30 June 2011

Real Food

David and Juliane enjoy some real food in Livigno - big steaks for
the whole team last night powered us up the ridiculously steep
Mortirolo Pass today, by the memorial to Marco Pantani, whose victory
there on a Giro d'Italia stage thrust him onto the world stage.

We had a good day today, MOB and I finished 173 in the Masters class
-- our highest placing yet.  I was glad to do the entire 1250m elev climb, much at a 15-20% grade, without putting a single foot to the ground. (Think 2x Kazahari
Rindo). I passed many walking/resting riders, and did not see many of
those we have finished with in recent days.

Naturns to Livgno via Stelvio-Stilferjoch

Yesterday, our hopes of a "top 80%" finish were dashed by MOB's
"mechanical" - the broken spoke on his Ultegra rear wheel. We were
given the max time (11 hrs!!) and pushed way back among other teams
which had suffered a similar fate at least one day this week (not such
a small group, but not 20%)..

Today, another day. We rode at a good pace. the first 37 km -
gradually ascending from 540m to almost 1000m elev. I performed my
usual "domestique" role, asking "what would Jerome do?". "Pull!". So I
did, sometimes a group of 50+ riders, and even up one hill.

I felt that effort on the early part of the climb, but after the
feeding point (1550m elev) I felt strong and climbed well all the way
to the pass (2750m), with only a few very short stops for
photos/energy bars. Spectacular views, and I am stronger than in 2009.

I was a bit disappointed in MOB's equipment selection - how could he
come to Transalp w an Ultegra wheel he knew was problematic? Why
didn't he test his transalp wheels for months, conclude that they were
bombproof, or at least reliablen and set them aside (as I did),,
instead of taking them to a race in Berlin where the rear rim was
destroyed? Was he really giving Transalp the proper priority this
year, or is he more interested in building up classic bikes from
N.O.S. parts?

These were some of my thoughts as I descended the Stelvio ... only to
suffer my own broken spoke as I approached Bormio. My wheel likewise
was unrideable, and the mechanical help was nowhere near. Karma?

But, I recalled a trick -- my Rolf Prima wheels have paired spokes.
If I could just break the other one in the pair, at least the wheel
rim should be straight, as long as it does not collapse ... I finally
managed to break the spoke after minutes of struggling (why do they
break while riding if they are so tough?) ... only to realize that my
tire had deformed and was pretty well shredded from the heat, rubbing
against my frame as I slowed from 50kph to a stop on the downhill.
But the tire and tube still held air. And I could ride with a slight
bump and a "womp, womp" sound.

Still, on the bright side, most of the remainder of the day was ...
another long climb (900+m up) from Bormio over Passo Foscagno then a
short descent and climb (200+m up) to Passo d'Eira and down into
Livigno. The bump was not so bad at slow climbing speed, and I passed
lots of stragglers on this climb. MOB and I reconnoitered at the 2nd
feed point, then I went ahead onto these last climbs -- worried about
whether my equipment would make it.

At the finish, I endured a long wait to get a "loaner" wheel for the
next 3 days, and enjoyed some pasta, a trip for steak to our favorite
Livigno steak house (and pizzeria), and went off to bed. Other high
points are: hot water in the showers! And a compact transalp camp
layout and parrticularly good placement for MOB and me - within 15
meters of the door (route to the bathroom etc), plus a slight
partition (as if we were flying business class) and I am sleeping with
my mat immediately adjacent to the "Schwalbe girls" team - two
charming (but not very fast) mid-20s German women riders sponsored by
the tire company.

Sent from my mobile device

Climbing the Stelvio Pass

Today was the hardest day so far. We started in Naturn at elv. 540m and climbed up to the Stelvio Pass at 2750m. And that was only less than 2/3 of the climbing to be done. Great views but confused mind. Hot all the time.

View from the approach to the Stelvio at elv. 2450m

29 June 2011

Canyon bikes suck! Folding bike... On impact!

The Rest

Hot day today, already at the start in Ischgl at 9. David and me started from the very back of the D Block and overtook about 300 riders (least it felt like) until the first supply dump at km 67. We stayed together at the first climb to the Reschenpass, covering the remaining portion of Austria, all of Switzerland and the beginning of the Italian stretch. 3 out of 4 countries done.
Beautiful fast descent to Schluderns. Then another long climb over the Vinschgau. On the way done disaster struck: spoke broke on the Ultegra rear wheel. Now waiting for the broom wagoon to pick me up.
Sadly, that will impact our team standing, 187th place goodbye.
Otherwise a beautiful day with nice riding.
Thanks to Stephen for dropping by.

