APB: SILVER SUV WITH WAR OF 1812 TAG

Friday August 15, 2014

Fellow Cyclists & Friends – please be on the lookout for a silver/grey SUV with a MD State “War of 1812” tag when you are on roads this weekend anywhere near the Laytonsville and broader area.  If you see one when you are out biking or in a car this weekend, please take a picture of or write down the plate number and send it to me (KZwally@gmail.com).  

The vehicle in question could be a Toyota Forerunner, but we’re not 100% sure.  

This vehicle has been described as possibly the one the fled the scene after running me over while I was biking a short section of Rt 108 this past Saturday. A witness kindly called me after seeing the FOX 5 News story the other night and provided information about the vehicle including a partial plate number.  However at least one of the numbers she gave police was wrong (and its missing the two letters), so police are having trouble matching it with a specific vehicle.  

The plate number we have is: 2??3956. Again, this is missing the two letters, and at least 1 number is not correct. 

The War of 1812 tag is the only Maryland plate with a U.S. flag on it, and its red, white, and blue in color. Here is a link to examples of the Maryland War of 1812 license plate so you know what to look for. http://bit.ly/1AkQzMQ

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If you see any silver/grey SUV with a War of 1812 tag (the one with the U.S. Flag), please take a picture of it or write it down, and email it to KZwally@gmail.com. I will pass this information on to the investigating officers.  

I am grateful for the information provided by this new witness, and police are working hard using a variety of investigative methods that we can’t share without compromising the investigation.  (Please don’t speculate what they might be in social media.)

Although the new witness is confident about all of the information she gave, the three pieces of information police are most sure about are 1) the red white and blue flag-bearing tag 2) the vehicle was a SUV, and 3) that it was silver (the color was also confirmed by other witnesses at the scene). The police are confident that some of the numbers in the plate are correct, but there is not enough information for them to puzzle out the remaining pieces and sufficiently narrow the list of vehicles.  (The witness told me she was a passenger in the car behind the one that struck me and they saw the accident.) 

Maryland registration does not include the color of the vehicle, so MoCo Police doesn’t yet have the information they need to crack the case.  The investigating officers are hoping area cyclists and the general public might be able to provide additional information needed to ID the vehicle.

As a reminder, this vehicle crossed a double yellow line to pass me going up a blind hill, struck me, and then fled the scene. Regardless of whether or not you think I should or should not have been riding on Rt 108, these actions are illegal. I suffered serious injuries including several broken ribs. Any information you can provide to help us track down this driver would be greatly appreciated.

Please share this post via FB, Twitter, etc.  I’ll ask Liz to add it to her blog site so you can link to it here.  I’ll also put it out on twitter tonight (@KZwally), and feel free to suggest other sites or organizations I should contact.

Thanks in advance for all your help, and coast down a hill or two for me when you’re out there biking this weekend. And most of all, be safe and have fun.  

Sincerely,

Kurt Zwally,

Silver Spring, MD

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Dear Driver of the Silver SUV who ran into me on my bicycle this Saturday…

August 11, 2014

2014-08-09 19.29.11Dear Driver of the Silver SUV with MD tags who ran into me on my bicycle this Saturday,

I am saddened that you drove off and left the scene and that we did not get a chance to meet face to face.

Equally importantly, I am wondering why you passed me when you couldn’t’ see the oncoming traffic? And then why you did not brake, and you instead swerved into me?

Before I ask you the many questions swirling though my head, I must say how truly grateful I am to the two (or three?) kind other drivers that stopped immediately, called 911, and helped me through the initial shock until the ambulance arrived. Thank you also to all the first responders who took such good care of me from Paramedic’s Carpenter and Miles from the Laytonsville Fire Department, to the wonderful ER nurses, Docs, and other staff at both Montgomery General and Washington Hospital Shock Trauma Center.

I’m also grateful that it was only my bike that went under your back wheel and not my leg or worse. However, this has been no picnic.

