Saturday, June 30, 2012


It's been a bit more than a week since I shaved my legs (see this post for all the gory details) and I have been getting more and more stubble.  Man, is that stuff is itchy!  When I'm going to sleep, I have to keep  my legs apart since its uncomfortable when they rub against each other!

Last night I had decided I was going to let the hair grow back, but this morning I changed my mind.  Instead, I'm going to wait until after I get back from France.  I figure I went through all this trouble to shave; I should get some credit for being a cyclist while I'm at the Tour!

It's Tour time!!!!

I can't believe the Tour is finally here, and that Nathan and I are heading out in less than two weeks! Of course I set my alarm to see it live at 5:00am Arizona time. It did not disappoint, with Fabian ripping up the course in a way that few can in a time trial. What a great stage it was this morning, and it's good to see something go right for Team Radio Shack Nissan Trek for once. Hopefully RSNT can keep Spartacus in yellow for the first week or so; it would be a great thing after such a disappointing season so far. Keep an eye on this blog going forward as I will be posting a lot more now that tour time is here and especially as I get over to France. I don't know how or where I'm going to get Internet, but I will do something to make sure I get the updates out.

Team Livestrong Challenge Davis Ride Report

The ride started pretty much right on schedule at 7:30 which was much appreciated. Since Team Fatty was leading in the fund raising, we were first off the line, with the exception of the Texas 4000 group (see to donate). After the national anthem, the call was made to start and off we went. Of course everyone was excited and we got up to speed pretty quick. We swept around the first two left hand turns and sped up just in time to hit a red light. The weird thing was that there was no traffic coming, and there was a policeman standing there directing traffic.

Anyway, after that little hiccup, we really got started. The faster Fatties, including Fatty himself (Elden Nelson) and The Hammer (Lisa, Elden's wife) whipped up the pace for the rest of us and pretty soon we were screaming along at 23 to 24 mph. I did my best to keep up and did so for about the first 5 miles, but before long it became clear that this was not a pace that was going to work for me over the long haul. I was definitely over my LT and knew that that I'd be bonking toward the finish if I kept it up.

With that, I waved a bunch of riders by and fell off the back, resigned to riding by myself for the rest of the day. A couple that we had passed in the pace line passed me back and offered to give me a pull back up to the group but I told them thanks but no thanks; there was no point catching up to that group only to be dropped again! Shortly after that, we made a right turn to head north and came to the first rest stop. It was about 12-14 miles in if I recall, and I arrived there at about 40 minutes into the ride.

This would be a good time to mention that for some reason my iPhone which was running MapMyRide decided to die during the ride. This was weird because I've had it run for close to 8:00 hours before without dying, and this ride was barely over 6 hours. Because of this, all the times and distances are guesses as I'm too lazy to get out a map.

Anyway, I did a quick bit of math in my head and figured I must have been going at about a 20 mph pace for the first section of the ride which was shockingly good for me. Even after I left the pace line and was riding on my own, I was going about 17-18 mph on average. This was at least 2 to 3 mph faster than I normally ride. I attribute this to two things: the excitement of the event itself and the Specialized Roubaix Comp Compact that rented from Blazing Saddles in San Francisco. Let me tell you, this was my first time on a light carbon bike and it was freaking awesome. In addition, the geometry of the Roubaix was perfect. I was a bit worried going from a touring bike to something more aggressive, but the Roubaix was super comfortable, even after 6 hours. While I was glad to be done at the finish line, I could definitely have gone longer if I had to on this bike. But I digress....

I passed the first rest stop without stopping because I was making good time and because my water bottles (actually Gatorade bottles) were still relatively full. I had some Clif Shots and a few gulps of fluid and kept rolling. I rode solo through super flat farmland for about another hour and a half or so, stopping at rest stop number two to grab a PB&J, refill my bottles and use the Honey Bucket. I was still making really good time even by myself, and was loving the ride.

One good thing about the course was that there were enough turns on it to break up the monotony. Granted, a lot of the roads were alike, but at least making the turn gave you something to do!  In addition, it was REALLY flat.  This allowed all of us to really go for it, knowing we didn't need to save a whole lot of energy for a bunch of hills.

