Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Monday, December 7, 2009

flyby - verbier early season


One day in the schweiz finds a few of the ranchers gathering for early season turns. New comer, the bite - ridersharkbite - blog reader sebbi galli, riderhowe, ridereasy-e, and riderpitts enjoyed late afternoon sun with beers, sammies, and a view that makes u go aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Transalp 2010

The price of gold is going up, so the ranch bankers must be happy.

Tomorrow is the registration for the Transalp.

Anyone?

Please lemme from motorhead know asap.

Bon Vivant,
Bon Voyage,
Bon Mot,
Bon Jour,
Tout Le Monde,
Je Pleusir Maladi Contagious,

Pierre

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Richmond park ride

8 am at Crespos place, its one of those crisp, damp London mornings. The ranch gather together, riderchiche, young boy calner, wide load crespo and eazy-e are getting ready to head towards one of those iconics classics rides, the likes that cemented our friendship, teamspirit and bonding throughout many years> It feels great!! happy guys, big smile in our faces, shooting the shiit, the bad weather is just anectodical, no one really cares... we are just happy and looking fwd to spin the legs...

Richmond in the morning, the color of the fall, the deer, lots of riders going up and down like yo-yo in their bikes, its so cool...

We took it easy, "under 150 heart rate, young calner comanded" its joy of life, and to add to the mystic moment we bumped into rider-speedoreido!! great, we are exited, riding with lone wolf is everys rider Kilimanjaro... the guy is steel, he flies in his de rosa king... and we struggle to follow him.. after one lap at high speed we let lone wolf go ahead and we go back to our winter "under 150 ride" ...

And the Saturday just only started, we have done our workout and endorfines levels are back to top level.. we are feeling good, we are feeling HIGH!

So here is the proof fellas, at the end of the day its not so much about the place, the weather or any external factors, such as money, jobs, status.. its all about the friends and familly, the people we have around, thats is what makes the trick in the pursue of happines and on this one, the ranch has always proven me right.

The heart is singing-

Peace!

eazy-e

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Verbier

NoShow...me....decided a Verbier trip might be in order just to turn the pedals a bit. I'd never been there although had heard a lot about it through Pitts, Reid, Howe. So I hooked up with Ben O'Halloran who has a one bedroom apartment there in a chalet on the slopes of Verbier. Ben by the way is a shoe in for a new Ranch member. He has all the qualities of the Ranch. Steady guy. Awesome cyclist.
The idea was to pop out to the swiss alps for a couple days and get some kilometers in. Little did we expect temps below zero and snow.
Friday night, we leave form Paris, fly to Geneva and arrive on the french side since Noshow couldn't locate his passport before leaving. Ben has the car rental taken care of in about a minute and as soon as Noshow's bike arrives we hit the road with Swiss efficiency. Up to Verbier in about 1hr 45. We have a beer, shoot the breeze and crash. Had been a long week.
Sat, 7am. Wake up groggy, look out window...
Hmmm, looks overcast and chilly. Maybe we'll mtn bike instead. One quick tour around town and with no rental stores open we decide to road bike it. Luckily the weather clears and we go for a 3 hour tour across the valley up a beautiful difficult climb to a glimmering alpine lake,
back across the valley and back up the Verbier climb. As the snow flurries began about 1 km into the climb Ben was having none of it and efficiently dropped Noshow and pedaled away like one of the Schleck brothers up the climb, Noshow grinded along cursing himself for not bringing his bike with a triple, weighing 90 kilos and for being out of shape and miserable. It was a long tough slog in a windy snow flurried atmosphere. Awesome. By the time he made it to the top Ben was waiting for him shivering as he had been waiting a good 20 minutes at least.
A spin back to his apartment and we shower up. Both being pretty psyched with accomplishment we decide to take a drive to the Monastery of the Saint Bernard Pass for a look. Snowstorm, 7 below zero. Looked great. Didn't stay long. A quick drive back home and head to Chez Rider Howe for dinner.
What a treat. He and Natalie had stopped and picked up a Raclette for all of us so we all shared a meal of melted cheese, dried meats, a great salad and good red wine all shared with great conversation. Just a wonderful couple hours.
Back to Ben's, pass out and awake to a beautiful, crisp sunny alpine morning. Little did I realize how crisp it really was.
We had found a mountian bike rental place the day before so had sorted a rental for Noshow.
By 9:30ish we are on the road with a lovely loop planned out for the morning. We had no idea what lay in store.
A lazy coast down the mountain onto an access road and we begin to climb. And climb. And climb.
After about 30 minutes we go into a cloud and the road becomes covered with snow. And the temperature drops to zero or below. Hmm, this is getting miserable. Ok, well we just have to keep going up. So we go and go and go until we have to walk the bikes because the snow is too slippery with the gradient of the slope. Noshow begins to have funny vision due to the high altitude so need to slow a little. Ben says he feels like he needs to eat a banana. Ok. Let's take a photo.
It's cold. Wet skin from the climb. Well below zero. Hmm, where do we need to get to?
Traverse the mountain.. Let's go. So we go. And after about 30 more minutes stop when we move back into the sun again. I see Ben take out his blackberry and start typing away. I have no idea how because I had no feeling in my hands. Ben, What are you doing? Response: I just sent Howe a text message that said the following: "Order 2 hot chocolates right now. I'm serious." We can see the restaurant down the valley where they are waiting for us. Just a few more km to go. So we descend into a brisk wind and end up at a lovely restaurant where met Rider Howe and family and two hot chocolates. It was a lovely sight. A fantastic lunch on the mountainside with the Howe family (Pliget and Lizzie included) and we coast back into Verbier with feelings of success and accomplishment. It was 3 hours of difficult riding conditions but we grinned, beared it, and are the better for it. I'd do it again, although maybe not tomorrow.
Altogether an awe inspiring weekend. And Benedict O'Halloran was to thank. Thank you Ben.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Mama is BACK

