Paris in July: The Tour de France

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I had intended to post much earlier, but, better late than never!

My husband and I are huge fans of the Tour de France. He started watching much longer ago than I did; I just started watching in 2014 and get excited for July knowing that July means the Tour! I do not have a team allegiance, but generally I am rooting for Astana or Movistar. This year, I am #teammovistar! I had high hopes for Mikel Landa this tour but an unfortunate fall in Stage 10 put him far behind; I am not sure it is in the cards for him this year, and besides, I think his team was pushing Quintana anyway.

I am a person who makes mini-celebrations of many things, and the first day of the Tour is one of them. The morning of Stage 1, we got up early to get breakfast from a new cafe that opened near us, called Provence, which is French inspired. We picked up quite a few delicious bits to enjoy together as we tuned in, and we were not disappointed!

 Wyatt loved the corn cookie, which seemed like it was a sugar cookie and cornbread combined. It was really good! We also had a raspberry breakfast cake, a scone with lime and spruce tips, and a chive cheescake! It was the proper kick off to the Tour!

 

It really feels like so far, this race has been wide open, without the presence of Chris Froome looming over the race. He is such a skilled and fantastic rider, and I think every year the riders start out knowing he is the man to beat. This year, though, things are different. There were many different theories on who had the best chance to take the yellow jersey and win it all, with the number one being Geraint Thomas. Like I said though, I’m backing Movistar this year. My husband is a big Froome and Team Ineos (formerly Skye) fan though, and found himself without a dog in the fight. Over the weeks so far, he has begun rooting for Julian Alaphilippe, a French rider for Deceuninck- Quick Step who is the present overall leader for the Yellow Jersey. Billy also is a fan of Peter Sagan’s, a sprinter who knows how to find his way through the group in those mad dashes to the finish line!

So far, this race has been pretty solid, with some amazing breakaways that resulted in stage wins, including the recent stage win by Caleb Ewan, who actually had a crash during the race and still managed with the help of his team to win the stage! The smallest guy in the Peloton kicked it up into high gear, after finally finding a team that believed in him. Stage 10 was a bummer for some big contenders, including Mikel Landa, as it was a tough stage with the crosswinds, and many riders lost precious time. And unfortunately, riders have had to leave the race due to injuries, as some of these crashes are bad news. They travel at such high speeds on their bikes, along narrow, winding roads, filled with people on the sidelines cheering them on, not to mention the sheer number of other riders in the peloton. I tell people all the time that don’t watch that cycling the Tour is a dangerous race, one that is very tough on the riders from the sheer amount of racing they do day in and out, 5-6 hours a day, up mountains, racing racing racing. It is definitely not a race for the weak of heart.

Some quick little facts for you:

The race was started in 1903 by a cyclist and reporter, whose newspaper sponsored the race in order to encourage more readership. The paper, L’Auto, was printed on yellow paper, which is why there is a yellow jersey.

The race is 23 days, 21 Stages, and 2,200 miles long, through all sorts of terrain, including the Alps and the Pyrenees.

The Yellow Jersey, or Maillot Jaune, is worn by the leader of the race, determined by the fastest combined times overall, not by who wins the stage, which confused me at first. Being a stage winner is still a huge honor and accomplishment however! As of now, the Yellow Jersey rider is Alaphilippe.

The Green Jersey is worn by the rider who is the leading sprinter. This year that is Peter Sagan so far.

The White Jersey rider is the best young rider. This year’s best young rider so far is Enrich Mas.

The polka dot jersey is the jersey is the jersey worn by the best climber through those mountains, called the King of the Mountain. The current King is Tim Wellens.

  Peloton is the name for the big giant group of riders, the pack. There are usually breakaway groups in front and stragglers, but the peloton is the pack of the majority.

I’ve added a few books to my reading list – there are so many about the Tour!

I really want to read Lanterne Rouge, which is the name given to the last place rider overall. I like that they have their own designation – and it’s a poetic sounding one at that.

For someone who never watches sports on television, ever, I am a huge fan of the Tour! I recommend giving it a try! We have big plans to actually go see a Stage or two of the tour in about five years, when Wyatt is older. I would love to stand along one of those old roads in the French countryside, cheering the riders along.

 

 

Road Warriors

My husband is a bit of a bike fanatic.

He has at least four bikes, all for different purposes and of differing values. He has a fancy fancy Specialized bike, an older bike that he has made fancy with a special Brooks leather seat (or saddle, if you will), an old bike he fixed up to ride with Wyatt, and then a beach cruiser. I have an older bike as well, I just thought it looked cool sitting there all vintage-like. However, I am not a bike person. I am that person who is afraid of riding bikes. I am a bit nervous and not super confident of my biking skills, so I often do not go on the bike rides that Billy takes with Wyatt. But Billy always wants me to go, so when he requested a family bike ride for Father’s Day, I couldn’t deny him!

 

One of the parks near our home has a 6 mile ride that is closed to car traffic for a bit on Saturday mornings, so our plan was to go early before it got too hot for little man. After figuring out where to park, we slapped on sunscreen, hopped on our bikes, and hit the road.

It was a beautiful ride, smooth sailing, gorgeous scenery right in the middle of a city. A true greenspace. Wyatt thought it was hilarious that I was riding along with them, across from him. It was his first time seeing me on a bike, and he kept cracking up and waving to me. Billy and I soaked in the scenery, enjoying our ride. We went about three miles, and decided to turn around to head back to our car, to make our round trip six miles instead of twelve.

That’s when disaster struck.

Somehow, Billy and I got really close. And I panicked, thinking that my wheel was going to bump theirs, and cause them to crash. So, what did I do? Jerked my wheel harshly to one side, basically throwing myself at the ground. I was so afraid Wyatt would see me laying in the road, with the bike on me, and not want to go again that I jumped right back up immediately, despite some gross wounds.

Long story short – that effectively ended our pleasant ride. I limped my way over to a picnic table by an access road, while Billy and Wyatt finished their ride to the car and came to rescue me. I had time to check out my injuries and they were all pretty superficial, although they looked ugly. I did go to urgent care over one of them, a tiny wound on my foot from my pedal. The doctor was more interested in the gigantic bruise on my arm – he wanted to x-ray it to see if my arm was broken. I had to explain to him that my family just bruises dramatically. (and apparently, bike ride dramatically too..)

While I sat there waiting, I thought about all those huge falls the cyclists in the Tour de France take, and how they mostly just get back up and keep pedaling! They are some hardcore dudes, riding with broken legs (Valverde, if I recall did that in 2014, at least for a little bit), nasty sprains and breaks and gashes and fatigue and just in general, probably not feeling super. And they ride up mountains and over cobbles and through the rain and storms and hail. Past crowds booing them or cheering for them, getting in their way, on little sleep and still sore from the day before. I think people view cycling as kind of an easy peasy sport, but I think you need to be so tough, mentally and physically, to endure the Tour.

Speaking of, the Tour starts Saturday! I am so excited, I can’t wait! I am forever amazed by their intensity and drive, and then sometimes you get that break in their concentration, where you see a bit of their personality peek through too – I love those little glimpses. Every year I pick a different cyclist to root for, and I am still up in the air for this year’s pick.

Anyone else getting excited over it?