Saturday, July 20, 2019

Two More Days of Extreme Peaks - It's Going To Be A Great Weekend

Happy weekend in the Pyrenees. Since I don't post on Sundays, you get both of the upcoming days in the mountains of Southeastern France in today's post. Lots to look at, lots to discuss. I'm starting with yesterday's Individual Time Trial from Pau to Pau because it was absolutely amazing! As needed, Geraint Thomas rode like possessed by a demon and crushed the times before him, pulling into the lead with a single rider remaining - Julian Alaphillipe, still wearing the Yellow Jersey.

Julian Alaphillipe rode like a man possessed, and turned in an
amazing time trial, moving ahead of 2nd place Geraint Thomas
by 1 min 26 sec at the end of the day. That's a lot of time to
make up in the next week of riding. If Alaphillipe can keep
his focus and his body can take the punishment, he may be wearing
Yellow in Paris next Sunday. 

It's well known that the Yellow Jersey confers special powers onto he who wears it, and those powers were evident as Alaphillipe rode like the Devil himself, pulling ahead of Thomas by a total of 14 seconds and winning the Stage. This puts Alaphillipe ahead of Thomas by 1 minute, 26 seconds, and that may prove to be an insurmountable gap. The French may have a fellow countryman on the top step of the podium in Paris, we may be watching a truly historic Tour that will be remembered and analyzed for years to come. 

Today we climb, and then climb one of the most beloved and
storied peaks on Le Tour - the Tourmalet. Just look at the
profile for today's stage. OUCH! It's killer, and it's gong to
be such fun! 

That said, let's move on to today - mountains, mountains and a finish on the Tourmalet. True joy and happiness for this Tour fangirl. Here's the official blurb for today's stage.

It’s the third stage finish atop the gruelling Tourmalet, the most visited climb of the Tour de France. The winner up there, at the altitude of 2115 metres, will succeed to Jean-Pierre Danguillaume in 1974 and Andy Schleck in 2010. This is the first big battle of the Pyrenees following the confirmation of Julian Alaphilippe as the race leader after his amazing victory against the clock in Pau. Three riders who lost a significant amount of time in the crosswinds on stage 11 rode a very strong time trial: Rigoberto Uran (4th), Richie Porte (5th) and Thibaut Pinot (7th). They’re hungry for more and the high mountains are their favourite terrain. Three Colombians are in the top 10 overall: Egan Bernal who is now clearly the second option of Team Ineos as he’s 1’26’’ behind Geraint Thomas, Uran and Nairo Quintana. They’re expected to fire up the first hilltop finish of the 106th Tour de France.

As we enter today, the big question (besides times and chances to win/place/even get over the mountains to come) is what the heck is up with Dennis Rohan? He, quite literally, gave up his ride on Thursday, coming to a halt at the feeding station on Stage 12 and refusing to participate in Le Tour any further. The gossip has it that an argument with his team management had him quit and "walk" off the job, but nobody seems able to get confirmation or details. It's the big mystery of this year's Tour. 

Sunday's peaks aren't quite as high, but it's still a very impressive
route laid out for the boys to suffer through and over. Legs of iron, that's
what these riders have to have. The really BIG mountains come
next week - the Alps are still to come and the race will come to an
amazing climax on Thursday, Friday and Saturday next week. 

So today we end on Tourmalet, and tomorrow, well, tomorrow is much longer, 185 km, ending at Prat d'Albis. The rest day on Monday will be very well deserved. One disappointment from yesterday's time trial was the crash and withdrawal of Wout Van Aert (Team Jumbo-Visma) who had shown such promise in the Tour to this point. His foot caught one of the side barriers and he went down hard. I'm going to be remembering his name, though. He might well be on the Podium one of these days - a young rider with great promise. 

