What to do when nature calls (and 9 other interesting things about the Tour de France)

There are a few sets of bleary eyes here at Reid Cycles after staying up late watching the Tour de France. We love our racing, but when things are just ticking along, we've been doing a little research around little known Tour facts. Here are 10 of the most intriguing Tour de France facts, from top speeds to drinking on the job.

1. When nature calls

While there are times when riders have to relieve themselves on the run, there’s an official agreement called ‘pause pipi’, which allows for quick bathroom breaks that don’t interfere with clocked time… further proof that everything sounds better in French.

2. Top speed

Speeds of up to 100km/h have been clocked on the downhill runs – that’s as fast as we drive on the freeway. Check out this clip to get a sense of the pace. The fastest average speed for the whole race was 41.5 km/h, recorded in 2005.

3. Calorie counting

The riders burn around 9000 calories each day – to put that in perspective, that calorie burn is equal to hitting a punching bag for around 19 hours straight. Ouch.

4. Bad sports

Back in the early days, riders resorted to extreme tactics to put the opposition off their game. Antics included putting itching powder down the other contenders’ shorts, scattering glass across their riding path and spiking their water bottles.

5. The ultimate price

The Tour de France has claimed the lives of four contestants – three in on-course crashes and one while swimming on a rest day.

6. Chain changes

Cyclists will go through an average of three bicycle chains during the Tour.

7. Visual stimulation

Some cyclists will do anything to boost motivation. Mario Cipollini taped a picture of Pamela Anderson to his handlebars in the hope of increasing testosterone levels and, subsequently, his speed during the race. We’re not sure Pammy would do it for us, but you get the idea…

mario cipolliniImage credit: http://www.competitivecyclist.com

8. Going the distance

During the 2016 Tour cyclists will cover 3,519 kms over 23 days, which is equivalent to racing from Melbourne to Perth, or London to Cairo.

9. Sweating it out

On average, the riders will produce around 1.5 litres of sweat per hour – that’s enough to flush a toilet 39 times during the 21-stage race.

10. Drink-riding

Until a law was passed in the 1960s prohibiting the consumption of any stimulants, cyclists were allowed to consume alcohol while riding. We’d much prefer to sip French wine from the comfort of the couch.

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