Seeking Strava Segments

I am not a bicycle racer. There several reasons for this. I’m afraid of crashing or causing someone else to crash. I don’t think I’m strong enough to compete even in the lowest categories of races. Perhaps I’m not aggressive enough or determined enough.

But even though I don’t race, that does not mean that I never compete on my bike. I time myself on climbs and compare my efforts to my previous marks. I try to beat some of my cycling friends up climbs or to mythical sprint lines (I always lose those; I’m a poor sprinter). I even compete with myself by measuring how many watts I average on a climb and comparing that to my best efforts on my personal power curve. For the record, my best 20-minute power test is 289 watts, which isn’t great but isn’t terrible either.

My new Garmin computer and a membership on the Strava website have added a whole new dimension to my cycling. Strava users create ‘segments’, which are specific stretches of road used for competing. Some are short (the Wallace Sprint is 0.1 mile) and some are long (the Comanche Loop is 31 miles). Many involve climbs or flat, time-trialing terrain. The Strava App on a phone or  a Garmin-type device records the rider’s time on a segment.

My Garmin Edge lets me put the GPS coordinates of my favorite segments on my device. As I ride along the Edge warns me when a segment is coming up, then beeps ‘GO!’ when the segment starts. The display tells me how far I have to go and how much time I am ahead (or behind) my personal record (‘PR’).  When I  finish the segment the Garmin beeps, and records my time, and when I get home I upload the data to Strava, which updates the segment’s leader board. The leader board is a list of the best times of every rider who has crossed the segment (whether they are riding hard or not).

I'm #2, at least for now.

It is very motivating to try to set a PR and move up the leader board. I am in the top ten of several segments, with my best being 2nd out of 77 on the very short Olive Orchard Road climb.  The segments are like interval training but a lot more fun. I admit I get a kick out of seeing a new PR pop up at the end of the segment. I got 3 of those yesterday!

Success on a Strava segment can be deceiving. There is a segment near my house on Alpine Road, heading north. It starts at Eight Mile Road and ends 1.5 miles later at Live Oak Road. My best time is 3:49 which is 7th out of 229 riders. I averaged 290 watts. The wind was from the south, so I enjoyed a tailwind of at least 10 mph. My previous time on the same segment was 4:05, but I averaged 305 watts, so I actually rode stronger on that ride. But on that day the wind was blowing from the northwest, a cross headwind, so my segment was slower. So some of these best times should probably have an asterisk next to them. Were you drafting a stronger rider, or with a group sharing the pulls in front? Strava doesn’t know.

If you are on a ride with me, and I suddenly take off as if I’m being chased by a bill collector, don’t worry. I’m probably just chasing a Strava segment PR, and I’ll be out of gas and riding slow when my Garmin beeps and I cross the mythical finish line. Competing without racing!

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To Measure is to Know…

The quote is attributed to Lord Kelvin, who also said  ”If you can not measure it, you can not improve it”. Cyclists now have all the measuring tools they need to improve, which was not always the case.

Measuring the Miles One Click at a Time

When I started cycling casually back in 1986, there was no good way to measure how fast you rode, or how far. I timed my rides with a wristwatch (remember those?!) and used a map and a piece of sting to lay out my route. I measured that length of string and used the map’s scale to get an idea of the length of my ride, and then divided that estimate by the time I rode to estimate how fast.

There were some mechanical devices that could function as an odometer or speedometer. One is pictured on the left. You attached  a small tab to a spoke and each time the wheel went around that tab would click against the device and advance the counter, so many revolutions per mile. Better than my map method, but still heavy and noisy and adding a bit to rolling resistance.

Starting in the late 1980′s electronic devices to measure speed came on the market, and they were instantly popular. Now you could see your speed as you rode along, and by pressing a button find out how far you had ridden and how long and what your average speed was. Like all technology devices these ‘cyclo-computers’ got lighter and cheaper and sported more features every year.

These devices work by using a small magnet attached to a spoke of the front wheel, and a sensor attached to the fork. The sensor counts the revolutions, which are sent to the computer mounted on the handlebar. You program this device with your wheel diameter, and it calculates speed and distance based on the number of wheel rotations. Simple and elegant.

Eventually some of these devices came equipped with sensitive barometers that could measure changes in air pressure and determine how much climbing you did. This was a delightful development for those of us who like data: now we could know exactly how long and steep a climb was instead of resorting to topographical maps or  elevation signs along the road. And heart rate monitors were incorporated into the devices as well, so you could see your heart rate while you were cycling and know how close you were to having a heart attack.

