Monday, July 27, 2009

Is it time for Le Tour 2010?

Well, the 2009 Tour de France is now over, and I'm left with wrap-up articles, speculation on who will ride for which teams next year, and rumors about the 2010 route. It was really a very exciting Tour this year - it had it all, including soap-opera-like drama, crashes, unexpected stage wins, expected sprint finishes, brutal climbs, hot weather, rain, and wind.

I would have liked to see George in yellow, and come to think of it I would have liked to see Lance in yellow as well. To see him on the podium after his comeback was an amazing thing, and I am sure he was pleased with how well he rode. But to see him not on the #1 spot on the podium was a bit.. strange. This business about Contador going around trashing him and his team is unacceptable to me. I was just as supportive of Contador leading Astana as everyone else was after his unplanned attacks, and it's common knowledge that he is the world's best climber. But to win, and then turn around and whine about how there were "two Tours - one on the road and one in the hotels"? Come on. He's got many years of wins ahead of him, why not accept the pretty trophy and go enjoy the adulation of his fans in Spain? I could go on, but I'll be nice.

Speaking of nice, I think Lance was the gracious and sportsmanlike gentleman, refusing to comment on many of Frankie Andreu's questions to try and pry some of the controversy and drama that everyone was dying to hear. Lance even today has good things to say about Alberto Contador. I saw a video where Phil Liggett points out the obvious, that Contador is not a team player. Lance just posted on Twitter: "Seeing these comments from AC. If I were him I'd drop this drivel and start thanking his team. w/o them, he doesn't win." I have to agree. He should be thanking his team, not acting like a petulant and indignant teenager. He got his win. The team supported him. What more could he want? Lance didn't attack him on the mountains. Lance didn't drop his teammates.

Just think - if Levi & Horner had been there supporting Lance, things might have been different. Which brings me to next year's Tour. Wow, a whole year for the rumors to fly, the analysis to begin, the speculation on who will ride for which team. This to me is WAY better than the NFL draft. New teams, new kits, new sponsors. Such fun! And what if Lance decides to form the very first ever ProTour cycling team made up entirely of Americans? I don't know that he will, being as he has mentioned Andreas Kloden as one of the riders on his list, and I've also heard rumors of Cadel Evans riding for Radio Shack. But I still think it would be a pretty historic Tour to have a whole U.S. team - it just goes to show how far American cycling has become, because there are actually enough Tour-caliber pro cyclists to make up such a team.

So. Let's talk about me. I went for a ride on Saturday, a typical, perfect, cloudless hot day in Bend. Since seeing Chris Horner's "taxi" ride of another rider & bike up to the CCC stage finish at Mt. Bachelor last July, it has been my goal to ride up there and find out just how hard it is. I started out from SE Bend and made my way to the sign on Century Drive announcing that it was 20 miles to Mt. Bachelor. Twenty miles? I thought. That's not a problem. No big deal. I have driven this road. I know what it looks like. So I plugged along. I got passed by a few people who said hello and there was the usual cycling small talk about what a nice day it was. Cyclists on their way down buzzed past with slight waves or head nods. I envied them as I began to climb. The words ran through my head that Heidi wrote about Bruce: "when the road turned up, he grinned. When the rain came down, he laughed". I thought about how much Bruce loved to climb, and pedaled harder. I thought of how hot it was and wished I hadn't frozen my water bottles, as they were still too slushy to drink from, and I was thirsty.

The road turned up. I kept my head down to avoid thinking that the climb would never end. Was I out of gears? No, not yet, still got a few left. Good. Lungs felt okay despite the altitude. Overall, not bad. 20 mile climb? Psh. No problem. But it was getting quite warm. I scoured the road ahead for some shade but there was none to be found. I shook & squeezed my water bottles to get some cool liquid, ate some Clif bloks. Better. Rounded a corner, and there it was. My very own, personal, Le Petit Mont Ventoux.

So, long story short - I made it, and it was hot. Planned to ride up to the parking lot but the plan was to stow the bike in the car & head to Sparks Lake to kayak, which we did. I wanted to ride down afterwards but it was late, and hotter, and really, it's not 100% downhill all the way. Next time.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Le Tour

Tour Widget!

Friday, July 10, 2009

July = TDF

My favorite time of year is here! Some people love summer for BBQs, camping, and family vacations. Me? I spend a great amount of time in front of the TV - watching Live telecast in the mornings and then I watch the extended coverage in the evenings. Needless to say, I don't get much sleep. But for the excitement, the beautiful scenery, and the greatest sporting event of all time, it's well worth it. Wow - average of 7% gradient on the climb in today's stage with some portions up to 15%. Yikes.

I have been looking forward to this for weeks. Reading the predictions, the endless analysis, the drama and speculation over who will lead Team Astana, poring over start lists to form my Tour fantasy team. Studying the stage routes. Following all the news. And last Saturday, which I decided to call the Tour-th of July, it finally arrived. A beautiful time trial in the principality of Monaco, then 3 days later an amazing team time trial after some flat stages brilliantly won by the unbeatable, unstoppable sprinter Mark Cavendish.

Today, they are in the Pyrenees for the first mountain stage, the longest of the Tour. It will supposedly establish who will lead Astana and be the true test of Lance's fitness after his years of absence from the Tour. I'm ready.

I'd continue, but there is only about 10k left in the stage so I must glue my eyes to the TV.