31 July 2013


*The label is clear, so if you do not want to read about doping anymore, then return tomorrow when I will be writing about bikes or travel again. Last time I visited this topic was October 2012. It's about time to address it again.

What is a generation?

1a : a body of living beings constituting a single step in the line of descent from an ancestor.
1b : a type or class of objects usually developed from an earlier type.
2 : the average span of time between the birth of parents and that of their offspring.

This generation is about 2 years old. 

It's like fingernails on a chalkboard every time someone uses the phrase "the new generation" of cyclists. I hear this phrase a lot. I also hear: “Our sport is much cleaner now.” The problem is - memory. It is impossible for fans to erase memory as recent as two years and consider it as old or worthy of classifying as a previous generation. Especially when our Doper cups are refilled and overflow every few months with news of yet another doping revelation.

It is convenient to focus on lab tests from 1998, it makes it seems like so long ago - certainly at least a generation, wouldn't you say? 1998 was 15 years ago. Yet we know for certain that Armstrong doped through his last Tour de France win in 2005, followed by a steady stream of convicted dopers who kept us busy across the years including Jan Ullrich, Ivan Basso, Floyd Landis, Vinokourov, Petacchi, Ricco, Hamilton, Valverde, Alberto Contador, Frank Schleck and so many many more.

The topic of doping always seems to pop up in conversation about cycling, but mainly with those who don't know a great deal about the sport, for those of us who do, the recent revelations in the French Senate report on doping were not that surprising, what we watch for are the reactions, the reverberations; the resulting path to change.

The Ones That Got Away With It

Bjarne Riis confessed to doping 11 years after winning the 1996 Tour de France. Never testing positive, denying it for years, he finally admitted to doping, had his Tour title stricken only to have it reinstated a year later, and never paid a price. He now owns and manages Team Saxo-Tinkoff. Alexander Vinokourov has a healthy career as General Manager of Astana, the same team he used to ride for when convicted of doping.

Andy Rihs and Jim Ochowicz have dirtied their names over "alleged" financial doping, and "allegedly" backing many dirty riders over the years. They continue business as usual at BMC. Axel Merckx's name was on the French Senate report last week listed as suspicious. He remains directeur sportif for the Bontrager Pro Cycling Team.

Team Garmin-Sharp is currently run by an after-retirement-confessed-doper who has seen little to no punishment - Jonathan Vaughters. Far from coming to peace with his past, Vaughters struggles to affect change in the sport while holding a steady paying job with the team. He is quite vocal about anti-doping while housing sentenced/paid the time (6mns-2yrs) active cyclists Tom Danielson, Thomas Dekker, Christian Vande Velde, David Zabriskie, and David Millar.

Andreas Kloden continues to ride with RadioShack-Leopard, somehow under the radar.  Matt White stepped right back into his role with Orica-GreenEDGE without barely a missing beat. I am personally baffled how popular Jens Voigt somehow skirted around his Crédit Agricole and CSC years, surrounded by dopers, seemingly unscathed, but want to (almost need to) greatly believe in his innocence.

Paolo Bettini, Oscar Freire, and George Hincapie were all riders with titles and contracts throughout the "era of doping" who conveniently retired at just the right time. 

We just celebrated Rui Costa and Alejandro Valverde (Team Movistar) at this year's Tour de France - two historical dopers. We celebrated with Stuart O'Grady on his magnificent 17th Tour de France and Team Time Trial win only to find out a day after the Tour ended that Stuey was going to retire, and then in surprising timing, that Stuey was a doper; a doper who recently stood up and voiced his opinion about how dopers were ruining the sport. Oops.

In my own opinion, perhaps the saddest is Chris Carmichael. Some saw him as a front man, a veil of deceit that Lance Armstrong hid behind using Carmichael as a "coach" screen, a charade of distraction that saw Carmichael "unjustly enriched" through promoting his own lucrative coaching business. He has never had to pay the real price. While Johan Bruyneel deservedly became the symbol of all things bad in the sport.

Now Management and Staff are paying the price 

Vladimir Ekimov was a prominent member of the US Postal Team, a team now proven to have doped throughout its ranks, but he never tested positive. Eki has a nice job as general manager of the Russian Team Katusha. Eki himself was responsible, in some strange twist, in laying-off Erik Zabel as the teams Sprint Coach after Zabel's name was included on the recent French Senate report.

Erik Zabel had just days prior resigned from his position on the sport's Professional Cycling Council (UCI). A lack of honesty is what bit him. His previous admission had been acceptable and he was welcomed back into the sport as a staff member on a couple teams, but it seems a doping confession should be complete and not partial. Bobby Julich (now with BMC) lost his job with team SKY in 2012 as a result of the USADA/WADA fallout and his confession, which now appears to have been complete because his name is also on the French Senate Report. No matter, Team SKY has a no tolerance for history or active doping.

Typically it was the rider who suffered, management and staff seemed to get away with barely a scratch, but now they are being gleaned from the sport. Jeroen Blijlevens, Sport Director of Belkin Pro Cycling, left immediately after news of being included on the 1998 list of positives. The technical director of the Vuelta a Espana, Abraham Olano, was also forced to resign last week.

