02 February 2012

Guess Where? #4

Where have we cycled to now?
Today Pedal Dancer continues the Friday travel series titled Guess Where? Here are three more images for you to guess the location, and learn a little more about the famous sites.

Image #1
©Photo By PedalDancer.com ™/Kenny Rakestraw
Image #2
©Photo By PedalDancer.com ™
Image #3
©Photo By PedalDancer.com ™

#1  Eiffel Tower

I am really hoping you were able to guess the famous monument of La Tour Eiffel in Paris, France. Nicknamed La dame de fer, the iron lady, the tower was built over three years (1887 to 1889) by Gustave Eiffel for the entrance to the World's Fair in 1989. The tower was supposed to be dismantled after 20 years, but by the time 1909 rolled around the city had discovered it's value as a communications tower. It requires 50-60 tons of paint every seven years to keep the tower safe from rust. It has escaped two attempts at dismantling the collossal structure and remains arguably the most recognizable landmark in the world.

Impressive by day, beautiful by night. Take an elevator ride to the top of the tower (video), or see the view from the top of the tower (video). The tower is open to visitors every day from 9:00-23:00 in Winter and 9:00-24:00 in Summer. In 2002 the tower received it's 200,000,000th guest and is reported to be the most visited paid monument in the world. The cost of a ticket to the top is € 13.40 (but rates are going up April 1st!) . We just missed the opportunity to ice skate on the 200m ² ice rink located on the first floor of the tower (dates were 5 December 2011 to 31 January 2012). 
Ice rink at the Eiffel Tower in Paris
I have two small replicas around my house as fond memories. Not to be confused with this tower below - one of over 30 duplicates or fake towers around the world. This copy is located on the Las Vegas stripe, in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, the location of the annual Interbike cycling convention. ©Photos By PedalDancer.com ™

In 2003, the day before the final finish in Paris of the Tour de France, I was fortunate to participate in the Centennial La randonnee du centenaire ride for the 100th year of the Tour de France. Thousands of citizens, grabbing anything with 2 wheels, rode the course around the closed streets of Paris. The mood was festive and fun and I was happy to ride with a great group from Arizona. When the riders or announcers on TV describe the Champs Elysees as uphill on cobbles, it really is the truth! "You can't take it with you, memories are all that remain," well this is one memory that still remains with me as pure gold.
Cyclists under the Eiffel Tower in celebration of 100 years of the Tour de France ©Photo By PedalDancer.com ™
2003 La randonnee du centenaire ride on the Champs Elysees  ©Photo By PedalDancer.com
Centenaire riders in Paris (I still have my commemorative yellow jersey!) ©Photo By PedalDancer.com

#2 Tom Simpson Memorial
Tom Simpson (1937-1967) died at the young age of 29 after amassing an impressive cycling career. His controversial death overshadowed his major triumphs in the sport. Tom Simpson nearly won the Tour de France in his first year of riding as a Pro. He went on to win the Tour of Flanders in 1961, Bordeaux–Paris in 1963, Milan-San Reno in 1964, and the Tour of Lombardy in 1965 before completing the year by becoming Britain's first World Champion Road.

Tom Simpson died on Mont Ventoux of exhaustion while competing in the 13th stage of the 1967 Tour de France. Suffering in the heat of the day and complaining of a stomach ache, Simpson, after falling off his bike 3km from the summit, famously commanded the fans that rushed to help him, "Put me back on my bike." His effort took him a short 1km upward until he collapsed again and fell unconscious. Post mortem found that he had taken amphetamine and alcohol believed to have complicated the dehydration and exhaustion of the race.

The Tom Simpson memorial is located on the steep slopes of Mont Ventoux. Any cyclist who has climbed this mountain can remember it well. Just as you round one of the last big corners near the top, the memorial is up the hillside on your right, in a field of barren rock. Cyclists and visitors by car routinely leave items to honor the man who never gave up.

Read the story of Tom Simpson, a widely popular British celebrity in his time, by Pro Cycling News. Read my story about my ride up Mont Ventoux in 2010 and the history of the mountain (including why the mountain is bald) I love Mont Ventoux.

The last kms of Mont Ventoux  ©Photo By PedalDancer.com ™
A steep climb - Mont Ventoux Profile by ClimbbyBike
There is a second Tom Simpson memorial located at the Harworth & Bircotes Sports and Social Club in his hometown of Hawarth, England. See images of the memorial in England.
Tom Simpson  Photo from hdcc.co.uk
#3 Mont Blanc
The White Mountain or White Lady (La Dame blanche) towers 4,810.45 m (15,782 ft) above sea level making it the tallest mountain in the Alpes and Western Europe. The town nestled below this mighty mountain is Chamonix, famous mountain town and the host of the first winter Olympics. A 7¼ mile tunnel runs underneath this mountain connecting France with Italy. The first ascent of Mont Blanc was on August 8, 1786 by two men from Sardinia - Jacques Balmat and Dr. Michel Paccard (prior to the French Revolution, the mountain was part of the Kingdom of Sardinia).
In 1886, future U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt led an expedition to the peak. In 1990  Pierre-André Gobet (Swiss) set the fastest ascent and descent record from Chamonix in a time of 5 hours, 10 minutes and 14 seconds. Mont Blanc is a serious undertaking, every year almost 300 people die in the massif area, but if you want to learn more about the climbing routes up to the peak read Mont Blanc - mountain focus & routes
The views from the top of Mont Blanc from my trip in 2007:

©Photo By PedalDancer.com
©Photo By PedalDancer.com
©Photo By PedalDancer.com
The lively town of Chamonix, France  ©Photo By PedalDancer.com

View the other Guess Where series: