Sunday, August 11, 2013

The 100th Tour de France, blankets and jam

As you can see from the title above, this is another eclectic post - the Tour de France, blankets and jam don't have that much in common.  But first - this post is late because I have been away for a while.  We went to visit our younger daughter and family in July to celebrate our second grandson's 5th birthday and we just came back.  Prior to that visit I had been watching the Tour de France and, as usual during the last few years, was knitting a baby blanket, or two.  I finished a rainbow blanket for our new baby granddaughter, then finished another bluish striped car blanket for the third grandson's second birthday in mid-July - they are below.  The orange and green-yellow blankets are from last year.  These are small car-seat or security blankets.  (Please click on collages twice to embiggen.)

The Tour de France this year celebrated its 100th Anniversary.  It ran from June 29 through July 21st, 2013.  When they finished in Paris, the cyclists had covered a distance of 2,087.81 miles or 3,360 kms.  This year there were 19 teams in the competition from France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, the USA, Italy, Austria, Denmark, Great Britain, Kazakhstan, Luxembourg and Russia.  The riders represented many countries, such as France, Germany, Denmark, The USA, Italy, Estonia, Slovakia, Spain, Canada, Lithuania, Russia, Colombia, New Zealand, Australia, Costa Rica, Brazil, Japan, Ireland, England, South Africa, Uzbekistan, Poland, Switzerland, Austria, Kazakhstan and more.  Where can you watch a sport event representing so many countries integrated in just a few teams?

The race started in Corsica this year (see my post of July 20, 2013) and included 21 stages (a one long day segment.)  There were 7 flat stages, 5 hilly stages, 6 mountain stages with 4 summit finishes, 2 individual time-trial stages, 1 team time trial stage and two rest days.  Below is the route and a photo of Robert Marchand, a cyclist record holder still biking at age 102, next to Australian Cadel Evans.

This race was organized in 1903 and has been held annually since, except when it stopped during the two World Wars.  I gave explanations on the Tour de France and its history in my post of July 22, 2009, entitled What is the Tour de France? Please go and read this post here.  Below are some early photos from the Tour.

I did add a PS to my post of 2009 as I had been giving glorious reports on Lance Armstrong then.  Unfortunately in 2012 the US Anti-Doping Agency stripped Armstrong of his 7 Tour titles as well as other honors and he was banned from cycling for life - he did admit in January 2013 to having used drugs for athletic and performance enhancement throughout his career.  Some people decided then not to watch the Tour anymore because of drugs being used in the sport.  But other athletes have been using drugs in football, baseball, tennis, boxing and even in the Winter and Summer Olympic Games - should no one watch those sports anymore?  What about film stars and singers who used drugs - will people stop going to the movies or listen to music?  If we want to live in a world free of people using drugs then we may as well be a hermit and live on top of a mountain, or go to a nunnery such as in Ireland (although I have heard some bad reports of happenings in some of those nunneries...)  Too many good people and fans are involved in those sports and they should not be penalized for a few bad apples.

The Tour de France has many international fans.  In 2011 fans from 38 countries came to France to follow the Tour.  Below are some of the fans from 2013 - they are a varied group, from the proper to the brash. Top row on left are French Nuns encouraging Kevin Reza of France, next are Norwegian fans.  In the center are two Japanese fans, then an Australian youngster; next is a French fan, and then a group of shameless fans from Switzerland calling themselves "The Swiss Borats."  On the bottom left are fans from Colombia, then a cheering group of Nursing Sisters from Marseille and then Christopher Froome cycling under a variety of flags, held mostly by British fans.

