Getting to Le Grand Départ

They may still be testing the syringes used by riders in the 2009 Tour De France but that hasn’t stopped the organisers announcing the course for the 2010 edition. And it’s a cracker. I didn’t much care for this year’s figure-of-eight route with its anticlimactic ascent of Le Ventoux and total neglect of northern France which – with Brittany – is really the home of cycle sport à la Francaise. 2010 makes up for the omission with a Grand Départ in Rotterdam and four days winding along the roads (and over the cobblestones) of northern France, before branching east into the Champagne region.

Then come the Alps and an extended stay in the Pyrenees, climbing le col du Tourmalet not once but twice, in honour of the centenary of the first time Le Tour featured the climb back in 1910. Of course it was not uncommon for holidaying cycle tourists, men and women both, to ride over the Tourmalet and the other cols of the Pyrenees years before the Tour ever did. So potent is the self-mythologising of Le Tour I expect to tire of commentators informing me that Octave Lapize was the first man to summit the Tourmalet on a bicycle.

But back to the opening weekend, which strikes me as offering a great opportunity for a little jaunt across the Channel. Bike Show contributor, Bob Dylan buff and sometime journalist Matt Tempest has already expressed his delight at the prospect of “watching the Prologue in Rotterdam with a big fat one” (by which I assume he not referring to a Dutch version of the Camberwell Carrot but to the splendid hookers immortalised in Jacques Brel’s Amsterdam). And who am I to disagree? But how to get over there for all the fun? Continue reading

Le Tour Redux

tdf
Joining me in the studio is Graeme Fife, author of the definitive account of Le Tour de France, updated each year. He’s also author of the beautiful Rapha Guide to the Great Road Climbs of the Pyrenees.

graeme_fifeWe discuss this year’s Tour de France, the most spectacular for some time, featuring the drama over the return from retirement of seven-time Tour winner Lance Armstrong, seeking to try his luck against a new generation of outstanding riders including two plucky Brits: Mark Cavendish and Brad Wiggins. Our discussion is leavened with some insighful comments from a handful of Bike Show listeners.

Thanks go to Dave at road.cc, Pete, David of the marvellous Highway Cycling Group, Jason and Adrian.

Photo:BERNARD PAPON/AFP/Getty Images

Play on links below.

From Sublime to Ridiculous

jarryCopenhagen is widely regarded as the world’s most cycle-friendly city. I ask Copenhagen’s Mayor Klaus Bondam what advice he gives to other city leaders in how to emulate the Danish capital. Multitalented musician, songwriter and cartoonist Peter Blegvad reads Alfred Jarry’s proto-absurdist short story “The Crucifixion Considered as an Uphill Bicycle Race”. Jarry (pictured, above) was fond of cycling around Paris with a giant bell mounted on his bicycle and firing a pistol into the air to clear the road. While this is highly tempting, it may turn out to be counterproductive on today’s city streets. Why not try, instead, a website where you can record bike lane violations: MyBikeLane.com. Plus reflections on a big day in Le Tour De France.

Play on links below.

Podcast only: Theatre Review – Pedal Pusher

ppPedal Pusher is a play that follows three professional cyclists, Jan Ullrich, Marco Pantani and Lance Armstrong, in the most dramatic recent era of professional cycle sport. From the young prodigy Jan Ullrich winning the Tour in 1997, the doping scandals of 1998, Armstrong’s conquest of cancer and ending with Pantani’s exile from the sport and eventual death from a cocaine overdose. By interweaving the biographical stories with recreations of the Tour de France races onstage, the play tells the difficult but uplifting story of their lives through excitement and energy of the race itself. I speak with the four-man cast and director Roland Smith.

Pedal Pusher runs until Saturday 1st August 2009, showing on Monday to Saturday nights at 7:30pm. Tickets are £12 (£10 concessions). Rob Ainsley at Real Cycling has reviewed Pedal Pusher as has Edward R Burge.

Photo © Holly McGlynn

Play on links below.

Tour de France books list

badtotheboneI’ve made a list of my top 12 books for reading during the Tour de France. Apparently if you buy any of these books from Amazon after following the link from here, then Resonance FM gets some money. Cool, isn’t it? Get a great book and help keep the world’s best radio station on air. Everyone’s a winner.

Tour de France book list

Tour de Farce?

blood-bagA long, hard look at doping in professional cycling, with journalist Lionel Birnie of Cycling Weekly and theatre director Roland Smith, whose play Pedal Pusher, opens in London on 7th July.

Play on links below.

No Bike Week: What happened?

nobikeweek A report on No Bike Week, in which a handful of courageous cyclists agree to abstain from two wheels for seven days. Find out what happened. And to read how the No Bike Week meme is evolving into something more akin to a direct action protest, check out No Cycle Day over at Crap Walking and Cycling in Waltham Forest and National Bring Your Car to Work Day at City Cycling.

Plus win a Cycle Film DVD of reconnaisance on this year’s Etape du Tour. And don’t forget to complete the Listener Survey.

Play on links below. Other file formats (e.g. Ogg Vorbis) over here.