Friday, July 31, 2009

Back Home

We had a lovely and brief trip to Vermont. Mostly our attention was taken up with our grand kids and we only got to ride the one day I wrote about. Too bad, its a beautiful place to ride. We returned late last night and rode a double loop this morning along with Annie's sister who is visiting for a couple of days and brought her bike.

So with this morning's ride and a few errands on the Brompton today, I am ringing July out with over 500 miles. Not bad in this otherwise less than stellar year.

Monday, July 27, 2009

In Vermont

We woke up late on vacation schedule and went out for a later than usual ride. It was a shorter ride than usual, only 11.5 miles but we scaled some pretty impressive hills so the effort was equal or more than usual. Annie did great on the hills and I did well enough. Maybe tomorrow will go a bit farther. The scenery is magnificent. This photo doesn't do it justice (taken from the farm we are at.) I couldn't afford to stop and shoot pictures from the tops of the hills, the view that is really spectacular.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Around Town - Race Update

Strange day so far. We were up at regular time and started out for our regular ride. Annie was back on the Fuji now equipped with a new back rim and hub. By the time we reached Logan Hall Annie just didn't like the feel of the ride. Having suffered through a couple of flats last week she wasn't taking any chances. So we went home and after a bit of a break I went for a ride she headed for the bike shop for two new tires. It was time. With the little extra ride back and forth my ride was up to 18.3. Then, after some quick errands, I set out to meet a friend for lunch near U Penn on the Brompton, shown here at Cosi's. Didn't get to watch the race but have it one the DVR for this afternoon.


In a surprising finish to stage 19 today Mark Cavendish tuned the unexpected bunch sprint at the end into his 5th stage win of this tour. He is simply unstoppable when he gets into the right position. This looked like a stage where the break-a-way would have stayed ahead and someone in the break would have won the stage. But, seemingly, because Robobank didn't get anyone into the break and wanted to set up Freire for a possible victory, they rode hard in order to reel the break in thus setting up a bunch sprint at the end. Once that happens it is almost impossible to stop Cavendish. I think he still cannot win the Green Jersey having been relegated to last place on a previous stage for bumping Thor Hushovd. Otherwise he would have won it for sure.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Lance Climbs Back

The all important "race of truth," the individual time trial at the Tour de France was won by Alberto Contador, cementing his almost certain Tour victory. Only a catastrophe over the next two days could change that. Andy Schleck has certainly shown himself to be a worthy opponent and will in all likelihood take second place on the podium in Paris. But that is not quite as certain, and even less so is" Who will be third? Bradley Wiggins, who has had an incredible and entirely unexpected tour still has a slight chance as does Astana teammate Andreas Kloden. But by riding an impressive time trial for a 37 year old returning to the sport after over 3 years, Lance Armstrong has returned to third in the overall standings and could well hold it over Mount Ventoux on Saturday. I think that would be pretty amazing.

Meanwhile, as the Astana soap-opera drags on, Lance and Johann Bruyneel will go their own way next year. It was announced today that they will ride for team Radio Shack, which will be a new American pro tour team. Where everyone else will be will be interesting to watch. Certainly Levi will go with them, but who else. Don't bet on Alberto.

I went out early and rode a double loop; a little tired after yesterday's ride, but I did fine. Today's 22+ miles made July the first over 400 mile month of the year.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Valley Forge II (updated edition)

A great ride out to Valley Forge this morning. I did not want to put up with the tow path again so I chose to take the hill on Umbria. It was a challenge but I made it. Lost a bit of time in Manayunk when I saw some friends having coffee and stopped for a chat. Lost much more time in Conshohocken when a railroad crossing guardrail had fallen across the path. Managed to move it off the path with the help of other passing riders and then took time to call SEPTA and notify them. Now writing from Valley Forge and after a bite and a break I'll head home and check in again. This is the first time I've actually posted the blog from the road. Neat.

These are the Schleck brothers. Frank won today's TDF stage with Andy right behind. They moved into second and third place in the general classification, dropping Lance to 4th and Kloden to 5th while Wiggens tumbled a bit further down. It seems that while Contador made sure to stay well ahead of Andy Schleck, his seemingly unnecessary acceleration at the end dropped his own teammates. Clearly he is as afraid of his own team as of his rivals and the dissension on team Astana is starting to matter. Still, the Schleck's are not good time trialists so the Astana contingent and Wiggens for that matter can make up time tomorrow. I think it will all come down to Mt Ventoux and there may be some real fire-works and excitement.

Monday, July 20, 2009

On Vacation - Final Week Of The Tour

Happily I plan to watch the final week of the tour in peace. Most years I actually have vacation for the entire tour, but this year it didn't work out that way and its been a bit of a challenge. But now that the tour has turned up into the Alps, with the most exciting and potentially important stages ahead, I'm happy to have the time to watch. I will DVR the races early each morning, do my regular rides and come home and watch while fast-forwarding through the commercials.