So much for any hope from Truth and Reconciliation making an impact, no matter if you confess or someone forces your confession - you could be on the street, and fast. Laurent Jalabert (JaJa) the beloved figure of French cycling had a strong career as a French TV host, but lost face just before the Tour de France this year when news of the report was leaked. He saw his announcer and personality status crumble.  

Frankie Andreu is now directeur sportif of 5-Hour Energy p/b Kenda, an American UCI Continental Team, although Frankie paid a high price over the years for his unwillingness to continue doping while on the US Postal Team and his subsequent confession, he has worked hard to regain a job in this sport. I can't say the reaction to doping is fair, but neither is doping. I can't say I dislike all past dopers, because I do not.

I think Bernhard Kohl is interesting. He was caught, confessed, retired, talks about it and now runs a bike shop. He retired in 2009, exiting by making the famous statement that it is "impossible to win without doping." I am guessing Bernhard is not perpetuating or covering up doping for himself or anyone else by running his bike shop.

Throw the bunch out!

Reading through these names and realizing there really is no sense in logic to the pattern of accountability or punishment or outcome to doping cases, I am about ready to take the Sky side of no tolerance and flush them all out. All the way to the top with the IOC allowing convicted dopers to compete in Olympic events, or to the UCI claiming this doping issue is in the past. It certainly is not, not as long as a heavily influenced and influencing governing body is in charge of regulating the sport it profits from advancing, and the league is structured on World Tour licensing dependent on performance.

The primary incentive has remained unchanged. Win. Winning means everything to teams and to individual riders. It makes a career. It makes a future for any rider, who can dope now, apologize later, and then become team management with a salary. As my brother asked me, "Is Ricco any different than Jonathan Vaughters?" Does attempted good deeds later make up for knowingly deceiving your fellow competitor? This question takes much consideration.

Cycling is a beautiful sport

I enjoy watching American Football, baseball, swimming, track and field, tennis and a number of other sports plagued with doping, but I relate to cycling because I can get out and ride on the same playing field and I can dream of traveling to the locations where bike racers race.

I like this sport in spite of the people in it. What if every person with a connection to doping in the past was wiped away? Following the team SKY approach of no tolerance, period. We could start fresh with the same incredible sport of cycling. We could appreciate the event, the equipment, the endeavor, the competition. Within one season we would all have new heroes to follow and cheer. More Kwiatkoskis, Bakelants, van Garderens or Talanskys. And the Sponsors could get all the ad impressions they desired without worrying about harming their corporate image.

Are they doping or not?

This is not as confusing an issue for long-time fans as it might seem to be. History has hardened me, I am not falling for the latest campaign of a "Next Generation." I chose to take this on a case-by-case basis, instead of dividing riders by age group. I don't believe this sport is totally clean, certainly not when our reigning Olympic gold medalist is Alexander Vinokourov, a medal earned in 2012.

There are too many unclean people running it with far too much to gain with an approach that has worked for them in the past. Cleaning house, or truly impactful financial punishment are the only approaches that will change this sport (without the IOC terminating the sport of cycling all together). Honesty is exacting respect, but without significant changes, this is all talk and short term memory.

Am I still a fan - sure. 

It is not as simple as saying I am not expecting a clean sport, but more that I know that man is fallible.

Truth is, I am happy enough when I see true human suffering in a give-it-your-all competition. Cycling offers me that; but I can barely watch a stage in ignorant bliss these days without someone interdicting, "he's a doper." I follow the five-rules of cycling: Don't believe too much; be in the moment of battle; it's okay to be disappointed in your fellow-man; know that life is not fair; move on. And by all means don't blame others for what you should have known. And remain enthusiastic, because this sport is a guaranteed roller-coaster of you love him / he done you wrong.

Definitely worthy of a country song.

If you are going to look at every rider and label him as a doper upon success, or if you are going to look at every race as if it were fixed, then I believe you are diminishing your own joy of sport. We each have to come to terms with this reality, we shouldn't stop questioning, but need it override being able to watch sport and suspend disbelief?

The best written articles I have found to explain the current state of recent developments: French Senate names 1998 Tour de France dopers; O'Grady and Durand confess, By Simon MacMichael for Road.cc. And one by CyclingTips, today: Missing The Point discussing the steps to correction.

List of 1998-99 Positive:
Manuel Beltran, Jeroen Blijlevens, Mario Cipollini, Laurent Desbiens, Jacky Durand, Bo Hamburger, Jens Heppner, Laurent Jalabert, Kevin Livingston, Eddy Mazzoleni, Nicola Minali, Abraham Olano, Marco Pantani, Fabio Sacchi, Marcos Serrano, Andrea Tafi, Jan Ullrich and Erik Zabel.
List of 1998-99 Suspicious:
Stephane Barthe, Ermanno Brignoli, Giuseppe Calcaterra, Pascal Chanteur, Bobby Julich, Eddy Mazzoleni, Roland Meier, Axel Merckx, Frederic Moncassin, Stuart O'Grady, Alain Turicchia, and Stefano Zanini.

