Video Of The Day: ‘Line Of Sight’ Trailer From The 2012 Bicycle Film Festival

While most eyes are on the Tour de France, there’s a much more intriguing form of cycling that’s quickly becoming a phenomenon: underground bicycle messenger racing.

Yes, it’s a real thing, and it appears to be spreading. Filmmaker Lucas Brunelle spent more than a decade profiling and documenting messenger cultures around the world, and he recently released “Line of Sight,” a 60-minute documentary film that premiered Saturday at the 2012 Bicycle Film Festival in New York City. According to the description:

This is bike riding like you’ve never seen before, in gripping first-person perspective through the most hectic city streets, on expressways in Mexico City, over the frozen Charles River, under the Mediterranean Sea, across the Great Wall of China and deep into the jungles of Guatemala.

Sounds much more gripping than the winding, tree-lined roads of France.

2012 Tour De France Begins Today!

Cycling’s premiere event, the Tour de France, gets underway today with the world’s best riders preparing for another challenging race. This year’s Tour promises to be an exciting one as the teams go head-to-head through 20 grueling stages that culminate on July 22 with their arrival on the Champs Elysees in Paris.

The competition for the famed Maillot Jaune, or Yellow Jersey, which is worn throughout the competition by the race leader, should prove to be an interesting one. Former Tour champ Alberto Contador, widely considered the best cyclist in the world, is out of the race while serving a controversial drug suspension. His chief rival, Andy Schleck, is also out after suffering a fracture to his back in the Criterium du Dauphine at the start of June. This opens the door for any number of riders to claim victory in Paris, including defending champ Cadel Evans and Bradley Wiggins of the U.K. They’ll be pushed by Ryder Hesjedal of Canada, Robert Gesink from the Netherlands and Frank Schleck of Luxembourg.

When the race begins later today it will be on the streets of Liège where the cyclists will ride a short 6.4-kilometer (4-mile) Prologue that will determine the preliminary rankings before heading into the first road stage tomorrow. Stage 1 will be a mostly flat and fast affair covering 198 kilometers (123 miles) between Liège and Seraing. This will give the Tour’s sprinters a chance to stretch their legs before heading into the mountains in the later stages of the race.

The course designers did a fine job of mixing up the challenges this year. The race begins with the traditional flat stages, but eventually gives way to tougher medium and big mountain stages, which is where the race is usually won and lost. Two individual time trials will also go a long way towards determining who will wear the Yellow Jersey in Paris in three weeks time.

You can follow all of the action on the Tour de France website, where daily updates show rankings, stage results and individual highlights. For cycling fans, it is going to be an exciting event.

Win A Trip To The Tour de France From Cannondale

Are you a cycling fan who has always dreamed of attending the Tour de France? Then Cannondale has a Facebook contest with a prize specifically designed for you. The company is giving one lucky fan a chance to attend the race in July and actually become a member of Team Liquigas-Cannondale for a week.

In order to win the contest you’ll first have to “Like” Cannondale on their Facebook page and then click on the Tour de France icon to fill out the online form. In addition to providing basic contact information, you’ll also be asked questions like who your favorite rider on the team is and what your prefect ride is like. Answering those questions creatively will go a long way toward gaining some attention and impressing the judges, who will select 25 finalist for the next round of the competition. If you make the cut, you’ll then be asked to create a short video introducing yourself more fully.

The winner of the competition will receive an all expense paid trip to attend the Tour, where they’ll get to hang around backstage at the race for a week. They’ll also get to ride in the team car, hand out water bottles, help prep the bikes and more. And if that wasn’t enough, the winner will also receive a new Cannondale SuperSix EVO, a bike that is valued at more than $5500. The EVO has been called the “Best Bike in the World,” which means it should be more than adequate for your next spin around town.

The contest closes on May 31st, so you’ll have to hurry to get signed up. With a little luck, you could find yourself in France this summer.