Yesterday's first mountain finish in over a week ended, as everyone should have expected, with Alberto Contador in the Yellow Jersey. My dark horse pick to win the tour, Andy Schleck couldn't quite stay with Alberto and came in about 40 seconds behind. Watching Contador accelerate in the mountains is truly amazing and it is difficult to think that anyone can defeat him. But the Alps can produce strange events and Schleck is not out of it yet. the favorite of the media, Lance Armstrong, probably is, although he too is well within striking distance if Contador proves to be human. And Bradley Wiggins has turned out to be this year's sentimental favorite, taking over from his teammate Christian Vandevelde. It could be an exciting week.

Annie and I had good riding over the weekend, nearly 50 miles all told. Today she went out early for the usual loop and I slept in on vacation schedule and then went out for a lovely 30 mile ride.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

And Again....While I Take My First Long Ride

There's that picture again. That must mean that Mark Cavendish won today's Tour de France stage, his 4th which along with last year's 4 tie him for the most Tour stages won by a Brit. He is back in the Green Jersey and I wouldn't bet against his taking it home.

Meanwhile I finally got out for a long ride on a gorgeous day. Rode to Valley Forge and back. Met up (unplanned) with Jake just after passing Norristown and we rode into the park together, rested and ate together, and rode back much of the way together. He turned off to head for Forbidden Drive while I went straight through Manyunk and home. Great ride and great to have company.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

There He Is Again

There he is again! Mark Cavendish won his third stage of this year's Tour De France with another blistering sprint across the finish line ahead of Tyler Ferrar and Thor Hushovd. All the talk of the tour today was about the lack of radio communication between the cyclists and their team cars as the UCI tried to roll back progress and insist on the old fashioned race conditions of yesteryear. Personally, I think its a bit silly, but the riders rode a bit slower than usual (not because of the lack of radios they say) still caught the break-away and set up an exciting sprint finish. Cavendish is electrifying to watch.

Annie's Fuji is back at the shop. The flat didn't take much to fix, though it did turn out there was glass embedded in the tire which is what caused the second flat. But she is awaiting a new wheel and hub and doesn't expect the bike back until the end of the week at the earliest. So she rode the Tiket and wasn't happy with how they tuned it. After holding it for three weeks it didn't shift right etc. It goes back to the shop tomorrow. Yikes! What luck. Still we managed to ride and get home for the first time in three days.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Flats, Rest Day And BIG NEWS

Today is the first of two rest days for the Tour De France. Good for them, good for me.

Well, my mechanical skills remain suspect. I fixed Annie's flat last night and all seemed good, bu she flatted again just as we neared the Falls Bridge. Much further along the route this time and once again I flew home (I'm guiltily getting in some good speed riding as she waits) to bring back the car to pick her up. Of course, the verdict is not in: There could have been something wrong with the tube; there could be something wrong with the tire (I did check it for anything sharp inside but still it could just be past its prime. After all, I put on new tires last year and Annie is still on the originals.); or I could have pinched the tube somehow when I put it in. We may nver know, but I'm not sanguine about changing another flat. Anyway, this time it will go to the shop. There are a couple of other issues that need to be looked into anyway. Meanwhile I managed a shortened ride of 10.9 miles.

And now for the Big News this just in from the Bicycle Coalition of Philadelphia's website:

Coming Soon - Bike Lanes for Spruce and Pine
Our January 10th post - Dreaming of a bike friendly Spruce and Pine presented a long talked about 'what if' scenario, especially in light of the Bicycle Coalition's documentation that bicycling in Philadelphia doubled between 2005 and 2008. Thanks to the pro-bicycle Nutter Administration, the City of Philadelphia has adopted this vision and is planning to make it a reality. Not sometime in the future, but this summer!

Our understanding is that a one way buffered bike lane will be installed in both Spruce and Pine Streets along most of their lengths, made possible by the dropping of a travel lane. Clearly, when implemented, it will be the most significant bicycle friendly improvement in busy Center City since the opening of Schuylkill River Park Trail and street level crossings in 2003. It will also be the City's first (but we hope for additional ones north of Market St.) "river to river and east-west connector" set of bicycle friendly streets.

The reduction of travel (for motor vehicles) lanes may be a concern to some, however more road space does not necessarily mean smoother traffic flow. Delivery vehicles, utility trucks and double parkers already cause Spruce and Pine to function as weaving single lane streets. A great example of less is more would be the closing of Broadway in Manhattan, which actually improved north south traffic flow by eliminating Broadway's angled cross street interference.

6 foot bike lanes with a 3 foot buffers on Spruce and Pine Streets will finally make the concept of a Center City bikeway a reality.

The project, overseen by the Mayor's Office of Transportation and carried out by the Streets Department, will be a simple and inexpensive line painting operation; construction could begin as soon as August. Over the next 9 months or so the streets will be evaluated, and if the lanes are proven to be beneficial, then permanent striping will be added when the streets are repaved in 2010.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


We were having a great ride this morning, with both drives closed for a triathlon we were whirring around and on our second loop when Annie flatted. first time in a long time. I tried to change the flat and actually succeeded for the first time. But I had some trouble with the mini pump and it "ate" the little twist top on the Schroeder valve and when I disengaged the pump another tube was gone. So I had to high-tail it home to get the car and come back to pick up Annie and the bike. Shame, but I was happy that I'd managed to change the flat. Now I just have to figure out how to use the mini pump better. In fact, I changed the flat again at home with our regular large pump with no problem and in only a few minutes. Managed 15 plus miles for the day.