2014-08-09 19.28.39Your careless, indifferent and illegal driving caused me three very painful broken ribs near my spine, a concussion, a yet to be fully diagnosed shoulder (that hopefully isn’t a torn rotator cuff), a sprained foot, and multiple bruises and cuts. I can’t work this week, and I can barely care for myself right now. But again, I’m grateful that it wasn’t worse.

As you approached me on Rt 108, the road was very straight. I could clearly see you in my mirror and I’m sure you could see me with my bright red and white shirt, my bright blue helmet, and the red flashing light under my seat. I was riding right next to the white line heading towards Laytonsville, following the law and not hogging the road in any way. Most of my ride that day was on low-traffic country roads, and I wrongfully assumed drivers would be willing to share the road with me for the last 2 miles of my ride on Rt 108.

What were you thinking trying to pass me as we both approached that blind hill just past Rocky Road? With the hill rising out of the road blocking our view, did you not wonder if cars were coming towards us in the opposite lane?

What was so urgent that you couldn’t wait another 30 seconds until you could see if any traffic was coming the other way? Did you not see the double yellow line in the road?  Or did you think it didn’t apply to you in this case, because I was on a bike?

But then as you crested the hill and saw the red car in the other lane coming head-on, why did you turn your wheel in my direction? Why didn’t you just hit the brakes and try to drop back into our lane behind me like a normal person does when they realize they don’t have room to pass?

Maybe it was just a natural reaction to swerve away from an oncoming vehicle and back into your lane. But the manner in which your vehicle came so gradually into me makes me curious. It was as if I was being gently pushed by someone’s arm. It was so gradual that I can’t help wonder if you intentionally tried to squeeze your vehicle between the red oncoming car and me.

As your mirror and then door pushed into me, I wonder if you could see me out of the corner of your eye? Did you hear me yell out incredulously, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?!” as you pushed me off the road.2014-08-09 19.28.46

Did I suddenly disappear from your view your vehicle drove over my back wheel and whipped my body sideways down to the ground?

I doubt you heard the crack of my ribs as my shoulder and head slammed into the ground. But maybe you heard the crunch of my bike under your tire and the loud pop that a modern bike frame makes when it snaps into pieces.

If not that, surely you felt your tire thump over my bike? Did you wonder if my body was caught under the wheel too?

Did you look back in the mirror and see me laying in the ditch not moving? Or did you just look straight ahead down the road as if nothing happened?

Did you brake at all afterwards, and pause for just a moment? Did you debate at all with yourself about stopping? Or did you push down on the gas without hesitation as you left me there.

Maybe you assume2014-08-09 19.28.50d the other drivers would stop for me or maybe you actually saw them rush to my aid before you left me there.

But what if it was just you and me that day? Would you have just left me there in the ditch all alone, unconscious, and in in shock?

What thoughts went through your head as you continued on about your drive? Did you wonder if I was alive or dead? Did you tell yourself it was my fault because you think people shouldn’t bike on that road anyway?

Did you tell anyone about what happened on Saturday afternoon, or is this our dark little secret?

Do you now feel relieved that I am alive? Have you thought about how you would have felt if I did not recover? What if it was you that had to make the call to my wife, or my mother, father and brother?

Those are many of the questions that have been swirling in my head since we met on Saturday. But what really astounds me, the question I keep coming back to, is why in the world did you try to pass when you couldn’t see if the other lane was clear?

If I was in a slow-moving car with flashers on, would you still have tried to pass me at such a dangerous blind spot? What if I was a farmer on a tractor? Or a rider on a horse, would you still have tried to pass me that way?2014-08-09 19.29.04

Was it because I was on a bicycle that you didn’t think about the consequences? Or was it that you just didn’t care?

I look forward to hearing from you. Montgomery County Police’s efforts to publicize the incident are raising awareness and maybe we’ll hear from you or someone else. Either way, I’d really like to know, “What were you thinking?!”

Sincerely,Fulton_Century_May_2012_307

Kurt Zwally,

Silver Spring, MD

2013 Tour de France Travel Log #9

July 19, 2013

Day 9. Col de Glandon.