So that's a lot packed into today's post, and I didn't even mention "The Open", where Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, and most disappointing of all, Rory McIlroy didn't make the cut, so won't be playing over the next two days. McIlroy came close - so close - after a disastrous first day, but it was not to be. On that note, I'm wrapping this very long post up and calling it a day. Time to head out to the gym and try to increase my fast-walking pace. Have a wonderful weekend and I'll be back on Monday for analysis and commentary on the final Rest Day of this year's Tour. 

Friday, July 19, 2019

Time Trial Today, Tourmalet Tomorrow

OMG, what a wonderful stage yesterday, and once again we had a new stage winner at the end of the day. That's eleven unique stage winners in eleven days of racing - almost unheard of in the long history of Le Tour de France. Simon Yates (Michelton-Scott) won the stage, so serious congrats to him for this first day of steep climbs and exhausted bodies. 

Today is the individual time trial. The course is circular and
features rolling hills - in the middle of the Pyrenees, at
Pau - one of the more storied locations in those mountains. 

Yates' win hasn't changed the overall rankings, however. Julian Alaphillipe (Deceuninck-Quick Step) still is in the Yellow jersey - an outstanding run for this young French rider, and Geraint Thomas (Team Ineos) is standing strong in second, his eye on the podium in Paris. His team member Egan Bernal stands in third. 

It's not easy to pack a lot of people onto the roads of the Pyrenees, but
this was one of the views from yesterday's stage. The riders
are on the right, heading upward, followed by the team cars, and
the road is almost obscured by fans and followers of Le Tour. 

Today may be a deal breaker - the individual time trial. Although a relatively short course - only 27 km in a circle from Pau to Pau, the cracks can become chasms of time with a bad ride today. The riders are tired after yesterday's efforts, but have to go all out today to maintain or to capitalize on their positions. It'll be a tough day in the Pyrenees. 

Here's the official blurb for today's stage. 

Thirty eight years ago, the first non-European leader of the Tour de France rode in a yellow skinsuit as it was a time trial from Nay to Pau on a similar distance as stage 13 in the race that celebrates the 100th year of the yellow jersey precisely on this day, July 19. Australia’s Phil Anderson lost it to Bernard Hinault by 13 seconds only. This time around it’s a Frenchman trying to resist to an English speaking cyclist. Julian Alaphilippe who has now eight yellow jerseys like his fellow countryman from Montluรงon Roger Walkowiak [the 1956 Tour de France victor] has a margin of 1’12’’ over defending champion Geraint Thomas and he wants to climb the Tourmalet in the yellow jersey on Saturday as well. The 27.2km course around Pau isn’t a bad one for him. The hardest part is a climb at the exit of Pau at the very beginning. The cรดte d’Esquillot after half way is another section for the strong men to make a difference. Stage 13 had a natural favourite in the person of world champion Rohan Dennis and in the absence of Tom Dumoulin, Chris Froome and world record holder Victor Campenaerts, but the Australian unexpectedly pulled out in the middle of stage 12. Swiss champion Stefan Kรผng of Groupama-FDJ and British champion Alex Dowsett from Katusha-Alpecin are among the substitute candidates for the stage win.

Did you notice what I did in the above? Tomorrow's hint - the Tourmalet! Even my DH knows about the Tourmalet and he's already looking forward to Saturday's stage. Yeah - I have to admit. I also want to get through today so that we can finish on the top of Tourmalet tomorrow, but today's stage might be crucial, so I'll be paying attention (while working on some legal matters for the shop). The time trials may not be the showiest stages, but I remember crashes and falls that ruined chances for a final victory in the past. Weather and road conditions will be super important today. 

I'm off to the gym - my "personal time trial" won't be nearly as interesting. I'll return tomorrow with some maps and profiles of some totally awesome mountains. Have a great day and be kind - let's smother all of the hatred under a blanket of kindness. 

Thursday, July 18, 2019

TdF Finally the Pyrenees - MOUNTAINS!

