France Extraordinaire

La Course

Annemiek van Vleuten from Orica won the 4th edition of La Course, a race that took in a mountain stage on day on a Col d’Izoard 67.5 km mountains, and a 22.5 km time trial pursuit on day two.

The best twenty riders from Thursday’s stage won the right to compete for the win in today’s second event, with the time gaps from the Izoard carried into a staggered start for the 22.5kilometre time trial course around Marseille.

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Phil Anderson

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I will be at home this year, the first time since at least the late 70’s watching Le Tour supporting the Aussies – http://philandersoncycling.com.au/blog/my-tour-de-france-2017

As you may have heard, Phil had a nasty crash on a training ride in Melbourne last week.

It’s been a tough day in the office. Sitting up and feeling great after a rough training ride. For the first time in my career I have a broken collar-bone and broken every rib on my left side. All things considered, not bad and I can’t remember a thing.

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Apparently Phil was found wandering on the roadside with concussion. It is thought the crash was the result of either a pothole or a wallaby.  I’m going with the pothole theory as the Wallabies haven’t been able to stick a tackle for years.

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When it comes time to work out whether to sty home or go to next years TdF, I’m guessing Phil will be going.

Given his long professional cycling career, it’s surprising that this is his first Collar Bone

Speedy recovery Phil.

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Warmfront

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A funny little tea-towell looking thing with a vicars collar arrived at the Wednesday Legs testing lab a few months ago, going by the name of Warmfront

Made in Colarado, it came with the promise:

“The Warmfront is a chest warmer, but it’s a better thermal base layer”

The Warmfront is made from a waffle fleece, which sounds delicious to a cyclist, is lightweight, and with the velcro tab collar, allows you to ride with it stadshed nice and neat in your back pocket without taking up much space. At 51g, you barely know it’s there.

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When you ned it, it’s easy to whip it out, place down your front, attach the collar around your neck and wallah, off you go, down into the great known. Coming back from mid-summer riding in France a few weeks back to mid-winter riding in Adelaide was hard to take.  Whilst we don’t generally get sub-zero temperatures, the Adelaide Hills can get awfully close, and throw in wind chill, it can be very uncofortable.

I popped out for a ride in the Superb Adelaide Hills (have I mentioned that before?) the previous weekend. Blue skys, no rain, halelulah. The route took me up Greenhill road, around to Mylor, up the 4 Whores, Morgan Road, Pole Road and wrapping back around to Redberry Cafe for a coffee with Mrs Wednesday and Wednesday Junior.

It was 5 degrees in Adelaide when I left, so assuming the usual 3 – 5 degrees difference at the top of Greenhill road, it was going to be a bloody cold ride, so with three layers and a Warmfront thrown into the rear pocket, I figured this would be a good test.

I’m glad I did – I robed up at the top of Greenhill road, and then spent the next three glorious hours cruising the Adelaide Hills comfortable not numb (showing my age there). The Warmfront worked a treat gliding down into Mylor, which for those in the know is one of the coldest spots in the Adelaide Hills. With the waffle on the front only, any heat buildup can escape on the back, so I didn’t need to remove it on the short sharp climbs in the hills. In fact, I was a littl econcerned that I would be pulling it on and off on the rolling Adelaide Hills, but I was quite surprised that I was able to keep it on for the remainder of the ride.

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So my verdict, I was glad I had it with me and it’ll be with me on my winter Hill rides – highly recommended for those colder months riding in the hills.

The Warmfronts are distributed in Australia by Full Beam – see here for details on the Warmfront – Fullbeam

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Oh, and this was some of the country side I rode through on that cold cold morning

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Adelaide Cycling Maps by Velo-Port

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For those looking for some ideas on where to ride in Adelaide, the guys over at Velo-Porte have pulled together some great rides that provide a great sample of all that the Adelaide Hills have to offer.

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On offer are a variety of lengths and climbing difficulty, and sitting behind each of these maps are a detailed description of what to expect along each of the major sections of the rides.

