Al Jette and Tim Buckley Race in the TransAlp Bicycle Race!
The Arrival - Message from Tim Buckley
We start tomorrow at 8:30 am. 115k which is fine but 2,450 m of vertical, not so fine.
The Town is filling up with 1400 riders and crews. Very little genetic diversity. We are sharing the hotel with other teams. Patio space was tight and we offered to share our table. Turned out she is the 4 time World Champion in x-country skiing orienteering. Her husband is a x-country ski racer.
Our crew is 24 riders from British Columbia talking smack about how flat Ontario is. We'll have to see, won't we!!
The race is a 2 person team race.
My partner is Al Jette, a training partner of 10 years. Al is the TD Exec VP Treasury and Balance Sheet Management. Fortunately, he doesn't talk work at dinner, though he can explain the banking crisis. Al was scouted by the CFL, but has ridden himself down to Elf proportions. He is super fit and will disappear over the horizon quite early. The best I have been able to manage is squeezing into the Sugar Plum fairy costume for the United Way.
The route tomorrow starts with a 3k climb, then 20k across a valley floor. We have reconned it twice - an incredibly picturesque meadow of Alpine flowers - pics attached.
After a descent we hit the major climb - 23k at 7 pc. We run another descent and finish with another 20k at 4 pc. The game plan is to ride conservatively for these first 2 days. We want to eat and drink 300 cal per hour. Unfortunately, that's from energy drink and pet food bars. Early to bed night.
Last night was a cultural exchange in a bar across the street for the Germany Greece game.
Have a good day!
Check out race site at: http://www.tour-transalp.de/
Day 1 - The Most Beautiful Place in the World
Today the Austrian Alps showed their beauty. We caught glimpses of it as we rode through two passes.
With our expanded coverage, Al is covering the front half and I cover the back half. I can't trade. Al reports it was harder than he anticipated, but rode a solid 4 hour 37 minutes. The depth and the skill of the competition is impressing him.
Our World champion skier and human Garmin was just in front. She and her husband are quite the team. The power of the peletons is dramatic. Single riders or small groups are swept up in the runs up the valleys. The pelotons shatter on the climbs and new ones form after the next descent.
I am attaching 2 pics Before and After. Not much more needs to be said.
9 pm and good night.
Day 2 - No Storm
Last night was a bit unsettling!
We were shelled from Day 1 and were to ride to the highest elevation today.
Rain forecast for the day with 3 deg C at the first summit. Fortunately we lucked out. In and out of rain jacket for a few showers and for the 2 long descents, but pretty good Alpine weather.
Two hills today, 2 descents and a 30 k run in to the finish. The hills were 20 k long and about 1400 m vertical for each. The descents were the same and we had a howling tailwind for the last 30 k for the run in down a valley.
So there are some bigger riders on this tour and they pay on the hills. The big boys went to the front with the tailwind and dished out some payback pain. We call it riding on the TGV when they pull the peloton. Very nice finale!
Al took this photo from the top of the second climb showing the route up from the valley.
Al is climbing well. I found the grades were easier to manage.
Tomorrow brings the Furkelpass at the 75 k mark. It has some crazy steep uphill ramps (19 pc - seriously?).
Oh well a bike has wheels so it is easier to push!!!!
Thanks for reading…
Day 3 - Italy prettier than Austria
Didn't think it was possible, but the run from Brixen, Italy to St Virgil, Italy was sensational. This is the prettiest area I have ridden in, bar none.
The steeps are behind us. One of the Vancouver boys finished on the podium. He is teamed up with a little fellow from East Germany after his partner was unable to come. Al and I are getting some helpful riding advice from a German physio on our team. She has done the Tour and other races in the region. She is a solid racer and invariably cheerful!!
The climbs didn't match the headlines, happy to say. The first climb was 1,500 m. By way of comparison, we do that in a Saturday training ride in the Moraine over 4 hours. Here, we do that in the first 2 hours.
I just asked Al what his group was like and he said, "I don't know." He did avert one diplomatic incident he caused. We will increase his blood sugar tomorrow.
The line of riders on the switchbacks stretches for several kilometers. It looks like the assembly line of the Wonka factory
The riders have settled into the routine. You can ride a 2 hour climb and hardly a word is spoken. The Dutch corner is famous in the Tour. Today some spectarors were blasting "On the Road Again" by the Canned Heat - a tune from teenage racing days. They gave me an encore - at 7 kph - I got to listen to the full tune.
The breakfast table was sensational - will try to top it now.
Tim (shaved and got rid of the euro bad boy look!! - wasn't helping on the hills)
Day 4 - Hump Day - Al dictating.
Each day at the finish we are given a strip map with the profile for the next stage. This is placed on the top tube of the bike as a reference for the fun to come. See the photo of my bike. The profile is nasty however you look at it. We also have a detailed route book with a description of the route. That gets studied before and after dinner.
Expected an easy day. Only 107 k and 2,600 m vertical. Tim did a brake adjustment right off the start and disappeared in the rear view mirror. He shocked me by reappearing just below the summit of Climb 1. Check out the two German fellows in the photo. Tim calls them the Voigt brothers. They pulled him for 30 k. Tim disappeared backwards again on Climb 2. That and Climb 3 took us to the top of the Passo Fedaia. Incredible photo shows the Passo and the distinctive Dolomite features. Tim figures we lost another 3 places as he took the photo. Gets distracted, but notes we have perfected bottle exchange when there was a chance of losing the Voigt brothers' wheels.
