Wednesday, August 12, 2009


So I was just looking over some stats from my training this year, and I was surprised to see that I've burned 158,990 calories since Jan 1st. Of course, that's just an estimate, but still... that's a lot of calories. To put it in perspective, that's the equivalent of 118 Big Mac meals with large fries and a large soda.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

LOTOJA Training

Well, the Tour de France is over, but LOTOJA is just around the corner, and I'm far from ready. I figured I needed to get in some good miles today so I planned a ride from my house in Sandy up to my in-laws house in Park City. Check out the route here.

It turned out to be a pretty good ride, but plenty challenging. The ride ended up taking a little over six hours, in part due to the fact that the wind was in my face for almost the entire ride. I don't know how that's possible, but it's true. The 96 miles weren't so bad, but thinking that I would be less than half way done if it were LOTOJA made me cringe a bit. I've still got a long way to go in my training and not much time.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Mont Ventoux

I rode to the top of Ventoux this morning. The grade is pretty relentless, but more than that, the wind is like nothing I've experienced before. I would guess gusts well in excess of 50mph. That
said, we took it pretty slowly so the ride wasn't that challenging. At race pace, it would be a killer.

And the people... hundreds of thousands, easily. It was unbelievable. I've never seen so many people anywhere in my life. There were thousands of other cyclists trying to make it to the top before they completely shut down the road. Coming down Ventoux wasn't much fun. Cold, super windy, with crazy fans running all over the road. I'm now about half way down waiting for the peleton. If we're lucky we should see some attacks near here. The truth of the matter is I'll be
watching the TV more than the road. It's hard to beleive the Tour is almost over.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Pictures from the TT

A few of my favorite shots from today. Nothing spectacular, but still pretty cool.

Schleck's warm-up

The Saxo Bank team just came through warming up so I took a quick
iPhone snapshot. Lance came through a couple of times earlier as did
Contador and Klöden. Fun stuff.

Today's Time Trial

I just got done riding today's TT course and it's going to be awesome
to watch the pros come through. The climb isn't too long, but it was
pretty steep. Around 8% in several spots.

The roads were closed quite a while ago, but we were fortunate to have
official on course accreditation. Even with that we were stopped a few
times. Much like yesterday, the fans are already lining the course and
cheering on anyone who goes by. The pros are also out warming up, and
the publicity caravan is getting ready to come through. The weather is
a little iffy, but it's still a beautiful area. We have a tent right
in the middle of the climb, so we'll have a great view today.

I'm sure I'll have lots of pictures to post later today. Should be
exciting. Hopefully Lance can take back some time today and get back
into the top three.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Tour de France – Stage 17

Every day at the Tour is amazing, but some days are harder or easier and potentially more exciting than the others. The hardest stage is usually referred to as the queen stage, and no doubt about it, today was the queen stage. It’s also getting to be late in the tour, and anyone hoping to make a move would have to give 100% today. Add to that, the ridiculous profile of the stage and the crazy weather, and you had the ingredients for an amazing day.

Having ridden to the top of the final climb of the day, we were well positioned to get some great shots. Here are a few favorites.

[Spoiler alert: this may give you some insight into how the stage finished today]

Col de Romme & Col de la Colombiere

Where do I even begin? For those that don’t following cycling it’s probably hard to imagine why I would get so excited about today’s ride and today’s stage of the Tour de France. Every day of the Tour de France is like a giant parade. For over 100 miles you’ll find the roads lined with spectators. In the very best spots along the route, you’ll find tens of thousands of spectators crowded onto the hills to get the best view. It’s very much a party atmosphere. Today we were able to ride the second half of the route right before the pro riders and experience a little of what it must feel like to be in the Tour. The route is extremely well marked, and much of it is closed the cars. The fans are crazy and cheer you on with almost as much enthusiasm as they have for the real athletes. It’s hard to go too slow when people are running along side you yelling, “Allez, Allez, Allez!”

Even without the screaming fans, the route on it’s own would be amazing. With over 7,000ft of climbing, it’s not an easy ride, but the challenge is part of what makes it so great. This was the second time we tackled Col du Romme, but this time we were a couple of hours into the ride when we got the bottom. That made a big difference. It felt much steeper today – of course there were also huge gusts of wind that were literally blowing people off their bikes. We had multiple thunderstorms roll through which made everything that much more difficult – especially the descents. Fortunately I managed to stay upright, but I had a couple of close calls. After Col du Romme you still have to fight your way to the top of the Colombiere. This climb is supposed to be a bit easier, but the last two miles are brutal. Coming over the top and seeing the King of the Mountains banner over the road made it all worth while though. Just amazing.

Did I mention we've done over 35,000ft of climbing this week?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Finish in Bourg-Saint-Maurice

Don't worry. I'm not going to say anything about the actual stage, so
no spoilers for those that haven't watched yet today.

It was amazing to be in the finishing town today. We finished our ride
a few hours before the Tour finish so we went out to lunch and then
headed down to stake out our spot. With a bit of elbowing I managed to
get right on the barriers at the 100m to go point right after the
final turn. There couldn't be a better spot. The only down side was
that we had to stand there for over an hour in blistering sun and 90+
degree heat, but it was worth it. The big screen TV was right in front
of us, so it was easy to follow what was happening on the road. As the
riders closed in on 10k, 5k, 3k, and 2k the intensity kept doubling.

As the Tour came racing through I managed to get video and several
pictures (I'll post tomorrow so as to not give anything away). Over
the years I have watched and read a lot about the pro tour teams and
their riders, but I was still completely amazed by how fast they were
going at the finish. After a very long and hot day of climbing, they
were still absolutely flying a the end. The TV just doesn't do it
justice. Very cool and very intense.