VP’sn description of the 75km VPCC KOM Loop ride is on point.

This one is not for the faint-hearted. We may not have the monsterously long climbs of Europe but we can stitch together endless climbs of different grades and lengths.

The combined climbs highlighted below add up to about 18 kms of climbing and 1720m of elevation.

It’s not the longest ride out there but we’ve struggled to write about any of the flat sections, mostly because there aren’t any.

This is a great training ride or if you just feel like testing the legs, give it a crack.

Enjoy?

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So check them out here – http://www.velo-porte.com/local-knowledge  

Those coming from interstate will find this a very useful source of cycling inspiration – oh, don’t forget you can also hire a good bike of you don’t want to bring your own

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Annecy – France

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Please bare with my self indulgance – this is the last of my holiday pics.

Part 3 of my France trip, which seems so long ago now, had me heading over to Annecy for 4 days before I flew back to Adelaide.

Annecy is an alpine town in southeastern France, where Lake Annecy feeds into the Thiou River. It’s known for its Vieille Ville (old town), with cobbled streets, winding canals and pastel-colored houses. Overlooking the city, the medieval Château d’Annecy, once home to the Counts of Geneva, contains a museum with regional artifacts such as Alpine furniture and religious art, plus a natural history exhibit.

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Why Annecy – I’m glad you asked.

I can recall watching last years TdF, listening to Robbie McEwan on the SBS commentary team talk about how Annecy would be his preferred home in Europe if given the chance.

maxresdefault It was around then that I was starting to think about that trip to France, and Robbie’s comments were parked for future reference. The next day, I saw a friends posting on Facebook, they were on holiday in Annecy when the tour came through that day, and her daughter was more interested in something going on in the shade away from the heat than she was in this world-famous race just a few metres away.

Following on from Robbie’s comments, I asked my friend about Annecy, and she responded by saying that they had been staying in Annecy every summer holidays for over 5 years (they live in the UK), and liked it so much they had just bought a holiday house there.

Aaaannnd,

 

the offer was put out that it was available if me and the family wanted to make use of it.  That offer was parked.

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So, when the trip with Unique Cycling Tours came on the radar, and starting/finishing in Lyon, just a few hours train from Annecy, the ball was set in motion, emails sent, negotiations on the home front, and plans made to extend my trip to take advantage of the generous offer.

Take a look at this. Oh my!

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After getting dropped off at Lyon airport by the Unique Cycling Tours crew at the end of the trip, Ed, Ferg and myself caught the light rail from the Saint-Exupéry train station at the airport into Gare de la Part-Dieu – the old Lyon train station. Ed and I were both heading to Annecy, Ed to catch up with a friend before they headed over to the UK for a walking holiday, Ferg came along because he was hanging around in Lyon an extra day and decided to have a look see in Lyon – he came in handy as we needed someone who could half-speak French – ish.

The train station at the airport is stunning, modern concrete and steel structure that looks like a steam punk style cockroach – or if you squint your eyes, it could be a swooping magpie.

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The train out to Annecy took a few hours, lovely countryside, a few lakes, and then popping out in Annecy. I found out that Sunday evening in Annecy is not the ideal time to be looking for a Taxi. I arrived around 6:30pm, and an hour later and 3 knock-backs, which I think my bike bag looked like too much hassle. I found out later in the week from a local that there are few taxis around on Sunday, and those that were around didn’t want to venture too far from town – my accommodation was 15km down the lake.

A quick call to my friend Michelle in the UK for some ideas had me heading to a local pub  – Au Beureau – for a meal to bide my time before trybig for a taxi a little later.  As it turned out, the head waiter spoke pretty decent English, and after a couple of Blondes of the Belgium Beer variety (Leffe) and a bite to eat, I asked and received help from said head waiter. Brilliant. He called the taxi company, was advised they would search for a cab that could take my bike bag, called back 15 minutes later to see if there was any progress, asked me if I was ok to share (Yes), and then helped me with my bags when the taxi when it arrived.  Outstanding service. Check them out here.  http://www.aubureau-annecy.fr/

13419126_1377006425659450_9197729369310952942_n In fact, looking at the pubs Facebook site,  this picture sprung out because the young lady just right of centre front with the long braided hair was my waitress, and the young man next to her right shoulder was the head waiter who helped me. Thanks guys, your effort was very much appreciated.

