30 August 2010

Cycling near Malaga, Spain

Roads of the Vuelta a España 
I was watching the Vuelta online this morning. Listening to the coverage on Eurosport, when the announcers began to talk about how the area around Malaga is great for riding a bike. Many of the Spanish professional cyclists train in the area. They were commenting on how different areas become trendy for pros to live and train. In the early 1990s Italy was popular, then the south of France and the area near Nice was popular until road traffic became too much. 
A few cyclists gathered in Girona, Spain in the mid 2000's, and then more came and a reputation grew. Now Malaga, Spain is growing in popularity. For those of us who enjoy traveling with a bike and experiencing new roads and new adventures, it is always nice when someone blazes the trail first and makes recommendations. I was curious about the area. 
I've never ridden in the area before, so I started to read about it. I'm not quite sold. It looks like there could be plenty of mountain biking and road cycling. But I also read of busy roads, tunnels, dry heat, questionable drivers, and lots of hills. Sounds like most cycling areas. An area that might be great for a pro riders, but maybe not as good for standard riders. I do however have very fond memories of being a tourist in Sevilla and Granada. Tapas, and wine, and evening music in the cafes. 
It might be more fun, simply to keep watching the Vuelta online. Today Philippe Gilbert won Stage 3 of the Vuelta a España that finished in Malaga, Spain. 
Vuelta News: Gilbert enjoys first leadership in a Grand Tour 
Steephill.tv Live Dashboard for the Vuelta 2010 with links to watch the race live online
Information on cycling near Malaga: 
PezCycling visits Spain: Vuelta de PEZ ’08: The Road To Jaén 
Biking Andalucia: the best road cycling in Spain
A bike shop in Malaga, Spain
A cyclosportiff: Recogida de dorsales 

Forum Threads about cycling in the area: BikeRadar.com and Boards.ie 

Airlines that service Malaga, Spain 

Time on the bike

I took some time off from writing about traveling and cycling
I was busy listening to this: Virgin Radio France
And riding this (more like training for and recovering from): Deer Creek Challenge
Margie, me, and Kathy Z. I ran into these two friends at the top of Parmalee Gulch.
Margie finishing the 100 miles
Now that the cycling season is winding down, I am now looking forward to swimming and running and hiking and gardening and riding my bike to the market.

*post post: I have ridden my townie bike almost everyday since putting it together in mid August; to the movies, to the bakery, to the pool, to the market. I am loving it! 

23 August 2010

Recommended reading: Michael Barry

Bite the dust, then reach for the stars
Michael Barry’s Diary: Bite the dust, then reach for the stars


Christophe Moreau retires

Cycling News
He has been a part of cycling as long as I have been a fan. Thirty-nine year old Christophe Moreau retired from cycling yesterday after racing the GP de Plouay for his current team Caisse d'Epargne.

Today Pez Cycling wrote about Moreau's retirement: "Moreau turned pro back in 1995 with Festina and raced for a total of 5 teams in his 15 year career, Festina, Crédit Agricole, Ag2r, Agritubel and Caisse d'Epargne. Long touted as France's best hope for a Tour de France victory his best year in the Grand Boucle was in 2000 when he finished 4th."
Christophe Moreau at the 2005 Tour de France in Paris
He also won the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré in 2001 and 2007.  Together with Lance Armstrong and Jens Voigt, Christophe Moreau was one of the oldest riders in the Peloton. I will miss him.
2002–2005 Crédit Agricole
2006–2007 AG2R Prévoyance
2008–2009 Agritubel
2010– Caisse d'Epargne

History: Christophe Moreau of team Festina was ejected from the Tour de France on 17 July 1998 with the entire Festina team. On 24, July 1998, he confessed to using EPO. Confessing alongside the other team members - except Richard Virenque - Moreau served a six-month suspension before returning to racing. On 15 December 1998 he was suspended by the French Cycling Federation for six months. The Festina investigation brought to light modern doping and forever changed the image of professional cycling.

Eggs and Bacon

Do Americans really eat eggs and bacon and pancakes for breakfast?
I was asked this question, in all honesty, at a Bed in Breakfast in Guchan, France this past July. The dinner table was full of French and German guests who wanted to know what I ate for breakfast (this is what they wanted to know about Americans?). I responded, "I eat the same thing I do here. I eat yogurt and muesli and coffee, sometimes berries or fruit, sometimes I eat a simple baguette and jam. I don't eat a lot of wheat or processed food, and no fast food". They looked baffled. I think they really thought we all ate eggs and sausage every morning, after all they had seen the movie Supersize Me. 