28 June 2011

Day Two

A successful day all around.

David and Juliane remain in the "C" starting block. MOB and I crept
up from 189 to 187 place.

The Arlsberg was nicer than I remembered and the Beilerhohe was
spectacular (photos to come once fully back online), though hot on the
lower stretches.

I made it up with just a quick stop at Jerome and Rickard Lindqvist's
secret cooling site -- ice cold water from a stream, and another quick
stop to snap a photo and ingest an energy bar. Unlike 2009, I am
actually passing people on the climbs ... and like 2009, I am still
passing others on the descents . (We hit 70-75kph on both descents.)

I felt good all day. Can't wait for tomorrow and then, on Wednesday,
the Stelvio.

Sent from my mobile device

Unexpected Visitor

Arriving in Ischgl today after a long, hot day in the saddle we met old Positivo Espresso Hand Stephen who drove here from Zuerich.
Geschäftsführung der BVL Campus gGmbH: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Josef Decker, Sven Möller, Uwe Peters, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Thomas Wimmer

27 June 2011

Day One Flash Update

David and Juliane did well enough in the Mixed classification (5 hrs
05 minutes) to start day 2 in the "C" block, achieving their main goal
for this year's Transalp, and freeing themselves up to go for another
objective -- mountain top points or maybe a stage win?

MOB and I were 189 out of 228 in the "Masters" category, at 5 hrs 29
minutes. We started fast and averaged 30kph for the first 2 hours
despite the initial climb and subsequent up and down. But we made
some tactical errors that cost us precious time, and were held back by
heavy traffic on the final descent, but came through in one piece and
are well out of the bottom 10% (so far, out of the bottom 17%) -- my
goal for the week.

The winners (Men's and Master's categories) finished in around 3:35.

Tomorrow, the despised Arlberg and the memorable Beilerhohe - first
pass over 2000 meters.

Scenery was spectacular, skies blue and HOT on the big climb of the
Hahntennjoch. Traffic on the Hahtennjoch was worse than tomin-no-mori
-- constant motorcycles and a rally of about 100 older sports cars
belching fumes that made the tunnels toxic. The relatively new
Ferrari and a Porsche both bonked on the climb. The Ferrari was off
to the side with some cyclists who had leg cramps. The Porsche had
its hood opened at the pass (1890 meters elev) and its owner/driver
managed to trigger the car alarm as I was waiting across the road
nearby. Ouch.

Sent from my mobile device

Evening stroll in Imst

David on the way up to the Hahntenjoch

First day, we all arrived more or less well at the finish in Imst after less than 6 hours of racing. On a hot day the steep approach to the Hahntenjoch was murderous.

26 June 2011

Rainy season in the Austrian Alps

The Japanese rainy season, especially towards the end of June when it is not only wet but gets also unpleasantly hot, is the perfect excuse for escaping to the more moderate climates of the European Alps. Or so David thought when he signed up for the TransAlp. So far the weather seems to be holding up in Sonthofen - sunny start this morning as the last minute photo proves, and a forecasts which suggests improving weather from today. So far so good.

My own escape was somewhat less lucky. I arrived in Munich on Thursday evening, to make it through pouring rain to Kitzbuehel, in the Tyrolian Alps. Rain throughout the night and into the morning. Perfect excuse to get a couple of phone conferences done, and a lot more e-mail. But wait - was this what I had come for to Kitzbuehel, a couple of days early before starting to teach a training programme from Sunday?

It finally stopped raining in the late morning and I was immediately on my bike for a short ride under still threatening skies. I managed to stay dry and returned for lunch.

In the afternoon another try. The sun was even lurking through the clouds occasionally. I went for the most famous hill climb course in Austria, the Kitzbueheler Horn. The start is just 10 minutes from my hotel. Over 7km it is a relentless climb at usually 12 percent, sometimes more, from 700m altitude to 1,670m.

Many famous riders have put up best times here, e.g. Cadell Evans (not yet on his Canyon). All nicely documented on a "Wall of Fame".

From the Alpenhaus it is possible to climb another 300m at similar gradient to the very top of the Kitzbueheler Horn. I did this twice last September and the 360 degree view from the peak is simply astounding, in particular in good weather.

