Every year I train really, really hard, but for some unknown reason when I send in my application for the Tour de France, I just miss the deadline by a few days. It seems to happen every year, regardless of how hard I try. I never get a race packet. My lifelong dream of riding the Tour is starting to fade.
Of course, I am just joking. You can't just enter the Tour de France. It is the biggest and toughest cycling race in the world and only the best professionals get the opportunity to ride it. But, even if I can't ride the Tour, watching it can still help improve my riding.
We all need some sort of motivation to ride our bikes. That motivation might be something altruistic like doing the AIDS ride for a fallen friend. It might be trying to prove that you can complete a ride that only a few years ago you thought was impossible. Or it might be just to stay in shape so you feel better and stay active.
Watching the Tour de France, whether in person or by the side of the road, can also provide motivation. Seeing the riders go by, the noise and flash of the peloton and the wind they generate is an incredible experience. Having the opportunity to ride the same climbs as the Tour participants is a huge thrill, especially if you are feeling good and just seem to be floating skyward.
However, most of us won't get a chance to ride the big climbs of the Tour. In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that I have ridden the iconic climb of Alpe d'Huez nine times, but a trip to the Tour de France is only a dream vacation for the majority of cyclists.
That means that the best option we have is to watch the Tour de France on TV. Luckily for us, in the past ten years the TV coverage of the Tour has become better and better. Thanks mostly to Lance Armstrong, the Tour now comes into our homes live, every morning. If you want to sit on the couch and watch an entire mountain stage live, you can! And not so long ago, this wasn't the case.