Well, we're finally here - MOUNTAINS! The Pyrenees, to be more precise. For eleven days, the boys have been riding around and across France (and Belgium) just to get here, to these amazing peaks, for four days of competition and mayhem. Nothing can crack a peloton quite like an HR peak. So, let's take a look at the profile for today's stage. 

We've got some steep and storied mountains on the route today. 

Today we move from Toulouse to Bagneres-de-Bigorre, 209.5 km of ups and downs. Yesterday finished with yet another new stage winner, making eleven days and eleven different winners. Quite extraordinary! The Yellow Jersey is still on Alaphillipe, however, and the question comes - "Will it still be after today's stage?" These four days in the Pyrenees are crucial and here's where our climbers will finally come into their own (and our GC contenders will push to move up and claim as many points as they can). 

Here's the official blurb for today's stage: 

Following Caleb Ewan’s maiden victory in the Tour de France in Toulouse, a different kind of race begins in the mountains. Stage 12 is an appetizer of the Pyrenees before the gruelling hilltop finish at the Tourmalet on Saturday. Best young rider Egan Bernal foresees a breakaway from far out and no fight between the GC favourites ahead of the individual time trial in Pau on the occasion of the birthday of the yellow jersey (100 years). But race leader Julian Alaphilippe is prepared for any kind of offensive on his position. Two first category climbs are on the menu with col de Peyresourde and La Hourquette d’Ancizan. The latter features a sprint bonus with 30km to go to Bagnรจres-de-Bigorre. The fight for the morning breakaway might be the most competitive of the 106th Tour de France up to date.

Tomorrow's individual time trial from Pau to Pau will be essential and the riders will have to go all out to really mark their positions within the rankings. Even though the major players may end up without much change in their positions after today, by the time Monday comes around, the leaderboard may look quite different. 

This is too fun! Here's a great photo of Col de Peyresourde, the
first of the two major mountains the riders will cycle over today. 

Today, however, I'm just going to enjoy the fact that we're finally in the mountains. I'm always amazed by the scenery and the crowds of spectators, as well as the roads themselves. The Alps may be majestic but the Pyrenees have my heart because they're spunky and so very challenging. 

Here's the detail profile of Col de Peyresourde, the first of the
Cat 1 peaks on today's route. 

As mentioned in the official blurb, Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) was the winner of yesterday's stage. Switching to the overall rankings, however, Geraint Thomas (Ineos) has moved up to second place, directly behind Alaphillipe by 1' 12". That's such a small amount when the riders are climbing. If Geraint can hold on through today and ride a killer time trial tomorrow, he'll continue to solidify his grip on the top step of the podium in Paris as this year's winner of Le Tour. He's been riding a clever race thus far. 

Here, riders are moving up the road of La Hourquette d'Ancizan, the
second major peak on today's ride. Just look at the narrow and steep
roads that the Pyrenees are known for. Very different than the Alps
we're visiting next week. 

We lost two riders yesterday and one more did not start today. Niki Terpstra (Total Direct Energie) was involved in a serious crash yesterday and had to pull out. Rich Zabel (Team Katusha Alpecin) did not start Stage 11 and Jasper Philipsen (UAE Team Emirates) did not start Stage 12. So far only eight riders have withdrawn from the race, I strongly suspect that's going to be changed by the time Monday's rest day finally arrives. 

The singular element of La Hourquette d'Ancizan is that
false summit that comes 4/5 of the way up the peak. The bit
that follows that false summit is a beast - steep and unforgiving. 

Have an excellent Thursday and enjoy Day 1 of the Pyrenees portion of Le Tour de France. I've put photos of the mountains into the blog for you to enjoy. I'll be back tomorrow, at least, that's the plan. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

A Typo, A Storm, and Le Tour - My Personal Merry-Go-Round

Hmmm - not really sure about that crazy typo in yesterday's post, but no - no 17 marriages for me. I've only been married once, to my one and only DH, and we will be celebrating 40 years this fall. We're in it for the long haul. Glad I could offer a smile to all of my friends who commented on my marriage-go-round - LOL. 