Not much going on in the tour. Considering that both today and yesterday were mountain stages there were surprisingly few attacks. The GC standings remain unchanged with Rinaldo Nocentini enjoying his days in yellow. There will probably be no change now for a few days as the race turns to the flats again. The interest will be in the Green Jersey between Cavendish and Hushovd. But starting next week the race will go into the Alps and that's where it will all happen.

Friday, July 10, 2009


That says it all! He's not quite in Yellow, but what an acceleration, what a finish. With Lance 6 seconds behind its far from over, but don't bet on anyone beating this guy.

Wonderful morning for riding in Philly to boot.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

The God Of Thunder

What a great race today and what a shame that David Millar the Scot from Garmin couldn't hold on for the win after a superlative ride. But the sight of Thor Hushovd storming to the line after a pretty grueling uphill finish was truly breath-taking. Exciting stage for a usually boring flat stage of the tour. The GC contenders did not change again, so tomorrow the shake-out should begin as the riders begin to wrestle with the mountains.

As for me, another morning loop and a couple of miles on the Brompton for good measure on a simply magnificent day. Tonight, the first Phillies game of the year!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

No Change

In the GC standings after today's fifth stage of the tour.

As for me, I couldn't get out for a ride before the funeral, but did a double loop afterward. Good ride, though not what I'd hoped for today.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

It's Almost Lance

Tour de France 2009 Stage Four - Team Trial

Stage 4 of the Tour de France saw the Astana team blow away the competition in an exciting team time trial. Having moved up into third place by virtue of his performance yesterday Lance Armstrong Astana needed to beat Saxo Bank by 40 seconds in order to put Armstrong into the Yellow Jersey. Which the did...exactly. Leaving Armstrong and Cancellara in a dead heat but separated by a fraction of a second. Cancellara stayed in Yellow but with Armstrong breathing down his neck, Contador right behind him and much of the top ten made up of Astana team members things are indeed getting interesting. Of course, everything can change in the mountains.

We rode our regular loop this morning and then I took the Brompton for a day of extended errands and meetings which helped build up some miles. Tomorrow I do indeed have a funeral so will not get in a very long ride. I had hoped to make my first foray out to Valley Forge, but if I wake up early I may still get in a double or triple loop.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Cavendish Redoux

Ok, technically this is a picture of yesterday's stage win by Mark Cavendish, but I told you to get used to it. Today he actually beat out Thor Hushovd not Tyler Farrar, but what does it matter? He is unbeatable in the sprints. But of more interest in today's stage, Columbia picked up the pace unmercifully near the end of the stage, just as the crosswinds made the going very rough, and split the Peloton, leaving the likes of Alberto Contador in the second group while Lance Armstrong ended up in the first group. Thus as of today Armstrong has moved up from 10th to 3rd, dropping Contador to 4th. This could get really interesting.

Meanwhile we got back on the bikes today and did a regular morning loop. Perfect day. It was hard to not just keep on riding. The weather promises to be good all week and I'm hoping to get a good ride in on Wednesday, though I am waiting on the possibility of a funeral. Could be any day this week (already had one today) so we'll see.

Finally, for you folding bike fans, here's a great video of the Smithfield Nocturne Folding Bike Race. I found it on Eco-Velo (listed in the sidebar) but it looks to have originated with, a Spanish language folding bike blog. enjoy,

Sunday, July 05, 2009

They're Off And Running

Get used to the scene above. It is Mark Cavendish crossing the finish line in today's second stage of the Tour de France. If all goes well the scene could be repeated 5, 6 or more times over the next three weeks. The tour is off to a great start. That Fabian Cancellara won the opening time trial yesterday was no surprise. Alberto Contador was right behind him and therefore in better shape than anyone for the eventual victory. But the time gaps were not great and it is very early. The fact that Levi Leipheimer was in 6th place was a bit further back than I would have predicted, but not bad. And of course, Lance Armstrong in 10th place puts him close enough to be considered very much still in the mix. Much will change over the next week or two before the real leaders emerge. It looks like it is going to be fun.

Watching the riders was about as close to a bike as I got this weekend. Too bad - beautiful weather and all, but we were hosting our granddaughter for the weekend. We had a great time, but man is that hard work! Hopefully we'll get to sleep early tonight and back into the routine tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Off And Running In July

The new month began with a beautiful day. I slept in a bit and managed a nice double loop of 22.2 miles before adding a few more on late day errands with the Brompton. Maybe by next Wednesday my schedule will be easy enough to attempt a longer ride out to some destination. But I was happy to get the month off to a pretty good start. This weekend promises to be difficult as far as getting time to ride even in the morning as we will have our granddaughter staying with us. But that's even better than riding. And the Tour de France this weekend. I am looking forward to following as closely as I can given that unlike most years I won't be on vacation for its entirety.
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