Yesterday I happened upon this twitter site. Could this be why we have a reputation for eating really bad for you food - because we do? If you are what you eat, I do not want to see the person behind the camera lens of these photos. 
Both funny and scary.

*post post: I couldn't resist this:

22 August 2010

Colorado High

Mount Evans - Am I there yet?

Every time I climb the 18 miles up Squaw Pass in Colorado, I ask myself that same question for the last 10 miles - am I there yet? Squaw Pass has about 5 false summits. Someone has even marked a yellow false summit line (to mess with your mind) about 2 false summits from the real summit, which again is not the summit, but instead the point at which you descend to Echo Lake Lodge. The destination for most cyclists. Unless, you plan to ride up to the summit of Mt Evans, but why would you do that since it is at 14,264 ft (4316 m)?

It was a beautiful clear blue-sky day. The perfect day to ride to 10,600 feet, which is far enough. I did not see a lot of cyclists out today. Road cycling in Colorado is a seasonal sport, and by now most cyclists (unless you live in Boulder, where they never stop riding) are by now busy camping, hiking, or mountain biking with their buddies, or setting up their CX bikes. I am still riding a road bike, until next weekend's Deer Creek Challenge. Then I will decide between a few invitations to go to Moab, Utah  in September/October, and then finally, I am hanging up my bike for the pool! (or so I say).

Today I decided to go out and do a classic climb in this area, Squaw Pass. The first pass of four in the Triple Bypass. It was fun playing tourist in my own back yard today. Here are some pictures from cycling today in Colorado. I did the loop route from Bergen Park to Echo Lake to Idaho Springs and back to Bergen Park. The section along I-70 is not that great, but doable. Squaw Pass is a good climb and was popular today with hikers, mushroom collectors, and motorcyclists. The road down to Idaho Springs carries more car traffic.

The ride from Bergen Park up Squaw Pass begins on a gentle slope. (You can tell this is Colorado, and not France, because we have yellow lines in the middle of our roads!)
The road climbs through groves of Aspen trees, "Quakies" we call them here in Colorado, because of the rustling sound made when the wind rattles the leaves. In a few weeks these will turn golden in color.

Denver in the distance

Continuing into the pine forest and a view of Mt Evans appears
Echo Lake Lodge is a good place to stop for a cold or hot drink
Inside is a bar where I have sought refuge many times from cold weather
There is also a very tacky souvenir shop
The inside of Echo Lake Lodge used to look like this in the 1930's
Echo Lake, with Mt Evans behind
The town of Idaho Springs, a good stop for a drink on the loop ride
Riding along the short section of bike path along the river

 There is an annual Mt Evans Hillclimb, Bob Cook Memorial race held in July every year. The race starts at 7,540 feet in front of the Clear Creek Middle School in Idaho Springs and proceeds to Echo Lake where the race turns and climbs to the summit of Mt Evans (14,264 feet.). Tom Danielson holds the record, set in 2004 with a time of 1:41:20. The Senior Women's course record is held by Jeannie Longo from France with a time of 1:59.19. The climb is 28 miles in length. But I am far more interested in and proud of my nephew Kenny, who won the Cat 4 division race in 2009 at age 21, visiting from California (where he is a Triathlete!). Here is Kenny:

20 August 2010

Armstrong's ratings are plummeting

The more I know, the more I am concerned
I am curious about the progression of this doping case. This experience is new, this is not the typical Ricco, Millar, Vinokourov, Basso, Ullrich, Landis, Hamilton doper story where the only question was whether the cyclist would admit doping, or not. I have become accustomed to witnessing the accusations, the dismissal from the team, the two year ban from competition, the attempted comeback, and the subsequent short-term memory of most fans and sponsors. This doping case is going to be very different.
Two days ago on my lunch hour, I was sitting in the park eating a sandwich next to my dog Jack. I was intently reading the Bloomberg Businessweek magazine. I had just finished reading about the unemployment rate, the northwest housing crisis, and the double-dip, when on page 22 I stumbled upon the Armstrong graph. His graph appeared no more positive than any of the economic graphs. Poor guy.

In the graph above, notice how sharply we gave up on Lance Armstrong once we determined he would not win the 2010 Tour de France and underperformed on July 11th, again after the Tour was over, and again amongst breaking news of the worsening doping scandal. Of course the graph doesn't show the effect of bashing the French hotel business (on August 14th), and his recent weeks of Cancer fighting campaigns.

