Week 2: Full On Stupid

We arrive into Faucon-de-Barcelonnette in the evening of the 2nd day of the Pra Loup Thévenet cyclosportive, a harbinger of things to come.

Our visit to the home of the 7 Cols of the Ubaye comes jammed between the aforementioned Thenevet ride, and we leave just before the Etape du Tour.

I was really hoping to do the etape, but it falls on the day of our return to the US. If we had changed our trip to be around the Etape, that next week would become a difficult and stressful logistical labyrinth, since all sorts of chaos is set to occur as the tour comes through the Ubaye and then monopolizes Marseille with a stage finish AND THEN an individual time trial before kicking the city to the curb and jetting to Paris for the finish.

But since this trip wasn’t to watch the tour, but to do really stupid things on bikes and sightseeing in the Vaucluse and Ubaye, it solves both, while avoiding unnecessary obstacles that might make a vacation suck.

Plus, other than not doing the Col d’Izoard (one of my bucket list climbs – Thanks Andy Schleck), I get to do far more interesting riding than what is involved in the Etape.

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The Big Interlude – Gorges du Verdon

Rather than do a point-to-point style of vacation, it was requested I pick a couple places to stay and do routes from where we’re staying. This has a benefit of allowing us to settle into a place for a few days and get to know the area, and pick out places we really want to see.

But there’s the travel between the two sites, and instead of doing it in one day, we’re doing it over two. The idea was to leave Malaucene and drive to Barcelonnette, but then there’s this amazing geographical feature along the way that requires at minimum one day. Mountains are what fills my soul for cycling, but the gorges also are incredible too… And when you have the Gorges du Verdon in your path, you damn well better stop and enjoy them.

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Sightseeing – Provence

I’ve been spending probably too much time just compiling a bunch of information, but I think it’s now time to distill some of this into actually actionable items.

Provence gets lumped by SO MANY TRAVEL BOOKS with the French Riviera and the Cote d’Azur. The major issue is that these books spend the majority of their pages describing Marseille, Nice, Cannes, Monaco, and the Camargue, that Provence is maybe given a third of the print.

Now, I’m really not talking about ALL of Provence that I’m going to see; Provence consists of an area (in my opinion) bordered by the Rhone river and the Monts d’Ardeche in the West, the Durance river in the east, with its northern most reaches being the Drome river, and no futher south than the A8 just south of Aix-en-Provence.

By no means is this information fully encompassing of the grandeur of Provence. We are only in the region for 6 days, and not a year.
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Silca.cc Seat Roll Premio

I love Silca. The attention to detail is amazing, and they seem to be as big of a fan of cycling as I am.

So I just got a Seat Roll Premio as they JUST got them back in stock.

Silca Seat Roll Premio Discount Code

I’ve been wanting a 2-Tube capable seat bag that doesn’t have thigh scraping velcro/hook-and-loop attachments — I’ve had to get my wife to patch holes on my team bib shorts due to this.

I’ve got the Scicon Hipo 550 RL 2.1 thinking that I could get two tubes in 550cc… but no, that doesn’t work.

But in ordering the Seat Roll, I got a shareable discount code for $10 off if you want to pick one up for yourselves. Go ahead, go buy some really cool stuff from Silca.

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Velo France Roi de la Montagne

Come with me on a unique experience through Provence, the Gorges du Verdon, and the Ubaye Valley.


View the Map


Day 1: Arrive in France in Marseille (or maybe Lyon) – Drive to Hotel / Short Loop
6km / 200m


Day 2: Tour de Petit Gorges – The Nesque Gorges from Sault.
55km / 1100m Climbing / No Marked Cols


Day 3: Route de Signal de Lure
85km / 1600m / Signale de Lure / Pas de la Graille & Col de Saint Robert


Day 4: Cingles de Ventoux
137km / 4500m / Mont Ventoux x3


Day 5: Tour de Grande Combe
106km / 1800m / Col de Mezien, Col de Fontbelle, Col de l’Hysope, Pas de Bonnet


Day 6: Route des Lavande Sault
101km / 2000m / Col de l’Homme Mort, Col de Maucegene, Col Saint-Jean, Col de Perty, Col d’Aulan


Day 7: Make Up / Rest Day


Day 8: Tour de Gorges Verdon
145km / 3700m / Col d’Ampon, Col de Vaumale, Col d’Illoire, Col de l’Olivier, Col d’Ayens, Pas de l’Abauc


Day 9: Pra Loup
24km / 600m / Pra Loup


Day 10: Route Nord Ubaye
78km / 1800m / Sainte-Anne la Condamine, Col de Vars


Day 11: La plus haute de France
82km / 2300m / Cime de la Bonette, Super Sauze


Day 12: Route Demoiselles
121km / 2400m / Col de Pontis, Col Saint-Jean, Col des Fillys, Col de Charamel


Day 13: Make Up / Rest Day


Day 14: Grand Route d’Allos
127km / 3600m / Col d’Allos, Col des Champs, Col de la Cayolle


Day 15: Make Up / Getaway – Drive to Marseille (or Lyon)


Day 16: Fly Home.


