• Posted Jul 22, 2006

Competitors eat fruit, we eat fruit pies

BRIAN DUFFY REGISTER CARTOONIST AND RAGBRAI HOST July 22, 2006 RAGBRAI (The Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa) starts Sunday. The Tour de France ends Sunday. Here's how the two stack up against each other: The Tour de France was started by the owners of a sports newspaper as a way of increasing circulation. RAGBRAI was started by a couple of newspaper columnists as a way of getting the newspaper to foot the bill for their ride across Iowa. • Tour de France is the oldest, longest and most storied multi-day stage race in the world. RAGBRAI is the oldest, longest and most storied multiday ride in the United States. • On the Tour, riders grab a bag or musette filled with food and drink at specific feed zones. On RAGBRAI, the entire route is a feed zone. • During a stage of the Tour, riders will eat easily digestible foods such as energy bars and gels, some fruit and small sandwiches. During an average day on RAGBRAI, riders will eat pork chops, pie, ice cream, steak sandwiches, corn on the cob, burritos - and that's just for breakfast. • During the Tour, riders burn 6,000 to 9,000 calories a day, and usually lose weight by the end of the race. On RAGBRAI, if you have not gained weight on the ride, you aren't trying hard enough. • On the Tour, corporations such as Discovery Channel, T-Mobile, Phonak, Gerolsteiner and CSC sponsor teams of riders. On RAGBRAI, riders form their own teams - Team Skunk, Team Road Kill, the Whiners, Kybo, Gold Bond, Ibuprofen and the Monks of Pain. • Tour riders are followed by team vehicles that include a chase car and a state-of-the-art bus. RAGBRAI riders are followed by team vehicles also, usually school buses that have been put out to pasture, painted purple or lime green and accurately referred to as tenements on wheels. • The Tour has the broom wagon to pick up riders who are not able to finish within the prescribed daily time limit. RAGBRAI has sag wagons that pick up riders who would not be able to finish within the prescribed week. • On the Tour, the road is lined with raucous crowds. On RAGBRAI, the lines of raucous crowds are on the road. • Tour bikes are feather light and as aerodynamic as an arrow. RAGBRAI bikes can be as heavy as a moped and as aerodynamic as an orange crate. • The Tour route is designed by the organizers to challenge the riders mentally and physically. The organizers made no friends with the riders by introducing mountains into the tour in the early 1900s. After climbing one of the mountains in the Pyrenees, the eventual winner spotted the organizers in a car and angrily accused them of being assassins for adding such ghastly terrain. RAGBRAI riders feel the same about the organizers when a few small hills find their way into the route. • Tour riders wear a team uniform known as a kit, which includes a jersey, shorts and socks. RAGBRAI riders wear overalls, tutus, feathered boas, Superman costumes, loincloths, tuxedos and toilet paper on their heads. • At times, the Tour will cross borders into surrounding countries for a stage or two. RAGBRAI has never left the confines of our borders because some of the riders can't swim, and their bikes don't float. • The Tour awards various colored jerseys for different disciplines - the yellow jersey for the race leader, the polka dot jersey for the best climber, the green jersey for the best sprinter and the white jersey for the best young rider. You might see these colored jerseys on RAGBRAI, but for different reasons. The yellow jersey means it has not been washed all week, the polka dot jersey indicates the rider had spaghetti and meatballs for lunch, the green jersey means the rider fell asleep in the grass after finishing a long day. There are no white jerseys, for the above-mentioned reasons. • The Tour has only one winner. RAGBRAI has 10,000 winners.

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