I am glad my popularity is not grafted for all to see. I am more glad I am not Radio Shack, riding a sinking PR ship (although they are not giving up the ship). The graph clearly shows how Armstrong has taken Radio Shack down with him. Poor company. This is the time to remind ourselves why doping is bad for Sport: it creates cheaters, it can harm the health of individuals, and it is bad news for sponsors. (Not to mention, as a fan, I can't keep track of who wins a title on a given day, but who the actual winner was when the title is later revoked).

One thing is for sure, Lance Armstrong sure puts himself out there, a lot. I believe the more you are in the public eye, the more you are likely to make public mistakes. The more you speak under oath, the more likely you will say something inconsistent under oath - if there are inconsistencies to be said.

At a minimum, the new trend seems to be to indict the US based doping cases on pergury and false statements. These charges still translate to jail time. They do not have to actually convict Armstrong of doping. Yesterday it was announced that American baseball player, Roger Clemens was indicted on obstruction of justice, pergury, and false statements in the investigation into his use of performance-enhancing drugs. Today Lance Armstrong announced he has hired Mark Fabiani, (I probably would have avoided an Italian name) a high-powered legal and communications strategist.

It appears that Armstrong has circled a damage-control squad around him. His team includes Bryan Daly, a Los Angeles-based attorney and former federal prosecutor, Tim Herman, Armstrong's longtime Dallas-based personal lawyer, and Mark Fabiani a former White House special counsel who represented former President Bill Clinton and his wife, current Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, during the mid-1990s and the Whitewater investigation. Do you remember the "Master of Disaster"? That was the name Newsweek magazine gave Fabiani. Yes, he is that guy, and now that guy is representing a road cyclist.

my picture of Lance Armstrong at the Tour de France in Salies-de-Bearn in July 2010

I have a bad feeling for Armstrong. This is the point where we all naturally transfer our thoughts to his 5 children, and the good he does for Livestrong and Cancer awareness. Have we ever had such an effective spokesperson against Cancer as Lance Armstrong? That is one disease I would like to see demolished. Please, can he have more time to make headway. Five to ten years from now we will know how this story ends, for both Armstrong and hopefully Cancer. I hope there is a happy ending in there somewhere.

The Wall Street Journal: Cyclists Armstrong, Hincapie Broaden Legal Teams

Update 06/08/11: Armstrong has bolstered his legal team in recent weeks, adding John Keker and Elliot Peters of Keker & Van Nest LLP to the fold. The two new additions are directing the legal team. Other members of the team include Bob Luskin, Tim Herman, Mark Fabiani, and Bryan Daly.

18 August 2010

I made it 3 weeks

I'm already thinking about going back
I thought it would take me about 6 months before I began thinking about returning to Europe for another vacation. But no, it took me three weeks before I popped up that calendar to try to guess at possible dates. Can you believe it? yes you can. I am expecting to receive my Irish citizenship any week now and I have entertained the idea of returning to Ireland as a citizen. I've also thought about returning to Belgium, I like Belgium. And of course there is always France, there is no place like France.
I need to be honest though, not every day in France was an easy day. I had some trials and tribulations while I was there, but I got better at handling the stuff that comes up in life. I will share one such story with you now, it happened on my second to last day in France. 
I had planned to travel by plane from Toulouse to Paris to see the finish of the Tour de France on the Champs-Élysées. I had packed my one suitcase and one bike box and left them parked in my leased car in the economy parking lot at the Toulouse airport. By this point in my journey, I was consciously unloading any weight possible. I knew I was very close to my 50 lb bike box weight limit and my 50 lb suitcase weight limit for British Airways. I was trying to pare down, however, I unloaded 0.5 ounces too much weight in Paris.
I unknowingly threw away my economy parking lot slip, you know the one needed to get my car out of the parking lot upon return. I could picture that slip, sitting in the trash can in my hotel room in Paris. Without this slip my car was not exiting that parking lot in Toulouse. In a moment my entire vacation flashed before my eyes. In the next moment, I calmly said to myself, "you have until tomorrow morning at 10:00am to figure this out". It was 4:55pm the night before I was due to fly back to the USA.
I took a deep breath, thinking, thinking. Okay there is no attendant, I will go study the machine. I bravely walked up to the car park exit machine laying defiantly with crossing gate and no personality to barter with. I studied the machine carefully, and there in the upper left corner I found my button of hope. A small red button labeled "info". 
I pushed that button with every ounce of hope left in me, and a real voice answered! My first words of desperation were in French, when he said he spoke English, my second paragraph was in the kindest English I could muster up, already halfway accepting my fate. He spoke with the most gentle kind understanding voice you can imagine and responded "somebody will come". I waited.
A small white car approached and a man popped out with a newly created receipt in hand ready to bar-code scan my exit to freedom. I greeted him as if he had saved my life. By my fifth week in France I had learned that it was all about making the connection with a person, being in the moment, smiling, taking time for them. When he left he said, "Thank you for your smile," he could have easily said you idiot American woman, but no, he was more than kind. Thank me? Thank him! If it hadn't been for the kindness of this one person who made the impossible possible for me, I would have been royally messed up in Toulouse, France, on my own with an over-leased car and a missed flight. 
It just goes to show you how the random acts of individuals make our lives so much better. And why I have one-more reason, to add to my other 100 reasons, for why I love France.

