Tour de France 2011

Day Three, 143km, Beziers to Nimes

posted 17 Jul 2011, 14:40 by Rowan Mc Murray

Today started with disaster. Or so it seemed. Yesterday was the definition of a lazy day for someone riding the route of the Tour de France, in that I barely did any riding. Maybe 10k tops, around town to get to the train station, get food and get a hotel. But today I was hoping to meet up with my friend Dave in Montpelier, which meant getting to the finish of the stage ahead of the road closures. Luckily after such a long way on the train that wasn't actually far, but I thought I should be on the road before 9, to be safe. As I lay in bed in the morning I was thinking how refreshed I felt, and even with more sleep time, since I hadn't yet heard the alarm. I wonderd how much more. I looked at my watch. It was 10:45. Oops.  Disaster, or so I thought. I leapt out of bed, packing madly. Of course, in my hurry, most of the clothes I wanted to wear went into the panniers, so then I had to unpack and repack. Checkout took forever (well, not as long as packing up the tent probably would have, but a long time...). Finally I was on the road, but wondering how long the course would be open for. When I joined it I decided to just push on as far as I could, then try to find another way when they stopped me. Was on my own the whole way, only the icecream truck keeping me company, but amazingly, I made it to Montpelier on the course. I managed to average a little over 26km/h, which shouldn't be that hard even on a 30kg bike, but right now it seems to be. But today I also had the wind which was mostly tail wind, and it was pretty flat, but a 15m overall descent from where I started. Whoo Hoo, descent!

Anyway, I got there, but no sign of Dave. He hasn't answered emails either, so I guess he is suffering from that curse of travelling cyclists, Flatbatteryitis.

But I met some nice Norwegians instead, and we were all happy when we saw team Sky forming up leading into the sprint. I have to confess though, I wasn't think of Boasson-Hagen so much as Ben Swift, who is in my Fantasy Cycling team. But they didn't need to know that. And in the end the answer was always going to be Mark Cavendish, he has an amazing turn of speed. And of course some great Aussies working for him. It was a great chase from his team, with Matt Goss doing some amazing work. As for Ben Swift - 6th. Time to step up in Paris Swifty, or you are cut from the team...

Anyway, with no sign of Dave I decided to press on alone to get a good start on the transition. Got as far as Nimes before seeing a hotel and restaurant that both looked too tempting, so that was what I did. Had a great chat over dinner with a crazy Frenchman (hi Alain) who tells me that the only reason that things are close this year is that all the favourites have been scared off taking drugs, and so they are back to being "normal" people. If they are normal, then I feel really bad about how I ride. But I like the idea, hope he is right!

To bed now, hoping a good night of sleep will set me up to finish the transition well tomorrow, and get a good start to Gap.

Cheers,
Rowan

Day Two, more technical issues...

posted 16 Jul 2011, 14:41 by Rowan Mc Murray

Still having a few technical problems, as well as physical. Would re-write what I just lost, but then the physical problems will stay (lack of sleep). So check back tomorrow, hopefully it will be all good!
Rowan

Day One, 165km to Lourdes, Extreme Fatigue

posted 15 Jul 2011, 16:55 by Rowan Mc Murray   [ updated 16 Jul 2011, 12:44 ]

We are experiencing ongoing technical difficulties, please stand by...

So the good news is that I have a great new phone, which I am using to write this. The bad news is that I don't seem to be able to paste into a web browser on it, so the draft of this post that I wrote earlier may take a while to arrive here.  Don't be too worried about this, I was kind of tired and I am fairly sure it was mostly indeciferable anyway. The summary though is that it was a great day, but also terrible, and so hard it nearly killed me.  It bought home very clearly the problems with my current capabilities, and has caused me to totally replan today, and, well, basically entirely skip today's stage. But I am having fun! I slept unbelievably soundly last night and now feel close to human. Looking forward to more sleep tonight, and some good days on the bike for the rest of the week!
Cheers,
Rowan.

Day Zero: 1,269.5km, Kaiserslautern to Pau

posted 14 Jul 2011, 22:48 by Rowan Mc Murray

It has been a big day... the plan was very simple. I had a business meeting in Kiev on Wednesday, so get home about 9:30, pack, get on a train early Thursday morning, and sleep most of the way to Pau, set off fresh on Friday for Day One.

