Wednesday, September 30, 2009


I am home from France, in some ways it all seems like a dream, but while I was there it was so timeless and real. Not all trips work this way with me. This trip though gave the illusion to me that I would be riding the small country roads of France with my group of 13 friends for the rest of time. I forgot how many days I had been there and didn't know how many were left to go. Numerous stops for cafe, or aperitifs with my friends ended with the last one in the main square of St Cere. That is some of us pictured. One last group dinner and then it was an early morning back to Toulouse with our guide (agent) Michelle, a long flight home, and then a big welcome from my sweetheart, kitties and a house full of tomatoes. It froze last night and Kathy was busy picking as many tomatoes as she could. This is about half of what was left. On the flight to Frankfurt from Toulouse a great view of what I assumed to be Mt Blanc.
Though flying pretty much sucks it is still worth the hassle. Riding country roads in France is something I would recommend to any cycling enthusiast. To be in a country where sharing roads is something that just happens, and where they have not done "curve corrections" on all the roads is a great experience.
Being home is also great. Kathy was at the airport to meet me with her usual beaming smile, and even the kitties gave me a welcome as I walked in the door, though they were disappointed when I plopped in the bed next to Kathy and not them. I still have a few more France experiences I want to blog about so the France theme is not over yet. Thanks for reading and maybe you will be able to join us on a trip in the future.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


France, Why me and why now. I am a pretty lucky person to be France this last 10 days (right now I am watching the World Road Racing Championships on live TV in my hotel room). Over a year ago the big cheeses of Sunnyside decided that it would be a good thing to have semi official Sunnyside Sports europe trips. These trips are low key, no sags, and full of fun. Last March we in Mallorca for a 10 day spring ride and now we are in St Cere in the Dordogne area of France with 13 friends of Sunnyside Sports. We stay in the same hotel every night, do a different ride everyday, and try all the food we can.
Everyone is having a great time (as far as I can tell anyway) and we hope to have more trips in the future. I couldn't be here without the support from home. We have four Sunnyside employees here (me, Barb, Lew and Muffy). That leaves us low at home. We all know they are working hard while we are on the best holiday ever. I think this is important for our store. We have always been more than just a store. We want relationships with our customers that go deep. This is simply because we love cycling and want to express that love with all of our customer friends. So once more thanks to the ones behind that makes this possible.
I have to make a special note to Kathy, my sweetheart for encouraging me to spend 10 days away from home with friends in another country. Maybe next time she will come along.
Take care

Saturday, September 26, 2009


25,000 Years ago in France we had the first known graffiti artists. They went down in limestone caves and did some amazing artwork. My Mom thinks it was the height of artwork and it has all gone downhill since. The Paintings from the Peche Merle leaves one with a feeling of awe. The spotted horses are the most famous, but I think it is the simple outline of the hand that really hit home as to how ephemeral life really is. It is so real and so vivid yet the person who did it is 25,000 years gone. I wonder if he had any idea of the impact he would have on the world, how many people would be amazed at a simple handprint. The hand print in my blog is of a man, there is also one of a woman in the cave.
The day we rode out to the cave was another gorgeous day in France. We had to leave early in order to get to the cave in time for the last tour before lunch. We made it with plenty of time. It was a long ride so a few of the group elected to take a taxi to the cave and then ride home. I liked the different choices of footwear the group choose to walk in the cave.
This cave is twice as big as the more famous Lascoux and there are not as many visitors. They limit the number to 700 per day, but that only happens around 30 times a year. This time of year around 200 visit the cave daily. In Madrid I went to a reproduction of Altamira (the most famous cave paintings in Spain) and I was moved, but to see the real thing is an all together different experience. Maybe the highlight of this trip.
Take care

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Yesterday we went to dinner for Cassoulet at L'Entre-Pots. This is a nice cafe on a side street in St Cere. The owner is quite funny and accomodating. We went there a couple of days ago but we ate outside and I did not go in to see all the photos. Some of the people in our group had been in and knew he had something to do with the ONCE team of the 90's.
Well he had plenty to do with that team. Philippe Lauriot was the National Professional Champion of France in 1990. He rode in and finished the Tour de France 6 times, he won stages in Paris-Nice and won the 4 days of Dunkerque. He now runs a cafe and is in to Harley Davidson motorcycles. We asked him if he still rode and he explained he worked too much and rode 100,000 Kilometers as a pro and 75,000 kilometers as an amateur. You can check him out on Wikpedia if you like - Philippe Louviot . I must say he was quite modest but very proud of his career. And the Cassoulet was the best we have had. We had to order it two days in advance so they could cook the beans and have everything ready. On to more adventures today.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


