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It's Only a Bike Race -

How Hard Can It Be?

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Winner of New Book Awards Prize!

 


Purchase Your Copy of this Award-Winning Book

"It's Only A Bike Race: How Hard Can It Be?" is now available for purchase in paperback and Kindle!

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The Awards Judge Organization proudly announces the

Winners of the First Annual 2015-16

NEW BOOK AWARDS

Los Angeles, CA—The Awards Judge Organization has announced the Winners of the First Annual NEW BOOK AWARDS.   The New Book Awards were created to boost recognition for outstanding literary achievement filtered out of a wide spectrum of America’s diverse literary community.  One purpose of the awards is to bring attention to independent and self-published works that might otherwise go unnoticed.  The New Book Award winners range from well-known and established writers to aspiring authors and first works. There are no quotas for diversity; the winners list simply reflects the quality chosen through a natural selection process.

The Awards Judge Organization (AJO) is a national independent product review & ratings commission.

The full text of the press release announcing the list of award winners including "It's Only A Bike Race" can be found at www.newbookawards.com

Le Tour de France - A Vacation On Wheels?

Riding a bicycle around France during July sounds like an idyllic way to spend a few weeks during the summer. Visiting different regions of the country while on a leisurely ride through vineyards and sunflower fields seems like a fun pastime in which all French gentlemen should aspire to partake at least once during their lifetime. Just to add a little adventure and interest to the two-wheeled vacation, there would be a small prize for the first man to return to Paris. …. This was the ill-informed overall impression of the Tour de France that the author had gained during five years of studying French at high school on the other side of the world.

Some twenty years later when he was able to make his long-awaited first trip to France, he began to discover that his pre-conceived notions of the event were removed from reality by a large distance - over 3,000 kilometers to be exact. Having realized the extent of his original misperceptions about the Tour de France, the author was eager to discover whether it was still possible to enjoy the Tour de France in the way he had visualized it as a youngster. Substituting a campervan for a bicycle, he decided to follow the Tour de France for three weeks with the aim of enjoying the race while simultaneously taking in the sights, sounds and tastes of France. This book tells the story of his quest.

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Navigators and Air Guitars

July 21, 2014

We awoke with a slightly sad feeling this morning to think that our days before leaving France were numbered. We had joined Le Tour at Stage 4 and were now about to witness Stage 13 of the 21 that comprise each year’s Tour de France. On the way to watch Stage 13 we stopped at McDonald’s to use their Wi-Fi so that I could upload my blog from the previous day. It must be said that McDonald’s restaurants are few and far between in France, so it takes some effort to find one. Geraldine, our GPS navigator, perceives herself above such vulgarities of facilitating our eating at American hamburger restaurants but fortunately Siri the Apple iPhone wizard has no such qualms. She safely and efficiently took us to our nearest McDonald’s – even though she pronounced it by spelling it out as M.C. Donald’s. Although this particular location looked similar to many in the US, the patisserie section inside and the standard of service were in complete contrast to our experience in another location a few days earlier.

Having access to reliable Wi-Fi was important to my being able to update the blog and send photos, but by now we had come to realize that campground operators’ claims of offering Wi-Fi service are often greatly exaggerated. For example, at our most recent location the Wi-Fi access ostensibly offered by the campground was in fact a free 2-day trial of Wi-Fi offered by the local telephone company that just happened to have a cell phone tower nearby. We watched Stage 13 surrounded by local residents in the cute little town of La Frette. While we were waiting for the Publicity Caravan to arrive, a car from the Orica-GreenEdge cycling team pulled up and parked right behind us. This was the first and only Australia-based team ever to have entered Le Tour de France and naturally I was excited to talk with the two occupants of the vehicle. Apparently they had spotted the nearby bakery and had stopped for a quick bite of lunch. I spoke with them when they got out of the car and commiserated with them on the bad luck they had encountered when they lost the promising young rider Michael Matthews to injury on the eve of the Tour. On their return from the bakery, the driver gave me an inflatable Orica-GreenEdge air guitar as a souvenir. By way of explanation should point out that the team and its organization prides itself on its relaxed culture which has included the production of a number of light-hearted videos where team members and staff sing along to popular songs, simultaneously playing imaginary electric guitars. I happily inflated said instrument and taped it to the windshield of the van.

Just prior to our surprise visit from the Australians the local residents, who were set up opposite us at a long table displaying every intention of making a day of the event, painted signs on the road to encourage their two favorite French riders Pinot and Bardet. This effort was led by an ample matron who perspired in the 90-degree sunshine as she refined the details and nuances of her artwork to make sure it looked just so. When the Publicity Caravan arrived, a handful of her compatriots crossed the road and found an empty place next to us in order to improve their chances of scoring some prizes from the generous sponsors. One young man around 20 years of age was particularly enthusiastic in yelling “Allez!” to every vehicle that went past, so we were treated to an almost constant stream of “Allez Carrefour!”, “Allez McCain’s!”, and even “Allez La Police!”  When there were simply too many different vehicles present he resorted to the more generic but no less strident “Allez! Allez! Allez!” He and his cohorts were accumulating quite a pile of prizes behind them as the Caravan passed and they grew ever more excited.

One particular lady in their group who was caught up in the moment went around to the front of our van and retrieved the air guitar from where I had it taped to the windscreen. She made a great show of it to her friends and family across the street as she brought it back to her excited bunch of supporters. The people across the street tried gently to inform her that this particular was not a random giveaway that she could claim for herself. They looked at her and at me, and she looked at them and me. All of us were smiling good-naturedly as she pretended to play the guitar for the next float in the Caravan. I was prepared to let her have fun with it during the passing of the Caravan, but then she turned and added the guitar to her pile of prizes. At this point I realized that she really thought it was hers, so I went and retrieved it and placed it inside the van on the front dashboard. It was a slightly awkward moment, but my friends who know me best will readily vouch for my long-standing interest in playing the air guitar. They will also be the first to agree that I have a great face to be on radio.

After the Stage had passed us by we climbed back up the mountain to our campground where we sat out in our new chairs in the early evening sunshine next to a clear mountain stream flowing through wildflowers and flourishing greenery. My wife cooked a wonderful dinner on the stovetop in the camper van consisting of an omelette using fresh local mushrooms, olives, feta cheese and mussels, accompanied by wine and a salad of fresh lettuce and tomatoes. Dessert was local peaches and cream served with madeleine pastries. Meanwhile on the hill opposite, a group of about 20 beige-colored cows lazily ambled home for the evening following the sound of the bell worn by one of their number.

It was a perfect and peaceful end to a day in rural France, and almost enough to inspire the composition of a new symphony for air guitar.

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