For Stage 19 Jennifer, Joni, and I rode our bikes from our hotel in Les Deux Alpes all the way to Allemont to watch the peloton start ascending the famous Col de Glandon. Along the way we got some terrific photos on the large artwork TDF bicycle displays in Bourg-d’Oisans and near the TDF helicopter site.

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Eventually we set up alongside the road near Allemont to wait for the peloton to arrive. The helicopter flew in overhead, the crowd cheered and the racers flew by us.

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Then we followed the peloton headed toward the famous Col de Glandon. Col du Glandon (1,924 m (6,312 ft)) is a high mountain pass in the Dauphiné Alps in Savoie, France, linking Le Bourg-d’Oisans to La Chambre. From Le Bourg-d’Oisans the route follows the D1091 through the Romanche valley before joining the D526 after 8 km (5 mi). The climb starts at the Barrage du Verney from where there is a further 24.1 km (15.0 mi) to the summit, which is reached shortly after the junction with the route to Col de la Croix de Fer. Over this distance, the height gained is 1,152 m (3,780 ft); the average gradient is 4.8%, although there are some downhill sections en route and a maximum uphill gradient of 11.1%.  Our plan was to ascend the Col de Glandon and meet up at the lone restaurant for lunch and then continue on to ride the Col de la Croix de Fer as well. Jennifer gave me a few Euros since I was likely to get to the restaurant Chalet Hôtel Col du Glandon first and we all set off.

As I started up, there was a slight drizzle that came and went, but it did not get me wet or pose a problem for the climb. I relaxed into a very fine tempo which I was able to maintain all the way up into the small town of Le Rivier d’Allemont. There was a man riding directly behind me drafting my wheel for the last few kilometers up to the town. When we crested the top he pulled ahead of me and thanked me for the pacing. He said it was perfect! I laughed and asked him if I was his domestique. He smiled and laughed back. The town was small and very scenic so I pulled over to snap a few photos before heading on. At this point I think I might have been at about the halfway point to reach the Chalet Hôtel Col du Glandon.

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There is a slight downhill at this section here with several switchbacks that take you all the way down into a valley and from there you begin the second part of the long ascent. I settled back into my rhythm and tried to keep a descent pace. There were lots of other cyclists making the trek up, but the road was not crowded and everyone just went at their own respective pace. The views are stunning as you ascend through the mountain pass with streams rolling by and you end up at a glacial lake way up high. This goes on for what feels like forever…

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I arrived at the restaurant at 1:30, parked my bike, and sat down and ordered lunch seated outside on the patio. It was chilly but clear and pleasant. Lunch was terrific: homemade vegetable soup with croutons and cheese and a lovely green salad.

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By 2:15 I began to wonder if Jennifer and Joni were coming. The temperature was dropping and the skies started to darken. By about 2:30 it started to rain, and then it started to pour. The temperature started to drop even more dramatically. All of the cyclists seated on the patio including me piled into the small restaurant building to stay warm and dry. I thought it would be good to wait out the storm rather than try to descend in it, but the rain just did not let up. Three o’clock came and went. It was getting late. The only thing that time in the restaurant bought me was more drops in the temperature. Now you could see your breath in the air when you exhaled. It was feeling like winter–very cold, probably close to 40 degrees–and I was dressed for summer. Not good. I didn’t know this at the time but this same storm had rolled in over Jennifer and Joni earlier on the climb and it was bad enough to cause them to abandon the climb just after Le Rivier d’Allemont. They turned around and had returned to Allemont to wait for me there. Unfortunately my cell phone was useless up on the top of the Col du Glandon so I had no clue where they were or what happened.

