If you’ve read this weblog with any sort of frequency, you know that I love cycling. It’s a fantastic sport and I love taking a nice and relaxing ride down the country roads leading away from my home. As tranquil as this sounds, and the experience truly is, during the month of July, my countenance changes drastically. I transform from a laid back fan of the sport into a rabid, frothing at the mouth, Tour de France junkie.
For those of you that aren’t familiar with “The Tour”, the Tour de France is a 3-week bicycle race throughout the country of France. There are a total of 21 races (one per day), covering a total of 2,109 miles, and the person with the best overall time is declared the winner. For the past five years the winner as been Lance Armstrong. This year, Lance is going for his 6th win, which no other cyclist in the history of the tour (101 years) has ever been able to do. Needless to say, this year is going to be quite the spectacle with a reported 5 million people on the road and around two billion will follow it on TV or in print. If you haven’t picked up on it yet, the Tour de France is a BIG deal. To learn more about this history of the tour and insight into why 2004 could be a landmark Tour, I highly recommend reading the 2004 Preview on Cycle Disciple.
So in the world of cycling, the 2004 Tour de France is the biggest event of the season. OLN has even coined it “The Cyclysm”. As for myself, I simply can’t get enough of the Tour. Last year, I had cable TV and thus had a ton of coverage via The Outdoor Life Network and I watched it every chance I had. I would watch the live coverage in the morning and then the replay at night. This year however, I don’t have cable, so my access to my daily fix is greatly limited. I’m sweating like a hooker in church trying to keep from calling Comcast and ordering cable just so I can get channel 72. Luckily there’s a wide variety of methods that I can use to keep me from going into withdrawals. 😉
The first stop on my daily fix is to go to the official web site for the Tour de France. The first place that I go to is the live audio stream to hear Phill Liggett and Paul Sherwin give some of the finest commentary on any sport I’ve ever heard. I can’t say enough about their commentary. IMNSHO, they define the Tour, without them OLN wouldn’t be where they are today and I’m immensely grateful that OLN streams the audio via the web. I’m able to hear Phil and Paul’s commentary live as it happens, as well as crowd noise and behind the scenes stuff when they go to commercial break. When the stream re buffers I act like I’m having an aneurysm, but otherwise, it’s perfect.
While listening to the dynamic duo, I can also browse the rest of the site to get all the details on today’s stage, as well as Daily Reports from Phil Liggett, Paul Sherwin, Bob Roll and Chris Carmichael (Lance’s personal coach). As if that’s not enough, I also get text messages sent to my phone at the conclusion of each race via their Wireless Updates. One of my favorite tricks is to go directly to the Live Newsflashes page. It’s part of the frames designed official site, but with the Opera Browser, I can load the frame into it’s own page and then set it to refresh every 30 seconds. Actually, I could set it to every 5 seconds, but 30 seconds is fast enough. 😀 With all of this input, you’d think that this would be enough wouldn’t you? Well, like I said at the start of this entry, I’m a junkie. 😛
Via RSS, I’m able to stay up-to-the minute with one of my favorite Tour web sites TDF Blog. Frank Steele has taken on the Herculean effort of consolidating everything that is fit to print regarding the Tour. He does a fantastic job and this is my second year in following his weblog. Other sites of note that I frequent include Le Tour Delicieux!, Maillot Jaune and tdf.motime.com. And when everything is said and done, I feast on Graham Watson’s fantastic photos.
If I’m away from the computer, then luckily DeepWeb has released Le Tour 2004. This $4 donorware app gives you the run down on each stage of the tour. It’s been handy to have when I’m awaiting my text message to see who has won the stage. Thanks to Mike Rohde for alerting me of the application.
All-in-all, it’s safe to say that The Tour has consumed my life and will continue devouring my free time for the remainder of the month. I may be caught up in the “Cyclysm”, but I’m loving every minute of it! So far this year’s Tour has been VERY exciting with plenty of drama, in the form of blood, sweat and tears. If you can get OLN on your cable service, you would stand to do yourself a favor by at least catching one of the stages, or wrap up shows. Cycling is a great sport and if you’ve never been introduced to it, now is your chance to experience some of the finest racing the sport has to offer.