Tour de France 2018...


I know - it kind of ended nearly two months ago, but I had recorded it on the DVR and did not finish it until today. Our news here in the United States doesn’t heavily cover cycling, so I was able to avoid hearing about who won all these months by avoiding cycling news sites and stuff.

This was the first year where I also watched the Giro d’Italia, which I will definitely watch every year from here on out.

Anyway - I was surprised that Froome didn’t win again, but mad respect to Geraint Thomas - he seems like a really genuinely nice guy. Sets up an interesting team dynamic for Team Sky going forward.

I keep wishing that Nairo Quintana could break in to the yellow jersey and take it home to Paris. It was also a bummer that Tejay van Garderen didn’t get to slip on the yellow jersey for a stage or two. Also, I for one enjoyed the quirky interviews with Taylor Phinney. Lawson Craddock was a machine and it was great to hear his story and see him finish the tour.

And what can you say about Peter Sagan - he’s entertaining, fun to listen to, and really livens up the sport.

As usual, I really enjoyed listening to Bob Roll and Christian Vande Velde and Paul Sherwin and Phil Liggett. Pretty much every morning for the past two months I’ve been listening to them a couple hours a day as I’ve worked my way through the 21 stages. I’ll be sad I don’t have anyone to listen to tomorrow morning…


And the NBC moto bike pilot Patrice Diallo is THE man. What a cool cat…

Another fun thing about this year’s tour has been at the end of each stage, I’ve been listening to The Move podcast, which features an unfiltered Lance Armstrong along with some input from Big George Hincapie and Johan Bruyneel. Broadcasting from an Airstream in Colorado, their insights into the tour and cycling was really cool. Yes, there is some baggage there, but I still found it very compelling to watch.

Anyway - enjoyed the Tour, made me want to visit the mountains of France (as usual) and someday I’d love to make one of those epic climbs on a bike.


There are tour groups that organize group trips to do just that- my ex’s brother did that a couple of summers ago. I think you may be able to do it through either REI or one of the local bike shops.


If you don’t get Velo News, this month’s issue has a “Death of the Tour de France” (my words, not theirs) article that is an excellent read. The take away is that Team Sky is so well financed that no other teams have a serious shot and, as a result, viewership is down. This also wasn’t helped by obnoxious fans, angry farmers and a whiff of tear gas. Amazon has an excellent doc on Marco Pantani. For a couple of years before Lance, he and his team also dominated. And similar complaints were raised. Giro and the Tour sponsors were complaining that no other jerseys were getting air time. From that point on he was harassed and hounded by the doping “police”. He definitely doped. A lot. But so did nearly everyone else. Ultimately he took his own life. The point is that I now believe that if Team Sky dominates, that is good for the sport even if viewership is down. They don’t cheat. They very probably don’t dope. Eventually other teams will find the tactics and riders to compete. I can see that this post has no point but…well…anyway, Vive la Tour! Cycling is the best sport on the planet.

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I did that in 2003 and was on a camping place in St. Jean-de-Maurienne for a week. The climbs are quite challenging and there are plenty of them around: Croix de Ferre, Col de la Madeleine, Galibier and of course Alpe d’Huez. If you can only do a single climb, do the Alpe d’Huez one. It’s quite epic and demanding, but if you start in Bourg-d’Oisans it’s not that long, unlike the more stretched out Col’s. The Col du Galibier is quite interesting too, due to height and the bizarre Moon like landscape close to the top.

Back in the day I heavily cheered for Jan Ulrich, but unfortunately that day in 2003 when he climbed towards Alpe d’Huez others were much faster …


Next year we should do a Mudspike Tour-de-France. We get good scenery of the route, fly each leg from a nearby assigned airfield. FSX, P3D, X-Plane. We would need some rules like can’t go more that 1.5 km (less?) from the road. Can’t fly above 500 ft AGL…time penalties for both.

Will have to discuss allowable plane types (jets, turboprops, props) or perhaps just have different classes.

We do it on the honor system so folks can fly when they have time to fly…although multiplayer sessions should be allowed.

You must fly a leg within a 48 hour period of when it is actually conducted (12 hrs before to 12 hrs after).

Need to create a thread where times (and stories) are posted for each leg. @BeachAV8R or @fearlessfrog or whoever runs this site, determines the winner of each leg and thus who gets the “Yellow Mudspike” for the next leg. The overall winner gets the coveted “Yellow Mudspike” badge.



Yeah…Team Sky has such a huge budget…and it definitely matters. I mean, they were (perhaps unfairly) able to take a helicopter on one of those first stages while all the other teams had to wait for a ferry or something. It will be interesting to see if Froome will attempt the Giro next year or if that was just a bridge too far. His ride there was really impressive on that last uphill day where he smoked the rest of the field.