The practice was not so simple.  Firstly, my plane was delayed, so got home after midnight. It was clearly going to be late.  But I packed anyway, thinking of sleep on the train. Then I read my mail.  As a parting gift, the company I had just resigned from had sent me an administrative nightmare. And in Germany, that is serious.  I had to be in town Thursday morning to sort it out. I would miss the train. So driving had to be the answer. I booked a car for noon, but of course I had to get it from a place an hour away on the bus to get a one way hire. All good, would get to Pau early friday morning. Sorted administrative nightmare (thanks for being so understanding DAK...) and got on the bus.  Right before I got there, the phone rang. It was the car hire place. They didn't have a car, so they had cancelled my booking.  I was not happy...

I explained that what they had to do now was get a car and hire it to me, since that is, after all, their job. Eventually they understood, but it would be a couple of hours. I headed home.

By the time they got the car it was after 5.  I picked it up, took it home and put my bike and stuff in, and started driving.  It is now 8am, I have done over 1200km with a few breaks for food and revival, and one short one for sleep.  Now I need to get on the bike or I will get left behind by the Tour. 152km to ride plus a bit of transition, and including the Col d'Aubisque.  Gonna be awesome, but man am I going to sleep well tonight!

Problems before I even start!

posted 12 Jul 2011, 14:40 by Rowan Mc Murray

So, here I go again.  There are a few key differences this time though.  These include the fact that I will not be doing the whole tour, but only 8 stages.  This is a bit of a shame, and to a large extent came about because I was trying hard for a job I didn’t actually want.  I wish I had figured that out earlier, and ridden the whole tour.

Another difference is in my physical condition.  This time I am not coming off an injury (granted, the knee was a while before the last tour, but I still feel it had an effect) but am coming from much less training.  So leaping straight into some mountain stages is going to be a shock.  I am hoping that it will work anyway, and also hoping that it will do me some good, because I have a bit of racing that I want to do in the following months, and the theory is that this will give me a decent base then I will just need a bit of speed and I will be where I want to be.  What may happen instead is that it will provoke an injury, but I hope not.

I am having a few logistical issues already.  It turns out that I not only can’t take my bike on the TGV I wanted to, I can’t even get a seat on it myself.  This is a problem.  The plan right now then is to hire a car and drive it one way to Pau, dropping it off there.  I don’t even know if there is a company that will let me do that yet though.  And, having just checked it out, this is actually a pretty big call.  Google tells me that it is 1300km and about 14 hours of driving.  Given that I fly home late on Wed night, this doesn’t sound too appealing.  There is one other option that involves catching trains all through Thursday night and still arriving in Pau fairly early Friday morning.  This does not sound ideal, but might be my best bet in the end…So, here I go again.  There are a few key differences this time though.  These include the fact that I will not be doing the whole tour, but only 8 stages.  This is a bit of a shame, and to a large extent came about because I was trying hard for a job I didn’t actually want.  I wish I had figured that out earlier, and ridden the whole tour.

Another difference is in my physical condition.  This time I am not coming off an injury (granted, the knee was a while before the last tour, but I still feel it had an effect) but am coming from much less training.  So leaping straight into some mountain stages is going to be a shock.  I am hoping that it will work anyway, and also hoping that it will do me some good, because I have a bit of racing that I want to do in the following months, and the theory is that this will give me a decent base then I will just need a bit of speed and I will be where I want to be.  What may happen instead is that it will provoke an injury, but I hope not.

I am having a few logistical issues already.  It turns out that I not only can’t take my bike on the TGV I wanted to, I can’t even get a seat on it myself.  This is a problem.  The plan right now then is to hire a car and drive it one way to Pau, dropping it off there.  I don’t even know if there is a company that will let me do that yet though.  And, having just checked it out, this is actually a pretty big call.  Google tells me that it is 1300km and about 14 hours of driving.  Given that I fly home late on Wed night, this doesn’t sound too appealing.  There is one other option that involves catching trains all through Thursday night and still arriving in Pau fairly early Friday morning.  This does not sound ideal, but might be my best bet in the end…

It's ON!

posted 11 Jul 2011, 17:00 by Rowan Mc Murray

Right, here is the first post.  Not much to report, other than getting some new brake pads and making aheap of belongings to chuck in panniers once they become available.  I would love to be heading off tomorrow, but instead am going to Kiev until Wednesday.  This costs me the first high mountain stage - not happy!  But now, off to bed.  Keep checking in, because it will get much more exciting soon!

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