Tuesday, December 21, 2010


I don't think turning 60 is a big deal in itself, what really bothers me is how close I seem to 70. 70 seems old even to a 60 year old. Am I going to start wearing plaid pants and striped shirts, funny hats you can only get at old man stores ( I don't even know where those stores are), will I wear my pants high and act old, or will I grow out my hair, put it in a pony tail and try to act young. Will I continue to skate on my skis or will I get out my ancient pair of wooden touring skis, my knickers (this is a North American word for three quarter pants), and funny old man hat and shuffle around the trails.
It is scary to think about all of these changes. In order to prevent all of this from happening I have hired some young people to keep me normal. If my pants are too high, my hat too old or if they notice any other sign of aging they are instructed to set me straight.
I have few rules of mine own which I also follow. My choice of dress is the same now as when I was in high school. Levis 505s 34/32. As long is these fit it means I haven't put on weight, I haven't put my waist too high and the pant hem too high. I wear t shirts, usually medium. Again this is preventive fashion. If I went into Macys looking for a polo shirt or some kind of button down shirt I might be tempted to make a fashion statement. At 60 this could be dangerous. I will stick to levis and t shirts. The one change I did make a few years ago was to wool t shirts. They still look sharp but you can actually go to an opera in a long sleeve wool t shirt. They look like an expensive turtle neck.
My car will stay a stick shift. I think at some point people of my age decide to make things easier and not shifting is one of those things. I will keep the stick because if I forget how to use a clutch then I really shouldn't be driving (this is actually how I feel about all drivers).
I will continue to cross race and ride my mountain bike. These are really activities for the very young, so I my thinking goes if I do things for the very young I will feel very young.
So I am turning 60 but the truth is I still feel around 18. I met my sweetheart when I was 18 and everytime I see her it is just like the first time I met her and fell in love.
So I will try to be dignified, not grow a ponytail, not get a tattoo, not start wearing fashion from the 60s, no piercings, no new sports car, nothing like that. But I will also continue to have friends that keep me thinking young, stay healthy and active so I can do the activities I love and I will continue to feel 18 everytime I see my sweetheart. I will let 70 take care of itself.

Friday, December 17, 2010


I was talking to Damian today about post Cross season feelings. I feel fresh, strong and glad it is over. No intervals on the trainer for sometime, no rides in the cold and snow unless I feel like it, lots of cross country skiing and even some rest. I started coaching last week and that was a blast. Last year I didn't coach and I really missed it. It was the first year I didn't coach for over 15 years. This year I am coaching for the Bend Endurance Academy . This is because I get to coach at the Meissner Ski Area, our community ski area. Meissner Ski Area has been one of my dreams for over 20 years. I don't take any credit in making it happen other than encouraging the Tumalo Langlauf Club to make it their mission. Today it is real. The parking is lot is full almost every morning, and the people who ski there are part of who makes it happen. I love skiing there for many reasons. One is the terrain is perfect for the average skier, two the weather is more conducive to skiing than higher up. The storms not as big, and the snow is drier, three, it is 15 minutes closer to town so a quick ski is more convenient. I went for an early morning ski today and was able to ski for an hour and a half and still get to work by 9. The sunrise was spectacular and no I wasn't the first one up there. If you don't ski at Meissner you should give it a try. They groom on Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. If it doesn't snow you can still get some super skiing on the days they do not groom. You will need a snow park permit ($30 a year), and though they don't charge for skiing it costs $1800 a week to groom. So donations are in order if you like it.
Next year Cross Nationals are in Madison, Wi. They are in January. That means three more weeks of training in the cold. I think I am going but I will wait and decide for sure next year. In the meantime I will be resting, skiing and enjoying the winter I love so much.

