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THE TOUR DE France, the epic annual European bicycle race, inspires all sorts of cyclists — on all sorts of bikes — to pedal the routes of the professional racers.

Sweden’s Ake Johansson, left, and a friend cycled on the 2013 Tour de France route on a homemade tandem bicycle. In a twist on conventional tandems, one rider faces forward, one backward. Makes it easy to see what’s coming up behind, at least.

This year’s Tour de France runs July 5-27 (see The world’s top cyclists will surge along 2,271 miles of road, mostly in France but also in Britain, since this year’s race will start in Yorkshire and also touch Belgium and Spain.

But wherever they are, the pros will be riding on their individual, ultra-tech bikes, facing forward.

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Kristin R. Jackson is The Seattle Times NWTraveler editor. Contact her at