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Old 01-31-10, 09:10 AM   #1
The Weak Link
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L'Etape and other fantasies

It's cold out and, for someone who treasures his femurs, totally unrideable. I have 10 minutes before I head out to entreat Mother Gaia to forgive us of our second-hand carbon and alleviate all this freezing weather.

So, is there a fantasy ride you would like to do before you die?

I've pondered:
-Leadville 100 (more like Purgatory if you ask me).
-lengthy tour, such as coast-to-coast US of A.
-Ragbrai or somesuch.
-any mountain bike race.
-any road race.

But the Daddy of all Fantasies has to be L'Etape. I know everyone crapped all over Robert Mackey and his quest but I thought his column was well-done and intriguing. It's not his fault the unwashed masses disliked his progressive elitist approach to cycling.

If I had the Cash and the Time I think I would go for it.

Unfortunately, by the time I get the Cash and the Time I'll lose my Health. So it seems to go.

Any thoughts?
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Old 01-31-10, 09:31 AM   #2
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One of my dream rides is only 325 miles long. It involves driving my wife to her mother's house for a visit. After a one night stay I would leave on my bike for the ride back home. I would carry a back pack with enough clothes and supplies for two nights stay along the way. The first night I would stay in a motel "with cable and air conditioning" and the 2nd night I would stay at our family cabin which is about 130 miles from our home.

Along the way out to the mother-in-laws we would have stopped at the cabin and fully stocked the refrigerator with beer and some good foods. Hopefully I will complete the 2nd day's riding by early afternoon and will be able to sit on the cabin porch and rehydrate with carbo laden drinks, eat beef jerky and corn chips/salsa while watching the Allegheny River drift on by into the night. The third AM I would get up late, go to a local diner to eat then ride the last 130 miles home.
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Old 01-31-10, 11:57 AM   #3
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One of my dream rides is only 325 miles long. It involves driving my wife to her mother's house for a visit.
Chuckle - I thought you were going to say... "It involves driving my wife to her mother's house for a visit.... and leaving her there."
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Old 01-31-10, 03:50 PM   #4
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Actually an interesting topic.
We'll have to agree to differ re. Mackey's little adventure -- L'Etape d'Idiot, far as I'm concerned, but ...
L'Etape would certainly be on the list for a road cyclist.
My cycling ideals centre more on offroad/adventure touring, so in order from least feasible to a real possibility:

1. Patagonia, right to the south, mostly in Argentina
2. Cross Canada (west to east, ending on the Rock [Newfoundland])
3. Quebec -- Route Verte -- into and around the Gaspe and down to southern New Brunswick

At 58 (1) ain't likely, but I'm certainly aiming to realize (3) within the next few years
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Old 01-31-10, 04:32 PM   #5
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1. Patagonia, right to the south, mostly in Argentina


At 58 (1) ain't likely.....
Don't worry about it - I've driven it. Mostly wonderful, but there are unavoidable stretches of some 300 miles of dirt roads - it's often windy and all you ever see is huge trucks blowing the dust in your direction - people do it, but I can't see the pleasure of it on a bike. (2) and (3) sound fantastic though.
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Old 01-31-10, 04:35 PM   #6
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I was actually scheduled to ride the Etape this year.

Plane tickets bought, entry fee paid, Dossard in hand, training program designed, spending time in the gym .............


The whole schlemeele.

Then I ran into a "problem" with someone else scheduled to be on the same tour group, who is not my wife. She had ideas that did not match up with mine.

So I cancelled everything ( out a whack of dough at this point) and looking for other events I can do.

I'm pretty PO'd about it all as in many ways this was my once in a lifetime chance to do it. I turn 50 this year, the Etape is in the Pyrenees. The next time the Etape is in the Pyrenee's I will be 52 and my eldest daughter will be in University and I will be dealing with those costs.

Then my second daughter will be going to school .........

By the time the kids are through University I'll be close to 60 and to be honest I feel like it will have passed me by.

I have registered for some other events this year instead, the Moab Gran Fondo, the San Diego Gran Fondo and the Whistler Gran Fondo. I will do the Tour de Scottsdale again this year as well.

I think they will all be fun, but they are not the Etape.

