Monday, July 26, 2010

Word on Tragedy

I did not post this before but feel that I should mention that we had a serious accident during my recent ride in France with Thomson. One member of the group, a Canadian, went over his handlebars at high speed on the Joux Plane and was seriously injured. He apparently was trying to avoid a shallow pothole in the road surface and went off his line. I was 3rd on the scene and this is not something you ever want to see as a cyclist. Luckily there were a lot of doctors in the group, who were forced to do an emergency traecheotomy and administer CPR. The individual suffered major head injuries and an ambulance arrived with paramedices and additional paramedics arrived via helicopter. He was taken to a hospital in Annecy and the last we heard he was on life support. This traumatic event put a real damper on the rest of the ride. We all wish him the best but the doctors in the group who examined him did not believe he would pull through. A reminder about the need for constant attention to safety.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Telegraphe Ascent

This was near top of Telegraphe, the "warmup" for the Galibier...tough climb but mostly shaded...once at top, you are a bit less than half way up the total climb..
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Galibier Video

This was taken shortly after the sharp right turn where the tough part of the climb begins in earnest...I got a kind of second wind here and felt pretty good until the last steep section....
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Madeleine Tour Video

This is the lead group coming through, with Schleck and Contador not far behind...we had ridden up early, I got to top around 2:30, lead riders arrived around 4:40...
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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Telegraphe and Galibier

So we saved the best and hardest for last...after a 10 mile warmup across the valley from St Jean de Maurienne, where Tour stage 9 that included Madeltine finished, we took a right over the river in St Michel de M. And up the Telegraphe, a fairly hard Cat 1 climb that luckily is mostly shaded.,,though I was absolutely drenched at top..then there is a short downhill into Valloire, a lovely town that is the gateway to the Galibier...the climb is quite varied, steep at first, then a long less steep climb up a beautiful glacial valley...a right turn crossing the river and then the fun begins...the next section of switchbacks averages 7 to 9 percent for a loping time but the scenery is stunning, with lots of snow nearer to top...the last 2 k or so rear up to 9 and above, but at least the weather was really good and it was not freezing at te top, as the Engine found it....the total 35 or so k climb is 7300 feet of vertical gain, by far the longest climb I have done...we had great French lunch in Vallore on way back with crepes, salad, beer, and fruits de Boise for dessert...

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Group

The 30 riders have been great to get to know a bit...we have a group of 11 from Mexico, most foam Monterrey and they are excellent riders who have obviously done this before...unlike Phils experience in the Pyrenees, not all the riders in the King of the Alos Performance ride are elite athletes, it's a good mix of riders with varying cycling backgrounds..there are three couples, including Ed and Joy, Joy only having gotten into road riding since April...not everyone does every ride and the support has been excellent in accommodating all the different options.... I have ridden primarily in B Group, the As are really good riders with lots of experience..there are at least 5 doctors, which has come in handy...

L'Alpe de Huez

This legendary climb was a lot harder than I had anticipated...we stayed at top and so saw the whole climb first...then had ro descend to bottom and begin ascent ... The first section is very steep but the switchbacks (21) are at least a mental crutch...tried not to stop as legs would tighten up...felt pretty good, but I was trying to imagine the pace Lance kept up to do it in 44 minutes...passed a lot of people and was passed by a seemingly equal number.. There was only one short level area otherwise just up...last section very steep...personal best time: 1:29, which included maybe 2 minutes or less of water filling, fueling, wondering what I was doing slogging up this steep climb, etc...sone good gear for sale at top...had pesto with tagliatelli and a salad...we then were scheduled to do Crois de Fer but it was hot and I was a little nauseous so I bailed, later regreting it given the beautiful climb and fearing the ridicule of the Engine....

