Who cares? This is why we did 10 miles on the trail-a-bike:
So, it turns out that Lance Armstrong is human, after all – more than 10 minutes down on the overall race. Tough, tough day for him today.
But, Lance aside, the stage was brilliant. Andy Schleck riding away from Contador at the finish of the stage made me happy as a clam. Good, good race.
I must confess, sports fans, I almost blew it on Thursday. Good, good stuff at work, but I let it get in the way of lunchtime hill repeats.
Then, since number one son is headed off for the first time to sleepaway camp (Way up north in Connecticut, nearby April Anne) this weekend, and since I’m keeping the nation slightly safer for democracy this weekend, we headed down to Costello’s for some fried clammy goodness and family bonding before he goes away for weeks at a time. I’m including pictures taken from our seats that I took while we ate. Did I mention it’s BYOB?
Oh, right – the ride… Yeah, so today’s ride was exceptionally lame – I pulled out the trainer once we got home and got the kids in bed. Did about 45 minutes in front of the TeeVee listening to Bob Roll and Craig Gummer yammering on. But – I got ‘er dun.
I love the variety in cycling. The beauty of the mountains counterpointed by the terrible suffering going on in the faces of the climbers. The sea of colors as the peleton crosses fields in bloom.
But what hooked me was watching bunch sprints. During Armstrong’s first couple of tours, Mario Cipollini duked it out with Eric Zabel, Tom Steels, Stuart O’Grady. Absolutely nothing like watching 40 guys charging down a straight at 35 or 40 miles per hour, Paul Sherwin and Phil Liggett shouting from the television, horns and fans clapping. Takes you straight back to the first time you rode your bike with a friend in the neighborhood – who’s fastest to the next driveway?
Today lived up to that – huge bunch sprint, with the “Manx Missile”, Mark Cavendish from the Isle of Man, running away from everyone.
The ride was a short one for Stage 4 – just 9.5 miles needed. I headed down to River Road in the rapidly fading twilight, rode it into town, turned around, and rode back. Once I got to the Neighborhood, I did two laps of the place at roughly a mile each to bring the total up to 11 miles. Such an overachiever.
Man, lots to talk about in the Tour. First, there was the disaster that was Stage 2 – who freaking cancels 20 km of racing due to rain? Though, to be fair, there was a huge amount of carnage in the peleton – VdV out, everyone down. But the interview with Thor Hushvold after he got his stage win stolen from him…
Stage 3 was no less gripping – Thor coming back from insult in stage 3 to take the stage on the cobbles; the remaining Schleck stunning the world by riding well, Lance Armstrong losing time and giving yet another classic sound bite (“Riding between cars and trying to pass, eating dirt – literally!”)
And Stage 4 was visually stunning – through fields of sunflowers, and ending with a full-on bunch sprint without major carnage.
Man, what a race
*I’m dink on Stage 3 – busy at work getting back on Tuesday, plus I’m looking for a suitable set of cobbles to ride. And, speaking of “busy at work” – Dave has a wonderful post about what a load of BS that is.
Since the TDF stage 1 included a couple of bumps, I rolled up route 184 to Flanders Road, and headed down to Noank. Man, this is one of my favorite roads around – it’s a pretty good climb up to the top of Flanders hill, and then nothing but flying down to Noank, all while looking out over Fisher’s Island Sound.
I think this whole idea might work – I’m absolutely loving riding the bike again. I’m going to try to squeeze in a run this evening – love running in the hot.
Stage 1 didn’t dissapoint at all. I cannot get enough of watching the run-in to the finish. Favorite moment of the day was watching Cavendish shrug and wave at the camera after his crash. Dunno if it’s just me, but it seems like the peleton has been getting into a better mood between last year and this year. The optimist in me wants to think that this is a result of a cleaner pack – less cases of road rage.
I’m digging Bob Roll’s rider interviews – here’s yesterday’s with Tyler Farrar, who’s going to be one to watch in the next few years
Today’s stage, Stage 2, doesn’t look to have much potential to shake stuff up. Bunch of climbs, but nothing terrible that can really shake up the general classification
OK, so the premise behind the Tour de Jank is that, as the Tour de France is going on across the pond, I’m going to do a tenth of the tour distance every day, ‘cept in and around New England. Ideally, I’ll get back into posting pictures, but who knows. My guess is that this lasts all of one or two days.
I’ll probably be a day behind talking about the actual race, as I tend to catch the coverage in the evenings after the kiddos are in bed.
Stage 1 – Old Mystic-Quanaduck Cove-Old Mystic
Stage 1 was a sprinter’s stage, relatively flat run along Route 27 to Route 1 out to Quanaduck Cove in Stonington, and returning along roughly the same route, ‘cept coming up the Groton side of the Mystic River after a delay for the drawbridge. Legs felt good, bike was a little squeaky. Pretty good average speed – above 16 MPH for the whole ride.
TDF Prologue / Stage 1
First, a couple of suggestions on following the Tour.
In the US, Versus (the bull-riding and hockey channel who I may never forgive for pre-empting the finish of one of their Tour of California stages for a hockey pre-game (PRE GAME!) show) owns the coverage. Phil Liggett, Paul Sherwin, Bob Roll, and an increasingly competent Craig Gummer do the commentary. They’ve put a bit of a paywall in front of much of their internet coverage, but it’s not too shabby. I may try their iPhone app once my phone arrives.
My current favorite semi-pro cycling commentary comes from Cosmo Catalano at Cyclocosm (shout out to the Nutmeg State!). His twitter feed (@Cyclocosm) is phenomenal. Here’s an example of Cosmo’s work.
For the best of scrounged video, check out Cyclingfans. Their twitter feed is pretty good, too.
The prologue was good. Usually, I hate the time trial stages – just sitting around watching guys suffer without any strategy other than “Ride. Ride fast.” (Courtesy of Missy)
I’d also recommend following @LeviLeipheimer and @dzabriskie – Leiphimer because he’s freaking amazing, and Zabriskie because he’s pure gonzo cycling.
But the prologue was an exception. Maybe because it was only 10 minutes of effort per rider, or maybe because Lance FREAKING Armstrong came in 4th, finishing in front of Alberto Contador. I’m pulling for Armstrong, partly because I’m an ignorant American, and partially because I refuse to acknowledge that 38 is over the hill. (And, ’cause I’ve picked up a similar amount of grey hair in the last year).
What to Watch For
I’ll admit I’m a bit behind in pre-read for this year’s tour, because life has been a little hectic (in a good way). But, as opposed to most years, it’s good to get in front of this year’s Tour. Tomorrow and Tuesday are going to hit a good chunk of the roads in Belgium and northern France that are ridden in the Spring Classic races, and should end up shaking up the General Classification (The thing that Armstrong’s won 7 times) much earlier than most years.
The spring classics are huge one-day races held in March and April, nasty weather months in Northern Europe. Think rain and cobblestones. They’re also wicked long – Paris-Roubaix is close to 200 miles, with about 20 miles of cobblestones through places you heard about in World War 1 histories.
The race favorites are going to be trying to stay ahead of the pack, as with close to 200 riders going 25 MPH on cobblestones, it’s likely that there are going to be some major crashes. It’s also likely that some of the wafer-thin climbers are going to be sorted out, as having a little bit of butt helps out on bumpy roads.
I did catch today’s sprint finish, complete with massive crashes in the run-up to the sprint, one apparently caused by a wayward dog. Good on Allesandro Pettachi, who’s been out for a couple of years after a nasty, nasty crash. Good start to the tour.