"All cyclists dope"

I dislike this statement so much, yet I wish I could bust the myth that "All cyclists doped." I am not sure how I could even start to dismantle this belief. I don't like this excuse used to defend those who did cheat. I don't like this reasoning used to discredit the entire sport. All I know is that there is a chance that in the present and in the future, I could rightly say, "some cyclists don't dope."

If you watched the Tour de France this year, you too saw men who suffered, men who had varying performances day to day, men who suddenly ran out of gas ("sugars"), men who fell off the back, and men who looked absolutely wiped out after a stage. These are very good signs. Racing should never have a known outcome or be easy. 

“Our sport is much cleaner now, I want people to understand that.” ~ Jacky Durand

Yes it is cleaner. I don't believe 100%, but that's ok, I am watching change happen.

This is a GENERATION, this is hope.  Photo© by Karen of Pedal Dancer®
Oh, um, and Jan Ullrich thinks we should reinstate Lance Armstrong's Tour titles ... because ... this doping thing is in the past now. All better.

29 July 2013

That's my kid!

It's a Family Affair

This last week I read a post my nephew Kenny wrote for a publication offering tips to first time triathletes. Now Kenny is a pro triathlete who has some pretty impressive race wins (hill climb & tri) to his name and young age. I am a very happy Aunt when I receive the usual podium shots and post-race play-by-play phone calls from Kenny. But when I saw his name attached as an author - my pride overflowed. Kenny is not only winning, he is sharing the joy of participation. So proud! [link: Top 5 Tips for First Time Triathletes].

My nephew, Kenny Rakestraw, racing the Vineman 70.3 Half Ironman triathlon on July 18th.
Then this morning I woke up and thought I would start my Monday morning by wearing my new bright yellow tshirt, but not just any bright yellow tshirt, a Je ne suis pas Ted King tshirt. [link: A Ted Tshirt]. Every time I think of Ted King now, I think of his parents traveling all the way to France to see their son race for one day in the Tour de France before missing the time cut-off by 7 seconds. We all know they were just there to show their support and love, but still, 7 seconds!
Je ne suis pas Ted King, mais je voudrais être
This got me thinking about the parents of some of the other pros, those parents who are often behind the scenes at races showing their support. I realized I have met a number of these proud parents at races over the years. I somehow feel more connected to the athletes after meeting their wonderful parents. So here it is - a brief collection of parental pride:

Tejay van Garderen's (BMC) Father, is a bike racer himself and often competes in weekly crits in Boulder, CO. He also works Mavic support.
Marcel van Garderen (second from left), Tejay van Garderen's Dad, with his Mavic support crew at the USA Pro Challenge in 2012.  ©Photo by Karen at Pedal Dancer®
Tejay van Garderen's Mother-in-law Lynn (that would be Jessica's Mom) was in Aspen as well (with Tejay's Father Marcel) in a show of support.
Lynn and Marcel in Aspen, Colorado, August 2012.  ©Photo by Karen at Pedal Dancer®
Taylor Phinney's (BMC) Mom - Connie Carpenter Phinney is a four-time Olympic medalist in cycling and speed skating. She knows a tremendous amount about the sport and also a great deal about cycling in Italy - just ask her sometime.
Connie Carpenter Phinney, Breckenridge 2012.  ©Photo by Karen at Pedal Dancer®
Taylor Phinney's Dad - Davis Phinney was a stellar sprinter and American legend in cycling, he is active in his son's career and a champion in his cause against Parkinson's Disease.
Davis Phinney (far left) with BMC staff members in Breckenridge, Colorado, 2012.  ©Photo by Karen at Pedal Dancer®
Peter Stetina's (Garmin-Sharp) Dad, Dale Stetina, and his Uncle Wayne Stetina were in Telluride last year to support Peter. Both are former National Champions and Olympians. Dale Stetina is a two-time winner of the Coors Classic. Wayne Stetina is V.P. of Shimano, USA.
Brothers Dale and Wayne Stetina, August 2012 .  ©Photo by Karen at Pedal Dancer®
Timmy Duggan's (Saxo-Tinkoff) Mom Debbie is a familiar site at the races in the United States. I have seen Debbie in Colorado and California. She usually has a large support group nearby.
2012 American National Champion Timmy Duggan found his Mom in the crowd in Santa Barbara, May 2013, in her matching jersey.  ©Photo by Karen at Pedal Dancer®
Timmy's family can be easily spotted on the sidelines wearing their bright green tshirts.
The Go Timmy Duggan Fan Club in Beaver Creek, CO  (who also happen to be his family and includes his Dad and Mom).  ©Photo by Karen at Pedal Dancer®
Ryan Eastman's (Bontrager) Dad and Mom were there to support him in Santa Barbara in May 2013.
Ryan Eastman (USA) and James Oram (New Zealand National Champion) of Bontrager Cycling Team are greeted by Ryan's parents after Stage 4 of the 2013 Amgen Tour of California.  ©Photo by Karen at Pedal Dancer®
Axel Merckx - we all know who his father is ... Eddy Merckx! Axel is currently Directeur sportif for the Bontrager Cycling Team.
Axel Merckx in Santa Barbara, California, May 2013. ©Photo by Karen at Pedal Dancer®
Did you know that David Millar's (Garmin-Sharp) sister Fran Millar works for team SKY as Head of Business Operations. I especially appreciated her tweet during the 2013 Tour de France after her brother waged his campaign against fans running next to the riders only to be ignored, but Fran posted this ...
Chris Froome used his brother as a double distraction from journalists during the Tour.
Chris Froome's brother  (Photo tweeted by Chris Froome)
Seems we saw Chris Froome's fiance Michelle as much as we saw Chris himself in the final footage of this year's Tour de France, and then Chris dedicated his win to his Mom - awwh!  Parents. Those wonderful beings who not only passed along outstanding genes but gave tremendous support on the road to forming a spectacular athlete.

