Monthly Archives: July 2011

City Cycling

More bicycle lanes in San Francisco are a good thing, but as a car owner I certainly do not want to see parking spaces eliminated.  As such, it looks like I’ll just continue to ride through traffic as usual, at least for now.  As this article indicates, change is forthcoming.  We’ll just have to wait and see what ultimately happens!

No, that's not me.

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Posted by on July 29, 2011 in Cycling, News, San Francisco


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C’est Histoire

After three weeks of getting used to a routine, come tomorrow morning my “usual” reason for turning on my television will no longer exist.  The 2011 Tour de France is now an illustrious chapter in history.

The Final Podium in The 2011 Tour de France

Wikipedia works at lightening speeds, summing up the basic details of “the most epic race ever” quite succinctly:  Australian Cadel Evans won the race, having gained the lead in a time-trial on the penultimate day. He became the first Australian to win the race, and at 34, the oldest post-war winner. Andy Schleck of Luxembourg was second for the third successive year, and his brother Frank Schleck third. Mark Cavendish was the first British winner of the points classification, and Samuel Sánchez of Spain won the mountains category. (Wikipedia)

The overall final standings are right here on

I’m happy to be able to say that from July 2 to 24, I “spun my legs” for the same number of days as the Tour riders, a symbolic move on my part in the spirit of the great sport of cycling.  While I did not cycle this weekend, they had two rest days on which I remained in the saddle.  As such our total days match, even if my own mileage comes up about 1750 miles short.

I raise a virtual glass of champagne to toast an amazing and most memorable Tour.  With this, it’s back to morning news tomorrow morning, or better yet, no TV at all.  I think I’ll go with the latter and get out on the bike!

Congrats to the 2011 TDF winner, Australian Cadel Evans!


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Day of… Fear?

As printed on, this succinct and accurate analysis by race director Jean-Francois Pescheux labels Stage 19 as the one everyone is afraid of.

“Today’s route runs in the opposite direction to yesterday’s. The riders tackle the successive climbs of the Col du Télégraphe and the Galibier, and then finish with the climb to Alpe d’Huez, which returns after an absence of three years. It is a short stage. Nevertheless, all of the riders will be afraid of it. Those who aren’t going so well will be concerned about the cut-off time for elimination and the favourites will know that they will pay a heavy cost for any sign of weakness. The shortness of the stage allows the climbers to attack from very early on, which is not something they will be used to. This stage will be thrilling and, bearing in mind that it comes on the back of two other tough days, there is a chance that a lot of damage will be done today.”

The Road to Alpe d’Huez

The infamous, feared and celebrated climb of Alpe d’Huez has been completed for the year, with now a new man in yellow!  And it’s not last year’s Tour winner.  But who am I to spoil your own viewing?


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Day of Highs

The highest point of elevation in this year’s Tour happens to be followed by the highest-ever location for a stage finish.  So distinguishes today’s memorable Stage 18, aptly described as the “Battle of the Alps” and a day in the Tour history books.

From the Col Agnel to the Col du Galibier, 168 truly battle-tested riders hammered up mile after mile of steep climbs, then of course flew down some equally lengthy descents, carrying the pack ever closer to Paris!  It will be here before you know it, unless you already know Paris comes this Sunday.

The question remains:  Who will take yellow to the big finish?  Today’s stage winner proved yet again that anything could happen.  Go Andy!

Andy Schleck wins Stage 18


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My “Tour”

Fourteen stages completed in France.  For me, fifteen rides around the Bay Area accomplished.  I must say, Le Tour has been quite a terrific source of motivation to get me cycling on a daily basis once again.  Today marks my 15th consecutive day out on the road, sometimes in a group but largely on my own.

After 335.6 miles over the past 15 days, for a modest daily average of 22.37 miles, my latest “mini tour” hasn’t been so much about the actual distance covered in one day, but more about my average speed and overall workout.  Most of all, I’ve readily welcomed the renewed self-discipline of being back in the saddle everyday.

Unfortunately I’m approaching the imminent need for a new crank set.  Alas, it’s doubtful my current streak will reach the 50 consecutive days I hammered out in 2008.  Oh well… there’s always my next “tour.”

Last year's Tour rides into Paris

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Posted by on July 16, 2011 in Cycling, Daily Activities


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But Weight, The Climbs

Spaniard Samuel Sanchez wins on Bastille Day

I imagine the French might be a bit “agace” that on this Bastille Day, a Spaniard won stage 12 of the Tour de France.  Fortunately for the French, their man Thomas Voeckler holds onto the yellow jersey, which should no doubt help keep today’s celebrations going.

It’s been said Le Tour really begins today, considering the first mountain stage of this year’s journey.  Now we see the climbers really go to work.  After all, there’s certainly a big difference between sprinting and climbing, while each rider has his own strong suit.

Today’s stage winner Samuel Sanchez weighs 140 pounds, as does defending TDF champion Alberto Contador, definitely a climbing advantage over other riders who weigh 165, 170 or more.

Meanwhile, congrats yet again to Mark Cavendish on his third stage win of the year yesterday.  The leading sprinter lagged a bit behind today on those climbs, even though he’s down to 150 pounds apparently.

