“Sometimes the internet can be a good, positive place.”
Photo: Brad Sohner, left, creator of the parody ‘Tour de Quarantine,’ provides commentary on a cycling race.
By Ashlee Green
This article was a finalist in the Press Club of Western PA 2021 Golden Quill Awards. (Updated 11/3/2021)
Coronavirus may have put professional cycling on hold indefinitely, but thanks to Pittsburgher Brad Sohner, fans of the sport can once again get their kicks.
Sohner, a sports commentator, TV producer, and recreational and commuter cyclist who lives Downtown, said in an email that he noticed cycling fans were “pretty down and starving for race action” due to COVID-19-related cancellations, and one day, while he was rewatching old races on TV, he had an idea. He started casually filming bike riders on the Three Rivers Heritage Trail, across the river from his window, then added some of his own commentary. With that, Tour de Quarantine was born.
“It was originally just my voice and video, but I found myself with enough time on my hands to… add graphics, sound effects, and replay,” Sohner said. “It sort of expanded from the original idea and took on a life of its own.”
Sohner, who has called races such as USA Cycling’s Cyclocross National Championships, COSI Sports’ Tour of China, and Medalist Sports’ Tour of California, said that while he “[tries] to get jokes in when [he] can” during his commentating gigs, “… it’s not always possible, especially on bigger shows.”
“Tour de Quarantine was definitely a deviation from my normal commentating style, but it was a lot of fun to try something new,” he said. “No matter what we’re working on, the job is always to entertain, and I thought cycling fans could use some jokes during a tough time.”
Sohner’s first video in the series, “Tour de Quarantine Stage 1,” already has close to 100 thousand views on YouTube. He said the response blew him away, and while he initially intended to make just one video, he knew he couldn’t stop there.
“People have reached out from all over the world with really nice messages,” he said. “It’s been kind of an interesting reminder that sometimes the internet can be a good, positive place.”
Sohner’s planning a new tour soon, and on the hunt for different race locations.
“I think most people are tired of the view from my window,” he said. “I know I am.”