There were several bike tour groups at the cafe taking refuge with me. There must have been at least 40 cyclists in the cafe. Almost all of them were with big tour companies and they had sag vans waiting to take them back to their hotels in the storm. Most were planning to eat lunch and then just hop in their vans. However, none of these vans were going in my direction, and besides, they were all full. I spoke to one of the guides to get some advice. It was still pouring, the temperatures were dropping, and the descent down the switchbacks of the Col back to Allemont would be quite treacherous. This tour guide was advising his own folks to get into the van for safety. I explained to him that there was no van coming for me and that I really had no options to get home except on my bike. Fortunately I had my backpack with me and it still contained all of the extra clothes and gear that I had intended for emergency weather on Alpe d’Huez. I remembered that I had extra socks, long fingered gloves, toe warmers and a rain jacket! I put on every piece of clothing that I had with me: toe covers, arm warmers, vest for core warmth, and a light jacket on top of that, long gloves, and the clincher, my Eddie Bauer red rain jacket with the big hood which I pulled up and over my bicycle helmet. With all of this gear on the tour guide looked at me from head to toe, shrugged, and told me that I was as ready as I’d ever be. He advised me to leave immediately or else I would risk even more temperature drops. I was going to have to descend the mountain pass in this storm on my own. To tell you the truth I was terrified to descend in the pouring rain all alone. What if I crash and lie injured on the road? Would anyone find me?

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I noticed that there were two Belgian cyclists in the cafe that were not with any of the tour groups. They were on their own and in the same boat as me and were also leaving. I quickly jumped on my bike and tried to follow them. One of the Belgians was more confident on the slick steep roads than the other one. He led the way and at one point he got too far ahead of his buddy so he stopped to wait. I caught up with him and asked him if they would mind if I descended with them. I explained that I was all alone and that my cell phone didn’t work and that my plan was to just get farther down the road back to Le Rivier d’Allemont to send a text message to my tour group. He was very kind and agreeable, so we set off together. The confident one was in front; I took the middle; and the other (more tentative) fellow took up the rear. It was pouring rain. Visibility was low and the puddles were large. When cars passed us we were forced into the puddles and were sprayed. I was terrified of my brakes failing on the steep grades or of fish-tailing my wheels on the slick pavement. We went real slowly down the mountain–about 9-10 mph. It took a long time and a lot of concentration. Once we passed the steep switchback part down into the valley we had to traverse two flooded sections of the road. We tried to pick the best part with the lowest water line. After we made it through the submersed sections of road we were finally at the slight ascent up to the village town Le Rivier d’Allemont.

I started up the switchback ascent and I slowly pulled ahead of the Belgians on the climb. Soon I could not see them behind me anymore. They were much slower than me on the climb. At the top I pulled up next to a cafe in Le Rivier d’Allemont and checked my cell phone. Still no service. But all of a sudden the rain stopped and the sun came out! Just like that. The roads were still wet but the storm had finished here. I pulled off my drenched long gloves and pulled my short dry ones out of my pack. I sent Jennifer a text message to let her know where I was and I got ready for the final descent into Allemont. Just as I was about to pull out again the two Belgians rode by and waved. They had finally made it up the switchback climb section and would you believe it, they pulled over for a smoke! Seriously? Here? We’re riding one of the most challenging cycling routes in the world and they are smoking? Clearly this was not helping their climbing. No wonder I beat them handily on the climb. I waved back, wished them well, and I made my way down alone the rest of the way to town. The road was damp, but no more rain. When I finally arrived in the valley I removed my rain coat and put it back in my pack. The wind on the way down had completely dried my rain coat, but my feet and shoes were soaked. It was nice and warm down in Allemont and I finally had cell phone service. Several backlogged texts from Jennifer started coming in as my phone dinged furiously at me.