Oh well.

And I say this with apologies to the lady members of the forum, freaking women can really foul things up.
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Old 01-31-10, 04:43 PM   #7
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Some day, probably as a retirement celebration, I'd like to do the Alaska Highway. Ideally, I'd start in Anchorage and finish in Dawson Creek. It'd have to be supported, 'cuz I'm not much into panniering.
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Old 01-31-10, 04:51 PM   #8
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Some day, probably as a retirement celebration, I'd like to do the Alaska Highway. Ideally, I'd start in Anchorage and finish in Dawson Creek. It'd have to be supported, 'cuz I'm not much into panniering.

You better like riding on gravel.


< ------ Holy Smokies - this was my 1000th post.

It only took 4 and bit years!
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Old 01-31-10, 05:21 PM   #9
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I would like to ride Ragbrai all the way some day. I have done one day and it was great fun.
The entire length of the Katy Trail camping along the way. My wife and I did a short portion and it made me want more.
The C & O canal trail and the Great Allegheny Passage toghether for a total of 330 miles camping and staying in a few motels along the way.
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Old 01-31-10, 05:21 PM   #10
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Don't worry about it - I've driven it. Mostly wonderful, but there are unavoidable stretches of some 300 miles of dirt roads - it's often windy and all you ever see is huge trucks blowing the dust in your direction - people do it, but I can't see the pleasure of it on a bike. (2) and (3) sound fantastic though.
Cheers, MF! I envy you having been there (Patagonia region) -- it is a part of the world I'd love to visit before turning me toes up; we'll see (bike or not). The Route Verte really is fantastic -- I've ridden little stretches of it along the St Lawrence, but am aiming as said to ride from Montreal to St John New Brunswick by way of the St Lawrence/Gaspe route, on into the Miramachi region of N.B. (we live in Ontario, but have a summer place on the Bay of Fundy just outside St John). Supposed to be spectacular (and hilly, which I like!) cycling. I'm pretty sure that's do-able even for an old git like me, but I will have to train for it!
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Old 01-31-10, 05:28 PM   #11
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NEW ZEALAND!!!! I want to bicycle the south Island and motorcycle the north Island, IF that happens before I pass on, I WILL go a happy man indeed!
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Old 01-31-10, 05:46 PM   #12
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The irony is that my longest ride ever is 75 miles.
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Old 02-01-10, 07:24 AM   #13
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NEW ZEALAND!!!! I want to bicycle the south Island and motorcycle the north Island, IF that happens before I pass on, I WILL go a happy man indeed!
+1. There was a big Harley convention when I was on north Island - that would be a great way to travel (not that I'm a huge Harley fan... give me a Triumph Thunderbird any time). Like Patagonia, the roads are pretty quiet there too, but really well finished.

Ahhh, this thread is bringing back memories!
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Old 02-01-10, 09:56 AM   #14
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But the Daddy of all Fantasies has to be L'Etape.
If I had the Cash and the Time I think I would go for it.

Unfortunately, by the time I get the Cash and the Time I'll lose my Health. So it seems to go.

Any thoughts?
Cash and time is not for others to advise about, they're your circumstances, but there are a number of tour outfitters who organise L'Etape tours for a pretty fair price in my view.

As my favourite Olympian, the oarsman Steve Redgrave, was asked by the cox over the microphone at his 5th gold medal final 'if not now, then when?'

A good friend of mine finished the Etape just before the cutoff on the occasion - '98? '99?, when a hail blizzard closed in the top of Mont Ventoux 10 kms from the finish. He went past the cutoff point (Chalet Renard) a few minutes before the course was closed because the summit was full of hypothermic casualties.

Now, he's a hard case. Commutes 30 kms each way year round in UK, races on a Saturday and Centuries on a Sunday - and he says it was the hardest thing he's ever done. Now, I'm sure he was pushing because only maybe the fastest 1/3 were in advance of the cutoff -- but I'll take it from him, it must be a toughie!
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Old 02-01-10, 01:16 PM   #15
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I don't really have any ultimate ride ideas. I'm basically just trying to get fit after a long time off the bike. Maybe a local 50 mile ride like Rosarito/Ensenada. 18 years ago I did that in 2hrs 31 minutes- I'm a bit slower these days.
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Old 02-02-10, 03:58 PM   #16
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This year, the Cascade 1200: http://seattlerando.org/C1200/?page_id=2
Next year, the BIG ONE: Paris-Brest-Paris. http://www.paris-brest-paris.org/pbp...eil&page=edito

...because rides that only last all day just aren't long enough.