Image of the day: Hourquettes

Picture of the Day - Hourquettes d'Ancizan
The summit of the Hourquettes d'Ancizan, above the town of Arreau in France, on the way to the Col d'Aspin in the Pyrenees. Definitely a recommended ride - Magnificent!

16 August 2010

Cycling in Girona Spain

Remember how I raved about Girona, Spain?

Remember how I fled the Pyrenees for Girona, Spain? Remember how I ate 2 scoops of gelato daily, found a beautiful beach just north of Girona, and said it was one of the best parts of being in France for 5 weeks? Well, I should have found this article before I headed to France and I would have intentionally gone to Girona instead of somehow ending up in Girona.

Michael Barry wrote an article for Canadian Cycling Magazine about
Girona, Spain: Riding in the pros’ backyards By Michael Barry - Published June 8, 2010

He offers some really excellent travel advice about cycling in the Girona Area. The third hotel he recommends in the article, Hotel Ciutat de Girona, happens to be where I stayed, I thought it was very good. If I travel to France again with my bike I am definitely going back to Girona. I thought it was fun. I wanted a few more days there to really enjoy myself. Ah, a reason to return.

Read my earlier post about visiting Girona, Spain in 2010: I finally get Girona
and how I ended up visiting Girona: My Google page is in Spanish

15 August 2010

Altitude is heady stuff

I suffer riding a bike at altitude
I want to go back to France, not so much to remain in eternal vacation mode, but mainly to avoid having to ride a bike at altitude. Yesterday I rode an awesome ride in the Denver, Colorado area. Here in Colorado, it seems to take me about 12 miles to warm up. If I don't warm up slowly, I begin to suffer and don't emerge from that suffer-zone until about mile 30, at which point it gets much better. I know this, yet I forget it - every time.

Yesterday I started on a climb, deciding I was going to try to beat my personal best time to the top. The major suffering began about half way up. I began to doubt my entire lifestyle of why I even ride a bike, at the same time trying to recall if I had suffered anywhere close to this level while I was in France. I think not. Riding a bike at altitude is punishing on the body, and on the mind.

After my ride, I came home to the news that Levi Leipheimer had won the Leadville 100. A 100 mile mountain bike race located in the mountains of Colorado. I laughed at the video interview of Levi in Leadville after the race saying, "this was just, this was ridiculously hard", stating he was, "not used to the altitude". I agree, it is really hard to ride a bike fast in Colorado. We have amazing mountain roads and expansive scenery and very good riders, but we have no oxygen.

When I move my body at altitude, the feeling is noticeable. When I try to race my body at altitude, the feeling is pure pain. I feel an indescribable all-over body pain, my heart rate is high and my lungs seem incapable of fueling what my muscles became accustomed to in France. Supposedly it takes 2-3 weeks for a body to adjust to altitude. I have been home for 2.5 weeks and am just starting to feel normal again.  

