The norbs Guide to Watching a Grand Tour in Australia.

This guide is intended mainly for the dedicated Australian cycling fan (although, it can be adapted to other sports) who has to stay up into the wee small hours if he or she is to participate in the live viewing experience of a Grand Tour, or other major race in Europe. Races like the spring classics shouldn’t need this level of dedication, after all, it is usually only the one night. The grand Tours are a 3 week stretch, luckily, with a couple of rest days included.

The dedicated Aussie cycling fan can even see a fair amount of Grand Tour stages on free to air TV thanks to the wonderful coverage provided by SBS. For the Giro and Vuelta, there is a smattering of live stages, and for the rest of the time there is or for live streaming.

So, how do you mange to survive the three weeks of the one Grand Tour most watched, the Tour de France, where all stages are live on SBS. Well, having done it a few times myself, I present to you my tips for helping you keep the eyes open til the closing credits.

#1. Never, ever assume the horizontal! I can’t stress that enough. I assume most people will be watching the race for the maillot jaune from their couch. If you do, I’m betting you wont last the first week before dropping off to the land of nod. It seems a lot of amateurs put the heater on, grab a blanket and bask in the warming glow of their 52″ LCD with the sound down so as not to wake the sane person in the house. To these people I say “You’re doing it wrong!”

Rookie Error.

I cant stress it enough, don’t get too comfortable. It is a rookie error. Even seated at your computer, make sure your feet stay a good 600mm below your head! You have been warned.

#2. Cold feet are your friend. It is July in Australia and depending on where you live, it can get pretty coolish at night. Use this as an ally. Keep the Ugg boots in the shoe rack and nude up the toes. The benefit here is that it gives you something to do which will help you stay awake.

Cold Feet are Good Feet.

You stay awake by not getting comfortable. Continually swapping the foot you are sitting on keeps you awake. And, it helps stretch those muscles that stretch when you sit on your own foot. Please, only one foot at a time.

#3. DeCaf tea. Because decaf coffee tastes like some one has boiled the water from the pool in old peoples home up the road. Having a hot beverage late at night is only bad if it is Horlicks. Make sure it is steaming hot, like thermo nuclear hot. That blister on the bottom lip or tongue will keep your mind off falling asleep.

Mung Bean and Lentil Chai.

Best to if the tea is something exotic, you know, something like tree bark infused with the tears of ants. The fact this tea exists will keep you awake for hours.

#4. Headphones. And, like Robin Williams character in Good Morning Vietnam said, “PLAY IT LOUD, OK!” Headphones come in very handy. Firstly, you can hear every little whoop whoop whoop of the helicopter blades as they blow the bejesus out of a poor French farmers crops. Also, they will stop you dropping off when that Skoda ad appears during an ad break. And it will appear!

Loud = Good


Oh, and make sure they are wired headphones. That way, if you do manage to doze off and roll over to get comfortable, the feeling of being garroted should snap you back awake.

#5. Food. I can’t stress this enough. The exotic hessian and sawdust tea will only do so much. You need sustenance. It might be a bit late to be snacking down on a bag of Snakes or Clinkers. But don’t let that stop you from some good old Vegemite crumpets. Even better with melted cheese on top.

Vegemite and Chocoalte Milk

If you can’t stomach Vegemite, well, don’t be calling yourself an Aussie.

#6. Twitter. There is nothing like following some of the cycling royalty on Twitter. @inrng and even the face of Aussie cycling on TV @miketomalaris All are worth following during a bike race.

Mr Cycling on Aussie TV

Whether you want serious analysis or snark, it is all out there on Twitter. Search for hashtags for each race. #giro, #tdf etc etc

#7. Place a bet, a large one. Nothing keeps you on the edge of your seat like putting next weeks rent on one of the Schlecks finishing in the top 180 in the ITT.

Damn Frandy!

Best not to take tips from most of the SBS team. Tomo especially!

#8. Take some leave. Every year for the past 4 I have had the last week of the TdF off work. It is a pretty drastic measure, but it certainly makes it easier if you can grab a nana nap from about 1PM to 10PM before coverage starts.

Nana Naps

It is also a great time to get out on your bike and try and match the antics of the race the night before.
So there you have it dear reader. There is no excuse for falling asleep at 1:30am whilst watching Voeckler drive the french ladies mad with his tongue antics.

Update : Since I wrote this piece, I have done another along the same lines for RIDE magazine. Check it out here.

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We Have a Winner

My humblest apologies for the late nature of this announcement. I can only blame myself and a rogue WordPress plugin that stopped my scheduled posts. Not only stopped them, bloody deleted them. Argh!

A while back I asked for people to make a selection for this years TdF Lantern Rouge. Through some good luck or sheer arse, one person picked it!

