Why We're Doing This, and How You Can Help

What would inspire two men, ages 65 and 59, to take on 11 racetracks in 21 stages and 25 days over 1,000 kilometers...on their bicycles?

The way we see it, Thoroughbred race horses have contributed to the very meaning of life, so they too deserve to retire with dignity and not be sent to the slaughterhouse just because they now do six furlongs in 1:16 instead of 1:12.

As American expatriates living in Paris, we have decided to ride our own Tour de France--riding from racetrack to racetrack across France--during the 'real' Tour de France to raise money for Thoroughbred retirement. But we need your help.

We invite you to follow our journey, and if you'd like to sponsor us, just click on www.firstgiving.com/trf or on the Sponsor Us link below.

The Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation currently cares for over 1200 unwanted horses. When you sponsor us, we are helping them in their mission to save ALL unwanted racehorses.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Our Story

I have been a member of the claiming ranks of society, with a fluctuating price on my head, for 65 years, and would like to continue a meaningful life. The way I see it, Thoroughbred race horses have contributed to the very meaning of life, so they too deserve to retire with dignity and not be sent to the slaughterhouse just because they now do six furlongs in 1:16 instead of 1:12.

In this age where speed is king, going slowly is looked down upon. Multi-tasking has replaced doing things with pleasure. I would like to prove that a slow Tour de France can be victorious, in its own way, against the fast one. So our race-track tour de France is taking place during the exact 21 days as the one that everyone knows.

Tour de France riders, great athletes, pass by magnificent castles without taking a look. By wheeling by so fast, the Lance Armstrongs and Greg Lemonds never have the time to stop off … at a glorious French race track, for example. Contrary to the big Tour, our two-man senior tour de France will have to weave through traffic, brake at red lights, and stop to consult maps when we get lost. We are two formerly fast cyclers who will be raising money for the retirement of formerly fast Thoroughbreds, attempting to pay for some of our trip at the pari-mutuel windows along the way.

While we are at it, we will try to outdo the Tour de France in quality, by stopping off to appreciate beautiful things (my art-specialist partner Alan can eye an old fortress and tell you that it comes from 1480 or 1690), by consuming good wine and cheese along the way, and by taking it slowly, in the spirit of the Slow Bicycle Movement. Yes, taking it slowly, but getting there! In this case: mainly getting to magnificent French Thoroughbred race courses, none of them alike, all of them colorful works of art so appreciated by painters like Degas, Manet and Dufy.

We will not outdistance the Tour bicyclers, but we have a chance to defeat them in another category: hours on the road.

The more kilometers we travel, the more hours we ride, or the more racetracks we reach (you choose), the more money will be donated to race horse retirement, so we will pedal with the endurance that comes when a good cause is at stake.

We will at least defeat the Tour riders in another category: fewer carbon emissions, for we will not have all those cars following us around, and we will use clean trains to get from one stage to another. We hope our fuel-free vacation will prove that being ecological is joie de vivre rather than sacrifice. (Some critics may argue, however, that when we huff and puff on the uphill, we will be producing a serious amount of carbon dioxide emissions.)

Alan and I both do all our Parisian commuting by bicycle. When the Tour de France is finished, we’ll challenge the winner to a race across Paris in rush hour.

Finally, a brief bio:

Born in the Saratoga region, learned about racing from a grandfather and an uncle. As a child we had bicycle races on the streets of Queens, posting “guards” on the corners to stop the cars from interfering. I began going to Belmont and Aqueduct before I was old enough to bet.

Prior to coming to France 10 years ago, I lived in Bolivia for five years, working as an investigative reporter and hiking in the Andes Mountains at 17,000 feet above sea level. I have also lived in a backstretch dorm at Canterbury Park, where I taught English to the grooms. I currently reside in France, with my wife and a son, where I teach university classes and play the horses.

My classic books, out of print, such as Thoroughbred Cycles and Kinky Handicapping, sometimes are sold at auction for over 100 dollars, but you can get my recent books for considerably less:

Tropical Downs, the only work of fiction ever that incorporates real horse race handicapping within the plot, the only crime story ever that equates a pick 6 score with the “perfect crime” and perhaps containing the only chase scene where the car is chasing a bicycle. http://store.drf.com/acb/stores/1/TROPICAL_DOWNS_P20132C1026.cfm?UserID=39536710&ACBSessionID=0170508857883EE8CCC7

Insiders’ Paris (www.amazon.com), the real Paris that tourists do not see, in the form of amazingly true stories, along with walking tours where the stories took place.

Readers interested in visiting Paris on the first Sunday in October to attend the magnificant race, the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe with high-class undercard races, visit the stables of the only American trainer in France, with option to visit another track or have an insider-Paris walking tour, may contact Mark and Alan at Cramerjazz@gmail.com

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