My Favorite Part Of Summer – Let “Le Tour” Begin!

Le Tour de France begins tomorrow!  Squee! The next 23 days will be filled with thrills and excitement!  My family will groan and complain, “Not again! Noo…”. 🙂

For those of you who don’t know, Le Tour de France is one of the premier bike races in the world.  It is held every July for 3 weeks and for 3 weeks I will be watching online mesmerized by one of sports most breathtaking and grueling spectacles.

This is an aerial view of Le Tour – the views of the French countryside are breathtaking.  Who knew you could build on the tips of the mountains?!

My dad got me hooked on the Tour de France as a child.  Every July, every day, we looked for news of “Le Tour”.  It was the only bike race covered on the news channels in the U.S. at that time.  And all we got were the highlights.  Later came cable.  But that got way too expensive.  And then one year I found out you could get it online.  Swoon!   Every summer I pay to watch Le Tour de France online.  Live and on demand so I don’t miss a thing.  So don’t talk to me in July.  July is for “Le Tour”!

Le Tour de France is the toughest bike race in the world.  Twenty-one days of racing, 22 teams, 198 riders risking their lives every day, 4-6 hours every day, averaging 23 – 54 kph (14.3-33.6 mph) depending on terrain, 3,360 KM (2087.8 miles) total,  and just 2 rest days!

Fun Fact:  There is a Caravan of advertisers that precedes the race start by 2 hours.  Think Macy’s Parade. It costs 150,000 Euros for 3 vehicles.  There can be up to 250 vehicles in groups of five roughly covering 20-24 km (12.4 to 14.9 miles) along with 600 caravaners, 12 gendarmes, 4 traffic motos, and 3 medical vehicles.  They estimate that the advertisers put out about 11 – 16 million pieces of merchandise a year, roughly 3,000 to 5,000 a day, each.  Investment by advertisers can cost 200,ooo to 500,000 Euros.   One total kept by a 1994 advertiser:  170,000 caps, 80,000 badges, 60,000 plastic bags, and 535,ooo copies of their race newspaper.

But what’s really fun?  These vehicles have to be stripped down to street legal every day for the road trip to the next day’s start and then reassembled.  So, too, all the media booths, awards stages, advertising booths, and staging areas for the race.  Every single day.  It’s a small army moving around the country of France for 3 weeks every year.

I like to spread the cheer.  If you live in the U.S. and would like an all access pass for online viewing (cost $29.95), go to NBC Sports here.   Sometimes you can view for free on sites like Eurosport, but it’s limited to whatever coverage they have. A lot of times in real-time which isn’t bad if you’re an early riser.  Two good places to look for links:  Cycling Fans and Steephill TV.


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