In just a few days the rolling spectacle know as the Tour de France will again circle through the idyllic French countryside. The shaven riders will hustle day in and day out, consuming huge amounts of calories and maybe jolting their systems with some drugs to maintain stamina all the way through the final lap around the Champs-Élysées.
Lance Armstrong will be brought up again and again. And perhaps a few riders will be forced to withdraw from the race, as the now tired dramatic narrative about doping unfolds.
All of this is basically another obnoxious annoyance to many Americans who for the most part just don’t give a shit about cycling. For you, I offer something to else to watch in the Tour.
There’s a group of riders far overlooked, who complete the same brutal 2,100-mile course, but they wear blue jeans and ride motorcycles.
Last year there were 27 official motorcycles on the tour. These include members of the Republican Guard, judges and other staff. And from what I can find out through Google, there will be about 10 riders who will carry videographers, and some 50 who will carry photographers.
It’s often said that the Dakar Rally is the most grueling of all motorcycle races, but I’ll put forth that Tour De France, at 2,100 miles (roughly the distance from Denver to Boston) is in fact the toughest of all motorcycle races.
Dakar riders don’t carry passengers. Tour riders must maintain the speed of the peloton, which can be sluggish on windy up-hills and incredibly fast on down-hills. The conditions vary from long boring stretches through that pastoral French countryside to wet slippery cobblestones.
And then there are of course the obstacles, the most obvious being the cyclists themselves. But there are also the fans and unknowing pedestrians who sometimes get to close to the action. (One onlooker died in 2009 when she was struck by a Tour motorcycle).
It’s true that Dakar Rally is much longer in length, and more fatal. The terrain is as rugged and out there as it comes, The Western Sahara? Middle of nowhere Argentina? Yeah. But for shear technical riding, and in constantly having to avoid other riders and shifting speeds, the 22-stage Tour De France is at least a close second, and the riders deserve a lot more credit then they receive.
So Forget about Lance and Levi this year and watch the best riders on the Tour. They’re riding Kawasakis and BMW’s and no one knows their names.
This was a barn fresh ebay find I bought a couple months back. I pretty much replaced everything. Parts that couldn't be replaced were restored with a lot of elbow grease, steelwool and WD40.
It's an original, made in Chicago, steel frame Schwinn. Quality that doesn't really exist anymore
I've wanted to murder out a bike for a while now and the old black (flattened from age) frame made for the perfect canvas. I added a hipster 700c wheelset with SOMA tires. They're the best I've found. I've been rolling on them for five years and never had a puncture. Adding the bigger wheels meant losing the fenders. I like the low pro look anyway.
I tried for more black parts but wanted to keep some chrome vintage parts (crank, stem, handlebars) for cost and aesthetic considerations. I even bought a black chain but it was a piece of shit and not worthy of this bike.
I bought a new seat, pedals and seatpost. The original post had become one with the bike and luckily I have a patient friend with a shop and a blowtorch and his dad helped me free it. Added the Oury grips too.
Coaster brakes all day everyday.