Monday, February 22, 2010


Finally I post my account of the Etape 2006. I wrote most of this shortly after the ride. Thanks to all of my faithful readers who have waited anxiously for close to 4 years to hear what happened. You might have thought I had crashed and died I suppose but I didn't. I just didn't get it posted. On the other hand, this post is definitely not worth the wait.

It has now been two weeks since the Etape du Tour. I apologize for not updating my blog before now. However, since I failed to complete the ride, it has been difficult to write. On the plane flight home, I wrote my initial thoughts about the ride itself but never posted them. I was disappointed in how I rode. Here's how the actual ride went:

Somehow we made it into the starting gate by 6:30 a.m. That was a major accomplishment in itself. We had to get out of bed at 3:30 am that morning to get our bags delivered to our tour company drop off so that they would get to the hotel at the end of the ride. Then at breakfast we had to wait in line for 30 or 40 minutes to be served and almost had to skip that so we could make the bus at 5:15am which would take us to the start at Gap over an hour away. When we arrived in Gap we went to the conveniently located gymnasium where the tour company had us drop off our bikes the night before. Well, of course, none of our guides had remembered to get a key to the gym. Here we were 1 mile from the start and 15 minutes before pen position cutoff and 300 people could not get to their bikes. I thought it was over until the owner of the overnight guard dog showed up with a key at the last minute. We still had to figure out how to get to the start. That had to be accomplished by navigating through a maze of streets while moving against the grain of hundreds of cyclists most of whom were looking for their slot in a position other than me and Robert. We couldn't see the start line or anything resembling one and i had no clue how we were going to make it. We headed out and I discovered that in a bit of preplanning brilliance my brother Robert had memorized the map to our pen the night before and knew exactly where we were supposed to be and how to navigate. He even knew that we would see other cyclists pass against us and warned me not to be fooled into thinking we had gone the wrong way. All of this paid off as we made it with about 2 minutes to go before the stated cutoff time. We were at the very back of the pack in pen number seven.

At 7 a.m., the ride officially started; however, we did not move at all for at least 10 minutes. After we did start moving it took us approximately 13 more minutes or 23 minutes in total just to reach the starting line. There were 8000 or so cyclists lined up on a normal sized city street so I guess it takes a while. Once we crossed the starting line we quickly approached a good pace, or so I thought. We passed some people and some people passed us and we were going probably around 19 or 20 mph. We were not pushing it at this time preferring to let the pace dictate our effort. At some point during this first 35 miles I thought perhaps our pace was too slow. Nevertheless, it seemed as if we were making decent time, and again, there was no need to burn out early. Even in the first 35 miles the roads were quite scenic and Robert even found the time to take a few pictures. Looking back, I suppose the fact that Robert took pictures might have been an indicator of a pace to slow. Whatever, I never considered that I was in danger of elimination. Then came the crash. At somewhere around 51 km I noticed that my front wheel was closing in to about a half an inch away from the rider in front of me and I hit my brakes pretty hard. I cringed as I heard the sound of rubber contacting my rear wheel. I tried to accelerate a little to get away from the wheel but to no avail. Robert had crashed and so had the rider directly behind him. The other rider was able to continue; however, Robert had a broken spoke, a damaged brake, and an untrue wheel. After working on the bike about 5 minutes, Robert determined that he would be unable to continue and so he told me to go ahead and I did. With the elimination car lurking behind, I had no choice if I wanted any shot of finishing. At this point though, the fun was over. We had come all the way over to France, spent thousands of dollars and I am left to do the ride by myself after crashing Robert.