Grand Total of ~1100km / 26000m & A Million Memories.

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Coffeeneuring 2016

After missing last years coffeeneuring due to my crash, so this year my theme was not going to be new and exotic places, as my daughter is now in kindergarten and going places for a week here and there is less viable due to the school’s schedule, but instead something a bit more tame and mundane.

This year my theme was “A week in the life…” All these coffeeneuring rides did take place over the 7 week period, and not all in the same week.

Since I currently telecommute, aka “Work from home,” pretty much every ride is a ride for coffee. As alluded to before, with my daughter now in school full time, I’ve lost my normal lunch date. Couple that with all my coworkers being located in another country, the coffee ride is also a sanity ride — being able to talk with friends and see other people for an hour or so each day contributes to my sanity.

A normal week of coffee starts on Monday at Monday Morning Pancake Club, located at Mike’s Deli @ Lazy Sundae in Falls Church. It’s not gourmet coffee, but for 50 cents a cup and free refills, it’s well worth the trip. Also there are pancakes.


Tuesday finds me at Cafe Kindred, either exhausted from riding with the Bikenetic Hill Ride or after a short ride around town. Kindred serves Vigilante coffee, roasted on the other side of the beltway in Hyattsville, MD. Kindred has by far the best music of any coffee shop ever.


Wednesday is Hump Day Coffee Club, which meets at Best Buns in Shirlington. Best Buns serves Starbucks, and because of their logo, much shenanigans has occurred regarding the evil empire and its Rebel counterparts.
Best Buns is home to the delicious Bacon Cheddar Scone, which they used to only serve on Fridays, but owing to the insistence of several of the Hump Day Coffee Club members, they started serving on Wednesdays, and then eventually every day. My wife has often asked me to bring home a dinner roll sometimes — It’s difficult to put one of those into a back jersey pocket and not crush them due to their freshness.

Thursday is home to two different coffee clubs now — The first one being Vienna Thursday Coffee Club, which meets at Caffe Amouri in Vienna. Caffe Amouri roasts all their coffee on-site.

Because Vienna isn’t a convenient location for commuters that aren’t coming in from the western suburbs of Virginia, a second Thursday club organically grew based out of Whole Foods in Pentagon City. While the Whole Foods is known for its Iced Vanilla Lattes, I prefer the coffee from the Commonwealth Joe next door.


Friday is the home to the original coffee club day. When all this craziness about getting together for coffee started, it was originally hosted at M.E. Swings Cafe across 17th street from the White House, but due to a lengthy renovation of the space by the building owner, FMCC has relocated for the time being to A Baked Joint.


Again, due to the location of the original FMCC, a second Friday Coffee Club evolved, FMCCII located at the Java Shack in Arlington. There was a third that grew out at Green Lizard Cycling in Herndon, but was eventually disbanded due to lack of interest. There have been brave souls that have cycled the FMCC Trifecta — Starting at Green Lizard for a doppio, then stopping at Java Shack for a second, and getting to M.E. Swings in time for a third. This event is indeed a feat as it requires one to get to Green Lizard at open: 7am and getting to M.E. Swings by 9am, which means riding 24 miles and downing coffee in 2 hours. People who have completed this feat have been known to be awarded an FCC hat.


And if that isn’t all — 7 Coffee Clubs throughout the work week, I ride with a race team that meets at a Starbucks before the ride, but the other real fixture is Bikenetic’s Sunday Coffee Ride. A recovery pace ride thru historical parts of Washington DC that serve to educate you about the varied little-known niches and historical tidbits that you don’t find in the tourist books, and also serve as a ride to acquire caffeine. This particular sunday’s ride stopped at Sidamo Coffee and Tea in NOMA.


With all that being said, over the 7 weeks I rode for coffee 24 times. — Such is the life of a work-from-home cyclist, where “Every Ride is a Commute” and “Every Commute is for Coffee”.

Thanks Mary and all the other Coffeeneurs!

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Bucket List Rides

In the weeks after my injury, I’m not sure what facilities I’ll have when I get mobile again. I discovered that Team Movistar’s Pablo Lastras was retiring after an 18 year career — after having crashed at the Vuleta ao Catalunya on Stage 4. At the time of the crash, they thought he had broken his femur, but it turned out that he sustained the same injury I did. His just happened at a much higher velocity. Pablo’s recovery hasn’t been so good — they’re not sure if he’ll require a new hip or even a prosthetic leg.

When I read those things, and I think about my former teammate Patty, and what she’s been able to do, I realize that it’s not the end, it’s just a page being turned.

But in that thinking, paraphrasing Tyler Durden, “What would I have wished I had done, while I could still ride a bicycle?” And of course things like “Ride across the United States” and associated things came to mind. My wife told me that I should write these things down, so here they are.

Long Rides

Specific Places / Climbs / Cities / Sportives / etc.

