What's Cool In Road Cycling

E-Book Review: “The Tour Within The Tour de France”

Looking to appetize your pre-Tour taste buds? As popularity for the Tour continues it’s Lance-fueled growth on this side of the pond, fans have more “recreational” reading to choose from than ever before. The race itself is so much more than the basic race reports we see on tv and read about in the dailies, and at least one writer has compiled and entertaining (and PEZ-worthy) series of his Tour adventures and experiences gained from covering 7 Tour de France for various newspapers.

The “Tour Within The Tour de France” features sports, travel and human-interest essays from James Raia’s first six years of the covering cycling’s most prestigious race. It’s about four-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, the mountains, the people and the ambiance of the event. Something else that makes the “book” unique, is that it’s available only online, as a downloadable pdf file – a true e-book.

Having read it, what I found most enjoyable was James interest in taking us “inside” the Tour – a philosophy we embrace here at PezCycling News! Covering a race as grand as the Tour is an adventure unto itself – and provides a very cool backdrop for stories about French security guards, the basic struggles of finding lodging for the weary traveller, glimpses of the cast and characters who make up the Tour “entourage” – the stuff great adventures are made of.

As one of this entourage, I asked James how he got started covering the world’s greatest sporting event… “I began covering cycling and other endurance sports in the late 1970s as a staff writer with the Sacramento Bee. No one else wanted to do it, but I found it fascinating. In 1983 I went to the Hawaiian Ironman for the first time and I’ve been back about a dozen times to report on the event. In 1986, on a lark, I heard about the Coors International Bicycle Classic in Colorado and the subsequent World Championships in Colorado Springs. As a “stringer” I covered both events for AP, Reuters and USA Today and stayed on the road for 31 days. It was wonderful. Every year since, I’ve covered at least one stage somewhere around the world. In short: 4 Coors Classics, 8 Tour de Trumps and Tour DuPonts, 4 World Championships and now the Tour de France for the 7th time. I’ve been to plenty of other events, too, golf tournaments in Morocco to marathons in Finland.”

James is now in his 16th year of full-time freelancing, and will again be covering the Tour on different days for different newspapers, including the Miami Herald, Sacramento Bee, Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, Alameda Newspaper Group, and CityXpress.com.

James also publishes the daily Tour de France Times, an electronic newsletter, covering features, notes and quotes, travelogues, human-interest stories and other material from the three weeks that is the Tour de France. You cn sign up for it on his website (see below).

As James says: “I really enjoy the event. I know Lance Armstrong and some others, but for me the Tour de France is more about the ambiance, the culture, the learning, the unique places, than it is about the who won a particular stage. I think that’s reflected in my e-book and e-zine.”

For more information or to purchase The Tour With the Tour de France, (or a number of James’ other books) visit his website at: www.byjamesraia.com

To contact the James, e-mail him at [email protected]

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