About 3 or 4 miles from the 3rd rest stop, a group of 4 Fatties passed me on the road. They said hello as they went by, and as they weren't going way faster than me, I decided to hop on their back wheel. I asked if they minded if I joined them and they indicated they were happy to have me. This was my introduction to what eventually became the Big Orange Train (BOT).

We stopped at the 3rd rest stop which was located in a park in some small town somewhere near Davis (again, a map would be useful here!) where we refueled. We picked up at least one more Fatty at the rest stop when we rolled out. We were about 35 miles into the ride and had a good crew of 6 Team Fatty members taking turns pulling. We really started to make good time, rolling at about 18 to 20 mph or even higher on the flats.

We hit the turn off for the 100 mile route at 39.5 miles and got into the "hilly" portion of the ride. I put hilly in quotes because while there were some hills, it was pretty easy stuff, but I will admit there were a few places where I wished I had my granny gear. Still the Roubaix was great on the hills and with the BOT in effect we were all making good time. In addition, where there are hills going up there are hills going back down, and I the Roubaix doing well over 30 mph on some of the descents. I really would love to see what it could do on a steep downhill!

The Train skipped the 4th rest stop (which was basically a big tank of water on a pickup truck) but stopped at the 5th and 6th rest stops which were both in different towns near Davis (Vacaville was one, I think). This would be a good time to say how nicely spaced the rest stops were on the ride. They seemed to show up right when you could use one. Whoever laid things out should be commended!

After a few more hills we got back to the turn off and joined up with the 65 mile route. Throughout the extra 35 mile loop for the century course, we picked up a few folks on the train, but when we got back to the flat part of the course, things really started to pick up. The BOT was humming along, and as we passed riders, many of them took the opportunity to jump on the back of the train. The key thing for the BOT was that we were going quick, but not so quick that it was hard to keep up once you had gotten onto the back of the pace line.

Soon the BOT had swelled from 6 or 7 Fatties to about 20 or so various riders with about 9 Fatties. Team Fatty riders controlled the tempo, and I was even pulling some of the time. As before, we were rolling on the flats at around 18 to 19 mph and things were going great, with Fatties taking turns pulling up front then falling off to rest at the back.

Unfortunately, at one point, after 5 or 6 Fatties had each done their work at the front and handed the lead over to the next person in line, we found ourselves with a non-Team Fatty rider on the front of the line. Apparently, this person didn't feel the pace was high enough, so he (or she) decided to whip up the pace a bit. This was great for the stronger riders, but some of us just couldn't keep up and the BOT started to fall apart. At least 2 of us came unhitched and fell off the back. I was not too bummed since I'd manage to ride with the team for a good 45 miles or so which was a lot more miles more than I'd ever done in a pace line before.

However, the stronger Fatties of the BOT decided that it was more important to keep the Team Fatty riders together than it was to make good time, and they pulled out of the train to wait for the rest of us. Granted, I think they may have been waiting for the guy who drove them to the event, but still, it was a nice gesture! One by one, new Fatties pulled up to where we were standing on the side of the road until we had assembled a group of about 8 or 9 members of the team. One of these was a strong rider who had missed a turn and accidentally tacked about 12 miles onto his century!

With the team back together, we took off, and once again we started to pick up stray riders, including some non-Livestrong Challenge riders. After a while, the pace started to creep up as the riders in front started to get excited about finishing (and finishing strong). I figured that it was getting close to the end (maybe 15 miles from the finish line) so I worked hard to keep up, definitely riding well over my LT. There was less than an hour of riding to go so I didn't think I could bonk too hard in that amount of time, especially since I was feeling pretty good and was stuffing calories into myself as fast as I could.

Unfortunately, we turned south with about 12 miles to go, straight into the teeth of a pretty stiff breeze. Riding into the wind took my heart rate from the 160s into the 170s, and I knew that I wasn't going to be able to keep that up for long. After a mile or two, I pulled over and slowed down to let the rest of the pace line pass me, then continued my ride solo. While it would have been great to have finished with the group, I was still super happy to have gotten to ride with them for over 50 miles. I was hopeful that I would be able to catch them at the last rest stop, but when I got there it turned out that they didn't stop to refuel so close to the finish. Thus ended my time as a member of the Big Orange Train.