The latest advance in cyclo-computers is to use GPS technology. These amazing devices made by Garmin (and others) actually use satellite signals to determine your position on earth and your moving speed and changes in elevation. I have no idea how it works and I am quite amazed that it does. No more wheel magnets or fork sensors: just mount the device to your bike and go.

I stayed away from GPS devices for years, satisfied with my simple and elegant Blackburn cyclo-computer. But last month I finally decided to join this revolution with the latest and greatest Garmin: the Edge 1000.

More Data than the Census Bureau

The Edge 1000 cannot pedal for you, but it can display any piece of information about your ride that you want on 7 user customized data screens. There is a map screen that shows roads and turns ahead, and you can upload courses to the device to navigate for you. The device alerts you “Left turn ahead” just like your phone’s car navigation system. There is even a vertical profile screen to see a graphic display of your climbing.

GPS devices record your ride data and allow you to upload it to a web site, where you can analyse the nuances of speed and gradient and power and heart rate. And you can compete with yourself and others by riding designated ‘Segments’ of road. The device records your time on the Segment and ranks it compared to other riders, setting up a leader board. It is very seductive to see a segment coming up and try to ride it hard enough to set a personal record (‘PR’) and move up in the standings.

Segments are so entertaining that they merit their own blog post; so I’ll save the details for later. For now I’ll just say I have found two great new places to waste time on the internet:  Garmin Connect and Strava! Check out how mediocre a rider I am there: I’ve kept all my cycling information public. I like to make people laugh!

 

 

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Numbers Game

Only three more riding days left in 2015. The spreadsheets and GPS devices and cyclocomputers are working overtime as we cycling enthusiasts (or fanatics, or lunatics) calculate where our annual totals are going to end up. Perhaps we can set a new personal record?

Tool for Cycling Summations

G Man needs 120 miles to reach an even 8,000 for the year. He will make it even if I have to push him, but I won’t; he is a finisher.  Lonerider (we should call him ‘LongRider’) is going to top 13,000. And that isn’t even close to a record for him. NLE has ridden up hills totaling over 500,000 vertical feet. That seems like a lot until you consider that the aforementioned Lonerider once did over 1,200,000. That is the equivalent of cycling to the summit of Mount Diablo 400 times in a year! And so on. Stockton Bike Club members are good for the bike tire and bike chain industries, we need multiple replacements each year.

My personal totals are nothing exceptional. I’m going to end up over 8,800 miles. I am going to try to reach 450,000 feet of climbing, which would be a new ‘high’ for me. If you consider that I do a lot of tandem riding with Stoker (over 2,600 miles this year) my climbing total is a little more impressive, We climbed 116,000 feet together, and I have always maintained that my tandem vertical should count double, but my peers will not allow it.

As we add up the totals, some of us are thinking about next year and new challenges. A couple of my closest cycling friends are considering training for their first double century (200 miles in one day!). Lonerider usually doesn’t announce goals in advance, but he will come up with something.

I have a goal too. I have told a few friends about my plan, but I’m not ready to announce it on the blog yet. It is an ambitious single day goal involving about  60% more climbing than I have ever done on one ride, and a lot of it at gradients of  9-10%. I’m guessing that the odds of me completing this challenge are about 50/50; the weather could beat me even if my legs don’t give out. But the training and the attempt will give me some more numbers to put in my spreadsheet and upload to Strava and Garmin Connect. And of course some material for future blogs.

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The Urban (Cycling) Jungle

Wish List for Urban Cycling

I went to the public meeting for the development of the Stockton Bicycle Master Plan. Since my blog is titled “Stockton Cycling” I felt compelled to go. And I was actually interested to see what kinds of people showed up and what the planners and city leaders were thinking.

First there was a disclaimer from the paid consultant that a Federal grant was paying the bill, so financially strapped Stockton wasn’t frittering away precious funds on frivolity.

Not that I think urban cycling is frivolous. Riding a bike can be a great way to get around, make short trips, and get a little exercise and fresh air while burning a few more calories and a little less gas. I went to school at UC Davis, where bicycles are the major form of transportation for thousands of students and residents, so I’ve seen how city cycling can work.

The meeting started at 5:30 on a damp and dark night, and as I was driving west on Park Street (one way traffic) I encountered a bicycle rider (not a ‘cyclist) wearing dark clothes, no lights or reflectors, and riding against traffic. I couldn’t see for certain but I would not be surprised if ear buds were in use. No amount of urban planning can make cycling safe for someone so careless.

