Unless you’ve been living in a cave, and even if you’re not into bicycles, almost anyone has heard of the “Tour de France”. The Tour as it’s known, is the Paris-Dakar of bicycles races, a grueling three week race through France on a bicycle. With immense high Alps and Pyrenees mountains, it’s not an easy race for the cyclists.
But the Tour also has it’s fair share of motorcycles. Motorcycles are used a lot, since they are the only ones that can move along the cyclists without running into them (though it does happen). Riding a motorcycle in the Tour requires skill: sometimes the pace is really slow (when climbing a mountain) and you’ve got to keep the motorcycle steady, and sometimes the bikes are flying downhill, and you’ve got to keep up while staying out of their path.
The official motorcycle supplier for the Tour is Kawasaki. They supply motorcycles (and spare motorcycles) for time keeping, stewards, medical/first aid and observers. Some 30 KLV1000 and ZRX are used.
But you’ll not only see Kawasaki on the Tour. BMW is well represented since most radio, TV and photo press use them. Of the 260 TV cameras used throughout the Tour, at least 10 are on a motorcycle.
This year, 240 press photographers have received accreditation, meaning that at least 50 will be riding as pillion on a motorcycle, often contorted or hanging alongside the motorcycle to get that special photo.
The publicity caravan is 20 kilometers long, and even there you’ll find motorcycles, distributing goodies to the public
So if you watch the news TV footage of the Tour, make sure you look at all the motorcycles. Sometimes you’ll see more motorcycles than bicycles. In the end, the Tour de France organizer, ASO, is the same that runs the Dakar race, so no surprise there.
More on the Tour: http://www.letour.fr/2008/TDF/LIVE/us/500/index.html