At the last rest stop, I had my first packet of Honey Stinger energy shot. I was surprised (although I guess I shouldn't have been) that it was basically honey with some flavoring! I was a little worried that it was going to upset my stomach, but fortunately it didn't. Still, I don't think I will be trying that stuff again; honey just isn't my thing.

While I was getting down my honey energy shot, Rob from Team Fatty rolled into the rest stop. He was another member of the BOT who had succumbed to the pace and the wind. He suggested that I give him a moment to rest and then we'd finish together, and I readily agreed. We left the rest stop shortly after that and almost immediately turned east again, so we were no longer fighting a headwind.

Rob and I finished the last 8 or so miles at a relatively relax pace, although with the wind at our backs we were often rolling around 18 mph. We went past UC Davis, then through the streets of Davis, finally making the left turn toward the finish line. Of course I had to kick for the finish line and came in second or two before Rob, doing my best Tour de France victory pose. (Side note: I'm pretty sure that Rob did not know I was racing him; if he had, I imagine the result would have been different!)

All said and done, I'd ridden 96.9 miles according to the computer, and had done it in 6:17. This works out to a 15.4 mph average speed, including rest stops. If I take out the 6 rest stops I did, assuming each stop was 8 minutes or so, I maintained an average speed of 17.7 mph. Not too shabby for an old(er) guy!

The Livestrong Challenge Davis was an absolutely awesome ride and I really hope I can do it again. I will make a few changes, such as making sure I'm able to spend a bit more time hanging out after the race and getting there early so I can see the Cycling Hall of Fame on Friday. Still, I couldn't ask for a better course, team or cause, and I look forward to riding again next year.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Welcome new readers!

Apparently, some people other than me and my immediate family have discovered this blog, so I thought I'd say hello.  I've set up this blog primarily to record my trip to the 2012 Tour de France.  However, I've also taken to blogging about my other cycling-related exploits.

Regarding my trip to the TdF, I will be travelling with my son, and am leaving on 7/12/12.  We will arrive in France on Friday and over the next 4 days make our way down to the Pyrenees.  We will be staying in Bagneres-de-Luchon where we will see the end of Stage 16 and the beginning of Stage 17.  After that, we will make our way up to Paris to do tourist stuff.where we will catch the final stage and the awards.  We might also make a day trip out to Chartres to catch the ITT for Stage 19.  After that, we will spend some tourist time in Paris and return to home on 7/24/12.

Anyway, if you have any suggestions for how best to see the Tour, I'd love your input.  Thanks for reading!

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Tour is just around the corner!

The Tour de France kicks off this Saturday with the Prologue in Liege.  If you're anything like me (and you probably aren't), you will be spending a significant amount of time watching DVR'd cycling coverage over the next several weeks.

Viva le Tour!!!

Team Livestrong Challenge Davis Ride Report: Preamble

First off, I have to say that this was an incredible ride.  The support was amazing, the rest stops plentiful, the village area exciting, and the cause worthwhile.  But the best part about it was riding with Team Fatty: Fighting Like Susan.  Being a part of a great team really made the event for me.

Things didn't start well for me.  Getting to the bay area was difficult to say the least (see my previous post).  After getting about 5 hours sleep, I was up at around 9:00 on Saturday morning to pick up my bike and get out to Davis/Sacramento.  This ended up being a rather long and involved process as I had to:
  • Return the Hertz rental car
  • Pickup the Avis rental car
  • Drive to the North Shore area of San Francisco to get the bike
  • Drive out to Davis to pick up my race packet
  • Drive to Sacramento to check into my hotel
This process, thanks to ridiculous traffic, took about 7 hours!  Let me tell you I was a bit stressed out when I arrived at my hotel, but a quick test spin on the rental bike, a 2012 Specialized Roubaix Comp, helped me to relax.