After a presentation we broke into groups with maps that we marked up as ‘wish lists’ for things like bike lanes and designated routes and bike parking and interesting or useful cycling destinations. There is agreement on a few points: Stockton does not have a viable North/South route for cyclists. The bike path from east to west that does exist is in disrepair, littered with glass and goatheads, and occasional threatening vagrants (yes, I am using the politically incorrect term: it is my blog). And the route is not complete: it comes to a dead end and then picks up again some blocks away, with no clear and easy way to make the connection. There is no bike friendly way to enter downtown and no way to ride around the area once you get there. Limited bike parking, and the threat of theft even for well locked bikes are issues.

I mostly kept quiet and listened to the others. After all, I never ride my bike into Stockton and have no plans to do so. It was entertaining to listen to the different people with their different agendas. One advocate suggested reaching out to low income residents with free reflectors. And education regarding safe riding practices (i.e. with traffic, not against it). The rider I managed to avoid hitting while driving on Park Street could have used both.

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Planning to Ride

I received an e mail from Gordon MacKay, Director of Public Works for the City of Stockton. He said he follows my blog in the Record “with interest”. I was surprised and pleased. Sometimes I think only my friends and riding partners (who are often, but not always, the same people) read it.

He sent me a link about some public meetings regarding an update of the Stockton Bicycle Master Plan and asked if I would help spread the work. I am happy to do so. The meetings are coming up December 2,3 and 9 at various locations around the city .Here is the link: http://stocktonca.gov/government/departments/publicworks/projBike.html

The Record calls my blog “Stockton Cycling”. But I almost never write about that, because I never cycle there. I ride all around San Joaquin, Amador and Calaveras Counties, and occasionally head for the Sierras or East Bay hills. I do tours in the Western U.S. and will be making my 5th cycling vacation/pilgrimage to Europe this summer. But I never ride into Stockton. Too close to home, too flat, and too much traffic.

Recently I had to report for jury duty at the Courthouse downtown. This is only about 11 miles from my house, without a single hill on the way. But I never even considered riding my bike, even though this would be a very short and easy ride for me. I could probably have found a route without too much traffic, but where would I park the bike? And even locked up, I have doubts about leaving a $4,000 investment so vulnerable. If the parking meters aren’t safe, what chance does a titanium or carbon fiber superbike have?

I went to school at UC Davis, and for four years my bike was my major form of transportation. I rode it everywhere;  to class, the gym, downtown for coffee or even an occasional beer. I have seen how good cycling access can make a city a better place to live. So I wish Stockton’s cycling advocates well in their efforts to make the city more cycling friendly. I don’t see it becoming another Davis, but getting a few more riders out commuting or doing light shopping or going to the movies would be a good thing for the city. I am planning to attend the December 3 meeting just to see what they have in mind.

Who knows? A few bike lanes or signed bike routes and I might ride to the Waterfront for the view and a coffee. Or to my next summons to jury duty. Cycling would certainly improve that experience. It could happen!

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Diablo Double

Walt and Rob at the Summit

Last Thursday three friends and I decided to forgo our regular club ride and brave Bay Area weekday traffic to take on the ‘Devil Mountain’. The traffic on the drive to Danville resembled Hades, and it is hard to imagine that commuters take on those conditions every work day

I intended to get up early to join Bennie, my carpool driver, but waking up at 1 am with a raging sore throat was not part of the plan. I also had that crawly feeling inside my nose that indicated that a head cold was well on its way. That was the end of my pre ride sleep. I got up and made some hot coffee, hoping it would make my throat feel better. What I should have done is blown my nose and blown off Diablo and stayed home resting as much as possible. But the ride had been my idea, and I didn’t have a fever or headache or any other flu symptoms, so I was pretty sure I could ride even if I wasn’t at my best.

The traffic was truly awful, as my smart phone kept us updated on accidents and displayed long stretches of red highway. But conditions for cycling up and down the mountain were perfect. I’ve broiled and frozen on Diablo, but last Thursday was cool without being cold, and there was no wind, which made going down much more comfortable for me. On a weekday in November the road to the summit was nearly deserted and we had more bikes than cars for company. And not many of those; mostly we had the road to ourselves.

My goal was to complete a double summit. Start riding in Danville, climb the south side to the top, then descend the north side to Walnut Creek. Lunch at Quiznos or the taqueria next door. Back up the north side, take the summit road again, then back to Danville. 58 miles, 7,800 feet of climbing in something over 5 hours on the bike.