But today the weather was not good, and in fact no sooner had I reached the Alpenhaus did some very cold clouds come blowing down from the peak. I plunged down the road in a desperate attempt to escape, but one kilometre down the rain caught up with me. From there it was a miserable descent: 900m down in 8 degree cold rain, wearing summer clothes (but even something warmer would not really have made much of a difference), desperately grapping the breaks to maintain a safe speed yet make it through this hell as fast as possible. I was dreaming of a hot bath back in the hotel...

This was not the greatest start to my stay in Kitzbuehel. As we say in German, "vom Regen in die Traufe", quite literally!

Again rain through the rest of the day and throughout most of the night. The next morning looked a little more promising, but still with threatening skies and a supposed 35% chance of rain. Good enough to give it another try, again without venturing too far before the afternoon, when rain was forecasted once more.

I chose a loop around the mountain range towards the northwest of Kitzbuehel, facing the famous "Wilder Kaiser". Google maps suggested it was possible to avoid the main roads for most of the loop, following side roads. Indeed, this was possible, but as always in Austria, many of those side roads turned out to be unpaved.

In fact, at some point the cycling path became a hiking path! Impossible to tell from google maps, making this section appear like a nicely paved back road...

I ended up doing a fair amount of riding on unpaved paths and even hikling, just as last year. Unlike Japan, most of the unpaved paths are easily passable by road bike. They tend to be so well maintained that it is possible to even climb up many unpaved mountain roads. But of course they add to the wear and tear of the bike, especially the tyres. My first back tyre on this bike lasted for only 2,000km before the top of the tyre came off in places. In Japan, I always end up wrecking my tyres through side cuts from sharp stones on rindos. Not so here.

There aren't actually so many paved roads here. Basically just one trunk road per valley. There are very few actual passes and almost no tunnels (and tunnels are always closed to bicycles). Unlike Japan, no attempt is made to connect roads over hills or mountains, just for the sake of connecting them. It is possible to ride to the top of many mountains, but with the exception of the Kitzbueheler Horn, the roads are always unpaved. A paradise for mountain bikers, but not really for road bikers.

Nonetheless, the scenery is a nice change from Japan, even in this bad weather.

As I will be teaching my younger colleagues throughout the week, I will be following with envy the progress the PE teams are making through the Austrian and Italian Alps, on what seems to be more interesting paved roads and passes which can be found in my immediate vicinity. With a bit of luck, next Saturday may offer the opportunity to repeat another attack of the Grossglockner Hochtor, the highest Austrian pass at 2,500m, 100km to the south-east of Kitzbuehel.

15 minutes before the start

The night before

Transalp Day Zero

Today was a full day.  MOB and I registered for Transalp, we met our teammates, ate and slept.

We entered the registration area well ahead of most riders -- at the front the peleton, as it were.
Rusedski registers!

Our high placement was confirmed when the results were posted at end of the day.
But as I had warned MOB, the registration site was full of pencil-thin, gaunt-faced 195-200 cm height 29 year-olds with shaved heads (and legs). 
I managed to sneak a photo of one of the more imposing of this rider type.  However, as he left the site, he hopped on a mountain bike 4 sizes too small and pedaled with his feet jammed inward onto the pedals, pigeon toe style.  MOB and I left the registration site 150-200 meters behind him and quickly caught up, just before our routes separated.  He was not so imposing once we got on the bike!  That will be the last time he will mess around with (or ride anywhere near) the Positivo Espresso B Team!

Positivo Espresso Europe
At the pasta party, we planned race strategy.  As the first day's stage route was telecast with a projector at the front of the gathering, using Google Earth, we did it the old fashioned way, modeling the climb over the H.-joch with my mountainous second helping of pasta, the parmesan cheese representing the remaining snowpack visible today when the clouds finally cleared.
Visualize your line
on the descent!

We decided to get out of the pasta party early after the mayor finished his lengthy remarks in order to get to bed early for an extra edge ... but ended up stopping at an outdoor cafe for some after dinner drinks.

Juliane complained that her transponder/number plate that is required to be affixed to the front of the handlebars, facing forward so as to be visible from the front, defeats the aerodynamic advantage that all top competitive cyclists seek.  We discussed countermeasures and, looking at the TOUR Magazine articles about the race, noticed that in all the photos of the top riders, the rectangular sheet appeared to have rounded edges and to be noticeably smaller than the ones we had been provided.  What chumps we must have been in 2009, riding without first getting out the scissors and cutting this parachute down to size.  As soon as we got back to the hotel, we had a little trimming party.
Transponder/front number, cut down to size
Tomorrow, we will focus on racing, not blogging.  And there is no electricity, let alone public WiFi, on the tennis courts of Transalp Camp in Imst, Austria, if memory serves.  We will report again when we can.