Because Team Fatty led the most fundraising categories, Elden Nelson ('s eponymous blogger) got us all invited to the Fundraiser/Volunteer Appreciation Dinner the night before the ride.  This was a really nice event where many of the Team Fatty riders were able to get to know each other and also listen to some very inspirational speeches from people either battling cancer or who had battled cancer in their past.

Elden and Team Fatty took home three fundraising awards that night, and we all got up on stage to accept the award and listen to Elden's speech.  It was really a nice event, and I thank the Lance Armstrong Foundation for allowing all us Fatties to attend.

I made it an early evening on Saturday since I'd not gotten a whole lot of sleep the night before.  I set the alarm for early to make sure I had time to get all my stuff ready, pack up, check out of the hotel, drive the 20 minute drive to Davis, and be on the starting line for pictures at 7:00.

After final preparations at the car, I headed over to the rider's village.  In the village there was an area where people who were riding in memory or in honor of someone could hang a card.  I hung up the two cards I'd created, one in memory of my cousin, Christie Truelock Devitt, who died last year from breast cancer, and one in honor of my father-in-law, Ron Siegel, who successfully battled prostate cancer last year.  It was sad to see so many In Memory Of cards hanging, but it was also an inspiration to see so many In Honor Of cards for people who had beaten cancer.

After that, I headed over to the starting area where Team Fatty was getting its pictures taken.  I was looking good in my Fat Cyclist jersey and freshly shaved legs.  I was also feeling good, having eaten a good breakfast and having spalmed my Assos Chamois Creme in all the right places!

(I put on that paunch in honor of Team Fatty!)

Team Fatty had about 40 riders, most of them resplendent in their black, orange and white team kit:

(Team Fatty at the starting line...)

After getting the standard safety talk and singing the national anthem (led by a member of the Texas 4000 team), we were off...

Saturday, June 23, 2012

What a nightmare!

Yesterday I travelled to the Bay Area for the Team LIVESTRONG Challenge.  I flew Delta through Salt Lake City and was supposed to arrive in Oakland at 11:00 where I'd get my car (booked with a free rental coupon), drive to my hotel in Pleasanton (booked with points) and get a good night's sleep.

That was the plan.  The reality was that my plane was late into SLC.  Instead of boarding at 9:15, we boarded at around 9:40.  Oh, and then unboarded at around 10:00.  Why, you ask?  Because the pilots for the plane were not going to arrive until 12:40!  So around 12:50, we reboarded the plane, and finally took off around 1:20 local time (12:20 west coast time). 

We finally arrived at Oakland at 2:30ish, a mere 3.5 hours late.  But wait!  It gets worse!  I get my bag and head out to the rental car shuttle.  This is when the shuttle driver informs me that the rental car center is closed and all the rental company people are gone for the night!  He offers to drive us over anyway just to prove that we are screwed, and on a desperate hope I go.

While I'm riding over, I'm trying to figure out what to do: I can sleep in the airport then get my car the next morning.  I could take an $80 cab ride each way out to Pleasanton.  I'm thinking how I really don't like any of these choices when we pull up to the rental car center and I hop out to see for myself that no one's there.  As I'm bumming out at the Avis counter, trying to come up with a reasonable plan, the cleaning lady points me down to Hertz and tells me they are open.  With little choice, I rented a car from them.

Long story short, I got to my hotel at 3:30am and had to pay $45 for a rental, but at least I got to sleep in a bed.  Let's hope the rest of the trip is better than the start!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Am I a real cyclist now?!

Last night, as part of my Livestrong Challenge Challenge, I shaved my legs.  It was actually not that difficult, but I do see how women could get tired of doing it after a while.

Before starting the process, I thought it would be a good idea to do some research.  It was a good thing, too, as I probably would have tried to just go right in and start shaving with a razor.  I can see now that that would have been a disaster.

Instead, I bought a cheap hair trimmer at Walmart (Always Low Prices: $13.97!) and began by using that to do the first round.  I decided to do the deed in the garage as there was going to be significant fur flying once I got started.  This was both a positive and a negative.  The positive was that I avoided making a big mess inside my house.  The negative was that I started sweating (it's hot in a garage in Scottsdale in the summer!) which caused the trimmer to want to stick to my skin as I sheared myself.

