Wednesday, July 30, 2008

It's over.

The Tour de France has finished, and another glorious July of cycle racing is over.

This year's tour was fantastic, the yellow jersey was swopped about 6 times or more, and you didn't know who was going to win until the last two days.

Highlights of the tour were:
Valverde's early win and lead, promising so much after his perfomance in the Dauphine Liberé.
Mark Cavendish's four sprint wins, even if he did drop out at the Alps. he's no climber and there was no point killing himself weeks before the Olympics.
Successful anti-doping controls. The italian Ricco was on the latest generation EPO and still got caught.
Cadel Evans fighting off the CSC team in the Alps, strung out to dry by his team Silence-Lotto
Some spectacular crashes on the hair-raising descents
Some excellent young riders showing promice for the future.
French riders in most of the breakaways and some french stage wins.

A great champion in Carlos Sastre. he took the risks when he had to, on the stage when he had to, and was supported by some brilliant team riding by CSC.
Sastre has a fan club in Aalter, a town near Gent, that has now grown to nearly 450 members. This fan club raises money for a children's cancer charity. Whatever money they raised, Sastre would match it. He's not even belgian, and the kids probably don't even know who he is. (That's about to change)

Check out his website. He seems like a nice guy.

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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

100 kilometers

It's good to be back on the bike again.

I've been cycling to work the last few weeks, morning shifts, night shifts, rain or shine. It's encouraging te see the fitness coming back. My poor old bike had the same tyres on I used for PBP in 2003.

Looking around locally for a club to join I found a cyclotouring club in Exideuil, not too far away. I phoned the club president for info on joining and he told me they were organising a 100k ride on Sunday 6th July. Great, I thought, I'll do it.

The distance was no problem, I've done dozens of 100ks and longer, and only the weekebd before I'd ridden 65 with a friend.

No, the real challenge was that Sunday 6th was the last of my night shifts. I would be getting to bed at 4:30am and waking up again at 6:30am to get to Exideuil for a 7:30 start.

100k on the back of an 8 hour shift and 2 hours sleep was a little more daunting. i decided to go straight to the start from work and sleep in the car. Less comfortable, but a benefit of more time asleep.
I parked under the trees in the salle de fĂȘtes car park. It started raining during the night and the big drops falling onto the roof of the car were incorporated into my weird dreams. I woke up at 6:50, before my mobile phone's alarm had gone off.
People were about, and there was coffee and cake at the little clubhouse. I paid my 4 Euros entry fee and was given a map of the route.
The weather was miserable and drizzly. I didn't want to ride alone so I hopped on the bike and follwed some riders out onto the road. I decided not to wear a rain jacket. Even though they are light, I sweat so much in them I get just as wet as I would in the rain. I kept arm warmers on.
At about 20k I found myself in the company of two geezers from the Exideuil club. they were stronger than me so I tucked in behind them and drafted selfishly. At 40k there was a rest stop - sandwiches, cake, juice, wine (wine?) and toilets. My feet were freezing and the rain hadn't let up.
I introduced myself to my two "team-mates" and apologised for not helping. They were an excellent pair of old boys, early 60s I guess. That's something in common with the long distance riding in the UK, it's a sport for the "mature"
Talking amongst ourselves as we rode, the miles flew by. There were a couple of monster climbs, and we came in to the finish in under 4 hours. That's an average of 25kph which I'm quite pleased with.

the club has regular rides Wednesday mornings. My next shift doesn't start till Thursday morning, and the weather report looks good for tomorrow ....