Saturday, July 28, 2007

Tour de Llew is over!

Hi! Just thought we would finish out the Tour de Llew for you all. He completed his last ride and is now enjoying the watching of the Tour de France. It has been an incredible experience. Thanks for all of your prayers and support. I am now off to join Llew for a few days in Paris. We will post pictures and such when we return. Thanks again!!


Thursday, July 26, 2007

Day 4

Getting to the end of the trip now. Only one ride left tomorrow. We've transferred to southwest France where we are riding in the Basque region. Very beautiful but different from the area around Lourdes.

Today we got up and rode 25 miles to Pau to see a Tour de France stage start. This was pretty exciting as there was huge news after yesterday's stage about the race leader (Michael Rasmussen) getting kicked out for missing some drug tests. This put a rider from the, ostensibly American, Discovery Channel team in the lead. Anyway, I ( and a few others) missed the start as we thought we had until 1 pm to see it but they started at 12:30.

After Pau we got on the bus for a 2 hour transfer to start our next ride then rode two small mountains ( similar to Woody Gap north of Dahlonega ) into our hotel. About 40 miles all in all. Awesome country but much hotter down here.

Tomorrow we have a long but relatively flat ride our for a picnic lunch then to a lake for swimming and relaxing. We'll be here another night then off to Paris. With the race really undecided now that should be very cool.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Day 3

Today was a much easier day. I really think my body is catching up to the amount of riding we've been doing. We also had a much shorter day today. We climbed a mountain called the Col d'Abisque. Just short of the summit Trek had set up a lunch and race viewing spot for us. It was very cool.

We hung out for 4 or 5 hours after riding up and just had a very good time. The race was very exciting with people from all over cheering on their favorites. It's like being at the SuperBowl with every team playing and being surrounded by passionate fans for all of them. After the race we road back down and shuttled back to Lourdes for dinner.

Tomorrow we get to ride out to a stage start in Pau and perhaps meet some of the riders. Should be cool. In the afternoon we'll ride into Spain and do a couple smaller climbs there.

We're halfway through the trip at this point and it has been hard work but a great experience. Seeing the mountains up close and spending hours outside is just great.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Day 2 on the bike!

Hi again everyone. Day 2 is in the books. Today was a rest day in the Tour so we went out to ride a famous climb, that's not in the race this year, called The Tourmalet. Let me tell you, it is ridiculous! Very hard and very exposed out of the trees.

I actually enjoyed today's ride much more than yesterday's. There was no time crunch of trying to stay ahead of the Tour. It was just our group and the bikes ( and the support van with lots of extra water and food-much needed). Today's climb was definitely harder but at least I was able to keep up a pace and stop when I wanted to.

I was the last guy up today but there were a few guys who didn't ride it. Actually, I'm totally amazed at a few of these older guys here in their late 50's and 60's. They can really go still.

Overall, a really amazing day again. The scenery was awesome!

One really depressing part of the rides here is the French government has taken it upon themselves to post signs at each kilometer of the famous climds so you know how far you have to the summit. Well, that's all well and good. However, they have also decided to include the average gradient over the next kilometer. That's just depressing. I mean really what's the point of that information!

Anyway, tomorrow we go to watch a stage finish. Riding roughly 8 miles up a climb to our viewing restaurant. Later in the day, after the race goes by, we'll summit the climb, ride down the back and return for our last night in Lourdes. Thanks for reading!

Monday, July 23, 2007

First day on the bike!

Well, we had our first day of riding today. Met our guides early in Toulouse and bussed to the bike fitting. Had to do that fast as the roads we were to ride were going to be closed by the police soon for the Tour de France to pass. We set out and got about 9 miles up the road when the police closed it. So, our only option was to turn around and go around the race. To do this we had to climb the Port de Balles. So, what was originally going to be a relatively easy day to stretch the legs with only 6 miles of climbing became a really hard day climbing the 12 miles up the Balles.

For those of you reading this who know the Tour or cycling the Port de Balles has never been climbed in the tour until this year. Our guides hadn't climbed it either.It is an HC climb which our guides thought was harder than Alp d'Huez and the Tourmalet (we climb that tomorrow).

All that is to say I spent almost 5 hours on the bike today and I'm sore. The good news is I wasn't the slowest rider. I'm definitely in the running though. Most of the guys here are tri-atheletes and in really good shape. I think the biggest thing I noticed was the elevation affecting me. It wasn't so much my legs.

So, tomorrow is the Tourmalet. This climb is longer but maybe not as steep. We'll see. It is a climb up to 6600 feet over roughly 14 miles. I'll report back then (if I am still moving) and let you know how that goes. Bedtime now.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Hello from France!

Getting to Toulouse really didn't feel like it took that long. I think it helped that the guy next to me on the Atlanta to Paris flight is actually going to be on the same bike tour I'm going on. Weird coincidence. Anyway, he's from Columbia (Game-chicken fan, but I can look past that) and has been on six different bike trips in Italy and France. So, I was actually able to get some good info on what to expect from him.

Once in Paris I had to wait 3 hours for my flight to Toulouse. Saw Dikembe Mutumbo while waiting though. He's tall.

Once in Toulouse, I crashed at the hotel for a few hour nap, watched the end of today's tour stage (complete with French commentary), explored some cool cathedrals here, then met up with Joe and some other folks, who are going on the bike tours as well, he'd tracked down for dinner.

Overall, most of the riders are guys in their late 40's to early 60's and in great shape. So far, I've met two people riding younger than me. Shouldbe interesting. Met one former pro (from the 70's) who'd riding with Trek as well.I'll give you all an update on my comparative fitness after our first ride tomorrow. Here's a hint : not good. Anyway, looks like it should be a really good time.

Bye for now.


Friday, July 20, 2007

Llew's Trip

Leaving tomorrow for France! Everyone say a prayer as I climb the mountains. I'll be sending messages for Lisa to post so keep checking back!