When the world's best professional cyclists come to Colorado next year for the Quiznos Pro Challenge race, we are going to hear a lot more about riding a bike at altitude. The riders are going to experience it first hand. Someone needs to tell them now - Colorado might have nice hotels, but we have no oxygen! 
A route announcement for the Quiznos Pro Challenge is expected at the Interbike tradeshow in Las Vegas in September.
Some interesting articles: 
Overcoming Altitude by Neal Henderson
Altitude and Athletic Performance training versus competition
Altitude Adjustment  by Mark Harrison 
Acclimatization is key for high altitude mountain bike racing by Edmund R. Burke

COLORADO - altitude of the Mountain Passes in Colorado
Mount Evans: 14,160 ft (4316 m), 15%
Pikes Peak Highway: 14,115 ft (4302 m), 8%
Trail Ridge Rd: 12,183 ft (3713 m), 5.4%
Independence Pass: 12,103 ft (3689 m), 6%
Loveland Pass: 11,992 ft (3655 m), 6%
Hoosier Pass: 11,541 ft (3518 m), 8%
Slumgullion Pass: 11,361 ft (3463 m), 9.4%/7.9%
Fremont PAss: 11,318 ft (3450 m), 5.7%
Monarch Pass: 11,312 ft (3448 m), 6.4%
Vail Pass: 10,666 ft (3251 m), 7%
Leadville 100 course: low point is 9,200 ft (2804 m), highest point is 12,600 ft (3840 m)

FRANCE - altitude of the Cols in France

Col de la Bonette: 9,193 ft (2802 m), 6.6% [Alpes]
Col du Galibier: 8,681 ft (2646 m), 6.9% (with 10%) [Alpes]
Col du Tentes: 7,240 ft (2207 m), 5% (with 8%) [Pyrenees]
Col du Tourmalet: 6,939 ft (2115 m), 7.6% (with 12%) [Pyrenees]
Col du Lautaret: 6,752 ft (2058 m), 6.9% [Alpes]
Col de la Croix de Fer: 6,781 ft (2067 m), 5.1% (with 9.5%) [Alpes]
Col du Glandon: 6,312 ft (1924 m), 6.9% (with 13%) [Alpes]
Alpe d'Huez: 6,020 ft (1835 m), 7.7% (with 12%) [Alpes]
Super Bagneres: 5,905 ft (1800 m), 6.3% [Pyrenees]
Port de Bales: 5,758 ft (1755 m), 6.3% [Pyrenees]
Luz Ardiden: 5,643 ft (1720 m), 7.7% [Pyrenees]
Col d'Aubisque: 5,607 ft (1709 m), 7.5% [Pyrenees]

The bike ride I rode yesterday was the Deer Creek/CityView/High Grade Rd loop ride in Littleton, Colorado. It is an excellent ride and they just repaved both City View and High Grade roads (fabulous climb and descent!). In two weeks the Deer Creek Challenge ride is happening on August 29th. The Century route is 100 miles, 12,751 vertical feet elevation gain. The Metric Century route is 62 miles 6,052 vertical feet elevation gain. Yeah, I'm no fool; I'm doing the 62-miler. 

And just because I stumbled upon this cool link: The 19 most complex and dangerous roads in the world

Surfing is a great sport

Simply because I happen to think surfing is a close runner-up to the sport of cycling, (and Kelly Slater might be better):