Although many of you will think of a carousel when the words
merry-go-round are spoken, I remember hours upon hours
playing on merry-go-rounds similar to this in my local
playgrounds and parks. I loved making it go as fast as possible. 

Today is my "day off", which of course I don't get since Chickie is in Montana. She's missed some rather torrential rainstorms, so I hope her house is in one piece when she gets back in a week. Since I have no time off this week, laundry is being pushed into odd days and times. It's not quite 4:00 am and I have a load in the dryer and dinner in the crock pot. No gym today because my PT wanted me to take an extra day (besides my normal Sunday) off. I decided Wednesday would be a good choice, so I'm grumbling while missing my daily exercise. I see my PT again next week and will see if I can just change my type of exercise so that I don't have to miss my day completely. 

Today's stage is pretty flat, one of the last good chances for Peter
Sagan to get points for the Green Jersey. The ride is from
Albi to Toulouse and 167 km long. No real challenges
here. although it will be interesting to see if we have yet
another new stage winner at the end. So far it's been ten
days with ten different stage winners. Quite unusual. 

On Le Tour today, it's flat, flat, flat (relatively), but those mountains are looming ever closer and begin tomorrow. Four days in the Pyrenees (including the individual time trial on Friday), and then, a rest day on Monday before the riders begin their move towards the grand climax of the Alps. Whoot! Mountains! 

After the storm had passed, we went to the patio for a
while. Without power, we had no fans, and the house
was extremely hot and stuffy. The sun spotlighted
the tall tree at the southeastern corner of my property.
It was absolutely stunning! 

Every other tree around it was dark and in shadow, but this
single tree was bathed in sunlight and after-glow. The sky
was promising a rainbow - it was just that quality of light - 
but we couldn't see one yet. 

I decided to pepper this post with photos from the storm we had yesterday - the one that knocked our power out both at home and at the shop. The sky was amazing, once the rain had passed. My camera (phone camera, so not the best in the world) just couldn't capture the amazing robin's egg blue against the orange skies in the final picture, but that sky had us (and others) stopped in our tracks, amazed at the beauty. 

Our creek, the eastern border of our lot, usually trickles at the
bottom of a steep draw. It was running extremely high after the
rain, though. Across the creek you can see trees that are normally
on the bank, now playing 'mangrove tree' with their roots and
lower trunks completely in the swift-flowing water. 

Around 8:30 pm we gave up on power and decided to head to
McDonald's for a late meal. There was my rainbow, finally,
against the eastern sky as we exited the car. If you look
carefully, you can see the hint of a second rainbow to the
left of that first tree. 

I took photo after photo of the western sky but the
colors just overwhelmed the abilities of my
camera. The sky was an intense orange/peach/gold
and the unclouded sky was a true Robin's egg blue.
If I had painted that no-one would have believed
it to be a true color combination. My camera
certainly had its issues. But I tried. 

So there you go, our crazy storm on Monday night. One more thing - our alarm company finally notified me that we had no electric power to the system during my workday on Tuesday. Apparently they had been moving our account (along with lots of others) to some new equipment and software, causing a time delay for minor items. The company assured me that we would have been contacted immediately if it had been something of more consequence. I guess I'll have to trust them on that, but I wasn't super happy. It was more than twelve hours after the power was lost that I got the phone call. 

So, have a great day. I'm off to check on my dinner which is cooking upstairs, and to do some other things since I'm actually right on time today, but no gym to go to right now. This 'day off from the gym' thing is going to drive me crazy! I'll be back tomorrow with a Le Tour de France update and a look ahead at MOUNTAINS! YIPPEE! 

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Wrapping Up Stage 10 and STORMS!

