Sunday, July 4, 2010

A ride in the rain and a ride in the sun

First, Happy Fourth of July, I hope you all have a great holiday weekend.

Now, If you're hoping to avoid coverage of the Tour de France, results of the race, or any other spoilers... you should probably either read another blog or come back later after you've seen Day 1 of the race. Spoilers will be posted throughout. I'll be mixing in my daily tidbits as well, and hopefully, the race and my day will blend each day as well as they did today.

In case you missed it in the above paragraph, the Tour de France started today. Well, technically it was the prologue to the race, but the times they cycled today count towards the total. A Prologue stage is a very short time trial (todays was a 9k ride). Fastest guy wins as usual, but instead of the whole field gunning it out at once the riders are sent onto the course one at a time, with the next guy following a minute later. 

A ride this short usually doesn't offer a lot of drama other than seeing where each guy places, but the weather in Rotterdam provided a little extra intrigue in the form of rain. Slippery roads on a twisting course on the first day of the Tour caused some guys to be (too) cautious, and others who went all out early wound up crashing. At least one rider is already out of the race, and a couple of the overall contenders are down 30 to 45 seconds from the overall lead.

Speaking of the overall lead, you might remember about a month ago I mentioned Fabian Cancellara, aka Sparticus. The world champion time trialist didn't disappoint today, laying down the fastest time by almost 10 seconds. Doesn't sound like much, but that's a huge amount of time amongst top level pro cyclists on a short course. Plus, he was the second to last rider on the course, with only last years overall leader Alberto Contador to follow. 

While the latest details of the Floyd Landis doping allegations against Lance Armstrong have added the backdrop of suspicion and suspense to the race, Sparticus hasn't been completely clear of the fray. After his string of very strong rides this season, some people began to suspect he was possibly using a motor in his bike to power his dramatic breakaways.This led the organizers of the Tour to begin randomly x-raying bikes at the end of each days stage. When they scanned his bike after the win, here's what Spartacus had to say:

"After the race, they scanned my bike, and I said to them, ‘You better scan me, because I am the motor,' "
It would seem Spartacus' thighs aren't the only things that are gigantic. 

While it will probably be overplayed in the American media, Lance had a fantastic day, especially for someone hasn't been good against the clock this year. Benefiting from a change in weather, he wound up fourth, only 22 seconds back and 5 seconds ahead of Contador. It doesn't mean much in terms of the whole race, but it's something that could put a different spin on the psychological aspects of the race.

So, while the pros were racing their way through the wet Netherlands, Rach and I were training our way through the hot suburbs of Boston. We had a 45 mile ride planned again today, and for the 3rd straight time we were thwarted at hitting that distance. Last Saturday, Rach wound up getting dizzy on our long ride, which pointed to her getting sick this week. Fortunately, today she didn't get dizzy. But after a week of not feeling great and pushing herself to workout anyways; she just didn't have the legs for the longer ride.

In fact, she barely had the legs for the ride we did, which still pushed us past our previous best distance and ended at 33.5 miles. While Rach foundered, I have to admit I flourished. I got to a point where I was doing well above 20 MPH, and was even down in the drop portion of the handlebars for a couple of minutes pedaling strong. I've never been that fast before, and in the times I've been close; it's never felt so easy. If I hadn't wanted to slow down to keep Rach from falling too far behind, I could have gone hard for quite a while. I managed to do it on the long gradual uphill part of the Minuteman Bike Trail. I guess that means my cardio is getting stronger.

Now if only someone would tell that to my running.


- Tomorrow we leave for the honeymoon and we're both getting more excited by the day. We're catching the Boston fireworks tonight, and packing today and tomorrow. We even did a currency exchange today, and I now have British Pounds in my wallet.

- Thanks again for all the tips and well wishes. We're making use of the suggestions, and we promise to have a lot of fun no matter what.

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