In 1908 a Welshman made the Tour de France. In its own way. Three-four thousand kilometers, July 16 to September 5, minimum 150, maximum 250 km, six days a week.
He was born in Tremadog, Thomas Edward Lawrence. The first two names, the third surname, were not even his surname, but everyone, and of course everyone knows him as Lawrence of Arabia. Ted – in the family they simply called him – was short and thin, with light skin and beautiful hair, and when he grew up he would have been short and five feet sixty-three. At the same time, the fire of curiosity, adventure, and perhaps even revenge shone inside him. My father was familiar with cycling and introduced me to cycling. Sir Thomas seems to have enjoyed the pleasure of touring and escaping family troubles (four daughters from his wife, five children of a partner) and jumping on a bike and pedaling nearby, first in Tremadog, and then, after this move, in Oxford. Ted was affected by the same passion he had when he was alone or when he was alone. He only participated in the Tour de France when he was 19 years old.
Bike, a Morris, Nafield’s first whistleblower was William Richard Morris, a handicraftsman, but later a mechanic, repairman, and entrepreneur and founder of the Morris Car Company (Mini Morris’). It was a seven-and-a-half kilo touring bike, hung with bags full of books and clothes, for a trip that would last a few months.
The beginning of the cycle journey was dramatic. Ted got lost. He arrived at Portsmouth Harbor on time and had to take a train to board a ship bound for France. He landed in Le Havre and finally started paddling. It was July 16, 1908. Stages from Monday to Saturday, 100 to 150 miles a day (160 to 250 km), handlebars and sandals, evening pens and paper for notes and letters, and sites visited on Sunday are historically dedicated to art. The aim was to visit the castles and animals to study the history and archeology of Jesus College, Oxford, and to gather information for a paper entitled “The Impact of the Crusades on the Military Architecture of the Franks in Europe and the Near East.”
In the remake of “Daily Telegraph” journalist and sports historian Brendan Gallagher, Lawrence traveled at least 3,275 miles, “But maybe more, because this was my calculation using the ‘shortest way’ according to Google Maps’s hints”. Seven weeks on the road, the roads were not bad but dirt roads, tracks and sidewalks. Suspicious resistance, despite minor physical condition. Through the zig-zag path between one site and another, the capture of the Pui-de-Dome in Massif Central, still undiscovered at the time, would have dared to face the Tour de France only 44 years later. Live Cheap Everything: Seven francs a day, bread, water, milk and fruit are often stolen from the field.
The pedal story of Lawrence’s Arabia appears in my newborn book “The Most Beautiful Destination in History” (Baldini + Castoldi, 208 pages, 16 euros), dedicated to rugby in Wales. All Welsh people are associated with rugby, even Lawrence of Arabia. Peter O’Toole of Lawrence of Arabia in the 1962 film and Richard Harris, the Irishman who called the horse out of the 1970 film, are in the audience for the 2000 Heineken Cup at Twickenham, the rugby stadium in London. At the end of the final match, they stepped onto the pitch and imitated a set kick. Lawrence / O’Toole’s ball bounced over the crossbar and between the goalposts. A success.
Travel fan. Freelance analyst. Proud problem solver. Infuriatingly humble zombie junkie.