Maillot à Pois Rouge

Update 7/31:
Well, it’s finally over. The KOM TdF Challenge (6/29-7/31) has ended and after the four weeks, I have finished in 17th place out of 125 competitors world-wide. I completed 23 rides (‘stages’) with 796.3 miles and 69,390.5 feet of ascent.

Cannot say I am disappointed, dropping out of the top 15. But my original goal was to
finish in the top 25, so from that perspective, not too bad. And it was also a marked
improvement from my 44th place in the Maglia Azzurra Challenge for the Giro.


Update 7/21:

After three weeks, I am 14th of 116 competitors.
16 (‘stages’) rides and 513 miles down with 49,793.1 feet of climbs.

TDF-2013-KOM-jersey

Update 7/14:
After two weeks, I am now sitting in 13th place of 108 competitors.
16 (‘stages’) rides and 410 miles down with 33,179.11 feet of climbs.
Two more weeks to go in the KOM challenge and one more week for Le Tour!

I don’t know about most cyclists or bike riders, but I need inspiration from time to time. So, when the Le Tour time comes around, there are usually various riding Challenges
issued by a number of cycling sites to pick and choose from.

Last year, I was in the Ride with GPS 1/4 TdF Challenge and that was fun. I was able to complete the 1/4 distance and then some. It kept me motivated all of July which carried over into August. Sadly, this year, RwGPS didn’t put on the challenge.

But I did find one that is more to my liking, in the form of BikeRadar’s, KOM
Le Tour de BikeRadar K.O.M. Challenge. What I really appreciate about this challenge is that isn’t based on just miles or speed, but rather strictly on climbing. Which suits this old and slow guy perfectly!

After just over one week and 8 rides, I’m holding up in 10th place of 88 competitors, with 6,974.4 meters of ascent. Prior to the start I was hoping for a top 25 and that is what I’m aiming for. Prizes are random and though it’s no big deal, it provides me the motivation and a good kick in the ass to go out and keep climbing!

It’s not too late to join in, as long as you upload all of your rides from June 29th to July 31st, you’re golden! So sign up and start ascending…

Adieu…

Vive Le Tour!!!!!

Tour de German Valley

Somewhere in and around miles 5 to 6, the skies opened and the deluge began. But just as quick as it came down, it soon began to relent and then stopped, all within about a 20 minute period.

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Ready to roll out…as the skies are darkening

From then on, it remained cloudy and the air heavy, saturated with humidity. Which was especially noticeable on the climbs. Which there were many.

http://ridewithgps.com/trips/1541710/elevation_profile

The Tour de Long Valley Metric Century wound its way through historic Morris, Warren and Hunterdon Counties of rural NJ. Up and down was the order of the day. With police holding traffic at certain locations and roadside volunteers, the ride was made a bit easier, knowing that the dangerous intersections were covered and SAG were on hand.

The ride itself was fairly uneventful, as I have ridden on most of the roads we were on. Though we did trek on a few I have never been on before. Including two rather arduous climbs. From about mile 11 to mile 16, the pavement just kept going upwards. Hollow, Anthony and Silker roads, were all new climbs for me. I was glad to give them a go!

Aye, then it was the two mile climb up Hollowbrook, that put the sting in me legs…which was followed about 20 miles later in the morning by a gradual 6 mile climb, that rose up over 700 feet. Nothing too heady, but by this point I was starting to tire a bit.

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Along the way I encountered groups of varied riders, most all were faster than me on the rolling and flats (what flats there were) but I would catch them all and pass most of them on the climbs. I managed to hook up with two guys, who seemed to be at or near my pace level. We stayed together for about 30 or so odd miles.

As I had passed a dozen or so people, I had to make a ‘nature’ break…and all that ground was lost! I thought I would not see them again until the end. But to my surprise as the road went up…they appeared in my view. One by one I picked them off. Not that we were racing, but seeing as they would hammer the easy stuff, it left them empty for the ascents.

Unfortunately, the rest stops were not stocked well, which was completely surprising. No bananas, no Gatorade. Just water and bagels. Bugger me. Actually, I said Scheisse, right to the volunteers, but they had no clue what I was saying…anyway, running low on ‘fuel’ there was one more nasty ascent of the day left.

