Go Dad Go!

A self-important blog about riding bikes, raising kids and the all-too-rare nexus of these two pursuits.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Stage 10 Update -- July 12

Mes amis --

Last April I rode in the Copperopolis Road Race, a particularly nasty contest over such rough roads that its nickname is "The Paris-Roubaix of California." On each lap, we rode not over Belgian cobbles, but torn-up and patched-over country roads in California's Central Valley. Guys in my category rode two laps of 22 miles each, and after those two, if you'd told me you'd give me a Prius if I could stay in for another lap, I'd have suggested that the next guy seemed like he needed a new hybrid worse than me. Meanwhile, the pros rode five laps. Five! 110 miles, including five times up a two mile-long steep pitch that after years of on-the-cheap repairs looks like a patchwork quilt -- and five times down a twisting screamer of a descent with pavement so jarring that when you hit the bottom, your quads feel like you've been riding up, not down.

And Levi Leipheimer won that pro race by riding solo the last two laps. Just rode away from the local pros, who couldn't get back onto this wheel even by working together. Afterward I saw him climbing into his slick black Land Rover (seems that I'll need to sell Levi on An Inconvenient Truth too), and he looked as fresh as the spring flowers that someone told me lined the course, but that I was in too much agony to notice.

At the time I thought, "Jeez, is he that strong, that he can not merely survive this brutal course, but win solo, even knowing that his real racing comes later in the year? Isn't he worried that this is going to take something out of him, that he'll peak too early?" I'd love to suggest that this thought was particularly sage, but it was really just the product of my own insecurity!

Thing is, we might be learning that I was not only insecure, but prescient as well, for Levi seems that he's indeed on the downside of his peak. His sluggish Prologue raised hardly a whisper of concern: he was conserving, and he's no short-effort specialist. And the miserable long time trial was surprising, to say the least, but perhaps he just had a bad day, and besides, he's a climber, right? But to watch him today, a supposed GC contender losing contact with a peloton that included riders who were just happy to survive the first day in the mountains...something's wrong with Levi. Maybe it is exhaustion from too much early-season effort, or perhaps there's something else going on, but it seems as though we've lost yet another "big name," as Phil would deem him. There just aren't too many left!

Meanwhile, we Americans now have a sentimental favorite to get behind. As I'm sure you've all read, Floyd Landis walks, rides and exists on a bum hip that he'll have replaced after this season. A degenerative bone disease -- my understanding is that designation makes it sound much worse a condition than it really is -- is wearing his hip away, and it's already difficult for him to, say, lift his leg over his bike. But he can still ride that bike, and he rides it as well as anyone these days; boy, do I feel bad for poking fun at the way he looks while doing so.

Our first day in the mountains turned out to be even less telling than we'd hoped, as most of the climbers and GC hopefuls decided to hold fire until tomorrow's bigger climbs and summit finish. Not that the guys who stole today's non-main feature of a show are pretenders: Dessel (2nd, now in yellow) and Mercado (1st) are the real climbing deal, as is Landaluze (3rd), winner of last year's Dauphine Libere. It's highly unlikely that any of them will still sit among the leaders come, say, the middle of the Alpine stages, but we might not see Dessel out of yellow for at least a few days.

Such relative unknowns are these guys that only Landaluze scored points for his Directeur Sportif, Romas, who notches up a couple of spots into a tie for sixth. That means we'll have to wait another day to see if the mountains do anything to break the ranks of our sprinter-heavy leaders. In the meantime, no one holds either the Yellow Jersey or the climber's Polka-Dot Jersey (Dessel actually has earned both, but Mercado will wear the latter since the Maillot Jaune takes priority).

Karen remarked this morning that she loves July. Yes, she enjoys the Tour, but what she loves is the fact that when Declan wakes up crying, no matter how early it is, I bound out of bed, grab him and together we watch that morning's stage. And on days like tomorrow -- I may well wake up before he does!



Blogger elephantcom said...

Keep up the good work. thnx!

4:30 PM  

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