The second surprise of my Annecy stay was the taxi ride itself. The taxi – a BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe, cool. The share passenger sat in the front, I sat in the back surrounded by my baggage stuffed in, and with the window down and the warm wind in my face, I was given a great tour of the lake as the taxi driver – a close relation to Alain Prost, took me on a journey around te lake as he dropped the share passenger opposite from where I was going – no drama. That journey was bliss, all the worries of how I was going to find my accomodation drafted out the window – I was given a fantastic 3/4 loop of the lake. The thoughts going through my brain were along the lines of “I wonder whether the company I worked for would like to set up an office in Annecy”. First impression – impressive – looks like a great adult playground.

Arriving at the house, seeing the gate slide back when I punched the code into the panel – such a huge a relief.

OK, without going into the boring day by day details of my 4 days, I’ll give some brief highlights.

Standing on the front Porch of the house had me looking over the lake and up to the mountains on the other side.

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At night, looking across the lake, the lights of a restaurant far up in the mountains opposite shone bold and bright in the dark skyline, and therefore a target for a ride the next day ride. The ride up through the mountain roads was stunning as expected and the views back down onto the lake were impressive, but the highlight of this days ride was finding my way to the main launch platform for the para-gliders that are seen circling Lake Annecy most days.

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Have a look at these few videos from up top.

 

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There were a staggering number of jumpers – is that what you call them? – all in their groups, all waiting their turn to throw themselves off the edge. Before I saw them, I would never have contemplated something like this, I could never build up the courage to do, but sitting down watching the takeoffs and the gliding, it was mesmersing and didn’t look as scary as I thought. I could almost imagine myself doing this.

The main sticking point for me, apart from the launching into space, was watching the jumpers uintangle and sort out the strings connecting them to the parachute. I can see myself getting in a big tangle.

The Bike Path

Surrounding Annecy, or 3/4 of it, is a bike path. On one side of the lake is a dedicated two lane oath that is mostly flat and well removed from the road. The other side of the lake has a mix of undulating paths and quiet side roads. The main dedicated path squirts out the bottom end all the way up to Albertville.

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Annecy itself is a funny town. The old town section looks an absolute treat, plenty of charm and terriffic photo opportunities, but it changes from a lovely quaint olde world village feel before the main shops open around 10 ish, into one of those clichéd tourist precincts with jam-packed restaurants and cafes along the canals and tourist shops. My first day I popped out on the bike looking for some breakfast and ended up riding into town and around the lake.

The following day I popped in early afternoon, the old town was jam-packed and with the sardine tinning of the old town, it was hard to ignore the massess and focus on the buildings and surroundings I had seen the previous day.

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That being said, Annecy is more than the old town, and the beauty and charm of the place, the lake, the outdoor activities, the cafes and bars, and dare i say it sme half decent coffe, the proximity to snow fields and the great riding tracks, all make for a brilliant holiday destination.

My last full day had me riding up the mountain behind me – no idea what I would find other than the fact I knew it was a dead-end.  Another fabulous morning ride, up through a village halfway up, the hill, through dark forests, discovering, walking and riding down tracks that were barely visible from the road, only to pop out on the edge of the mountain and discovering a “hidden” paragliding launch pad, much smaller than the previous one, with 7 – 8 jumpers preparing themselves for launch. The thermals these guys were picking up on this side of the lake had them soaring above our heads within minutes.  Quite amazing – makes me think twice about giving it a go at some time in the future.

IMG_1136IMG_1141IMG_1147IMG_1150IMG_1152IMG_1154IMG_1155IMG_1157IMG_1160Make sure you turn the sound up for the below.