Anyway, here is a photo of the before:

Don't worry, I was wearing shorts, but do check out that cyclist's tan line!  Notice I put down some newspapers to catch the debris...

I started at the bottom and worked my way up.  Here you can see me with just my calf done:

Pretty sweet, huh?!  I finished that leg and took this nifty side by side shot:

One thing that I noticed after I had removed most of the hair: I have some pretty messed up legs!  I've got scars, veins, wierd discolorations and all kinds of other stuff going on on my legs that is not pretty!  The hair does a pretty good job of camoflaging these oddities. 

Anyway, after the shearing, I had a bit of a mess, but thanks to the newspapers, it was a simple matter of wadding things up and dropping it in the recycling bin (perhaps I should have put them in the trash, but I want to be a friend to the earth!)  Here's the debris:

After that it was into the shower for the detail work.  Well, actually, I had to take Jordan to drum lessons and then into the shower, but close enough.

I basically broke things down as follows: left calf, left knee, left thigh, right calf, right knee, right thigh.  The calves were super easy, just shave against the grain and make sure you get it all by feeling for stubble with your hand.  The knees were the hardest part because of their knobbiness.  I had to be pretty careful here and actually suffered my only cut on my left knee.  The thighs are easy to shave, but hard to make sure you got it all.

After I finished the process, I put on a little moisturizer (that's what the Internet said to do, and Cheryl agreed!) and viola! shaved legs, ready to impress everyone on Team Fatty!

And here they are for your viewing pleasure:

(Bonus points for anyone who can tell me where this photo was taken!)

I've learned several things since I joined the shaved leg crew:
  • Your legs get cold when they don't have any hair on them
  • The bed sheets and your clothes feel a lot different with shaved legs
  • Your legs don't look as tan without a cover of dark hair on them
Will I keep them shaved?  Maybe for a bit, but it seems a little odd to have shaved legs while riding a Surly Long Haul Trucker; it just doesn't fit!  Will I do it again?  We'll see; only time will tell...

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Team LIVESTRONG Challenge Davis this Sunday

Tomorrow I will be travelling up to Northern California to participate in the Team LIVESTRONG Challenge Davis with Team Fatty: Fighting Like Susan, the brainchild of Elden Nelson, the Fat Cyclist.  This will definitely be my first century, unless my crappy preparation over the past week and a half doom me to failure.  Long story short, with all the travel, etc. I've been doing, I did not get my long ride in last weekend, and really have not done any riding in about 8 days.

I've raised over $750 ($771 to be exact), so in accordance with my challenge, I will be shaving my legs tonight.  That should be quite an ordeal.

If you want to donate, please visit  Thank you!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

On second thought...

I lucked out the other day and ended up sitting next to a guy who lived in France who had some suggestions on what we should do with our time in France.  He thought my original plan was not good; and felt that spending time in the east side of France would not be the best way to spend our time.  Instead, he suggested that we focus on the Loire Valley where he said we could see lots of great castles and other historic sites.

I guess we won't get up Alpe d'Huez, but there are lots of great and famous climbs in the Pyrenees we can see instead.

Monday, June 11, 2012

It's settled: we're heading east!

I talked to Nathan a few days ago and we decided that we will head east out of Paris toward Switzerland and the French Alps on our way down to Luchon.  We may not be able to ride up the grand cols (this year anyway), but we can drive up them.  Perhaps we can also sneak into Switzerland or Italy on the way.  Another option is to visit Monaco; that might be cool.  The good news is that we at least have a general direction...

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Team LiveSTRONG Challenge Davis

The Livestrong Challenge Davis is coming up in 21 days.  I'm riding with Team Fatty: Fight Like Susan.  This is the team organized by Elden Nelson of the Fat Cyclist blog.  I'm planning to do the 100 mile route which will be my first century.

If you are interested in supporting me and want to help Livestrong in the effort to help people battling cancer, please visit