Monday, September 27, 2010

9.26.10 Col de la Columbiere

We launched a little late thanks to some late onset of jet lag my body decided to have. Went to bed at midnight last night and woke up at 4 and stared at the ceiling for an hour. I got out of bed and took a Melatonin trying to force feed my body to sleep. Evidently I need to drink more vino.

Ben had time to run to the bakery this morning and get a few tasty treats for the preride meal and we made ourselves a feast. Eggs, bacon, two pastries, some bread, fruit. I was thinking that’s plenty but I didn’t have near the foresight necessary for riding the Alps.

With our late start some guys were already head home; back to there lives, wives, and jobs. We got to the main intersection next to the lake near our apartment and we see this group of guys come flying in. Two of the guys had, I’m not shittin’ you, disc’s on they’re rear wheels. What in gods name were those dudes up too? They must have been up to a morning crush session with the boys around the lake. Music to my ears whoo whoo whoo whoo… Ben and I pealed out toward the Col of the day. But not before stopping and getting some air in our tires at the local bike rental shop.

I’m not lying. You leave our front door wander through town a little bit and it’s pretty much uphill from there. We must have climbed for the first two and half hours today to the top of the Col de la Columbiere. The country side is so beautiful here. So Majestic. They take such pride in their home and property. Everything is so well kept.

After climbing for about 45 min we road up on the sign that we have been planning to see. After days of travel and months of planning you see the sign that tells you that you are about to start one of climbs that the boys of the peleton don’t look fondly upon and it hits you. You’re in France. Riding through history. Men were made here, dreams came true on this very hill, men that I, you, look up to. It’s brilliant, gorgeous, tear jerking. It’s finally reality. What you’ve been watching on TV isn’t just on TV anymore. The suffering is reality, you finally understand why they wear the faces they do even when you aren’t conquering these climbs at break neck speeds.

There really isn’t anything like riding the Alps except riding the Alps. Don’t let anyone ever convince you otherwise. It’s like that saying that annoys me to no end “It’s like riding a bike” B.S. nothing is like riding a bike, nothing. Come ride them, climb with goats by your side, snow falling on the climbs, bone chilling descents. Mountains that have no slope just go straight up with these roads just tucked neatly into a very tight place. This place is like no other, make no mistake about it.

We dropped off the other side and even the descents are fabulous. It’s like they made the road for the cyclist. For the guy trying to reward himself for the millimeters of teeth he just ground off getting to the top of this monster. Fast and fluid, no need for breaks; just sit down and let ‘er fly.

After gaining nearing 4000’ feet in elevation you’d think the day was over but you’re in the Alps my friend. Come here expecting that you will end every ride with uphill and reward yourself with a downhill at some point. Our total ride today was just a hair under 140km with just about 2300 meters of climbing, with a running time of about 6.5 hours. A normal ride around here from what I can gather.

This was an epic second day on the bike for sure that I won’t soon forget, with pictures to prove it. Tomorrow is an easier day of meandering in the valley and climbing one or two smaller Col’s that still make any of the west hills look like cute little bumps in the road. Bike riders here are skinny and fast because there really isn’t any choice. You either know how to climb for 2 or 3 hours at a shot or you find something else to do with your time.

In the short time I’ve been here, the French haven’t been the nicest. I see what everyone, even Rick Steves, is talking about. But one thing that I must tip my hat to about the French, these people have figured out a way to coexist with cyclist on VERY narrow roads, on coming traffic, and dicey situations. I never once felt uncomfortable, never once got yelled at, never once got buzzed, and noone ever yelled “Go Lance“. How is it I ask you that a place much more densely populated then the U.S. has found a way for skinny little dudes on slow going bikes and cars going a touch under the speed of sound coexist. Bravo!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

9.25.10 Time Travel

The last couple of days of travel have set me up for success with regard to battling jet lag. I got 8 hours of sleep last night and I am good to go. I went out this morning and got some coffee, and breaky. I stopped at the market and got some fruit, bread, and eggs. I got my bike put together and it started to rain, surprise. I have full fenders and half inflated tires. Good enough, so I went for my first ride in France. It’s weird riding in another country. I don’t know what the rules are here. I rode on the road and no one said diddly to me. So I guess that’s ok. I found a trail out of town so I got on that and headed out. I had one guy say something to me but I had no idea what he was saying, he didn’t seem angry but all I could say was English, he shook his head and went on his way. I found a bike shop on my way back into town and got my tires filled properly. That was my first bit of Annecy. I suppose I will wait around for Ben and see what happens. Maybe go out and get into a bit of trouble tonight. We’ll see.

