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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!

 


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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

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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Who said the French were rude and unfriendly?

July 12, 2014

Friday was our first opportunity to observe Le Tour in a mountainous setting. We parked our van 17 kilometers from the finish line on a long uphill stretch of road that the papers predicted would separate the riders from one another as they tackled the challenging climb. This would allow us to see the riders more closely as they would likely be in a long series of single file groups when they passed us. While waiting for the action to begin we walked down the hill into the little town of Maron which had clearly been anticipating the arrival of this day for some months. Along the way we met two Englishmen next to a large Union Jack waving in the breeze. My first thought was to congratulate them on the wise decision to travel together and thereby speed up the process of dealing with the toll booths. Instead we commiserated with them about the withdrawal of Chris Froome and they explained that this is why they were in the process of redoing their signs in favor of Richie Porte, the Sky team’s number two rider. Then one of them added with a resigned air “We came to the Tour to support Froome and now we find ourselves cheering for a bloody Tasmanian.” Leaving them to contemplate the unfortunate turn of events that had caused two self-respecting English gents to turn their allegiance towards a Tasmanian, we walked on.

Further down the hill after the wall-to-wall line of camper vans had ended we met two Canadians standing alone together on the side of the road under a large Canadian flag. We soon saw that one of them was in the process of getting dressed in a full Canadian Mountie uniform. They were both 60ish in age and the Mountie explained that he figures that if he places himself far enough away from the crowds of people, he will have less competition when it comes to meeting the women who will be attracted by his uniform. While I was still pondering his logic and thinking that such women would have to go well out of their way to find him when he’s standing on an empty stretch of road, I turned and found the other Canadian had donned a large poncho made in the design of the Canadian flag. Making a mental note to keep an eye out for any women who looked as if they might be searching the hills and mountains of the Vosges region for a Canadian mounted policeman, we walked on and soon reached the edge of the village.

All along the route it appeared that people were hosting lunch gatherings on their front verandah, front lawn, front balcony and even on the footpath in front of the house. The accompanying decorations and flags that had been placed on houses, poles, fences and buildings served to create a very festive atmosphere. We passed one house hosting a gathering on their upstairs balcony and displaying a sign that read “Thank you for bringing the Tour de France past my house on my 11th birthday. Leane.” As we walked past the house we looked up to find a girl of about that age sitting at one end of the row of chairs with about 10 adults. I called up to her “Happy birthday, Leane!” The adults all sighed collectively “aah” and looked at her and back to us. “Merci” many of them said to us. They seemed genuinely touched by that simple gesture. Who said French people were rude?

Later that evening back at our campground at Lac de Bouzey (in English this would be pronounced Boozy Lake), we had dinner at a local restaurant overlooking the lake. Before our meal arrived, a bus load of about 15 middle-aged ladies arrived and sat at a long table near us, talking happily among themselves. We wondered if it was a school reunion group because they all seemed to be about the same age. While we were eating, a French guitarist started up on the other side of the dining area singing British and American songs including Hotel California and Sweet Home Alabama. After a while he invited the restaurant patrons to sing along with the chorus of some of his songs, most notably Hey Jude. By now the ladies were in good form and one of them got up on her chair for a few moments. A few minutes later when the guitarist played Hound Dog, two of the other ladies got up and danced a spirited jive next to their table as we and the other diners clapped along. Later after our dessert when we got up to leave, we went to say good bye to the ladies’ table. They all seem disappointed that we were going, especially the dance-on-chair lady. She then said to me “I want to go with you”. There was much laughter all around as I gave her my card with the blog address and told her she could go with me on the web. Who said French people aren’t friendly, and where were these Canadian guys when I needed them?

Once again I cannot answer the question about Canadians, but I can answer another question about the Tour de France.

Why do they have teams if only one guy can win in each category?

There are 22 teams in the 2014 Tour de France, each of which has 9 riders. The ultimate aim for each team is to have its leader win the General Classification. Millions of dollars in prize money and sponsorship are attached to the prestige of being the rider who finishes the last day of the Tour with the yellow jersey. The teams also are awarded points on each stage of the Tour and although there are no special jerseys involved, there are daily and overall prizes awarded to the leading team. Because of the extremely challenging physical requirements placed on a rider who would aim to win the final yellow jersey, riders with such capabilities are few and far between. For that reason many teams set their sights on the other prize categories while they try to build a team capable of winning higher honors. No matter what its particular goal may be, the members of a team need to work together towards that goal. For example if a team is trying to win the yellow jersey, the individual team members must be prepared to sacrifice their own ambitions for the sake of the team leader. They do this by riding close to their leader, often taking it in turns to ride in front of him to set the pace and allow him to conserve energy by riding in their slipstream. Another example of teamwork is often seen in the closing parts of a mountain stage where the leader may be at or near the front of the field and a rival from another team tries to break away from the group and gain time on the leader. In this case one of the leader’s team mates who is a climbing specialist will stand up on his bike and chase down the breakaway while the leader follows and eventually catches up. In both these examples the team mates will often have exhausted themselves before the finish line, but they have done their job in supporting their leader. It is for these reasons that every winner of the overall yellow jersey at the finish line in Paris makes sure to publicly thank his team mates and share his winnings with them because he knows he could not have done it alone.

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Did you speak to the birthday girl in French? How is your French by the way? Thanks for the info on the teams. Never understood that.



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