Slow is smooth, smooth is fast and fast is a gift.

This seeming contradiction in terms defines many of the sporting greats: mastery and method produce efficient motion, superfluous movement is eliminated, time seems to stop, moving fast never looked so slow, and then in a flash of a brilliance, the clock stops, proving that smoothest is fastest.

Harken three years past, when Ridermama in the ascendancy of podium positions in European age-group triathlon chose another path --- forsaking competitive determination for the joy of parenthood. Pregnant and in process, Riderzoe was born giving rise to a new member of the Ranch. Since then, little has been heard from RiderMama.

But mistake not silence for complacency. Quietly and methodically behind the scenes -- like a shadow in the night -- Ridermama worked away diligently. Day by day, serving a higher purpose, Ridermama leveraged her way into a prestigous medical fellowship, laid the foundation of Riderzoe's childhood success and re-integrated a modicum of competitive training into the mix.

Like a mason stacking granite to reaveal a monument, the unveiling occured Sunday before last, when Ridermama appeared on the coast of California placing 16th out of 164 women in her age bracket in the Nautica Malibu triathlon.


Racing with Riderturbo and Riderzoe spectating, the team completed the 1/2 mile Pacific ocean swim, 18 mile bike and 4 mile run (800m/30km/6.5km) in 1 hour 50 minutes 3 seconds for Mama and 1 hour 40 minutes 14 seconds for Turbo (23rd out of 219) in a showing to make the Ranch proud.

Looking smooth while others gritted teeth, Mama glided through the water, rolled through the bike, and strided through the run with the grace and elegance befitting a champion -- reminding us all that smoothest is fastest.

Photos were snapped, smiles were shared and the west-coast Ranchers were oh-so-proud to proclaim that MAMA is BACK.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Versailles


Trying to iron out a few loops for when the Ranch brethren arrive in a couple weeks.
Here's the most difficult hill so far:

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

the chiche wedding


Normally a wedding follows a stag and that is exactly what happened as a few members of the ranch travelled to melbourne to give witness and state their approval. While most male cycling enthusiasts that follow this blog will turn off at this point - i know faithful reader tea and wedding aficiando ridermamma will want some sort of overview.

The week kicked off with RiderCrespo and RiderEasy-e flying from europe to OZ via hong kong which allowed a few days chez riderpitts. Ridercrespo made the most of his time rising early for runs around the peak, visiting local temples, exploring the various markets, and eating well. Ridereasy-e, true to his Latino roots, chose to live the life of a 17 year old sloth, and aside from a visit to mongkok and the venerable tailor Raja - preferred hong kong at night. This included a nightly skinny dip in the pitts pool and the eternal easy-e life questions posed while floating around bare assed to the stars.