In a series of frantic text messages from Jennifer I learned that they had turned back when the rain hit hard and they waited in Allemont for me the whole time, but they finally gave up. At this point they were well past Bourg d’Oison near the turn off choice point for Les Deux Alpes and Venosc and headed home. I quickly texted them and they said they would wait for me near the turn off to Venosc. After a quick bathroom break I rode as fast as I possibly could now as it was mostly flat terrain. The aluminum rental bike with a 50t big ring just did not have the get up and go power of my carbon Trek madone with a 53t big ring, so my little legs couldn’t get the bike to go much faster than about 21 mph. Nevertheless it felt like a time trial. By the time I arrived at the meeting place and found Jennifer and Joni the skies were growing dark again. The rain was starting. We all put our rain jackets back on and then it started to pour. We had a 7 km ride up to Venosc to catch the gondola back up to Les Deux Alpes and it was pouring for the entire climb. Eventually we arrived at the top of the mountain via the gondola and we rode to our hotel. I was shivering and my teeth were chattering. I couldn’t wait to get there. I was completely soaked. 67.5 miles on my bike with over 8400 feet of climbing. The hot tub that night was awesome.

After we warmed up and took our showers we headed out for a celebration dinner at Casa Nostra in Les Deux Alpes. This is an excellent restaurant! I highly recommend it if you ever travel there.

Daily Ride data:

On Strava http://app.strava.com/activities/69110151

On Garmin Connect  http://connect.garmin.com/activity/346841134

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2013 Tour de France Travel Log #8

July 18, 2013

Day 8. Alpe d’Huez.

In the morning I packed my backpack full of extra food and extra clothes just in case it might be cold up on the mountain. Rain was also a possibility, but we were not going to miss Alpe d’Huez! I left the water pack portion of my backpack at the hotel as it was not going to be hot like Ventoux and this allowed me to fit more clothes, supplies, and a rain jacket into my pack.

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We rode our bikes down from Les Deux Alpes in the morning so that we could ascend Alpe d’Huez with the massive crowds. Alpe d’Huez was a huge party on wheels (and beer)!

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There were big bottlenecks at times with hundreds of riders ascending at once so we had to walk our bikes a few times. The climb goes via the D211 from where the distance to the summit (at 1,860 m (6,102 ft)) is 13.8 km (8.6 mi), with an average gradient of 8.1%, with the 21 famous switchbacks all numbered as you ascend and a maximum gradient of 13%. L’Alpe d’Huez is climbed regularly in the Tour de France. It was first included in the race in 1952 and has been a stage finish regularly since 1976. The fastest recorded professional times up were just over 37 minutes, but these cyclists were later found out to have been doping! Greg LaMond the famous American cyclist who did not dope made it up in about 48 minutes. Depending on what websites you believe the American musical icon Sheryl Crow reportedly climbed ADH in about 1 hour 29 minutes to 1 hour 40 minutes when she was dating Lance Armstrong. I don’t think he shared his EPO with her; she did it on her own natural ability. However, I’m quite certain he gave her a $12,000 carbon Trek bike to use for the ascent.

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As I was riding up Alpe d’Huez there were professional photographers snapping riders’ photos. One of them handed me a card as I ascended so I was able to order my shots from their website. A fun bit of memorabilia! Just after I reached the 4km to go banner the road split and the gendarmerie (police) forced me to ride up the remainder of the way on the road to the right. This is not the official way; it’s called the “alternate route,” but I can assure you that it was no less steep. I got to top on this side in about 1 hour 15 minutes. Not bad! At least I beat Sheryl Crow. After looking around a bit and snapping some photos I descended back down to the 4km to go sign so that I could attempt to go up the “correct” side of the mountain. So basically I did the top of ADH twice! What’s better than one sufferfest? Two!

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Once I was done with my double ascent I descended on my bike to switchback #5, our designated meeting spot, to try to meet up with my riding companions. Only Chuck made it. Jennifer and Joni were stopped at the summit and had to view the race from up there, but we would not know this until later that evening. Chuck and I stayed at switchback #5 and partied with a cool bunch of Brits in blue Union Jack body suits. Allez!  It was fantastic. We did the wave, cheered for the amateur riders going up, sang to the music and thoroughly enjoyed the party atmosphere. We even ran into Lesli, Dave, and Justin from Cyclismas who were also partying Alpe d’Huez style! Lesli told us that Dave and Justin were trying to figure out how to get a keg up to the summit on a bike. Basically it seemed like everybody except the children were drunk on Alpe d’Huez.