It's a rest day for Le Tour de France today, but I hope some of you caught the amazing ending of yesterday's end in Albi. What a surprise. I can't believe Michael Matthews (Sunweb) whose team led him out for the finish in beautiful style, and he just sat back and watched. It's a sprint, for goodness sake! I don't know what he was thinking, but he ended up in 4th, when he could have been the winner. Instead, Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) won the stage. As we go into the rest day, we've had ten days of racing and ten different stage winners. It's an exciting Tour. 

Congratulations to Wout Van Aert, winner of Stage 10 of this year's
Tour de France. I'm very impressed by this Belgian rider, he's been
right in the thick of things from Day 1. I look forward to seeing
what he can do in the mountains to come. The Pyrenees start on

Last night, ten minutes before closing, the skies opened up, the thunder boomed, and I lost all power at the shop. I had just kicked my associate out of the store less than three minutes before because the wind and rain had gotten so bad. Now I was scurrying around by the light of my phone's flashlight, locking my doors, turning off lights that weren't on, and doing whatever I could with the powerblocks on my electronics before I had to shut everything down for safety. Then, I no sooner was ready to leave when DH texted me that we were out of power at home, too. As it turned out, my store and a few surrounding blocks, and my home and a few surrounding blocks, were all that was out in my area. Everything between was business as usual - lights, camera, action. *sigh*

Home was out of power until almost 10:00 pm, and I have to assume I have now have power at the shop once again, although I won't know how long it was out until I check the clocks in a few hours. I took some amazing photos to share, though. After the storm passed we got some incredible lighting outside, and even a rainbow as we were walking into McDonald's for a late dinner. I might push through a photo blog tomorrow (since today is a rest day on Le Tour), just to share some of the lighting with all of you. It was so beautiful! 

Here's that meme that's been going around, since today is a Rest Day for Le Tour. No Stage maps for today. I'll be back tomorrow for Stage 11, a flat sprinter's stage just before we finally hit the mountains in the Pyrenees. 

๐Ÿ’ Marriages: 17
๐Ÿ’ Engagements: 1
๐Ÿ’” Divorces: 0
๐Ÿ‘ถ Kids: 0
๐Ÿ‘ฆ Brothers: 0
๐Ÿ‘ง Sisters: 0
๐Ÿ• Current pets: 
๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿผ⚕️ Surgeries: 4
✒ Tattoos: 2
๐ŸŒด Been to an Island: No
✈️ Flown on a Plane: Yes
๐Ÿš‘ Rode in an Ambulance: Yes
๐ŸŽค Sang Karaoke: No
⛸ Ice Skating: Yes
๐Ÿšข Been on a Cruise: No
๐Ÿ Rode on a Motorcycle: Yes
๐Ÿ Owned a Motorcycle: No
๐Ÿด Rode on a Horse: Yes
๐Ÿฅ Stayed in a Hospital: Yes
๐Ÿ“ Favorite Fruit: Strawberries
๐ŸŒ“ Favorite Day: Sunday is my Day Off
๐ŸŒˆ Favorite Color: Green, or Blue, or Red, or ... oh hell - I love all of them
๐Ÿ“ฑ Last phone call: A call to my credit card carrier about a charge
☕️ Coffee or Tea: Workweek - coffee. Day off - tea. Love them both. 
๐Ÿฅง Favorite Pie: Lemon meringue or cherry
๐Ÿ• Favorite pizza : Lots of different meats with hot peppers
๐Ÿถ Cat or Dog: Allergic, but both have their charms
☃️ Favorite season: Spring followed closely by Autumn
⭐️ Met a star: No
๐Ÿš Rode in a helicopter:  Yes
๐Ÿ“บ Been on tv: Yes
๐Ÿฆด Broken a bone: Yes
๐Ÿ‘ป Seen a ghost: No
๐Ÿคฎ Been sick in a taxi: No
⚰️ Seen someone die: Yes

So there you go, meme accomplished, even with the little emojis. I hope all of you have a wonderful Tuesday and I'll return tomorrow.