It's Only a Bike Race -

How Hard Can It Be?

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Winner of New Book Awards Prize!


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"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


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

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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Time Takes Its Toll (and vice-versa)

We are now on our way back to Paris and I am writing this in the van while my wife is taking her turn at the helm of Giselle. Our redneck repairs seem to have held up well so far, but we don’t want to tempt fate any further and are driving at a speed of 80 km/h (50 mph) to reduce the wind speed over the vehicle. We drove for about half an hour a few days ago with no cover over the front skylight and it was a noisy and uncomfortable experience that we don’t want to repeat. We were given another reason to be grateful for our repair work early this morning when a thunderstorm passed over the town where we were staying. When we arose early to start our journey to Paris of 785 km (490 miles) it was still raining and the rain and lightning stayed with us for the next couple of hours. All of this made me rather nervous about whether the duct tape would maintain its adhesion, but when we stopped to check on the situation after the rain had ended I was pleasantly surprised to find only one small spot where about an inch of tape needed to be pressed back into place. Even if our patched-up skylights had sprung a leak, I could at least assure my wife that I would never put her in the position that this poor lady in a motorcycle sidecar in front of us on the autoroute found herself in!

According to the signs on the autoroute we have just passed the halfway mark of our journey. By the time we get back to Paris we will have travelled 5,000 km (3,100 miles) on the roads over here, much of it on the freeway (a.k.a. autoroute) system that criss-crosses the country. Almost all of our autoroute journeys have required us to pay a toll, for example we have paid around US$25 so far today. The last time I drove extensively in France was about 15 years ago and at that time toll roads were a rarety. Apparently during the intervening years a large part of the highway system has been privatized and is now managed by companies who collect a toll to provide a return on their investment. But for foreigners like us, paying up at the toll stations is not as simple as we might like. To start with, probably 95% of the toll stations we have used are unattended and it’s always a lucky dip to see whether our American credit card will be accepted or not. The European cards have an embedded chip, whereas the American ones do not. If our credit card doesn’t work, then we have to fumble for change to insert into the machine slots which are at an awkwardly low height for us trying to reach out the front window of Giselle. For reasons only known to Signore Fiat, Giselle’s front windows do not lower all the way to the bottom of her window frame but instead leave about 4 inches of glass that we have to reach over. Then if there is change to be dispensed by the toll machine we have to reach down to that particular aperture which has been placed inconveniently lower still. It is by no means a simple reach for me, but my wife has to almost get half her body out of the window to perform these contortions. She has worked out a routine whereby she stops at the toll booth, puts on the hand brake, undoes her seat belt, lowers the window, takes a deep breath and gamely plunges into her task while I await her with credit card and coins at the ready.

After a while we have become used to all this fussing around, but one particular experience earlier this week on our way from Provence to the Pyrenees Mountains is indelibly engraved in our minds. July is traditionally a month when many French families take vacation, and many of them choose to do so by car. The newspapers reported that at one point on Saturday July 15th there were literally hundreds of miles of traffic jams across the country caused by holidaymakers and their cars, caravans, trailers and camper vans. By the time Monday July 21st came around we thought that the holidaying crowd would already be happily ensconced at their intended destinations and consequently there would be no extra traffic on the roads. We learned the error of our ways when we came upon a toll plaza that day in the south of France where cars, trucks, caravans and other assorted vehicles were lined up twenty-or-so deep waiting to pay their tolls. I counted 18 gates in operation at this plaza, of which only five accepted cash. The remaining gates were reserved for drivers using credit cards or the electronic tolltag system. These particular gates saw very little traffic while the lines for the cash gates moved painfully slowly. I had chosen the lane that I thought had the shortest line when we arrived, but it seemed to be moving even more slowly than the others. By the time we got halfway to the toll booth we saw that while there were five gates accepting cash, there were six lines of vehicles trying to use those gates – even worse, we were in one of the two lines that were trying to use the same gate. Finally after 30 minutes sitting and slowly inching forward, we got to the toll gate. Our credit card had not worked at any of the toll booths for the past 200 miles but I decided on a whim to try it anyway. Voila! It worked. My wife and I sat and looked at one another. We had just sat through 30 minutes of unnecessary frustration when we could have gone almost straight through any one of the other empty gates.

No wonder the French take such long periods of vacation – they have to set aside time to get through the toll booths.

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