If you’re turning up to work bleary-eyed from staying up to watch the Tour de France, spare a thought for those hardy souls on the Tour de Fleece.
Not only are they putting in the late hours, they have also been spinning at a rate of knots.
For Josiane Eve, it involves a spinning wheel and a big pile of fleece from her heritage breed sheep in southern Tasmania.
The hobby farmer near Richmond belongs to Team Tassie, part of a global network of spinners who spin during the gruelling three-week road cycling tour of France.
The event called the Tour de Fleece was started by an American knitter in 2006.
Thousands of spinners compete in teams and set a goal to spin every day of the Tour.
“There are some people who actually measure their yarn to see how many kilometres they’ve spun, ” Ms Eve said.
The results are often shared on social media for prizes and to encourage friendly rivalry between teams.
“You see so many people that are excited about a sport, that you wouldn’t think was a spectator sport,” Ms Eve said.
“These guys work really hard to get their bikes up the hill.
Ms Eve’s goal is to spin an entire alpaca fleece by the end of the Tour and to produce a throw rug from the wool of her rare moorit sheep.
At the opposite end of the state at Selbourne, Jen Eddington has been burning the midnight oil spinning in her living room.
Known to her friends as ‘the high priestess of fleece’, she is the only Australian in Team Kindred Spirits.
The cycling fan is also a proud supporter of Tasmanian rider in the Tour de France, Riche Porte.
“I think it had a bit more of a resonance in Tasmania because we have so many great cyclists,” Ms Eddington said.
“Richie went to our local school at the same time as my girls.”
The spinner uses hand-dyed fleece from her English Leicester sheep.
She is passionate about long wool and rare-breed sheep and sells the wool to other spinners, felters and weavers.
“I’m aiming to make a yarn that has the tippy bits of the locks featured — they’ll stick out and it’ll give it lots of texture when I use it for weaving,” Ms Eddington said.
This year her team in the Tour de Fleece has adopted a recycling theme.
“We’re delving into the bottom of our stash, which is what we refer to our collection of house insulation of wool, and spinning that,” she said.
“Our team co-ordinator, she will often set a challenge and send out a message of doing something lumpy and bumpy, when it’s going uphill or something like that.”
Ms Eddington’s wool spun during the Tour will end up as art yarn and used in saori weaving.
In the meantime, she said she would sit back and enjoy the scenery and the cycling.
“It’s a bit like a three-week holiday from your lounge room,” she said.