The Tour de France is truly the biggest and most famous cycling race in the world.  I read statistics showing it - it is watched by 15 million people along the roads, free of charge.  The French Government has to be involved because many highway and safety personnel are necessary for the safety of all and roads need to be closed.  Each day 1400 beds have to be available for the cycling organization alone.  There are 10 Emergency Doctors, nurses, seven ambulances, 2 cars with other medical teams and 47 highway policemen on motorcycles following the racers.  More than 14,000 policemen and women, 9,000 motorway police plus assorted city and village police are retained.  In 2011 there were 2,300 reporters and photographers, 700 Media from 35 countries, 100 TV chains, 80 photo agencies and 70 radio channels involved in the Tour.  The Tour was televised to 190 countries, 60 of which received live transmissions.  There were 700,000 fans in Facebook following the Tour that year.

Also in 2011 3.5 billion people watched the Tour on TV around the world - yes, billions.  When 50,000 people and vehicles stop in a small town for a halt on the Tour thousands of volunteers are needed.  Just the city of Cambridge, England, is asking for 1,000 volunteers for 2014 when the Tour comes to their area!  I am sure we will see some wonderful background landscape from England.  Just watching the surrounding countryside is always thrilling.

The last two Tour de France have been won by British racers - Bradley Wiggins in 2012 and Christopher Froome in 2013.  Christopher Froome was born in Kenya and moved to South Africa when he was 14 - he started riding bikes when he was a child in Nairobi and became a professional racing cyclist in 2007, aged 22, with a South African team, then he started to bike professionally under a British passport.

One of my favorite racing cyclists is Peter Sagan from Slovakia.  He is a sprinter and a bit of a clown.  He is the only cyclist I saw to make tricks with his bike.  He won the Green Jersey, as faster sprinter overall, in the 2013 Tour de France.  He had dyed his goatee green to match his racing jersey.

Cities and small towns bid to have the Tour come through heir communities at least one year or more ahead of the Tour - town overseas bid as well.  In 2014 Leeds, Yorkshire, England, will host the start of the Tour.  Yorkshire beat off challenges from Edinburgh, Scotland and Florence, Italy.  All the cities and towns on the Tour get an enormous amount of publicity but they also have work to do such as resurfacing the roads where the cyclist will ride.  The cities have to be cleaned, buildings painted, no rubbish should be found along the race and enough parking for the 1500 vehicles following the Tour, not counting all the vehicles from the fans, are necessary.  Barricades need to be set up toward the end of each stage as the crowd is so enthusiastic that fans come too close to the riders. The scenery along the Tour route is always superb.  I love watching the camera work from the helicopters and motorbikes.  Hundred thousand people, many in camper homes follow the Tour and waive flags from a variety of countries.  It has an atmosphere of happiness, of real "joie de vivre."

This year, for the first time, the Tour de France finished on the Champs-Elysees in Paris in the evening, and also for the first time the riders rode around the Arc de Triomphe - before they always turned around on the avenue.  TV channel NBCSC kept the coverage till the end and I was able to watch the glorious laser show on the Arc.  I took some pictures from my TV but many were fuzzy as you can see below.

Grandson number 2 had asked me several months ago to knit him a "Georgia Tech" blanket for his birthday while I watched the Tour.  His father attended several universities including Berkeley, Georgia Tech, Emory and the Medical College of Georgia but grandson is fixated on Georgia Tech and is a great fan.  I had to think about how I could knit or crochet such a Georgia Tech blanket.  I started during the Tour but had to finish it after the end of the Tour, since I had already worked and finished the other two baby blankets shown above.  I used the Georgia Tech colors of golden yellow and navy blue and added the yellow jacket mascot - here it is below.

The blanket was still not finished when we arrived at our daughter's house in Tennessee and I finished it while she was baking the birthday cake.  Grandson no. 3 was happy waiting for his brother's birthday cake while having a taste of another earlier cake, a chocolate cake.  Baby granddaughter wondered what all the fuss was about.

The birthday cake was covered with marine life since grandson number two is a dolphin fan.  Then it was time to make a wish and blow all the 5 candles while older brother was taking a picture and younger brother was patiently waiting for a piece of the cake.

The birthday boy likes to eat my homemade jams and asked me if I would show him how I made jam.  So I brought my pans and jam paraphernalia to Tennessee and we made three different jams: cherry, blueberry and strawberry jams.  He helped quite a lot.

