Le Tour De France Viewer’s Guide

We got to see the Tour De France this year since it passed by very close to where we live in France. When I came to know that we can watch the Tour De France in person, I did not know what to expect and how to plan. Internet searches did not yield much information and so here is my post which might help people who are looking for this information in future.


As you know, the Tour De France is the annual endurance bike race which takes place in France and surrounding countries (understatement much?). If you want to check it out in person, the first thing to do is to check the route on the official website. Next thing is to decide if you want to see only the riders or to see the caravan also.


The caravan is a circus like atmosphere of publicity cars, trucks and bikes which come bearing interesting acts and goodies (junk?) to the waiting public. Check out the gallery above to see the pictures of what we saw. From what I noticed, they seem to give out key chains, hats, grocery bags and snacks. There was a mad rush for all the goodies being thrown at the crowd. So if you are interested in maximizing your loot intake, find a place close to the policemen who are controlling the traffic. They seem to attract the most goodies aimed directly at their faces.

The other thing to note is that the caravan passes very close to the people standing on the side walk. It can be dangerous if anyone steps in front of a passing car by mistake. The Wikipedia entry for Tour De France has a list of people who died in collisions with the caravan. We noticed that the people throwing the goodies were making sure that they landed near the crowd’s feet (unless it happened to be a policeman!). Still we noticed many things flying off and landing in the path of the fast driving cars.

These caravans arrive at least 2 to 2.5 hours before the arrival of the bikers. The timings for the caravan will be announced on the website and they kept to their time. The 2012 caravan lasted for about 45 minutes. Since we had a lot of kids in our group, these 45 minutes went by really quick since we all enjoyed watching the show.

After the caravans pass, there will be around 1-1.5 hours before the riders arrive. As estimate of  this time will also be announced on the tour website. This year, the riders arrived about 30-40 minutes later than the time announced on the website.

Watching the riders is obviously a big thrill. It is a lot of fun watching the different jersey winners go by. The only sad part is that if you are in the last stage, like we were, the peloton can pass by really quickly. For us, it went by in 20 seconds!

This is why one of my friends advised me to watch the last stage at the Champs-Elysee in Paris. Here the riders have to take 8 rounds in the same route. So you get to see them well. Also, if you are into goodies, this is where it all ends and the caravans will be unloading all on the crowd.

I hope this post helped. The next goal is to figure out how to guest ride with the Tour De France to hone our fitness to their elite level!

What The Acqui-Hire of Sparrow, Pulp, Wallet etc might tell us about Tech Entrepreneurship

Today, there were some buzz in the tech world about the acquisition of Sparrow by Google, Pulp and Wallet app makers Acrylic by Facebook. Getting their company acquired by a larger company to make their products bigger and stronger is a dream for most entrepreneurs. You can see from these posts (here and here) that these acquisitions (and many recent ones) were not really acquisitions but a hiring of the talented team behind these apps.

The customers are obviously unhappy about this since the products will get shelved and they might have no support or upgrades in the near future.

As an entrepreneur myself, I feel that entrepreneurs are in a tough spot. I understand how tight the money situation can be when you are building a product. If entrepreneurs who have built very successful products like Sparrow have to abandon their products to go work on other products at a larger companies, is the path for tech entrepreneurs very bleak?

My gut feel is that the tech economy where users expect most products to be free is partly responsible. Most web and mobile apps are expected to be free. If they even cost a dollar, they have to cross an extremely high bar in terms of customer expectations to be popular.If they have even the smallest of bugs, negative reviews on the stores can sink the product.

The app store model means that you pay once and get lifetime upgrades free of cost. New versions of the mobile operating systems come every year (for iOS) and every six months (for Android). The developers have to create updates to ensure that the app functions well under the new OS. But they won’t get any extra remuneration for the extra effort spent for the latest release.

So it makes sense that the founders having worked on their products for 2-3 years realize that they are better off being part of a larger company where they have better control on their financial life.

Unless, another explanation is that the larger company made an offer that they could not refuse. If you know which one it was, please let me know! As of now, I am going with the former.