The Tour De France is a massive bike race. Running from Saturday July 4th to Sunday July 26th , the race is made up of 21-stages and will cover a total distance of 3,360 kilometers.
Long ago I thought I might like to take up cycling but never could get comfortable with the clip-less pedals and the prospect of breaking my wrists. So I watch vicariously as these athletes traverse the lovely French scenery. Here are a few takeaways I’d like to share from watching the race:
1) The human body is an incredible machine
It is estimated that the average Tour De France rider, on an average day, would burn 6,071 calories[i].
This calorie expenditure is equal to about 12-Big Macs, each day.
The race is a test of both physical and mental challenges. There are often massive crashes durnig the race so riders may be nursing injuries
Riders must compete over varied terrains and in all-types of conditions – rain, heat, wind etc.
It is estimated that they pedal about 486,000 strokes over the course of the race.
2) People do better in a group
While individual riders compete in the race based on time, there are 9-members in a team that support the lead rider.
During the race clusters of racers from small groups called pelotons – which means little ball or platoon. The peloton[ii] provides drafting benefits to the riders, cutting down wind resistance by 40%
It is incredible to watch these groups flying down the road in tight formations, each member taking turns leading the way and breaking the wind for the pack that is following. Much like how birds migrate with the help of others the same is true for the road racers.
3) Joy De Vivre
The French expression Joy De Vivre refers to the joy of living – living carefree and ebullient. The spectators that line the race route seem to exude joy. Of course this is TV so it may be part of the allure but the crowds do seem to be really enjoying themselves. During commercial breaks the TV will often show scenes of the many villages that the race passes. Again everyone seems happy.
The Tour De France is a grueling race, yet each day someone is celebrated with an awards ceremony. The leader after each stage gets to wear the coveted “yellow jersey” the following day and is rewarded for the day.
So to sum up – we are amazing machines, who perform better in groups and we should celebrate each day!