Friday, December 10, 2010


I try to race enough each year so every race has balance. I also try to peak for certain races, this year there were two races I was aiming for State Championships and National Championships. I do like to perform well at every race though. It is about balance for me. One of my problems with the Olympics is they only happen every four years and a bad race means you have to wait four years for redemption. That is too long. It is much better to have lots of important races, try to peak for the important ones and then base your year on the whole season. The word Balance comes up again.
When I lined up to race yesterday I felt that Balance and I also felt a strange calm. This was unlike last year when I lined up. Last year I raced to participate, after a Fall season of recovery from a ruptured disc. This year I lined up to race as one of the competitors. Trying to win, trying to podium, trying to do the best race I could. My start went well. I was top 10 off the pavement, in the first 30 feet of mud I was around 8th, after the first tricky icy turn I was 7th and with the lead group. The guy ahead of me was having problems in the mud so I went around him on a pretty aggressive pass through a big lake of icy water. Then it was on to number 5. I had my race face on, the crowd was cheering for me as if I was a pro in a World Cup race. I caught and passed him in some deep mud. I had to go hard and out of the "line" to do that. I felt like I would keep going as he also was having trouble in some of the more technical sections, the places where I was flying. But no, he passed me back just before a steep short run up and got a couple of seconds on me. I was thinking I would get him again but it was not to be. I raced hard kept way ahead of 7th and ended up finishing 6th. This was maybe the best race I have raced in a cross race. I had visualized my race, did all the things I said I would do went hard and ended up in my best National placing ever. It was a great way to end this season and believe it or not I am looking forward to next year already. Today it is off to help my teammates in the pit, cheering and just support. If you click here you can see some photos of my race. Rich Wolf, one of my teammates was out there as my personal photographer.
There were so many of you out watching and cheering me one that I really can't name all of you. It means so much to me. I go a little harder every time I hear my name. Yesterday I used all of that extra energy to have my best race ever.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

For the next chapter click here and read Kathy's point of view on my racing.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Tomorrow at this time I will be in the process of doing a seed Time Trial for my race on Thursday. The TT course is not ideal right now. It is covered with crusty snow that makes it hard to peddle, more of a power course than a technique course. The first climb, which is ridable in the dry is now just a long run in the snow. The second climb is hard because even the approach is not ridable. Tomorrow it could all change. It is supposed to rain and be in the 40s. This will soften the snow and maybe make the climbs more bike friendly.
That being said we all have to do the same course and I will be ready. I don't have a huge field so the TT is not the end of the world anyway. It will be a good warm up for me the day before the real race. I am not really in favor of the TT, but I am not sure seeding by order of when one registered is any better.
I feel strangely calm this morning. I don't normally get that excited by races anymore anyway. I race a lot and it is the norm to be standing on the start line every week. That makes racing easier for me. Less stress, just another day. That doesn't make it less important it just makes it more normal. I know I will have lots of friends cheering for me and I know I will give it my best. I have prepared for this as well as I know how. If you are one of those who will be watching on Thursday I want you to know I hear every shout and word of encouragement. It makes a big difference to me. I have been racing a long time and in that time I have made many friends. Those friends are the reason I race today. I don't have any national titles to my name, but what I do have is hundreds of friends in the bike world. That is my legacy and what I love about this sport. This year I was in Scotland racing and I had a whole cheering section, I was racing in Portland earlier this year with Dave Guetler the owner of River City Bicycles (the main sponsor of the Cross Crusade). He was laughing because everyone was shouting for me and he was in his home town. This is my bragging. Yes I have had success racing and I have won my share of races, but if someone wonders who I am, I will say I am the one that the crowd was cheering for. I don't know how that all happened. I think of myself as shy and not very outgoing, but I love my sport and those who choose to share it with me. That love has paid off.
I will be racing this week in front of my home crowd and I am looking forward to that. I will also be out there cheering for all my friends and I think that is just as important.
See you at the races.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


In one week I will be lining up to race my event in the USAC Cyclocross National Championship. Last year, though I raced, I wasn't prepared as I had spent 12 weeks recuperating from a ruptured disc. This year no excuses. I have trained well, raced well and frankly I feel great.
I am not making any predictions as age group racing is always a bit of a gamble depending on who shows up. I just want to go out and give it my best. I want to test my self, see how hard I can go and hopefully if all goes well finish in the top 5.
There a few factors that will help or hinder me. One is, I am not a great runner, if there is one set of barricades and one run up per lap I will be fine, if there is more running than that I will have to make up for it on the bike else where. Two if is snows and there is snow on the course I will be at an advantage. I like riding in the snow and I like to think I am good at it. If it turns to slush then it will be more difficult for me as slush is not hard technically just hard. If it is solid ice that could help or hurt. I like ice but it is too slick no one can ride it and it becomes a run.
I can't predict what the course will be like, nor can I predict what the promoters will do to the course. It will be fair as we will all ride the same course at the same time. Like I said I am looking forward to this year. Last year was an experience I will never forget and this year I should be able to race like I am capable off. If you want to watch it is 8:30 am on Thursday December 9th. It is the first race of the National Championships. I will be nice to be done early so I can help my teammates, it is also nice to go first so I won't be thinking about it all the time. Thanks for reading.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