The first rest stop occurred at approximately 57 km. When I got there, the road was blocked with cyclists and I could not even see the actual refreshment stands. We came to a complete halt. There was a creek right before the rest stop and the bridge to get over it was too narrow. A bottleneck had formed. After not moving for 5 or 6 minutes, the bottleneck opened and I could see the refreshment stands. It was mass chaos. The ground was covered with discarded water bottles and other trash from riders trying to move through quickly. It was almost impossible to get near the actual refreshment tables because most riders, probably not wanting to lose their bike, had rolled their bikes up as close as possible to the refreshment tables leaving no room for late comers. There was an impenetrable sea of bikes in front of the tables. I was able to get three bottles of water after calling to a volunteer and having him throw me bottles over other cyclists. I had learned this trick reading prior accounts of riders in the Etape. It took me 12 minutes to get through the rest stop including a trip to the bathroom, or rather, a fence surrounded by some shrubbery. Given the chaos, I was happy with my time at the rest stop but noticed it was already 9:43 a.m. Even so, I still was not worried about my time.

For the next 15 to 20 km I think I made pretty good time. I hooked up with an English speaking couple going at a nice pace and we were passing more than being passed. I must say at this point that I did not feel good physically on the ride. I did not feel bad but I certainly did not feel strong. I just had the sort of low energy feeling one gets from having had very little sleep the previous two nights (see Cherohala post).

At 73 km we hit the beginning of the Col D' Izoard. There is a sign at the start of the mountain that informs you there are 15km to go to the summit. This didn’t improve my moral. The temperature was also going up and I had on a long sleeved Jersey. Not to worry though. After all, I had read how cold it would be at the top so I might be a little warm getting there but at least I wouldn’t be cold at the top.

In the beginning the mountain did not seem much more difficult than those I had ridden in North Carolina. The grade I knew averaged 7.8 % but I was not used to knowing the grade at home and I had imagined it would be far worse. Although I did not feel strong, I was going fairly well on the first third of the mountain. It was getting hot, very hot, and I am sure I was not drinking as much as I should have been. There was not another refreshment stop until the summit so I was conserving my liquid. That is never a good strategy but the unknown that lay ahead influenced my decision. About half way up or more there was a town and a transponder checkpoint. Rolling over the rubber mats of the checkpoint produced a beeping sound indicating you were logged at that point. It was about this time when I started to feel really, really bad. It was now very hot. Soon after the checkpoint, I slowed to a crawl and eventually had to stop when I thought my heart was going to explode. I didn’t have a heart rate monitor on but I knew I was pegging my max. I pulled over with some other riders and rested for maybe four or five minutes before continuing. I was now feeling very weak although I did not understand exactly why. I hadn’t been on the ride for more than about 3.5 hours. There is no way I should have been this tired even with the mountain. Maybe it was the altitude or maybe it was the fact that I did not get any sleep the previous two nights. Maybe it was dehydration. Anyway, from this point on I was barely moving, barely turning the pedals. I stopped twice more, the last time at 86 km. At this point, according to the published schedule, I had 30 minutes to make it to the top of the Col D' Izoard before being in danger of elimination. I had now completely finished my energy drinks and would have to refuel at the top in a couple of kilometers.

The next thing I know, a man is a walking up the mountain towards me and another cyclist. I wondered if his car had broken down or if he was someone with ride support who was coming to help someone out. Why I did not realize this was the elimination crew I do not know except that I still felt I had no chance of being stopped before reaching the summit. The man started talking to me in French and I understood none if it. But, I did understand when he reached for the transponder on my ankle. He must think I am ready to quit? “No fini, no fini”, I said. I was not sure that meant anything except it sounded French to me. And he said “Yes you are finished, you must stop.” I pointed to the published chart with the listed elimination points and indicated to him that I still had 30 minutes to reach the summit. There was a Hungarian next to me who had also stopped to rest and was not ready to quit. I enlisted him to help me argue the case and he did but the official didn’t care. He was adamant and took my transponder and that of the Hungarian and directed him and me to a bend in the road where I should wait to be picked up by the bus. It was over for me and I assumed over for Robert since he hadn’t passed me.

For the next six hours I took a slow bus ride on the course to the top of L'Alpe D'Huez. I must say the scenery was unbelievable along the way. When we reached the top of the Col D’Izoard, we learned that there were no refreshments left. Had I made it on my own, I would have had to go without until I had descended the Izoard to the next stop several miles away. That stop too had no refreshments left but was at least in a town. I could have bought some water and food and probably would have. Incidentally, the bus had no water or refreshments of any kind. I would have gone the whole 6 hours without replenishing my dehydrated body of anything except that one time the bus stopped and someone bought gallons of water and brought them onboard and offered it to poor souls like me. I didn’t have any money with me at this point because I had left that on my bike so I had to rely on this random charity.