Our group consisted of Rob, Walt, Bennie and me. Rob had never been up Diablo on the bike or in a car, even though he grew up in Walnut Creek. He could see his old neighborhood from the summit. Walt, on the other hand, used to ride up it once a month on a heavy bike in tennis shoes, and it took him around an hour, which is very fast. Bennie does long rides all the time. I am not really a ‘long rider’ I usually consider 3-4 hours on the bike plenty. But I have set a tentative goal for a ride well outside of my comfort zone next May, and this Diablo Double was kind of a preliminary test for that.

A welcome sight, especially the second time!

My throat stayed sore all day, and I was constantly blowing my nose, but my legs were pretty good on the first ascent and I made it to the top without difficulty. Diablo is a significant climb, and there are stretches of 9% that last about 1/2 mile. And every cyclist knows the last 200 yards are very steep, hitting 20%. But overall the climb is not as demanding as some longer and steeper roads, so a fit rider can do the ascent riding well below his maximum effort. Since my goal was a double summit I kept my heart rate under my ‘red zone’, except for those last 200 yards.

On the return to Danville Rob and Walt flew up the north side, but since they were only going as far as the Ranger station, which is 1,800 feet below the top, I didn’t try to stay with them. I doubt I could have anyway; Walt is strong! Bennie was riding a bike with gearing too high for a ride with this much climbing (a 25 tooth cog low gear), and he decided that a 6,000 foot day was enough, so I rode to the summit on my own. I actually felt better as I went up, like a plough horse sighting the barn at the end of a long day.

The traffic on the drive home wasn’t quite as awful. Despite a still sore throat and an increasingly runny nose, I was really glad I had decided to come. After a shower and a vodka (which really helped my throat for the 45 minutes I sipped it) I felt satisfied. I was pretty tired and if I do that big ride next May it will take twice as long and involve twice as much climbing. So I’ve got some work to do before I decide whether to take it on.

For now the goal for next May is going to be a mystery, although a few friends know what I’m considering. Hint: it isn’t in California….

 

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Careless Crunch

Good Wheels, but not Idiot Proof

When I transport my bicycle to and from a ride start location, I have to remove the front wheel. I lean it against the bumper of my Honda Element while I put the bike into the vehicle and lock the front fork into the custom mounts in the rear cargo area. Then the normal procedure is to put the front wheel in a wheel bag (to protect it from bumps and bruises) and stow it beside the bike.

But Labor Day Monday was not normal. I did a delightful 40 mile ride through the Delta with some Stockton Bike Club members and a few guys from Ride2 Recovery. It was a wonderful day out there, a little warm but without the blustery winds typical of the Delta, and we rode relatively easily and stayed together. We even got to cross the river on the J Mack Ferry, which is always a highlight of cycling the Delta roads.

After the ride I was putting my bike away, and just as I finished stowing the frame a rider came up and we started to chat. Then he left, and I decided to take a ‘natural break’ and headed off. By the time I got back, nearly everyone was gone, so I hopped in the Element, started the engine and the AC, turned on the radio and backed out of my parking space.

Instantly I heard something crunch and felt a bump. Instantly I also remembered that I had left my front wheel leaning against the side of the Element. Instantly I put two and two together and got an answer which I did not like.

I got out and found the wheel under my vehicle. I picked it up and at first inspection things did not look good; the skewer was bent at a 90 degree angle. Two of my SBC buddies were still in the parking lot, but they were not close to me and they didn’t see what happened. So I quickly put the wheel in back and drove home; maybe the damage would be minimal and I would be spared having to broadcast my carelessness to all my friends.

The Group at the Ride Start: Before my Self Inflicted Disaster

No such luck; when I got home I looked at the wheel and there were gouges in the rim and the axel was broken and the bearings wouldn’t turn. A total loss. It was a very nice wheel too, an American Classic Road Tubeless. A set (front and back) retails for $1400, and now I have half of a set.

I could have kept the whole thing secret, but instead I’m announcing to the world (or at least my blog readers) that I did something really embarrassingly stupid. I really don’t have any excuses but I will say that Stoker was out of town (way out, she was in Russia) and I was having to clean and cook and water plants and monitor the hot tub chemistry and take care of a lot of stuff that I don’t normally do. So I could have been distracted, although that is a pretty thin excuse.

I think I’m going to change my post ride routine a bit and put the front wheel in the car first. And resolve to finish putting everything away before any ‘natural breaks’.