[Photo credit: Steven Eckelberry via WikiMedia Commons]

Australian Cadel Evans wins 2011 Tour de France

The 2011 Tour de France came to an end yesterday on the Champs Elyesees in Paris, where Australian Cadel Evans rode to victory in the race’s famed Yellow Jersey. After more than three weeks of racing, Evans emerged from the pack as best rider in this year’s event, and became the first man from Australia to win cycling’s premiere event.

With a course designed to challenge the riders in unique ways on every single day, fans of the Tour expected this year’s race to be an exciting and wide open one. They got everything they wanted and more, as the 2011 Tour de France featured all kinds of dramatics, particularly when the race entered the high mountains of the Pyrenees and the Alps. During the three weeks of racing, there were daring breakaways, brilliant individual performances, and cringe-inducing crashes, including a nasty incident with a media car that sent Dutch rider Johnny Hoogerland flying into a barbed wire fence.

Before the race started back on July 2nd, the pre-race favorites included not only Evans, but also defending champ Alberto Contador of Spain and the brothers from Luxembourg, Frank and Andy Schleck. Contador was bogged down with crashes early in the race, injuring a knee in the process. Those mishaps cost him precious time, and despite a spirited attempt in the final days of the Tour, he never quite got into the rhythm that has won him the Yellow Jerseys on three separate occasions in the past.
Heading into Saturday however, Andy and Frank Schleck sat at first and second in the standings respectively. Working together, the two men had managed to claim a small lead over Evans coming out of the final mountain stages. Saturday’s stage was an individual time trial however, which is not a strong point for those two riders, and is a particular strength of Evans. The Aussie rode one of the best rides of the day, and left the two Schlecks in the dust, claiming the victory. The two brothers slid to second and third in the final standings.

As is traditional in the Tour de France, Sunday is mostly a ceremonial ride into Paris. While the Peloton will joust for the final stage win, and the sprint specialists duel for the last available points of the race, no one attacks the Yellow Jersey. As a result, Evans’ ride to the finish line in Paris was essentially a 60 mile long victory lap, one that he particularly enjoyed after two second place finishes in previous Tours.

Cadel’s big win is expected to open the door for more Australian cyclists to leave their mark on the sport, much the way that Greg LeMond and Lance Armstrong inspired young American cyclists. Australia already has a proud cycling tradition, but this win will give the sport yet another boost in the country.

Congrats to Evans on the amazing win.

[Photo courtesy of AFP]

EpicQuest puts cycling tours on sale

With the 2011 Tour de France now underway, adventure travel company EpicQuest has announced that they have put their cycling tours to Sun Valley and Europe on sale. Travelers looking for an active escape this summer or fall will save as much as 50% on some of the more popular offerings.

With tours designed to appeal to the hardcore rider and the leisure cyclist alike, EpicQuest has created unique and exciting options for active travelers. European destinations include Switzerland, Italy, and of course France. Each of these options include daily rides through beautiful countrysides, mixed with gourmet meals, wine tastings, and luxury accommodations.

One of the more popular EQ offerings is their road tour of Tuscany. The seven day ride perfectly combines art, culture, food and physical activity in the best ways possible. Riders will explore Italy’s Chianti region, rolling through the spectacular hill country, while stopping at local wineries. The tour includes all food and beverages, seven nights stay at the villa Montecastelli, and even a private cooking class.

Alternatively, mountain bikers looking for a more adrenaline fueled ride will want to consider the EpicQuest tour to Sun Valley, Idaho where they’ll find a 160-acre Bike Ranch that combines BMX style riding with cross country trails. Located in the Sawtooth Mountains, visitors will stay at the Idaho Smokey Mountain Lodge while they can learn to master the basic skills of riding, while enjoying natural hot springs, an outdoor sauna, and other amenities. This tour comes in three and six day itineraries and is an excellent choice for anyone looking to hone their skills.

EpicQuest has a number of other great cycling tours as well, so if you’re feeling inspired by the events taking place in France at the moment, perhaps you’ll want to hop on a bike and experience your own cycling adventure.