I really regret not having been able to make the descent down the Col D’Izoard. It would have been incredible. The rest of the ride would not have been so nice. While we were on the bus the roads were opened up and they were packed with traffic. Riders who had not been picked up were riding with wall to wall traffic.

So the ride did not go well. As a matter of fact, it was a disaster. And I have to say, for being the biggest and most popular cycling sportive in France, the ride was poorly organized. They have been doing this thing for 14 or 15 years and they run out of water and refreshments for the cyclists who depend on them? They don’t have enough refreshment stands as it is and they position them so that cyclists have to come to a complete stop for several minutes just to get through even if they don’t want to stop? Other than that, the course itself was quite nice.

I will probably write more on this blog about the ride and my analysis of the miserable failure it turned out to be but for now I must sign off. One more thing though, I am going back and finishing this thing.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Well, it's here, ready or not

I am waiting for my parents to pick me up to take me to the airport. I guess this is it. I have worried enough about whether or not I can make it in the time limit. I need to learn French on the plane ride over and gain some fitness.

We get to Paris at 11:30 PM CST Thursday and then Lyon at about 1:30 AM CST Friday (8:30 AM France). Then we are taken by shuttle to our first hotel in Orcieres-Merlette. We are staying at Villages Clubs Du Soleil. The resort website is

That's it, I'll update from the road when possible.

Friday, June 30, 2006

I beat Ullrich and Basso!

I sort of forgot about this log for a while. Last Saturday, Robert and I did the Harpeth River Ride. It was another century but only ended up being 96.5 miles. It contained rolling hills but nothing like Cherohala although I was a little bummed that I didn't do so well on the hills anyway. It took us 6:23 with stops to finish. Again, a huge time off the bike. We were 45 minutes off the bike.

I have now ridden roughly 2051 miles in total training since March 10. I weigh about 150 which is heavier than I had hoped. I plan to ride a big ride Saturday and then maybe another big ride on July 4th. That will be it though. Robert and I leave on July 6th for France.

Am I ready? Of course not. I need to be 15 pounds lighter and I need to have some cycling talent. And, I need more training. But that's not going to happen.

I can already say that I beat Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso on this stage though. Now if someone would just propose to the ASO that they relax the 19 kph minimum speed rule given that it encourages blood doping, I would definitely finish the ride.

Friday, June 23, 2006

I’ve Already done My Etape

For all of my 3 faithful readers, I apologize for not giving an update lately. The day is almost here:

184 KM and over 9000 feet of climbing. Robert and I did the Cherohala Challenge this past weekend. It starts in Tellico Plains Tennessee and rides up through the Smokey Mountains and up the Cherohala Skyway. This had been on my calendar to be my major “test run” for the Etape. It is virtually the same distance as the Etape and the climbing, if not as severe, is close.

One thing I’ll say about my approach to this ride is that I mentally treated it as nothing more than a training ride. It wasn’t an event that I looked forward to for any other reason, not like when I go to Bridge to Bridge and rent a hotel or stay in Chetola Resort for 2 or 3 days and the whole family comes along and it’s a big happening after which I feel like I have just accomplished something big. No, the Cherohala Challenge was just a training ride. And I didn’t treat it with the proper respect.

It took about 3.5 hours of driving time to get there from my house. I left work a little early Friday and went home to pack, then left to pick up my brother Robert in Murfreesboro. I wasted time packing and didn’t leave home until about 5PM or rush hour. It took a long time to get to Murfreesboro because of the traffic. By the time we left Murfreesboro, it was probably 6:20. Then we stopped in Chattanooga for a high quality dinner and that killed an hour. At about 11:30 PM (we lost an hour in time change) we arrived at our hotel in Sweetwater, Tn. which was about 22 miles from the start of the ride the next morning. I set the alarm clock for 5am ensuring not enough sleep. I also need to mention that the night before I stayed up until 1:30am and only got about 4.5 hours of sleep. All of this is not necessarily an excuse for how poorly I did on the ride which you will read about later, but, just to highlight my lack of proper preparation which I hope not to repeat in France. That is, if I even go to France.