Melbourne appears to be a very liveable city with cafes, coffee shops, and bars all hopping, oblivious to any sort of world downturn. The weekend paper felt heavier than the sunday new york times and on inspection was the result of a 90 page pull out with nothing but real estate classifieds. Draw your own conclusions there.

The friday night reception was held in the old gentleman's club of melbourne - the melbourne club. In a room fit only for a blazer and kaki's we listened to a history of the club while eating miniature steak pie's and slurping beer. Sarahs father gave everyone a lesson on how to address a room on the eve of his eldest daughters wedding - he is one smooth fellow.

The wedding was held at newnham college at the university of melbourne - the sacrament was not administered - however, the bride looked wonderful and chiche a handsome fellow - but the show was in part stolen by ridercrespo's 4 year old daughter valentina who acted as ring bearer and flower girl.

Following the church - a tour bus ran us around Melbourne and a brief history of the town was given. We drove the formula circuit and pasat the site of the Australian open.

The dinner was at the art gallery of melbourne - which was hosting a Dali exhibition. The room was magnificent with 60 foot ceilings and a stained glass roof. Here the stage was set for the inspirational and heartfelt wedding speeches that touched all. Ridercrespo was as elegant in his black tie as was his overview of the chiche - and of course chiche's speech was appropriate and wonderfully timed as one glimpse of the head table showed the male argentine contingent babbling like a bunch of jewish grandmothers watching Yentl.

This wedding - it can be safely summarised - was a perfect expression about all that is good in people, with the lingering sensation left in everybody that truly the chiche/sarah house is one built of stone.

Monday, August 17, 2009

A stag - ranch style


Once upon a time an otherwise innocuous post was scribed on this blog which contained a picture of a fellow - riderchiche - that resulted, all kidding aside - in a few of the ladies that follow the ranch and stalk its pages- calling the said writer and asking after the status of the young argentine gentleman. While little was made of these inquiries given the active filtering/standards/of the filteror - it will come with certain disappointment to part of our fan base - that riderchiche for lack of other sensible discriptors has decided to make a solo break of sorts and marry a lovely lady named Sarah. Now its not the purpose of the blog to debate the merit of leaving the peleton so early in the race - nope like any sensible band of brothers - the only cry that rung through the ranch train was STAG STAG STAG.

Now despite the varied nationalities of the ranch - STAGs do have universal appeal. They mean dancing girls, nut ticklers, beer bongs, two foot cigars, and large steaks. Stags by anybodies reference is a call to arms for all red blooded males to abandon morality, dispose of ring finger hardware, and stumble back into post exam college stupors as those golden drops of beer nectar wash away any guilt of the ritual. God - has given man one more chance at a hallway pass - a kind of adult get out of jail free card.

And so it goes for our rider - rider chiche. A stag for a giant lady producer from latin america whom once sported shoulder length hair and Pantera concert T's - while the possibilities were as endless as the investment opportunities for the 250mln of fresh usd in his new fund - there was one catch. Oh the shame of missing the catch.

We were talking about the ranch.

So the build up came to pass in the same way as a 14 year old boy discovering that just because you buy her a movie ticket doesnt mean you she will take her top off in the second row.

We met - some of us from far far away in Zurich - the riderhowe, the ridereasy-e, the riderzinni, the ridercali, the riderpitts, and the birthday boy - riderchiche. And we rode bikes. We went to bed early, we got up early, we climbed 17km alpine passes, we sprinted long flats, we descended at 78kmh and we hurt.

We talked about gear, markets, love, and real estate. We debated logistics and future races. We talked about riderNoShows manscaping and wine picking, we argued about the size of ridercrespo's back door, we toasted riderstemcell's carbo fear with buns from the zueghauskeller, we poked fun at the riderturbo's fondness for 4 quid buffets and we argued about riderlonewolf's holiday allotment. It was all normal - and we won. Convention and adolescent ritual to the side - the ranch again takes its own path and does things in its own way. Normal.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Performance

Youtube video lampoon

Transalp 2010 Dates

Okay ladies, the dates for the Transalp are 27th of June through the 3rd of July.
You have until November 30, 2010 to decide. The start numbers are drawn by lottery on the 1st of December at noon. For those of you who do not rule the roost, it is time to put on some pants and bring some order. Are you a man, or a little boy? For those Ranchers sporting female mammalian protuberances, take no offense, you can also ride the Transalp.

