I am a planner. I make lists. I research. I research my research. From buying new tennis shoes to planning our European trip in July. I look for the best ways to accomplish certain tasks. I like smooth transitions. I do not settle for just whatever.
This November my wife and I traveled to California. She surprised me with the fact that she had signed me up for Peter Sagan’s Grand Fondo! I immediately began planning the moment I was told, from what kit I would wear to whether I would travel with my bike or ship it. Everything went well for our entire trip. Well, except for the decision to travel with my bike. Ugh. That, my friend, is nerve-wracking.
I used a Scicon travel bag. Placing my new Orbea Orca Aero in the case and padding every part of the frame, as if I were shipping my first-born, it stayed on my mind constantly throughout the trip. The flight to the fondo was perfect. No problems. The return however . . . oh. my. goodness. When I arrived back in Atlanta and went to oversized baggage claim, I immediately unzipped the bag to check on Isabella (yes, that is my Spanish lady’s name). The right shifter/brake was turned parallel to the ground, as if the bike bag had been tossed out of the jet as we were landing. I straightened the shifter in a panic and looked over the whole frame. No flaws. Next, I checked my Di2 transmission. NOTHING would shift. Hyperventilating, I called my local shop owner. He told me to try this and that. Nothing. While my wife drove, I banged out searches on my phone for possible solutions. To my relief, I found that Shimano had a crash mode that shuts everything down when it feels like it has been involved in a crash, and it is easy to fix: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUkKqNN7HVI
This brings me to the European trip. I decided to rent bikes for me and Tammy. No, it is not cheap, but for the purpose the bikes will be serving, I will be far more comfortable. Sure, if I were in a big sportif or race, I would somehow have my race bike with me, but not this time. The bikes will be delivered to us upon our arrival to Lyon, France and stay with us in southern France for six days at which time we head to Rome. A savvy traveler gave me a good tip on the subject of bikes and I used his advice: rent an e-bike for your wife and she will be able to ride with you without struggling to keep up and being miserable, while having a good time. Done.
I have most of the framework for the European trip planned, and it looks very smooth on paper. I have tried to cover most of the “what-ifs.” My one reservation is the unknown of The Tour. Yes, it is a dream of mine to see some of it in person, but I keep hearing horror stories of the traffic and so on. We will be with race from July 13th to the 18th (with a rest day on the 16th). Here are some of my questions:
- The Tour caravan that precedes the riders comes by how far ahead of the riders?
- Is it even possible to talk with any of the riders or get near their buses?
- Is it possible to “jump in” on the back of team ride on their rest day?
- What can I do to get the most out of this possibly one-time experience?
Yes, I know I did not get into the ride with Peter and Maciej Bodnar, but that is coming soon. Riding with a three-time world champion and a hill crusher like Bodnar does not happen every day . . . and what a day it was.