Some of my favorites are no longer in the Tour. And I guess they were sort of favorites because I followed them for the past decade or so, so I was used to seeing them on the screen. The quirky Voelkler and Spartacus (Cancellera).

Looking toward the future…Landa looks awesome.

One of the more interesting things about The Move podcast is Armstrong’s and Hincapie’s recollections of their years racing against guys like Ulrich. Hincapie is hilarious, and has a great story of Lance “being mean” to the peleton by sending Postal to the front to hammer on one stage when everyone was hoping they would take a rest. Lance also apologized on air to another rider (I think it was Andreas Kloden) that he sniped a stage victory from and said it was definitely a “di*k move” and that he regretted it. He said he hated Kloden while on the Tour, but now they are good friends. Putting each other in the pain locker will do that to you I suppose.

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That’s a great idea…! We can make @smokinhole fly the whole road route in one of his helicopters…!


Baby steps. I’ll need to prove I can get to the top of Mt. Mitchell someday before I go all fancy Nancy and go riding in France. I don’t want to embarrass myself too much. :rofl:

I need to sign up for another triathlon and get motivated. Maybe next year’s White Lake (Whiteville) Olympic distance. That would be a good goal.


I am glad to see Lance put himself out there again. He gave me something which later crimes could never fully erase.

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Ooooh…hadn’t thought of helos…definitely helicopter class with more stringent rules…within 0.5 km of road and no higher than 200 ft AGL

Probably need something like “Can only compete in a maximum of 2 classes”

We should also figure out how to do weather. Probably take just the prediction of race day weather from the day before…help contestants figure fuel weights, etc.

Lots of ideas, I’ll start a thread about a month beforehand to hammer things out.

Ooh, are you planning on doing the Assault?

It’s a pity the Bridge to Bridge challenge from Lenoir to the top of Grandfather Mountain isn’t a thing any more…

I’ve had friends who’ve done the White Lake Tri- it’s on my list for “someday” as well.

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LOL…I hadn’t until you posted that link. I think I had heard about it in passing…but that sure looks awesome. I don’t know though man…a century ride culminating in the highest peak east of the Mississippi. I better pare down my beer consumption. 2019 would be a tall ask, but perhaps.


I try not to travel more than a mile or so without being inside some type of vehicle-car, boat, plane, train, etc. The key phrase is “being inside”, not sitting precariously atop and pedaling…just say’n:sunglasses:

Although I began following the Tour during the Lemond years, I didn’t start road riding until about '96. Then continued until 2012, when I had to stop because it was aggravating a couple of ruptured disks. During that time, the shop that I road most of the weekly group rides (they have one every day) organized a TdF trip each year. I went in 2002 and 2004, which was the year Lance “won” #5. The trips were usually 10 days, with a week of following the Tour. They would alternate every year doing either the Alps or the Pyrenees, and would ride ahead of the peloton the second half of the stage, ending in the finishing town or mountain, about 2 to 3 hours before the publicity caravan arrived. We’d shower, go to a cafe which had the Tour on, and watch up to the point that it entered the village. Then go out and watch the finishing festivities.

The two years that I went on the TdF trip, we did the Alps stages and fortunately, stayed in the village near the summit of Alpe d’Huez both times. In 2004 we were up there for the finish of an ITT from Bourg-d’Oisans, which was notable for a number of reasons. Sheryl Crow riding in the team Postal car for one, and Ivan Basso getting the paint sucked off his bicycle as Lance passed him for another. I know, one doper crushing another doper :smile: Anyway, the course went right by our hotel, and out on the street in front of the terrace where we toasted the maillot jaune as it flew by, the letters being about 10 feet high, proclaimed, “RIP THEIR BALLS OFF LANCE” Those were heady days for US cycling. Now the Brits, you lucky buggers, are having their day in the sun.

The next day, I remember stopping in a bicycle shop in Bourg-d’Oisans on the way to follow the route over Col de la Madeleine. When the bike shop patrons saw our USA kits, they were whispering dope’ behind our backs. This was the time of freedom fries, tension between our nations, and I wrote it off as misguided partisanship. But it is their race for over a century and I imagine that the average Frenchman knows a thing or two about the Le Tour and the circus that surrounds it.

I’ve been really fortunate to have climbed all of the famous Alps climbs as well as Mont Ventoux in the South. Alpe d’Huez five times, three up the front and two the back road (rough and parts unpaved). None of them very quickly, as I have always been vertically challenged. Those trips are fantastic though, and I urge anyone who cycles to do them while the body and pocketbook can absorb them. I’ve got plans to go back with my wife and another couple, hire a van and bikes, and roll our own Alps tour. But with 3 kids in residence now, that return trip is probably in jeopardy. We’ll see.

Too bad these guys couldn’t remain friends.


A MUDSPIKE TdF sounds like a blast. As I remember, the little airport at the summit of Alpe d’Huez is pretty much your typical Alpine affair. In fact it is…


Great post @chipwich! I love learning of activities outside sim-ing.

