Thursday, July 23, 2009

Slo-Mo Time Trial

While the competitors in le Tour were in their 40 Km time trial I took a 48 Km ride here in Round Hill. I averaged 23.8 kpm with a time of 2:05:18.

By slightly over one kilometer this was my longest stage in my pseudo-tour, and the fifth fastest average speed. Probably none of the days I've ridden a previous stage has had humidity as high as today's.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Success on the Hills At Last
No flat this week

This morning I started my ride at about the time that the competitors in France were half way through their stage. My pseudostage included four ascents of Stoneleigh, just west of Round Hill.

Total distance for the ride was 26 Km which I finished in one hour and 26 minutes for an average speed of 18.1 kph.

The real riders covered 207.5 Km. Alberto Contador won the stage in a time of 5 hours, 3 minutes and 58 seconds. His finish blew away the competition. Lance Armstrong, for whom I have been rooting, is now a super-domestique.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

On the Road Again
Two days of rest were just what I needed

Did I not ride Thursday and Friday because all my bike shorts were in the laundry? Don't be silly! I just didn't feel like riding. But I did today.

In the interest of taking advantage of a chance to do something together Hiroko and I took a ride to King Street in Leesburg by way of the W&OD trail. The distance covered was 32 Km. Due to the fact that Hiroko's bike has flat pedals we took our sweet time and spent a lovely 2 hours and 50 minutes enroute. The average speed was 11.2 kpm - certainly not my fasted time, but at least I got to ride with my sweetie.

And regardless of how slowly I went, I did pass the 300 Km threshold today.

In France the boys rode 199 Km in not much more time than it took us to ride 32 Km.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Sunrise Ride
Up before dawn for a quick ride

My stage today began at 5:36 AM. What was I thinking?

Maybe I was thinking that the sky would be beautiful as the darkness over the Blue Ridge began picking up pink tones from the eastern sky. Perhaps I was anticipating the cool still air. Or it might have been that I hoped to watch a hawk carrying its breakfast across the road and into the woods by the pond.

No matter the reason for my early morning insanity, I logged 20.8 Km in 56 minutes. That's an average speed of 22.3 kpm.

Later today the boys in France will be riding 192 Km at considerably more than 22 kpm.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Back In The Saddle Again
Tire fixed and rolling

During the rest day yesterday I bought an inner tube to replace the one that failed on Sunday. The failure was at the point where the valve merged to the inner tube proper. Installing the new tube presented no problems at all.

Today my ride was delayed by a job interview - one of the best reasons for delaying a ride, I must say! My ride didn't start until after 4 PM.

One hour, 59 minutes later I had completed 46.4 Km in rather breezy conditions on a one mile lap. My average speed for this run was 23.2 kpm.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Mountain Stage 3 - Mountain of Disappointment!

A short and slow trip over Stoneleigh

Today marked the third and final day in the Pyrenees for the real riders, and marked the third day for me to be a pseudo-climber here in Virginia. I had planned to make four climbs to the top of the Stoneleigh development, a tough ride over safe residential streets. An alternative would have been riding from Round Hill over the Blue Ridge and down to the Shenandoah River. I received so many negative comments on my sanity the last time I did that I haven't attempted it again.*


After huffing and puffing myself to the top of the hill and coming down the other side, my return climb came to an abrupt end after 200 meters with a flat rear tire. A kind couple gave my bike and me a ride all the way home.

Bottom line for the day: 6.4 Km in 25 minutes for a speed of 15.2 kpm. This isn't my slowest performance, but it surely is my shortest of this tour.

As disappointing as it was, my bike and I did attain the 200 Km level in just nine stages. With 12 stages still to go I need only 100 Km.

Tomorrow is a rest day, thank goodness, so I'll have time to get the tire back in order before riding again on Tuesday. But since I have a job interview on Tuesday I'll probably be taking a short ride even then.

The boys in France logged 160.5 Km over a Cat One and an HC climb today with the leader finishing in 4 hours, 5 minutes and 31 seconds - without a flat tire. That's pretty impressive.

* I have to admit it was sort of stupid to be riding a bike on a steep highway with 55 mph speed limits and almost unridable shoulders.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Mountain Stage - Again
Feeling a Bit Better on a Hill

Today's stage in France (and it really is in France) was a significant mountain stage with two Cat 1 and one HC. We all know that means I should do a bit of climbing in my own mock tour. You might think that since I live in a town named Round Hill I'd have an advantage in climbs, but it doesn't seem to be working out that way.

Whereas yesterday I put my legs to work in an attempt to scale the Blue Ridge only reaching about half way, today I tried a less aggressive climb. The actual elevation was unknown but it was low enough for me to climb twice in about 12 minutes - obviously it couldn't have been too much of a hill. I added about 23 Km of relatively flat riding to the climb and descent for a total of 25 Km in a little over one hour and 10 minutes for an average speed of 20.6 kph.

For tomorrow's mountain stage I've selected a ride somewhere between yesterday's embarrassment and today's success.

Oh, yeah. The real riders completed their ride of 176.5 Km in just over 4 hours and 30 minutes. They are remarkable.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Stage 7 - Mountain Day #1
Not really a good showing by Mr. Sackrider

Because today's stage in France (actually in Spain and Andorra) is a mountain stage I am duty bound to ride a hill. My choice for hill today is a rather obscure piece of pavement. Judging by the condition of the pavement I guess that even the highway department has trouble finding it.

I found the hill without difficulty. I just couldn't find the energy to make it all the way to the top. How far I climbed I don't really know, but it was perhaps halfway. Look for me to try this hill again on Stage 20 - the final mountain stage of le tour.

