As an adult, I have never owned a TV. Wait. I take that back. Couple months here and there, mostly donated or so-cheap TVs even I couldn’t help myself. So let’s say 90% of my adult life.

Not owning does not mean not liking. Or loving. I love TV. I love Law & Order (who doesn’t), Will and Grace, Blind Date (when it was on), and any and all Red Sox games. I reconsider my tube-less life during baseball playoffs and the Tour de France.

For most sports, watching them on TV can’t compare to watching them in person. Hockey is much better in person because the camera focuses on the puck, and you miss all the behind-the-scenes stuff that make great plays great plays. Same goes for basketball. Sadly, also baseball.

Not so with the Tour de France, which is infinitely better on television. When viewing Le Tour live and in person, you are limited to seeing one (or two, ok, maybe even three) different bits of action, each of which you must drive to. Cruelly, the action itself only lasts a couple of seconds.

Enter the television cameras–they catch the jostling in the peleton (the big group of riders), the breakaways, and the crashes in real time and not on some highlight reel. Watching the Tour helps you understand how long and painful a 20km climb in the Alps is. You can witness firsthand the braggadacio involved in a breakaway: “Who’s going to try to keep up with me?” All that stuff that comes before the finish line, before the last sprint, is caught on camera and can be watched on Versus TV (formerly OLN).
Sadly, I have not seen one live broadcast of this great race. Live action starts at 8AM, and few bars carry cable with Versus–and fewer willing to show Versus–at that time and in my town. So every morning I lumber over to the next best thing, my computer, and dial in. For those of you without cable or TV, may I recommend the following to stay clipped in to the Tour:

Websites

http://www.versus.com/ My first stop in the morning. They’ve got the regular Tour characters–Bob Roll and Phil Liggett–and a running blog during the race so if you’re imaginative enough, it’s almost like you’re there. For those averse to reading, there’s always the video highlights, about ten.

http://www.bicycling.com My second stop. Bicycling features the icing, with highlight reels from years and eras past (Armstrong and Indurain, notably) and up-to-date articles on the day’s events.

http://www.velonews.com I sometimes pass on. Most of the information I’m looking for (which is more Tour- than cycling-related), I’ve already gotten.

At this point I refresh my podcasts on iTunes.

Podcasts

In a post-Lance and purgatorial-Floyd era, competetive cycling just isn’t as profitable as it used to be. American cycling sponsors, have, for the most part, stayed on their side of the pond this year. So I go with the Brits. It’s akin to the BBC–same funny accents, same folks you’ve never heard of, all with a fresh perspective.

The one I listen to, ITV Tour de France, runs about 15 minutes. Their accents aren’t too strong–more Austin Powers than The Full Monty–and although the story for the day is basically the same, its presentation and emphasis isn’t. They remind me other riders besides Americans and stage winners are in the race.

Different folks witnessing the same thing reporting different things. Sport does imitate life.

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