Robert and I arrived at the start about 6:30am and got our bikes and ourselves ready. There seemed to be only about 200 -300 people there total. I had expected more, but, this ride has only been hosted for about 7 years so maybe it hasn’t matured. They had limited the entries to 500 anyway but didn’t get near that. As I am pulling up to the start line an official noticed I didn’t have a helmet on. I had to race back to the car and get it. The ride started and luckily I came back into the peloton after the start right as Robert was leaving. I don’t remember much about the first section of 40 miles or so. It was rolling hills like around Nashville, nothing special. There were some scenic portions, lakes, and what not. I did notice that my legs did not feel good. They didn’t feel bad, just not strong like I would expect after two days off the bike. I attributed that to little sleep. And maybe the 3 hour ride through the hilly Percy Warner park on Wednesday was too hard. Anyway, no big problems. At around 45 miles I knew there was a hill as I had looked at the profile. It appeared to be a steep hill but not too long, maybe 1-2 miles .I thought this would be a good preview of the real mountains in terms of slope if not distance. Then the real mountains started at 62 miles maybe.

So at about mile 42 we hit the first “preview” hill. It kicked up and was fairly steep. I started in my small chainring and eventually went to the lowest gear I had. This means I am moving real slow. Robert didn’t have as low a gear as me but his seemed pretty low for a double. He may have a 28 in the back. Well, the hill kept going after 2 miles, 3 miles, 4 miles, 5, 6. I told Robert I had not even considered this section as anything difficult but we were climbing more than I had all year. This was over three times longer than Monteagle Mountain and just as steep! What was the real climbing going to be like? I was getting worried. Meanwhile, Robert seemed to have no difficulty on the climb. He had ridden an easy 53 two weeks ago, 83 last week, and this was an insane 115 mile mountain ride. Was he going to finish with only 750 miles in his legs so far this year? We finally hit a pretty big downhill and then were punished for that with another 4-5 miles up until we reached the Tail of the Dragon rest stop. I guess we had just ridden the Tail of the Dragon. It had taken us about 3:15 and we were at mile 54. I might mention that for the first 35 miles or so we averaged about 19 mph riding in the pack so we had a good start on time. I felt pretty tired at this point though. At the rest stop one of the volunteers said we had a big downhill followed by about 10 miles of flats and then……..then the ride starts! What?

We went down that hill for about 3 miles into a scenic valley next to a river and a dam and we settled in on what appeared to be a flat road. I was looking forward to about 10 miles of flats; however, I noticed my legs were incredibly tired feeling. I mentioned to Robert that it felt as if I was pedaling through water or underwater. We were going about 11 mph and it just didn't make sense. At this point Robert and I were riding alone. Robert said he felt the same and commented that no one was catching us from behind so we must not be the only ones going slowly. These flat roads were more like rollers with a couple of little climbs as I recall.

Finally we reach the 64 mile rest stop and fuel up and eat. They have all kinds of junk food at these rest stops. Cookies, tortilla chips, home made chocolate graham things, moon pies, etc. They also have apples, bananas, Powerade, nuts, and other fruit but I am surprized at all of the junk food. I can't really eat the junk food stuff without fearing I'll get sick. I had put a lot of hammer Gel in a water bottle straight and was hoping for that to be my main fuel along with bananas. This was the last rest stop before the real climbing was supposed to begin. They told us there was another stop 10 miles up the mountain. So we left.