13 August 2010

Doping Investigation

Maybe we should take this seriously
The year ahead will surely bring some big surprises. People often ask us cyclists our opinion about doping and Lance Armstrong. All I know is he is a part of history. All I believe is he is not alone in this sport. Anything else I am open for surprise. I have no idea how this whole doping investigation will turn out.
I do know we should take this seriously no matter what our personal opinion might be. Lance Armstrong is a strong character, a powerful manipulator of media with great wisdom in understanding how to make things happen. He also claims to have never failed a drug test. But Armstrong is up against a very smart experienced dedicated and serious man. This man's name is Jeff Novitsky. He has already prosecuted baseball player Barry Bonds and American Olympic track star Marion Jones.
Marion Jones went to jail for 6 months. Barry Bonds is looking at years in jail. Indicted in 2007, his trial is not until March of 2011. The current doping investigation in cycling conducted by the US Food and Drug Administration could go on for years. Jeff Novitsky is a Federal Agent for the US Food and Drug Administration. Now you'd think that he would not be a man to be feared, but I'm afraid he is. He is a law enforcement agent, willing to spend millions of dollars and years of time.
The character of Jeff Novitsky could have been crafted with perfection by an author writing about the shrewdest lawyer in a best selling novel. Sports Illustrated described Novitsky as, "smart, meticulous, sophisticated, well-prepared and "straight as an arrow". A relentless bulldog, creative, and charming in his ability to bring people out, he is known to stretch the rules of investigation. He formerly worked at the Internal Revenue Service (as an accountant) and is himself an athlete. The son of a basketball coach, he his 6 foot 6 inches tall and 43 years old, married, with children.
A Grand Jury is seated in Los Angeles and is currently taking testimony. Other althletes subpoenaed as a result of the federal investigation of possible perjury, financial wrongdoing, fraud, and doping charges include former cyclists and teammates of Lance Armstrong's from the U.S. Postal Service, Discovery Channel, Astana, and Radio Shack teams. Also Rock Racing, Frank and Betsy Andreu, Rahsaan Bahati, Greg Lemond, SCA Promotions, Trek Bicycle Corporation, Tailwind, and Nike. 
Lance Armstrong is not the only cyclist accused, American cyclists David Zabriskie, George Hincapie and Levi Leipheimer are also accused of doping. 
  • Greg Lemond's disturbing interview with Men's Journal from 2008
  • Lance Armstrong testimony from November 30, 2005
  • Floyd Landis's story: Landis admits doping, accuses Lance
  • What is the BALCO investigation?
  • Who started all this? The Jeff Novitzky's probe into cycling began after the Food and Drug Administration was notified about a cache of performance-enhancing drugs that a landlord found in the vacated apartment of Kayle Leogrande, a little-known cyclist with a doping ban who rode for Rock Racing. 
  • Who is the Grand Jury?: The panel operates in secret and is made up of between 16 and 23 eligible citizens whose identities are not publicly disclosed. Federal grand juries, especially those that hear detailed investigations, meet regularly over several months. Grand Jury's are often used to lock people into their testimony, so that if their testimony changes over time, charges can be pressed. Once the grand jury has heard all the testimony, it will decide whether to deliver indictments. Once an indictment is delivered it can take years to hear the case, and then deliver the verdict, and decide the sentence (penalty). 
  • It has only just begun. 
*post post note on 08/19/10: Roger Clemens Is Indicted on Perjury Charges A federal grand jury has indicted Roger Clemens on charges of making false statements to Congress about his use of performance-enhancing drugs.

11 August 2010

More Pictures from the Tourmalet

Images from climbing the West side of the Col du Tourmalet

The start of the climb from the town of Luz Saint Sauveur on the west side of the Col du Tourmalet
The town of Bareges (the road to the Tourmalet gets steep around this town)
On the climb up 
The station at the top it just visible in the top center
At the summit of the Col du Tourmalet

The souvenir shop at the top of the Col du Tourmalet is across from the restaurant and sells cow bells and cycling jerseys
The restaurant at the top of the Tourmalet
the view looking west from the top
this is about all the room there is at the top of the Tourmalet
the view looking east to the the ski station of La Mongie
the famous statue at the top of the Col du Tourmalet
that's me
Read an earlier post with more images and a story of riding up the Col du Tourmalet titled Today I saw the Tourmalet bring a man to tears.

There is a souvenir shop at the top of the Col du Tourmalet that sells bike jerseys, cow bells, hats, trinkets. But you have to carry whatever you buy, down in your jersey pocket.  Be sure to stop and have a drink in (or on the patio!) of the restaurant at the top of the pass. If the weather is good, the scenery and atmosphere of cyclists coming and going is great. Also there is a great collection of cycling memorabilia inside the restaurant.

10 August 2010

Quote of the Day - Micahel Barry

Cycling is not only about the victory but also about the journey. The more challenging the journey is, the more fulfilling the achievement. ... Michael Barry (Team Sky)

09 August 2010

Upsetting the Apple Cart

I like tradition in cycling

I allowed myself to settle on the idea that my favorite riders were all on the same pro cycling team. It wasn't necessarily my favorite team, but the team had my favorite riders. Times are changing for those riders. Jens Voigt, Fabian Cancellara, Andy Schleck, Frank Schleck, Stuart O'Grady, Jakob Fuglsang, Richi Porte, Matti Breschel - remember what a great combination of riders Saxo Bank was? Now what?

At the 2010 Tour de France I heard that Alberto Contador wanted 5 million to transfer to Saxo Bank. I was told, "he is worth two Schleck's". Well not in my mind. In the end Bjarne Riis brought Alberto Contador over from Astana to Saxo-Bank (which is officially going by the new team name SunGard-Saxo Bank) for 4.5 million euros. Contador walked in one door and my favorite riders are walking out the other door.

The forever likable Andy and Frank Schleck announced their departure from Bjarne Riis's Saxo Bank team a week ago. They plan to be part of a new Luxembourg-based team in 2011. Jens Voigt, Stuart O'Grady, Jakob Fuglsang, and Matti Breschel are clearing out as well. If all Americans got to know the character and determination of Jens Voigt, we would have millions more cycling fans in this country. [Jens Voigt: pronounced like Yense Voked].