The finale was a 10 k to the town of Falcade. 9 pc grades emptied the tank.
Brief photo op with the Voigt brothers in the Expo after. Looking to a good night's sleep. Church beside the hotel does not appear to have a bell tower and solitary Alpenhorn player has gone to watch football.
Tim reciting the Cyclist's Prayer: Every night before going to bed I recite the cyclist's prayer. "If you get my *** over the next climb, I promise that I won't have noon meetings with Harvey and Wendy and I won't hoover cookies from the boardrooms after meetings are over."
Day 5 - Al has Shrunken
127 k and 3000 m of climbing.
Al had a good day and is psyched tonight!!
The peloton was very quiet as we left the start for a 10 k climb. It was starting to be a scorcher at 9 am. The first 2 climbs were weighing heavily before a 50 k descent. Al had his best climbs and we hit the feed station at top of climb 2 within a couple of minutes of each other. The trains across the descent to the base of Mount Grappa pushed into strong headwinds, but got us to the base quickly.
Mount Grappa 32 degrees, 30 k of climbing; about 2.5 hours long.
Even after the day, the riders were still racing for time for the finale. All agreed this was hump day.
Al hasn't wound down yet. He has shrunken to an even smaller size. Check out our picture at dinner!
Camaraderie and respect is high.
We had to shuttle from the finish to the hotel and delays, delays etc. Who should show up but Wolfgang and Jens bearing beers!
Starting to think about Saturday night's party in Arco
2 to go!
Day 6 - In the Heart of the Hills!
7 am - Hot. Sitting on deck chairs. Waiting for the shuttle to the start.
Hotel had choice last night: hot and less traffic noise or less hot and more traffic noise - whiners, eh?
Should be a nice day. About 60 k of climbing. First 25 k will be flat and neutralized. Will be a bunch of peletons whirring to the base Looking for a good day
753 am. Van time. Cranky crowd. Not so fragrent. Adele waking everyone up. Chatter increasing. When we get to start we will have 45 minutes to get bike from park, final dress, fill bottles. Announcer giving route details then at 850 am the 10 minute track of Euro tunes. Wish I knew what I was humming. Adrenaline up heartrate up. Start
4 pm - Day 5 Over.
The neutralized section was great. Less than an hour and easy to open the legs. Not a word of complaint, no warnings, simple hand gestures. No one trying to creep up while neutralized. All will be sorted out in the hills. We were definitely being schooled in Head Office on how to ride in a Peloton. Good education.
2 climbs - Hot, but lots of time in the forest. Nice temperature drop there. Hard day. So you may like this. There is adult content in the following so please tune out if you don't want it.
German guy 'GG', on first climb : Are you a pensioner?
TOB: No I just ride like one!
Climb 2 I ride past and dropped GG
GG: Nice ******* riding pensioner.
TOB: I will make you eat your words young guy!!
Al and I intersected on the feed zones on Climb 2, so I am getting better.
Al had a great ride for the finale. Best day yet for Al….
So here are some basic facts:
· 6 hours on the bike each day
· At least one large bottle per hour
· Temp hit 39 deg so more water than that 300 cal per hour via bars, energy drink or gels.
· Gels have a big caloric hit and are good in steep parts
· Feedstations have refills of above,and watermellon, pretzels, pound cake. Etc Everything but Joe Louies
· Recovery drink of protein and carbs in first 20 min after finish.
· Clean diet after, but teenage quantities.
· First chocolate sundae tonight
· Road control. The police have done it so many times. Drivers incredibly respectful compared to home. Riders very competent. Roads much narrower than Toronto. Cars as nice or nicer. Vans are for deliveries. Cars fit the roads and don't take up full lanes . Bikes and cars co-exist. E bikes will be huge. They can double the power you put out in the pedals.
Big day Saturday. Have a great Canada Day and Fourth of July!!
P.S… that wasn't Al in our picture last night.
The fellow in the picture is our east German ringer and climber, bet he gets blown around in a crosswind!
Day 7 - THE END - Congratulations boys, we'll done and beers earned!!!
Al and I completed the 7th and final stage from Trento to Arco on Saturday.
The start was very festive with riders wishing each other well for the stage. Al and I rode the stage together and thoroughly enjoyed the day.
The day featured climbs, tunnels and a Hammerfest over bricked streets through small towns. More Euro fun. The final stretch into the rider village was quite emotional and satisfying - finishing medals and jerseys for all.
We had a great dinner, then transferred by bus to Munich for departure Monday morning.
This is a tough event on limited training time and flat Ontario terrain. We were in a category where combined ages had to be 100. We cleared the bar with plenty to spare at 116. We finished mid pack. We could move up 10 spaces relatively easily but improvements after that would require new jobs. Regardless of the finish, the race offers an unparalleled amount of climbs, scenery and exposure to European pelotons in a 7 day period.
Thanks for you kind wishes.
Here are a couple of closing shots - the stage start and the finale.
Tim and Al