Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Updates From France

I know I said I'd have updates for you from my trip in France. There will be updates as there's a lot to share, but right now there's too much going on for a report to be made. When back at the hotel after riding I'm too fatigued to even think about it. Perhaps on our transfer day to Bedoin I can find a cafe...

I'll just leave you by saying we rode the Alpe d'Huez loop today in 30°C+ temps. Going down the backside of the mountain was fun. Going up the fabled 21 switchbacks was hard, even before encountering a headwind on a 10% grade segment. Elevation at altitude isn't your friend when you're a prairie boy.

Tomorrow is the ride to the Col de la Croix de Fer, total estimated distance of 107 kms including another climb up d'Huez back to the hotel. I'm curious to see how the legs respond are today. Can't wait.

Here are a few scenery pics from today's ride.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Bonjour, Paris!

Roughly a year ago there was this little surprise. It took me a good long while to figure out what to do, but after careful consideration I came to the conclusion: with such an awesome wife I could possibly negotiate a trip to Colorado should a "guys trip" present itself, and having already extensively travelled through Asia, I should add another continent to my travel list. Europe it is, but where should I go to find the best cycling has to offer? Italy? Spain? France?

In the end, after talking to several sources who have experienced all that France has to offer, I settled on making the classic climbs of the TdF my motivation for training through the winter and spring. And if I played my cards right, I could sneak in witnessing a live TdF stage or two. 

Well, today, I'm lounging in the apartment I rented with Larry located in the heart of Paris. The next couple weeks have a lot in store. There's going to be some sight-seeing, lots of riding, and probably a healthy helping of cheese, baguettes, and wine (okay, that's already become a reality). A third week in Spain with my wife will probably not be detailed here.

Check back later for more as this trip unfolds. For now, here are a few photos from a brief exploration, all within a 10 minute walk of our apartment.

the the one in Winnipeg, but wider
some old art museum people were making a big deal of
nobody's going to steal this bridge
Larry's new favourite store
one of our neighbourhood streets

Friday, July 6, 2012

Brandon Race Course Preview

While out in Brandon this past weekend I decided to give a pass on the uber-awesome trails in the Brandon Hills south of town in favour of a few laps on the site of this year's Brandon Cup Race. When I heard that the Brandon race would not be played out in the hills, I have to say I had my doubts. But, after riding the new course, located just outside of Walmart along the north edge of the valley, I am convinced that the new course will certainly satisfy. Here is my take on the trail...
  • squeezing 6.5km of trail into a relatively small parcel of hillside is an amazing feat. As a result, there are a lot of switchbacks. If you plan on racing well here, you HAVE to preride it. There are a lot of sharpish uphill turns that will force you to scrub a lot of speed if you don't know they're coming.
  • pray for clouds. The south facing hillside will be roasting if it's sunny.
  • I was kind of expecting the trail to be a little like the old loop that used to be at Springhill Winter Park. (think waaaayyyyy back to the mid-90's, back when rumour has it Mike G could churn out 5 laps and hardly break a sweat...) But thankfully, this loop is a LOT more fun, and a lot less of a punishment. Mind, there is a lot of climbing, but the ascents are not overly demoralizing.
  • The stretches of trail cut into the wooded section are fun. 
  • The course will be very spectator friendly, almost like a cross race, as the trail turns back on itself often.
  • Not a very technical course, but there is one rock garden on the west end of the hill that could throw a person if they're not concentrating
  • I think it would do wonders for the popularity of mountain biking and mtb racing if every city had a course this fun and challenging within 5 minutes of home. I imagine that 5-10 years from now the biking scene in Brandon will reap the fruits of their labours in the form of more bikers, more racers, and healthier bottom lines for local bike shops as they serve the needs of the new riders.
Walmart and the rest of the Corral Centre form the Southern boundary.
You have to love it when trails have signs warning you you're about to have a fun time.
Not all the switchbacks are this obvious...
This is a good example of how tightly packed the trails are. The right hand portion of trail switchs back, then comes out and back and passes within a foot of the previous section of trail.
This straight section is one of two climbs up a toboggan hill. The zigzag trail is the descent.
trail. duh.

Will this race loop put a smile on your face?