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Channeling Tommy Voeckler

July 12, 2011

Today’s Ride: 104km—Campbellville

Weather: Hot

With the Tour de France in full swing—and riding across the asphalt-melting centre of the country—I set out on my own scorcher. This was my first ride of the year that exceeded 100km. Fitness-wise, it was late to call this an achievement, but it was the first opportunity (I must be on sabbatical or something—effective July 1). It was also a product of Mrs. Steampunk asking me to map out my riding over the next few months to determine how many kilometers a week I would need to do in order to hit 5000 for the year. The answer: about 200km, which is a higher total than I’ve managed yet this year. But not impossible. Especially if I can work in some slightly longer rides. Compounding the problem: we leave for two weeks in Vancouver next week, and I’ve decided not to bring my bike. With all the family stuff, the bike was extra baggage, and the likelihood of getting in enough riding to justify the effort and expense was negligible. So: to work!

Hot day. I climbed Snake Rd. and welcomed its shade (so early on the ride and I was already grateful to be out of the sun)—again, in the big ring. I followed my fairly regular path out to Cedar Springs Rd. and then turned right on Britannia Rd., which was the route out to Rattlesnake Point. Instead of making the turn toward that climb, I carried on straight and turned left on Tremaine, which would have been interesting but for the strong headwind and the construction of “big box” homes on one side of the road. The cowboy in me scoffed at my basically riding around Rattlesnake Point, which was visible on the non-construction side of the road, but wanting to log some kilometers, I decided to leave the hard climb well enough alone.

Left, then, on Campbellville Rd., which was new to me. Ducking back under the 401 and into Campbellville was fairly pretty and some easy rollers were testing but in a comfortable kind of way. Trying to cross Highway 6 is always difficult, and I had to jump across two lanes of highway to get into the left turn lane for Gore. After the steady cadence over the past several kilometers, the mad sprint to safety was a bit of a wake-up call. Gore to Valens and past the campsite and lake.

...and not a drop to drink!

Then home along Kirkwall and 2nd Concession. By this point, my legs were feeling a little heavy, and I don’t know whether it was the success of blocking out the fatigue or succumbing to it that I kind of sleep-rolled through those, even though I was pleased to be very clearly on the homeward leg and on familiar roads.

At the same time, the Tour sharpened my efforts. Tommy Voeckler, currently in the maillot jaune, is one of my favorite riders. He seems to be a real character, and certainly is on the bike, taking off on romantically futile breakaways in the hopes of making one stick to the finish. Every now and then, they do. And on Sunday, he broke away, tongue hanging out, and riding himself into the ground. His climbing style looks like he’s literally dragging his bike up the French cols. But he leaves it all out on the road. To boot, unlike most of his fellow professionals, he doesn’t wear a heart rate meter or a power meter. Rather than relying on his “numbers,” he puts everything into his performance. Always riding harder. He’s had a great year so far, and it’s terrific to see a Frenchman in yellow. Hopefully, he’ll still have it on Thursday—Bastille Day.

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