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Cycling the Cascades…

Summit Selfie: Mackenzie Pass

G Man (Paul Glickman) and I have just returned from an exciting week of cycling in Oregon. Seven days of riding totaling 405 miles and 27,500 feet of climbing. Not the most miles or climbing I have ever done in a week, but still a very significant amount of saddle time and much more than I typically do.

We did the tour with Cycling Escapes (http://cyclingescapes.com/), my favorite touring company when doing tours in the western United States. I did my first Cycling Escapes tour back in 2006. On that tour there were only 5 guests, and I was by far the strongest rider among them. Their business has prospered; on this tour there were  26 riders, and I wasn’t even close to being the strongest. And many of them were repeat customers, affirming that Cycling Escapes puts on great tours for people who really like to ride lots of miles in beautiful country. Off the bike activities are limited and the tour routine is ride, eat, rest, repeat. Cycling nirvana.

Trip highlights included transiting from the Willamette Valley through the Cascades to central Oregon on some of the most amazing little roads I’ve ever come across in the U.S. These are paved roads that were built for logging trucks, but now they are almost completely deserted and they make for great cycling. We rode up the Mackenzie Highway (very few cars) and over the barren lava fields of Mackenzie Pass. We climbed Mount Bachelor outside of Bend, and circumnavigated the rim of Crater Lake. And then back through the Cascades via another nearly deserted 40 miles of road that featured a 20-mile climb. That sounds intimidating, but the first 15 miles were a 1-2% false flat. Things got steeper over the last 5 miles, and I was really glad to reach the last summit of the week.

The ride around Crater Lake is really a special one. It isn’t flat; 35 miles and 4,200 feet of ascent. G Man and I mostly rode together going easy and admiring the unequaled views. And freezing; the day was cool bordering on cold, and windy, with intermittent clouds but fortunately no rain. Someone told me afterwards that it was 38 degrees when we started at 8:30 am. Quite a contrast to the day before when we did the last 30 miles into a headwind with temperatures in the mid 90′s. I was dousing my skull with water to try to cool off, and the next day wondering if the fluid in my water bottle was going to freeze.

G Man on the Rim Road

The trip was not without a mechanical misadventure. The cage of my front derailleur broke after 15 miles on the second day of riding. After 15 years of throwing the chain back and forth I suppose it simply got tired and decided to call it a career. The bike could still be ridden, but I could not shift between the two front chain rings, which meant I had a limited choice of gearing. I opted for climbing gears, which left me literally spinning my wheels on a couple of descents. Coming down Mackenzie Pass the road is a gentle downhill with few turns, perfect for churning a big gear at 25-30 mph, but I was spun out at around 19 mph and had to settle for coasting and getting passed. Fortunately Bend has plenty of bike shops and after a couple of phone calls I found the part I needed and a shop willing and able to do the repair right away. I didn’t miss a single mile.

So another trip with Cycling Escapes is in the books. It is my 12th trip with them, so you might get the idea I’m a satisfied customer. And it won’t be my last trip with them either. There is a climbing camp in the Santa Monica Mountains next January that I’m planning to do. And then a new tour in Idaho next August looks exciting. So many great roads to ride, so little time….

 

 

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It’s as Easy as Riding a Bike…

Bike Path or Mountain Pass: there is a bike for everyone

 

That was the headline in the Wall Street Journal. It was followed with the sub headline “To boost participation, bike-makers peddle basic models; tooling around town, not through the Alps”.

Since I have ‘tooled’ through the Alps, as well as the Dolomites, the Sierras, the Rockies (US and Canadian), the Cevennes (France) and some other assorted mountains, I assume the story was not aimed at my cycling demographic. But I read it anyway.

The gist of the article was that there are many people looking to ride short distances on comfortable, stable and relatively inexpensive bicycles, and that if the sport of cycling is to grow there needs to be more of a focus on this type of rider by the cycling industry.

It is true that most people think riding a bike is, and should be, easy. Hop on a cruiser type bike with wide tires and an upright riding position and pedal 2 miles on flat roads to a Starbucks, or local equivalent. It is easier and quicker than walking, reduces traffic and CO2 emissions compared to driving, and gives a bit of exercise (or perceived exercise) to boot. The ride probably will burn about 5% of the calories in that coffee-flavored milkshake they call a frappe-cappo-latte mocha.

