Friday, July 23, 2010

Tour de France - Contador Winner with a Caveat?

I've enjoyed nigh on 3 weeks of sleep deprived nights watching the Tour de France. The race isn't over yet, but after the sparring on Stage 17 up the Tourmalet, it seems a foregone conclusion that Alberto Contador will win the Yellow Jersey.

The question is whether Alberto's win will be marred by what happened on Stage 15 when Andy Schleck, wearing the Yellow Jersey with a 31 second lead over Alberto, dropped his chain on the climb up Port de Bales and Alberto in turn attacked. By the end of the stage, Andy lost the Yellow Jersey to Alberto by 8 seconds. That 8 second deficit still remains as they crossed the finish line on the Tourmalet.

There is but one final challenge to determine this years ultimate winner of the Yellow Jersey. The 51 km time trial on the penultimate stage of the race. If Alberto beats Andy by more than 31 seconds, then he will be the winner of the Yellow Jersey. If Alberto beats Andy by less than 31 seconds, the he will be the winner of the Yellow Jersey with a "BUT".

Personally, I'm pulling for one of two scenarios:

1. Andy Schleck wins the Yellow Jersey. He has ridden an awesome tour. He is a pleasure to watch both on and off the bike. He would be a great champion and if not this year, I have a feeling that in the years to come he will be just that.

2. Alberto Contador wins the Yellow Jersey by more than 31 seconds. He is an awesome, well rounded rider and is undeniably the best stage racer in the professional peloton today and arguably the best ever. Did he make a mistake on Stage 15? I think he did and I think he regrets it. However, it was a split second decision made in the heat of battle. Since then, he has apologized. If that were not enough to redeem himself, then what he did on the summit of the Tourmalet on Stage 17 should remove all doubt. He was on Andy's wheel, he had yet to win a stage, he could have easily gone around and taken the win, but he let Andy have it. That was really big of Alberto and in my humble opinion, more than made up for his questionable move on the Port de Bales.

"Andy" or "Alberto by +31 seconds". That would be a fitting end to an awesome Tour.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

I'm Proud to be an American "Bike Rider"

This past weekend, we as a country celebrated our independence. I for one, did my share in that celebration and brought my bike along. Or should I say rode my bike along?

It all started Saturday (July 3rd) morning. I awoke in a festive mood and decided to ride over and watch the Historic Hilton Village parade. I rode to a couple nearby stores for supplies and a few tie wraps later, my cargo bike was transformed into a red white and blue, patriotic, pedal powered machine. The only thing missing was an Uncle Sam hat. A shortcoming I intend to rectify next year.I rode down to the parade route, picked a prime spot, sat on the platform of my cargo bike and watched.

On Sunday (July 4th), I mounted lights on our bikes and that night my wife and I rode down to a nearby school along the James River. From that vantage point we were treated to no less that 4 firework displays. One over in Smithfield, one near Jamestown, one near Chesapeake and the closest right there in our hometown of Newport News.
Finally on Monday (the 5th), I rode the bike to the store and picked up a Boston butt.Threw it on the smokerand let it cook slow and steady all day long as I sipped steadily on my dwindling supply of ice cold cold beer.Later in the afternoon I took out the ice cream maker, mounted it on my trusty patriotic steed and my son and I made homemade ice cream.Parades, fireworks, barbecue, beer and homemade ice cream, can it get any better than that? Oh yea, the bike was part and parcel to it all.

Mini Tour de France - The Nail

Although I have found myself physically getting stronger with each stage; due to circumstances off the bike and beyond my control, I regrettably must pull out of this year's Mini TdF. Like Lance said after his disappointing finish on the cobbled Stage 3, "Sometimes you're the hammer and sometimes you're the nail..." Well - today I am the nail.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Mini Tour de France - Stage 3

I rode from my driveway to complete the third stage of my mini tour. A meandering 33 mile ride though the neighborhoods. There were no cobblestones like they had at the real TdF, that played havoc on the general classification and made steeper, Lance Armstrong's already steep journey to a record 8th win. Lance lost time on his major rivals, Alberto Contador, Andy Schleck and Cadel Evans.

Back to my ride, it was a hot day in the saddle with the temperature reaching 97 F. I downed a bottle of sports drink before I started and finished off two more bottles by the 18 mile mark. Not having team members passing out bottles on the side of the road, I was forced to take a detour to find a water fountain. Towards the end of the ride, I happened upon a rider who was in a bit of a time warp. He was riding an old Raleigh (in excellent condition) and had a Tubular tire weaved around his arms, chest and back. I hadn't seen that except in black and white photos of TdF riders in the 60's and 70's.

