Today is the Tour de France’s penultimate mountain stage, and probably one of its most grueling. The riders are in the Hautes Pyrénées, and will spend the day hammering away at some of the race’s legendary passes, among them the Col d’Aubisque. Having driven through this mountain pass many, many times, I can tell you that even from a car, it is fearsome: narrow, steep Mordor-like ridges with blind turns and tunnels drilled right through the craggy mountain’s face. To drive it is audacious; to cycle it, another thing altogether.
Would you be surprised to learn that some of the Tour’s top riders prepare for these intimidating stages by incorporated yoga into their regimens? Bradley Wiggins (currently sporting the maillot jaune) enhances his training with yoga, and Cadel Evans (last year’s winner, currently in 4th place overall) credits yoga with improving his form on the bike. There is no doubt that yoga’s physical and therapeutic benefits are a great complement to cycling, helping to lengthen muscles, and transform perspectives.
One of my favorite yoga teachers—who also happens to be an avid cyclist!—is Amy Ippoliti. Her list of Five Yoga Poses for Common Cycling Ailments includes Virasana or Hero’s Pose which is a great one for overworked quads. We asked Amy for her thoughts on the two practices of yoga and cycling, and which riders she’s cheering for this year.
“Yoga and cycling have been merging more and more as a hybrid activity for great living. We have been watching the Tour De France daily—and if I could have rooted for anyone in particular it would have been Tom Danielson from my hometown, Boulder, CO, but he suffered early on in one of the crashes and dislocated his shoulder.
I actually went on a group ride in Boulder with Tom when I first got my Cervelo bike. I could not keep up, but felt proud for trying!