Strawburger's Tour De France

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Strawburger's Tour De France

Postby Strawburger » Fri Aug 28, 2009 11:24 am

Hi All,

A few of you may know I have recently returned from a trip to France to see (who some call) the Mecca of cycling - Le Tour de France. I went on an organised cycling tour "Great Explorations". As I wasn't too familiar with France and the way Le Tour operated, I opted for the easy way of doing things.

Riding in the Alps was something I could never imagine and nothing I could ever replicate back in Australia. To say the least, it is awesome. The mental toughness one requires is phenomenal. I now know first hand what the pro's go through (and I’m sure it's a little easier for them) and have even more respect for them now.

Here's a rundown on the riding we did whilst on the bike tour. The stats are approximate and please correct me with the classifications of the climbs.

Photos coming soon.... I promise
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by BNA » Fri Aug 28, 2009 11:25 am

BNA
 

Re: Strawburger's Tour De France

Postby Strawburger » Fri Aug 28, 2009 11:25 am

Day 1 (afternoon only) - did a bike fitting. The hire bikes were Cannondale CADD5's. Triple on the front and dinner plate sized granny gear at the back. I set up my gear (Garmin, camera) on and had a bit of a ride. Compared to the cheapy I have at home, this monster was heavier but far more stable (as I found out on my return to Sydney!!!). I told the missus that I won’t need the granny gear as I’ve been training pretty hard with the 39-23. How wrong was I…?
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Re: Strawburger's Tour De France

Postby Strawburger » Fri Aug 28, 2009 11:25 am

Day 2 - 70 odd kms and about 1400m climb (lost the data unfortunately) - Col de la Forclaz 1527m (6% avg cat 1? climb I think). 5-10% up, 13% down. Burst a back tube at 55km/hr on the way down as it was 32deg outside and the rim was about 200deg when the tube burst. Saw what happens if the front goes - a pommy guy turned up to the pub with massive gouges out of his forearms & @rse. Saw him again on day 5 at the base of Ventoux and he was still not riding. Did a lap of the time trial course, obviously a little slower than the pros.
Stats: 72kms, 3hrs 8mins, 2840cal, 1400(approx)ascent
Observations: The climbs for our tour got gradually harder, this one was pretty tough first up. It was good after a week off the bike to roll the legs over. It was pretty hot so it’s good that as you climb up the mountains, the cooler it gets. Also, some riders look like they were born with a bicycle between the legs. The time trial course was a little tougher than expected. Bluffy was nastier than it looked on TV.
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Re: Strawburger's Tour De France

Postby Strawburger » Fri Aug 28, 2009 11:25 am

Day 3 - Col de la Croix-Fry 1467m (cat 1) via col des Marais 843m. Climbed this on the way to seeing the race finish at Bourg Saint-Maurice. A very challenging climb and it p!ssed down a little like a Sydney storm. Wet (lightning & thunder) for about 10 mins. Guys were pulling over to the side to seek shelter. Soft I’d say as I kept going. The rain helped the ascent! We had some food up at the peak of the climb on the way to the finish line. We got to ride through the 3km to go, up to 50m to the finish. The crowd clapped, so I put a mini sprint in against one of the guys. We got a cheer or two. Pretty cool stuff. I know it was a little show-offish but I felt I had to do it. Saw the Schlecks & Contador roll in (no sprint finish). Saw lots of back slapping on the big screen and found out later a deal had been done. We saw the rest of the riders come in. The pack was broken but not as much as we thought. On the way back we had a police escort as the team buses and cars went to Annecy. Got quite a bit of speed up not having to stop at any intersections and was mostly downhill. We were going at about 65km/hr when one of my thongs flew off out of my jacket. I didn't stop to get it... It really was like riding the tour - all the tour cars were beeping as a rider went past like we had a flat and were making our way up the peloton again. We rode past the Astana at one point. The Skil Shimano bus almost clipped one of our guys as he was passing! Saw the Silence Lotto as well - I bet that bus ride was a laugh a minute… We got lost on the way back so ended up getting my first metric century!
Stats: 108kms, 5hrs 6mins, 4210cal, 1265ascent
Observations: This climb was hard, but I expected my legs to be a lot worse than they were. Experienced for the first time the hundreds of support cars and merchandise vans. The people go crazy over plastic cr@p being thrown at them! We also noticed that the people throwing the stuff look like they are aiming at people… Well, you have to break up the boredom somehow!
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Re: Strawburger's Tour De France

Postby Strawburger » Fri Aug 28, 2009 11:26 am

Day 4 - Col du Semnoz 1704m (cat 1? climbed both sides in a loop) & Col de Leschoux 900m - A nice climb - this one started in a national park and was a little like the 4 Gorges ride in Sydney. Climbed up the first side then veered before the top and headed down toward Leschoux. On the way back up it was more exposed but was still pretty nice. Very narrow roads on the climb back up with a lot of retaining walls. Had some French holiday makers take some photos of me on the way up. Don’t know exactly what they were saying so I told them I was from Australia and they loved it! Went back to Annecy and watched a bit of the time trial. Tried getting on the time trial course today early in the morning but it was closed to the public for the full day.
Stats: 78kms, 4hrs 15mins, 3860cal, 1688ascent
Observations: The legs were good, much better than expected. The time trial boys were very quick. Some were so much quicker than others too. Perhaps they went out too early and bonked…
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Re: Strawburger's Tour De France

