Eleven people have gotten back to me with interest in knocking off 500k over the busiest time of the year. It's going to be long. And hard. And sometimes rainy. But it will be good.
The plan for tomorrow is to meet at Johnny Barnes at 5 a.m., try and make it there if you can as I want to get a picture of everyone before we start. Bring food, lots of it. Check your bike over and sign up here if you haven't already: 23,861 registered worldwide.
Tuesday's route: JB depart, west along Harbour Rd, around Dockyard and back the same way. I'm leaving some food and drink at JB, so we can refill there, then continue east via Spanish Point/North Shore, all the way around the back of St Georges via the golf club then into St Davids-Lighthouse-Cleawater and back via Paynters Road - South Shore. Finish at Rock Island; coffee's on me for all who make it.
Rapha is the organizer of this, and they've put together some cycilng videos for people who may need inspiration tomorrrow morning at 4:30a.m.: http://www.rapha.cc/festive-500-filmic-inspiration
Anyone on Twitter or Instagram can use #Festive500
- Trainer default album #2 is Boys and Girls, from The Alabama Shakes. If you can't love this you don't know good music.
- There is someone out there living the dream and his name is Jered Gruber. The man restarted his life to give it a go racing in Belgium, with his wife Ashley the two have been following the races and producing the best cycling images. I've been following cycling for 20 years, and there's never been anything like this; he manages to capture the scale of the race and the fans.
- I've been saying the Giro was better than the Tour since the Indurain era. Now for the first time in the modern era, a defending Tour champ is foregoing his title defense in pursuit of the Maglia Rosa saying he's always loved the Giro. The racing is closer, the hills steeper and more numerous and the time trials traditionally under 25k, but for all that, there's just a beauty to the race the Tour and Veulta don't have.
- I saw this frame on Embrocation, and needed it. I have a big birthday coming up, and this is timeless enough to last the long haul. It's modern oversized steel designed by Richard Sachs and Dario Pegoretti. Craig Gaulzetti writes about bikes and racing and how he wants them perform like no one else. The frames are pure business racing machines; want internal Di2, polished lugs or fancy paint jobs, go somewhere else, he won't entertain the thought.
What else? In an industry full of paid endorsements, advertising dollars and generic reviews he's managed to get two of the only endorsements that matter:
1. The God Father of American hand built art with his own 20 year wait list has one. Says it's his go to rig.
2. Brendan Quirk, the owner of the arguably the most influential bike shop in the country - and doesn't stock these alongside it's Pinarellos, Williers and BMCs - owns one.
One more, Bill Strickland picked a Corsa for his 2012 "Dream Bike" pick. He ran out of word count in the print edition, and was so enamored with the frame he wrote further on his blog: The Revelation.
- There's many reasons to get behind Ryder Hesjedal. He's the current CEO of slamthatstem.com, good for a tough stage race or a one day result, and his all teammates say even while in the leaders jersey he's so laid back he's practically horizontal, but his Giro win was my pick for ride of the year. More specifically, when De Gendt was up the road threatening to play spoiler, and every other contender sat on his wheel waiting for him to crack he turned himself inside out keep within striking distance before the final day TT. And that was it, he climbed like a beast, TT'd for the win and we had a Grand Tour where everyone can agree that the best man won.
- The best team performance of the year can only go to Belgium at the Worlds. It was flawless. I've been a Van Summ fan since seeing him at the U23 Worlds in Hamilton, and never get tired of seeing him rip it for his teammates, to then have it capped off with a perfect display of domination up the final ascent to the finish made it the perfect race.
- Finally, I'm done with stories about Armstrong. I think most serious followers of the sport have only had the suspicions confirmed and everything else is just details. In my opinion, the only original piece on all of this is Stephen Colbert. Watch it now.
The big race is over and I'm already trying to work out the logistics of going in 2011. I knew this would be a good trip, but it exceeded all expectations and having this much fun should be illegal. The riding was incredible, everything you could ask for; great weather, beautiful views along the course and a race atmosphere that was like a music festival for cycling. Off the bike was a nonstop good time in the surprisingly beautiful Saratoga Springs.
Lets start with the important things first:
Most Beer Consumed: Brian and I staked out an early lead in this one with first pints consumed within three minutes of departing the death plane (more on that later). Soon overtaken by the quartet of Phil, Greg, Sarah and Helen who were leading a brash charge to the line. Obviously taking the competition seriously, Phil sniffed out the only bar in the otherwise civilized town of Saratoga that resembled The Beach. Cheap beer served in plastic cups? Check. Smells like a urinal? Check. Full of underage drinkers? Check.
While the lead being generated was commanding, they may have proved themselves the hare, to Brian's tortoise, and while all counts are unofficial I have to conclude that Dr Drea's slow and steady won this one. (Editors note, I was running neck and neck with the man from Goslings right up until the fourth afternoon when I just had to pack it in. I simply could not compete.).
Song Permanently Etched Into My Memory: Chis Isaak's Wicked Game. The moment our plane came to a stop on the runway, we all heaved a sigh of relief that we weren't going to be the headline story on that evening's CNN and then over the speakers comes Isaak's song at exactly this moment. His slow drawl made the moment seem almost surreal.
In the 40 minutes leading up to that moment the Captain had informed us all that he couldn't get the wheels down, assume the brace position and the moment the plane comes to a halt jump out the emergency exits. It may have been more comforting if the stewardess on the intercom wasn't obviously distressed, her words stumbling out over the fear in her voice.
Amazingly, while within sight of the airport wheels went down, but when we landed we were surrounded by police and fire trucks - or as Liz noted, "there were a lot of fire trucks, and zero ambulances. They were expecting the worst."
