Category Archives: Ride reports (not Tu/Th)

Ride reports for everything *but* the Tuesday-Thursday morning ride

2.5 hour drive to Lyon ends up being 5+… oh yeah, that was fun…

"Va Slovak" preceded by La Marseillaise, sung in Slovakian. Wished I had it on video!
“Va Slovak” preceded by La Marseillaise, sung in Slovakian. Wished I had it on video!
The day was looking to have few redeeming qualities to it about the time we FINALLY pulled up to our hotel in Lyon. Several spots of near stop & go on the French Superhighway between Avignon & Lyon and then, once in Lyon, ohmygosh… over an hour spent traveling about a mile. It was one of the few times I was thinking gee, an automatic wouldn’t have been so bad after all. Once actually on city streets it was another 30 minutes trying to find a way to get to a gas station you could see, but the maze of one-way streets, always seeming to go the wrong way, conspired against you actually getting there.

And we had a schedule to keep. The car needed to be returned by 3pm, and at 2pm, we were still wandering around trying to find the hotel, the hotel that’s supposed to be right across from the train station. Well, about that… it is right across from the station, but we were on the wrong side of the tracks. Doh! When we finally found it, the dread of trying to figure out where to return the rental car to was magically erased at the same time, as Sixt has a parking lot right behind the very hotel we’re in (Ibis Styles).

From that point on, things started going quickly in the right direction. First, this is a VERY nice hotel. Much nicer than you’d expect in a major city for about $100/night. Second, very nice staff. No problem validating the parking in their garage while we unloaded (you don’t get free parking in hotel parking garages in France). And the wifi here? It actually works.

The plan (remember? There’s always a plan) was to try and intercept the Tour de France by taking a local train after checking in and heading out about 20 miles or so. Of course, by the time we got checked in and settled, it was 10 minutes past the last train that would get there in time. However, logging onto the race reports, it turned out they were 20 minutes behind the slowest published times, which meant… if we took the next train… we should actually get there before the race! Which we did. For whatever reason we didn’t get any decent photos, despite being in what seemed like a prime location, on a corner with the sun facing into the riders.

On the other hand, how often do you get to hear a bunch of Slovakians sing La Marseillaise (the French national anthem), in Slovakian, and draw the attention of Peter Sagan’s support car, which pulled over to hear them? Peter Sagan is, of course, the Slovakian star of Tinkoff’s team. It was pretty cool.

IMG_0515icecubesThe Tour de France cooperated nicely and came through leaving us just enough time to make it back for the next train into town (3 minutes to spare), after which Kevin crashed for a bit (slept, not his bike), and later we had a great dinner. Amazingly, even got 4, yes FOUR ice cubes in our drinks! Normally 2 is the limit in France. Good pizza too.

Tomorrow it’s another local train, this time to Culoz, an hour to the north, where we’ll scale the Col du Grand Comumbier and wait for the race to come through, one final time on this trip. Then back to the hotel, pack the bikes, and pretend it’s possible to sleep for a few hours before a ridiculously-early 5:50am train to Paris CDG airport and fly home. It will be good to be home. We’re ready. But one more day on a mountain, this time, with the previously-absurd hope that Trek’s Bauke Mollema is in contention for a final podium spot. –Mike–

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Ventoux… our ride was easy compared to the Pros… yes, the fans were awful!

IMG_2261froome_gauntletThere was little drama associated with our ride up Ventoux; no issues getting there, finding a place to ride from, and sure, it was cold & windy near the top (which was actually 7k from the real top, since they’d shortened the climb a bit due to the nasty conditions) but we were pretty well prepared for it.

But the crowds, in our area, were the worst I’ve ever seen. This was the first time I’ve witnessed first-hand the near-complete-collapsing of the roadway space for the cyclists; flags everywhere, people pushing in anyplace there wasn’t a barrier. The answer can’t possibly be to barricade the entire race, and there are certainly simple measures that could be entertained that might make things a lot more civilized.

Starting with flags. I’m not just saying this because they get into my pictures. In fact, it can sometimes look pretty cool when a cyclist emerges from “the tunnel.” But check out what we were dealing with at 500 meters to go. Originally they had no barricades at all past 500 meters, but eventually installed them on just one side, shortly before the race. On the other side, Gendarmes attempted to keep the crowds pushed back. Yeah right, like that’s possible?

Trek's Bauke Mollema blasting up Ventoux, moving into 3rd place.
Trek’s Bauke Mollema blasting up Ventoux, moving into 3rd place.

We had no idea at the time that anything had gone wrong less than a kilometer down the road from us, but something seemed really odd with Trek’s Bauke Mollema, a really good rider but not a Tour de France winner, came up the hill over a minute ahead of Chris Froome. Turns out Mollema, Porte and Froome had all been involved in a collision with a race TV motorcycle when it had to suddenly stop due to fans essentially closing the road. Of the three Mollema picked himself up fastest while Froome had to deal with the further indignity of a motorcycle behind him running into his bike and breaking it.

At the end of the day the good news is that the Tour de France organization gave Froome the same time as Mollema so he didn’t lose the Yellow Jersey, and Mollema himself moved up to 3rd place.

So little drama for Kevin and I, but a very exciting race.  –Mike–

 

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