So the next time you are at a bike race and see the parents of a rider there cheering on their kid, go up and say hi and congratulate them on their child's achievements, you never know, maybe someday someone will do the same for you on your son/daughter or grandson/granddaughter. Won't you be proud?!

After all there is no more justifiable pride than pride in one's family.

My other nephew, 7ft tall Kevin Rakestraw, with his very proud much shorter Mom Missy.

25 July 2013

All the Road Bike Reviews of the 2013 Tour

Good Enough For The Pros - Road Bikes & Equipment

2013 - 2014 Road Bike Frames

Have you ever wondered what bikes the pros ride? Let's take a look at some of the incredible equipment and bike frames used in this year's Tour de France and read through some of the many bike reviews produced in recent months about these bikes. I have compiled a list of bike reviews from some of the best in the bike biz.

If you could ride the best equipment - what would that equipment be? Let's look at what the top riders are riding.

Bikes and the peloton. Photo © by Willie Reichenstein for Pedal Dancer®

The bikes that won Stages in the 2013 Tour de France:
Stage 1  FELT  Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano)
Stage 2  TREK  Jan Bakelants (RadioShack-Leopard)
Stage 3  SCOTT  Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEDGE)
Stage 4  SCOTT  Orica-GreenEDGE team (TTT)
Stage 5  SPECIALIZED  Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quickstep)
Stage 6  RIDLEY  André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol)
Stage 7  CANNONDALE  Peter Sagan (Cannondale)
Stage 8  PINARELLO  Christopher Froome (SKY)
Stage 9  CERVELO  Dan Martin (Gramin)
Stage 10 FELT  Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano)
Stage 11 SPECIALIZED  Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quickstep)
Stage 12 FELT  Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano)
Stage 13 SPECIALIZED  Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quickstep)
Stage 14 SPECIALIZED  Matteo Trentin (Italy) (OPQ)
Stage 15 PINARELLO  Christopher Froome (SKY)
Stage 16 PINARELLO  Rui Costa (Movistar)
Stage 17 PINARELLO  Christopher Froome (SKY)
Stage 18 FOCUS  Christophe Riblong (AG2R)
Stage 19 PINARELLO  Rui Costa (Movistar)
Stage 20 PINARELLO  Nairo Quintana (Movistar)
Stage 21 FELT  Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano)

The bikes that carried the yellow jersey:
Stage 1  FELT  Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano)
Stage 2  TREK  Jan Bakelants (RadioShack-Leopard)
Stage 3  TREK  Jan Bakelants (RadioShack-Leopard)
Stage 4  SCOTT  Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEDGE)
Stage 5  SCOTT  Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEDGE)
Stage 6  SCOTT  Daryl Impey Orica-GreenEDGE)
Stage 7  SCOTT  Daryl Impey Orica-GreenEDGE)
Stage 8  PINARELLO  Christopher Froome (SKY)
Stage 9  PINARELLO  Christopher Froome (SKY)
Stage 10 PINARELLO  Christopher Froome (SKY)
Stage 11 PINARELLO  Christopher Froome (SKY)
Stage 12 PINARELLO  Christopher Froome (SKY)
Stage 13 PINARELLO  Christopher Froome (SKY)
Stage 14 PINARELLO  Christopher Froome (SKY)
Stage 15 PINARELLO  Christopher Froome (SKY)
Stage 16 PINARELLO  Christopher Froome (SKY)
Stage 17 PINARELLO  Christopher Froome (SKY)
Stage 18 PINARELLO  Christopher Froome (SKY)
Stage 19 PINARELLO  Christopher Froome (SKY)
Stage 20 PINARELLO  Christopher Froome (SKY)
Stage 21 PINARELLO  Christopher Froome (SKY)


Cyclists love their bikes.  Pros love their Sponsors.

Rule #1

Riders ride the equipment the team rides. The Team rides the equipment of the team sponsors.

That sounds pretty straightforward, but there are a lot of teams, and different type of riders on each team. That is why I have compiled these simple tables for you to refer to - discover all the bike equipment used by each ProTour team:

ProTeam Equipment 2013 - Bikes, Components, Wheels and Tires By Pedal Dancer
ProTeam Equipment 2013 - Pedals, Saddles, Clothing, and Helmets By Pedal Dancer

Rule #2

Pro Riders get to test ride, race, and contribute in developing the top gear in the industry. 