Best Traumatic Situation Reckoning For a couple of hours afterwards we all excitedly exchanged stories of what was running through our minds. There was the utterly banal; the Colonel deciding it was as good a time as any to go to the bathroom. The expected; glad the Mrs. is safe at home, when was the last time I phoned my mother. To the brilliant; "I really need to branch out and drink more than just Pinot Noir, life's too short to just stick to Pinot." (Don't worry Mel, that zinger came after being glad that you weren't there).
Best Part of the Race: I'm usually the world's most conservative rider, more likely to get dropped on down hills and hairy corners than anywhere else. This race was the first time I can remember where I threw all caution to the wind. I had to, my own team mate was driving the pace so hard on a five mile downhill, winding dirt track section it was all I could do to hang on. Tires skidding around corners, bottles flying I remember thinking only two things: 1) if I crash right now I am so F@#$ed, 2) I am sprinting, down hill out of the saddle in a 52x12 and Brian is still pulling away. I'm glad I didn't have a computer on, seeing it inch north of seventy would have scared me to slow down.
Best Thing I Saw all Week: Possibly no one had a better time than Spike. Of all the Bermuda lot, he put in the best ride and progressed the most over the last four months from a religious adherence to the training schedule. To remember the event, he inked himself up with the race logo.
Now You're Looking PRO: After months of sitting on the fence Podge decided it was time to shave the legs. Phil's next.
Biggest Cheer: Bonnet came screaming into the bar after her race and the whole place just erupted. It's great to be part of a team, just for moments like these.
I don't think the bar quite knew what hit them. Our lot essentially commandeered the place, turning it's upscale dining room into a cycling frat house.
Best Restaurant: I went to MAX London's for breakfast, lunch and dinner one day. The coffee and pastries were perfect, the lunch and dinner just what I wanted. My idea of heaven is to ride after a quick breakfast and then have a great lunch. I did that here for two days.
Worst Omission of Guilt: Brian manages to befriend the only Frenchman in the race who follows us to the bar. They're instant friends, jabbering away in French. The guy seems all right, but I'm talking to Phil and Greg so I'm ignoring him. I get up and go to the bathroom, and when I come back fingers are pointed and accusations are hurled, 'It was him, that guy right there who kept messing up the pace line.' I turn around looking for the person who must be standing behind me. No one there, then Brian jumps on the train, 'yeah, he never does any work.' This goes on for five minutes, I'm the reason the break got away, this guy was thinking of riding me into the gutter etc. Helen is thinking of taking this outside, restoring Madison dignity with some fisticuffs. I start believing him, apologizing for my sins, but he won't accept my apology.
In the van on the way back, out of no where, Greg pipes up, "Adam, you know that French guy in the bar? He was confusing you for me. But I thought you could handle the abuse." Thanks, Greg.
Local Brew Endorsement: The pleasant surprise of Saratoga was the choice of locally brewed beers. Coming from Bermuda where every bars stocks the same five, it was great have a new world of opportunities at every restaurant. I tasted a lot, but not all, and the winner for me was a Belgian style white beer called Blue Moon. Refreshing and light, this stuff should be served in every bar in Bermuda as it's perfect for warm summer days.
Best One Liner: Chelsea rolls into our finishing area and complains that he was right up there until he dropped his chain. Twice. In brilliant deadpan delivery, Greg, "You should take it down to Winner's Edge, they do good work there." One of many from the Irishman, but that one stole the show.
Best Bottle of Wine: By unanimous consent, David Bruce Pinot Noir. Apparently it's also the last one I'll enjoy until next year as it's not exported.
Competition was stiff:
What It's all about: As fun as the race was and as good as the food was, for me the best part was the ride on Sunday morning. So much of the riding I do here is mapped out months in advance. Intervals planned and executed mostly in the dark make you fast, but they never leave you thinking, 'this feeling is the reason I started cycling in the first place.' Instead, on this morning, we got wonderfully lost, taking turns when it felt right, riding roads whose names we didn't know and would never ride again. Descents were electrifying because you never knew what was around the next corner. We rode past mansions and then past wood oven burning shacks. It was zen for a mind that it is normally so busy with the demands of work and home. A state of mind that rationalizes the more lost you get the better the experience will be.
The big race is this Saturday. By big, I mean big: It's the largest US one day with an estimated 2,000 participants. It's also by far the bigggest grouppo I've ever raced in, on the most challenging course around.
Even though I've been planning this for a while it feels like it's snuck up on me at the exact same time that my form has snuck out the back door. I'll just try and hold on for as long as possible.
One thing I'm worried about is drinking and eating enough. I'm going to burn about 3,000 calories and my soigneur (below) won't be able to make it to the race which means I'll be responsible for carrying everything I need.
On post-race drinking, I'm thinking that beer will be the carrot to get me through the race. But at the same time, it's not really the greatest motivation as I'll be legless regardless of the result, so may propose to the team that drinks are on the last finisher.
The team got the first win of the season yesterday. Also won the bunch gallop for second, so it was a satisfying day all around. Dr. Drea went with about 600 meters to go and managed to hold off the field for a well deserved win. Nothing else to add and the picture does the win more justice anyway.
We took some team photos after the race, and I think Phil must have glammed them up a bit as we all look like we're fresh from the tanning salon.
Rode home, crawled up the 18% wall that is Brian's driveway, had some belgian beer with breakfast before the first barbeque of the season with the lovely girlfriend. Kind of a perfect day.
One final note on the below photo from Liz. I know Elliot is a lawyer now, but he's still PRO in my eyes and every time I ride with him I can't help but think "this guy rode the Giro!"