First of all for those of you who wanted to know about Ashtabula it is located in the heart of where our Steel Industry is and was and it is where some steel cranksets were made in the 60s and 70s and maybe later. They were heavy and strong.
After my long drive and racing last week I was quite tired. That was part of the plan really. Training is a fine line between getting faster and getting tired. The idea is you get tired and then you recover and are stronger than before. Last week I was tired . I was supposed to be tired. This week I was supposed to be stronger than ever. I rested Monday and Tuesday, did a short workout on Wednesday and then rested some more. Saturday morning I could tell I was not the same as last week. Mentally I was ready and my legs had that spring in them. After the drive over to Salem and doing my warm up lap I wasn't so sure. The course seemed extra slippery and riding up the hill I was a little flat. I got down to the business of a real warm up on my trainer. Legs were fine, no pain they just wanted to go. I lined up thinking about a cool line I was going to use at the start. We started in the mud and most people were going wide on the first turn, I decided to cut the corner short. Start on the right and then cut straight across to the stake. It worked perfectly and I had the hole shot. I hit the pavement to mud a little to fast but held on and kept my position up the climb. Ron went around at the beginning of the second climb but I was ready. When the dirt climb turned to pavement Ron let up and I attacked. A little gap. I didn't manage to really drop Ron until the third lap when I really gaped him. My legs worked like they were supposed to, getting orders from the brain and then obeying.
State Cyclo cross champion for the second time in my life, the first was in 1998. So 12 years ago. In those years I have maybe 10 podiums so I am consistent but wins are special.
Last year when I was injured (ruptured disc) I had hoped to recover by the State Championship race. I didn't recover so this race is a year late and very rewarding. Nationals are coming up and I am feeling ready for the challenge. Not much philosophy in this blog, but I must thank Ron Strasser for making me honest on Saturday. He attacked me and kept coming back to me when I bobbled or made a mistake. Winning is only as good as your competition. The photo is of me and Ron on top of the steeper first climb. As you can see he was not giving this to me.

Monday, November 15, 2010


I spent a wonderful day and 1/2 with Bob, Marianne and my mom and then it was back to the west coast. Not to bore everyone with airport stories I will just say my flight from DC to Portland was delayed but Joe was still there to pick me up around 11 pm. I guess that is why friends are called friends.
I left for my drive at a cross crusade race and that is how I finished it. After spending the night at Joe and Deborah's cute flat in NW Portland we all drove out to Estacada for the last Cross Crusade Race of the year. While I was warming up my legs could feel the block of intervals, 45 hours of driving and a cross country flight. No excuses though. I got the hole shot, Ron made a tricky move in a bottleneck by getting of his bike and running. I was left 10 seconds behind and that is how it stayed. I can't complain though. I rode hard and didn't really make any mistakes. My bike, that Mike had gotten ready performed perfectly, my clothing that Kathy had washed and Serena had brought over were all there and I was headed home.
A two and a half hour drive is much easier than a 45 hour drive. Kathy had a big smile on her face and she had to show me her latest gardening exploits, even though it was dark. The kitties wanted to be fed and didn't really care that I was home though Ariel did come over later and give me rub.
Thanks to everyone who made my trip a little easier and it is really nice to be home. I have included a couple of really super photos my friend (I like that term), Jeff took at the last two races.

