Once upon a time, someone thought it would be a good idea to strap two wheels together, balance precariously between them, and pedal through a lot of mountains until they fell over from exhaustion. Then steroids were invented and they called the ride the Tour de France.
I consulted My Friend the Internet to learn about this year’s ride. There will be 9 flat stages (Flat stages are for wimps because even I can ride a bike if the terrain is flat. I can’t imagine why they include flat stages in the Tour), 3 hilly stages, 7 mountain stages (definitely NOT for wimps), 2 rest days, 1 individual time trial, 1 team time trial, and a partridge in a pear tree.
The longest Tour was in 1926 and covered 3,570 kilometers. This year’s race will cover 3,360 kilometers. No one knows how many miles that is which is fine because we don’t understand much about L’Tour. (We know more about Words on Tour than we do about the Tour de France.)
Not only is there a long tradition of cycling in the Tour de France, there is a long tradition of cheating. Not just the more recent steroid and drug cocktails, but really creative cheating. Like early on, one of the cyclists hopped a train for part of the journey. And in 1953, Jean Robic traded his water bottle for a bottle filled with lead so he could have extra weight to help him zoom down the mountain.
Until the 1960s, cyclists would drink alcohol during the race to numb the pain. According to My Friend the Internet, alcohol was banned because it was considered a stimulant. (Of course, according to the rest of the world, alcohol is a depressant, but whatev.)
Tour participants burn a lot of calories. And by “a lot” I mean about 5,000 calories a day. For the record, that is more calories than I burn in a month. Which is a really interesting reason to consider becoming a world-class cyclist.