Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Tour de France

Have you ever watched the Tour de France? If you don’t know what that is you should be ashamed of yourself. Go stand in the corner. When you come back I’ll explain to you that it is the largest bicycle race in the world. It’s around 100 years old and primarily goes through France although they run some of it in other countries at times. It’s also arguably the toughest sporting event in the world and the riders are some of the fittest people on the planet. They essentially ride for three straight weeks in any kind of weather and terrain; mountainous to flat.

But beyond that the whole thing is about as clear to understand what is going on for us Americans as something like Cricket or Curling. There are so many questions:

When you’re racing full out for 4-6 hours, how do take a dump?

Where do you pee?

What if the wifey-poo needs you to swing by the store and pick up some milk; can you accept cell phone calls?

How do you squeeze in your daily blog post?

The race is actually a team sport. They race point to point through these tiny European roads among picturesque landscape that they’re too tired or focused to look at. There are hundreds of cars and motorcycles driving among them to provide food, medical assistance, strategy, TV coverage and exhaust fumes.

Spectators will line up beside the road waiting to see them. They’ll have to get their hours and even sometimes days earlier to get a spot. Then, they get to watch as the riders fly by at 30mph! Exciting! “Hey, who was that orange flash that just went by?” That would never fly as a spectator sport here in America.

They also dress up in ridiculous costumes. The riders don’t notice them so I guess they might as well. It’s like Halloween without the candy. It’s like Mardi Gras or Carnival without the booze and sex. What’s the point?

Oh, and the really popular spectator segments are where the finish of that days race is uphill; that way the bikers are only going about 15mph. The riders get to enjoy a wall of spectators screaming at them, running beside them and generally being obnoxious as they ride.

It would freak me out. I don’t know how they ride through it. It’d be sort of like inviting half the stadium down onto the football field and still trying to run plays.

Like I said, we American’s just wouldn’t get it…

51 comments:

subtorp77 said...

VE, LMAO! "Where's Lance?" HAW! As one who is from Europa I "got it" a long time ago( that and wot you Yanks call "Soccer" ) The word balloons are a scream-LOL! This is even better than the Star Wars spoof!!

Beth said...

This Canadian doesn't get it, either.
I think you should "dissect" some other sports/athletic events - they are ripe for the picking...and for your insightful POV!

Candie Bracci said...

Of course I know,my grandfather is a huge fan.They passed near where I leave this year,but I have to tell you I couldn't care less!lol.Ah where is Lance?that is the question!Lol!:)

Hit 40 said...

My husband is out doing a short 40 mile bike ride today. He likes to ride 80 miles. I definitely need to take a pic of him in his biker outfit. Without being on a bike...

they just look like a dork.

ReformingGeek said...

Yeah. There are cyclists and then there are CYCLISTS! Sheesh! I like to ride but I'll pass on Lance in France. ;-)

Very funny, VE!

The Incredible Woody said...

I love to ride. I'm riding in the LiveStrong Challenge in Austin. Lance will be riding, too. I plan to show him how to really ride a bike. Eat my dust, boy!

VE said...

subtorp77 - It took me awhile to get it; but even still...I don't really get it.

VE said...

beth - I might as well...I've done cycling and net ball so far. I did a little blurb on cricket but not much depth. Other sports... watch out!

VE said...

candie - I suppose there are a lot of races around Europe that aren't these premier ones. You probably see bike racers all the time.

VE said...

hit40 - I know the feeling. I do a lot of riding myself. I don't see why all the outfits have to look dorky. I wear the cycling shorts only because they have a ridiculous amount of padding and that helps for anything longer than 15 miles.

VE said...

reforminggeek - I know the feeling. There are semi-pros just down the street at Nike Inc. and occasionally they pass me by like I'm standing still...and I don't ride slow.

VE said...

incredible woody - You go, girl. Ask him if he's got the balls to keep up with you! ;)

Uncivil said...

I don't know about everybody else, but when I see guys on bicycles....Death Race 2000 comes to mind! Wonder what the point system for the Tour would be????

subtorp77 said...

VE, I don't get golf! But considering Europe's been racing bikes longer than cars...meh. And not syre if they still do it but the Germans raced juggernauts( semi-trucks )as a type of NASCAR event. Oddly this started in the U.S. but never caught on...

Quirkyloon said...

The only thing I do get about it is when I'm at home, relaxing in the recliner, with my Diet Dr. Pepper, eating some chips, then it can be just as exhausting for me to watch those suckers for pain on the telly!

I'm tired just thinking about it! Note to self: buy more chips! hee hee

Megan said...

Man, I haven't ridden a bicycle in years.

Elizabeth said...

The Tour de France is 100 years old? I didn't know that.
And I would argue that the Iditarod is the toughest race in the world, but not as popular.

Perpetual Chocoholic said...

They also have some of the best, undetectable stregnth building drugs.

My cycling outfit if all black so I can wear one without looking like a clown.

Dot-Com said...