Love,
StemCell

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Power Lunch with Pitts


Power lunched with Rider Pitts toady in Frankfurt. Pitts perfects hand-rubbed ribs, tomatoes, water and cottage cheese for T´s waistline! Planned out potential future: Spokes, Strings and Edges. Met the cute Pitt kids driving Grandma crazy.

Ranch cycler´s need to start thinking seriously about next years Tour Trans-alp (road bike. We need a contingent at this race and I will personally set up the training agenda!

Giddyup!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Rider StemCell Finishes his 3rd Transalp



Rider StemCell finished his 3rd, and last?, mountain bike transalp race last Saturday. The fist stage was cancelled due to 30cm of Snow on the first pass out of Mittenwald. On the second stage, the third pass was cancelled due to 40 cm of Snow. Once out of Germany, the weather was perfect...as usual. As with the first 2 transalp races, RiderStemCell arrives home with a nasty case of swollen legs and an additional 5 kg of weight. Funnily enough, after 3 days, He is back to normal weight. Why? I´ll tell you why: too many carbs and not enough fat! The food at this event is always horrible! This year I raced in the "Herren" category which had me racing with young boys under 30. I´m a mad and must race with men older than 40! I destroyed a Ranch Jersey with grease as a major Chain suck had me elbow deep in chain grease. Sorry Tom, I owe you a Jersey.

Anyway, I have decided to concentrate my future racing ambitions only on the road bike.
As such, I want to ride the Tour Transalp. I believe the Ranch needs a presence at this event.

Who´s in? or are you all little girly boys?

Love, Stem

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Ranch Recruits: BrokenTooth & SwissChef

All quality organizations require new talent to stay on the cutting edge. New blood fosters dynamism, infuses energy and ideas, and shapes the future as time passes and the guard changes.


The Ranch has been riding high for the better part of a decade. The solid core of RanchRiders know each other well and are a tight knit bunch. Over time, a few riders have joined and none have left.


To wit, Ranch riders have spread out over the globe. With contingents located in London, Zurich, New York, Hong Kong, Frankfurt and Los Angeles, the horseshoe and star can be seen from Central Park to the Val de Bagnes, from Malibu to the Upper Levels, from the Black Forest to the hills of Lombardy, with honorary members in Boulder and elsewhere. And the legend continues.


Never satisfied with the status quo, and always on the lookout for new talent, the Ranch has from time to time invited a select few to join as both Riders and honorary members.

Introducing Rider BrokenTooth and SwissChef. Long time friends of RiderTurbo, RiderMama and RiderZoe, Rider Brokentooth (above left) and Swisschef (above right) and are experienced cyclists in their own right. Rider Brokentooth hails from Ohio -- America's heartland where hard work and simple values go hand in hand. Her mountain resume was born from a decade of ski racing in the US Ski Association Central division, and in the north-east at Cornell University. With riding experience on the climbs of Switzerland, around her mountain top vacation home in Snowmass, Colorado and on a handful of centuries that included road-worthy mishaps, Rider Brokentooth is no stranger to the peloton .


Her spouse, Rider SwissChef adds to the cosmopolitan cache of the Ranch with an impressive riding resume. Originally from Zurich -- with an Italian madre still residing there --Swisschef possesses souplesse cadence, grace and power, fluency in four languages and refined skills in both the international professional workplace and kitchen of Continental cuisine.

Both Riders are new to the ranch, but certaintly not new to the rigors of the outdoor lifestyle, endurance sports, triathlon and cycling. Both work for Nestle, producer of Powerbars, Chocolate and delicious, nutritious dairy products. Both riders recently moved to Los Angeles from living in Vevey, Switzerland where they competed in many events in Europe with Ridermama and Riderturbo in recent years.


Reunited in California, Rider BrokenTooth, SwissChef, Mama and Turbo have been on a number of rides over the past few months, and set off in recent weekends on mountian bike rides in the Malibu and San Bernardino mountains.