Friday, November 12, 2010


I made it to Massachusetts yesterday around 7pm. That made for a couple of hours of night driving, but I finally pulled into my brothers driveway. It was a welcome sight to say the least. I have been here many times and it was not only good to be done with the drive but to be somewhere that was familiar. It is very peaceful and quiet here in Western Mass. More so than in Bend actually. He lives in the middle of what seems to be an endless Forest of mixed conifers and deciduous trees.
After a meal of mom's meatloaf and Bob's wild blueberry pie it was a welcome sleep in a familiar place.
I try to keep negative thoughts out of my blog. It is not that I don't have them I just don't choose to share those thoughts here. That being said I am not going to say much about the drive from Wisconsin to Pennsylvania. There was lots of traffic, and it was stressful for me. It was good to get past Buffalo New York and into more of a large forest. There was still plenty of traffic but it was more mellow. I haven't crossed the country since I did so with my Dad in the mid 60s. I wonder now how my dad managed all those years. He was a good driver and maybe it was peaceful for him. Not for me. Though this was an adventure I will be glad to be home for a long stay.
I have included some photos. Some are state signs, one is a photo of a Mayflower Truck, on of the companies my Dad worked for, the sign of Ashtabula is for you to figure out. If you do leave a comment.
It is over to Boston tomorrow and a flight to Portland. The last cross crusade on Sunday and the short 3 hour drive home.
Sorry to all of those on my way that I didn't visit. I really didn't think I was doing the Northern route until after I started. Thanks to all of those others who helped my make this possible.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


When I was leaving Portland Damian told me maybe I would see that a vacation in the USA could be as good one in Europe. Though I love going to Europe I also love the country I live in. This four day drive close to our Northern Border has been quite interesting, and there are some places I would like to return to.
Here are a few thoughts that came to me as I sat in the car for almost 10 hours yesterday.
One, It is so nice to drive on highways not wrecked by studded tyres. Either lane is flat without the dreaded grooves that we have in Oregon. Studded tyres are not allowed in most states because they ruin the highways and make them more dangerous.
Two, The Montana of my memories (I was born there) is not the same as the Romantic Montana of today. Today Montana for many is the land of fly fishing, hunting, hiking and the Rockies.
The Montana of my youth is one of big vistas, rodeos, wheat fields, and oil rigs dotting the skyline. Though the fly fishing mecca exists, the Montana of my memories is still there. It is a lot like Oregon in fact. Most think of Oregon as a wet forested green part of the Northwest, but is eastsiders know it for something different. Montana is called Big Sky Country for a reason. That is my Montana.
Three, Why haven't they discovered coffee out here in the midwest.
Four Desolate North Dakota is a beautiful State. This is my first visit to ND. It was the only state I hadn't visited other than Hawaii. Now time for some motel intervals.

Monday, November 8, 2010


My mom is moving to be with my brother. This is a long and complicated story but I really thing she will be happier living there. My task at hand is to drive her new Toyota Corolla to her. Bend to Wendell Mass. 3000 miles and over 40 hours of driving. The last time I went across the USA was with my Dad in the 60s. He was a long haul truck driver and his sons went with him in the summer. This is kind of like reliving that. I am also trying to get in top shape for Cross Nationals and driving 10 hours a day is not how one does that. I decided on bringing my Ritchey Break-a-way Road bike and an indoor trainer and do a "block" of intervals this week. That would be 2 sets of 4X4 today (one in Cour d'Alene and one wherever I end up).
I am going to try and document the trip with some photos of interesting things in our country.
Yesterday I won a cross race in Portland so there is a photo of the seriously fun mud and me. Then there is the photo of the clouds to west (western wet Oregon) and the sun to east (eastern dry Oregon), and if you look close at the last photo you can see a replica of Stonehenge. This is the first of strange things you will find in America. I will try and get photos of any others I find.
The first day was OK. Instead of a three hour drive to Bend after racing it was a six hour drive to Idaho. Today will be through Montana, this is where I was born and it is always good to see home.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Giants win the World Series

This blog is really about a boy who loved baseball and the Giants and not about the Giants who just won the World Series.
I am not sure about being a sports fan. I don't follow traditional sports anymore, but once I did. When I was a boy I played sandlot baseball with my friends, I went to a few Giant games at Candlestick Park and during the summer I would carry my transistor radio and listen to the games as broadcast by Russ Hodges and Lon Simmons. Willie Mays was my hero. He was always the best in my mind. In 1962, after a three game playoff with the hated Dodgers, the Giants made it to the World Series against the more hated Yankees. I was in Jr High at the time and we were listening to the game in our home room. It wasn't just me that thought this was a big deal. It was the 9th inning with two outs and two on, (Willie Mays and Matty Alou). I remember all of this as it was yesterday. Stretch (Willie McCovey) was at bat. He hit a screaming line drive that was caught by Bobby Richardson, the Yankee 2nd baseman. Richardson was playing out of position and should (are there shoulds in baseball) have never have made that catch. Series over, dreams for an 11 year old also over.
Now almost 50 years later the Giants have won. Time does heal.
There is no logic to this scenario, this is a different team, different owners and different time, but somehow it matters. I can't explain it I can just feel it. That 11 year old finally has his world series win and somehow the world is a better place.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween and One Year