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Day 4: Madeleine and Tour

In what was the most fun day, we hoofed it up the Madeleine just hours before the Tour came steaming through...started with a long ride in the valley leading up to the base of Madeleine, following Tour route...one section of road was covered with Livestrong stuff people had paid fir in memory of loved ones...the climb is quite beautiful, shaded for much of the first section before a short slight downhill section...very steep in parts...started at around 1300 feet...people were camped out along the whole length, must have been tens of thousands on the mountain...felt pretty strong for most of climb, the last steep section was around 9-11 percent in stretches, but the view to the top was inspiring...it tops out around 6500 feet..the crowds grew near the top where the Thomson tents were located.. Got there around 2:30 with lead riders arriving at 440...the riders were more noticeably suffering than on the Avoriaz finish...they had also done the Columbiere, which we did day before, a tough Cat 1 climb...getting off mountain was a mess, with cars motorcycles and people festooning the mountain. The descent was also difficult and hands were fried from riding brakes...we then drove back to hotel over the spectacular Col du Glandon...

Monday, July 12, 2010

Tough Day, 3 Cols, Hot

Beautiful day....we began by going over the Col du Corbier, again...then up the Valley to Morzine, again...this time, instead to the Avoriazwe turned right onto the Joux Plane, a nasty little climb that had long steep stretches that seemed to go on forever...there was very little of it below 9 percent...we saw Lance and Chris Horner coming up on the way down, on their "rest day"...we descended and ate lunch in a small town...vegetarian food was hard to find...then, gluttons for punishment, we went about 15 miles down a beautiful valley and the descended to the base of the Col du Columbiere...the temperature was 98 degrees when we started up, but the first part of this monster 3200 ft climb was shaded, and temp dropped a bit...I had not eaten enough but felt great till about 5 k from top, the last section was really steep, with headwinds and a thunderstorm moving in...managed to make the top and the van minutes before storm hit....

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Tour Watching at Avoriaz

Amazing day in saddle...first Col du Corbier and then long climb through Morzine to Avoriaz...we arrived 5 hours or so ahead of peleton, as roads were closed at certain point...view was great as lead riders came through, got good video of Contador and Schleck...they really fly by...waited fir Lance group..,he had rough day...we then had to ride down back to Morzine amid general chaos...lots if pro riders came down with us..,more later

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Tour Viewing on Day 2

Tommorrow on the Avoriaz finish look for the Orbea tents about 2 km from the top...there will be a madman from Rockville unfurling a special flag as the lead riders come thru....we will arrive at the top about four hours before Tour comes by...we have satellite tv in tents and some fridges full of....

The Morgins Pass

First day ride was spectacular! Only 20 or so miles but nearly 3000 feet of climbing over Morgins and then down down into Switzerland...it rained most of the way, but the climbing warmed things up...the climb back through Morgins was 2000 feet and a real bear, but scenery across valley was stunning, with thunderstorms moving in and out...I was in B group, and hear front...A group was mostly a Mexican contingent, great guys...there are some husband wife teams..about 30 total riders...finished with Fischer beer...ahhhhhh

Friday, July 9, 2010

Day 1: Headed Out to Join Thomson Team

Fortified by a breakfast of Muesli, hot coffee, and a dose of hubris, the intrepid cyclist is set to meet up with cycling group at the Geneva Airport. After meetup we head out to France and hotel, check in and then get ready for ride. I will need to add pedals and saddle to my Orca Opal with full DuraAce kit...then we do short warmup ride...tomorrow it is the Avoriaz and other cols as we meet Tour for first time...photos to follow...now, I need to print out those pesky cue sheets....

Arrival in Geneva

Well, it did not take long to get in the spirit, as it seemed half the passengers on the Geneva flight, United 974, were bound for European cycling vacations...there were helmets and gear everywhere, one guy was even already in spandex! Met one guy who was doing the Extreme version of King of the Mountains, which includes one day when they do 4 climbs (Telegraphe, Galibier, Alpe D'Huez and Crois de Fer). He had done the trip last year with different climbs..several other guys were on Trek trips..at Geneva, bike boxes came off the luggage carousel one after another, many had brought their bikes and planned to ship back after if they were staying...shuttled to the airport hotel to get some shuteye and then begin carbo loading for tomorrow: the prologue....