It was good to see a number of TCCers at the event, many of whom I have not ridden with in far too long ... as if I could keep up with them!
The highlight, of course, was meeting the stars -- Le Blaireau (the Badger), Bernard Hinault, five-time winner of the Tour de France, and winner of all 3 grand tours - the Vuelta and the Giro, as well as the Tour. He is a very important presence for the Tour, and as Graham Davis notes in a Pez Cycling report, saved the day yet again. I cannot wait for next year's Tour--genuinely excited about the initial 2 stages in northern England (beautiful Yorkshire) and the day on the Pave in northern France.
|Arashiro, Bardet and Hinault, photo courtesy of CCIFJ|
|Romain Bardet and his girlfriend, with Jerome and me!|
I missed much of the marketing presentation -- so much the better -- but enjoyed mingling, as well as the table full of Bretagne-style crepes, both the kind that make a meal and sweet dessert crepes. I managed to eat every variety on the table, and to wash them down with a few glasses of French hard cider.
On Saturday, Jerome and I had planned to ride up to Saitama Shin-to-shin to watch the criterium and see the related exhibits ... but the typhoon passing offshore dumped heavy rain all morning, so we hopped a train instead. Most of the exhibits were only tangentially related to cycling, though there were some with a French theme (cheese, wine, etc.).
There was a big crowd, which just got bigger as the day went on. I guess there is not much else to do on a rainy Saturday in central Saitama?
Indoors in the arena there were cycling exhibits, but nothing to write home about. There was an educational exhibit on the Tour -- which included a nice photo of the Issoire-St. Flour stage from 2011! And there was a video running where we say excerpts from Chris Froome's incredible ride up Mt. Ventoux this year.
We did run across Jamie S., one of the few Tokyoites (perhaps the only?) to have ever completed the Race Across America (RAAM), with a 4-person team in 2012 and, much more difficult, a 2-person team in 2013. Jamie said he and his partner each rode 330 kms a day, on around 3 hours sleep. They rode 2962 miles (4700 kms) in all, with a time of 7 d 15 h 46 m. That sounds like starting with LEL, but adding 30-40 kms a day, and extending the event for an additional 3 days/900 kms, and of course riding at a faster pace (but with more time off the bike, when your partner is riding). He said it was very hard -- something about saddle sores and exhaustion. Not going back again. Respect.
|People keep coming and coming toward the events.|
|Move along. Keep away from the edge where you might get a good view of the race.|