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And a few vids from the other side.  I love this one.

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Baguette time – oh yeah!

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Tour de France

Congratulations to the classification winners at this years Tour.

General Classification – Maillot Jaune (Yellow Jersey)

 

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Points classification – Green Jersey

 

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Mountains classification – Polka Dot

 

23-07-2017 Tour De France; Tappa 21 Montgeron - Paris; 2017, Team Sunweb; Matthews, Michael; Paris;

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Young rider classification – White Jersey

 

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There’s some big names that have donned the White Jersey:

2000 Francisco Mancebo (ESP)
2001 Óscar Sevilla (ESP)
2002 Ivan Basso (ITA)
2003 Denis Menchov (RUS)
2004 Vladimir Karpets (RUS)
2005 Yaroslav Popovych (UKR)
2006 Damiano Cunego (ITA)
2007 Alberto Contador (ESP)
2008 Andy Schleck (LUX)
2009 Andy Schleck (LUX)
2010 Andy Schleck (LUX)
2011 Pierre Rolland (FRA)
2012 Tejay van Garderen (USA)
2013 Nairo Quintana (COL)
2014 Thibaut Pinot (FRA)
2015 Nairo Quintana (COL)
2016 Adam Yates (GBR)

Great to see Simon keep it in the family.

With Simon and Adam with Orica (hands off Sky), along with Chavez and with the possible transfer of Mike Nieve Ituralde from Team Sky, the next 2 – 3 years are looking quite solid for the GC classifications across the 3 week races.

This years tour, some would say, was a lop sided again with Team Sky controlling the ride right from the start to the finish. Chris Froome won his 4th TdF without winning a stage, the team were marking his major rivals blah blah blah.

Oh, and Team Sky, which has the biggest budget of the peloton, has now snatched five of the last six titles.

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I found this years tour to be quite fascinating. With the changing fortunes and on road dramas of favourites in the other classification made for exciting and fascinating racing. You were never quite sure what to expect. The racing was exciting, the climbing stages like up Croix de Foir followed b the Galibier, with Contador lighting up the stage up front, but unable to close it out, only for  Primoz Roglic to claw his way to the lead half way up the Galibier and draw away was just stunning.

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Then there were the crashes and disqualifications that played a huge part in the look of the final classifications . Not detracting from the from the classification winners, they deserve everything that is coming towards them. The tour is a trial of survival over 21 stages of unbelievably gruelling hard days of riding.  But, there is no doubt that the viewing public was looking forward to seeing Porte fight it out with Froome right into France, and Sagans fight with Kittel, oh dear.

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And whats all this bonhomie spreading throughout the peloton this year? It seemed that Chris Froome was given way too much respect. I didn’t agree with Aru attacking under his armpit on the 9th stage, but there were a few other incidents where the Peloton waited for him to rejoin.

And at last, the Home of the tour has thrown up something the French can be proud of, its taken a long time with stage 13, 102-kilometre ride from Saint Girons to Foix go to Frenchman Warren Barguil (Sunweb) on Bastille Day.

Warrens win was the first by a Frenchman on Bastille Day since 2005 when David Moncoutié won in Digne. It was also the fourth French win in this Tour after Arnaud Demare (FDJ) won stage four, Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie) stage eight and Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) stage 12. Unfortunately the French drought of a Frenchman winning the Tour since Bernard Hinault in 1985 has still not been broken, but there are promising signs.

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Not forgetting that Man with a Thousand Faces” Thomas Voekler , riding his last Tour de France. Chapeau Thomas, its been fun watching you light up the road with the Mountains classification win in 2012, and 4 individual stages in 2009, 2010 and 2012.

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23-07-2017 Tour De France; Tappa 21 Montgeron - Paris; 2017, Direct Energie; Voeckler, Thomas; Geisel Thomas, ; Auvinet, Yves; Paris;

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And last, but definitely not least, this weeks rider of the week. You’ll love the before nd after photos of this writeup – I was astounded,

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Rider of the Week – Paul Clode

2015 Harvest Cafe Mylor

Paul grew up in the ‘Siberia’ of South Australia… Mt Gambier… and moved to the sunshine of Adelaide to start Uni in early 1989.