One interesting ride called the Bulldog Motorway involved 2500 vertical feet of steep, rocky climbing over three hours traversing the Castro Motorway atop mountain ridges overlooking the Pacific Ocean. In a word, the ride was spectacular. The riders conquered the climb with vigor despite oppressive July heat typical of Eastern facing alpine aspects in the high desert California summer.

An interesting feature of the ride was that it directly passes the original filming site for the syndicated television program "MASH."
Old rusted Jeeps and equipment can still be seen trailside and the Riders stopped for a moment to snap a photo for the blog...


Please welcome Rider BrokenTooth and SwissChef to the group. Next time visitors come to L.A. or Aspen, or when the riders next visit Switzerland, we can join up for a ride!
As an aside, Riderzoe seems to be moving right along with her second birthday and a new set of wheels...















Thursday, July 23, 2009

Racing NYC



That is racing circa 2001. I think i have a skinsuit on.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Lance, Alberto and V.A.M

Ranch riders are always looking for an edge on the bike. A seemingly trivial video interview snippet with Lance reveals deep insight into who wins climbs and Grand Tours.

Save an out-of-this world single time trial by Lance, or otherwise catastrophic mishap by Astana, it explains why Contador is most likely to win on Mt Ventoux leading to a win in this year's TdF. It may also explain why Alberto may win more Grand Tours in the years to come to take his place alongside The Boss, the Badger, Big Mig, The Cannibal and others in the Tour's Greatest of All Time.

Secrets revealed by the V.A.M.

Lance Stage 16 Pre-Race Interview - "Back in the Day"


video

On the Cycling News Website in an interview with Dr. Michele Ferrari, the V.A.M. to which Lance refers in this interview is the "velocita ascensionale media" average climbing speed (vertical rate). By his own admission, Lance's best ever V.A.M was 1790 meters/hours on L'Alpe d'Huez. Presumably, this was during the uphill time trial on Alpe d'Huez in 2004 on a feather light Trek riding fresh and not in an exhausted state at the end of a long road stage as is typically the case when the TdF climbs the L'Alpe d'Huez.

By contrast, Lance states in the video that Contador's V.A.M on Verbier was 1852m/hour -- bettering that of Armstrong's rate in his best years when even then he says "he wasn't following that." This may allude to Lance's belief that even when he was at his best he might not have been able to stay with Alberto on a grand tour climb.

Examples of VAM (Vm/h) Metres Per Hour (Vm/h) from Cycling News Interview:
1800+ Vm/h: Lance Armstrong - and Pantani of olden days
1650-1800 Vm/h: Top 10 / TdF GC or mountain stage winner
1450-1650 Vm/H: Top 20 / TdF GC; top 20 on tough mountain stage
1300-1450 Vm/h: Finishing TdF mountain stages in peloton
1100-1300 Vm/h: The Autobus Crew

Interesting Articles from the 53x12 Website:

VAM: Effects of Gradient & Altitude
More about VAM

Certainly, the Verbier climb in this year's tour was not as long as many of the Tour's Hors Categorie climbs. From our personal experience, the Verbier climb is one we all know well and perhaps any rider, pros included, can sustain higher V.A.M for shorter durations of time.

Neverthless, the quick comment shows just how dominant Contador really is at climbing in Grand Tours right now -- the superior power/weight ratio is evident in his V.A.M. -- and also gives clues to how we might improve our climbing by training just a bit more with the use of a barometric altimeter that is now standard equpment on many of the modern sport watches produced by companies like Polar and Suunto.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

the arrival of riderturbo





randol curtis, aka the turbo from his NCAA div 1 skiing days, arrived for a few days of pleasure, business, and fine dining in Hong Kong. Logistics prevented any cycling however, saturday morning was not just about julietta's fresh papaya and mango - no sir - in the spirit of ranch tradition - riderpitts and riderturbo - knocked off a 50 minute run around the peak followed by a plunge in the pool. Sunday morning saw the turbo depart around mid-day - but that day was not to escape its own early a.m. session as the two knocked of an hour run which included a summit on MT Austin. The highlight of the assult being the two ranchers overtaking a pair of kitted out mountain bikers - on one stretch of 14% grade - and for the avoidance of doubt - ranchers drop mounain bikers on foot. In summary, the turbo looked extremely lean, extremely fast, and exceptionally prosperous.

