Tales from the Tour…Le Grand Depart Part 2

A note for the next time i am in Germany….don’t expect to function early in the morning after drinking too much beer, its as strong as the Belgian stuff but the don’t seem to have the same restraint when it comes to the quantity its served in….none the less i still went out and rode the course…even in the morning drizzle the joy of closed roads is not one to be dismissed.

IMG_2715

Two laps round the circuit did little inspire anything from the river side course, the grey clouds rolling in off the Rhine were not helping and the small puddles starting to form on the course were more likely to causes crashes than dramatic scenes of maximum effort

IMG_2716

So after two laps and being mistaken for a pro-rider doing a recce and having pushed as hard as i dared on the slippery roads i headed back to gear up for what looked like a very wet day.

With little to choose from i plonked myself on the exit from the first corner, stuck the long lens on the camera tucked as much as could under waterproof layers and hunkered down for a long afternoon.

you know its wet when the rains drops are heavy enough to catch the camera focus instead of the rider…

 

Tour de France 2017  Stage 1 Dusseldorf

Tales from the Tour…Le Grand Depart Part 1

With the tour now over and the photos files there is some time to look back on the adventures that were had along the way.

The destination was Germany…Düsseldorf to be precise and it was to be a weekend of collecting countries, enough to make you look back fondly on boarder controls with stamps for you passport. On the drive across from the UK I notched up 4 countries in the 4 hour jaunt to the Grand Depart’s host city.

The weather looked like it was holding and with a few spots of rain on the way in i was holding out hope for a sunny weekend. By the time i arrived the wind had got up a bit and the clouds were looking thicker. Having picked up my accreditation and checked into my hotel there was still warmth and daylight to be had to with a few hours to spare.

I unpacked the bike got my kit on, tucked my credentials into my jersey and set off to recce the time trial course and kick the driving out of my legs. With the roads not fully closed yet i wasn’t able to do the full route, not with out braving some head on traffic in a busy city centre so i settled for looking out for anything suitable for a photo position for the race tomorrow.

IMG_2712

Riding done i headed down for the photographers meeting, realising that i had booked my accommodation really well and was barely a few minutes from the press centre. Sitting through the photographers meetings can be a little challenging at times as its hammered home that we need to keep out the way and take the security of the riders very seriously, as well as the security of everyone else, and after you have done that if you feel like making sure the other photographers are safe then that would be great. Thankfully there is some translation that goes on as otherwise my french fails spectacularly, i almost feel aggrieved that GCSE french didn’t cover this stuff.

Finally with all the obligatory stuff out the way it was onto the important task for the night…dinner and beer and the German’s weren’t going to fail us.

Be warned two of these on an empty Stomach isn’t going to end well…as both Pete and I can attest to….

IMG_2713

 

Sunshine and finally some mist in the forest of the Zombie Apocalypse

When Roubaix comes around i look forward to it for two reasons, firstly for the awesome and heroic racing that awaits on the Sunday, but also for the chance to ride some of my favourite roads (second only to the Valkenburg worlds circuit).

The quiet roads of the Compiègne forest are so peaceful its leaves plenty of time for the brain to wander.

ForestMap

This little snip from google earth shows just how many roads and paths are lurking in the forest. Not all of them are suitable for a road bike, but on a gravel bike you really could go crazy.

Given my love of Zombie movies it was no wonder that the first thought that sprung to mind when presented with the scene below was the Zombie Apocalypse

Just add some groaning walking corpses stumbling out of the mist and you’ve got an episode of the walking dead. Nothing like that to spur you on as you sprint up a few punchy little rises the litter the forest…like one of the few english named strava segments

Climbed Enough to drop the Zombies

But for anyone who doesn’t love Zombies this does the area a disservice, there is some more conventional beauty to be found on the quiet roads of the area, nothing but fields (and, if you squint, a castle)

IMG_2430

But in a last ditch attempt to make sure people weren’t put off the forest for fear of the Zombies…if you get up early enough then the sunrise looks beautiful breaking through the trees and the mist

IMG_2435 (Edited)

LBL … queen of the classic’s weather

As to be expected from spring, the weather is as dynamic as the racing often bringing an extra challenge to the day.

For all the disappointment of a warm, sunny and ultimately dusty Roubaix Liege has often made up for it with some truly awful weather, almost like the parcel was delivered too late. or the sunshine package sent too early.

The times i have gone through at least 3 seasons in the weeks of the spring classics, from torrential rain at Milan San Remo to blistering sunshine at Roubaix

EMP - Paris Rouabix - a few riders chasing the disappearing pelo

Last year’s edition was almost the pinnacle of last years weather, delivering a blizzard of epic proportions. The snow covered many fields and villages on the first 100km’s of the course, and one very exposed road giving way swirling vision of white.

As the day wore on the weather had rallied slightly and we ended up with bedraggled riders

 

michael albasini, (Orica Greenedge) leads the race up the cobble

for the love of sunshine and for all the fair weather cyclists out there i hope the forecast for this weekend improves and brings some glorious sunshine and weather