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Once the race was on we had twice the fun because the riders had to ascend Alpe d’Huez twice for the stage. We saw Teejay Van Garderen lead the pack up the mountain two times! So exciting. However, Van Garderen’s efforts were unfortunately in vain as the Frenchman Christophe Riblon overtook him in the final 2km for the win.

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One interesting calamity occurred for me and my riding companion, Chuck. We had fully expected to meet Jennifer and Joni at switchback #5, but they were not allowed to descend from the summit. Before the race Chuck and I had found a place near the woods to stash our bikes while we watched the stage. We had a bike lock with us, but Jennifer had the key. So I advised Chuck to lay simply the lock over the bikes and make it appear that they were locked, but instead he actually locked it! Our bikes were secured together with no key. With nothing to do about it we watched the race and hoped that the key would come. However, once the race was over it became clear to us that no key would be arriving. How on earth would we descend with our bikes locked together? No problem. It turns out that there a lot of great would-be bike thieves up on Alpe d’Huez. In no time at all Chuck was able to find a Belgian with a small hand saw and a Dutch guy with drill. They had a drunken contest to see which one of them could break through our bike lock first. The Belgian won hands down and we were on our way.

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The descent down Alpe d’Huez post-race was challenging to say the least. Imagine thousands of spectators on foot or on bikes along with hundreds of cars and vans. Add to that the entire procession of the TDF caravan which had been parked up on top after the first ascent and needed to come down. We were all packed onto one narrow, steep road and made our way down the 21 switchbacks together.  What a nightmare. It felt like two days of descending and my hands were on fire from clenching my breaks, but we finally made it down. Next up: how to find Jennifer and Joni. They took a different road for the descent in the hopes that it would be less crowded. No such luck. Their route was just as gridlocked as ours and they faced a very local flash thunderstorm that only hit that side of the mountain. They arrived completely soaked. Once together we all rode back to the van in time to drive home for a late dinner.

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Daily Ride data:

On Strava http://app.strava.com/activities/69110150

On Garmin Connect  http://connect.garmin.com/activity/346841161

2013 Tour de France Travel Log #7

July 17, 2013

Day 7. Travel Day.

We packed up in the morning and after breakfast loaded up the van and headed toward Les Deux Alpes. We originally planned to do a ride near the hotel near Violès first, but it was hot with a threat of thunderstorms, and frankly, we were all very tired from the previous three days of riding with not enough sleep. Collectively we decided to skip riding and take some recovery time so that we would be ready to ride the big mountain the next day.

Our drive to Les Deux Alpes from Violès was expected to take about three hours with some stops for shopping, pictures and food along the way. Jennifer suggested a detour that would extend the travel day but would allow us to drive through the Gorges in the Vercors Regional Natural Park on our way toward Grenoble. This is a protected area of forested mountains in the Rhône-Alpes region of southeastern France. The views were absolutely breathtaking as we rode in the van through the Gorges de la Bourne and on through Grenoble. Did I mention that the food in France is incredible? Even at the highway rest stops you can purchase fresh gourmet food such as homemade tortellini with fresh basil pesto!

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We arrived at our hotel in Les Deux Alpes, the Hotel Le Souleil’Or, in the early evening hours.  http://www.le-souleil-or.fr  It was located in a very beautiful setting high up in the mountains with Alpes style architecture which reminded me of Austria. I had a slope side view from the hotel room. There was no snow on the low slopes but folks were are still skiing up top on the glacier this time of year. Down below near our hotel the ski trails were filled with cows grazing on the grass by the chairlifts. You could hear their cow bells gently ringing in the wind. Naturally I ordered raclette for dinner at Le Charbon de Bois Restaurant.

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We would do Alpe d’Huez tomorrow with a forecast for chilly temps and even rain possible.

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2013 Tour de France Travel Log #6

July 16, 2013

Day 6. Stage 16 Vaison la Romaine. Fun to watch the boys roll out!