Friday, June 19, 2009

2010 Tour Transalp

Hello Fellow Ranchers,

Next Year I want to ride the Tour Transalp.

Who´s In?

Hold your breath for my Dreilander Report-It should be cold ontop of that little hill!!!!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

RiderHowe Hitches onto the Cadel Pelaton




On Tuesday of this week, I had the pleasure of joining Cadel Evans (2 time Tour de France runner up) and Hendrik Redant (Sporting Director for the Silence Lotto Cycling Team). The background links to an Australian friend of mine, Peter Beatty (a Ranch Target) who now resides in Verbier. Pete, who hosted the dinner, grew up competing with Cadel and they have maintained a solid friendship since. Cadel and Hendrik were visiting Verbier to scope the 9 kilometer climb (one that we Ranchers are all familiar with) as preparatory work for Cadel’s assault on this years TDF.

Fresh off of a 2nd place result at the Dauphine Libere, Cadel (followed by Hendrik in the Team Car) was “casually riding” 3 stages of this years TDF that were new to him (including the Verbier stage). Known as one of the lower profile top riders on the circuit, not everyone is familiar with Cadel. His achievements speak volumes;
- 2 x Tour De France Runner Up
- 2 x Dauphine Libere Runner Up
- 2 x Tour of Spain 4th place overall
- Along with multiple single event and individual stage victories

Hendrik was no slouch himself, groomed from solid Belgian riding stock, he competed professionally for 10 years, riding 5 TDF’s and multiple top finishes in the single event and short tour circuit.

Over a bottle of red and a hearty spagbol, it was a fascinating evening of sharing tour and rider insights coupled with the regular banter you would expect to hear from a couple of Aussies. There’s did not appear to be a “rockstar” lifestyle, but rather a very serious and committed approach to their sport with a cost conscious approach to overall team Management. A couple of interesting anecdotes throughout the evening included;

- typical TDF riders will put on at least 40,000 kilometers of training per annum

- we always think of the challenge of the climbs in the TDF, what we rarely consider is the 8 to 20 kilometer descents that are done with speeds consistently topping 100 km’s/hour. Try that in light drizzle with a 100 rider pelaton!

- incredible preparation in terms of researching the nooks and crannies of each of the stage’s roadways including detailed analysis of the finishing areas

- a certain level of frustration with Nationality Partnering overtaking Team Partnering (you will know what I mean if you watched the last 2 stages of the Dauphine)

- and finally, a call from Doping Control, advising they would be in Verbier at 7am to give Cadel the once over as part of a routine spot check. Turns out the guy drove half the night from Stuttgart to meet his time commitment.

All in all, a great evening with a couple of humble guys who are so entrenched in their sport, that they don’t really seem to see the magnitude of their achievements.

It looks probable that Cadel will ride the Giro di Lombardia, and for those of you coming to Como, I am hoping I can line up Cadel/Henrik for a post race intro to Team Ranch. In the meantime, and despite confronting a slight latino bias within our team, please join me in supporting a real “class act” for the sport. Hope to see you in Verbier on the 19th of July “pour Etape 15”.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

RiderStemCells New Machine


I had a custom sized frame built for me from the German Expert frame builder NICOLAI. 100% Easton Aluminum with a bottom bracket stiffer than a diamond. No carbon frame can match the stiffness of my Argon Road. It is fast...I am clocking speeds of over 75km/S down the hills of Feldberg here in Frankfurt. Negative Gravity Brakes, Easton SL90 Fork, and waiting for my Rotor Q rings(53/39) and Crank set to arrive.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Time Megeve

Team Ranch. The ranch decided to try a race in Noshow land. Time Megeve. The Alps. The month of June. Easy access through Geneva, a hotel not too expensive. This race had all the potential to be a classic on the Ranch calendar.
Saturday morning the team arrives in Megeve, sort the cars out and we load up for the 1 hour drive to the highclass ski resport of Megeve, France. We had no idea what to expect.

We arrive. 28 degrees C. Alps everyhwere. A magnificent view of Mt Blanc not far away. Wow. This is incredible. Zinni says its' the highest mtn in europe. Cali disagrees. The repsone from Zinni? "Ok, fine Mt Kiliminjaro is higher but ... " huh? Not surprisingly, the word terrone may have been used after that comment.