Quickly, we got to the hill although it was about a mile or so away. I tried to use something other than my smallest gear in the triple but found myself spending more and more time there. The hill just kept going and going and going. The road would twist and turn and I would look hopefully around each corner for a flat section to give me a rest. It never came though. Around every turn was more up. Somewhere on this climb I took a drink from my hammerGel waterbottle and it tasted foul. Not because of heat because this was pure HammerGel. It tasted like it was going bad. I don't know if that was the case or not but my stomach was also getting sick. I decided not to drink any more HammerGel and try to live off bananas and water the rest of the way. I had one banana and ate that on the climb and I had plenty of water but I am sure I didn't drink enough on the climb. Anyway, meanwhile, Robert was riding effortlessly and waiting on me the whole way. He was striking up conversations with people and riding like he was on a 15 mile recovery ride through the park. I realized that this confirmed my theory that Robert needs only half the miles in him as I to equal my riding ability. In fact, he probably had over half the distance I had ridden this year. So, that meant, by my theory, he would be stronger, and he was. One thing I will say is that Robert definitely ate more than me the whole way. I mean he was eating peanut and jelly sandwiches like popcorn, eating crackers, drinking Powerade, bananas, grapes. Much more than me at every rest stop. I think I definitely need to eat more but I am worried about my stomach issues. And when the stomach is sick, I don't want to eat or drink. Well we kept going and going up this never ending hill and it got steeper as we went. At the 10 mile mark there was no rest stop. I was angry they had lied about where the rest stop was. After maybe another 1.5 miles we did finally get to the rest stop but I was sick to my stomach. I had to rest a long time to recover. We were at about 75.5 miles into the ride and it had taken maybe 6.5 hours of actual on bike time and another hour off the bike. We stayed at this rest stop for 45 minutes until I recovered enough to go on. People at the rest stop said we had between 5 to 10 miles before the summit after which it was almost all downhill with a couple of bumps in the road. I asked people who had done the ride last year how much further to the top and one guy said 5.6 miles, another said 8. What is wrong with these people? At 5 mph, that's a difference of 29 minutes of pain? How can they not know the exact distance? My cursory glance of the profile suggested we had 8 miles to summit. Another 8 miles of this brutal slow climbing on a sick stomach. I tried to eat more and got some packs of peanut butter crackers and a couple more bananas to take with me. I also broke down and, at the risk of getting sick, had some cold lemon Powerade. It tasted really good.

We finally made it to the summit after I had to stop one more time to eat. They took pictures of us at the 5000 feet mark (81 miles) where I was about gone. They had another rest stop at the summit and we stopped before hitting the big downhills. Supposedly the difficult climbing was over. We did go down some huge hills and finally started to make some good time however, at mile 88, we paid for those downhills with another climb. Now this was supposed to be nothing, but, it was a bigger climb than I can find anywhere around where I normally ride. In fact, it was about like climbing Monteagle Mountain, the mountain I had been so afraid of a couple of weeks ago. I was now angry at the motorcyclist who had told us we had no significant hills left. And then at mile 94, all my energy drained, I see the road up ahead kick up in what looks like the final scenes of the movie The Perfect Storm after the fishing boat crew had just weathered a horrendous storm. The sea became calm and by some miracle it looked as if they were out of the storm and would survive until they see a 150 foot wave rise up in front of them that was to be their doom. The captain’s words rolled through my head when I saw that hill at mile 94: “She’s not going to let us out”. After that hill I was convinced that the final 3 miles would be a 9% climb even though the profile showed nothing. Robert must have thought I was nuts by then.

So we finished. 115 miles, 10 hours, 11.5 mph (too slow for the etape elimination checks). 14 mph in on bike time and off the bike for almost 2 hours. Can’t do that in France.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Feeling A Little Better

The Tour De Cure is a ride that starts in Murfreesboro, TN and goes up Monteagle Mountain and ends in the town of Monteagle. It is a two day ride of 75 miles each day with camping on Saturday night in Monteagle. It being a charity event to raise money for the cure of Diabetes, one is required to raise a minimum of $150 in order to participate. I had signed up for this ride a good while ago figuring it would fit into my training schedule for the Etape. Also I wanted to ride up Monteagle Mountain because it is higher and steeper than anything around Nashville and it is a good distance climb.

