Saturday, December 31, 2011
I don't know Elden, but I read his blog and it is really good. In addition, he used to work at Microsoft as did I, and we both lived in Seattle at the same time, so perhaps we've crossed paths. Who knows...
Anyway, do yourself a favor and check out Elden's book. Oh, and his blog ain't half bad either, so check that out as well!
I hope you as the audience don't mind. And given that to the best of my knowledge, no one besides me has actually read this blog so far, I am the audience. As such, I heartily approve these new types of posts.
Friday, December 30, 2011
- 58cm steel frame
- 38x700c tires
- Thorn-resistant super heavy tubes (with slime, no less!)
- Brooks B17 saddle
- Road Morph G pump
- Garmin ForeRunner 201 GPS device (recycled from my running days)
- Planet Bike Superflash and Blaze tail and head lights
- Bargain-priced moutain bike pedals
- Bento box with multitool, tire levers and a patch kit
My current (and only) ride is a Surly Long Haul Trucker. This was a great bike for commuting in Seattle where it's rainy and hilly. The bike is pretty much indestructible, easily fits racks and fenders, and has wide tires to carry a lot of cargo and a relatively heavy rider (I'm 6'1" and weigh 185) in comfort. The downside with this bike is that it is a) heavy and b) slow. When it's loaded up with racks, fenders, pump, lock, lights, computer and bottle cages, it has to weigh close to 28 lbs. In addition, the super upright position the bike puts you in and the 38mm wide tires (with significant tread) don't help with the speed either. Long story short, a great Seattle commuter bike makes a pretty lousy Phoenix sport bike. For this reason, I'm in the market for a new ride, but that's a story for another post.
Regarding my family, I am married and have 3 sons, 2 in college and one in high school. My oldest likes to ride a lot, and a few years ago I got him into watching the TdF with me while he was home on summer break. He is the one who will be accompanying me on the trip to France.
My wife does not ride now, but has expressed some interest in doing so down the road. I would love to get her into cycling as it would be a great activity for us to do together. Instead of me being away from her for 3 or 4 hours on a Saturday, we could be together during that time instead, enjoying an activity together. I've got my fingers crossed on this one.
So why do I want to go through the expense and hassle of flying to France for the TdF? Well, I became interested in the Tour about the time I started riding. I started watching it on Versus and found it absolutely fascinating. I'll go into more detail in a future post what I love about the TdF, but suffice it to say that I am glued to my television (or laptop when I'm on the road) for hours on end every July, and the idea of actually being a part of that madness is pretty exciting.
I put quite a bit of planning into this trip and had an itinerary figured out. I was going to fly into Munich and see a game there, then travel to Cologne for another game about 2 days later, then back to Munich a couple days after that for a third game and then my flight back home. I didn't make any hotel reservations, but I did put my name into the drawing for tickets to the games I'd targeted. Unfortunately, after two rounds of the lottery, I never got picked for tickets.
As I was trying to do the whole thing on a budget, I didn't want to pay scalper prices for tickets, and since I was not going to be able to get tickets through the normal channels (and might not be able to get tickets at all), I scrapped the whole trip. I just couldn't make plane reservations without knowing that I'd be able to attend the matches in the cities that I wanted to be in.
One good thing about the TdF is that there are no tickets: show up on the side of the road and you're good. In many ways, that makes this trip easier to plan than a World Cup trip.
Thursday, December 29, 2011
- Try to see a mountain stage as the riders tend to be more spread out and going much slower so you get more viewing time.
- Try to find stages where one stage ends in the same town as the next stage starts. This gives you the ability to see the riders twice in two days without moving (although the start is not exactly the most exciting part of the race, but its better than nothing!).
- Be at the final stage in Paris to see the circuits of the Champs-Elyssées and the trophy ceremonies. Plus it's freaking Paris for crying out loud.
- See a time trial if possible. Again, because the riders are spread out, you get a lot more viewing time for your effort at these stages, although the riders tend to fly by pretty fast.
I'm sure there were other recommendations, but these are the ones I'm acting on. With these bits of advice in mind, we are planning to see the following stages for sure:
- Stage 16 finish in Bagnères-de-Luchon - This is the finish of a critical mountain stage in the Pyrenees that begins in Pau. This route features a number of famous passes including the Col du Tourmalet and the Col d'Aubisque.
- Stage 17 start in Bagnères-de-Luchon - This is the beginning of the stage that will include the Col de Menté and the Col des Ares and end in Peyragudes. We will get to see the peleton off this morning before we head north toward Paris.
- Stage 20 on the Champs-Élysées - This will be the final sprints of the TdF and the crowning of the champion.
I have made arrangements to see these stages already (more on those specifics coming). It might also be interesting to be in Chartres on Saturday to see the finish of the time trial, but this might be trying to cram too much into the time allotted, given that we need to be in Paris the next day. We'll have to see about this one.
Well, it looks like I'm up to my old tricks again, and am in the process of planning a trip to France to see several stages of the 2012 Tour de France with my oldest son. I have set up this blog to document the planning process as well as (hopefully) the trip itself.
Perhaps someone will get some value out of this blog; perhaps not. One thing that I've noted is that there's not a huge amount of information out there about planning such a trip on your own (as opposed to going with a tour group), so maybe the things I learn and write here will be useful to others. I guess we'll see.
Anyway, stay tuned for updates...