Within the brand, the pros have access to the top of the line stuff. They are issued their equipment for free and are sometimes paid through additional contracts to promote it as individuals (i.e. Cancellara's union with Trek).


Here is a list of the 2013 / 2014 bike reviews, by various knowledgeable journalists, of bikes featured in the Tour de France: *please note that Bike Radar, GCN and Cycling News all share tech reports and videos.

Bike Radar (Reviews by Sam Dansie, Robin Wilmott)
Pro bike: Marcel Kittel’s Argos-Shimano Felt F1 FRD + video
Pro bike: Nairo Quintana’s Pinarello Dogma 65.1 Think 2
Pro bike: Alberto Contador’s Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL4 (video)
Pro bike: Jens Voigt’s Trek Madone 7-Series H1
Pro bike: Simon Gerrans’ Scott Plasma 3 TT
Pro bike: Dan Martin's Cervélo R5
Pro bike: Thomas Voeckler’s Colnago C59 Team Edition
Pro bike: Peter Sagan’s Cannondale SuperSix EVO Hi-Mod 2013 (video)
Pro bike: Mark Cavendish's Specialized Venge (video)

Road.cc (Reviews by David Arthur)
Tour de France Team Bike round-up: All the road bikes in this year's race
12 of the fastest aero road bikes
Specialized 2014: Roubaix and Tarmac SL4 range expands
Tour Tech 2013: Cav’s SRAM hydraulic brakes + video
Updated: Trek launch 2014 range
Trek launch all new Speed Concept time trial bike
Tour Tech 2013: Movistar’s Pinarello Dogma 65.1 Think 2 + video
Pinarello launch Dogma with hydraulic disc brakes
Tour Tech 2013: Mikel Nieve’s Orbea Orca
Tour Tech 2013: Ridley Helium SL loses 100g for the Tour
Focus Izalco Max and Chrono Max launched

VeloNews (Reviews by Caley Fretz, Neal Rogers)
Revamped Trek Speed Concept saves weight and time
Pro Bike Gallery: Peter Sagan’s Cannondale SuperSix EVO
Pro Bike: Chris Froome’s Pinarello Dogma 65.1
Tour Tech: A tale of Froome’s two bikes
Pro Bike: Bauke Mollema’s Giant Propel Advanced SL0
Pro Bike Gallery: Alejandro Valverde’s Pinarello Dogma 65.1
Scott launches new Solace endurance frame, updates Addict
Pro Bike Gallery: Jeremy Roy’s Lapierre Aerostorm
Pro Bike: Andre Greipel’s Ridley Noah FAST
Trek launches new Madone 7, with lighter frame, better braking
Tour Tech: Mark Cavendish’s SRAM HydroR hydraulic rim brakes
Orbea launches new Orca under Euskaltel at the Tour
Look launches 695 Aerolight with integrated brake system

Bicycling (Reviews by Joe Kaplan, Joe Lindsey)
2014 Trek Speed Concept 9-Series
First Look: 2014 Trek Madone
First Look: 2014 Specialized Road Bikes and Gear
Multi-Modal: Shimano’s New Hydraulic Disc Brakes
First Ride: Fuji Norcom Straight
New BMC Spotted at Tour of California

First Look Scott Addict SL 2014
Froome's Pinarello Dogma 65.1 This 2 Reviewed
S-Works Roubaix SL4 (Specialized)
The Bike That Won Flanders: The Trek Domane
Cervelo S5 VWD
The Specialized S-Works Venge
Cervelo P5: First Ride

Cycling News (Reviews by Ben Delaney, Robin Wilmott, James Huang, Sam Dansie)
Specialized 2014 road and triathlon bikes - full details
Tour de France gallery: Time trial tech from stage 11
Focus officially launches Izalco Max and Izalco Chrono
First Ride Review: 2014 Trek Madone 7-Series Project One
Tour de France tech: Teams prepping bikes for Pyrenees
Look 695 Aerolight – full details
Tech gallery: More new equipment at the Tour de France

Bike Rumor
All New Orbea Orca Road Bike for team Euskaltel-Euskadi

Road Bike Action Magazine
Features: Bianchi 2014 Launch

Tour De France 2013 - GCN's Top Eight Custom Bikes
Tour De France 2013 - The Best Tech
Tour De France 2013 - Inside Line On Time Trial Bikes

BMC Bike Wash - Tour de France - Bicycling Magazine
Peter Sagan's Hulk Cannondale SuperSix Evo - Tour de France 2013 Bike Radar
2013 Tour de France - Featured: The Giant Brand, Ride Giant Bikes
Mechanic's mobile workshop trailer and team SKY Pinarello bikes ©Photo by Karen at PedalDancer.com
Extra credit:
Video: Inside Team Sky’s mobile workshop, By Sam Dansie, Bike Radar
Tour Tech: How bike change strategy shaped the stage 17 time trial, By Caley Fretz, VeloNews