Two days before the ride I started to fund raise to collect the $150 minimum. I sent out several emails from the template website provided and I think people got them Friday morning. I needed to have the money cataloged by Saturday morning so I sent a shameless plea for everyone to donate NOW. Fortunately, my old boss and good friend at work donated $25 and that trend continued and I got a total of 4 $25 donations including one from Robert. Also fortunate is that I work for a generous company (HCA) that makes charity and community service a high priority. My company has matching contribution program and they will kick in $100 so that my total raised is $200.

The weather was perfect again for riding, 65-80 degrees and sunny. I started with the HCA team riders and stayed with a couple of them the whole way. This ride is well supported and has several rest stops. We stopped at most of them and I felt guilty doing that since I am not going to be able to do that in France. I would have preferred to go in, fill my water bottles, grab a banana and be off in 5 minutes or less but I would have been the only one wanting to do that. Anyway, as the HCA team captain said: "There is nothing to do at the camp site, why hurry?" "Well, you see, I have this 117 mile ride and it crosses these gigantic steep.........................and I can't waste time .................must.......average..........L' Alpe D'Huez." "What? You're riding L'Alpe D'Huez?" "Yes, and it's not even the most severe mountain either! I finish up L'Alpe D'Huez!" "Wow, John, you better get some riding in." "Yes, I know." So we took it easy at the rest stops. They fed us sandwiches for lunch and otherwise I ate bananas along with my HammerGel (original formula). All told we spent about an hour off the bike the first day, maybe more but I still felt like I got a decent workout. I worried about Monteagle mountain. By the time we got there I had been told it was 3 miles long and maybe technically it was but the real "mountain steep" section was only 2 miles long. I didn't know that when I started and quickly got into a rhythm I thought I could handle for three miles. I had also been told there was a section that measured a 24% grade. This scared me quite a bit but I was told it was very short. Bottom line, I got up the hill with no problems. Of course I used my triple the whole way but I could have come out of it at times. For that matter, I could have gone up the whole hill in my 39-26 or 39-24 but that would have hurt badly. According to my calculations, the 2 mile steep part averaged an 8.5% grade. That should be about like L'Alpe D'Huez; however, after 110 brutal miles I am not sure any comparison is valid. Or maybe it is. Yep, it took me 17 minutes to cover two miles and that means I will float up the 13.9km of L'Alpe D'Huez in 1:14. And that's if I pace myself and go slow to conserve energy. Get out of my way you people who walk on that hill. How do you say "Move over" in French. The first day to Monteagle was 76 miles.

The next day coming back was fun. We got to do the long descent down the mountain and then hooked up with a group going at a pretty good clip. We got into a group with a tandem riding like a freight train at the front. That went on for about 40-50 miles and kept our average speed up. Eventually the freight train ran out of coal, though, and a few of us struck out on our own. In the end it was just me and Bryan Graves riding into the finish after doing some hard efforts in the last 8 miles. I felt really good at the end. We averaged 19.2 mph for 81 miles.

Lessons learned:

1. Eat more than I am used to. Because we stopped at several rest stops I ate more than I usually do, lots of bananas. I have to think that contributed to my strong ride on both days.
2. Get in a pace group I can live with. I don't need to go out too fast. All of this riding alone made me forget how my average speed should benefit from the drafting.
3. Be careful riding in the group. I can't let fatigue make me lazy about paying attention to other riders. Three people in the Tour De Cure had bad wrecks and at least one of them broke his collar bone only because the two people in front of him touched wheels and he ran into that crash.

New Links

I just updated my links with a site containing a great detailed description of the ride with pictures included. It covers every portion, what to expect, etc. Check it out. Also added a link to another British Etaper I got off 187KM site.

