Brilliant Day in Yorkshire

On the eve of the Grand Depart of the Tour de France, Trek Travel gave me a taste of the wicked hills of Yorkshire. 

 

We met below the Timble Inn (excellent ***** accommodation) and got fitted on our bikes. Love the all carbon bike with the new shifting system. Sorry I do not know all the names of the bike model and gear–I am saving that brain space for remembering the names of my fellow riders!

Off we went with our trusty directions and 2 guides, Sam and Gabe.  Ilona was driving the van and she kept reminding us the van was our friend. How true! First she gave me a lift through A59 so I did not have to cope with the traffic whilst going uphill. Then she helped me get the last 3 miles to Grassington so I could eat lunch before 2:30.  It was a long day of hilly climbing. The amazing Yorkshire countryside made the suffering joyful.

Even though there were snacks and drinks galore, I could barely take on water from the heartburn. My fellow rider Laurie thinks it from all the time over our handlebars. We stopped at Boulton Abbey along the way and I met a group of riders near the restrooms who are from all over North America and New Zealand, met on a ride in India, and reunited to ride in Yorkshire and watch the Tour.

We enjoyed Grassington and had a lovely sandwich in a pub next to a table with 2 giant yellow labs and a Schnauzer. The atmosphere was fun from all the cyclists who have come into the County to see the Tour de France. 

We got a lift in the van to the Timble Inn and had time to shower and rest. Then met for our coach to the Trek Racing Team’s hotel in Skipton. Gabe downplayed what we might see since on the eve of the Tour the team had a lot on their minds. We met the team liaison Nathlie and she gave us an opportunity to see the Trek Racing Team vehicles including bike mechanic/kitchen van and the team bus. The German members of the team were watching the Germany-France World Cup game on the big screen at the front of the bus. Thankfully Germany won and there was much cheering. 

The bus is fascinating–a motorhome like interior with every inch cleverly providing some function. Not a lot of comfort though when you think about 12 people are in it when they are on the go.

Then Nathlie arranged a meet and greet for us. WE GOT TO MEET THE ENTIRE TEAM. It was awesome. The staff came too. Afterward the people who spoke with the chef shared that the racers have a calorie count on their computer and it is his job to replace those calories everyday. Sourcing wholesome nutritious food is easy now that he has done it a few times.

We then went to dinner and enjoyed traditional Yorkshire pudding with beef and gravy. Yum. This is not what the team ate. They had quinoa and salmon with lots of vegetables. Jens Voigt was telling us that he will start the race at 4.5 body fat and drop to 3.9 by the end! 

It made us feel better when we heard the racers say Yorkshire is hilly! Even to them.

Then it was off to the the Timble Inn for a much better night’s sleep than I have had since I left the States. Good thing because we have another challenging day of riding ahead to get to our viewing Pub on the course. Cheers!

Meeting Amazing People at Le Tour

I am so weary from riding in the Yorkshire Dales today. Do not underestimate the difficulty of Stage 1 and 2 in the 2014 Tour De France. I rode until my legs went from screaming at me to just laughing, as in “you’ve got to be kidding”.  The hills are steep (some 18% grades today!) and come super fast after a descent, so the winner tomorrow will be really good at shifting gears.

 I brought a California state flag and a sharpie to ask cyclists to sign. I had a short list in my head of who I really want to sign the flag. The top three were Greg Lemond, Jens Voigt and Fabian Cancellera. Leaving the Leeds Arena I saw Greg Lemond astride his bike outside! My Trek Travel teammate Sandy and I asked for autographs and and her husband Brian snapped photos. The first US Tour champion, and three time winner was super gracious. It was a thrill to share with him that he is the reason I am a cycling fan.

Last night Bob Roll signed my flag (that is Sandy and Brian posing for a photo with him). Then today I met the entire Trek Racing Team. They signed including Jens and Fabian. My top 3 and the Tour has not yet started! Plus Sandy spotted Alberto Contador in the hotel and he signed. I am elated. Thanks Trek Travel.  Now I am expanding my list: Mark Cavendish, Chris Froome, Andrew Talansky.

People of Yorkshire Raise the Bar for Grand Depart

I am so impressed with the level of effort the people of Yorkshire have made to host the Tour de France. It is more than decorating windows and dressing the Black Prince statue in a yellow jersey (shout out to yarn bombers: nice job). They seriously raised the bar by staging a team presentation show both exciting and heartwarming.

The Leeds Arena held 10,000 fans cheering for 22 teams and some really interesting entertainment. Hosts interviewed a couple of riders from each team so we got to cheer madly for Mark Cavendish and Jens Voigt and see Peter Sagan’s new hairstyle (huh?). The final team to appear was Britain’s own Team Sky and the crowd went wild. 

During the warm up local television hosts talked about how proud they were of Yorkshire. I hope they get a boost of self-confidence from this because they have done themselves properly proud.

I had a lovely chat with the man on my left, Leigh and his friend, both avid cyclists.They are not from Leeds originally but they love living here and stepping out their back door and into a countryside that still looks like the set of All Creatures Great and Small.

Several teams alluded to the fact that their recon trips for Stage 2 have been much more challenging than expected. Stage 1 and 2 should be very exciting. When you combine tricky roads and a lot of short 16 degree descents plus nerves, there should be some crashes and a lot of strategic racing.

Stay tuned.