Once the first several groups came in we headed for the team bus area.
It's surprising how accessible everything is. Yes, it's hard to get to
Lance, but I was within a foot or two of George, Cancellara, Johan,
Andy Schleck, Cav, Farrar, Wiggo, Popo, and countless other riders. We
hung out by the Astana bus for a while and got in on an interview with
Johan Brunyl. We were litterally standing side by side with the
interviewers and could have asked questions of our own if we wanted.

I'm on the bus now headed back to the hotel. It's been a long, hot day
and I'm looking forward to a shower, dinner, and bed. Tomorrow will be
an even longer day both for me and for the tour. We'll be riding the
second half of tomorrow's stage which is long and steep. I think
tomorrow we could see a little more change in the GC standings.

That's all for now. Pictures coming soon.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Tomorrow at the Tour

So tomorrow will be our first day actually going to the Tour. Until now we've just been riding the famous routes from past Tours de France. Tomorrow we'll start riding around 8:30 and go from our hotel to the stage finish town of Bourg-Saint-Maurice. It's a pretty tough day tomorrow with two very big climbs, but I don't think we'll see huge changes in the GC standings. Hopefully I'll have time to post some pictures from the finish tomorrow when we get back to the hotel.

Col du Mollard & Croix de Fer

Today's ride was about as good as they come. I don't have time to write the novel that I would like to describing every turn, but I'll at least post a couple pics for now and come back to revisit this later.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


I have to admit, I’m a little disappointed. I never really thought Lance would win the Tour, but I really hoped he would find someway to shock everyone and win one more time. The Tour is certainly not over, but after today’s stage and the final climb up to Verbier, it’s hard to imagine anyone but Alberto Contador winning this year. It’s still quite impressive to see what Lance is doing four years after his last win, but he’s certainly not the dominant figure he once was. At this point I would be impressed if he can stay in the top 5. Hopefully he’ll prove me wrong, and I’ll still be standing on the side of the road from here to Paris cheering Lance along.

Col du Galibiere

In addition to being a really great climb, the views from the Galibiere were spectacular. It’s always fun to be able to see several of the switchbacks that you’ve just traversed. The weather was perfect, and the air was totally clear. We took our time and took lots of pictures.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Col de l’Iseran

Today’s ride was at once one of the best and worst rides I have ever been on. The weather was not at all cooperative, but having come thousands of miles to tackle this climb, we wanted to at least give it a go. We started right around noon from the ski village of Lanslebourg. The temperature was about 45 degrees and it looked like the clouds were sitting pretty low in the direction we were headed. As you can see from the elevation profile (I'll add it soon) the ride starts with a bit of a climb and then levels off for several miles before ultimately climbing straight up the side of the mountain for the last 8 miles.

The first hour of the ride was perfect. Cool, but not cold. That would change all too soon. The valley was absolutely spectacular. We crossed an impressive glacial river on a couple of occasions, and you couldn’t go too far without seeing a waterfall coming down the side of the mountain. It’s really difficult to put into words how impressive it all was.
Once we got to the end of the valley and the tiny village of Bonneval-sur-Arc (which was also amazing), things started to change. From here the climb kicked up to an average of over 8% with several sections of 12-15%. That wasn’t too concerning. The real problem was the rain and the temperature. A few miles into the climb, it was dipping into the 30s and it had rained enough that I was pretty well soaked. I really, really wanted to turn around but I also didn’t want to miss out on getting to the top of the col. The last few miles were ridiculous, with 40+mph wind gusts and sleet and snow blowing straight across the road. The ice was starting to build up on my bike and the road just kept pointing up. I knew I could make it to the top, but I had no idea how I would get down. Once I stopped pedaling it was going to get very, very cold.
We made it to the summit and stopped just long enough for the obligatory photo before starting the descent. I don’t think it was even a mile before my body began to completely shutdown. I was shaking uncontrollably and it was getting to be unsafe. I got off the bike and started walking. At that point I knew my only option was to flag down a car and hope someone would be kind enough to give me a lift to Bonneval-sur-Arc. It took a while (there aren’t that many cars on this road), but before too long a very nice couple stopped and let us pile into the back of their van. By now, Brett (who was previously doing OK) was also shivering uncontrollably. They cranked up the heat, and by the time we got down to the village I could once again feel my fingers and toes.
We dove into the café/restaurant and ordered four bowls (yes, bowls) of hot chocolate. By now it was almost 4:00, so we ordered food as well and took our time eating. By the time we were done, my core temperature felt like it was about back to normal and I felt pretty good about finishing the ride.

From Bonneval back to Lanslebourg the ride was comparatively uneventful. The sun came back out and the scenery was indescribable. By the time we finished the ride we both felt pretty good. We packed up the bikes and headed for home.

The Fort

On the way back from the Col de l’Iseran we stumbled across a cool group of forts clustered on the side of the mountain, so we stopped and took a few pictures.

Col du Telegraphe

Not a whole lot to say about this ride. It’s yet another classic climb that’s frequented in the Tour de France. Since we were staying in Valloire above the Telegraphe, we started the ride with a descent down to Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne. The descent was about as good as it gets – long, steep, winding and twisting through dense forest and then coming out into the open with amazing views down into the valley.

I was struck by how courteous the drivers that we encountered were. The sharp turn on the road meant that we were able to go down much faster than a car. Almost without exception, the cars would give us plenty of room to pass on the left and would even signal us around when it was clear. At times you had the feeling of working your way back through the team cars to catch up with the peloton.

The climb back to the top was great as well. We had been worried about the weather, but it held for most of the ride. About the time we got to Valloire the rain started coming down in buckets, but at that point we were only 15 minutes from our apartment.