25 June 2011

Transalp Base Camp - Sonthofen!

After a morning stroll in good weather through the center of Muenchen--delightful--MOB and I met at the main train station a few minutes after 1PM for the 2+ hour trip to Sonthofen.  As we disembarked at our destination, we saw 3-4 other passengers with their big Transalp duffel bags from a prior year.

We hopped a taxi to the Rafting and Adventure Center in neighboring Bihlerdorf, 2.5+ km to the Northwest from the train station.  This would be our base camp for the two nights in Sonthofen -- a lodge for outdoor adventure types, breakfast to be served at long tables in a big room.  Here we can acclimate to the high altitude -- 750 meters elevation which, if you don't count the 10 minutes he spent on top of the Harz mountains several weeks back, is higher than MOB has been at any time since his move to Bremen last year.

We met two members of an Israeli Transalp team on the way in, and numerous other bike boxes were out in the bike storage area, but the riders are not in evidence--everyone else must be shut in their rooms, resting up for the big day. (Two more Germans have shown up this evening, from Dusseldorf, they look the part -- hair cut to no more than 0.7 cm length, emaciated faces and pencil thin bodies.)

As it was already 4PM by the time we got into our room at base camp, we quickly assembled our bikes and headed into town, did one general circuit and then launched into our scouting ride up the valley to the Southeast, where the race will start on Sunday.  We made good time as far as Bad Hindelang, where the road turned up, and we started to climb the mighty Oberjoch, towering hundreds of meters above Sonthofen and Bad Hindelang.
The winding road of the lower reaches of the Oberjoch climb

Rain threatens as we ride along a high meadow near the Austria border

My legs felt fresh all the way up.  The clouds looked ominous, but we pressed on and were rewarded with dry pavement, and continued on all the way to the heavily fortified border with Austria!  Another stamp in the passport, and we had successfully scouted the entire German Alp portion of the Transalp on a late Friday afternoon.  One country out of three done, dead and over.  Michael is planning to contact the organizers and see if we can start at the border on Sunday morning, since we have already done that stretch.

Welcome to Austria!

On the descent, we were caught by a heavy rain shower, but made it back in time to change into dry clothes and walk back into town for dinners of, respectively, gnocchi and weiner schnitzel.

Rusedski crests the Oberjoch
Michael insisted on the gnocchi, despite my suggestion that he would be sick of pasta soon enough, and eating any tonight -- even of the highest quality -- would only hasten the effect.  The highlight for me was when 3 younger people (2 men and a woman) who had been eating nearby passed us to exit the restaurant.  One of them asked me, "excuse me, but are you [former world #4 ranked men's tennis star, retired in 2007 and still in his late 30s] Greg Rusedski?"  Sadly, I had to let them down -- no, I am only an unranked amateur cyclist, not yet a world class athlete, but I often get mistaken for Rusedski when in this kind of alpine sporting village in summer.  Maybe it is the hairline?

We enjoyed some excellent gelato nearby and walked the 3 km back to base camp in light rain showers and cool weather.  Tomorrow morning, we get our credentials, repack our bags, and try another shorter scouting ride before meeting David J. and Juliane P. in the afternoon.

24 June 2011

Jet Lag Recovery in Munich

"Legroom" on ANA Economy.
Need at least a day for knee
recovery before racing.
For Transalp in 2009, Jerome and I landed in Paris at 4AM Saturday local time, showered and ate breakfast, hopped a plane to Munich, and were in Sonthofen by mid-afternoon, just in time to register, find our lodgings, join mid-way through the pasta party/briefing (why were the only other persons drinking beer the non-participants?), and get one decent night's sleep before the Sunday morning start.  I was groggy at breakfast, and I hit a jet lag-assisted wall on the big climb of the day, as the afternoon heat increased and my body screamed "time for sleep".

Just about the same thing happened to me in 2005 when I flew from Tokyo to Washington DC, then on to Knoxville, TN, for a short night's sleep before a big, big ride at the start of "Matt Tour" -- over the Smoky Mountains and up onto the Blue Ridge Parkway.

This time, I wanted to come early enough to avoid such a big first day fade, so I arrived in Munich Wednesday evening, and today (Thursday) played tourist, choosing several of the many sites suggested by MOB.  Rain was forecast, so I left my bike in the travel case for tomorrow's train trip to Sonthofen, and went by train and foot to see some of the highlights.