I am in Astoria at the annual Cross Crusade Halloween races. Our team stays in a rented house for the weekend. There are 10 of us and this is the third year we have done this. It is a good way to be with friends, and teammates. Community dinners, breakfasts and lot of support out at the race. We have our tents set up on the course so in the rain and weather we have a place to cheer and stay dry.
The first race was today and it was an important date for me. One year ago I was here as a spectator as I was injured with a ruptured disc. I could walk around the course, ride my trainer and enjoy the spirit of the team. I couldn't race though, I could only watch. I totally enjoyed my weekend but I was thinking in one year I will be back. It is one year and I am back. Today I won my category for the second week in a row. These are tough guys who do not give me an inch. I was in third for a few seconds as we all stuck in traffic when we caught the young 50 year group. I soon made it to the front after a brutal climb and fast descent. Then it was a matter of trying to catch as many 50 years old as I could. I managed about half I think.
I am very thankful to be out here racing. I love to race cross and last year was tough for me. What a difference one year makes. This year I am winning races, last year I was barely walking up stairs. I had a lot of help and support to get here and I appreciate all of it now. Tomorrow is another race and I am sure Ron, Ken, Amory and the others will be there to keep me honest. I will go hard and remember that just one year ago I was on the sidelines.
Thanks to everyone and see you at the races.

Monday, October 25, 2010


If you like pictures of sweet Scottish girls look at last week's blog, today is about some mud racing and fun. It was so muddy I was thinking they should have added a surcharge to our entry fee. PIR (Portland International Raceway) has two coursed. The wooded technical course we use for the GP races and the Open behind the bleachers course we use for Cross Crusade. The Cross Crusade course needs to be muddy to be truly fun, and yesterday was all of that. The good thing is the sun would come out ever so often to dry and warm things up, then the rain would return. In my race we started in the sun and then it just poured. I had my contacts in and a couple of times mud got in my eye and all I could see was a brownish haze. They added a new older category this year so I get to race in the 60+ group. We start 15 seconds behind the 50+. This is an interesting group. The faster members have been racing for years and have similar skills to the pros, the slower ones are somewhat new to cross and haven't developed those skills, and believe me it is hard to develop new skills at the 50+ age. The faster 60+ racers have to navigate through the slower 50+ and then fight with the faster ones to keep moving up. Part of the strategy in a race like this is to pass at the right time so the racers behind are slowed by the traffic.
I managed a rookie mistake and came out of my pedal. So I started dead last. It took me a lap and a half to pass Ron and get into the lead. It was then a matter of pushing past the racers in front and getting some distance. Ron Strasser (the nicest man in bike racing) made me earn my victory. It was sweet to be on top of a cross race again. Last year I sat out most of the season with a ruptured disc. I managed to race at nationals but I thought of that as an honorary start. This year I plan to be fit and ready. This was a good step.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


