Thursday, July 31, 2008

Intermediate Entry - Bozeman, MT

Today was a great day - best so far. I will post info and pics of today, tomorrow. So look forward to a double posting. In the meantime....

Thanks to all of you who leave comments here on the blog. I did get one question that I will try to answer here. I was asked about the rate of 'attrition' on this ride and I will try to answer it and tell you a bit about some of the folks on this ride.

First off, there are 45 riders and 12 support. Of the 45, only about 7 are first time PacTour riders (that's me). So the vast majority has done this before and knows what to expect. There are also some extremely successful cyclists here. 2 of the women on the ride have WON RAAM (recently). RAAM is Race Across America. Google it and see how remarkable a feat this is. It's like riding the Tour de France in 9 or 10 days with almost no sleep. Another of the women riders holds the 1 hour record for Masters in the UK and has ridden the Tour of Hope with Lance in 2003. There are about 7 Elite Riders as well. These are guys that also do RAAM. Some have logged more than 20,000 miles with PacTour and some have done races like Paris-Brest-Paris (such as my roommate Mark). These riders are completely inspiring to me. They came from all over the country and from Europe and Australia too. And most are older than me and still kicking butt.

We just finished day 3 and as for attrition, it may be too soon to say. But I don't think anyone has SAG'ed yet. Today was relatively light at 101 miles and tomorrow is 90. But day 5 is going to be a tough one at 150 and lot's of climbing. Let's see what happens after that.

Anticipating the next question - where do I fit into this group? That's also too soon to say. One of the great things about this ride is that it's not a race. Today we rode through a beautiful part of Montana and I just stopped to enjoy the scenery and absolute quiet. It was time to smell the roses. That said, there are 2 guys who always finish first. They're very strong indeed. The last 2 days our group was first in behind them. The first day I took it a lot easier. As we come to some of the more serious climbing that could all change. But I feel good and I would say I'm holding my own quite nicely.

The following video is from Chip Keyes, who is tearing up the field. Check out who's leading on this one :)

Keeping it light in the wind... from chip keyes on Vimeo.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Day 2 - On the Puddy Train

Today was another beautiful day and a great day of riding. I rode out this morning with the guys I finished with yesterday and they're a great group. Andrew Puddy is an Aussie who did the Elite Tour last year - the one I was thinking of doing (which I'm glad I didn't ;) Andrew likes to be at the front and keeps a strong steady pace. The rest of our group is David, Craig, John and Chip. I stayed with these folks all day.

We were given all the route slips at the orientation meeting. None of us know this area so it's always an adventure to figure out where we're going. Today we had a great 'mis'-adventure. After taking a dead end street about a half mile, we realized we were in the wrong place and needed to be on the interstate (I-90) that ran parallel to our dead end street. So we figured, no problem, we'll cross this small field, cross the train tracks and just hop on the Interstate. First - a mile long train came by just at that time - ok, we waited a few minutes. We cross the tracks and then encounter a barbed wire fence. Fortunately, we found a place that was missing a row. So we pulled it apart so that we could all get through. We're keeping it interesting :)

The riding was great, and the scenery was beautiful. Lunch just outside of Phillipsburg, MT where we saw some puppies. We had headwinds for a time and then hit our first 8% climb at 86 miles. Once over this there was 20 miles of flat and downhill and tailwind through the town of Anaconda, MT. A great reward for the day (and yesterdays winds). Majestic scenery at 35mph. Sweet.

The tailwinds stayed for the most part all the way into Butte. Overall I'm feeling good. Sleep helps a lot and I'm eating and drinking like mad. Tomorrow is an easier day at 101 miles.

Day 2 - 137 miles
RT - 7:23
Avg - 18.2
Elevation Gain - 5400 ft.
Weather - Perfect!... again.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Day 1 - Riding with Lon

Up at 5:30. Breakfast at 6. On the road at 6:30. A lot of stuff happens in that hour :)

It was a cool 51 degrees as we left Kalispell this morning. Quiet country roads until lunch at mile 80, and then more country roads ;). I rode with a lot of different people today. Mostly moving along at a very good pace, averaging almost 19 mph. The last 30 miles was especially difficult as we ran into enormous headwinds.

Lon Haldeman and Susan Notorangelo are the husband and wife owners of PacTour. They are there every step of the way. They are also a real inspiration as cyclists themselves. I had the good fortune to ride about 40 miles today with Lon. Check out this link to see his amazing accomplishments -

There's probably more to say but to be honest, I'm tired ;). I had a nice steak dinner tonight at a good restaurant here in Missoula. Enjoy the pics and I'll try to write more tomorrow.