Arbeit Macht Frei
This morning I visited a nice, quiet town of tree-lined streets in the Munich suburbs -- Dachau.  I am sure plenty of commuters must board the S-Bahn train from Dachau to come into Munich for work in the morning.  But it seems that just about everyone who is going OUT to Dachau on the S-bahn in the morning has the same destination.  They transfer to the 726 bus (a large, articulated bus, unlike all the others leaving Dachau station), and go to the site of the first of the Third Reich's system of concentration camps.  The Dachau camp opened in 1933, and would become a model for SS-run concentration camps -- a root of much evil.  I won't write my impressions here, not enough time and way off-topic, but I am very glad I made the trip.
Dachau Concentration Camp Assembly Ground.  Entrance/gate bldg at right rear.

By the time I got back to city center, it was pouring rain, so I decided to visit a museum.  Since the Lenbachhaus with its unrivaled collection of Expressionist "Blue Riders" (Klee, before he taught at Bauhaus, Kandinsky, et al, and a nice potential name for a cycling team) which had been highly recommended to me, is closed for renovations, I thought I should avoid another art museum but instead see something that would provide a bit more local flavor.  Why go to someplace just to see some impressionists, or maybe a contemporary/pop art museum with the obligatory Alexander Calder sculpture, an Andy Warhol soup can, Hockney, Rauschenberg, Frank Stella and other usual suspects.  Instead, I headed by underground to the Olympic center and the BMW Museum/BMW Welt.

On the escalator down to the trains, I saw posters publicizing some kind of exhibit involving Ludwig II (a/k/a "Mad King Ludwig of Bavaria" -- he was deposed based upon alleged mental illness, but there is no proof that he actually was mad).  On the map, I saw that the route went under the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat and the Palais Ludwig Ferdinand.  I guess in Bavaria being named "Ludwig" is kind of like being named "Louis" in France or "Henry" in England.  Kings all.

The BMW Museum was a great choice, since the buildings and interiors themselves gave a great sense of German design -- the clean lines, white background and grey and black lettering could have been designed by Walter Gropius himself, at the Bauhaus.

I'm not so interested in the history of the BMW 5-series, the altitude record set with one of the early post-WWI aircraft engines, or the history of BMW's off/on/off involvement with Formula 1 racing.  But there was one exhibit that will be memorable, in addition to the building itself.  

BMW Welt
This was the "BMW Art Cars'.   I had raised an eyebrow at when I heard about MOB's decision to take a perfectly good new carbon bicycle frame and send it off to a painter for a custom paint job.  But after seeing the BMW Art Cars, now I can understand.  This is a long German tradition.  Back in the 1970s, BMW started commissioning world famous artists each to paint one of their cars, and the results are fantastic.

You can see cars painted by Alexander Calder, Andy Warhol, David Hockney, Robert Rauschenberg, Frank Stella, Jenny Holzer, S. Chia and others.  And they are just great.  Much better than a typical Calder sculpture or Warhol soup can I could have found at another museum.

This evening the skies cleared.  Tomorrow I meet MOB and we head for base camp in Sonthofen.
Alexander Calder


S Chia
Jenny Holzer
Lots and lots of BMW emblems at the museum.

22 June 2011

Wet White Dream is ready to ride

Picked up my new bike at the shop today after the owner, Campa, had kindly agreed to setup everything before Wednesday so that I could take her to the Transalp.

Total weight is barely UCI legal. And this includes pedals and before adding a lighter saddle which will shave off another 100g from the total.

More pics to follow shortly. The design was inspired by the camouflage jerseys from the St. Pauli stealth bomber group (here an actual photo when riding out with the club). 

I wanted something that fits nicely into the landscape, and with snow forecasted for the higher regions of the Transalp tour next week, white will melt beautiful into the background of glaciers and ravines.

21 June 2011

Day 3 : Newhaven - London (142 kms) - Rain, Sun, Rain, Sun, Rain... and Climbing in more rain.

Laurent has sent me the final installmentof his amazing charity ride from Paris to London for CARE and an effort to raisemoney and awareness for the victims of the March 11th Earthquake and Tsunami that devasted the North East of Japan.

"The weather was on everyone's mind as we got up today: after yesterday's heavy rains, were we going to get more water or would we be allowed to ride in dry conditions? "Scattered showers and local storms in the South-East" was what the weatherman predicted on TV. Oh no...! Well, we don't have a choice anyway.

