Blogging biker on the trail of Lance Armstrong

The first winner Suburu's Tour de France blogging sweepstakes is a marketing exec who steers clear of blogs.

A paradox. Suburu holds a sweepstakes to send two bloggers on the Tour de France. It's a big bet on blog marketing. And wouldn't you know it? The first biker they choose, 42-year-old Ted Darling of Portland, Maine, runs a branding agency, Ethos Marketing and Design--and yet he is still not sold on blogs as marketing tools. "Seems like they could be risky," he says, as he prepares to head off Friday for Paris.

Blogging quibbles aside, Darling is getting a sweet deal. He gets flown from Portland to Paris (True, it is coach class, and through Detroit), and then whisked by train to the outskirts of Grenoble. There he'll be quipped with a fancy cellphone with a keyboard and a digital camera, and fitted for a Trek Madone 5.2. That's a $4,500 bike made of ultralight carbon fiber.

That's the easy part. Then he has to start riding abbreviated 40- to 75-mile versions of the Tour de France stages, blogging along the way. Included in the trip will be a 14-mile climb up the steep Col de Madeleine. Darling, who rides about 200 miles a week in New England, thinks he can make it up the hill in an hour and 45 minutes. We'll see if he has the energy to blog after that.

He says that Suburu has not established editorial guidelines for the blog, only asking that he record his experiences in France.

It's still not clear what this sweepstakes will net for the sponsor. We'll have to see if Darling and the other blogger (still to be announced) describe in vivid detail the sag wagon, laden with supplies and other gear, that follows their crawl up the Alps. Here's betting it's a Suburu.

Full disclosure: While looking into this sweepstakes for a previous post, I tossed my own beret into the ring. (Tant pis, as the French say. I'm certain that BW's ethics guidelines would have prevented me from accepting.)

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