Jens Voigt on the yellow bike he jumped on during the 2010 Tour de France after crashing on his own bike. Determined to make it to the final day in Paris, he was not going to give up without a fight, even if it meant riding a Juniors bike with toe clips. Read the full story at: VeloNation Jens Voigt avoids abandoning Tour de France with help from kid's bike  Photo by: Robin Wilmott/Bicycling.com

Also watch the video of the post race interview with Jens: Jens Voigt: I borrowed a children's bike to drive down. To read about the man who handed Jens this fine yellow bike read Word of the day at the TDF: voiture balai

Jens Voigt is one of a kind. I haven't heard where he is headed after seven years with Saxo Bank. It is possible that Voigt, Fuglsang, and O’Grady will follow Andy and Frank Schleck to their new team.

Matti Breschel announced today that after six-years with Saxo Bank he is moving to Rabobank for a 450,000 euro salary with a focus on the spring Classics. It has not yet been announced whether Fabian Cancellara will remain with Saxo-Bank to complete the last year of his contract, or whether he will be moving to BMC or to the new Luxembourg-based team with the Schlecks.

Now that Alberto Contador has won three Tour de France titles, people are willing to reorganize entire teams around the man, they seem to do so every year. Contador wants to bring his choice of men to Sungard-Saxo Bank. He has suggested his fellow Spainairds Benjamín Noval, Jesús Hernández and Daniel Navarro. Tasmanian Richie Porte may also remain on the team as the second GC man.

Out with the old, in with the new. Forget about the Saxo Bank team, I am following my favorite riders instead. Wherever Jens, Cancellara, and the Schlecks go - I will follow.

08 August 2010

Copper Triangle and Bannock Street Crit

A weekend of bike events in Colorado
Now that was a full weekend of looking at really hot bikes! Yesterday I rode the Copper Triangle event ride, today I spectated at the Bannock Street Crit in Denver. These two events mean the cycling season in Colorado is winding down. We saved the best for last.
The Copper Triangle was lots of fun. My friend Christy and I drove up to Summit County the night before to have dinner and relax and acclimate (a bit). Christy forgot her registration packet in Boulder so we headed over to the Village at Copper Mountain to pick up a new number for her. It took all of 2 minutes because they were really well organized. We enjoyed a drink, dinner, and scenery at an outside patio. We ran into some old, new and good friends and shared laughs and a beer.
I admit I rode maybe too hard in the beginning of the ride the next morning. I was certainly feeling the altitude after being in France for 5 weeks. But since Christy was doing "efforts" on the climbs, I figured I should at least give more. The weather was beautiful, the aid stations just right, the volunteers super nice. It took us about 5 hours. I was tuckered, and walked unbelievably slow over to a neighborhood barbecue party later that night. I'll do the Copper Triangle again next year, it was fantastic.

Another rider's full blog account with good pictures of the ride at: http://jeff-road.blogspot.com/2009/08/copper-triangle.html
Today's fun started around 7:30am when I showed up to watch a friend race at the Mike Nield's Memorial Bannock Street Criterium. We had planned to go for breakfast after the race to celebrate Sue's birthday, instead we spent the morning and afternoon in the emergency room after Sue had a bad fall. She is fine, and I realized the joy of good friends is that no matter where we are together, what matters is that we are together. I wouldn't say it was fantastic, although it is fantastic Sue is okay, it certainly was memorable. 
Christienne and Sue this morning.
Sue bounced back and felt well enough to go down and watch her sons race in the late afternoon and be greeted warmly by all of her friends. It is really cool to be a part of the cycling community in Denver, it is a great place to race and ride a bike.

05 August 2010

Colorado Copper Triangle

Favorite ride of the year is this Weekend

Recommended Ride - Copper Triangle (!):

For any cyclist coming to this area with a road bike, there is a fantastic 82-mile loop ride in this area called the Copper Triangle. You will need to combine road and bike path riding to complete the loop, but it is worth it. This is one of my favorite bicycle rides in all of Colorado! The scenery and challenge is just perfect. Another good bike ride in the area is from Frisco or the (ski) village of Keystone up Loveland Pass and back Recommended Ride: Loveland Pass . Or another is from Frisco to Vail and back (on the bike path) Photo of the Day: Riding Vail Pass .

