I don't know very many cyclists that don't follow the Tour de France every July. It's the world's biggest bike race, although I don't find it as interesting as many of the spring classics. Most of us could never ride as fast as those professionals do, and probably wouldn't even be very comfortable packed into the tight peleton. I know that I would hate to do one of those climbs through a tunnel of people cheering in my face, throwing water on me, and so forth ... but I guess it's better than having somebody throw tobacco spit on me.
Usually, when RandoGirl and I watch the Tour, we watch it on the DVR. We record the morning's live feed, and then fast forward through the commercials (the dog that buys insurance is very cute this year, and the song is catchy, but after the 10th time in one hour anything gets old). We also fast-forward through the flat stuff, and the commercials that masquerade as features (George Hincapie did not look sincere when he was talking about Easton wheels) and anytime Gogo talks. I'm sorry ... I know that he raced with Kent Bostick, who is kind of local, but Todd Gogulski makes me uncomfortable. He's like the buck-toothed guy at a party that is trying way too hard to make the pretty girl like him. He knows he's the new kid there, and that (unlike Paul and Bobke) he never raced the Tour himself. He seems to know what he's talking about, though, and will hopefully someday get over his inferiority complex.
I've also been watching the Tour this year on my iPad, using NBC's Tour de France All Access app. Last week, I had it on a few days at work, mostly just listening while I "worked." It's the same stuff that they show on Versus, but without the commercials (the dog ones -- you still get the George-loves-Easton ones). There's not much Bobke, which is a bummer, but for that you have to watch the evening show.
What did we ever do before the Internet?
The downside of all this access is that we obviously have too much media on the road with the riders this year. Between motorcycles and cars hitting riders, we also get too much film of riders starting to relieve themselves. Every night, you get a shot of some riders pulling over to the side and Phil says something about how somebody may be in a bit of bother, and then they turn to the side of the road and start to pull down the front of their bib shorts, and the camera moves away just in time. I even saw one guy in a breakaway actually move to the side and -- still riding -- begin to pee. This is why you never touch a bike racer's saddle without putting on nitrile gloves first.
Speaking of television cars hitting cyclists, I'm not really happy with the way that they're dealing with the one that hit Juan-Antonio Flecha and (by proxy) Johnny Hoogerland. Everyone seems fine with the driver's excuse that he had to come over to avoid hitting that tree, but watch the footage and you'll see that there are trees all along that side of the road.
So, he's "surprised" that one tree might come a little closer to the edge of the road? And, rather than maybe scrape the side of his car, he decides to whack Flecha instead? I just keep thinking about the thousands of times when I've been passed by a car in a blind curve, and I've wondered then, "What if there had been a truck coming the other way?" Would the soccer mom with two kids in the back choose to test the collision claims on her Range Rover, or would it be "Bye-bye, RandoBoy."
Johnny Hoogerland seems willing to turn the other cheek (the one that didn't get 20 stitches from barbed wire), but I'm afraid that the car-driving population will watch this and think, "Well, he got through that all right." I'd rather that the car-driving population watch this and think, "From now on, I will make sure that the road is clear before I begin to pass a bicyclist."
A man's gotta dream.
As to the race itself, it's been fun. Contador looks like a spoiled brat, and I'm kind of glad. Paul and Phil talk about his "bad luck," but you make your own luck. Lance won seven straight, and maybe some of that was good luck -- he didn't have any flats during that stretch, but how much of that was due to using the right tires at the right pressure and not riding over broken glass? Lance prepared. He test-rode the course. He had a great team -- both on and off the course. And he had the right equipment.
It's a poor carpenter that blames his hammer. Don't throw your bike into the ditch.