At the first roundabout in town we see the stadium and go to register. Plenty of bike porn for those interested. We had a cursory glance but were more business than pleasure and headed for the hotel to get settled and then find some lunch.



2 rooms, 2 guys to a room was a much improved scenario after the nightmare of 5 guys and a room at Gimondi. Net net - the place was comfortable and inexpensive even if the owner wasn't the most mannered with us.
So checked in, bike assembled and we head into town to have a sandwich and a beer. On the walk back after lunch Farace looks at Noshow and says, "hey Noshow, i think i am going to take a nap." Noshow responds by saying, "Listen, in all my years, and I am only talking about my experiences, a nap this late in the day won't be good for sleeping tonight." So we meander back to the hotel. Lay down for a couple minutes and Noshow is asleep and under the covers before Farace can finish speaking about how in love he really is with Sarita. An hour later, upon awakening, noshow hears, "And that, Noshow, is why I love her so."


So off to dinner at the slowest restaurant in Megeve, a couple glasses of red and the team heads back for a sleepy night in cool and breezy Megeve. Dreams of Sarita in all of our heads now.


Sunday. A 6:30 start - Cali and Zinni upset at breakfast because Noshow and Chiche don't go upstairs to walk down as a team. We have the "cyclists breakfast" of cold toast and fake powdered orange drink, pack our things and ride to the start. It looks to be a beautiful day. Hot air balloons drifting through the valleys of the alps, a view of Mt Blanc not far away. And the sun coming up over the mtns. What a great way to begin a race.
8:30 the bell tolls and we roll through town. 4 members ot the Ranch in their first french alps race. We have 115km of alps ahead of us. Focus.

We roll for about 20 minutes to the first hill. Not too bad. Maybe 45 minutes of climbing but couldn't have been more than 6% at its worst. Over the top of that and we have a great decent touching speeds of 75-78kph. Was beautiful. Noshow gets a flat and the team waits for him. Brilliant. Climb #2. More difficult. Ths climb takes well over an hour and the team is spreading out a bit trying to climb at their own tempos. Cali, spinning away, relaxed, eating up kilometers. Farace grinding along like Jan Ullrich in a heavy gear. Zinni churning his chainring eating tarmac under his wheels and Noshow shifting to his triple as he begins to feel his 39 years.
Over the top - Zinni flats, Noshow climbs back up to help him with the change and off they go again. The temamates, Cali and farace waiting around the corner. We're at 4 hours now and see the turn off for the 85km loop. Not even a hesitation for the team, we go for 115. Noshow flats again on the decent and almost loses it. Realizes his tube stem isn't long enough and we wait again for a gentleman spanish rider to make a trade for a tube that fits (Cali negotiates) and up climb 3. We were warned that the first 3km were difficult. What we weren't warned about was the climb was more like 20km and the whole climb was STEEP. Cals and Noshow start to bicker about 1/3 of the way through (MEIGHT) and Cali takes off. Noshow not feeling it but angry chases him and tries to drop him. About 10 minutes into the "try to drop CALIi move" he looks back over the curve in the road to see where he is and hears a chipper, "Hey Buddy! Right here!" About an inch off noshow's wheel. Darn it. Thought he had the flu.
Up over the top, a decent into the valley again and the team heads for home. At this point, the team is looking ragged. Zinni is covered in salt from dried sweat. Noshow can't think straight, Cali, looking feverish and Chiche looking calm somehow. 33 degrees C - it's hot. The road drifts up slightly and at this point it saps you but the finish is so close. We will make it. We will make it as a team. Zinni had slowed on the decent to ponder where in fact Mt Kiliminjaro actually was so the other 3 teammates wait before the finish so we could all cross together. This race was ridden as a team and we wanted to finish as a team.
We all arrived in Megeve unprepared for this race. 2 guys not trained well, 1 with the flu and one with a cold. The Ranch wasn't willing to not ride it so we bucked up, held together as a team the entire 6 hours of riding and are the better for it. I, for one, am proud of the effort and the support of fellow ranchers. Once again I am impressed at the character of the riders I am associated with. Pure quality.