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Man…sounds like some great times @chipwich. I was really happy to hear the podium girls would be returning for this year’s Tour, there was a rumor in January or so that they would not be using them this year. I love the green jersey ones. Va-va-voom…!

Cycling up Alpe d’Huez would be a ride of a lifetime…

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Some photos from the 2002 trip.

Big George keeping the pace high for his captain.

At our hotel on Alpe d’Huez.

With a friend at the finish on Les Deux Alpes. It’s more or less across the valley from Alpe d’Huez. We descended from our hotel, climbed Les Deux to watch the finish, ate and drank like kings, then realized that we still needed ride back to the hotel. It was probably my most painful climb :smile: I remember buying some sandals in a sport shop there so I could walk around out of my bike shoes. Still have them.

Annecy France. One of my favorite little cities that must not be missed if in the area. Grenoble is nearby as well.

Took this while riding up to Col Du Glandon. Typical Alpine vista.

I’m happy because I found a Herald Tribune.

While on the road one day, we passed a US Postal car refueling. Only one soigneur around, but he is kind enough to take our photo.

When in France. Actually, hoping that the Gendarmerie who line the roadside will not notice.


Thanks for the heads-up on the Velo News article. On Marco Pantani…his death was a crying shame. One might almost say “death by journalism”. Because he was the first really major EPO era star to be sacrificed to the doping scandal, he suffered the worst in my opinion. You can say what you want about Il Pirata, but this is what I remember.

After his suspension he returned to cycling, not as a team leader (remember this is a guy who had won both the Giro and the Tour in a single season), but as a helper in the mountains. He had to ride clean, because the eyes of the world were upon him, when the rest of the peloton was still juicing up a storm, including LA. In one of his last Giros, in the mountains it began snowing very hard. The flakes were huge and you could barely see the riders during the broadcast.

Riding a grand tour is one of sport’s most gruelling endeavours, now do it in a wet snow storm with little to cover your body. If you go down on the wet pavement, it beats and rashes the crap out of you. I’ve seen more broken collarbones cycling than I like to remember.

Pantani went down really hard. The peloton rode on as he lay beside the road holding his shoulder weeping in the snow. His face showed that he had had enough. Enough of the condescending press, enough criticism from fans, enough 6 hour stages through the mountains, and enough pain from crashing. He looked like a beaten man. A team car stopped for him, but eventually had to move on. Until that point, I had never felt sorry for Pantani. He was a cheat and bad for the sport IMO.

But no one deserved this. What seemed like about 20 minutes went by and he got up, got on his bicycle in the wet snow by himself, and rode to the finish, which was something like f-ing 50 klms without his teammates. He was threatening to timeout the whole way, but in the end he rode like a lion and finished in time to start the next day.

When I heard of his death, I thought it very sad, but this was before the fall of Armstrong, Landis, Hamilton, Ulrich, Riis, Leipheimer, Zabel, Zülle, O’Grady, etc, which heralded the modern institutional doping era. Looking back, it seems like Pantani was probably abandoned by his peers. Perhaps I’m overstating his case, but had he lived, I feel like he might have been somewhat vindicated by the exposed actions of professional cycling in general.

It’s hard not to speak about those times without broaching the subject of doping. Let’s hope that the current Grand Tours are as clean as possible.

Haha…love the “nature break”…always amazed at the professional riders who do it on a downhill glide sometimes.

Those are some awesome photos. What a time to be a cycling fan in those days. The countryside looks gorgeous. Every year I enjoy the panoramic landscapes from those helicopters showcasing the Tour route (while I listen to Paul Sherwin relate the history of what we are looking at). If I ever get fit enough we should meet up in the middle at Hincapie’s Hotel Domestique in Greenville.

I agree. It is a complex issue (doping) and I can see all sides of it. I can accept someone who says “they cheated, they suck, they will always be cheaters in my mind”, but when I look back on it, I simply see that it was the overriding culture, as awful as it was. It was just what they did…no different that baseball or other sports decades ago where participants were using cocaine or other stimulants.

The Lance case in particular is very polarizing. I don’t want to get too much into it, but on net balance, I think he tried to give back so much with his cancer awareness and support system (ironically), that it offsets some of the awfulness. The career destroying tendencies he had (and still occasionally exhibits) were probably the worst of it. I still like him though. I really like his podcasts and his bluntness, and his insights. He is incredibly charismatic. I loved George’s presence on the podcasts, the ying to Armstrong’s yang as it were, and always playing the good guy (which is funny because he doped too).

By the way - here is a light on details article showing where many of the Postal Team are these days. I had no idea that Vaughters was on Armstrong’s team in 1999.

And how about that cobbles stage this year! That was nuts…it turned out to not be quite as game changing as it was forecast, but it was still awesome to watch.

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