When we returned home to Georgia we thought that our potted plants would have dried up after two weeks of our non-watering.  But it seems that it must have rained often as the leaves were quite large and the flowers healthy.

Just before I took the above photo, it rained again.

Now, I just have to wait till July 2014 to watch the Tour de France on TV.  It will start in England and go through the Yorkshire Dales - it should offer stunning scenery once again.


DJan said...

Very thorough information about the Tour de France. I have never watched it, but I don't really need to, I can learn all about it here.

You are a very talented knitter, VB. So many different ones, and the Georgia Tech one turned out fabulously! I loved the pictures of your grandchildren and their birthday cakes, too. It's wonderful to hear from you again. I hope you are having a great Sunday. :-)

Kay G. said...

Wonderful post, I enjoyed it very much!
Love that green beard on Peter Sagan, was that his name? What a character!
Also, do you know what Lance Armstrong and I have in common?
ZERO Tour de France wins! HA!!
Shame that he used drugs and lied about it all those years, very unfair to those he raced against, but like you say, you should not judge the Tour de France over that, the race has such a great history and tradition. What beautiful photos of the route!
I wish I could be in Yorkshire in 2014!! Or France for that matter!

Jeanne said...

ALL GREAT SHOTS, but have to say that I really love the historical photos of the Tour de France. What an amazing history this bike race has, and can you imagine how primitive some of the early bikes must have been... none of these 40 speed bikes I'll bet. Just good old leg power. Looks like you had a fun birthday celebration with your grandson, and your baby blankets are just lovely! So nice to see you again, always love your posts

Roger Gauthier said...

What a post! You always overwhelm me and I ask myself how you can do it, so much work involved.

You know, about the Tour the France, the Giro and all others, I do disagree totally with you. This is not the case of a few bad apples. I do happen to know a lot about this sport, I know guys like Marinoni who now has a shop in Monrréal, ex Italy champion and all that, now in his seventies. He will admit that even in his time they were drugged to their eyeballs. Most of them are in cycling. Most of them, nothing to do with a few bad apples.

Armstrong was only one of the most recent, stubborn and bad cases ever. But then, a majority of recent champions have gone down, with a good number passing through undetected...

Since on the recent drugs erythropoietin (EPO) became detectable through new methods and labs (see Dr Ayotte of Institut Armand-Frappier), we found that 90%+ of all cyclists were drugged.

If you're interested, leave a word on my blog and I will send you a list of the hundreds of champions that have been convicted.

Cycling, because of drugs, has become a real shame. And now that major professional sports have to look into this through exrternal pressures, a lot of them will also fall - the movement has already begun.

The only truth that ever came out of Armstrong's mouth was at the end, when he said: "We were all drugged, we could not do what we do otherwise'".

Time for a real showdown.


Vagabonde said...

Roger, I’ll come to your blog but at the same time it makes me so sad there are more bad apples than I thought. I am sure that drugs are used a lot more in all kind of sports – more than we think, as the human body is not an electric robot. Thanks for your comment.

Pondside said...

We are avid followers of the Tour here at Pondside. One year we were in France, staying at the same hotel as the day's jersey winner - what a thrill. Do you know that Ryder Hesjedal grew up in our very small rural community and got his start riding to school right past our house? Our Highlands hills are good training ground!
Your blankets are lovely - the little fellow must have been thrilled with his yellow and black blanket!

Kay said...

I am so impressed with your knitted creations. Wow! Your grandchildren are as gorgeous and precious as can be. Those cakes made me hungry.

I got excited just seeing this post even though I've never actually watched the Tour de France. Armstrong had really gotten arrogant and I still don't think he's contrite.

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

As you said, all sports have been tainted with the use of strength-enhancing drugs. I think that it really had become, "who isn't using", rather than "who is using". Everyone loves and wants a winner and these athletes are almost forced to perform super athletic feats and to ignore pain. So who really is responsible, the fans, the promoters, or the athletes themselves. I think all three. Money rules everything and although we all have choices, the temptation of fame and fortune is a great aphrodisiac.