Studying Design at Underdale, he quickly found a connection to his country boy roots through riding mountain bikes in the Adelaide hills with a bunch of Uni mates.
After Uni he started work at Stratco and, despite a 6 year detour to another company Stratco owned, still find himself there to this day!

Paul looks after a small in-house team of designers who create all kinds of packaging, brochures, catalogues, advertising etc. for the company at their head office at Gepps Cross.

This is Paul’s cycling story

  • Can you remember what your first bike was?

My first bike was a Repco Husky 10 speed with shifters on the down tube which I got when I was in year 7 at school. This was used as my transport to school and for chuffing around the countryside in the search of adventure.

It wasn’t long before I was tinkering with it… repaint… flat bars (which were becoming popular with these new fangled mountain bike thingys!)

  • What got you started in cycling?

I didn’t really become a ‘cyclist’ until my Uni days where a couple of guys had these flash mountain bikes with ‘shocks’ on the front. Wow! Cool!

I lashed out and bought a Repco Maxtrax MTB for $170 – that’ll do the job, won’t it?

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It didn’t take long to realise I needed something better.

So, I finished Uni, got a job, got a car loan… and bought a GT RTS-3 full suspension MTB! I did spend some of it on a car… but the bike cost more than my car).

 

I was hooked. I even started MTB racing, even though back then MTB racing was nowhere near as big as it is now.

2012 Me on GT Force 3

But, after a number of years, life got in the way – work, family, my riding friends moving away – and I slowly rode less and less until eventually I stopped riding.

2004 Fatty

The big problem with this is that I got fat… until one day I realised at 105kgs that I needed to do something about it. Mmmmm… bike riding!

Luckily I was able to lose 25kgs over a year or so, which then made riding easier.
I really got serious again in 2012 when I heard a friend talking about the ‘3 Peaks Challenge’ at Falls Creek.

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My sense of adventure was awakened and I decided that I might have a go at it.
This also meant that I needed to ‘cross to the dark side’ and buy a road bike.

Around that time, Brendon Harslett, one of the dads at my son’s school, heard that I was riding and suggested I join his early morning weekday group.

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That’s Brendon on the floor

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Once I started they couldn’t get rid of me. They are a great bunch of guys and slowly over time our rides started getting earlier and earlier.

We are now meeting at 5am at the Tower Hotel a couple of times a week… and sometimes even earlier at 4:30am (which means getting up at 3:30am).

2017 5am crew2015 Amys Gran Fondo Lorne 1

The reward is great banter, great riding in the hills and coffee at Argo’s on the Parade at 7am. Mmmmm… coffeeeee.

  • At a guess, how many bikes have you owned in your life?

I think about 8 bikes in total – I tend to hold onto them and still have my GT RTS-3. It’s an antique! Currently 5 are operational and one MTB frame is in the shed rafters.

The operational fleet includes a Cannondale Synapse (alloy frame), Malvern Star Oppy, Specialized Crux CX bike, the old GT RTS-3 and a GT Force MTB than has been turned into a ‘franken-bike’ with a Zaskar 29er carbon fibre main frame mated to the Force’s alloy rear frame… but with 26” wheels not 29”… crazy, I tell you… CRAZY!!!

2017 Gravelaide 12016 Fleet

  • What is your main go to bike?

My main bike is the Malvern Star Oppy which was bought off EBay as a frame, repainted and built up with Di2. Bzzzt!

2017 Malver Star Oppy Current Look

  • What bike do you covet?

I wouldn’t mind the new Trek Madone… or maybe a Canyon… or maybe a Lightweight Urgestalt..

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or… there’s just too many I like! As long as it’s black.

  • What do you personally get out of cycling?