Well done the Buddha man! Prizes will be there soonish. ;)

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Thank You SBS and the Twitteratti!

Well, another three weeks has passed and the Tour de France is nearly done and dusted. Due to the fact that I am back at work tomorrow and can feel the man flu coming, I will be bailing early tonight.

Just a quick note to say a big thanks to SBS and Cycling Central for the terrific coverage of the tour. There is a lot of whinging and bitching along the way, but I am sure most Aussie tour freaks are grateful for the coverage.

And to all those people I have chatted to on Twitter, thank you for the banter. There hasn’t always been agreement, but it has made the tour so much more than just sitting on my arse in front of the TV.

Most importantly, a huge shout out to all those who took part in #toursnacks It has taken off in a way I never expected. Thank you also to Phil Gomes at Cycling Central for getting behind it.

Vive le tour!

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Cows with Guns – Thanks #trolldj

You know the Aussie tour freaks will go off like a frog in a sock when #trolldj busts out this crowd favourite.

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Gerrans vs Talansky

This is as good a job of the screenies I can manage at 1:45am.

Use the cursor keys to go through the sequence.

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Phil and Paul, I Have Some Questions

Where is the safest spot in the peloton?

Do the riders get nervous?

Paul, did you ever ride professionally?

Is there a chance you might lose the Tour de France on any given day, but not win it?

Are there really four Sundays in the Tour de France?

Have there ever been any gauntlets laid down during the Tour de France?

Can you dance on the pedals?

Has any one rider ever ridden like ten men?

Do nerves of steel ever help?

If a sprinter touches his brakes, is it a sign of weakness?

Do the screws ever get turned up?

Does the peloton ever string out?

Has the rubber band ever broken?

How big is the suitcase of courage?

Are they heads of state in a bike race?

Is it possible to tap out a rhythm?

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Some Photos of Stage 5 Pre Race

People are already bitching about 2 cobbled sections being yanked. I think that is a bit rough. have a look at some of these photos of cobbled sections.


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My 3 New Bikes.

Since jumping back on to a bicycle in 2009, I have had three new bikes.

My new ride.

The original Merida flat bar hybrid. Bought on the 23 July 2009, got me back into cycling. Sadly, I found it gave me sore wrists riding it, so I sold it after 5000kms and got this.


Bought on the 6th May 2011, this bike was a fantastic buy. It got me around the bay, from Adelaide to Geelong and many other adventures. I blogged about how much I loved this bike a while back. About a week after that blog post, I found a crack in the frame. Bugger. After some chit chat with Sheppard Cycles, the Avanti distributors in Australia, I ended up with this. A big thank you to Cam and Ainslee for their help in the process.


What a beast. A fair bit more aggressive than the old Avanti, and lighter. With my mass on top of it, it certainly goes down hills fast. Lets hope I can get as much fun out of this one as the last one.

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Can You Be First to Pick Last?

Fantasy leagues, they are like lunatics on a climb at the Giro. Everywhere! I think it is time for something different. Probably not original, but different.

Who do you think will pick up the lanterne rouge (last official finisher) at the 2014 Tour de France?

Leave your pick in the comments below and you could win something. It might just be a bottle picked up from the side of the road at this years Tour Down Under. It may be something better. If I manage to scrape any other prizes together, I will list them in this post.

If no one picks the lantern rouge, it will be the lowest placed rider chosen first. I hope there won’t be any duplicates. I usually only get a couple of comments anyway, so it shouldn’t be too hard to see who has been picked.

Prize pool :

Velocast Tshirt, thanks to John and Scott at the Velocast
– Bottle picked up from roadside at 2014 Tour Down Under

To enter, just add a comment below. Keep an eye out here once the TdF has finished to see if you have won.

Entries close July 7th.

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New New Bits and Old Old Bits

As most people know, I have had the frame upgraded on my bike a week or two ago. I will put a full review of the warranty process together some time in the next week.

Today was time to replace a few bits that got moved from the old bike to the new one. Some were for aesthetic reasons, and others due to the old parts having issues.

Issue #1. The front caliper. It looks like there was a routed the wrong way around the caliper. Something I might have done, I am not sure. Anyway, here is what it looked like.

On went the new calipers, some black 105’s.

Next up, some new dark grey cranks. The old chrome ones were very beaten up and looked a little odd on the new frame. So on the new ones went and after a few wipes over, todays work was done.

Once the rear wheel has been re-laced and trued, I will get the new machine out for some decent photos.

Here is it last weekend out on my 2nd ride.

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#girosnacks goes Pink

Tomorrow night, all those who have been participating in #girosnacks have been thrown a new challenge. To celebrate the pink jersey, #girosnacks is going pink.

Post up your photos of pink snacks to twitter with the hashtag of #pinkgirosnacks

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