After a full English breakfast with fried eggs, cooked tomatoes, sausages, bacon, beans in tomato sauce, mushrooms, toast and crumpets with Marmite spread and a yogurt, we watched the other teams depart in the "scattered showers" mentioned earlier: repeated sessions of heavy rain followed by a break or even a sunny spell, before a new deluge. Repeat in a loop, ad nauseam, and add very strong winds and you have an idea of the whole day. I never ever cycled in that much rain! We just hoped it wouldn't be raining when our starting time arrived so we could warm up first...but of course that was just wishful thinking.

Today's stage was going to be 110 kms long with a bit more climbing than the previous two days as we'd go up and down the Southdowns and the Northdowns before reaching London but our team wanted to make a total 400 kms for the ride and we decided to add both distance and climbing to the programme, to skip the first stop and go directly to the lunch meeting point. The weather and the lack of technical support in case of trouble (a new puncture fest?) were potential issues but we decided to try anyway. "

For the full story head on over to my blog here.

It's not too late to donate and you can donate directly to Laurent here:


Rememberthe bike will be auctioned off at the end of the ride to raise more money for this amazing cause.

For more information on the bike head here.

20 June 2011

Day 2 - Beauvais - Dieppe: Rain, Cold and a Festival of Punctures.

Laurent has sent me an update of his epic ride from Paris to London for CARE.

As always, our team left after all the others had gone, and we had plans to cycle fast and furious, catch up with and overtake every other team and add a loop to the expected 110kms once we arrived in Dieppe. Right off the start, cycling was much easier than yesterday and we all felt strong with the help of the tailwind. From Beauvais we moved up north towards the sea until the first rest-stop 40 kms away where we made only a brief pause to fill our bottles, get a cup of English tea and get back on the road. Much better teamwork than yesterday helped us keep a steady and fast pace, though slower than yesterday's dishevelled, furious, individualistic race-like mode.

For the full story head on over to my blog here.

It's not too late to donate and you can donate directly to Laurent here:


Rememberthe bike will be auctioned off at the end of the ride to raise more money for this amazing cause.

For more information on the bike head here.

RAAM 2011 - Participant from Tokyo!

June is not just about the Tour de Suisse, the Dauphin, and some other events near and dear to Positivistas (SocGen Paris-to-London, Transalp, Mt. Fuji HCs), there is also the  Race Across America ("RAAM").

Graham mentioned to me recently, and James K. confirmed, that Jamie Slaymaker, who rides with James and who joined me for the April 2010 Nishi-Izu Brevet (he rode well ahead of me up Doshimichi, but then dropped off at Numazu for an early return to Tokyo), is teaming with his younger brother and two others as the "Crankaddicts" team for the 2011 RAAM. 

RAAM has solo, 2-, 4- and 8-person teams.  For the Crankaddicts, it will involve 4 persons rotating -- Enduro style -- one rider on the bike at a time.  But unlike a Japanese "enduro" event, they will proceed like this, the resting riders in support vehicles, 24x7, from California to Virginia.  RAAM teams started on Sunday, June 19, California time, so they are underway.  You can get updates on their website, or watch the RAAM team division leaderboard online.  I'm just glad that, very early on at least, they are beating the "Norton Rose" team sponsored by a U.K.-based law firm.  (From the site, it looks like a 39 yr old partner must have "asked" 3 decade younger associates to do RAAM with him.  Shameless).

Solo riders started on the 15th.  Now trying RAAM solo, THAT would be intense.

Packing for the big trip

Levi Leipheimer takes 2:03 off of Damian Cunego in the closing TT stage to win the Tour de Suisse by 4 seconds.  ...  Laurent Depus arrives in London, triumphant (I hope -- have not seen a report, but should have happened only hours ago).  And on Wednesday I leave for Munich and points beyond.  Only 6 days until Transalp!

My bike is all ready to go, thanks to some maintenance by Nagai-san at Positivo.  Looking at the bike as I stopped by to pick it up, I realized that the only "original" components from when I got it in 2007 are the frame itself, the shifters, and the brakes.  Everything else -- including fork (recalled by Cervelo), derailleur hanger (bent), all the rest of the drive train, saddle, seat post (original was too short), stem, bars, wheels (of course!), etc. have been swapped out at least once.

Today I got to put it in my Biknd Helium bike box.  The Biknd Helium, with inflatable padding and even room for 2 pairs of wheels), is much nicer than the hard plastic case I've used before -- lighter, easier to pull around, fits more gear, and has pockets accessible from the outside.

The bike is dis-assembled and on the base

I added plenty of gear inside the space together with the bicycle