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101 years of Tour de France

Harrogate fans of the Tour de France
Harrogate fans of the Tour de France
Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

The big one, the Tour de France, entered its 101st year today. The race, which is 3 weeks long, started in England this morning.

The big news from the race today is the crash Mark Cavendish, riding for Omega Pharma-Quick Step, ended up in, some 300 meters from the finish in Harrogate. Cavendish has a personal connection to Harrogate, having spent a good deal of time there as a child.

The crash enabled Marcel Kittel, of the Giant-Shimano team, to battle it out to the finish in first place, followed by Peter Sagan, riding for Cannondale.

The latest report is that the Manx Missile, as Cavendish is called, came away from the crash with no broken bones. His team says he will be at the start line tomorrow.

What does any of this have to do with the greater Sacramento area? Not much, and a lot, all at the same time.

France and le Tour are a long ways away from here. However, the region has a very strong cycling tradition. The Tour always ratchets up interest in cycling in the area.

Look for bike shops to offer deals and discounts during the tour. It's generally a good time to buy more gear, or perhaps trade your old ride in for a new one.

Bike clubs may ramp up their rides or do a Tour themed ride. Most of the clubs will let you ride along if you ask nicely. If not, find a riding buddy and set up your own ride. It is possible to somewhat mimic the rides in the Tour.

Another aspect of the Tour is that general interest in cycling goes up. People who haven't been on a bike for a long time decide that maybe it's time to start riding again. Riders who perhaps don't ride very much, start extending their rides or adding days on the bike to their routine.

All of that is good, not only for the individuals who become more active, but for the bike economy around Sacramento and the surrounding areas.

Pick your route, find a buddy, or a club, and ride on. It's massively more economical than going to France.

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