It’s July and there’s much to say about a bike race. Amidst the rolling cavalcade of media are two blokes with a few cameras and an enthusiasm for cycling. Here’s a brief introduction to RIDE Media’s first collaboration with Cycling Maven.
Road Trip: Le Tour 2016 – the story so far…
– By Rob Arnold
It was an idea born from an interview at the end of March, the day Rob met Mark. A magazine publisher and a vlogger caught up in Melbourne and realised that there was common ground. Cycling connects a lot of people, it happens every day in bunches around the world. You ride, you talk, you get to know each other and from little discussions big things grow.
Since 1997, I’ve spent every July in France watching a bike race. The first year was a toe-in-the-water experience: I worked as a consultant for SBS Television during the opening week of the Tour and caught the bug. I’ve returned every year since.
From 1998 through to 2013 I wrote the English content on LeTour.fr – calling the race live for what’s become known as the Tour Tracker. And then came the time to see the race a different way: reporting for my magazine and trying to provide some insights along the way via ridemedia.com.au.
It means that, over the past 19 years, I’ve gotten to know France quite well… at least the bits where the bike race has been. And, frankly, that’s a lot of territory.
I’m still learning about it and a lot of my local insight has come from François Thomazeau, the man who has written the Tourist Guide for the Tour for many years. He knows his country well and is able to explain it in a way that I find compelling. A gentle French accent but very good English and tremendous knowledge about history, geography, cuisine, culture and, of course, cycling.
Since 2014, I’ve completed The Big Loop with François in my car… most of the time. (Occasionally he jumps in another vehicle, the one driving by Giles Le Roc’h, a fellow former Reuters writer who is doing his quillionth Tour de France this year.)
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But, back to the discussion with Mark Ferguson in Melbourne this March…
The more we talked, the more we realised that we could combine our passions and try to showcase France and the Tour from a different perspective. Over the ensuing weeks and months, we slowly hatched a plan to make it happen.
Years of following cycling has introduced me to hundreds of people. And, after publishing a magazine about this beautiful sport since 1998, I’ve come to know a thing or two about bikes.
When SBS’s management asked what contributions I could make (beyond the regular podcasts with Phil Gomes et al), the obvious suggestion came up: why not create a Tour Tech series, the bikes and equipment documented for the host broadcaster of the race in Australia?
There was nodding. There was more discussion. There was consideration about the logistics of my proposal. There was a need for Mark to find time to get away from his “day job”. But before too long it all began to take shape: we’d cover the Tour in our respective ways – Mark for his Cycling Maven vlog, and me for RIDE Media – and we’d also submit short clips about the bikes used by the professionals.
It took five stages to fine tune but the first bike featured is one ridden by the defending champion Chris Froome (not, this link could be geo-blocked because of broadcast restrictions relating to the Tour). We only have around 90 seconds to explain the products but, well, you let us know via social media if you think it’s better than Gabriele Gate’s cooking segments…
Of course it’s always possible to go into more detail but the aim is to offer an overview of the bikes, get some insight from the riders and mechanics about what makes them different to what you can buy in shops, and show some cool images.
There’s more yet to come… stay tuned.
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Cycling Maven: documenting the 103rd Tour
Amidst all other things that happen while chasing a peloton around France in July, the aim for Mark was to broadcast a daily ‘vlog’ of his experience at his first Tour.
Technology hasn’t always been kind and connections are not always ideal. Alas, the hosts of ridemedia.com.au site had scheduled a change of servers that coincided with the opening week of the Tour and it resulted in a blank screen on our site for the last few days. It’s frustrating but, in context, it’s also a fine example of first-world problems. And it also opened up the way to help Mark as he documented the race in a different way.
Instead of posting online observations about the race and reactions from riders etc, during the week, I’ve been introducing Mark to the race and its many personalities.
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We’re five stages into the Tour. There have been four stage winners, three GC leaders and many kilometres covered as the peloton rolls south from La Manche to the Cantal department.
Below is the opening sequence of vlogs by Mark on his Cycling Maven YouTube channel.
Be sure to subscribe and follow the progress of this special road trip around France – with some deviations to Andorra and Switzerland.
And, of course, keep on riding.
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Le Tour 2016 – part 01: the arrival
Le Tour 2016 – part 02: checking in
Le Tour 2016 – part 03: into ‘the zone’…
Le Tour 2016 – part 04: meeting the SBS crew…
Le Tour 2016 – part 05: getting to know the bikes
Le Tour 2016 – part 06: leaving La Manche
Le Tour 2016 – part 07: catching up with ‘King Blem’
Le Tour 2016 – part 08: Ochowicz on Richie and Tejay…