Cycling is just a great way to get outdoors and refresh the soul (no, I’m not a hippy.. no offence to hippies).  I just love getting out in the hills on a sunny day and talking rubbish with your mates and just enjoying life.

But there MUST be coffee and pastries somewhere on the ride. Not negotiable.

  • Do you do all your own maintenance or do you use a LBS? If so, which one?

As a long time tinkerer, I do all of my own bike maintenance and building.
Wheel truing is about the only thing I’ve never tried – it seems like a ‘black art’ to me.
But I’ve had the odd work done over the years by Bicycle Express, Bike Society at Blair Athol and Whippets Workshop and all have been good (no complaints from me!).

  • If you could have dinner with 3 people from the cycling world (living or dead), who would they be and why?

I’m not much of a cycling fan boy, so I think I’d rather choose the guys I ride with. I reckon that would be far more enjoyable.

  • Where would you take them to eat?

I’d be happy with KFC, although I don’t think they would (Eds note – I reckon Brendon might! 🙂).

  • What are your craziest/fondest cycling memories?

Some of my best memories are from my early days of mountain biking. We would often go on loosely planned trips to the Flinders Ranges or the Grampians with inadequate camping supplies, food and equipment – and no real plan.

It was a shambles, but the riding, adventure and mateship always made for a fantastic time.

  • Have you had any nasty crashes? If so how did the worst occur and what was the consequence?

Luckily I have never crashed a road bike (touch wood) but I’ve had a few spills on the MTB.

The worst was hitting a gate at high-speed on a night ride coming down Chambers Gully.
My forearm hit the top rail of the gate as I flipped over it and snapped both bones. Nothing a few steel plates, some screws and bit of time off the bike won’t fix.

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I just felt sorry for the poor guy who’s door I knocked on asking for help – his wife had just got home after 6 months away and they were in the middle of getting ‘re-aquainted’! Sorry mate. (Eds note: bwah ha ha ha ha!)

  • What is the biggest cycling lie you have told a partner?

Apart from the usual ‘halve the cost of all cycling gear/clothing purchases’ lie (is it really a lie…? more like a re-interpretation of the facts based on new evidence) I think the one that comes out most often is the “my ride partner had a flat/mechanical/injury/crash/wasn’t feeling well/was really slow” excuse for being late back from a ride.

  • What cycling related thing would you like for your next birthday?

A power meter would be nice! Don’t really need it but I like gadgets!

  • Is there a local cycling outfit/company/cycling club/cycling group/person that you would like to plug?

I’d like to say Keith from Velo-Porte who has been a great supporter of our cycling adventures and trips such as 3 Peaks and Amy’s Gran Fondo in Lorne.

2014 Amys Gran Fondo Lorne 1

2014 Dirty Dozen 2

Also the boys at Indigo and Blk-Tec, Brendon Harslett and Simon Zappia – a couple of local boys creating innovative products for cyclists, from right here in Adelaide.

  • From a non-cycling perspective, what do you love about Adelaide?

I think Adelaide is just the right size for a liveable city and has so much going for it with the hills, the beaches, the food and the TDU!

  • Apart from the local KFC, what is your non-cycling go-to place when interstaters come to Adelaide?

Anywhere in the hills or wine regions is great, although Hahndorf is probably the first stop for food and drinks for the tourists. And maybe a coffee. And some pastries (now I remember why I got to be so big!).

2016 Gravelaide 12014 TDU Bupa Ride

Thanks Paul, I’m amazed at that drop in weight – simply astounding. If that demonstration of what cycling can do for you, I don’t know what will.

Chapeau Paul Clode

__________________________________

Well

If I must say so myself, another epic edition of Wednesday Legs

 

Trusting you enjoyed it as much as I did pulling it together.

 

till next time

tight spokes

iPib

4 thoughts on “France Extraordinaire

Add yours

  1. Hey mate, just read an article about a guy named Mark Beaumont who is doing a 80 day around the world cycling challenge that might make a good article for Wednesday Legs. He is currently in WA heading towards Adelaide. Regards Nick

    Like

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