I've decided to give it a try. The Tour de Fleece, not the Tour de France. I had heard vague mentions of the TdF on various websites after I learned to spin, but I hadn't really paid any attention because, frankly, I wasn't that good at spinning. Well, now, I'm better. Not perfect, but better. I don't consider myself a total newbie, but I wouldn't say I'm at a beginner level, either, maybe an intermediate. Definitely not advanced yet.
Once my spinning took off, I became curious about this spin-along. This year, a new spinning friend mentioned the TdF and asked if I had ever done it and I told her I hadn't, but I decided this year to give it a go. I've been on a number of groups on Ravelry for years, but my visitation to the site had been sporadic at best during the whole move from NY to FL. I've been much more active the last few months and have even joined a few new groups. I'm on several spinning groups including the Spindlers group, a group for those of us who love spinning on a spindle. So, it was a no brainer that I would join Team Spindlers when it started coming together in the discussion pages. I have also signed up for Team Rookies since this is my first go at this massive spin along.
I was curious about the history of this spin-along and did some research. I thought I'd share what I've learned. This spin along was the brainchild of starathena on Ravelry. She was an avid Tour de France enthusiast and wanted to show her support of the race in her own small way. Gathering like minded spinners on the Craftster boards, she managed to rope in 15 other pioneers to join her in 2006 for a total of 16 spinners. She called it Le Spin de Tour.
Starathena started with six simple Guidelines:
1. Spin every day the Tour rides. Saturday July 1st through Sunday July 23rd. Days of rest: Monday, July 10th, Monday July 17th. (Just like the actual tour)
2. Spin something challenging on Tuesday July 18th (Gap to L'Alpe DE d'HUEZ)
3. Take a button if you want one. Then we can use the button on our blogs in show of solidarity. Link button to:
4. Wear yellow on Sunday July 23rd to announce victory. Why not wear yellow on any day you feel particularly successful?
5. Other colors if desired: Green (sprinter - think FAST), Polka-dot (climber - as in uphill), and white (rookie)
6. In the event I am the ONLY person doing this, no public mocking. Even Lance had to start somewhere. Quoted from starathena's blog here.
The following year, they went from 16 to 138 participants in the Tour de Fleece. The only part of the Guidelines that changed slightly was number 2 to indicate the date and place of Challenge day, the most grueling part of the course that is usually uphill. Having lived during part of my bike riding childhood in the mountains of WV, I can sympathize with the racers. Riding uphill on a bike is no small feat. Riding uphill on a mountain? Pure torture. It is one reason why I gave up bike riding.
In 2008, over 400 spinners joined the masses on both starathena's blog and on Ravelry, that little social network for fiber artists that started in 2007. They also formed groups for the first time like Peloton, Rookies, Sprinters, Climbers, Breakaways and Lantern Rouge. There were 70 spinners on starathena's blog and 401 spinners on Ravelry. In 2009, over 1500 spinners participated. And, in 2010, over 3800 spinners joined the challenge.
At some point, guideline 6 was dropped. I think it is safe to say that no one was mocking starathena in her attempts to be a part of the Tour de France. Everyone wanted to be part of the fun.
This year? Well, this year the official teams are as follows:
Team Peloton - the group for everyone, the pack of spinners (the group of cyclists who ride together)
Team Rookies - the group first timer's who are spinning the race for first time
Team Sprinters - the group for those overachievers who plan to spin ton of fiber
Team Climbers - the group for those hoping to tackle a major challenge in their spinning, learning a new technique, or spinning more than ever before
Team Breakaways - the group for those slightly wacky spinners dabbling in textured art yarns
Team Lanterne Rouge - the group for those spinners who want a more leisurely ride through the race, concentrating on achieving their own personal best in spinning
Team Maillot Blanc - the group for the younger spinners under the age of 18
At my last count, there were 80 Wildcard Teams and over 7600 participants in this year's Tour de Fleece. And, in case you think this is just a local thing, there are participants worldwide including countries like Australia, Canada, England, Finland and Germany. I'm sure there are more. Lest you think this little spinning thing is just for the ladies, there is a group for spinners who are men. One can even join a group for their favorite fiber house or yarn company. There is a group for everyone.
And the guidelines? Well, they have changed a little, too. Whittled down from six to three simple guidelines:
Spin every day the Tour rides, if possible. Saturday July 4 through Sunday July 26th. Days of rest: Monday, July 13th and Tuesday, July 21st. (Just like the actual tour.)
Spin something challenging on the challenge day (usually the toughest high mountain stage: this year, it’s Stage 18, on Thursday, July 23rd, when they will climb 5 mountains, including the 1,924m high Col du Glandon).
Wear yellow on Sunday July 26th to announce victory. Why not wear yellow on any day you feel particularly successful? (Yellow is the color of the race leader in the Tour - but here we are all ‘race leaders’) Other colors if desired: Green (sprinter - think FAST), Polka-dot (climber - as in uphill), and white (rookie). Quoted from this year's TdF page on Ravelry.
So, this year, I'm going to spin my little heart out. I'll be posting my starting lineup and the tools I'll be using. I'll be posting how much I've managed to spin throughout the Tour. I might even get a t-shirt printed with the TdF's simple concept to keep me motivated.