Pedal Dancer photos of some of the 2013 bikes:
(All photos 2013© below by Karen Rakestraw or Willie Reichenstein of Pedal Dancer®)

Team Omega Pharma-Quistep S-Works Venge bikes
Specialized S-Works SL4
RadioShack-Leopard Trek Domane
The many colors of Trek frames
Jens Voigt's Shut Up Legs bike
Philippe Gilbert's World Champion BMC Team Machine SLR01
Team Garmin-Sharp Cervélo S5
Cannondale Pro Cycling Cannondale EVO Supersix
Peter Sagan's Cannondale bike
One with their bikes - Cannondale
Team Vancansoleil-DCM rides Bianchi
Vancansoleil team Bianchi Oltre XR bike
Team Euskaltel-Euskadi Orbea Orca
Pinarello Dogma 65.1 team bikes

Bikes of The Peloton :: 2013 ProTeam Rides, By Cycling Tips (*Why repeat what someone else has done marvelously by capturing pictures of every road bike in the professional cycling ProTeams for 2013).

2013 Cycling Jerseys, By Ciclismo (*Again why repeat a perfectly good project that probably took this blogger hours to complete - thank you!)

2013 Riders and teams Database By CyclingNews. Lists of riders, managers, Directeurs sportifs, neo pros, and which riders left the teams in 2012).

2013 Team and Rider Statistics, By ProCycling Stats (team rosters, calendars, race rosters, race results, and rankings)

Pro Team Sponsors: What Do They Do? By The Inner Ring

ProTeam Equipment 2013 - Bikes, Components, Wheels and Tires By Pedal Dancer

ProTeam Equipment 2013 - Pedals, Saddles, Clothing, and Helmets By Pedal Dancer

2013 Pro Teams, and Social Media links (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, websites) By Pedal Dancer 

A yellow Pinarello Dogma 65.1 Think2 at Interbike 2012   
Photo by Karen at PedalDancer.com

17 July 2013

Climbing Alpe d'Huez

About Alpe d'Huez

One of the most famous climbs in the Rhone-Alps region of France, Alpe d'Huez, has been climbed 27 times in the Tour de France since its first inclusion in 1952, tomorrow makes 28. This is not the first time the Tour de France will include the famous climb twice, in 1979 Alpe d'Huez was included in 2 different stages.

Tomorrow the riders in the 2013 Tour de France will race from Gap to Alpe d'Huez, continue up the adjoining Col de Sarenne, descend, swing around and climb Alpe d'Huez all over again. The climb is short but hard. some riders have done the ascent so often - they know it very well.

After leaving Gap, the peloton will have already allowed the prominent break to escape as they cross the good roads and smooth riding of the Parc Natural Regional Vercors south west of Alpe d'Huez. The area is quite beautiful and includes the climb of Col d'Ornon. I rode this area and climbed Col d'Ornon 10-years ago.

I was very fortunate to have climbed Alpe d'Huez twice, the first time in 2003 during a stage of the Tour de France and again in 2007 on a non Tour day (ride report). Both were enjoyable but quite different. A Tour day on the climb is a mad-house with the space remaining for the riders to pass reduced to mere centimeters. A non-tour day allows for time to stop, read the signs, take pictures, and enjoy a cool drink at a cafe at the top.

Tomorrow is a race day on Alpe d'Huez

Once the riders descend the Vercors, across the valley, they will enter the village of Bourg d'Oisans in the valley at the base of they climb where they will begin the first ascent of Alpe d'Huez, at just over 8 kilometers the ride will be over quickly but continues to the adjoining climb of the Col de Sarenne. A climb which has always been known as an alternative and less safe second option off the mountain.

Col de Sarenne is not engineered as the rest of the roads in the region and that is why many of the riders are concerned. Especially Chris Froome, because riders will attack on this descent (possible rain is forecast), all that remains is one last ascent of Alpe d'Huez. Possible time gaps will result in the final stage standings and likely the overall GC.

L'Alpe d'Huez is one cool mountain to climb and race on a bike. I'm not so certain about the Col de Sarenne.

To read more about tomorrow's Stage 18 Please read:  Tour Travel - Tour de France Stage after 15-16-17

Alpe d'Huez climbs the side of this enormous ancient glacier gulley in the center of this photo. You can see the 21 switchbacks to the left of the gulley. This dramatic photo is from Steephill.TV
If you are riding a bike in the Alps, Alpe d'Huez will probably be on your list of climbs.

HOW TO: You want to climb Alpe d'Huez? - Fly or train to Grenoble (Geneva is the largest airport nearby, I like the smaller convenient Lyon Airport). Stay: near Bourg d'Oisans. Climb: Alpe d'Huez, Col de Sarenne, Les Duex Alpes, Col d'Ornon, Col du Glandon, Col de la Croix de Fer, Col du Madelaine, Col du Galibier, Col du Lautaret, Col du Telegraphe, and cycle through the Vercours.