Monday, June 05, 2006


I wrote this on June 1 but didn't post. I'll try to update later tonight maybe:

From reading my brother’s blog and that of 187 KM to Go, It looks there is a fair amount of doubt or apprehension going around about this ride. Well, count me in on that! This past weekend (May 28) I set out to do 100 miles again and I quit at 46. I got sick to my stomach. This is two weekends in a row I had to quit my ride. I have concluded it is the new energy mix I have been using, HammerGel Sustained Energy. I have used it only on those two rides and it just didn’t make sense that my energy would be sapped and I would not feel like riding after 45 miles. I really like the standard HammerGel and so I decided to buy Sustained Energy because it was designed for longer rides lasting over two hours. It contains some protein along with carbs. I am done with Sustained Energy. The problem is I have lost two weeks of increased endurance gains and now I wonder if I can even do a long ride. It’s amazing how a bad day can kill my confidence, but, all I can think about is how unimaginably huge hills await me in France and how can I believe I can ride up those hills if I can’t do a 50 miler here in Tennessee.

The next 3 weekends should give me the answers I need before the Etape. This weekend I am doing 75 miles Saturday and another 75 Sunday as part of the Tour De Cure Diabetes charity ride. That ride goes up Monteagle Mountain and will provide an excellent mountain field test. The weekend after that I plan another 100 mile ride. And, on June 17 I participate in the Cherohala Challenge which is a 115 mile ride with extended 9% grades. If I get through all of this ok, I will ease off for a week and then do maintenance rides until the Etape.

Robert has his cast off now and I don’t know his plans but I hope he can start riding long rides again. I really don’t want to go over to France by myself to do this. The good news about the Etape this week is that we are confirmed for our hotel in Oz just below L’Alpe D’Huez. That means if I make it to the end of the ride, the Gondola takes us off the mountain straight to our hotel where I can fall down on the bed.

I think I have done 1300 miles total training so far. I need to check that. Last night I did 50 miles through Percy Warner Park after work and felt fairly good the whole way. I used no Sustained Energy mix and had no stomach problems. This is a good thing.

We have not purchased Airline tickets yet. I need to do that soon. I think we will fly into Lyon from either London or Frankfurt on July 7. Cyclomundo takes care of the logistics from then until July 11 when we are on our own again. We could fly back July 11 or stay a few days. Again, we need to decide about that now.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Bailed Out Saturday

I bailed out of my ride on Saturday after 61 miles. I didn't actually get on the road until 12:00. I was refitting the Lemond and installing my computer in the AM and didn't get in a hurry. I have to say, these long bike rides are like work to me. I really need to ride with a group or something. Saturday, I left planning to ride at least 80 miles, maybe 100 depending on how I felt. Well, after 2 hours I felt better than I had all year and then after 3 I was feeling weak. I stopped in Franklin and called a friend to pick me up. While I was waiting for him to pick me up I went ahead and finished off my food which I had been rationing on the ride. I felt much better in just a few minutes which lead me to believe I just had not eaten enough for the day. Even whenI stopped I knew I could make it the 20 miles back home after fueling up at a market. I think I was as mentally tired as I was physically. I just didn't want to ride anymore. So that caps off a week in which I only managed a little over 100 miles. I feel bad about it, but, now with only 6 weeks of training left I feel highly motivated again. Maybe I just needed time off the bike. This weekend is Memorial Day weekend and I have 3 days off work. Maybe I'll try to find an organized ride or maybe it will be another lone long distance ride.

On Monday I rode a full park ride of 18 miles and went harder than usual. Tuesday I took a very easy 27 miles and rode with my younger brother for a few miles. Wednesday I was planning to do a fast 50 miles after work but I only managed 40 and felt incredibly weak doing it.

I have been concentrating on eating better/less for several days and my weight has dropped significantly lately. The last 4 weigh-ins this week have been 153.6 154.4, 152.6, 151.2. No wonder I have been weak. I am simply not eating enough on or off rides to be strong. I won’t be riding Thursday or Friday much if at all. I am going to fuel up for a big weekend ride.

Robert is still exercising but not doing long bike rides. He tells me he gets his cast off on 05/30 and will evaluate his plan from there. He has hinted that he might not ride the Etape. I still think he has time to get ready. I mean, again, look at Ullrich. He was fat and out of shape a month ago and now he has won a time trial in the Giro and done very well climbing some mountains and is now firmly established as the favorite for the Tour.