The 108th version of the Tour de France (TDF) is now in the history books and as usual, it was filled with memorable moments. Whether you root for the overall winner of the Yellow jersey, winners of the other specialty jerseys, such as the White, Green, or Polka Dot, riders of a particular nationality, such as Americans, Columbians, Slovenians, or French, or the records broken, such as the number of stage wins, there was plenty to keep us interested this year in the world’s greatest cycling event.
The route of the second week of the 2021 Tour de France (TDF) included 3 days uphill in the alps, downhill descents, hot temperatures, and cross winds. As we entered the second week, only 4 teams out of 19 had won a stage, putting pressure on the other teams to win something for their sponsors and the record books, and they did—after week two 8 teams have realized their dreams and won stages. The average speed of the peloton is around 40 mph, with speeds of up to 65 mph on the downhills.
I get it. It is hard to watch a 5 hour bike race. The scenery in the Tour de France (TDF) may be nice but it is, frankly, boring to watch a group of men just riding bikes unless there are crashes and no one wants people to get hurt. That is why I recommend people "follow" as opposed to "watch" the Tour de France. And there are lots of ways to follow, maybe watch the last 15 minutes of each day's race, or have it streaming in the background while you do something else, listen to the commentary at the end of each stage, listen to a daily recap or preview podcast or read updates on Youtube, and online in Velo News or Cycling News. But the most interesting aspect of the Tour de France is not the spin of each wheel, the architecture in the small towns, or the statistics, but the human stories. In the first week of the 2021 Tour De France there were four great stories.
I first became aware of the Tour de France in 2004 when I was on a mission to learn everything I could about cycling in preparation for opening a bike shop. When I learned that at that time there were 5 cyclists who had won it 5 times I named and decorated each of the 5 rooms of the Earth Rider Hotel after each of them. During the tour season I showed the race continuously on the TV in the bike shop. Interest has waned among some since then, possibly due to the publicity around doping and for us in the United States, lack of American contenders.
Riding an electric bike, or ebike, is a different experience from riding a non-assisted bike. Riding any bike provides a sense of freedom, allows you to enjoy time in the great outdoors, be active and get exercise, and you have a sense of certainty in getting to appointments. An ebike provides all these benefits, plus it allows you to get where you want to go with less effort, you’ll be less sweaty, take a chance on going longer distances knowing you will be able to get back home with no problem, carry a heavy load, and ride with a faster friend. But if you are new to riding an ebike, you should be aware of the differences so you are as safe and confident as possible starting with your very first ebike ride.
At Earth Rider we like to sell basic black bikes. It is a nice neutral color and no customer ever walked away from buying a bike because it was black. But with something as important to your well-being and transportation as a bike, it is nice to express your personality with it, just like you do with your clothing and hair style. So, whether you start with a canvas of all black or your bike has some color you want to highlight or compliment there are several options to customize your bike so it looks like all yours and is easy to pick out among others at a bike rack. We are going to suggest what you can easily swap out and add and what you should avoid doing without careful thought.
Unless you ride a bicycle built for two or carry a child on a bike, it is one person one bike. But cycling is a social activity and sometimes bikes travel near other bikes. When you and your bike join a group of riders, it is a way to meet new people or spend time with old friends who share your love of cycling, follow a leader and learn about new destinations and routes, and sharpen your cycling skills by modeling the behavior of more experienced cyclists. But riding in a group is different than riding solo so what are some of the dos and don’ts of group riding etiquette?
1) What is an ebike?
An ebike, also known as an electric bike, is a regular bike with the addition of a motor, battery, and display. These additions are designed to assist a rider. It’s a bike with a boost.
2) What type of people should consider an ebike?
An ebike is ideal for anyone who wants a workout (studies show you get 94% of the aerobic benefit compared with riding a non-assisted bike), wants to arrive less sweaty and exhausted, haul a heavy load, have a sense of certainty when you will arrive for an appointment, ride with a faster friend, get outdoor exercise even with physical limitations, reduce auto trips, and extend biking into the colder months.
When you think about bicycle advocacy today, what comes to mind is probably the work of the non-profit groups and passionate individuals who work with elected officials and municipal transportation agencies to get more bike lanes and trails—bicycling infrastructure. This is certainly one of the things they do, but there is a lot more. According to Kevin Dekkinga, Director of Membership at the League of American Bicyclists and guest speaker at the May 11, 2021 meeting of the Chicago Cycling Club, this national advocacy group was founded in 1880 in Newport R.I. around the issue of infrastructure—they were proponents of the good roads movement that advocated for changing the gravel and dirt roads and creating smooth, paved surfaces that could be used for the high wheel bicycles that were popular at that time. Kevin quipped that the League was involved with gravel before gravel was cool! Fast forward to the present and the League is still advocating for infrastructure for bicycling, but they also have in their mission to educate and encourage and have the programs to support it.
May is National Bike Month again this year as it has been since 1956. Promoted by the League of American Bicyclists and organizations across the country that include community groups, bike clubs, and workplaces, and it shines a spotlight on the many benefits of cycling. Now that we are at the beginning of the traditional high cycling season in many parts of the country, this month is a great time to think about what cycling means to us and our communities and to encourage others to give it a try. There are special events and challenges though out the month, so if you want to be inspired and add more cycling to your life, now is the time to begin.
Sharon Kaminecki and others comment on adventures in bicycling and other stories