The Tour De France is the world’s toughest athletic event. Spread over many days, cyclists compete with each other and themselves to conquer the roads, mountains, valleys, rivers, tunnels and fields of France. So tough is the race is that in the early years only 10% of the riders made it to the end and finished. The organisers soon realised that this race was not so much about one winner at the end but about the resilience of the human spirit to complete a challenge that we take on.

Everyone who has ever taken part in the Tour De France has one overarching goal – to finish the race, to conquer our own weakness and fear, to not give in when it feels like all is lost, to  fight on beyond our maximum capacity. Over the years there have been many inspirational stories that encourage us to “FINISH THE RACE”

In 1904 Henri Comet was a young challenger in the new Tour De France. At that time the spectators strongly supported their own town cyclists. Hence when other cyclists crossed their towns, the people threw nails on the street in order to cause punctures and make other cyclists lose.  40 kilometers to the finish line Henri rode into a town where the road was littered with nails. His tyres got punctured and all the air went out. Henri looked down and knew he had no chance of winning. Yet he decided that he would finish the race and do his utmost best. Putting all his heart and energy he spent the next 40 km pedalling furiously on flat tyres. After a few hours of the race being completed it was announced that the first three winners were disqualified for cheating and the new winner of the Tour De France was Henri Comet.

In 1909 Francois Faber was an aggressive French rider who attacked from the front and lead many stages in the race. At two points the wind was so strong it threw him from the cycle. Each time he got up and continued the race. Then he banged into a horse  and fell badly. Again he got up again to finish the race. At the last stage suddenly the chain on his bicycle broke. Remember there were no spare cycles. Other riders were behind him and he was so close to the end. Faber had to finish the race. So he picked up his cycle on his shoulders and started running. He completed the race running and carrying his cycle and became the 1909 Tour champion.

In 1928 Nicholas Frantz broke his bike. No spares. He promptly ran to a spectator and requested to borrow her bicycle. The lady obliged. He finished the race. 

Chains can break. Handlebars can break. Wrists & shoulders can break.

The human spirit is unbreakable when we make a decision to complete a task, to do what is assigned to us, to complete our mission.

Take the approach of doing your best and becoming a finisher. Complete things. Do not leave them open ended. Whatever is open, left to do, go do it and complete the task. Fulfill your commitments. 

Learn from the Tour De France stalwarts. To finish is to win. Committ to finish.

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