  • USA
  • Mt Palomar
  • Mt Diablo
  • Mt Mitchell
  • Mt Washington
  • Pike’s Peak
  • Wintergreen
  • Gibraltar Road
  • Mt. Baldy
  • SkyMass
  • Mauna Kea
  • France
  • Mont Ventoux
  • Alpe d’Huez
  • Col de la Madeline
  • Col du Galibier
  • Col d’Izoard
  • Col de la Croix de Fer
  • Le Semnoz
  • Lasets de Montvernier
  • Cormet de Roseland
  • Port de Bales
  • Route des Lacs
  • Col de Tourmalet
  • Col d’Aspin
  • Montee de Verbier
  • Col du Petit St. Bernard
  • Col de la Morte
  • Cime de la Bonette
  • Col d’Allos
  • Col de Mollard
  • Chamonix
  • Italy
  • Passo de Galvia
  • Passo Moritrolo
  • Passo Stelvio
  • Monte Zoncolan
  • Climb into Sienna (Strade Bianchi)
  • Passo Crocedomini
  • Poggio di San Remo
  • Cipressa
  • Via Fontebranda in Sienna
  • Madonna del Ghisallo
  • Lap around Lake Como
  • Rest of Europe
  • Koppenberg<
  • Mur de Huy
  • Sa Colabra
  • Giant’s Causeway Costal Road
  • Grossglockner
  • Oberlap Pass
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Why I Ride

Ryan Newill wrote this wonder piece for Velo News titled “Suffer No More“. Go read it.

Is it truly “suffering” to be on a bike ever? I agree; even though I spent hours and days on a bike “training,” at no time was I truly “suffering” like those who have no food to eat, or who are being oppressed by their governments in slave camps, or locked away for committing no crime. And given that I’m now getting to the bottom of the climb where I’ll start to regain just basic function of my right leg, I’ll be forever grateful that I can get on a bike and I can go the places it takes me and I can spend time with my friends and I can coffeeneur. All that “suffering” is really just training, or just making the fun easier.

So the rest of this is a Picture essay on “Why I Ride”
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Injury Annoucement

So this evening watching the local news, there was a report about a local college football player missing an entire season of football, and was inspired to do the same:


Rookie racer Peter DeNitto was looking to improve on a learning 2015 season when he was out for a training ride and crashed into a truck and broke his pelvis. After surgery performed at Inova Fairfax Hospital by Dr. Steven Malekzedeh, Pete will unfortunately miss the entire 2016 MABRA Road Race season. Dr. Malezedeh put Pete’s return to racing not until the 2017 season. “6 weeks until he’s able to bear weight on his right leg, 6 months until I expect him to be able to get back on a bike, and probably not until October of 2016 will he be able to be back to racing form,” the Dr was paraphrased as saying.

Dr. Malekzedeh repared DeNitto’s acetabular joint in his pelvis, requiring 4 hours of surgery and a week-long hospital stay. DeNitto crashed hard on his right side while trying to avoid running into a moving truck while out on a training ride. DeNitto was preparing to ride the Amish Country Century in Dover, DE, and then the Seagull Century with his wife, who was preparing for her first century ride herself.

“I promise to do everything the Doctor and therapists tell me to, in an effort to get back on the bike and resume normal life,” DeNitto said. “I hope that things go better than expected and I might be able to race the last few races of the 2016 season, but if I have to make the 2017 Richmond International Raceway race to be my next race, then that will be what happens.”


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I don’t think my in-home physical therapist has ever had a cycling patient before. 3 days a week for 30-45 minutes, she arrives and puts me through a series of exercises. Every time we add one to the circuit.

At first it was an ankle flex exercise:

Next is a Quad flex (aka: try to put your knee through your bed):
quad sets

And a Glut squeeze. All sitting up in bed.

Next is a leg lift with a pillow under my knee:

And last but worst (at the time), is an abductor/adductor exercises. I couldn’t do this at all without her assistance lifting my leg.

Then each time it was an added exercise.

First was to keep my foot on the mattress, and then flex my knee and slide my ankle towards my butt. Normally this wouldn’t be bad, but because of the pin they put into my leg for traction, any Quad exercise is pain and limited motion. Next was adding the abductor/adductor swing while standing up with the walker. Then taking my foot and sliding it back behind me, as if I were ice skating. Then a leg lift getting my knee to a 90 degree angle — again difficult because of the pin in the leg.

Today’s add was, while sitting in my chair, keep my foot flat on the floor and flex my knee to a > 90 degree angle. Man the pain because of that pin. Everything else is fine, but that pin.

But she was impressed with how I was able to keep going just that extra bit, and I told her that pretty much she would have difficulty finding a sport whose athletes pride in being able to suffer and cause themselves pain, so going that just a little bit more is normal for me.

In a race with no tactical advantage, the cyclist who has the ability to endure the most pain for the longest usually wins. So being able to endure more and more pain is a competitive advantage, so hopefully this will be in my advantage for recovery.

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