There is nothing wrong with this. I was precisely this type of bike rider in college at UC Davis, where my bicycle was my primary method of transportation.  I rode to class, rode to the library, rode to the gym or the student union. The campus was closed to most private cars, parking was limited and expensive, and Davis is completely flat and has good weather most of the year. As a result thousands of students, professors and other residents use their bikes to get around.

When we moved back to California in 1983, Diane and I purchased casual road bikes and did easy flat rides on the quiet country roads between Stockton and Lodi and Linden. We would go 20 miles at around 12 mph, or slower, and stop half way through to get something to drink, or maybe some ice cream. And I bought a mountain bike to ride around our farm, as a handy and inexpensive alternative to an ATV.

But when I started to ride with the Stockton Bicycle Club in 1999, riding a bike ceased to be ‘easy’. And I began my conversion from ‘bike rider’ to ‘cyclist’.

Once you start to measure how far you ride, how fast you go, how many feet you climb, who you can keep up with, who drops you, and who you can drop, cycling will cease to be easy.  And if you keep riding and push yourself and do a little training, or a lot of training, you will get better. But a wise cycling mentor once told me “It never gets any easier, you just go faster”. He was correct. I am a much stronger rider now than I was in 1999, but if anything cycling is harder now, because I know my body and its capabilities much better and I am often challenging myself to meet those capabilities.

The first time I climbed Sierra Road (3.7 miles uphill averaging 9.7%) it took me something like 50 minutes and I thought it was insanely hard. If I took 50 minutes to do it now I would feel like I was going very easily, but instead I do it in something close to 34 minutes and it hurts just as much as it did the first time.

Cycling can be done through a continuum of exertion levels, and no matter where your riding falls on that spectrum, there are great benefits to participating. Fresh air, healthy activity, mood improvement and stress reduction to name a few.  So if it has been a while since you hopped on a bike, think about doing it again. The bicycle industry has the right product for you and wants you back! It said so in the Wall Street Journal.

 

 

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Been There, Climbed That

The Peloton Doesn't Stop for Photo Ops!

When I watch the Tour de France on television, I am especially excited if the race does some of the same mountain climbs that I have done. This happens almost every year. When I went to France in 2007 my friends and I climbed many of the famous mountains in the Alps, and in 2014 I crossed Mont Ventoux off of my ‘really want to do that’ list of famous climbs used in pro races.

Cycling is almost unique in this regard. It is unlikely that a baseball fan will ever take batting practice in Fenway Park or Yankee Stadium. Football fans are probably not going to play a game of flag football on Lambeau Field in Green Bay or Cowboy Stadium in Dallas. But for cyclists, the same roads that the pros ride are available to us. All the we need are the legs and the travel budget.

This year’s Tour featured two climbs that I became intimately acquainted with back in 2007, the Col du Glandon and L’Alpe d’Huez. If you follow the Tour at all you have heard of that one: 8.6 miles, 8.1% average gradient, 21 hairpins and something like 500,000 screaming fans greet the riders at the end of a very long day in the mountains. The Glandon is longer but not as steep, and the upper portion is stunningly beautiful. These are the high Alps for certain.

In 2007 we climbed the Glandon from the same direction the Tour covered this year. Then we descended a couple of kilometers, made a left turn and rode up to the summit of the Croix de Fer which was only about 3 uphill kilometers away. After a salami sandwich and a very long descent we took on L’Alpe d’Huez. And I made it to the top, slowly but without having to stop to rest.

I wasn't smiling on the way up, but when I got there....

 

I looked in my cycling log and discovered that I rode 60 miles that day and climbed 9,300 feet in under 6 hours of riding. Considering that the ride start was a 2 hour drive from our hotel in Annecy, and a 2 hour drive back after the ride finished, and that I was nervous and stressed driving on French roads without any navigation system except for my fellow passenger with a map, it was a very long day. I think we reached our hotel around midnight.

This year, as I watched the peloton climb the Glandon on Friday and L’Alpe d’Huez on Saturday, I could say to Stoker that I really had been there and climbed that. Next October when the ASO announces the route for the 2016 race, I will look to see if I’ve ridden any part of it, and I bet the answer will be yes.

 

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    Rich Freggiaro

    Richard Freggiaro is a Stockton area native who grew up on his family’s farm. After an nine year detour to Davis for College, Washington DC for work, and Iowa for graduate school, he returned to San Joaquin County and spent the next quarter century farming with his father. He has been married to Diane for 31 years. He is (mostly) retired which leaves him plenty of time to ride each of his 4 bikes, and he is an enthusiastic and passionate cyclist. Read Full
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