Category Archives: Personal stuff

A Sunday without a ride? Drove to see the final Tour of California stage in Sacramento

The Tour of California riding across the Tower Bridge in Sacramento
The Tour of California riding across the Tower Bridge in Sacramento
A Sunday evening without that feeling like you earned what you ate… it’s not something I want to repeat again anytime soon! Or the drive home in heavy traffic either. But since the Tour of California didn’t pass by anywhere close to us this year, we had to travel to see it. Tempting to give it a pass entirely, but needed to test out the camera gear (ok, more like test out my ability to use a camera), and my son’s girlfriend had never seen a bike race in person.

Got there early enough to see the pre-start roll across the Tower Bridge (seen in the photo above), spend some time at the Sacramento Rail Museum and grab a nice lunch in Old Town while the race was doing a 70 mile spin out in no-man’s land, and then take photos of the finishing circuit around the capitol.

I decided to try using my “Africa” 150-600mm (super-telephoto) lens for the first time at a bike race, with mixed results. Truthfully, it turned out to be the wrong lens for the day, for an odd reason. There was way too much atmospheric distortion on long shots… the lens could “get” shots way the heck down the road, but depending where you pointed it, particularly well-lit areas, you’d get fuzzy results. When atmospheric heating wasn’t an issue, the shots were incredibly sharp, but anything about asphalt was suspect. And that’s the problem with most bike racing shots. They’re riding on asphalt. The good news is that it means I don’t have to think about bringing that huge lens with me to France (even though I did figure a way to stuff it into my camera bag).

As for what happened in the race, well, not exactly sure! We couldn’t get too close to the finish line (about 500 meters out) so most of what we saw were the riders setting up for the sprint. Mark Cavendish won, but I can’t even find him in the photos I took. Sagan’s there, along with Kristoff (2nd & 3rd places) but Cavendish was pretty well hidden at 500 meters to go.

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Le Tour is just 6 weeks away…

Tough to know if I’m ready for France. Actually, not so tough at all. I’m ready. Whether that means I’ll be as strong as I’d like to be is almost irrelevant. I’m ready now. It’s been a tough past 4 or 5 months, but I’m beginning to ride a bit stronger, the weather is getting a bit better week by week, and the coverage of the Giro is getting me into the mood of, well, being someplace else.

I could, perhaps should, feel bad about leaving the shop during July, when things are pretty busy, but I’ve got a great staff in place, led by BeckyJ and MikeF. I’d just like things to settle down just a little bit and seem normal for a few days at a time, instead of what seems to be a constant feast or famine. And of course it would be nice if the various health issues in my family would stabilize too, like Kevin’s final epilepsy surgery (now scheduled for June 6th, a fair amount later than I’d expected) and Karen’s chemo for her thankfully-not-metastasized breast cancer.

Right, the ride this morning. Karen, Karl, JR, Marcus, George & Eric. First ride with temps getting to 60+ by the end; I actually felt slightly overdressed in base layer and leg warmers! Nothing too fast today, which didn’t bother me.

Now back to the Tour de France. I got thinking about some of the past years, and the theme music that, I don’t think, has been equaled since. Like what’s below.

I know what follows is Phil Ligget and his, to many, tiresomely-repeated phrases and perhaps excessive rooting for the home-town riders (for broadcasts in the US, that would be riders from… the US). I never thought that was so bad, to tell you the truth.

I am so ready for France. For the long flights, for the transfers from CDG to Montparnasse train station, the long train ride to Lourdes, several days in the Pyrenees followed by a train to Avignon, seeing the Ventoux stage on Bastille day… it’s like a comfortable old shoe. It’s nearly as much routine as my Tuesday/Thursday ride up Kings. Time to play the “good” theme music once again! And to get ready for what, to me, has become the “sound” of France; that set of tones unmistakably associated with French trains…

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