Vive Le Tour close

Nick Woodbine
In Musings
14th July 2010
Vive Le Tour

My sporting year looks like the profile of the 20th stage of last year's Tour de France. Flat for the main part with a single majestic peak rising out of the relative flatness.

The Tour itself is the Mont Ventoux of my annual sporting calendar, a monolith event of such epic proportions that its shadow looms large over everything that precedes it.

Like most cyclists I am a details freak. I revel in cadence rates, riders' gear ratios and other banalities that would be bed-wettingly dull to most of you reading this. 15 years ago I would clear my daily calendar between 6pm and 7pm and drink up every scrap of information that the Channel 4 daily Tour highlights could give me but it was never enough to sate my thirst for these details from the Peloton.

Similarly, it would never convey the rider dynamics, the feuds and alliances, the sheer and brutal pain that each rider would endure as the Tour wound its inexorable way towards Paris.

Then came the Social Web.

What social media gives cycling is the means of giving detail-obsessed fans like me an instant hit of the tedious, granular information that I crave. It lets me see Cav's cadence as he rips up the Champs Elysees or Brad Wiggins' heart rate as he goes backwards down the Col de Madeleine.

I can go to my 'Pro Cycling' group on Tweetdeck and see petty squabbles between riders unable to resist the lure of Twitter whilst holed up in a Novotel with nothing but a sponsor's smartphone and a travel kettle for company. Or the Peloton's praise for someone's superhuman feats, such as riding 200km with a broken arm. I can go to Flickr for Hi Resolution images of the day's suffering or stream the race live on my iPhone through the ITV Tour App. In short, there is so much for me to see and do that I am almost certain to do no work for most of July.

A few Tour-based treats for the other bike geeks out there;

  1. Keen to show off its capabilities, Microsoft have built an App for Bing Maps that visualises each stage of the tour and provides stage results and weather information.

  2. Mapmyride have created an App that allows you to 'virtually race' the Tour by uploading data about your own day's ride. The app uses your stats to create a virtual time that you would have achieved if you had actually ridden that day's stage. I havent used it but i imagine it might be quite depressing.

  3. This is one for real data lovers. HTC (the smartphone guys) and Team Columbia have joined forces to bring the ultimate cycling Google maps mashup. The App gives realtime information on the Team's riders including speed, power, cadence and heart rate, as well as their real time position on the road.
  4. The ITV iPhone App lets you watch live streams of the Tour on the go as well as providing news and stats around each stage, team and rider.
  5. Stalk your favourite riders on Twitter.