Well my 3 weeks of spending 4 hours a day in front of Lycra clad skinny men with pipe-cleaner arms is over. The Tour De France concluded this Sunday with a solid gold 8 minute advantage win by Vincenzo Nibali (or as I like to call him.. Nibble-on-me.. please). With French riders winning both 2nd and 3rd, it was a Euro domination unlike any we’ve seen for years. Not only was the podium strange but this years Tour was unlike any I’ve seen in the 20 years I’ve been watching it.
The first week involved more people crashing into each other than a 5 year old’s sugar fueled birthday party; by week 2, every single ‘GC One to Watch’ was on the bus home with broken limbs and by week 3, it seemed that the only people left were those over 40 (carefully preserving their bodies as only the aged do), those so slow that they’d missed the major crashed by virtue of being 10 minutes behind everyone else and the lucky 7 or 8 who managed to ride ahead of the peloton before the carnage started. Oh and Nibali. Surrounded by his crew of domestique who essentially glowered any challengers away from their man through the first 100 miles of every stage, Nibali was able to conserve energy and dance to victory again and again.
So based on the lessons learned from 2014, I present ‘How to Ride Better in the 2015 Tour De France’
1. Surround yourself with a pack of glowering Russians. It worked for Nibali and it can work for you. After all, who’s going to fuck with you when you’ve got 550lbs of non English speaking, poker faced cyclo-mo-tons surrounding your every move. I think someone did try to exchange a word with Nabali on stage 7 but we’ve not heard or seen that guy since. I have a feeling he’s now located in a shallow grave just outside Epernay.
2. Ride with bigger tires. I know this might seem obvious, but with those skinny minny ‘wafer-thin mint’ tires with essentially no tread (in fact, some look practically polished) you’re asking for trouble. A spot of rain, a small bug in the road, a sharp comment from a competitors team and those suckers are flatter than Chris Horner’s ass. Sure bigger tires might slow you down some, but you’ll spend far less time that you currently do standing on the side of the French countryside being ‘selfied’ by 100,000 people while waiting for your team car to come give you some air.
3. Don’t ride in the rain. Again, this seems like of obvious. Rain plus skinny tires with no tread = mass pile up. Lets just say if Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwin are sounding excited, you might want to skip it. These guys love some blood on the road and unless you have the ability to ride downhill at 50 mph while balanced on an oily ice-skate .. stay in bed.
4. Don’t ride so close together. I understand that you can conserve energy by riding in a pack (or ‘peleton’) but really guys…? It does seem to always end up in disaster. Dave gets distracted by the naked guy running down the road while carrying a pitchfork, or the fat Borat wannabe and suddenly you and 19 of your closest friends are Jenga’d in the middle of the road. Leave a little more space, maybe? If not, be prepared to literally ride over your friends as you hit that next oily corner.
5. Wear more sturdy clothing. Like Kevlar. Every guy who went over this year (which was everyone except Nibali and his Russian protection squad), wound up looking as though he’d just jumped out of a burning building. Jerseys we’re shredded, shorts suddenly developed new venting systems and on several occasions shoes were even ripped off as riders hit the floor. I know that it gets hot; I know that you want to be ‘aero-dynamic’ but I really think your clothing should have a bit more heft to it than a Victorias Secret fantasy bra. I don’t know how you think that wafer thin jersey, spun from the web of the endangered Nepalise ‘Livestrong’ silkworm is protecting you when you hit the road at 45 mph, but I think you’ll agree, its not really doing the job. How about a lightweight leather onesy? A skinsuit of kevlar? At the very least some ripstop nylon would avoid us having to watch the blood oozing out of your hip for the next 3.5 hours.
6. Allow tows up those big hills. If you’ve got your Russian goons, you might as damn well use them. I know you’re not allowed to push yourself off the team car, but I don’t recall anyone saying anything about tows from your actual team mates? Simply fasten some sturdy nylon from your stem to your Russian goons seat post and sit on back. Keep those legs spinning (I mean you need to ‘seem’ like you’re making the effort), and maybe wipe some sweat every couple of miles.. but hey… if it’s not in the rules….
7. Slow down at the corners. I saw this mistake time and time again. The peloton gets all carried away in its fastness and then hits a corner. Cue one poor sod, careening straight towards that field ahead of him (taking out a couple of spectators on the way) while another heads straight into the crash barrier. Cue 19 guys falling on top of him. Slow down dudes… If you’re leaning at a 45 degree angle at 45 mph shit is going to happen. Add in some rain, those silly tires and fuck.. its amazing any of you made it around any corner at all.
8. Lose some weight. Like 50-60lbs or so. One thing consistent among all Tour riders is their distinct lack of weight. The only area allowed for any constituting ‘mass’ is the thighs and only, ONLY if you’re a sprinter. Arms should literally be strong enough to hold into the bars and brakes, but nothing more. Your head should wobble on your stringy neck and if your calf muscles are wider than your wrist.. forget about it. Tour winners need to be thin. Very thin. So thin that they can ride over that ladybug, leaving him with little more than a vague headache. So thin that when they are flying down the backside of a Col.. they are literally ‘flying’.. as in leaving the ground. If you weigh somewhere in the 110lbs region, you’re right on the money. Anything more than that you need to be German, a sprinter or a race official.
9. Take more drugs. Better drugs. I hate to break it to you but every single rider on the Tour was taking drugs this year. And last year.. and every year before that since the inception of drugs, and mountains. Looking at the facts – how else can a guy ride over 2,276 miles during 3 weeks (with 2 days off), up and down France’s biggest mountains/ glaciers, on little more than calories and determination? Sorry .. but if you think drugs aren’t involved you are DELUDING yourself. And this year, no exception. When the fastest man finishes 8 minutes ahead of his nearest opponents (who include Olympic winners and every National champion).. well guess who had the best drugs? So next year I highly suggest you contact every underground lab in the ex Soviet republic or China and see what’s got the rats running ultra-marathons lately. It’s bound to give you a boost and you can always claim it was ‘herbal remedy’ you took in case your pee comes up radioactive.
So there you have it guys and girls.. my guide to riding a better Tour De France in 2015.
And if all else fails, wrap yourself in bubble wrap, buy yourself a motorized scooter and find yourself some new Russian friends with chronic drug problems. You’ll be podium bound in no time.