We were riding along yesterday and Muffy said it was Utopia. She was correct for sure. We counted 7 small less travelled roads that all go the same direction.
The most difficult thing is staying on course. Muffy tried a new method, she wrote on her leg the name of the next town on her leg. That is her studying the map so we wouldn't have to stop at each intersection. When we decided to eat lunch a picnic table seems to arrive out of nowhere.
This morning we are going to Grotte de Peche Merle. It is a long way so we are getting an early start. When we went to our bakery (it opens at 6am) we found out it has twice as much food for all the workers in town. Instead of two types of quiche it had 5 types, it had more sweet types of croissants then we thought possible. In the top photo you can see St Cere from the local castle. It is a small town, not really a tourist destination at all. We all wonder why as it has some of the best riding we have ever seen.
Take care

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Yesterday was a more difficult day than the first two. It seemed to us that the Kilometers were more like miles. 100 Ks in 5 hours. Part of the equations is how many times does the route cross a river. We went down to a river three times yesterday so that meant quite a bit of climbing out. Not to complain though. The climbs are all around 5 ks and so far not more than 7%. We climbed a total of 1700 meters yesterday (something around 5500 feet). We saw the Tour de Merle. A very old a ruined castle that was situated in the bottom of a canyon on a small island. It looked like a safe place to be in the middle ages. The turret was as perfect as the ones in Disneyland, only it is real.
We were traveling in a rural area and though we had been looking for a place to get a cafe au lait for some hours (Muffy will tell you that I passed on one cafe thinking there would be a better one later), we didn't find one until we were almost done with our ride. We stopped anyway as that is why we come to France. We noticed they were replacing the rafters on the church in the plaza. How old were the old rafters we had to ask ourselves? 500 years. I really don't know but if look at the photo you can see they had been repaired quite a few times.
There were a few unscheduled turns yesterday, but again everyone had a great time. Today will be a shorter ride with less climbing, tomorrow it is off to the Peche Merle, a famous cave with prehistoric paintings and then more castelet for dinner.

Monday, September 21, 2009


We have had two riding days in France now. We are in Dordogne area of France enjoying the country roads and the food of France. My hat says it all. The roads over here are so perfect for bike riding one would think this is the capitol of cycling in the world (oh it is isn't it). On Sunday we were stopped in a some beautiful village there was a group of people our age standing in the plaza. One of them came up to us and started talking. They were having a class reunion and he just happened to be production manager for Mavic. That is how it is here in France.
Yesterday we went to the magical city built into the wall of Rocamodour. On the way home we went to this fortified mill. It turned out the road kept on going so we thought we would explore. The rest of the day was one of exploration. Muffy complained that one of the roads we were on was only twice as good as the roads back home. We had to find a smaller less traveled road then. We saw a walled city, a suspension bridge that looked like it was for bikes until we noticed it was a car coming across. Magic is what it like riding over here.
On a more serious note my friend Mary Ross, pictured on the top right had bike crash a couple of days ago in Portland. She will be OK but she is banged up pretty bad. She has been working in the downtown Bike Gallery. Go in and ask how she is doing. Send her good thoughts also. Take care.
Oh I forgot the other photo is of us Ritchey bike owners. They rock. As the airlines charge us more for bikes the Ritchey is the economical answer to a great travel bike. We are like a traveling ad.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


France 2009, Day one in the saddle. Yesterday was a day of travel for most of us. Sitting in jet planes and airports. I didn’t do much airport sitting as my connections were so close I was more worried about getting on the next flight. I managed as did everyone else and 14 of met in Toulouse, along with Michelle, Gilbert and the generous Truck driver.

You see St Cere is 2 hours from Toulouse and there are not that many tourists in this part of France riding bikes. This means getting a shuttle is not the easiest thing. Barb and Lew though know Michelle. I met him two years ago on a trip over here and he suggested to us how it would be nice if we could bring some Americans over for a real bike holiday. He owned a hotel at the time and was trying to increase his business.

This is the trip he asked for only he has since retired so we are at another hotel. He helped us arrange things though. Like the shuttle. I local bus operator and a local truck driver came to Toulouse to meet us. They were there and we all made it with our luggage. A miracle in a way. A relief for sure.

We included three meals at out hotel in the trip. This lets everyone do there own thing in France for at least some of the time. The first meal was last night. It seemed obvious to have a good meal the first evening.

What a meal it was. One of the best meals I have ever had. I can’t really even tell you what we had. Kind of a wild mushroom mousse to start, then Duck Magret for the main course, followed by a simple salad and a local goat cheese that was very smooth and then a chocolat fondant. A friend of Kathy said that the food of France brings tears to one’s eyes. He was correct. We are staying in a town of 3500 and we get a meal this good. Yes it took the usual two hours to eat it. This allowed us to meet our new friends Joe and Deborah, and of course everyone else to talk and get reaquainted.

