I tried watching the 2016 Tour de France but lost interest after the first week. I miss the panache and personal style of cyclists from the past. Now, I can barely distinguish one game piece from the next (logos, lego shaped helmets and mirrored shades drown out the personalities of the individual riders. I much prefer the era of leather hairnets, wool jerseys, lace up cycling shoes, Campagnolo parts, and steel bike frames with pinstripe detailing around the lugs or chrome forks and seat stays. In lieu of a $29 streaming media packaging, I’m now browsing through vintage European matchstick covers from my favorite print ephemera archivist, Pillpat. Head over to her vintage matchbox and matchboxes set on flickr to pick the riders for your own personal peloton.
I dream of a sports channel that broadcasts sporting events from the past. While I’m aloof to the running of the 100th edition of the Tour de France, I’d love to watch 50 year old coverage of the race. While I cannot provide you with live footage of the 1963 tour, here is some print ephemera and vintage figurines (via the Spoke Sniffer archives) for restaging your own race. If you prefer moving images, I recommend you watch the greatest cycling film ever made: Louis Mallee’s short documentary, Vive Le Tour (1962).
PDX messenger and Jack Taylor enthusiast, Joel Metz, forwarded along this amazing french catalog for Unis-Sport, an early sponsor of the Tour de France. I’m reposting product highlights in case you’re in the market for a tailored ensemble for bike camping or cyclo-tourism. My own mail order form – post marked 1938 – will include a request for a wool pullover with the Tour de France logo and a pair of the Raynaud model leather cycling shoes. Shop for yourself…
Once again I’m mining riders from the Nationaal Archief’s flickr photostream to stage my own Tour de France. Despite the passing of decades, the rider’s wool jerseys and steel bicycles make them look like a unified team. For 2012, I present my Archival tour:
Jaap Kersten in Gramont (1961)
Alphonse Schepers (1933)
Jules Buysse (1926)
Seamus Elliott, Jean Stablinkski en Jacques Anquetil (1963)
Climbing the Aubisque on foot (1928)
Stage 2 – Rennes – Le Mans (1960)
Taking care of the bicycles on a rest day (1930)
Kisses from a local beauty (1928)
Racing cyclists passing the Atomium (1960)
Ezquerra in the mountains (1934)
Cyclists passing a herd of sheep (1938)
From the archives…
Now that Spring randonneuring season is over, I can relax and monitor the suffering of other cyclists. My favorite form of spectactorship is the Tour de France. I’ve been watching the tour on TV since ABC broadcast 1/2 hour weekly recaps on its Wide World of Sports. On Saturday, I’ll be up at 6.am. to watch coverage of the opening prologue in Rotterdam.
I’m indifferent to modern cycling equipment or the competition between athletes (game pieces on a board, Tom might say). The US-centric TV coverage always frustrates, but I enjoy the epic Alpine stages and S-curve sprint finishes. I mainly watch for cyclists moving through a scrolling landscape, the helicopter shots of French villages and agriculture, and those larky commercial caravans.
Of course, I’d prefer a mixed era competition between the vintage cycling gents pictured below. To stage your own race, clip and cut participants from this terrific Tour de France set via Nationaal Archief’s flickr photostream.
In practical terms, if you need an all-wool cycling jersey in your national colors, I suggest you shop from Cima Coppi, a Canadian company selling handmade (recycled) merino wool jerseys and caps. I’m not too fond of the overly feminized (scoop neck, cashmere) Luxembourg national champion jersey, but I love the bold color panels, high necks and spread collars of these models:
recycled merino wool jerseys (made in Canada)