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Psycho bike, by reallyreallyrosie.

The Tour de France Goes On

While the scandal, drama, accusations and denials continue, the Tour de France goes on. Yesterday, Black Friday as it’s being called, I wasn’t even sure if I’d want to watch the race or care anymore. I was that stunned, as everyone else was. Alas, CNN is covering it now on cable, NPR has ran multiple features, and more updates have been published from the NYTimes and Cyclingnews.

Despite all the bad news, the good news is that OLN has upgraded their studios, graphics, and overall coverage to look more like ESPN2 than Waynes World and Americans could sweep the podium. Without the big names, the race is wide open and TDFblog will cover all the action, including the Americans, in detail.

How does the Tour Work?

I’m often asked about how stage races like the Tour work and explain that cycling is very much a team sport. You can think of like a football team, with the goal of moving the ball down the field, toward the end zone. A cycling team’s goal is to get their leader to the end of the race, with the lowest expired time, which puts him at the top of the General Classification (GC) and in the yellow jersey.

A team consists of stars and domestiques. Domestiques are the worker bees of a team, responsible for looking after the team leader and the other stars. The stars are climbers, sprinters, or ride for GC, like Lance did. In the Tour, the leader is a well-rounded rider that can climb and time trial. The team’s main purpose is to protect the leader, so he saves all of his energy to attack an opponent in the mountains and be fresh for the time trials.

The Tour is like a chess game, with many strategies being played out. It’s also a big show, the superbowl for the rest of the world. At times riders will breakaway and the peloton (group of cyclists) doesn’t chase them. This is because those riders are not a threat to the GC, are out there getting TV exposure, and going for a sprint or stage win.

Tour de France Black Friday Updates

In what’s being called Black Friday by cycling fans, the news continues with a full update and background report from Velonews, including how the “eve of the tour” massacre went down. What we know now is that, according to the ProTour rules, any rider implicated in a doping investigation will not be allowed to start and the list of those not starting continues to grow. The NYTimes and Cyclingnews have updated coverage.

Remember to follow the TDF Blog for more tour news and reports.

No shifting required

This week Pam and I were out on an early evening ride and met Justin, a fixed gear commuter, and talked at length about his bike, his 40 mile commute, single speeds, and the culture. I also talked with colleagues in the bike industry about single speeds and they observed that it’s like mtn biking in the 80s with lots of camaraderie, socializing, and not being so competitive (also noting mtn biking was originally about getting stoned, drinking beer, and riding trails) . Call it old school, minimalism or simplicity, Justin said it best when I asked why he rode with one gear and he replied, “It clears my head to not shift. I just ride.”

Earlier this year, at Swan Island, they had a Fixed Gear category with about 30 racers and I noticed all the back slapping and “wow, nice work, spinning up that gear.” All of them were just happy to have completed the race and rode together.

Responding to the “fixie” sub culture, Redline, Novara, Surly are all offering bikes. Also check Steinworks that manufactures “sculpture in motion,” the fixedgear blog, fixedgeargallery and in the Fall, bike hugger is going to build up a single-speed rain bike from the parts bin and blog all about it.

Howard Rides the Rockies

Howard sent us a link to his personal account of Ride the Rockies. “419 miles later… and now we’ve spent the entire weekend recovering. It hasn’t been enough. And there’s not enough Advil in the world to make us all better.”

Good work Howard. The first thing I always tell anyone that asks me about preparing for an epic ride is to use chamois creme (tip, Noxema works really well).

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