I was going to get up at 7 to put bikes together but I slept like a tired man and didn’t wake up until 8.

The tale for today will go up on the next blog but it was an ideal day of riding in one of the most bike riding friendly places I have ever been.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009


On Sunday I rode my 25th or so Sunnyside Century. There were around 40 of us enjoying the warm (for Bend) morning, a couple of showers and an almost hot afternoon. The Sunnyside Century started in 1972 and has been going ever since. It is the oldest Century in Oregon and it is a ride we are happy to put on. In it's heyday well over 100 riders would show up. It was the the big ride of the year for many. This was before The Oregon Bike Ride, Cycle Oregon, The Tour Des Chutes and all the other organized rides that we now have. It was also the end of the season for many cyclists. We would put away our cleats and start thinking about snow and skiing.
Things have changed since then (at least for me). It is now the beginning of my favorite cycling season which is fall. Cyclo cross is just starting, and it will last well into December for most of us as Nationals will be the big event of the year. It is also prime mountain bike season. There will be some moisture from the Fall rains and the dew that forms with the cooler mornings. Instead of the end of the season it is the beginning.
It is a good change for me. I am not good a waiting, I am good at doing. Waiting and worrying about snow is one of the biggest wastes of energy I have done. Now I just go out and enjoy the best time of year, the fall. Last year I had some friends from Wisconsin visiting for a early season ski holiday. We turned it into a mountain bike holiday as there was no snow. They had a blast and now want to come back for some more mountain biking.
I am also headed to France in a couple days for a fall road bike holiday. We won't have perfect weather this time of year but we will have the pick of the cafes, bakeries and roads. I will be blogging about this trip the next two weeks so stay in tune for our France adventures.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Though the photo is out of focus I am staying in focus for my next big race, probably my biggest race since 1988 when I won a silver medal at the NORBA World Championships in the 35+ category. On December 10th in Bend Oregon we will host the 2009 National Cyclo Cross Championships. I will to be ready. I have had a few top 10 finishes but I am going to improve on that and finish on the podium. For me to do that I am focusing on that day. I haven't started to race cross yet as I want to race more later in the year, I have only been on my cross bike a few times and am still riding my mountain bike on some fun epic rides so cycling stays low key for as long as possible this year. I have been very consistent with a weight and interval program this year so I will be ready to step it up in the next three months. I will be ready. Today is September 10 and it is three months to the big day. Staying focused, being healthy and having fun, this is what I will doing the next three months in order to be ready.
I am getting some help from Justin Wadsworth to fine tune my training, and from Rebound Physical Therapy with the use of their weights equipment. I appreciate all the help I have gotten and will get. It takes more than person to have a successful race and no one knows that more than me. Everyone at Sunnyside Sports has been encouraging me (and Damian, Mike and Jim) about the cross season. Of course Kathy is totally behind what I am doing, even if she keeps wondering if I am ever going to grow up.
I wanted to state all these desires in public so they become more real to me. It means a lot to me that you are reading this and all of your energy will help me achieve my goals.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


McKenzie Pass is a must road ride if you are in Central Oregon. It goes over the original route between Bend and Eugene. If you take the main route (Santiam Pass) you may note there is a section called the Clear Lake Cutoff. That road is reasonably new. It was a boon to cyclists today when they built the Clear Lake Cutoff those many years ago. Route 242 (McKenzie Pass) is designated as a scenic highway. Though there is traffic when it is open the cars are usually not in a hurry and are not much of a bother to cyclists. Early in the summer the road is closed by snow so part of it rideable without cars.
This summer they finished a long paving and improvement project. This means about 20 miles of the west side of the highway has brand new pavement. This is great for going west on 242. Before they paved it the surface was rough with many surprise bumps and potholes. Now it is almost perfect. If you go remember there is still gravel on the surface on some of the corners. This is because the road is narrow and cars tend to hit the shoulder and spray gravel on to the pavement.
We (Muffy and I) went over last Sunday. Perfect weather, and not too much traffic. In the photos we have stopped at the bottom to have a Squirt. Bring some quarters if you go as there is Pepsi machine at Yale Camp on the other side.
Route 242 is one of the few roads in Oregon that the Dept of Transportation have not ruined by their "curve correction" policy. This is reminiscent of Europe and the great cycling roads they have over there. It is a great ride in the fall because of all the color and less traffic. If you leave from Sisters and ride all the way over and back it is 75 miles, as it is an out and back you can make it any distance you want.
We used to go over Santaim and back over McKenzie. For me the traffic on Santiam has become unbearable and with the new pavement on 242 the downhill is irresistible.
Enjoy the best time in Bend -Sept and October.