After 10 days in France and 4 fun days in Scotland it was time to test the legs. I was doing a Scottish Cyclocross Series race at Strathclyde County Park near Glasgow. This is also the same sight Scotland's Theme Park. I am not sure what the theme is, Marty suggested it is rust. It was cool day and the park was full of fun enthusiasts, riding ferris wheels, roller coasters, even some kind of water slide.
We were on the other side of the parking lot in a large grassy field along side a wooded creek. It was perfect for cross. This was more of a Cross Crusade 10 years ago. I started with the 40+ racers and I really didn't know what to expect. I was borrowing a bike from a new friend, Simon Muir. I had met Simon in Bend last August and told him I would be doing this race. He offered me a bike to use so I accepted. It fit me perfectly with even the brakes being left rear (standard british practice).
My start was OK and then I just generally moved up through the field. I still don't know how I did place wise, but my body felt good, a little back tightness on the last lap is all. I had be chasing a couple of younger lads and finally made my move on the last lap, but then a rookie stumble over the barriers allowed both of them to pass me at the finish. I had just put on my spikes and the barriers were a little higher than what I am used to. I was tired and sprinting and just couldn't quite pull it off. I was asked by a lad doing the race report if I would ride a practice lap with a helmet cam. I did and it will be posted soon on the British Cycling sight. When I get results and the video I will add them to the blog. I was well chuffed on how I rode. Another similarity to cross crusade was the cheering. Andy, Ros, Simon, Marty and Paul were all there giving me encouragement but then I started to hear some other folk. The announcer was telling the crowd I had come over from the United States to race, so I got extra cheers then, but still there were more voices. It turned out Pete, Ali, Eifa, Ione and Kevin all showed up from Selkirk to cheer Andy and I on. They had called that morning and said they couldn't make it because Eifa had been not feeling too well. It was great to be able to see them one more time before I went home, and it was so nice they came just to cheer us on.
Andy had a great race also. He has been taking it easy for a couple of years letting a health issue take care of itself. He started off calm and ended up a respectable 5th place. He looked like he is getting ready to go a little harder soon.
After the race it was hot flasks of water put into tea cups, sandwiches and lots of talk. I got a couple of photos of Eifa and Ione hanging out, riding bikes etc. It was a good way to end my fall holiday. I am now at home catching up, doing laundry and getting ready for the Ochoco retreat.
It is great to be home, be near my sweetheart, see the kitties and eat some of our chickens very fresh eggs.
You may notice I am not in my Sunnyside kit. This is because in Scotland I am an honorary member of team Velo Moulin. It looked odd to me not wearing my usual kit.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


You don't come here for the weather, in fact I rather enjoy seeing the clouds on top of all the hills that surround the Tweed Valley. One of the nice things about Scotland is one doesn't have weather anxiety. That is when you are on holiday and you are expecting sun (France, Spain, Bend etc) and you get rain. Here you expect rain and dress for it. If the sun comes out then all the better. Today we are going for a road ride, I will bring my rain coat, but ride we will. Tomorrow is a cross race. How cool is that, to be able to travel over here and do a cross race. I arranged to borrow a bike last August when Simon Muir, a friend of many of my Scottish friends was in Bend. We were out to dinner and I mentioned I was going to be doing a cross race. He said he would be there and if I needed a bike he had and extra. So tomorrow is all figured out.
Yesterday was a group meal. This seems to be a tradition when Don from Oregon comes to Scotland. Pete and Ali organize this event. Friends from the Borders and beyond seem to show up. Pete cooks a meal, friends show up. There is lots of talk, laughter, and catching up. I invite everyone to visit Oregon, and we all promise to meet in Mallorca in the Spring. We are all true friends.
Today was a group ride, a real group ride. All levels of riders. We stayed together, stopped and bought some cheese at a farm, and afterwords it was "tea" at Pete and Ali's. Tea in Scotland means a meal, probably a big one. We had soup, buns, tuna, cheese from the farm, tea and coffee. More talk, more laughter, we relived the Shleck-Contador moment from the tour. Disagreed a bit, but respected the others opinion. More fun and socializing. Here is the ride we did. It was everybit as good as any ride I did in France. Somewhat cloudy, no real rain, 3000 ft of climbing without any big hills.
I can't leave this post without a mention of the lassies or bairns. This is Ione and Eifa, Pete and Ali's two beautiful daughters. Ione is 4 and 1/2 and Eifa is 2 and 1/2. When I walked in yesterday Ione grabs my hand and upstairs it is to see her room and all of her stuffed animals. I was charmed for sure. It is nice to see these girls grow up so happy and I am afraid that Ione has the early signs of bicycle disease. She has a skut and a real pedal bikes which she loves to ride.
Tomorrow is a cross race near Glasgow, with the whole entourage coming to cheer and race. I will then pack and come home on Monday. This has been a great week. If any of you think this sounds like a good holiday let me know as I am thinking about a trip here next year. We would road bike and mountain bike and visit and have tea.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


