September 9, 2019

Ten Percent Tour de France

By Jay Bartlett


Riding your bike should ultimately be about having fun. Yes, it’s a workout. Often, it is challenging and can even be hard and painful at times. But at the end of the ride (or within a day or two after finishing a big event), you should be able to say you had fun. It’s the reason most people ride bikes, and if you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong!

Fun obviously comes in different forms for different people, and accepting a challenge that can potentially be hard and a bit painful can still be filled with many fun moments.

A couple of months ago, my girlfriend Steph came up with the idea of riding ten percent of the miles of the Tour de France each day. That averages out to be about ten miles a day, the longest ride being fourteen miles and the shortest ride being two miles (the day of the individual time trial during the Tour de France). Not big miles really, but the challenge is the frequency of the rides: twenty-one days in a row with only two rest days! 

“Have fun with that,” I thought. But as we talked about the “rules” of the game, I became hooked. This did sound like fun. After all, I’d be watching the Tour on television anyway, so what better way to get motivated to ride every day?

We thought about doing all of the stages on mountain bike trails, which would be a cool way to do this “grand tour,” or trying to throw in ten percent of the climbing as well (there was a lot of it in this year’s race). But because of the logistics of our jobs, the care of our dog Penny, or just the vagaries of daily life, we decided to keep it loose and hit the miles in any way we could manage. Some days were indeed on dirt and some were on pavement. We even rode several of the short mile days on our old-school Schwinn three-speed cruisers to add to the challenge and to keep it fun. That’s the cool thing about a project like this; it’s so unofficial! Make your own rules. Miss a day? Make it up at the end or add the miles to the next day. Do it in the dirt? Do it all on the road? Ride your fastest or just go for a ride? It’s your tour and your rules.

As I write this on day twenty-one, the pro peloton is making its way into Paris for several laps around the Arc de Triomphe on the Champs-Elysees for one last sprint finish to end this year’s Tour and crown its winners. We’ll be waiting for the evening temps to cool a bit so we can finish our Ten Percent Tour in St George’s slightly less historic and glitzy downtown, where we’ll ride through several roundabouts and climb a parking garage or two to simulate the final stage and our victorious finish of Le Petite Tour, as I call it. Unfortunately, it’s also Sunday, so we can’t get any champagne to celebrate, as is the tradition. I suppose sparkling water will have to do!


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