Catching Up with Jennifer and Keeping the TDF Off the Streets

Well, it’s pretty late in Italy where I connected with Jennifer (via Skype). As fun as it is to experience the Tour de France, as a host, Jennifer has certainly put in the hours serving her riders. It was 5:30 pm here in Boston which meant 11:30 pm in Italy. We didn’t get to talk much since she lost her adapter and could not charge her laptop. Actually, she was using the battery power of her laptop to charge her phone. One has to know priorities when traveling. 🙂 Jennifer is hoping to have the ability to plug in once on the plane tomorrow so we’ll look forward to an update from her once she has access to WiFi.

The Tour de France has certainly been exciting. There are so many things to love about the TDF. As a coach and instructor, I love how it presents opportunities for sharing the sport we love with those who might not ordinarily be interested or aware. People are often surprised how much teamwork and strategy is involved in bike racing. They are intrigued by the athleticism and all of the battles between the riders and the numerous jerseys and subcompetitions. All of this excitement and curiosity makes for some fun indoor cycling classes, and for those of us that love the TDF, we are in our glory as instructors.

I don’t believe we as instructors understand the important service we provide to the community—not just the community of cyclists and fitness enthusiasts, but our local communities. For all of the excitement the TDF creates (and there is an abundance), there is a downside to the Tour de France. If you are an instructor that also rides outside, maybe even commutes to work or to your classes, the TDF can make your life a living hell. The TDF is a cyclist’s version of an three-week-long MMA fight. Everyone gets all amped up during the Tour. Seriously, cyclists start to live or ride as if they are racing on the roads of France. It would not be as bad if they were simply imagining themselves in the peloton, but no, every cyclists they see on the road is a breakaway rider that needs to be reeled in. This display of adrenaline is not restricted to road cyclists. No, people on commuter bikes, hybrids, recumbents, and even tricycles are terrorizing the streets of communities all over the US. It is insane. It would be one thing if this was happening on the open roads and club rides, but it is happening in the city and in traffic!

I was riding to teach my Wednesday night class when I passed this rider on Massachusetts Avenue, a heavily trafficked street in Boston. I wasn’t racing, rather just holding a steady pace. Added to the noise of the city and cars, to my left is the desperate breathing of the person behind me. Apparently, the rider I passed earlier decided to chase me. So with this obscene caller behind me, I decide to pick up the pace in order to distance myself from him. It doesn’t work. He also picks up the pace and his breathing rhythm. Finally, before falling to cardiac failure, the rider and I are brought to a stop by a red light. When the light changes, the rider takes off violently and passes me. He was pushing so hard on the pedals that he looked more like a guy wrestling an alligator than a bike rider. He couldn’t hold the pace, which allowed me to pass him. He didn’t give up and threw down another acceleration and tried to pass me in the narrow space between the parked cars and traffic. Craziness. Finally I resorted to hiding among the moving cars where it was safe. Believe it or not, some version of this has happened on almost every ride I have been on in the last three weeks. I love the Tour de France, but this is an aspect of this beautiful race that I surely dread.

So, I plead with you, my fellow indoor cycling instructors, PLEASE teach more TDF profiles in your classes. Put up posters announcing your stages and Tour parties. Advertise wherever you can. Let’s serve our community and provide an outlet for those in pursuit of breakaways, green jerseys, and KOM points on our streets.


  1. Fun article, Tom. You should see the roads in Iowa, the several weeks before RAGBRAI, our big statewide ride. Everyone is out “practicing”.

    And the week after RAGBRAI, the roads are empty again.

    1. Bill, I’ve heard a bunch of great things about RAGBRAI and always wanted to be apart of it. Maybe one of these years I will actually get there and we can ride it together. Let’s skip the “practice” though.

  2. The roads of Chester County have finally returned to “normal.” With the heat of July, we try to push off at 6am to complete our riders by 9 or so. Day 1 of the Tour, our streets have a huge influx of riders. We notice at least 5x’s as many cyclist out on the road. Thankfully, they are mostly going in the opposite direction! We did however, encounter a few who tried to take us on, but we are not ones to sit quietly while under attack, unless we are in the middle of some clever conversation! By week three, the traffic returned to “normal” and we can enjoy the now, cool mornings and low humidity. If you ride the streets of Boston in traffic, I hope your wife has some good insurance on you, it is not even safe in a car!

    1. Jody, traffic has returned to normal (if you want to call that normal). However, many times I do find it safer to ride amongst the cars. My ex-wife forbade me to ride on this one strip of road because it contained underpasses. I loved dipping down under and powering up the other side. As crazy as that seemed, it was still safer than riding near the bike lanes during the TDF.

  3. Fabulous article Tom!
    As I’m reading this and laughing out loud(and of course, having to read to to my hubby so he doesn’t think I’ve lost my marbles!!), I can’t agree more! Tom, not too long ago, Riding my commuter to the gym, I was literally pushed into racing (??!!) a dude on his road bike! Really?! Yup. except…I use my commuter to “train” on my daily rides to work and I don’t think he’ll challenge another small person on a commuter again..(easy target?!..not!) 😉 But I was thinking the same: all of a sudden almost everyone on a road bike is Cavendish!!!
    Hopefully this misplaced enthusiasm will calm down soon….till next year :/

    1. Thanks Shirin!! That guy was definitely a fool for challenging you. Now, post-Tour, it does seem like the Cavendish’s have returned to their caves for now.

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