Of pelotons, echelons and musettes

pont du gard

Stage 16 of the Tour today went over the Pont du Gard, an ancient Roman aqueduct built in around 60AD.  AGMA was there in May as part of the Grand Tour of France!

It’s the time of year that all AGMA followers (with a few exceptions..) dread.

It’s TOUR DE FRANCE baby!!

Once again I’ve been transformed from a graying, dignified village elder to a giggling tweeter.  And I have 5, count ’em, 5 Tour de France fantasy teams.

AGMA loves her men in spandex!

It’s all Son#2’s fault.

My son really got into watching Le Tour in the mid 2000’s.  It actually inspired him to become a serious cyclist, health nut and nature enthusiast.  Waaaayyyy better than sitting in his bedroom playing video games…

He was a pretty good cyclist and considered going semi-pro until a “series of unfortunate events” occurred.   A shattered wrist here, a broken femur there…it all convinced him that maybe this was not a wise career choice.

He still cycles, but for fun now.

And he sort of dragged me along for the ride as far as watching the Tour de France goes.

(Get it??  Dragged me along for the “ride”?? OMG – I crack myself up!)

People always assume that because I love men’s professional cycling, I must love riding a bike.


AGMA never learned how to ride as a child.   I honestly don’t know why, but it just wasn’t part of what I did.

“Learn to ride now!” people say too me all the time.  Easy for them to say.  They won’t break their collarbones when they fall.

Truth is that I’ve tried to learn.  AGMA’s okay on a straightaway, but add some hills or dips or curves, and my palms start sweating.  The reality is that it’s really hard to learn to ride a bike as an adult.  All that balance “stuff” gets hardwired in kid’s brains when they learn young, but it doesn’t work the same with adults.

I made sure both of my kids learned to ride a bike when they were young not realizing that it would indirectly lead me to a late in life odd passion.

The 2019 edition of the Tour de France is turning out to be the best AGMA’s seen in my 11 years of being a spandex groupie.

The pre-Tour favorite, Chris Froome, who has won 4 previous Tours, had a horrific crash during the 8 day Criterium du Dauphine which is a pre-Tour warm up race.  And just in case he reads AGMA (ha ha ha), heal fast Chris!  All of us miss watching you ride!

Or some of us.

Last year’s winner, Geraint Thomas, crashed out during the Tour de Suisse (another pre-Tour warm up race.) And with very few racing days in his legs, he’s still an unknown for the Tour de France in terms of his conditioning and form.  And the tumble he took from his bike today didn’t help.


That’s all to say that for the first time in a long time, there is no clear favorite to win this year’s Tour.

That makes it especially exciting to watch as a fan!

I can hear you now…ZZZZzzzz….

But really, it IS incredibly exciting.

For the first time in like a kazillion years, a Frenchman, Julian Alaphilippe, is leading the Tour after 16 stages and wearing the Yellow leader’s jersey.  The French press and public are going WILD!!   It’s been 34 years since a Frenchman won the Tour.  Will this be the year?

Who the hell knows??

Alaphilippe wasn’t supposed to be in the Yellow jersey after 16 stages.  He’s a Classics rider (1 day races) and a puncheur (a rider who is specializes in rolling, hilly terrain with short, steep climbs.)

He’s not a GC rider.

GC stands for general classification (as opposed to sprinters , puncheurs, climbers and time trialists). A GC rider is a rider who, at the end of a 7, 8, 9 or 21 day stage race has the fastest times, so he’s sort of a jack of all trades.  They are the riders groomed to win stage races.  ALL Tour de France winners are GC riders.

But maybe not this year??

Who the hell knows??

And that’s what makes it all so exciting!

It’s going to be a knockout, drag out fight the next 4 days.  Tomorrow’s stage moves into the foothills of the Alps.  Then all hell breaks loose on Thursday, Friday and Saturday with 3 brutal Alpine stages that will push the riders to their physical and mental limits.

Even if you’ve never watched the Tour before, I urge you to tune in later this week.  AGMA promises that you will not be bored.  It’s going to be a battle royal between some of the best male athletes in the world in some of the most spectacular scenery in the world.

Then on Sunday, what is left of the 176 riders that originally started the Tour on July 6th, will ride, battered and bruised, into Paris, and finish up with a sprint on the Champs-Elysees.