9.23.10 Fly to Amsterdam

Man what a cluster getting from Portland OR, to Annecy France. The Delta/KLM flight was a piece of cake, not stops or layovers to get extended . But I will never fly “EasyJet” they suck. My flight was delayed 3.5 hours which put me into Geneva 3.5 hours late. That meant the busses stopped running, that meant paying $250 more for a cab ride. That sucked! Not to mention having to lug this dam bike around everywhere. Mark my words. I did arrive in Annecy finally last night after midnight. When I got to the apartment Ben had left a key for me behind one of the downspouts on the building which has about 6 of them. I thought for sure at one point after looking behind 5 of them that I was going to be sleeping outside last night. But then of course there it was behind the 6th one. I stepped inside and it became clear to me that my adventure wasn’t over. This building was built in 1801 and had no elevator. What is ADA? There are some nice things about my country, not many but one of them is the requirement that buildings have a way to wheelchair foke up 3 flights, which can also be used as a way to get some skinny ass, lazy, american, and his 200 lbs of gear of 3 flights. Rather than using a narrow spiral staircase that I can barely fit up let alone a bike box. It was dark too so I could hardly see in front of my face. I set out to piece my way up to the apartment and made it up with all my gear, not before trying to, inadvertently, break into some unsuspecting old lady’s apartment. Really it’s a miracle that I am alive and here in Annecy with all my gear truly. But now that I am here it is awesome.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Sad Day

The season is over. Well another season on the road is over. It’s time to get dizzy, dirty, and delinquent on the cross bike. But not before heading to France for some fridged beautiful climbs in the Alps and Pyrenees.
I finished the season in the middle of the pack at Eugene Celebration and found a new way to enjoy races. Instead of going off the front of the pack, going to the front of the pack and lifting the tempo to a punishing oxygen deficit pace. Create pain and discomfort for all to enjoy. I did that a little at Eugene at the Crit, and the road race. Note to self explore that more next season.
I have never felt like I did at the end of the season this year. During the road race we were clipping along on the first lap and people were getting organized during the first few laps as we do. Guys going off the front, guys chatting, guys moving to the front to avoid crashes. I tend to roll to the middle to find the guys I am going to talk with for most of day. Will and I found each other, and I suppose amoung 40 guys that isn’t tough. He and I have never had a cross word. Although we have annoyed each other at times for sure. We have come to some agreement and are descent friends with common goals now. We were chatting a bit and he mentioned that this was the last road race of the year. He actually said that "It almost brings a tear to my eye." I didn’t think about it, but ya, it does. It’s sad. The season is done and I’m disappointed. Usually by this time of year I am exhausted and done. But I kind of wish I had a few more road races left. I’m left instead looking back at the year and looking forward to the next.
I finished the year with 38 races between the track, mountain bike, road, and two stage races, with 3 DNF’s, and 8 top 5’s most of which came from the track. I finished the year pretty well on the track and revisited the short track on the MTB. Both of which I will mix in next year.
I’ve set goals for next year already. I’d like to log 800 hours between October’s and take cross to nationals in Bend. That will include the spring races, Cherry Blossom, and two other stage races. I still have my eyes on Elkhorn, then probably Cascade.
Not much more to say about my season. It was kind of blah because of illness, but a success in the end. I learned a great deal about what kind of rider I am. I defined my strengths and weakness with more clarity.
I hate to admit it but I am a sprinter, the results prove that. I am not a climber. So this winter will be spent leaning down and working on climbing faster. I will race to my strengths and train to my weaknesses. I also joined a new team this year. Team Oregon has picked me up and I am dawning there kit in 2011, I'll also be logging my midpack single speed finishes for Team O.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Eugene Celebration - Prologue

12:49, Slow and about middle 3rd of the bunch. It was an uphill prologue, fun and tough. I've never done a prologue before and it was not difficult to judge your effort. I just hovered this side of vomiting for as long as I could, which turned out to be 12' 49". I don't think a lot people understand though that for a 13' effort I put in a 2hr 30min ride. The warm up the cool down. It was a great day on the bike.

I absolutely love racing my bike and day after day of racing and relaxing. It's a tough life.