Results after Stage 3:

My Mini TdF
Stage Winner: Me
Distance: 33 miles
Time: 2h 05' 31"
Overall Leader: Me
Overall Distance: 138 miles
Overall Time: 8h 52' 01"

The Real TdF
Stage Winner: Thor Hushovd (Cervelo)
Distance: 132 miles
Time: 4h 49' 38"
Overall Leader: Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank)
Overall Distance: 402 miles
Overall Time: 14h 54' 00"

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Mini Tour de France - Stage 2

The sun rose above Lake Maury as I began stage 2 of my Mini TdF.After 70 miles the day before, in the scorching heat, my body wanted to be doing anything but riding a bike. I imagine there were a number of riders in the "Real TdF" that didn't want to get on their bikes when they woke up this morning either. If they can do it, well so can I.

Results after Stage 2:

My Mini TdF
Stage Winner: Me
Distance: 30 miles
Time: 1h 56' 57" (Hours:Minutes:Seconds)
Overall Leader: Me
Overall Distance: 105 miles
Overall Time: 6h 46' 30"

The Real TdF
Stage Winner: Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step)
Distance: 140 miles
Time: 4h 40' 48"
Overall Leader: Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step)
Overall Distance: 269 miles
Overall Time: 10h 01' 25"

Mini Tour de France - Stage 1

The team bus took me across the James River for the start of Stage 1 of my Mini Tour de France (TdF). This would be the longest stage of my tour and judging by the merciless sun that shone high and bright through cloudless skies, it was gonna be a hot one to boot.This stage was over the lightly traveled, country roads through the counties of Isle of Wight and Surry. It was a circuitous route through Smithfield, up to Surry, over to the Jamestown Ferry, through Chippokes plantation, back through Smithfield.

For the majority of the ride I was surrounded by fields of corn and soy bean and accompanied by a nagging cross wind.At one point I had my head down and was hammering along when I happened upon a poignant reminder of the Tour de France. The spectators, especially on mountain stages, traditionally paint words of encouragement to their favorite riders. While I never saw my name painted on the road, I did happen upon this sage advice.My pedal strokes took on an increased sense of urgency and I blew by said "bad dog", who was lazily lounging in the shade. I was either going to fast or it was too hot for him to give chase.

Results after Stage 1:

My Mini TdF
Stage Winner: Me
Distance: 70 miles
Time: 4h 31' 59" (Hours:Minutes:Seconds)
Overall Leader: Me
Overall Distance: 75 miles
Overall Time: 4h 49' 33"

The TdF
Stage Winner: Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre)
Distance: 140 miles
Time: 5h 09' 38"
Overall Leader: Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank)
Overall Distance: 145 miles
Overall Time: 5h 19' 38"

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Mini Tour de France - Prologue

Here I am, resplendent in Stars and Stripes, in the start house ready to begin my "Mini Tour de France" quest.

I traverse Cedar Lane.
Run parallel with the James River.
Blow by Christopher Newport University.
Cut through the Mariner's Museum.
All in completion of the Prologue Time Trial.

Stats: Distance - 5 Miles, Elapsed Time - 17:34

All this compared to Fabian Cancellara, who won the opening Prologue Time Trial of the Tour de France.

Stats: Distance - 5 miles, Elapsed Time - 10:00

Fabian in Action

Friday, July 2, 2010

Mini Tour de France - Preview

July is my favorite month of the year. July holds this prestigious position for 2 principal reasons:

First - it is the peak of Summer, with plenty of sunshine and warm weather.

Second - the Tour de France.

Like cycling enthusiasts around the world, I will be glued to the TV every night for 3 straight weeks, watching each stage of this epic race. My sleep will suffer, but the ecstasy is worth it.

This year I have decided to celebrate my favorite month by adding a different twist, that will draw upon the wonderful weather and the "Tour". I have decided to do my own, mini version of the Tour de France. The rules of engagement are as follows:

1. On the days of the time trials, I will ride equal distances. That's 2 time trials totaling 37 miles.

2. On the days of road stages that fall on a weekday, I will ride 25% of the distance for each of those stages. That's 13 stages totalling 386 miles.

3. On the days of road stages that fall on a weekend, I will ride 50% of the distance for each of those stages. That's 6 stages totalling 319 miles.

If my math is correct that equals 742 miles in total. As I ponder this endeavor, the distance does not concern me. The aspect of this challenge that causes me the greatest angst is, with work and family, finding the time to ride. I have a 3 week supply of Powerbar Endurance Beverage and Chamois Butt'r. We'll see how it goes.

Lucky for you, my faithful flock, thanks to the wonders of the Internet, and the power of the Blogoshere, I will take you along every stage of the way. Just think - you'll get to ride and won't have to spread anything on your butt to do it.

It all begins tomorrow - so stay tuned!!!