One more sleep…

Apart from making sure you get a decent night’s sleep tonight, there are probably a couple of things you could do, and some things you might like to read.

First of all, if you want to join the LVDT mini-league on Velogames, you have until 14:00 CEST tomorrow (which I calculate as being about 10:00pm AEST, but I could be wrong) to do so. Use code 27074349.

If you have already joined the mini-league, welcome aboard! You can still make changes to your team, right up until the entry deadline above. Is Romain Bardet close enough to Bazardais to sneak into my vache-y team? I say it is.

Finally, here are some links to previews, opinions, advice and more ahead of the start of this year’s race.

Here’s hoping these aren’t the only Dutch cows we’ll see:

Cuyp,_Aelbert_-_Peasants_and_Cattle_by_the_River_Merwede

 Image: Aelbert Cuyp [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

Tour de France 2015

It’s about to begin – 21 nights of sleep deprivation, creative snackery, DJ trolling, Sherliggettisms and Sherliggettism-inspired irresponsible drinking, irresponsibly delicious use of butter (we hope! don’t let us down, Gabriel) and (we also hope) quality vache-spotting.

Cow in bikePhoto: John Weiler

I plan to tweet out the cheeses for the day in the morning of each stage, to give you a chance to get to your local cheesemonger. The stage preview will be published later in the day and will give a bit more information about the cheese, local cattle and maybe a recipe or two.

Now, make the most of the last couple of days of normal sleep!

 

Les vaches en vacances

We’re nearly there, and by there I mean here, and by nearly, I mean we have our bikes and will be starting our own mini-tour (sans cols and time trials) tomorrow. We are riding from Toulouse down to Sète at a leisurely pace along the Canal du Midi, keeping a particular eye out for visible vaches as we pass Castelnaudary in anticipation of the race riding through later in the week.

What does that mean for Le Tour (Actual)? We’ll probably still be in our saddles as the pros take to theirs each day, but we are hoping to get to our hotels in time to see as much of the coverage as we can (M Vache has been investigating; we will be tuned to France 1 and 2 and trying to follow as they hop between channels). The pocket wifi has been working a treat since we left Spain and – touch wood – will continue to do so in the countryside so I can watch the twitter commentary and Tour Tracker. Barring any disasters on the trail, we’ll be in Montpellier to see the end of Stage 6.

From there, we are flying up to spend a few days in Brittany and will be scoping vaches ahead of stages 10 and 11. Le vache tour part deux takes us through the Loire Valley, and we aim to reach Tours to see the Stage 12 finish. From then on, we will be scooting around in a petit Renault and will be popping up roadside and at various starts and finishes right through to Paris. Paris! Where, thanks to Ben, we have registered to ride in the Randonnée on the Champs Elysees on the morning of the final stage.

Daily previews of the cows to look out for and the vache-related snacks to prepare will be up at around 11.00am AEST and daily round-ups will follow each stage (tech willing).

It’s fair to say… I AM EXCITE.

Tour de France: fantasy league

Before you tell me that Fabs isn't riding this year, I'll remind you that this is Fantasy Cycling.

Before you tell me that Fabs isn’t riding this year, I’ll remind you that this is Fantasy Cycling.

Image: Zimbio

With 13 days to go until the 2013 edition of Le Tour kicks off, this might just be the time to test your luck with a fantasy cycling team. Once again, Velogames has a competition up and running, with prizes for the overall winner, podium placings and stage winners. You can also join the Les Vaches du Tour mini-league – code 15165543. The overall winner of the league will get a cows t-shirt of their choice.  If the number 13 treats you particularly shabbily and you end up as Lanterne Rouge, some Udderly Smooth chamois cream might salve your wounded pride.

Cows in training?

Thanks, @OzKnitter, for passing on this story from Cyclingnews: Dodging Cows And Pacing Yourself. The full story is at the link, but below is the vache-news. It looks as though one of the cows did a bit of a Hoogerland.

As the gun went off at 9:00 am, we stood there for another 30 seconds, waiting before we could start rolling on our bikes. From here, it was go time, Kris [Sneddon], Spencer [Paxson] and I made like a bunch of angry hornets and started hammering up the sidewalks, weaving around hundreds of cyclists and eventually up to the head of the race in 10 minutes time.

