Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Tour de France

It's July and that means the television is set to the Tour de France 24/7 at my house.

In 1903, 60 men raced 2500 km. around the country of France on bicycles to publicize "L'Auto Magazine" .  The rest is history. 

In 1995, when Miguel Induran and Lance Armstrong were the riders of the day, my husband and sons were riding 100 mile races and for our family, the rest is history--we all do the daily, armchair race review every year. 

For me, the scenery around France is the best part of the live coverage.  I drool over the castles, the cathedrals, more castles, the vineyards, the rivers, the canals, and more castles.  The intricacies of the race itself are somewhat beyond me.  I tend to focus on the multi-colours of the peleton (main group of riders), the drama of the spectacular crashes (think major domino effects), the wild break aways (moving ahead of the peleton) and the amazing bodies of all those young men. 

I mean really, they are living machines, constantly needing fuel, repair and maintenance.  There they go, 50 km/hr, legs and hearts pumping a million times a minute, eating and drinking and chatting with the guys next to them.  And all that while negotiating steep mountain terrain, trying to avoid hazzards and obsticles.  Who says men are not able to multi-task?

It seems there are many races within the Race.  Each day is called a stage.  The winner of the day is a stage winner and he gets points for his win.  The rider with the most overall points wears the Green Jersey.  The rider who tops the mountains first is called King of the Mountains and gets to wear a white and red Polka Dot Jersey.  The leader with the best overall time wears the Yellow Jersey.  Then there is the Rainbow Jersey for the current World Champion, and Rainbow arm bands on the jersies of past World Champions.  The rider wearing the White Jersey is the best new rider.

Things have changed since 1903.  The race now covers over 3600 kilometers.  Bikes and equipment have evolved, now having gears and weighing less than a six pack of coke.  Gone are the steel frame bikes of yesteryear.  Aerodynamics, weight and response are the rules of the day now--all coming at a high price:  $10,000 to $25,000 per bike.  Riders are supported with caravans of mechanics, equipment, spare parts and bikes.  No longer do they pedal for days with spare tires around their necks! Medical teams administer first aid on the spot, or call for air lift to deal with major injuries. 

From these and those pictures I just couldn't bear to post, it is easy to see why 40% of those starting out do not complete the race.

And then there is the media. This year, 2050 journalists broadcast live coverage to 188 countries.  It is estimated that 12 - 15 million spectators (80% French) are following along.  The cameramen perch on the back of motorcycles and cars, dangle from airplanes, hot air balloons and tall buildings. 
600 sponsors in the publicity caravan help finance the tour by giving up 200- 500,000 Euros to participate.

A few final pics for you and I'm off to watch today's recap. 
all photos and videos compliments of public domaine.

Au'revoir mes amis. A bientot.


Empty Nester said...

I've never really been into cycling races---although I certainly would NOT mind traveling through the countryside of France!

Carol E Wyer said...

What a fabulous post! We used to live near one of the stages in France and would go out to watch the race. It has certainly had its moments this year hasn't it? I love the french scenery, but as you know I love France.
Super videos and super dooper pics of ither years. Really enjoyed this post. Thank you. Now where are my cycling shorts?

Anonymous said...

Such a great post. Love the history of it. How cool! I do enjoy watching this one even though we don't have television anymore.

Veronica Lee said...

Awesome post, Rosemary! Love what you shared.

Happy Sunday!

Dogmom Diva said...

Thank you for a little history on the Tour..things I did not know, sure does make me want to go back and spend time in the countryside of France now..

Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment!


SquirrelQueen said...

We are casual followers of the race and somewhat keep track but not daily. It is interesting to learn about the race's history. I am just imagining the bikers riding with a spare tire around their necks, that is dedication.

Anonymous said...

What an exciting blog and I'm not even finished looking at everything, wow. I took a break from blogging for awhile - which is why you haven't heard from me. One day just led into the next until it's been this long while. Hey laundry was beginning to pile Anyway, great hearing from you again Rosemary and I hope you're having a great summer. Can't wait to see how you'll top this blog, whoa. Smiles -Haupi