3000 riders converge on Copper Mountain every year in Colorado for the annual Copper Triangle Event Ride. Every state in the USA is represented as well as participants from Asia and Europe. The course is a 78 mile loop route over 3 mountain passes, Fremont Pass (elevation 11,318’), Tennessee Pass (elevation 10,424’) and Vail Pass (elevation 10,666’). The total elevation gain for the course is 5,981 ft.

This is a great route to ride, made much easier by having aid stations, and much nicer by having a celebration village and lunch at the end of the ride. There will also be a concert, happy hour, and showing of the old movie American Flyer the night before the event at the ski Village of Copper Mountain. The event has traditionally been a fundraiser for the Davis Phinney Foundation. Davis Phinney usually rides and will be on hand to show support.

Word began to spread in the spring that registration for the ride was selling out quickly for 2010. After the other popular Colorado ride, the Triple Bypass sold out in less than 45 minutes in January. The Copper Triangle is completely sold out, it is a very popular ride here in Colorado, combining a great loop route, good weather in August, nice volunteers & organization, and a festive atmosphere after the race.
I'll be riding the with my good friend Christy this weekend. I can't wait.

04 August 2010

Quiznos Pro Challenge

It's official there will be a Tour of Colorado
The Route was announced read the route here on my recent post today 11/4/10, 10:45am

Update August 2011: The race name has been changed to USA Pro Cycling Challenge. Please read information for fans provide by PedalDancer.com at USA Pro Cycling Challenge Fan Page or specific Details at: Fan information for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge

A new UCI Pro Tour race is coming to Colorado, the route has not yet been announced, but the Tour's official name will be Quiznos Pro Challenge, after it's main sponsor Quinzos. Quiznos is an international sandwich company. The first ever Quiznos sandwich shop is located just blocks from our state capital in Denver, Colorado. The Quizno Pro Challenge race dates will be August 22-28, 2011, 7 days of racing.
This morning a good-size group of cyclists and supporters gathered outside the state capital building in downtown Denver. The crowd listened (well, some of them could hear) to Governor Bill Ritter and Lance Armstrong announce that a pro race will indeed be held in August 2011 in Colorado. 

This is exciting news. There has been much talk, and hope, but the race is now a reality. Thank you Quiznos! It has been sad to see the Tour of Georgia and the Tour of Missouri fade away in this past year.  Cycling fans now have a new race to look forward to, and right here in Colorado. Plus August is the best time of year to ride a bike in Colorado and to be a tourist. 

I listened as Armstrong said he felt certain that the European riders would look forward to coming here to Colorado to ride. "You have good hotels," he said, to laugher. We also have an active population, good roads, great towns, and enthusiastic fans. I am proud to have some of the best cyclists in the world heading to Colorado. 

For me, it was totally cool having the event and Lance Armstrong cruising through my neighborhood park this morning in Denver. Surreal really. I certainly didn't chase Lance Armstrong all over France while I was there just weeks ago, but he just rode through my hood this morning!
Of course I have pictures to share, and I'm naming names:  All Photos by PedalDancer.com
The mood today at the Capital in Denver: 
All kinds of bikes were out today:
The announcement of the Quiznos Pro Challenge race by Colorado Governor Bill Ritter. 
Lance Armstrong addressing the crowd, with Governor Ritter and Quiznos Pro Challenge General Manager Joe Moller:
this is Connie Carpenter (mother of Taylor Phinney, wife of Davis Phinney) a former competitor in the women's Coors Classic race, present for support. They are considering a women's race in 2012:
this is Paul Balaguer (the man behind the good years of Ride the Rockies, a great guy, if he is involved - it will be a great event):
The relaxed crowd waiting to begin the Denver Twitter Ride this morning in downtown Denver, Colorado:
this is Ron Keifel (former 7-Eleven team rider and US National Road and Time Trial Champion) cruising through Washington Park in front of me, pulling his child in the trailer. As Phil Liggett would put it - many of the Heads of State (in Colorado cycling) turned out today in support of the race.
this is Lance Armstrong in Washington Park in Denver on his announced Twitter ride:
this is Governor Bill Ritter riding by:
this is Davis Phinney cruising along, a former 7-Eleven teammate, a National Champion, the most decorated American Cyclist, and the last winner of the Coors Classic (the last big pro race held in Colorado). He looks great, an amazingly handsome and in shape man at age 51:
this is Paul Balaguer again (and Paul, you are handsome too!)

That was fun!
*you may click on any of the pictures to enlarge