Jul 8, 2011

Le Tour is not the other Tour

       Le Tour De Burg is unlike anything else. There are certain facets that will never be fully explained, but the general rule of 'don't be a d***' is important. I'll give Dickey a pass since it's in his genes. For six day's we ride, imbide, race and whine together in a mocking homage to both stage racing and summer camp. The format is shamefully exclusionary, a previous year's rider approval gets you in, but that doesn't mean you couldn't show up and join.
      The problem with arriving unannounced and unknown is the fact that you have no idea what you are getting into. A mentor is highly reommended to help you navigate the political and social quagmire. Not to mention the riding. It's a two bike event; a rugged mountain bike and a fat tired road bike. I chose my SC Blur LTc and my Specialized Tarmac with Conti 700x28 hardscrapes. No other race I know of, expects you to ride the things we do with the bikes we bring. 26-29 hardtails, ridged singlespeeds (rare air) and 6" travel bikes all have their moments. The two road stages involve more gravel than most cross races. The climbing could choke you out. 6 days, 7 stages, 300 miles, 31,600 ft of steep! Two of those stages are less than 7 miles in length. Sooo that means, 5 stages 289 miles 30, 000ft.
      Besides the people and atmosphere, we return because the riding offers no apologies. Oh my, did we just start the day racing up 3,000ft of climbing in less than 10 miles? How about a road stage descent that drops another 3,000 feet in 19 miles, but the first 4 miles almost straight down on forest roads with rocks and ruts. If you've ever suffered the steep part of the climb up to check point 5 in the Shenandoah 100 then you've gone up what we came down. On our road bikes.
     As much as it sounds like a party on wheels, there is much pride on the line. Besides the standard jerseys of GC, KOM, Sprint and DFL, it has been proven that a new jersey could be made up if you are standout enough to create a new jersey. Ask Bruce Dickman about that. The famous mouth from the south pounded so much party pace off the front he earned an imprompt PP Pounder Jersey.
       It's not a Rapha Gentleman's race. We're ugly, haggard and way harder than that. Our clothes don't match, our bikes might get laughed at. They drink beer after the day is over, we drink in the middle of the ride. We have coast-offs. Le Tour eats tires and tubes. I carried three tubes, a rear derailleur, a leatherman, a lighter, superglue, ByKyle strap, CO2, a pump, a shock pump, extra gloves, extra food, and a variety of multi tools.
Here is day one.. a Prologue seven miles in length.

Day one's prologue: go up, come down! This is similar to the loop used in the Massanutten Hoo-Ha, except we ride up and descend in opposite directions. The new trail on the other side of the Massanutten access road has become the best addition to the mountain. I'd gone up it a few times, but going down has added a new flavor for Death to dish out.
Day one went good for me with a 6th place finish.

Day two not as good. First timed section sent me to 20th in GC place with a triple flat. I'll illuminate as the days pass, but for now enjoy some pics..