This years France trip seemed to flash by, as compared to last year. I am not sure why. It could be the late arrival of Linda's bike which caused concern, it could have been the cold that seemed to go from person to person, it could have been the general strike in France which led to many of the group leaving a day early so they wouldn't get caught up the the trains not running. I guess it was all of these things. Deborah, Joe and I were the last to leave. Deborah and Joe were not leaving Paris until the 14th so they had one day of cushion and I had changed my flight from the morning of the thirteen (which would have taken me home) to an afternoon flight to Scotland so I could visit some friends.
The point being all three of us had an extra day to ride. We needed to be in Brive so we get the train to Paris, so we sent our baggage with Andy and Ros (my English friends who were in France with us) in a taxi to Brive. If you have been paying attention to my blogs of France you will know that picking the correct road is quite easy. Stay of the Red and Yellow roads and stay on the white roads. There had to have 5 or 6 ways to Brive. We picked the one that seemed the most interesting. The day dawned beautiful, and off we were. About half way we had coffee in Martel (a medieval merchant town over looking the Dordogne River. Then it was off to Brive. We went by the most amazing castle yet, and when we were close to town we let the madame (my gps) get us to the gare (train station). She did well, she took us off the main road up the steepest road around and right to the Gare and our hotel. Andy and Ros were there along with all our baggage. Andy and Ros went off to get on the replacement bus (the train was on strike) and we packed our bikes up. Later it was out to town. Brive is another one of those marvelous French cities with a bustling downtown situated in the medieval old town. The restaurant we picked was very good. It was a great way to end a wonderful trip. The trains were running the next morning and we arrived in Paris no problem. I got to the airport, a short flight to Edinburgh, Andy and Ros arrived minutes later and now I am in Peebles. Here are some photos to enjoy. Thanks for reading.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


This trip has seemed too short, it has been actually. The National Strike that is coming on the 12 has most of our group leaving a day early. I think that is too bad as this trip was planned to be a little short anyway. I think a trip is just right when you feel you are leaving a day or so early. We also had the threat of rain today so many in the group rented cars and went off to see some sights too far to ride to. I am sure they are enjoying themselves, but a car is not a bike.
I packed 6 bikes today getting them ready for the trip home. It is always sad to say goodbye to a place as wonderful as St Cere. I will be back though. I am not as prudent as the others and I decided to stay and take my chances with the strike. Tomorrow we will ride to the east and see some new territory, then on Tuesday three of us will ride to Brive while a taxi takes our baggage. We will then pack the bikes and take trains to Paris.
While everyone else will be going home I am headed to Scotland for a few days. My friends Ros and Andy, who are here in France right now, have invited me to their home. I will get to ride some Scottish roads, eat some Scottish food, see the rest of my Scottish friends and hopefully race in a Scottish cyclo cross race. Though I am looking forward to home, and my sweetheart the idea of a few days of Scotland sounds really good.
Thanks for reading.

Friday, October 8, 2010


Lew has created some very wonderful rides for us this year. The smallest of roads, a couple of steep climbs, churches built in stone and good places to stop for lunch and coffee. It thought today would be one of the easier rides. Not. Lew never told me it would be easy, I had just decided it looked easy. We started out on an easy climb out of St Cere and decided we would check out the N D de Verdale. Last year we didn't have clue as to what this meant. It means Notre Dame de Verdale (Our Lady of Verdale). It is an old church that was built in the 14th century and then rebuilt at least twice. It is on a steep narrow road (up to 25%) and then down an even steeper path, or you could do like some of our group and walk up a rocky path from the bottom. Either way it was worth seeing.
So after 5 K or so of knee busting 15% + climbing we then had to continue with 75 more K. It turns out we had done most of the climbing by lunch so it was then just rolling with a kicker climb to the top of our area 2400 feet, our hotel is 400 feet. As we started the descent we realized it was downhill with a tailwind back to home. One quick stop for a cafe au lait and we were done. Not easy but well worth it. It appears the rain is coming but not for one more day. So tomorrow we will have to see what is in store.
One of our group thinks that the cows are more intelligent than the ones at home. I am not sure about that but in this area they sure seem happy. They are big, healthy, clean and not really bothered by us cyclists. The farms in this part of the world look so perfect. France is really a country about fresh food, and the way to have fresh food is to have local food. The Spar grocery store (The french equivalent of our 7-11) has a better local cheese selection the Newport Market, better produce than Rays, most of it local.
We have a few more days here and I will try to keep it updated.