By Michael Carman
Peninsula Daily News
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First, this publication has been keeping readers updated on the stage-by-stage progress of the soon-to-be-completed Tour de France.
The race wraps Sunday in Paris with live coverage from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. on NBCSN.
Next, I watched the premiere of an engrossing ESPN documentary, “Slaying the Badger,” that shows the sometimes friendly, often contentious rivalry between cycling teammates Bernard “The Badger” Hinault of France and American Greg LeMond.
LeMond was the first U.S. cyclist to win a mountain stage and the first American to win the Tour de France.
After the tour titles of admitted blood doper Lance Armstrong were stricken from the record, LeMond remains the only American to win the Tour De France.
I'd be remiss in my duties if I let one of the biggest cycling weekends of the year on the North Olympic Peninsula go without some coverage.
Three road rides are planned across valleys, coastline and up and down hills the weekend of Aug. 2-3.
The second annual Tour de Lavender, two different rides presented by the Sequim Lavender Farmers Association, along with the Black Ball Ferry Line's Ride the Hurricane, are planned that weekend.
The Tour de Lavender's first ride, a 71.3-mile “Metric Century Plus” ride, is Saturday, Aug. 2.
In a change from the first edition of the event, cyclists will begin in Sequim at the Boys & Girls Club and travel through the Dungeness Valley, stopping off at lavender farms and continuing along the Olympic Discovery Trail through Port Angeles to the Elwha River Bridge and back.
“Lavender farmers are always looking for ways to bring people here and promote the area,” ride director Tom Coonelly said.
“Dan Abbott of George Washington Inn and Washington Lavender had the idea for the ride and went to the three cycling clubs in Sequim, the Sequim Spoke Folk, Women on Wheels and the Easy Riders, to create the race.”
The second ride of the Tour de Lavender, a 34.5-mile Family Fun Ride that transits through the Dungeness Valley, can be completed Aug. 2 or 3.
Both rides incorporate visits to Purple Haze Lavender, Jardin de Soleil, Olympic Lavender, Washington Lavender and Lost Mountain Lavender farms.
Coonelly said each of the farms will have food, a family activity and, maybe the most vital factor in ensuring a successful family outing, portable toilets.
Entrants in either ride can visit all five lavender farms and receive stamps for a tour passport in a bid to win a Specialized Sirrus bicycle provided by All Around Bikes (formerly Mike's Bikes) of Sequim.
“It's a great road bike and the odds of winning it are pretty high,” Coonelly said.
Each ride will be supported by volunteers from the bicycle clubs, with food, water and electrolyte-laden drinks available on the metric century ride at the Port Angeles Transit Center, the Elwha River Bridge and back at the Boys & Girls Club.
“If your bod is just flat bonked, we stop and can feed and water and give you an electrolyte drink to get you going,” Coonelly said.
Last year's ride started in Kingston but organizers learned from participants that the increased summer traffic along state Highway 104 and U.S. Highway 101 can make riders nervous.
Both routes of this year's rides travel along U.S. Highway 101 for a brief half-mile portion, but it's in a stretch with a wide shoulder. The routes then return back to country roads and trails.
Both rides are still accepting riders.
The late-registration fee is $55 for the Metric Century Ride and includes a cap, water bottle and lavender gift.
Late registration for the Family Fun Ride is $45, with riders younger than 12 only $10.
Participants will receive a T-shirt, water bottle and lavender gift.
For more information, visit tourdelavender.wordpress.com.
Ride the Hurricane
The other ride, Ride the Hurricane, is in its fifth year in 2014.
This ride gives cyclists free reign over the Hurricane Ridge Road in Olympic National Park on Sunday, Aug. 3 from from 7 a.m. to noon.
Riders can pick from a 24-mile round trip from the Heart O' the Hills campground or a 36-mile round trip that begins at the Peninsula College parking lot.
The event will supply four aid stations which will have water and snacks available along with portable toilets.
The Summit House atop the Ridge will be open and snacks and beverages will be available.
Celebratory “I made it to the top” photos also will be taken and available online after the event.
A first-come, first-served spectator shuttle will leave the Peninsula College parking lot at 7 a.m. and leave the summit at 9 a.m. With another round trip starting at 10 a.m. and returning from the summit at 11:30 a.m.
An informal after-ride party is set for the Peninsula College parking lot from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Registration is $40, with $5 going to maintenance and development of the Olympic Discovery Trail.
Each rider will receive a goodie bag with sponsor information and a custom Ride the Hurricane Jacket.
All riders are required to sign a waiver and all riders must wear cycling helmets.
For forms, registration and more information, visit www.portangeles.org/pages/RideTheHurricane/
One last film plug
And if you aren't a cyclist, check all the ESPN stations for a replay of “Slaying the Badger.”
Each cyclist is interviewed in-depth, along with along with family, coaches and team owners.
The film lets you in on the relationship between the elder Hinault and the up-and-coming LeMond, which eventually turned from mentor to tormentor.
It also provides insight to the competitive nature and peak physical conditions required to complete a month-long, nearly 2,500-mile race through the Alps and Pyrenees and around a country nearly as big as the state of Texas.
Speaking of Texas, it also takes some pot shots at Armstrong's expense toward the end.
With thrills, chills and some bicycle spills, “Slaying the Badger” is 90 minutes well spent.
Outdoors columnist Michael Carman appears here Thursdays and Fridays. He can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5152 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.