Have fun mountain biking with a ‘10% Tour de France’

CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — 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.

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 10% of the miles of the Tour de France each day. That averages out to be about 10 miles a day – the longest ride being 14 miles and the shortest ride being 2 miles, which is 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: 21 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 10% 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.

Stock image, St. George News

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 21, 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 “10% 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!

Written by JAY BARTLETT of Bicycles Unlimited for St. George News.

This article was first published in St. George Health & Wellness magazine and updated for current publication.

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Bicycles Unlimited has been Southern Utah’s bicycle leader since 1984, offering service, sales and rentals.

Bicycles Unlimited offers a complete line of road, triathlon, mountain, BMX, cruiser and many more types of bikes. They feature Cannondale, Cervelo and Trek Brands but also carry many other BMX and Cruiser brands.

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