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What I Learned from Lance about the Tour de France

While looking for podcasts to fill downtime during a biking trip to France this summer I found “Stages” podcast with Lance Armstrong.  I ended up listening to the daily recap of the Tour de France from Lance and his sidekick JB Hager, a morning disc jockey in Austin, TX and occasional guest George Hincapie.  Lance explained in the first episode that they converted an old air stream trailer to a studio and obtained a few sponsors to offset costs.  The name of the podcast represents the stages of the Tour, and our lives. Without going into any details about his fall from cycling grace, Lance said he has not been following pro cycling for the past 4 years but he is now back in love with the bike and is attempting to build a media platform.   In Stages he promises commentary of the key players, risks, and rewards of the race as a total outsider, but from the prospective of experience.  He is knowledgeable, brash, out spoken, and entertaining.  He provides a take you will not hear anywhere else.

 

Selected learnings include:

  • Chris Froome, the overall winner, is hard to watch.  He looks sloppy on the bike, like he is suffering, but he gets the job done
  • On a rest day all riders do a ride, usually short but sometime they hammer it.  They have to stay sharp since a body at rest stays at rest.
  • Can’t do the Tour without losing weight.  Some start heavy, but Froome started as light as he could
  • The 2017 tour was fast, 32 mph in the flats.  The ride leaders kept the pace high to minimize attacks
  • The Queens Stage is what they call the hardest stage of the event.  In 2017 it was stage 9
  • Bike racing is a mix of 1) running a marathon (engine), playing a game of chess (tactics) , driving a NASCAR (positioning) and running for president (politics)
  • Downhill finishes require taking massive risks after exhausted and take the spice out of a climb
  • Flat, long stages are boring even for the cyclists
  • Tour etiquette are the unwritten rules enforced by the peloton
    • No one passes the rider in the leader’s jersey if they crash or have a mechanical problem
    • Never attack leaving a feed zone
    • Never poke between a sprinter and their lead out
    • Don’t get involved in a sprint unless you are committed
    • Never attack in a tunnel
  • The back end of the peloton is less regulated and less subject to Tour etiquette
  • Sticky bottle is when the rider is offered a bottle from a team car and holds onto it longer than necessary while the race director floors the car
  • The prize money for the winner of the Tour, a 3 week event is $590,000.  All the money is given to the team and staff and this amount has not changed in 20 years.  Compare this to the prize for Wimbledon, a 2 week event of $2.5M to a single individual and the US Open, a 4 day event of $1.8M
  • Lance’s second favorite race is the Tour of Flanders.  He likes the short punchy hills

 

Besides the sponsors, Lance is funding the podcast by selling caps and tee-shirts on his new endurance platform www.wedusport.com.  The phrase WEDU, or “we do” is a way for highly motivated individuals to wear apparel that broadcasts how different they are from ordinary mortals. “Who gets up at 4am to go on a bike ride when it is 10 below zero outside, who would do that?” But at 4am there are people on their bike who would answer “We do.” So WEDU

Bike Club Meeting “Biking the Katy Trail”

At the November Evanston Bicycle Club monthly meeting guest speaker Shari Rosenbaum shared experiences bicycling on the Katy Trail. The Katy Trail is 239.6 miles long, 10 foot wide, crushed stone and gravel and is maintained by Missouri Department of Natural Resources. It is the former corridor of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad (abbreviated MKT, K-T, eventually Katy). It runs from Clinton, MO to Machens, MO.

 

Here are some highlights of the trail and in communities along the way:

  • State Park contains 26 trailheads, some with rest rooms and water
  • Trail history includes Lewis and Clark (who mapped it), and Daniel Boone (who settled in the area)
  • As a former rail bed, the grade is gradual with no steep hills
  • Amenities along the way include bike shops, restaurants, coffee shops, and antiques
  • Overnight accommodation options include camping, hotels, and bed and breakfasts
  • Bike rentals available, including ebikes, and shuttle services
  • Train history buffs will enjoy exploring the 4 fully restored railroad deports
  • Geology hobbyists will delight in the fossils and many “cuts” that have exposed lays of rock strata

 

Sheri embarked on a five day trip in October, 2016:

  • Bicycled west to east, selected because it was downriver with a prevailing tailwind
  • Went in October to see the fall foliage but discovered that was a little early that year
  • Utilized a hybrid bicycle, but mountain or road bikes (with a minimum 25mm tire) are also widely used
  • Recommends taking a paper map since the internet was spotty
  • Traveled self-supported or day rides; two days hired a shuttle
  • Wildlife observed included red squirrels, deer, an eagle, turkey vultures, and blue jays
  • Enjoyed many tunnels and bridges including the High Trestle Bridge in Woodward that is lit at night and looks like you are going into a tunnel

 

Resources available for more information on the trails include TailLink.com, Bikekatytrail.com, Mostateparks.com, and Roadbikerider.com. In all, Sheri reported that the Katy Trail is a way to experience history, nature, and bicycling all in one place!

Bike Club Meeting “Why Mississippi”

“Why Mississippi?” Dan Engle, speaker at the October 17, 2017 monthly Evanston Bicycle Club meeting said that is the question he hears most when people find out about his bicycle trip. In May, 2017 Dan bicycled 550 miles from Jackson to Memphis, Tennessee and he did it solo. He took a train from Evanston to Jackson with his Trek 520 touring bike outfitted to carry 50 pounds of gear. He utilized trails, bike routes, and back roads staying overnight mostly in antebellum homes that he reserved overnight stays in advance using the community marketplace Airbnb. He researched bike routes using travel logs and is a big fan of the bike feature of Google Maps.

Dan’s presentation revealed his impressive knowledge of historical elements in Mississippi. Sites that he visited include:

  • A segregated cemetery opened in 1858 in Jackson
  • Ole Miss (University of Mississippi) in Oxford
  • The 2nd most important military location in the civil war in Corinth
  • Ida B. Wells birthplace and museum in Holly Springs
  • Old court museum built in 1859 in Vicksburg
  • USS Cairo iron clad boat and museum in Vicksburg
  • Belmont plantation in Wayside
  • B.B. King museum house in a former gin factory in Indianola
  • Black History Museum in Corinth
  • Borroums’ Drug Store and Soda Fountain founded in 1866 in Corinth
  • Yellow Fever Martyrs Church Museum in Holly Springs

Far from exhausting all visit-worthy sites in Mississippi, Dan’s trip was time-boxed to 13 days so he had to cut short a full exploration of Memphis, Tennessee and the northern part of Mississippi to catch his train ride back home. He chose to do the trip solo rather than join an organized tour because he had a specific itinerary and wanted the freedom to pursue his own interests. His answer to the question “Why Mississippi” is that it is one state he had not been to before. The 50+ attendees at the monthly bike club meeting were glad he made the trip.

Adventures in Bicycling

This is a blog about bicycling.  For many years, as owner of the Earth Rider Cycling Boutique and Hotel I lived and breathed cycling.  After a short break I am now returning to my roots to write about all things cycling.  Cycling enables fitness, well being, achievement, and quality of life.  For those times where you are not on your bike, at least you can write or read about it.  Let the conversation begin.

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