Alpe d'Huez is definitely a climb to target as a "done that" ride. While you are there definitely try to tackle the other climbs listed above, especially the Col du Galibier (!), you will appreciate having ridden them. Although I find the Alpes less enjoyable to vacation in (accommodations, food, atmosphere) and the cost higher (the closer you get to Switzerland), I am thrilled to have accomplished all of these climbs.

The last 2 stages of the Tour de France covered areas I would like to visit/revisit and spend more time exploring. Also the Grand Bornand - the area featured in tomorrow's Stage 19 - including the hills north of Albertville to Lake Annecy, is spectacular riding.

Alpe d'Huez is way cool, but I am not pulled to return for a third revisit. I am now content to watch the race on Tour day knowing the bends in the road. Tomorrow will be incredibly exciting as riders take risk to hold their place on the overall GC and/or the glory of the win - placing their name forever on a plaque on one of the 21 bends on Alpe d'Huez.

Experience all 21 switchbacks of Alpe d'Huez, one of the Tour de France's most feared climbs. By Bicycling
GCN Tour De France 2013 - Alpe D'Huez - With The Fans At Dutch Corner   
Peter Sagan - Wheelie en Alpe d'Huez - Tour 2013
On Alpe d'Huez looking down at the town of Bourg d'Oisans.  
©Photo by Karen at PedalDancer®
The church is a landmark on the climb to the top of Alpe d'Huez.
©Photo by Karen at PedalDancer®
21 switchback corners on Alpe d'Huez - they just keep coming!
©Photo by Karen at PedalDancer®
The top section of Alpe d'HuezPhoto from NBC Sports
Where is l'Alpe d'Huez?

Location of Alpe d'Huez in the Rhone-Alps Region of France
Location of Alpe d'Huez.
Location of other climbs nearby Alpe d'Huez

Pedal Dancer favorite climbs in the Rhone-Alps (link to google maps)

Alpe d'Huez, Col du Galibier, Col du Lautaret, Col du Télégraphe, Col du Glandon, Col de la Croix de Fer, Col de la Madeleine, Col d'Ornon, Les Deux Alps.
Climbs in the Rhone-Alps.  Map by Karen at PedalDancer® (link)
Tack on the Col de Sarenne

You can do a loop route beginning in the village of Bourg d' Oisans at the base of the ride up the Alpe d'Huez, connecting onto the Col de Sarenne road at the top, descend the Col de Sarenne, then take the highway back to Bourg d'Oisans. A nice town to base your ride out of where you will find cafes, bike shops, markets, hotels, and plenty of parking.
During Stage 18 of the 2013 Tour de France, fans will not be allowed onto this road because it is so narrow.
Loop route of Alpe d'Huez and Col de Sarenne
Profile of climb of Alpe d'Huez and climb to Col de Sarenne. The second climbs stops at the HC marker at the top of Alpe d'Huez. 
The climb up Col de Sarenne
Tricky descent of Col de Sarenne
This is more of a path than a real road, even when you zoom in on google maps the road is not apparent, but it is signed.
Ride Report: Cycling Col de Sarenne — The B side of Alpe d'Huez (photos and ride report) — steephill.tv

Steephill.tv includes this photo of Col de Sarenne in their travel log piece on climbing the col.
You then adjoin back onto the main road after the town of Mizoen at the edge of Lac du Chambon.

The main road between and Le Freney d'Oisans and Le Bourg d'Oisans
And do the climb again - if you want!

It is the corners that make Alpe d'Huez so much fun to climb on a bike.
Which sign will the winner's name be added to?

The winner of tomorrow's stage in the 2013 Tour de France will have his name added to the sign on Bend #15 of Alpe d'Huez. Next to Peter Winnen (NED) who won the stage up Alpe d'Huez in 1981.

List of Signs on the Bends of Alpe d'Huez  
Bend # 21 (1) Fausto Coppi, and (22) Lance Asmstrong (at the bottom)
Bend # 20 (2) Joop Zoetemelk, and (23) Iban Mayo
Bend # 19 (3) Hennie Kuiper, and (24) Lance Armstrong
Bend # 18 (4) Hennie Kuiper, and (25) Frank Schleck
Bend # 17 (5) Joaquin Agostinho, and (26) Carlos Sastre
Bend # 16 (6) Joop Zoetemelk, (27) Pierre Rolland
Bend # 15 (7) Peter Winnen, and (28) Christophe Riblon!
Bend # 14 (8) Bret Breu
Bend # 13 (9) Peter Winnen
Bend # 12 (10) Luis Herrera
Bend # 11 (11) Bernard Henault
Bend # 10 (12) Federico Echave
Bend # 9 (13) Steven Rooks
Bend # 8 (14) Gert-Jan Theunisse
Bend # 7 (15) Gianni Bugno
Bend # 6 (16) Gianni Bugno
Bend # 5 (17) Andrew Hampsten
Bend # 4 (18) Roberto Conti
Bend # 3 (19) Marco Pantani
Bend # 2 (20) Marco Pantani
Bend # 1 (21) Guiseppe Guerini (at the top)
Andy Hampsten's name is on Sign #5 of 21 signs on Alpe d'Huez.  ©Photo by Karen at PedalDancer®
About riding Alpe d'Huez - other posts by Pedal Dancer®:
"21 levels of hell", or 21 steps to heaven (*with a list of all the names on the signs, records and famous moments on Alpe d'Huez.)
My climb up the Alpe d'Huez
Best Climbs in the 2013 Tour de France
Guess Where #3
A crowded day at the Tour de France on Alpe d'Huez at the 4km marker.  ©Photo by Karen at PedalDancer®
Riding Alpe d'Huez on a non tour day. Lots more room on the road!  ©Photo for PedalDancer®
Climbing l'Alpe d'Huez is much like the Col du Tourmalet, Mont Ventoux or the Koppenberg; no matter when you go to ride it, you will see other cyclists out climbing and often gathered at the top. Many will be from other countries and the scene is a great atmosphere for cyclists.