Rosaria Williams said...

I'm always awed at the amount of information and research you present in each of your posts. You are a professional par excellence!

Most enjoyable!

OldLady Of The Hills said...

Your posts about The Tour, are always interesting....It is not a sport that I have any particular interest in, though I certainly find your posts about it fascinating. As to the many many drugs users---it is sad but true---so very many sports have been tainted by the use of drugs.....I think what is most disturbing is the lying about it, whatever the sport.
Those blankets are just WONDERFUL!!! You are so talented, my dear....These are so very special and something your Grandchildren will treasure as they get to be grown-ups!

Elephant's Child said...

Love your knitting, jam making and drool over your garden.
I am not a cycling fan - but adore the scenery the Tour goes through. Beautiful - albeit very gruelling for the riders.
Thank you so much for yet another informative, eclectic and beautiful post.

Magic Love Crow said...

Love the blankets! You knit beautifully! Great to see the grand-kids ;o) The jam looks so good! Excellent post about the Tour de France! Take Care ;o)

ELFI said...

magnifique billet, j'aime le tour.. télévisé.. pour ce vues du pays, vu du ciel!

Niall & Antoinette said...

Impressive knitting :-)

We saw the tour as it passed through Montrésor not far from where we live - we'd never seen it before; went with friends and took a picnic. It was a great day out and managed to grab a photo of Chris Froome in his yellow jersey as he went past.

Thérèse said...

Superbes creations!
J'avoue n'avoir pas lu les parties sur le Tour de France... quand je vois les coureurs arriver frais comme des gardons...
Je prefere me souvenir de ceux que j'avais la chance de voir passer avec mon papa. Les coureurs reparaient eux-memes leurs crevaisons et portaient leurs pneus autour du coup. Il fallait voir leur etait physique lorsqu'ils arrivaient...
Mais bon Mme L... de mon village d'enfance a suivi jusqu'au bout (bien passe 90 ans) chaque Tour de France et nous mettait gentiment a la porte lorsque la transmission a la tv arrivait...

swiss said...

finally! greta blog, great stories! and a textile connection also! said...

Great post Vagabonde.
Here in Portugal its a very big occassion. on tv all day long and every day during the tour.
Its always exciting.
I did get very upset when the news came out of the drug taking of Lance Armstrong.. there were others too. but he really wasn't fair.
lets hope it wont happen so much.. but it seems its inbred in the sports world.. its a shame for the honest sportsmen.
Froom did a good job this year.. thanks for all the info.. val xx

Paulita said...

I love the Tour de France too, but not so much Peter Sagan. In 2012, I decided he was always conveniently near crashes, yet never involved. I suspect foul play! Great photos and those knitted blankets are amazing. Adorable grandchildren and cakes.

Anonymous said...

What a truly wonderful post. Your detail on the Tour de France was a delight to read. I had no idea of the statistics and those you provided emphasised the huge logistical job that is involved in staging the race. I liked that you had a picture of an Australian, Cadel Evans. This year we were lucky to have some success with the Australian team, Orica Green Edge, althought the team bus was not so successful!:-)

Your grandchildren look delightful and obviously enjoy the time they spend with you. I love it when they ask you to show them how to do something.

I spend time either knitting or crocheting during the Tour so I also managed to complete some items but nothing as grand as the blankets you finished. I love the yellow and navy one and I'm sure it will be greatly appreciated.

Al said...

Yay - a Brit won the Tour this year! (I'm originally from England). That's an event that would be fun to see.

David said...

Hi Vagabonde... I'm catching up on my reading. We were up in Alberta Canada for about 12 days and I don't drag a computer along on our trips. My wife loves the Tour de France...but I don't get it. The scenery shots are beautiful but the idea of watching people bicycle for several days just has me scratching my head. Your grandsons are really cute and those cakes looked luscious indeed! We too were relieved when we got back and found that our deck plants were doing well... It has been are really rainy year! Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Nadezda said...

