Category Archives: Entertainment

TOUR DE FRANCE: And You Thought You Knew Logistics

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The most famous bicycle race of all is celebrating it’s 100th Anniversary in 2013. It is much more complex than just a race: it includes an advertising caravan (parade) and a tent carnival. But there is a tremendous effort behind the scenes to make it all happen. From a logistics standpoint, it ranks up there with an army fighting a war or a circus traveling around the country.

The actual race is run by 22 teams of 8 or 9 bicyclists each.That means about 200 participants; but the actual “show” involves about 4,500 people.

The advertising caravan (goes ahead of race and distributes advertising “gifts” like hats, candy, etc consists of 180 vehicles representing 44 companies, but the number of “official” vehicles (team cars, scorers, et al) may be 10 times that. Then you have “suppliers”. Vittel Water seemed to have several tractor-trailers to capitalize on being the official supplier. Going back into history, preceding the race was more attractive to advertisers because spectators gathered by the road long before the race or could be attracted from their houses. Advertisers following the race found that many who had watched the race had already gone home. The advertisers distribute publicity material to the crowd. The number of items has been estimated at 11 million, each person in the procession giving out 3,000 to 5,000 items a day.

The tent carnival (I like to call it a “vendor village”) moves as the Tour moves: tents up, tents down, crowds in, crowds out. Norbert Dentressangle has been the Tour’s official partner for more than 30 years, transporting all the facilities and equipment required to set up the start and finish villages at each stage, along with ancillary items including safety barriers and advertising hoardings. The company also transports all the equipment needed to organize each stage at different points along the route, such as intermediate sprints and arrival at a pass. In total 22 tons of equipment is transported from stage to stage in support of the event. A fleet of 20 Norbert Dentressangle trucks and trailers and a team of 33 drivers will be accompanying the riders along the way to the finish line in the Champs Elysee in Paris.

EcoMuseum of Transportation at Breil, France

The museum just opened for the season (till September 30). The weekend was busy with members getting everything in shape.

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Trolleybus is a FIAT-MENARINI type 2411 ex San Remo, Italy n° 1133 owned by the Tramophiles of Nice Cote Azur (a partner in the EcoMuseum)

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This big electric locomotive (type CC) lives at the museum. It is the French counterpart to the Pennsylvania Railroad GG1.

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The last tram that ran in Nice (for 53 years until the new trams arrived) lives here too.

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This little guy (called a shunter) moves equipment like into the shop

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Breil is the junction of a French railroad from Nice and an Italian railroad from Ventimiglia, Italy. From Breil to Tende and on to Cuneo it is an “international” railroad operated jointly by France and Italy.

Like many museums, there is a “steam department”, but their locomotive driving wheels cannot pass inspection. The facilities for reworking no longer exist in France, so they would need to go to Germany or Poland. Lots of $$$!

There is a great HO Scale railroad in the visitors center. It’s prototype is the Nice to Cuneo and Ventimiglia to Cuneo railroads. They are in the process of converting the locomotives to radio-controlled.

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