What’s not to love???

And the winner of the 2019 Tour de France will be…

Who the hell knows??

OMG – I can’t wait!!

(Peloton – The main field of cyclists in a race.  Sort of like a swam of cyclists. NOT the exercise bike/program called Peloton…  (but now you know where the name came from!)

Echelon – The staggered, diagonal line that cyclists form to deal with crosswinds.  Each rider is slightly downwind from the previous rider.  Kinda like one side of the V when geese to their thing.  

Musette – bags that carry food and drinks for cyclists on long races.  Basically it’s a cyclist lunch bag.  And like kids, they throw away the stuff they don’t want to eat.)  








11 thoughts on “Of pelotons, echelons and musettes

  1. Oh trust me, I do not dread it and may have experienced dehydration a couple times this July from drooling too much over some of this year’s racers. And, since France deserves to win their little game more than once every few decades, I’m cheering Alaphilippe on!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Viva Le Tour and Viva Alaphilippe!! One of our AirB&B hosts this summer in Provence had the last name of Alaphilippe. I asked him if he was any relation to the cyclist. He seemed surprised that I knew about him… Anyway, Julian is this man’s second cousin (the son of his cousin). I’ve been following JA for a few years now – he scored points for me on past fantasy teams so I was very familiar with him. The AirB&B gentleman said that French people always had to ask him to spell his last name before (evidently it’s not a common name), but because Alaphilippe had such a spectacular Classics season this Spring, he said that everybody knew the name. Now EVERYBODY knows the name.

      Drooling to much… You bad girl! I knew I liked you Tammie!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, okay AGMA, let’s just rub it in a bit that SOMEONE got to rub second cousin elbows with Alaphillipe!! Kidding:)) That’s pretty cool and it’s always good when you can impress the French and prove not every American is a complete idiot. I’m heading to Provence myself in October so I better get my cheat sheet of French names to drop while I’m there.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m loving this year’s tour too, well I love it each year to be honest!
    For what it’s worth, I think that Thomas will win and not just because I’m Welsh like him. There’s a series of very big days in the Alps coming up and I just can’t see JA hanging on to it. It’s certainly got the whole of France excited though!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I had Thomas second. On 4 of my 5 fantasy teams, I had Bernal winning (I can show you the teams so you don’t think I’m just saying that because he won!). Didn’t think Thomas had the form he had last year. If Froome does indeed come back next year (which I really doubt, but I hope I’m wrong…) it will be a VERY interesting Tour! But it was such a GREAT Tour this year and very odd with the cancelled stage and shortened stage in the Alps. Wonder if things would have turned out differently if Mother Nature hadn’t intervened?

      Liked by 1 person

    • I drool over the scenery NOT the riders I’ll have you know… There’s enough years between us so that some of the cyclists could be my grandsons! Ouch!! But glad you like my posts about Le Tour! I have my fingers crossed that next year I might be able to actually be there for a few stages…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I sort of got interested in the race during the Lance Armstrong years, but if I’m honest only because he was so controversial. I’m like you in that I’ve never really had much of a love affair with bikes. When I rode for too long my butt always hurt! 🙂 Enjoy the races, though. Look forward to your updates about it. – Marty

    Liked by 1 person

    • Maybe next week I will do a Tour summary AGMA style!! And yes – when I took “how to ride a bike lessons” my butt hurt too! Next big race is the Vuelta in Spain. Starts on 8/24 and like the TdF, goes for 21 days.


  4. Ya know, AGMA, with how much you love France, there must be some French blood running in those (relatively) old veins! I may finish someday writing and then post a piece about how I’ve always lived vicariously through athletes, which I never was, would or will ever be. Dating myself a bit, I recall that possibly the first Tours de France I ever watched may have been won by American Greg LeMond. In any case, I feel a particular kinship to Mr. LeMond these days as, among his many other accomplishments, founded LeMond Composites in 2016 to manufacture high-volume, low-cost carbon fiber composites under a licensing agreement with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and an exclusive 20-year licensing agreement and, according to Wikipedia, Greg (I feel close even though we haven’t personally met) is now one of my neighbors since he LeMond he moved from Minnesota to Oak Ridge, Tennessee (where I now live) to be close to the $125 million LeMond Composites manufacturing facility.

    Liked by 1 person

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