Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Bonjour, TBG

It's that time of the year, again.  TBG arises before the sun and watches young men flying up and down mountains on quarter inch tires, their knees pumping efficiently, their fans cheering wildly.  It's the Tour de France, and he doesn't miss a moment.

Do you know a cyclist?  Do you know a serious cyclist who has not had an accident?  Everyone we know who cycles outside has a story - the road rash kneecap that is permanently freckled with asphalt that cannot be removed, the tire track on her leg from the SUV that crashed into her tandem, 37 stitches repairing a face transformed into hamburger, fractured body parts ranging from the pelvis to the shoulder to the skull, and all those concussions.  That's just my immediate family and friends, and I'm sure I've forgotten some of them.

Needless to say, TBG doesn't ride outside anymore.  We are not looking for any more surgeries, any more rehab, any more blooded people. He misses the speed and the scenery and the adventures, but he's more than satisfied with the safety and security of a stationary bike in the gym.  He's cycling 250 miles a week, indoors, with no risk of falling.  He gets his fix on outdoor cycling during the Tour de France.

If I want to be with him, I'm watching it, too.

It's not an onerous chore. NBCSports has invested more money in their coverage as the years have gone by, and the production values have soared.  The Live Production TV website says it best:
The core of the race coverage is the use of five high-frequency wireless cameras on motorbikes, two journalists reporting from motorbikes, and images captured from two helicopters with Wescam gyro-stabilised camera systems. The five cameras on motorbikes capture the drama and beauty of the race from within it while the helicopters cover the race and also capture much of the beauty of the French countryside that is such a large part of the production. At the finish line nine additional cameras are in place to capture the dramatic reactions of racers finishing stages and during time trial stages and like the prologue in Liege, hard-wired cameras are placed on the course. Also new this year is a camera mounted on the Tour de France race director’s car.

Are you feeling Trumpian this morning?  Did you skip that italicized block of print because it's too dense and there are no pictures?  Here's their graphic explaining it all:

I'm not sure I'd want to be the guy hanging on the back of the bike, hoisting a heavy camera on my shoulder:
And what does all that technology bring us? The beauty of the French countryside is part of it.
So is the action.
All those cameras on all those cars and motorcycles (yes, we wonder if smelling exhaust fumes is the most efficient way to cycle in first place) give TBG up close and personal lessons on positioning and power.

There's strategy, like how to make a sharp left turn, 100 meters from the finish line, in the rain, and the commentators describe it all in excruciating detail.  It's a good thing they are skillful.  Phil Liggett (play-by-play) and Paul Sherwen (analyst) have been calling the race together for 32 years, and they are very, very good at it.  They speak the languages, and pronounce the names of the castles correctly.
There's camaraderie and intelligence and every once in a while a phrase will make us smile.  When's the last time you heard someone talking about a situation coming to fruition?  They are weaving a story as we watch what is essentially a very boring sport - spandex clad men whose knees go up and down and up and down and up and down.... except when they are going sideways 
I've learned a lot, too.  I've heard what it's like to be in the middle of the peleton, the large group of cyclists following the leaders.
I've learned to read the graphics on the screen, to recognize the significance of the special shirts,
and to appreciate the teamwork involved.  It's still too hot to go outside here; I'm getting my outdoor fix from the tv this week, with my sweetie by my side.  It's not a bad way to spend July.


  1. A good way to spend those hot July days.

  2. We're watching it! TBG's 250 miles a week is very impressive. We used to ride a lot on the road, but now we're older and we don't heal so fast. We ride the Loop a lot when in the state. The problem with it is that we don't get any hills. I'm trying to convince the spouse to buy heavier bikes so there will be more exercise. The tour is always amazing, especially the guys rubbing shoulders and not falling down.

    1. How do they do that???
      Excited to know we're not been the only ones watching it!


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