But let's get back to specifics. The distance that I know I covered today is 25.6 Km. That took 1:53:00 for a pathetic 13.6 kpm.

The professional riders in Europe are riding 224 Km and climbing a five major ascents: one Cat 4, a pair of Cat 3's, a Cat one and finish with a hors-category. What does all of that mean? I'm not sure. I've never ridden - or even seen - a hill for which the category has been established. But I have seen the professionals riding catagory climbs on the TV coverage of le Tour and know that my effort on the hill this afternoon would have been rather insignificant to them.

Well, tomorrow is another day - another mountain day.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Cool Morning - Easy Ride
Rest day over, back in the saddle

This morning the air temperature was probably 60 F when I started out at just about six o'clock - too early for the wind which was still resting quietly in the hollows and over the pond. For riding after a rest day this was a perfect beginning. I truly felt wonderful when I finished my ride.

I covered 29.6 Km in 1:07:31 for an average speed of 26.3 kph, my second highest of this little experiment in cycling.

Riders on le tour were enlisted to cover 181 Km which leaves me well back again. Although I will not cover the 2,200 Km of the tour, it looks like I have completely blown through Hiroko's prediction of 112 Km and am well on my way to my predicted accumulated distance of 300 Km.

The more challenging part of le tour is coming up with the mountain stages. It should be clear to one and all that I will not be pedling up any Category 1 hills during my mock-tour. In fact, I will not be riding on any Category climbs. In further fact, I don't know the category of any of the hills in my neighborhood so measurements like that are out of the question. However, I will include more hills on days when the boys in France tackle the mountain stages.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Stage 5 - Rider's Option
The benefit of not being in le Tour

Okay, I'll admit it - I'm not a professional bike racer. And that's a good thing, because I get to take extra days off. Today is one of those days for me.

Instead of riding I had a 2 1/2 mile run with Hiroko this morning, which was a wonderful workout in its own way. There was a lot of huffing and puffing on my part. Running is so much slower than riding! It takes a lot of patience to get to back to the house. Of course, the alternative is not getting back to the house. That really isn't an alternative, I guess.

Over there in France the boys completed the longest stage so far, 196.5 Km. Hey, it's not like I was going to catch them anyway.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Good and Bad Day on the Trail
Distance Up, Speed Down

Today's ride was 43.2 Km on the W&OD trail from Purcellville to the 30.0 mile marker and back. Outbound, that is away from Purcellville, the trail has a slight slope down, which steepens slightly before arriving at Leesburg.

After a short time on the trail I realized that the wind was going to be helping me on the outbound leg. As a result I was zipping along at better than 24 kpm, then up to 32 kpm for the steeper downhill run into Leesburg. My enjoyment of the brisk pace was moderated slightly by the knowledge that both wind and hill would be working against me after I turn around.

Certainly that proved to be the case. At the turn I took a several minute break for a snack and some Gatorade, and have a chat with one of the Loudoun County Sheriff Deputies who ride the trail "to make people feel safe." I had arrived at the turn around about 53 minutes after leaving Purcellville. The return trip took about an hour and eighteen minutes with the labor of bucking the wind and climbing back from Leesburg. Altogether it led to an overall speed of 19.6 kpm. As a result my average speed for the four stages (such as they are) dropped to 20.4 kpm.

Over in France the boys had their Team Time Trial today - first since le tour 2005 - and logged only 39 Km. So, I decreased their distance lead by 4 Km, a nearly insignificant gain. And completely meaningless when we take speed into account.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Stage 3
Dave Falls Farther Behind

Today my distance was 27.2 Km, for a total of 74.4 Km. Time on today's stage was 1:07:30, which results in an average speed of about 24 kpm.

The boys in France finished at 5:01:24. About 30 Km before the end there was a 27 rider break away - if you can call such a crowd a break away. That lead group, which included Lance Armstrong, but neither Alberto Contador nor David Sackrider, beat the next group - the peleton had pretty much shattered into four groups - by 39 seconds. A very exciting sprint finish went to Cavendish, the second consecutive stage win by Cavendish.

Quite a wonderful stage.

Tomorrow don't expect me to lose too much distance since the team time trial (TTT) is only 39 or 40 Km.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Stage 2
The peleton leaves me in the dust

Today Hiroko and I took a mild little ride around town, logging 20.8 Km in one hour and 25 minutes.

The boys in France piled up 187 Km - catapulting past my two stage total of 47.2. I won't be seeing them again until they are enjoying a good meal back in Paris.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

le Tour Begins
Here we go! le Tour de France begins today and concludes in Paris on the 26th of July after the riders have logged about 2,200 kilometers.

It has never been my dream to ride le tour. I've come to enjoy the sport of team bicycle racing too late in life for that. By the time I figured out how interesting this sport can be I had matured into a degree of realism that kept me from having the ultimate dream.

However, I had enough dream left in me that I asked Hiroko a few days ago how far she thought I could ride on the 21 days of le tour's stages. She quickly replied, "70 miles."

I was stunned! Only 70 miles! Had she forgotten who she was talking with? I've ridden that far in one day just four years ago.

"I'll go at least 300 Km," I told her. And now I've told you.

So we will keep track of my accumulated distance over the next three weeks or so and see if I can meet my goal of 300 Km in 21 days of riding.

This morning, the day of Stage 1, my distance was 26.4 Km, which took 1 hour and 6 seconds. The riders on the tour will ride only a 15.5 Km today, but they'll do it at much faster paces than I did mine.

Update: The Swiss rider Fabian Cancellera won Stage 1 in Monaco with a time of 19:32, at an average speed of about 46 kph - considerably better than my 26 kph.