Will I be sent to the corner for just not liking it??? I never understood why people would sit inside glued to the telly to watch men biking for 20 or so days. Such a waste of good weather. Come to think of it, it doesn't seem to be something the Irish are particularly interested in, and they don't have any nice weather to waste... Hmmm!

I am Arizona; a person, not a place. said...

I like the devil following Lance. That's too funny! I understand why someone would want to do the Tour, but personally, my knees wouldn't make it past mile 4.

Ronda Laveen said...

American's would get it if there was drinking involved. Like a beer cup relay type of thing. Yeah, that would Americanize it: Drinking, riding and dressing in goofy costumes.

Gladys said...

Now see I wonder if they let you race with training wheels?

Jaime said...

i never understood the appeal of the tour de france. of course, i can't even ride a bike...

Janna said...

I still can't get past the fact that it lasts so long.
Three WEEKS? Seriously?
I probably couldn't even last three minutes before I gave up and headed for the nearest croissant.

Matt-Man said...

I can't help but seeing the Burger King guy in place of the Devil in that picture. They should do a commercial like that. Cheers VE!!

Candie Bracci said...

You can't even imagine how many we have where I live!Always scared to crash them with the car!LOL
btw,where was Lance?:P

lime said...

not only is it mardi gras without the sex and booze, the rider are having their nads crushed by the tiny little seat.

Anne said...

i fell off a bike once when i was 5. broke by collar bone.

Kurt said...

You can post from your iPhone during the race, and send tweets.

VE said...

uncivil - Death Race 2000! ha! I have that movie. Of course the Tour de France would be like moving the lawn for them...points would be flyin'

subtorp77 - juggernauts? Never heard of them. But I do know bike racing could be called jogyernuts!

VE said...

quirkyloon - Don't forget the dips for the chips...oh wait, they're on the bicycles wearing the silly outfits...

megan - You should try again; it's like riding a bike... you never forget.

subtorp77 said...

VE, sorry I was still tuned to Brit-speak. "Juggernauts" are the British vernacular for "Big Rig". Now just imagine a bunch of Peterbuilts and Kenworth's going all out at 120 miles per...on an oval track!! Carnage!!!

VE said...

elizabeth - I guess when I said hardest I meant in terms of sheer endurance of the athletes. These guys ascend steep terrain at speeds on bikes that even a good bicyclist would scratch their head at. The Iditarod has more hardships in terms of isolation, the elements, etc. but the people aren't running the distance either.

VE said...

perpetual chocoholic - They have been tested for drugs more than any other athlete alive. Some are clearly cheating and others are victims of cutting edge testing and cheaters within the testing systems.

dot-com - It's true, it would be a waste of good weather. Fortunately, it only takes about an hour to watch any particular day's racing recap.

VE said...

arizona - It's a tragedy when you have to leave your knees back toward the starting line...it makes it so difficult later on!

VE said...

ronda - In the early days of the tour they used to smoke and stop at the pubs while racing...

VE said...

gladys - Well...they do have training bikes... but not with training wheels...

jaime - What? No bike? No giant foam helmet? No dorky colored clothing? Where's your humility?

VE said...

janna - Well croissants are a difficult thing to ride by...

matt-man - Now having the Burger King guy running after you would be excellent motivation to peddle faster up the hill!

VE said...

candie - I remember seeing a lot of them when I was in France. I also remember even more in the Netherlands. They seemed to have more rights than drivers or pedestrians there.

lime - Yes, that is why they wear all those padded diaper shorts. And it still doesn't help...

VE said...

anne - Congratulations! That's the most common break that occurs for bike racers that crash.

kurt - Yeah...things like "Crap, I'm not going to make this curve...aaaaaah!"

VE said...

subtorp77 - I'd want to sit way high up in the stands for that one...

Jeff said...

They really ought to let motorcyclists race that same course. It'd be over in like a day and the accidents would be fantastic. Especially the ones where they take out half the crowd at the same time.

Jeff said...

btw... you really need to stop by soon. People have been trash talking you for 2 days in the comments. You're welcome.

Alex L said...

'When you’re racing full out for 4-6 hours, how do take a dump?

Where do you pee?'

Pants?

VE said...

jeff - That sounds like a really good carnage reality TV show!

alex - I have no clue. I've ridden 200 miles in a day on a bike before but I stopped to go to the bathroom...

Maureen said...

Never. Ever. Watched.

Not one second. Thank god.

VE said...

maureen - But it's so riveting (meaning you must be physically riveted to the chair in order to stay and watch...)

Carla said...

I'm sure it's one of those things that you just have to be there to get it. and how do they pee? Actually, I'm afraid to know.

VE said...

carla - Maybe they just eat a lot of crackers to absorb it

Mrsupole said...

"Where do they pee?"

That is a question that will now probably be forever on my mind when I see anything about the race again. Come to think of it, where do the people who run a marathon pee? So many questions with no answers. Very confusing. Not like I care either since I will probably never do either one, but still very puzzling.

God bless.

VE said...

mrsupole - Now marathons usually have some port-a-potties at different points along the run...but bikes...they're going a bit faster and its hard to catch up