Friday, July 17, 2009

The Tour de France

Hooray for July. I get to spend the whole month watching the Tour de France on TV (when I'm not at the library, that is). This year's race is pretty exciting, because Lance Armstrong is back after four years of retirement. He's currently in third, just seconds behind the 2007 winner, Alberto Contador. Since Lance and Alberto are teammates, everyone's wondering whether there will be infighting on Team Astana when they get to the Alps (that's when the race gets won). The Tour is great to watch even if you don't like sports, because of the fantastic scenery; it's like traveling to France (and this year, Barcelona, Monaco and Andorra) without the jet lag.

If you don't get Versus, the channel that shows the Tour, you can watch clips online on its web site. YouTube has great clips from the Tour (including some spectacular crashes). Or come by the library to check these out:

Hell on Wheels. This is a documentary on DVD. It's in German, so you have to read subtitles, but you get a behind-the-scenes look at a team in the Tour de France plus all the usual race footage. This DVD also answers the age-old question of when the racers get to take a bathroom break.

The Tour de France Companion: a Nuts, Bolts and Spokes Guide to the Greatest Race in the World by Bob Roll. Bob Roll is the nutty commentator for Versus, and this is his book. Esquire wrote about why Bob Roll is so funny if you're interesed.

French Revolutions by Tim Moore. Armed with only an old bike whose brakes need fixing, Tim Moore humorously sets off to ride the Tour de France route on his own in 6 weeks, before the pros get there. Here's an excerpt:
It's never wise to phone a Frenchwoman more than once in any given fortnight, even if — or perhaps especially if — she happens to work on a help desk. Asking the Tour de France press office for details of the race route was clearly ranked on the scale of telephonic enquiries somewhere between ‘Have you ever considered the benefits of pet insurance?’ and ‘What colour knickers are you wearing?’

We also have lots and lots of books on Lance Armstrong, the most inspiring one of which is his autobiography, It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life.

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