Postby Strawburger » Fri Aug 28, 2009 11:27 am

Day 5 - Alpe de Huez 1860m (HC) via Col de Glandon 1924m (HC) - Skipped the even harder col de la Croix de Fer (another HC (AT) 2067m) after Glandon which was a relief. Fark what a day. The hardest by far. 2 non category climbs. Stayed with the bunch until the last (& hardest) 3 kms on Col de Glandon. It is about 10-12% for the last 3 kms. I went pretty hard on this section as it was similar to the climbs in Sydney and was used to it. Had a rest up the top whilst waiting for the other guys then we descended down to the Mecca of cycling Alpe de Huez... And it didn't disappoint. The first 3 kms messes with your head. It's hard... very hard. After getting over that, got into a nice rhythm although the body never recovered from those first 3kms. Ran out of water with 4kms to go which wasn't too good as I started to think the water beside the road was looking like a good option. I was counting the turns to go as I was mentally starting to break. About 800m from the end, some punk kid tried to overtake after wheel sucking for the last km. I changed a few gears up and powered through the town on his wheel. About 400m from the finish line I overtook him. Look over my shoulder with 200m to go and he was about 50m back. Felt pretty good smoking the guy as I rolled over the finish line first (hehehe)
Stats: 75kms, 5hrs 25mins, 4640cal, 2700ascent
Observations: The legs were very good once we got to Huez. The heart rate was very low (in zone 2 for most of the Glandon climb) so I conserved a fair bit of energy for Huez. The scenery was amazing. Had my first experienced with the professional photographer. Since getting back I’ve realized that it’s better not to smile at the camera whilst riding. It doesn’t look as good as a “in the zone” face. Oh, and I don’t think I could eat another fruit & nut bar.
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Re: Strawburger's Tour De France

Postby Strawburger » Fri Aug 28, 2009 11:27 am

Day 6 - Mont Ventoux 1912m (HC) - The bl00dy Garmin packed it in overnight so I McGyvered a wiring solution to fix it temporarily. It was a pretty flat beginning until getting to the base of the mountain. It's the only mountain around so you can see it for about 40kms before the base. The traffic was huge for the 1st 4-5 kms where the 600,000+ people were walking up the mountain. Once getting past them it was game on. Adrenalin was pumping. I left nothing in the tank as I climbed past a few thousand would be riders. Only a handful got past me (the ones that looked like they lived on the mountain... they were quick). I passed a few Dutchman. Wearing the Rabobank colours, the Dutch went nuts as I went past, one even pushing me along! I really felt like a TdF rider for some moments. It was a blast. I got up in about 1hr 45 mins. The last 5-10 mins were hard. The headwind was approx 100km/hr on a slope of about 8%. There was nowhere to hide. If you stopped pedaling you were going backward. If you wheel sucked someone you would run into them. Mentally it was a tough finish after so many kms to be faced with that sort of ending was evil. An awesome ride and a great challenge, fuelled on mostly adrenalin. The crowds were unbelievable. Watched the TdF guys come in at about the 5km to go and I was one of those crazy people that are about 10cm from the riders as they past. Awesome! The pack was well and truly broken. The highlight though was Popyvich on the 10% slope popping wheelies as he was climbing. I don’t know how he has the strength to pedal, let alone climb up a 10% grade with one wheel in the air! The decent was chaos as it took about 10 mins to get the bike on the road to start getting down. I haven't seen so many bikes in my life. It took almost an hour to get down.
Stats: 90kms, 4hrs 50mins, 4000cal(approx), 1660ascent
Observations: Nothing is quite like climbing a mountain with screaming fans around you. The top of the mountain is spectacular. It is so baron it looks incredible… And it’s very windy! My legs for the entire tour were fantastic. It was like the more it went on, the better they got. They never got sore even after getting back on the bike after hours of waiting for the TdF to come through. Make sure when you wear the polka dot jersey you 1. Can fit your whole torso into it, 2. You can do a $15000 bike justice and 3. You climb like a mountain goat!
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Re: Strawburger's Tour De France

Postby Strawburger » Fri Aug 28, 2009 11:27 am

Day 7 - Headed to Paris to watch the final day. Awesome how fast they go around the streets of Paris. Our hotel overlooked the course so we had prime seats! Our room was a few metres down from the flame rouge. Took loads of photos and cheered the Aussies on and Moncoutie (of course). He was easy to spot - last in the pack as usual! Man they go so fast on that last lap.
Observations: No amount of money could replace the memories of the last day (it did cost a lot of money), after 3500kms, how they can go that fast is amazing.
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Re: Strawburger's Tour De France

Postby RobRollin » Fri Aug 28, 2009 12:55 pm

WOW - thanks for the epic tale of your Tour de France, sounds like a lot of long lasting memories. Do you have any photos you can include? You also know now there aren't too many climbs to be scared of in Aus after Ventoux etc.

Well done on your tour! :D
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Re: Strawburger's Tour De France

Postby Max » Fri Aug 28, 2009 12:56 pm

Strawburger, you are an absolute legend! :D

Max
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Re: Strawburger's Tour De France

Postby lukas » Thu Sep 03, 2009 12:00 pm

Awesome! Can't wait for photo's.

I'm hoping to go back next year. This has got me excited :D
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Re: Strawburger's Tour De France

Postby ni78ck » Thu Sep 03, 2009 3:30 pm

what an excellant story! memories for a life time! how had you heard of the company you went with? do you pay per stage? can you do all the stages?

now you need to set yourself other goals!!! it will be hard to match.
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Re: Strawburger's Tour De France

Postby toolonglegs » Thu Sep 03, 2009 3:34 pm

Noice...photos :D !.
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