On Tuesday we rode our bikes from our hotel in Violès to Vaison-la-Romaine to view the start of Stage 16. We saw the racers at the ceremonial podium sign in and we saw them depart for the stage. It was a very festive scene!

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Afterward we did a really nice rolling ride around the vineyards. We had lunch at the street market in Vaison-la-Romaine overlooking the sites of Roman ruins. The vendor food at the market was absolutely incredible. We purchased fresh roasted chicken, several different kinds of olives, roasted red pepper, and a fresh pineapple for dessert. We ate sitting on the sidewalk in our cycle clothes/shoes with the passerby greeting us, “Bon appetit! Bon appetit!” Unbelievable. Sure beats my usual ride stops in the states at the Sheetz and the High’s convenience stores.

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After lunch we climbed to Suzette where we had a cool beverage at a cafe and then we rode over to Gigondas before heading home. In the evening we attended a really nice free wine tasting in Gigondas and then we had dinner there (which in France always takes 3-4 hours). There is wine and great food everywhere. All amazing.

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Daily Ride data:

On Strava  http://app.strava.com/activities/69110115

On Garmin Connect  http://connect.garmin.com/activity/346841171

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2013 Tour de France Travel Log #5

July 15, 2013

Day 5. Gorge de la Nesque and Mont Ventoux again.

It was a rest day for the TDF riders, but not for our travel group! We did an epic 47 mile ride starting in Villes-sur-Auzon and winding our way through the Gorges de la Nesque and through miles of very beautiful and fragrant fields of lavender on our way to Sault for a lunch rest stop. Riding along the gorge was a real treat as this was one of the most scenic routes I have ever had the pleasure to ride. It was dreamlike.

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Then riding through the lavender fields on the way to Sault was absolutely beautiful. The aroma was truly AMAZING.

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In Sault we had a lovely lunch at a French cafe with a panoramic view of Mont Ventoux: the restaurant O’PICHOUN à Sault. Nearly all the patrons in the restaurant were cyclists taking a break so we felt right at home. Many of them were carbo loading plates of pasta in preparation for the ascent of Ventoux.

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Après lunch it was back on the bikes in an attempt to redo Mont Ventoux which we were unable to complete the day before. This time we went up Ventoux from the other side starting in Sault. From this direction the route is supposedly a little easier (but not too much easier, mind you!). It was a similar distance — 21 km.

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I made it to the top of all 21 km in approximately 1 hour 45 minutes. I rode a much stronger, faster pace than the day before without the crowds. This time I had only had one compulsory stop on the way up as I encountered a very large herd of sheep crossing the road near the summit.

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The summit of Mont Ventoux is legendary. As you arrive it feels sort of magical like you have just won an imaginary Olympic medal or something. People clap and congratulate all of the riders as they arrive and they take turns taking their photo underneath the famous Ventoux summit sign. The views are stunning but also bizarre and somewhat surreal. Originally forested, Mont Ventoux was systematically stripped of trees from the 12th century onwards for shipbuilding. The top is essentially barren with windblown, sandy rock. It looks like you are on the moon or perhaps on a Star Wars movie set. I’ve seen it on TV in previous years of the TDF, but seeing it in person was definitely worth the climb.

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The descent from the summit of Ventoux down to Malaucène took about 40 minutes and it was very cold (Brrrrrr!). This was the longest, most epic descent of my life! No stops this time, no crowds, just open road descending with a few cars here and there. That night we had a wonderful dinner in Malaucène. However, unfortunately during dinner Jennifer received a phone call and we learned that our new friend Allistair from Britain had come down the same descent from Ventoux alone and he blew a front tire at high speed and crashed out. He fractured his collarbone in three places and spent six hours in the hospital trying to be treated. Late that night Jennifer retrieved Allistair from the hospital and brought him back to the hotel. He left the hospital with nothing but an x-ray picture and a shoulder brace. He would need to seek surgery back home in Great Britain.

Daily Ride data:

On Strava http://app.strava.com/activities/69110147

On Garmin Connect  http://connect.garmin.com/activity/346841209

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