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Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The Tour of France...a wino's tale

With Lance Armstrong defending his fifth, sixth, or seventh (we’ve lost count) Tour de France we thought we should be obliged to give it some coverage. Outside of the cycling community little is known of the Tour de France except that it involves cycling and is held in France. Many are the times I have desired to go to France and take in some of the race but things got in the way; whether it was lawn work, a trip to the market, or removing pesky scale from a shower, something always came up.

In honor of Mr. Armstrong’s next victory I have studied up on the much heralded competition and will now describe the race and its various stages.

The Tour de (of) France as told by Stew Miller

The tour is a cycling expedition around the magnificent countryside of La Belle France. It is made up of various stages and the leader gets to wear a yellow shirt, yellow being the national color of France. The cyclists all wear embarrassingly tight clothes I believe either to make them aerodynamic or cause them to ride faster to escape the cameras, which is why they all wear sunglasses. I will now discuss the various stages of the race.

Stage 1 – The race starts in Reims the major city in the Champagne province and home of many famous champagne producers. Each cyclist is given a magnum of champagne that he must imbibe while cycling through the remains of the Maginot Line. Generally this will result in the cyclists taking longer to negotiate the fortifications than it took the Germans in World War II.

Stage 2 – This stage is the ride down to the Alps where they will generally eat heavy foods, blow alpenhorns, and do the traditional call of “Riiicooollllaaaa”. After a few days being lost in the mountains the survivors will return to the road and toward Stage 3.

Stage 3 – The riders then enter Cannes where they are treated to some of the most pretentious blarney you’ve ever seen on the silver screen. After a quick snack of a jeroboam of champagne and stale hors d’oeuvres the cyclists are tormented by the ramblings of Roger Moore and Quentin Tarantino until they either go mad or ride screaming out of town.

Stages 4 - 25 – These are generally taken up by eating brie and talking in a fake accent similar to “Oh ho ho, zees ees zee best part of zee race for those who love zee frommage, eh Jacques.” This takes place while all participants ride in berets and tight fitting striped shirts, which is generally how they look except for the berets.

Stage 26 – Takes place in the Bordeaux region where the cyclists sober up from all of the champagne with a gallon of coffee before switching to wine for the remainder of the race. If you have seen the movie Sideways, just imagine that only on bikes and with the actors wearing ridiculously tight fitting spandex. On second thought I don’t think anyone should spend too much time imagining Paul Giamatti in spandex.

Stage 47 or so, it’s getting long - The cyclists storm Omaha beach at Normandy in a reenactment of the D-Day invasion of June 6, 1944. The kicker on this one is that they must ride bikes and the bullets are real. They usually weed out the weaker cyclists here and are ready for the final stages.

Stage Final – After all of this mincing about the countryside they enter Paris for the final stage of the race. If all goes well they ride to the finish line where the winner enjoys wine-soaked anonymity and a block of the cheese of his choosing.

I’ll be watching the British Open Championship this weekend so I probably will have to miss out again. Drat.


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