Lucky for us, the start was on a wide road and was relatively slow. I looked at Kris and gave him the thumbs up as it looked like we had dodged a bullet. Nope, we got content again and drifted back into about 40th position and then the road turned into a gravel path which was still ok, until three cows got spooked and hopped in the middle of the road, blocking everyone out of the top 30. Spencer made a bold move and rode up the ditch. At the same time, one of the fat cows also moved to the ditch, pushing my teammate into a barb wired fence. With one hand on the cow’s ass, and the other one on his handlebar, Spencer pushed the cow out of his way and snuck by. I was cracking up, but also getting pissed at the cows as they weren’t getting out of the way.

I remember hearing about Steve Gaffney from Calgary getting kicked in the face one year by a cow he tried to pass on the Bow 80 course and wanted to avoid the same fate. Eventually the cows cooperated and we rode by them, only to have a panicked cow 100ft up the road try to jump out of his pasture. Being a fat cow, he instead went through the fence and hauled all kinds of wire into the middle of the road. All the Euros started yelling “Ashtung”.

fat_cow-12290

*Probably not the actual fat cow

 

Web round-up: where cows meet bikes

What to do when there’s no cycling on TV? Well, you can engage in endless speculation about the real reasons behind Sir Bradley’s non-start in this year’s tour, or you can take a deep breath and Google “cows and bicycles” and see what you get…

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Cows, cheese and bikes, oh my! It’s probably just as well I hadn’t seen this before planning the France trip, because it might have derailed Tour plans. I guess I can always lie in French paddocks, with French cheese and French cows.

Random cow and bike

Image: Experience Plus

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This post from A View from the Cycle Path alerted me to the annual Boerenfietstocht, or Farm Bike Tours, where you can ride around the countryside visiting a number of farms. Google translate tells me that

Along the way you will see include the cows on the land and there are growing many different crops.

Everything is helpfully signposted and has this cute logo:

Dutch cow on bike

The dates for the rides in 2013 are the 18th of July and the 1st and 15th of August. I reckon the Boerenfietstocht will be factored into planning for our next trip, for sure.

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Finally, I found something to look for in France. And, despite the lack of cows, I almost think this counts as saving-the-best-’til-last. It combines beer, bikes and a nod to Jens Voigt’s love of geo-caching. It’s called Find the Beer! and it is what is says on the tin. There are only three rules:

1) you just take one, 2) you leave a beer of your own before you go, and 3) you let us know through Food and Think’s comments box that you’ve made the discovery–and, please, tell us how it tasted.

Seems reasonable. I’m thinking of taking a Holgate Temptress to leave for a lucky cyclist.

30 days to go

How will you fill your time?

  • Watch the Dauphiné. Check out the form of some TdF hopefuls and admire the Alpine scenery for a taste of the coming Tour. The race starts Sunday, with live coverage on Eurosport from 9.00pm AEST and replayed on SBS2 from 10.45pm AEST (there will be live streaming on Cycling Central from 9.15pm).
  • Read 100 Tours 100 Tales for stories of Tours past.
  • Look at some pictures. See the official exhibition in Paris and Sydney (coming to Melbourne on 15 July), or visit Marsham in the UK for a collection of fan photos and memorabilia.
  • Study the route. If you are going to be there, plan where you will stake out a position (preferably a place where the TV cameras – or even Team Vaches – will pick up your frantic #kermitarms).

Kermit Arms

  • Brush up on Sherliggettisms.

Sherliggettisms

It’ll be time for the Grand Départ before you know it!

 

Launch: 2012 Les Vaches Du Tour

It’s almost here! The weather is turning and with it our thoughts are turning to long, cold winter nights snuggling under the doona on the couch (or possibly the opposite if you’re on the other side of the world), endless cups of tea, twitter enabled device by your side, telly tuned to SBS and the dulcet tones of Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen.

Pictures of lycra clad heroes and villains rushing past faster than you can imagine scaring the living daylights out of the usual residents of these sleepy country waysides… yes you’re right – I’m talking about the cows!

WE’RE BAAACK!

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