Category Archives: Personal stuff

This photo shows why I have my doubts the 2020 TdF can run as planned

July 20, 2017, atop the Izoard at the Tour de France. Me and a few, maybe tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of my closest friend.
A picture’s worth a thousand words. It’s hard to believe that everything is still in place to run the 2020 Tour de France in a normal fashion; “social distancing” and Grand Tour Cycling, as we have come to know it, don’t really co-exist. But so far, everything says things are good to go.

In general, it wouldn’t be that difficult to avoid overly-packed situations, if you’re willing to watch the race pass by from a less-than-optimal spot. Unless you’re on Alpe d’Huez, which is packed from bottom-to-top, there will be plenty of less-interesting places where spectators are fewer, especially on the descents. You’d miss the angst and suffering but after 20 years of going for the same thing, the same shot more-or-less, doing something different could be fun.

Whatever they allow is likely irrelevant though, as I doubt France (or any other reasonable country) is anxious to let Americans into their country. I’m thinking we might, maybe, have a two-week window in which Trump could declare a national mask requirement and get things to settle down a bit, and then, maybe, we could travel again. It’s interesting that I don’t find travel itself fearful; International flights are likely to have very light loads and the filtration systems in planes are advanced far beyond anything you’ll encounter outside of a lab. It’s pretty clear that it’s places like bars and parties clubs that are the new petri dishes, while elsewhere things aren’t so bad.

Since the Tour de France is held on public roads and it would be impossible to fence off access for the entirety of a 100 mile stage, it would be seemingly impossible to run it without spectators. And even if it’s terribly inconvenient and sub-optimal viewing, just being able to say you were there, at the 2020 Covid-19 edition of the Tour de France… that would be a story to tell for years down the road. It’s not likely a story I’ll get to tell, and I’m not entirely sure it’s going to be a story anybody gets to, as Covid-19 cases begin to reassert themselves in France, and elsewhere, as they’ve tried to regain some sense of normalcy and end the most-draconian measures Covid-19 has brought us.

Kevin and I still have tickets for the flights, we still have reservations, but the only money that has been spent was for the flights, and they were both very inexpensive and can be changed to any other date or destination for the 9 months following. So no financial risk, but my desire to travel, to get away, to spend 10 days thinking about something other than the craziness that is the bike biz currently, has never been stronger.

Oh come on, another West Old LaHonda photo?

West Old LaHonda is a very special road. I’ve ridden a lot of places, mostly California & France. Very pretty, well-known places that you’ll see featured in cycling magazines and websites. But right here, just an hour from home, is arguably one of the very best. In all the world. Just 2.41 miles, 557 feet of climbing, a segment on Strava. Just a little piece of a road, not a monumental climb like the monster Galibier, not a “reference” climb like Old LaHonda or Kings Mtn. It’s just an alternative routing from 84 west up to Skyline, the thinnest of lines on a map.

I don’t even remember the first time I rode it. It wasn’t way way way back in the days (the 70s) because I never had the affinity for dirt roads, which it was, back then, that people have now. “Impassable in wet weather” read the signs posted at each end. But sometime in the late 80s-mid-90s it got tacked onto my regular Tuesday/Thursday morning ride by Kevin Keenan I think? It’s funny, all the “firsts” that you remember, but this one, I don’t. Nor do I remember my first time up Kings or even Old LaHonda. My son Kevin quite clearly remembers his first time up Kings though; I’ve got a photo of it.

What makes West Old LaHonda so special? For one, it’s no wider than the typical narrow mountain road in France. The two-lane highways that really aren’t two lanes and don’t bother to have a centerline. And there are no cars. I mean really, no cars. Once in a while we’ll do a couple rides in a row where we see a single car, but we can go months without. That’s pretty amazing. And then there’s the fact that the road washes out from time to time, adding to its legendary status. And the memories of all those I have ridden with over the years. West Old LaHonda is where the last of the “big efforts” end. If someone got the best of you on Kings, you still had a chance to nail them on WOLH. If, of course, you had anything left.

The view. That breathtaking view of the coast. The clouds. The rattlesnakes that sometimes come out and soak up the sun on the pavement. The faces carved into the rocks. The legend of the bench that was removed from its really great place (because it was an infringement on the road right of way) and relocated to a better place, only to be removed shortly from there as well, with a chain-link fence installed in case anyone again gets the idea to put another bench in place.

West Old LaHonda is also that part of the ride where the pace might slack off enough to encourage conversation. There have been some interesting conversations over the years; not that long ago Kevin (my son, not the pilot) went into a turbo-rage when he felt his world views were being disrespected by a couple of “boomers” on the ride. A “turbo-rage” is when Kevin gets angry and sprints away. It’s where Kevin (pilot, not my son) and I have had some conversations about the meaning of life as there is less life ahead of us. It’s where discussions of girlfriends and wives and kids often take place, along with trips planned and pleasant.

And it’s amazing how many have never ridden it. –Mike–