Day 178: Blazing Saddles: The Cruel and Unusual History of the Tour de France

30 06 2010

Blazing Saddles: The Cruel and Unusual History of the Tour de France by Matt Rendell


I love to read. Fiction, non-fiction, biographies and mysteries are a few of my favorite genres, but really I’ll read just about anything. I just finished a great biography called “Princess Noire: The Tumultuous Reign of Nina Simone” by Nadine Cahodas. I’ve been a big fan of Nina’s music for years, but had no idea what a troubled person she was as she battled mental illness throughout her life. A sad story, but I enjoyed the book. 

Last night I looked at the pile of books on my nightstand, wondering what to select as the next book to read. Considering the Tour de France starts on Saturday, the book choice was obvious. I’d recently visited a used bookstore and discovered a book called “Blazing Saddles: The Curious and Unusual History of the Tour de France” by Matt Rendell. Published in 2008, the book (as the title states) is a summary of offbeat, unusual and historical facts about the Tour, starting with the first one in 1903. Over 100 photos are included in the 300-page book. 

I’ve just started the book today, so I’m not very far along yet, but I think it’s going to be a great read. I have to admit I don’t know much about the history of the Tour. Particularly the early years of the event. It’s interesting that allegations (and proof of) cheating started with the second race. One rider was caught being transported farther into the route in the team car. Guess he thought no one would notice? Needless to say, bribes, drugs and other methods of cheating became common elements of the Tour. 

I read recently in a CyclingNews article that the World Anti-Doping Agency stated that the investigation into the Floyd Landis/Lance Armstrong doping scandal will take time to investigate, but it’s expected to prove “fruitful.” Authorities are seeking to determine whether money from headline sponsor US Postal Service was used to buy performance-enhancing drugs during its team sponsorship between 1996 and 2004. In addition to accusing Lance Armstrong of doping, Landis implicated former US Postal riders Levi Leipheimer, George Hincapie and David Zabriskie among others. It’s going to be interesting to see what the results of the investigation will be. 

Anyway, back to the book. I find it fascinating to think that guys managed to do the race on single-speed bikes, without state-of-the-art lightweight aerodynamic bikes or GPS devices. Or helmets. Or streamlined cycling clothing with comfy padded-crotch shorts. If you’re looking for some interesting stories about the early days of the Tour, I recommend “Blazing Saddles.” I may post a follow-up review once I finish the book. If you’ve read the book, let me know what you think. 

Today’s food journal: 

— Chocolate, peanut butter and banana smoothie = 385 cal. 

— Jimmy John’s Slim Turkey sandwich = 401
— BBQ chips =160
— Diet Coke = 0 

— Salad with ranch dressing = 178
— 1 soft pretzel = 483
— Iced tea = 0 

— Skinny Cow drumstick = 150 

Life’s a journey. Enjoy the ride! 

…( ) / ( )  

Thanks for visiting.




One response

2 07 2010
Day 180: Bring on the Tour! « Cyclingproject365

[…] the Tour de France” by Matt Rendell. You can find out more about the book in my previous post here. – Sports Illustrated had a good photo slideshow of the Top 10 riders in this year’s […]

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