Naughright. 1.3 miles, 499′ at an average gradient of 7.4%. This, coming at mile 60- of mile 63. Needless to say, I was pathetically slow, clawing my way up…

Then it was one more moderate rise up East Springtown and I rolled back into the park to end the day. 63 miles down, 5,500 feet up, in 4:20. Fairly slow at a 14.5mph average, but given the weather and the terrain, not too bad. This old guy is a just tad worn out…

Hommage de l’étape 18 et le Col du Calais

In paying tribute to Stage 18 of Le Tour de France, I give you…today’s ride. 60 miles, climbing 5,700 feet, ascending Mont Harmonie Twice and featuring the Catagory 3 climb of the Col du Calais.

http://ridewithgps.com/trips/1516768/elevation_profile

Following the quiet, semi-rural roads of Bernardsville, Mendham and Randolph on an
absolute beautiful day. 90 degrees and 59% humidity as Sol’s bright orange and yellow rays illuminated the Summer sky…

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I rolled out, solo as usual, to the first low uncatagorized rise of the day, Meeker Rd. Which would then lead me to Mont Harmonie, the first catagorized climb and the first of two
ascents up the famous (and only) switchback in the Hills of Bernardsville.

My next challenge would be a portion of Hardscrabble, Woodland and then on to Jockey Hollow hill. The sun was shining and I was feeling pretty good so far, but I knew that Calais was looming…the first half-mile is very steep, kicking up to a tough 12+% in the beginning, with an average gradient of 7.1%!

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Jersey worthy? Not a chance…but hey, it does look cool…

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After slogging up Calais, I had a brief respite of about 7+ miles, with a bit downhill and some rollers…until the next climbs of the day. But before I tackled them it was time for the second food and water stop. Cesar’s Deli in Peapack-Gladstone offered up cold drinks, some bananas and an well deserved ice cream sandwich!

Hydrated and fueled, I threw a leg over the top tube and clipped in my shoes to take on Campbell, Clark and the second ascent of Mont Harmonie…Re-energized, I headed off with enthusiasm.

Alone on the road, my thoughts turn to the Tour and today’s awesome Stage 20.
The protagonists battling it out on the slopes of the Alps, as hundreds of thousands of crazed fans cheer on the riders. A stark contrast to my serenely quiet journey through rural suburbia.

After the 2-mile climb of Campbell-Clark, I descended Douglass Ave at a blistering 2:07, my fastest time to date and I slotted into a tie for 3rd place. The second time down
Douglass, I was much slower, taking some pictures and searching for those wild road-side Raspberries!

One last small hill on Route 202, then the last climb up Liberty Corner and onward home…great day in the saddle, nice long ride with a lot of climbs. I was tired and
starting to get hungry, it was perfect timing.

Allez, Allez, Allez!!! Fantastique!!! Oui!!!

Rivière Noire

54.6 miles/87.87 km – 5,100’/1400m

Today’s ride was my 40th of the year so far. So, “Stage 40” took me around the outskirts of the Black River Park and Environmental Center in Chester. The Black River cuts a swath and meanders through Somerset and Morris counties of NJ. 12 miles long, it twists and turns and flows down along the bucolic towns of Pottersville and Chester.

black river a

Along today’s route, I passed through the quiet, scenic and hilly roads of Far Hills, Peapack-Gladstone, Pottersville, Chester, Califon and Bernardsville. Beginning in Somerset, rolling through Morris and touching the edges of Hunterdon county.

The ride featured one of the biggest climbs of the day, Black River Rd or Rivière Noire as I like to call it- in honor of the Le Tour…it extends for 3.5 miles, ascending 830′ up with a mean rise of approx., 5.75%. A fairly arduous climb, one of those up and down unrelenting hills…that can just take it out of your legs on a 98 degree day!

7-5 ele_profile

As Phil and Paul would say, the roads of Black River are ‘heavy roads’ bumpy, broken and rough pavement for most of the 3.5 mile ascent. Between the brutal heat, oppressive humidity and the craggy roads, I was in damage control mode all the way up…

The highlight of the day wasn’t the long and distant beautiful views of the Allamuchy the Kittatinny Mountains, but rather a stop at the Chester Wendy’s- for an cold Vanilla Frosty! After my creamy smooth frozen treat, I was recharged for the remainder of the ride.

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I still had the local switchback of Mt Harmony and a few smaller climbs ahead of me before the promise of a cold shower and recovery meal back were waiting at home. By days end at 5pm, I was thoroughly done. Hot, tired and hungry! As I hung the bike back up, I took a brief moment to reflect on the miles and the route taken, the roads more or less traveled you might say. Blue skies, bright sun and feeling of being alive…