycle of course) is about 25 miles an hour (overall). On sprints or coming downhill, the speed can be close to 50 miles an hour (on curving roads – frequently with spectators in-your-face with flags and noisemakers.

But, the original article describes the plight of an American – Lawson Craddock.  The article says: “But early in Stage 1, Lawson ran over a water bottle and crashed hard. He gashed his forehead, a cut that required stitches. He scraped and bruised his body.

And worst of all, he broke his scapula (that is, the shoulder blade) – on the FIRST DAY!!!  (I would have packed up, gone back home, had a doctor set my bones (or maybe get it set in France), rest for a while.

But, no, Lawson kept going.  Out of all the riders on this year’s tour, he came in last (no wonder).  But, after that first day, he made a pledge to himself (and to others). For each day he finished, he would donate $100 to the Houston Velodrome that was damaged by Hurricane Harvey last year.  So, in immense pain, day-after-day, stage-after-stage – for over 2,000 miles he gritted his teeth and kept going. Frequently cyclists will stand up on their pedals for an uphill climb, but Lawson couldn’t do that with his shoulder.  Every day, he was in terrible pain – and then sleeping was also very difficult for him.

He commented that he would have dropped out almost any day – except for that pledge to help rebuild the Velodrome.  At the end – with his earnings, with a GoFundMe push and with a lot of support, he raised over 176,000 dollars for the Velodrome.  

There is an old expression when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.  Lawson is a great example of that – with an unfortunate accident (running over a water bottle) and a broken collarbone, he kept gone and showed all of us the meaning of dedication and success.  Sure, he came in last, but he made it – and in the process did some good for the place where he learned to ride a bike.

What do you think?  Is Lawson a hero? Would you have given up – and stayed with it – through the pain for 23 days?  (I know even if I was healthy, I wouldn’t have made it through the first stage!!!)


Posted by Bruce White

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