Archive for July, 2009

who’s watching le tour?

July 15, 2009

Around three years ago, my brother started bugging me to watch the tour de france (TDF).  “You have cable, what excuse do you have?”  My main excuse was time.  Who has time to sit through hours and hours of watching people ride their bicycles?  Plus, I could never figure out the race, how can you win the entire race if you never win an individual stage?  Then two years ago, I bit the bullet and started watching.  What used to be OLN (outdoor life network) became Versus and started carrying the Tour races nearly in their entirety only interrupted by things like commercials.  Of course, two years ago, the commercials were for different car companies, bike companies, razors, etc.  (guy stuff).  In this economy, the commercials are dominated by Cadillac (you know, our car company, GM — owned by taxpayers), Progressive insurance (shouting at us each time), and the Snuggie (yes, the Snuggie). 

Just for me, a few years ago, the TDF got rid of time bonuses and made it so that total time is what counted.  That meant you just kept counting time from the start to the finish and whoever did it in the least amount of time wins.  Now that I’m racing, it makes sense too, sort of.  I never worry about winning, I think we’ve established that I’m not that fast.  Last summer was the final straw, I bought a road bike.

I have had a mountain bike for over ten years and had bikes growing up.  In 2005, my wife bought me a hybrid (narrower tires than a mountain bike, but more sturdy then a road bike) so I could ride with her and the kids.  Last year she encourage me to get a roadie.  My first ride out was 50 miles of the Highlander (not the race, but the course) including the two steepest climbs.  I discovered a few things on this ride.  The first was that I could get up to 45 MPH going down hill without making my bike shorts messy (I don’t think I really need to explain that).  Second, my shoes were too tight (I remedied this later, but had black nails on my big toes for the summer).  Third, I am way heavier then these guys riding professionally.  The key was that I had a better idea what it meant when they were climbing, descending, group riding, drafting, etc.  Until you’ve actually done it, it really does not make a lot of sense.  I also learned that if you are riding on a flat road, make sure the guy in front of you is not shorter than you.  If he is, you run the risk of catching the spray off his head, and my guess is, that’s not just water.

So who else is watching?  Who is watching it live?  I have to sneak peaks at sites during the day to see what’s going on with the stages then catch up at night.  If I get behind, we’re looking at 5 hours of catch up DVR time.  The good thing is, you can always skip the commercials and features.  Funny thing is, even when I know who is going to win, it’s still exciting to see the final sprint.