Let’s just say the climbs carry a lot of weight in the Tour, so to speak. At my weight I guess I’d have to drive up the mountain!


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Remembering Betty Ford

The death of a former president or first lady typically brings together a good number of the others still living, though apparently not all of them this time around.  As such former White House occupants as Rosalynn Carter, Nancy Reagan and George W. Bush pay their final respects to Betty Ford today in Palm Desert, California, others are not in attendance.  In fact, no first couple is there together, thanks to the unexpected absence of one notable individual for seemingly absurd reason.  Bill Clinton has been forced to miss today’s service, reportedly because of mechanical trouble with his plane out of New York.

Really, I ask?  A former president must fall victim to such inconveniences of the masses?  Doesn’t his wife have some connections to get him another plane toute suite?  Looks like it’s a good thing President Clinton was not on Mrs. Ford’s handpicked list of speakers at her eulogy. Good for her, by the way, for making such thoughtful and detailed preparations for this day.  And good for her again, for including politics on this occasion.

Mrs. Ford’s body will be flown tomorrow to Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she’ll be laid to rest alongside her husband, of course.  Coincidentally, both of them lived to the same age of 93, President Ford passing away in December 2006.  No age record for this first lady, however, as Bess Truman holds the title for living to 97, followed by runner-up Lady Bird Johnson who lived to 94.  And no sooner did I mention on her 90th birthday last week that Nancy Reagan was not the oldest living first lady, than now she is!

This ABC News piece presents a decent look back on Betty Ford’s life and legacy.  To say the least, she was a unique and pioneering woman who certainly deserves to be remembered well.


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From Carnage to Rest

The aftermath of an unexpected type of crash.

Crashes are commonplace and largely expected in competitive cycling, but not crashes like this one!  The car and its driver have been removed from the remainder of the Tour, and rightfully so!

Stage Nine was definitely another day of carnage, the worst of the year yet in fact, wiping out eight riders in one day!  The Tour’s total number of riders has now dropped from 198 to 180.

All 180 of them certainly deserve today’s day of rest, after nine days of hard and crash-filled racing and before tomorrow’s 98-mile stage 10.  Unfortunately for Norwegian Thor Hushovd, he lost the yellow jersey yesterday to French favorite Thomas Voeckler.

Thor Hushovd loses the yellow jersey after stage nine.

In the spirit of Le Tour, I’m heading out now for my 10th consecutive ride day.  No day of rest pour moi!


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Pictures Tell The Story

Sometimes you just need to let the pictures do the talking!

Sorry to see you go Chris…


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C’est Le Tour

A true photo finish in stage four.

Following yesterday’s dramatic photo finish in stage four of the Tour de France, came “crash day” in today’s stage five, an aptly reported day of carnage, ten times over to be exact.  Two more riders are now out altogether, while defending champion Alberto Contador picked himself up, literally threw aside his damaged bike for an immediate replacement, and continued on his way, slightly bloodied and kit-ripped.  Too bad for him he couldn’t catch today’s winner, Mark Cavendish, who emerged victorious in another suspenseful stage finish.

All things considered, for better and for worse, as it’s been said and will be said again:  “C’est le tour.”

Grab new bike, wipe blood (or not), and get going!


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American Victory

How perfectly fitting for an American cyclist to win not just any stage of the Tour de France, but stage three,  which happened to fall on the fourth of July.  Way to go Tyler Farrar.  Keep it going!

American Farrar’s July 4 Stage Three Win


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Je L’aime!

Energy.  Endurance.  Truly Amazing Speeds.  My favorite sporting event of the year is well underway and going strong, with the first three stages now complete.

Every July, transfixed in front of my television, I see more French countryside than most vacationers probably ever do, that is when my eyes happen to drift from the peloton.

The 2011 Tour de France is here!  Suffice to say, my free time is taken for the next three weeks.  Je l’aime!


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Her Half-Century Mark

The first day of the second half of 2011 has come, bringing with it of course a very special occasion on which to reflect.  Sure, the U.S. Postal Service introduced five-digit ZIP codes in 1963, Hong Kong reverted to Chinese rule in 1997, and Vermont’s civil unions law took effect in 2000, but this day surpasses all of that.  Today, more memorable to many than any other first-of-July moment in history, is what would have been Princess Diana’s 50th birthday.

The tributes are flowing, both online and on location.  As People Magazine writes today“The occasion is hardly going unnoticed in London, where remembrances in the form of cakes, candles, cards and other tributes are being left outside the gates of Kensington Palace…”  The aptly titled blog,, pays lovely tribute to her today as well.  And naturally, Life Magazine has a collector’s edition on sale, titled “Diana at 50.”

While thousands upon thousands of Diana’s admirers wonder what would have been had she lived, I join them in wishing the late princess were here to celebrate her half-century mark.  At the same time, recalling my cherished experience of seeing and videotaping her up close on the campus of Northwestern University in June 1996, I remember her today for the beauty she radiated, both inside and out.  Like so many cultural icons who died young, Diana is forever young and beautiful, immortalized in our minds and hearts forever.

Happy 50th Diana.  Your spirit lives!

Outside Kensington Palace today.

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Posted by on July 1, 2011 in Current Events, Famous People, News


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