Day 1 - 148 miles
RT - 8:02
Avg - 18.4
Elevation Gain - 3991ft
Weather - Perfect!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Day 0

I arrived in Kalispell yesterday afternoon. Flights were mostly uneventful, though slightly delayed. The scenery on the flight up was nothing short of beautiful. I suppose we'll have to come north now - it looks too good :).

I was hoping to go to Glacier Natl Park today, but there were major obstacles in finding a rental car. So I stayed around here and got to know the crew and other riders. I worked on my bike too. Not much really. There was a group dinner tonight at The Saloon. Pizza and Salad, followed by desert at the Dairy Queen :). I managed to find a Borders and bought a book, tea and cookie.

Some friends of mine are making a film about the Garmin/Slipstream team and they just finished with the Tour de France. I received this post today and I want to re-post it here. It's from Nigel and you can check out his very cool site at - I thought it was great and well worth the read. So enjoy it, and tomorrow I hope to have some news and pics from the road for you.

And remember - if you click on the pictures in this blog, you can see the full size pic.

After 3 weeks of sun, rain, crosswinds, storms, flat stages, sprint
finishes, brutal climbs and mountain-top finishes the peloton moves
out of Etampes on a hot Sunday morning with much fanfare and very
little energy.

There's joy, exuberance and champagne coming from the CSC cars, they
have a man in yellow, and nervousness and fear from the Gerolsteiner
cars, they've had a great Tour but have no sponsor for next year.
Along the roadside I see Cadel Evans, the great Aussie hope, taking
a pee alone, stone-faced as always. He's on the podium for sure but
once again has come away with nothing - the Nearly man of Antipodean

Jens Voigt, locomotive of CSC and my personal hero, comes by to chat
with Whitey.

"Jensie! Are you retiring?"
"My kids want a swimming pool and my wife wants a new car so I guess
I'm signing up for 2 more years of this crazy shit!"

Everyone laughs and he pushes himself away from the car and pedals
away up the road.

Why doesn't everyone race on the final day on the way into Paris?
That's what people want to know. Partly it's tradition, partly its
respect for the race and partly, as David Millar told me the other
night, its pure pragmatism: anyone who attacks the yellow jersey
will get shut down awful fast.

After the soft breezes of the past days Paris is hot and humid. The
domestiques shuttle back to their Team cars for the last time and
stuff their shirts with bidons for their fellow riders. There are no
longer empty hedgerows where the riders can pee - instead they're
lined up along walls letting it all hang out as they get ready for
the final explosive kilometres of the Tour.

The Champs Elysees is crowded and cheering and very bumpy. In a car
those bumps are part of the romance of Paris, after 3 weeks on a
bike it must be hell . After one circuit they kick me out of the
Team car - there are a line of sponsors wanting rides and bottom
feeders like me need to make space for the heavy-hitters.

The lead-out trains form up and the sprinters make a final effort -
a victory in Paris on these cobbled Elysian Fields could be a career-
defining moment.

After 85 hours of pedalling the Tour is over - the wives are kissed
and the babies hugged - and the riders form up with their Directeur
Sportifs who are riding spare bikes and looking out of place in
their civvy clothes and 40-something bodies. Each team sets out on a
lap of honor pedalling slowly towards l'Arc de Triomphe (pic

Garmin DS Jonathan Vaughters is trying to stand on his pedals and
keep stationery, the way cyclists do at the lights. He's having some
trouble with the cobbles. He was a previous lieutenant of Lance
Armstrong, held the TT record up Ventoux and rode 4 or 5 Tours but
famously never made it to Paris. He's visibly excited - it's the
first time he's ridden a victory lap on The Champ.

Garmin's number 5 GC man, Christian Vandevelde, has snagged a stars
and stripes from a bystander and wears it proudly over his
shoulders. Ryder Hesjedal snags a Canadian one and does the same.
Tiny Trent Lowe borrows an Aussie flag on a little stick and Julian
Dean finds some Kiwis in the crowd to have his picture taken with.

Christian Prudhomme, CEO of all things TdF shakes everyone's hands
and smiles.

I shout across to one of the ladies from the Slipstream office in
other team car: she's a single Mom of a certain age, has never been
to France, and here she is riding a Team Car down the Champs Elysees
as the crowds cheer her on.