I love to watch the Tour de France on Eurosport channel as well. I'm not a fun but it's really interesting show and sport!
I liked your blankets, you have a lot of patience knitting them!

Jeanie said...

I always love your Tour posts and this one does not disappoint! I did the same as you, taking pix of the TV during the wonderful final award ceremonies. Spectacular!

Your blankets are beautiful -- very nice! And Ilove seeing the photos about the family! Welcome back!

This is Belgium said...

Amazing reportage.
As you know very well, the tour means a lot to Belgium and Belgians :)
I also appreciate Roger Gauthier's reaction.

Ann said...

i agree with your comment...the bad apples should not stop anyone from enjoying a sport.
loved your photos!!!!
the blankets are beautiful! my cousin is a Ga. Tech alumnus.
the cakes..oh my goodness!!!! works of art!!!!!!
your grandchildren are very lucky!!!

Vicki Lane said...

I love the Georgia Tech blanket! (And I hope that you were in an air-conditioned room while you were knitting!)

Margaret said...

102 never looked so good - (Cadel Evens isn't bad either :) I respect the sport, but have never watched it on tv... you are correct, though. It is worth watching for the scenery alone!

You outdid yourself with the Georgia Tech blanket. It is a very handsome blanket.

Awe... the jam making is precious. My little man (5) loves to stir and help too.

Frances said...

Dear Vagabonde, I have given myself quite a treat this afternoon. I have caught up with your posts, going back to Part 3 of the San Francisco recollections.

I have thoroughly enjoyed every word and every picture. As I moved along at my leisurely pace, I felt as if you were right here, telling me about these memories. Some are so beautiful, and some are quite poignant. I feel as if you have given me a much greater appreciation of France. Merci!

How lucky I am to have had opportunities to chat with you. I am looking forward to our next get together.

(I promise to reply to your email soon.)

xo to you and Jim.

Dee said...

Dear Vagabonde, the truth is that for so many subjects I don't need Wikipedia because I have you!!!! You are always introducing me to new places and events and you provide the history which I just gobble up! Thank you. Peace.

Kitty said...

oh I love your home knit blankets. There is nothing like something home made. A thoughtful, heartfelt gift.

I'm glad you saw my Uncle Nick's post. I went back they've already blocked out the name on the awning and removed the sign. Just like that. Years of history erased. It's a cruel fact of the city.

The grandsons must keep you so busy!!!

Jenny Woolf said...

I've never got in to the tour de france, but I do love making jam and making cakes!! It is such a lot of fun making birthday cakes for kids.

Your blankets are groovy. I am hoping that I'll get some hand knitted socks in amazing colours for Christmas, I love that "look"

Jenny Woolf said...

I hope my last post registered, something went funny with the computer when I clicked the button!

Fennie said...

Hallo Vagabonde, I can testify to the wonder and beauty of your blankets. Wonderful pictures of the Tour. My son in law and daughter are great fans. But Yorkshire? Why? It isn't France. It doesn't even have a connection with France! A tour of Kensington and Belgravia might make more sense. At least there are a lot of French people there.

bowsprite said...

ah, chère Vagabonde! how I have missed you! so good to see your photos, your thorough research, your knitting, beautiful grandchildren, wondrous garden. Love to you and J! xoxo c!

Perpetua said...

i love your blankets, Vagabonde, and as you know i also make jam. :-)

We don't have TV in France, so I couldn't watch the Tour de France, but I kept up with the results via the internet and local paper, as one of the time-trials was in our area - Avranches to Mont Saint Michel.

Andrew MacLaren-Scott said...

The Tour does have a special something about it. The countryside and a brutal simplicity in among all the complexity of teamwork required to get someone to the front first. It's a big shame about the doping scandals though, but therein lies an ancient story of human strength and weakness. I do like watching the Tour (on TV, have never been).

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...