Last weekend saw us heading southwest toward the Provence region of France for the SingleSpeed European Championship ’07. It was a trip that we’d both been looking forward to as we were going to get to see some of our favorite Frenchmen (David and his brother JB). Both are incredibly nice and talented guys that we met about a year ago at the Swiss SingleSpeed Championships.
I also knew that there were going to be a number of people from around Europe and the U.S. that I’d known through the web, via MySpace, Flickr & various blogs. I was also looking forward to meeting them as well. As it turned out we got to meet a number of very fun & interesting folks (i.e. Peter from Surly, Chuck from Salsa, Phaty, Erik, J.J. & more)
It took us almost 10 hours to drive there from München, but it was definitely worth it. I’d kind overlooked bringing some of the important info. with us; say like the name of the campground, directions and a few other things. After a couple of panic & angst ridden calls to RottenMac we were on our way A few short minutes later, we were in the camping area surrounded by a group of about 100 singlespeeders from around the globe. Ahhh… home!!
David & JB ran over to give us hugs and Euro-kisses! Then over came Phaty & Erik to introduce themselves and invite us to sleep in their cabin. From there, we paid for the weekend and put our stuff away or the weekend. Out came the bikes and a few minutes later we were off to dinner in town with the group. Night #1 saw us eating mussles grilled on a pit fire along with FRENCH FRIES…duh! and about all the French wine that we could down.
After dinner was the Derby. If you don’t know Derbying you might be better off. It’s basically a free-for-all where the last man/woman riding wins. It often ends in a drunken heap. After that we headed off to the campground for a few beers and more introductions.
The next day we skipped the downhill run on Mt. Ventoux (yes, the famous one from the Tour de France). Instead, we headed off with Erik, Phaty & Stephan for a tour of lower France. The Reader’s Digest version is what you’ll get. We started out at a winery in the small lower Alps (wine wasn’t so good, but the olive pate was awesome), we stopped and looked around an Abbey that looked like a castle, crossed the street for one of the best meals I’ve had in ages, then off to Arels (where Van Gogh was), the Mediterranean Sea and then Agine Morte & last stop was in Avignon were we had dinner and saw the outside of the old Popes Palace before heading back toward the campground were we arrived about 12:30 a.m.
Saturday saw us off to have a group photo taken in an old Roman amphitheater in Orange, then a group lunch in Piolenc and off to the secret location of the race course. It was really warm, maybe 85-90F, and wearing a kilt made the temps go even higher. It also didn’t help that I was severely dehydrated from a few days of drinking alcohol & coffee rather than water.
We stood around and cooled off while drinking some water and as race time approached we were told to go down the hill and around the corner for the beginning of the LeMans start. While waiting, our bikes were all moved from where we’d laid them. Off we went on the run. As we hit the top of the hill we realized what had happened. Some bikes were off down the road, others, like mine were pretty easy to find.
The race had begun. I went in to the woods about 5th. I stayed there for awhile until the long hill where the heat & dehydration started to mess with me. I continued on doing the best I could and drinking most of my two bottles before the finish of the first lap. There was some water and food to be had at the start/finish and I took advantage of it.
Off I went in to the 2nd lap. By this time, I’d passed a number of the people again and for most of the 2nd lap it was another guy on a cyclocross bike, the eventual womans winner and myself trading places constantly. At one point, the woman took off and managed to stay just out of reach of me for the rest of the race. I only saw one other person, a woman (who, as it turns out, was the wife of the guy on the cyclocross bike) right before the finish.
The course had a bit of everything. Some really nice singletrack, some technical stuff, some climbing and other things. I really had a good time riding it and would love to again if they manage to pull the Worlds race in a year or two. That’d be very cool! Anyway, the new bike performed well. After installing the setback seatpost, the seat was in the right position as was the handlebar, etc. I only had one problem, as I crested the last little hill, I heard a pop from my rear hub and then nothing. I crossed the finish line about 50 meters away as though I had no chain.
Thanks to Kera, Chuck & Peter I was pushed and pulled all the way back to Piolenc. We hit the showers and then went back to Piolenc where the local bike club put on a fantastic dinner for us along with a Mariachi band and dancers. About midnight was the awards. Kera & I won Salsa water bottles and the bag that Kera had donated was given away to the 2nd place guy. The 1st & 3rd place guys were disqualified from the drawing for various reasons.
Sunday morning, we ate breakfast, said our goodbyes and headed back toward München. Traffic flowed well till we hit Germany where there’s a lot of road construction as they’re trying to make it AutoBahn from München to Lake Constance. We got home safely about 6:30 and I set about downloading pics. No sooner than I got ’em downloaded and Kera was playing on the Mac and it just shutdown. The next day I took it to be looked at and the guy just rebooted the internal power supply.
Photos are all uploaded to Flicker now. You can see them here – Flickr pics
For the wrap-up. I ended up as first Deutsche across the line for the day. Kera and I seemed to have been at least in part, adopted by the Deutsche group, the overall “French” are much better than we make them out to be and lastly, France and it’s food are fantastic! I can hardly wait to go back.
In the last news, I’m probaby signing up for an integrations course so that I can pass the German language test and get closer to getting the German version of a Green Card. I’ll probably have to work evenings and ride early morning to make it happen, but it’s important enough that I need to do it. Kera and I have been trying to get out a few mornings a week and get some riding in so it shouldn’t be that much of a hardship.
This weekend I have the Garmisch marathon and I’ve made my bike a 9 speed for the event. It’s only about 65 km’s but it’s also something like 1800 vertical meters. Ugh! The old Curtlo is probably back in Heidelburg, but the guy accepting it is out of town this week. I should probably have it by the end of next week. Then I’ll have one geared bike and one dedicated singlespeed.