"Can you believe this? Will anyone ever believe you if you tell them
this was your first drive into Paris?" She's visibly moved as we all

Twenty minutes later the big blue whale of a team bus has gone and
the riders have ridden off to their hotel. After all these tough
weeks on the bike they can't get seem to get off. Half the team were
rookies and they've all made it to Paris - their bodies have changed
while I've watched the ride and they've all suffered horribly.

For me there is a quick meal and 2 hours packing in a smelly RV
parked on the edge of the Place de la Concorde. It's been an
extraordinary journey but right now all I want to do is go home and
hug my girl who I love so much ...and ride my bike.

CDG airport, Paris, Gate A51

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Ridge of the Rockies

Just as the Tour de France ends, I'll be starting the PacTour Ridge of the Rockies 2008.

This will be my first full tour. 19 days of riding with about 45 other riders and 12 support. I have wanted to ride cross country for a couple of years now, so here's my chance.

We start in Kalispell, MT, near the Canadian border. Riding south over the Rockies, we finish 19 days later in El Paso, Texas, on the Mexican border. The ride totals 1950 miles and 88,000 ft. of climbing. The longest day is 148 miles (the 1st day!) and the shortest is 52. Climbing ranges from 2600 ft to 9200 ft. per day. On average it's 102 miles per day with 4600 ft of climbing. No days off!

If I was riding this solo I would start around 6:30/7am each day, eat & drink constantly, and hopefully get to the hotel by around 2 or 3. But I'll have to see how they run things and what others riders do.

Above is the itinerary. If any of you will be on the route, please let me know. It will be great to see you.

I will try to update this blog regularly, every day if I can. So please stay tuned and drop me a line here.

Click on the pictures to see larger maps and the route we'll be taking.

Spring Update

As part of a 3 day block (331 miles) I rode with a Matt, Pete, Paul & David to Santa Barbara. We had a great time and rode mostly the route of the Tour of California.

The last day of March I did my first double century. I was nervous going in and went solo. I started at 6:40am and about 30 minutes into the ride started to meet some other riders. After the first rest stop, I joined a very strong group. We got to the lunch break in just over 5 hours of riding ... 114 miles!! My best century time ever, I was averaging 20.3 to this point. I took a little more time at lunch and the train pulled out without me, which was fine as I wanted some solo time anyway. I was on roads I knew since I rode here during my coastal ride last September.

I finished the day at 6pm and truly outdid myself. 192 miles, 11:40 TOTAL Time, 10 hours ride time with an average of 19.2 MPH. Wow.

The next "event" was the Mulholland Challenge. A 112 mile route with about 12,000 feet of climbing through the Santa Monica Mountains. This is where I live and I thought, no problem. Well.... It was the hottest day in April with temps over 100 and I did not prepare for this or eat/drink enough. With 100 miles and over 10K of climbing done, I had to abandon due to muscle cramps. A huge lesson learned.

My concern now was recovering in time for the next mountainous century - Breathless Agony. I did the ride, it was great, and I had a very respectable time. The first 75 miles of this ride has 12,000 feet of climbing which I did it in 7 hours. I was not 100% as I was not receovered from Mulholland. But this was important to do to prove to myself I would be good for the tour in the Rockies this summer. It's a great ride and I look forward to doing this one again!

After Breathless I did 5 solid weeks of 250-400 miles per week. This was great training. Within this period I did an 8 day block of 665 miles and 45,500 ft of climbing.

Now I'm just riding to keep this conditioning and rest before leaving for PacTour's Ridge of the Rockies on July 29th.

Winter Update

After completing my California coast ride, I took some time off the bike and at the end of October, started a winter training program. My coach, David Brinton, has a great winter program that starts with weight training. Then at the end of October, we start climbing in the Angeles Crest area. This is a large scale mountain range similar to the Rockies or European climbs you see in the Tour de France. Very different than the canyon mountains we have here. Here's a picture of me at the top of Mount Disappointment getting some extra cycling radioactive waves. This is right next to Mount Wilson, but slightly higher.

All this training is in preparation to start the Simi Ride in December. The Simi Ride is a famous race training ride that many racers ride as .... well, a race. It's a great measure to see how you stack up against some category riders and a few pros. Aaron Olsen (T Mobile) did the ride regularly as well as cycling legends Thurlo Rogers and Ron Skarin. The typical size of the peloton is around 80 riders.

January and February were mostly spent doing base milage training averaging about 200 miles per week. On occassion I would do a couple of back to back 100 mile days.

I also went to 2 stages of the Tour of California, including the Time Trial stage. This was totally awesome. If you ever have the opportunty to see a professional race in person - go!