Especially those cyclists who enjoy the lore and lure of these climbs.

12 July 2013

City of Lyon, France, and the Rhone River Valley

Lyon - a great city to visit

I enjoyed an unexpected day in Lyon last year and took the opportunity to play tourist.  I had to find a Cannondale bike dealer while in France, and was lucky to discover great service and craftsmanship at Velo Station bike shop in Lyon. It was one crazy place to try to find navigating on my own through the city of one-way streets, but the experience inside the shop was so nice, it was well worth the journey to get there. French bike mechanics are very skilled and their shops very cool to visit.

This was a journey into to Lyon for both bike repair and to play tourist. Because I had my bike inside the car (always covered with dark blankets) I was quite worried about parking on the street (crime), so after my bike shop visit, I drove directly to the Museum of Fine Arts of Lyon (Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon) and parked in the secure underground garage which had security guards.

I grabbed my Garmin GPS unit (another thing I don't like to leave in the car) and used it to navigate around the city. I visited the Museum of Fine Arts, with its good collection and not too overwhelming floor plan. It also had a quiet cafe on the balcony for an espresso. I then meandered the streets of Lyon until I found the tram to the top where the Basilica of Notre Dame sat perched high above the city - a fabulous view.

I liked the feel of Lyon, it is a college town meets Paris, with the feel of real working people. The contributing reason not to get caught in before or after work traffic on the highways anywhere near this very large city. It is best to visit mid-day or stay the night. My traveling family (a.k.a. brother and his wife) found a hotel they liked in the city, I found another one I liked on the outskirts closer the airport for arrivals/departures (both are on my recommendations list of hotels here).

  • Hotel le Petit Casset - Lyon (outskirts)
  • Hotel Central Lyon Perrache, Lyon (city)

  • You can expect good food and drink in Lyon, it is the major city in the region and second largest urban area in France. The Rhone River, with its valley of plentiful farmlands and well-known wines, flows nearby. The food is fresh with a city palate. You can refer to the Michelen guide, Trip Advisor, or Lyon a la carte. If you have always wanted to take French cooking lessons, this could be the city of your dreams.

    City of Lyon France - the view from Basilica of Notre Dame.  Photo © by Karen of PedalDancer®
    City view.   Photo © by Karen of PedalDancer®
    Passarelle de l'Homme de la Roche Photo © by Karen of PedalDancer®
    Basilica of Notre Dame  Photo © by Karen of PedalDancer®
    Inside one of the many chapels of Basilica of Notre DamePhoto © by Karen of PedalDancer®
    Transportation anyone?  Photo © by Karen of PedalDancer®
    Location of Lyon in France
    Map of city of Lyon, France
    One hour away from the city of Lyon is this fabulous wine region of France

    Take a drive through the vineyards north of Lyon.
    I enjoyed the Bourgogne and Beaujolais wine regions of the Rhone River Valley in France last summer - a spectacular setting and drive through the vineyards and small villages. Basically this beautiful area is in between Macon and Lyon on the west side of the Autoroute in the green rolling hills and tiny roads.

    Because the Tour de France typically stops somewhere in this valley, this is a nice area to know about as a tourist. I attended the stage start in Macon last year and then did this driving tour in the afternoon, stopping for a picnic, before returning to my hotel on the outskirts of Lyon. In 2013, Stage 14 of the Tour de France will finish in the city of Lyon, about a 1-hour drive south of Beaujoulais.

    There is no point in mapping out an exact route for you, although Rick Steves does offer one or Wine Travel Guides - you'd get lost anyway. I certainly did. The roads are so small, at one point I drove straight into someone's front yard. Two very surprised but gracious men looked up at me as they stood there discussing their grapes. I couldn't have been the first to have done that, won't be the last.
    Get lost in the small roads near the villages of Fuisse, Julie and Fluerie.
    Remember on a good old-fashion paper Michelin map the green highlighted roads = scenic drives. This is definitely scenic! If you are looking for accommodations, focus in on the Beaujolais wine region in the Rhone department of France.

    Fabulous scenery and a very nice private picnic spot with a view.

    ©Photo by Karen at PedalDancer®
    ©Photo by Karen at PedalDancer®
    ©Photo by Karen at PedalDancer®

    Back at my hotel for a good nights rest and ready for another stage of the Tour de France tomorrow.