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Old 02-02-10, 09:14 PM   #17
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I think I'm going to drop the possibility of L'Etape for 2011 to my wife soon. I should probably wait until she's in a pretty good mood. Maybe I should get her drunk or something.
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Old 02-02-10, 09:30 PM   #18
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Hell, I'll never live long enough to do all the rides I'd like to do. I've given up dreaming about the ones I can't do and just enjoy the ones I get to do. Like a friend of mine once said when asked about his favorite ride: "my next one." It might be the only one we get.

BTW, my experience has been that "getting the wife drunk" may give short term rewards, but long term its never really worked all that well. I always end up paying for it in some manner.
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Old 02-02-10, 09:44 PM   #19
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One of my dream rides is only 325 miles long. It involves driving my wife to her mother's house for a visit.
This is far, far too good of a plan to not do.

Go for it!
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Old 02-02-10, 10:10 PM   #20
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Go race the Tour of the Gila in the Masters division. 5 days against guys who have gone to the Olympics, Ridden the TDF multiple times, won world and national championships, and the slow guys are just former pro this and thats. Plus they break out the 50+ for their own payday.
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Old 02-03-10, 04:17 AM   #21
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A century ride around my block.




No silly, years not miles.
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Old 02-03-10, 02:15 PM   #22
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Back in 94 I started doing a ride that is one of the Epic's in the UK. Offroad 100 miler. The first time I did it was over 2 days and I decided right then that it is a 1 day ride. Saddle pain on the second day was horrific. Up to 97 and I Attempted it 7 times and failed once. Then medical problems for a few years but 2003 and I decided to do it again. Did it and then again in04/05 and 06.

06 was terrible weather and we dropped out at the 65 mile mark. But a good record of 11 attempts and only 2 failures.

That ride is hard and I used to keep in training for 8 months of the year to be able to do it. The other 4 months and I slackened off and went for the metric and 100milers on the road. For me to do that ride now at 62 would take a lot of training and I don't think I have the energy for that again.

But I retire in a couple of years time. I love France and although I am not into touring- I am seriously thinking about getting off the boat at Calais and just riding for a couple of months. Whether this would be possible- I don't know but something to look forward to and dream about.

And The Pyrenees- Haven't done them except in a car but the Alpes- they are a different ball game. Even if you don't climb a mountain- there are some fantastic climbs about that would get you in training for the "Icon" Mt Ventoux. I'd go back there again tomorrow- but you have to pick the weather.
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Old 02-03-10, 08:01 PM   #23
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And The Pyrenees- Haven't done them except in a car but the Alpes- they are a different ball game. Even if you don't climb a mountain- there are some fantastic climbs about that would get you in training for the "Icon" Mt Ventoux. I'd go back there again tomorrow- but you have to pick the weather.
Doug, didn't you actually train and make it up Mt. Ventoux? IIRC you had talked of special gearing, etc. needed for the ride.

I'd be interested in your experience with it.

Setting my sites closer to home....at the end of May the BCC sponsors the "Horsey Hundred" in Lexington. Why, it goes all the way to Paris! I'd have to do some serious training to do a century, but maybe I'll talk the wife into letting me tackle that first.
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Old 02-03-10, 09:47 PM   #24
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There is a brief period of time in the spring each year when the roads in Yellowstone are being cleared of snow before they are opened to cars. Bikes are allowed in though. I don't think you can ride the entire grand loop (about 140 miles) but some of the most scenic sections that are not hugely hilly are open to rides. I think there is a bike club in Bozeman that has an organized ride of some sort. I love Yellowstone and this is definitely on my bucket list.

http://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/springbike.htm
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Old 02-03-10, 10:11 PM   #25
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I'd love to ride the left coast, from Canada to Mexico.
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