The 2014 Tour de Paris is in the books and done.
This year was their 30th anniversary ride and it seemed that the whole town turned out for it to cheer us on. This ride has always been a favorite of my wife and I's due to the town participation. Her comment the first year she rode it was that was the closest she was going to come to riding the Tour de France with all the cheering crowds lining the roads.
This year, rather than our normal of alternating between one of us staying home with the kids and the other riding we decided to cycle different.
You see, last fall we had bought and built up a Rans Seavo and let's just say, the build, assembly, tweaking and tuning has been a challenge.
Up until this last week, I've been trying to get my seat adjusted to it's comfortable. I mean really, it's a recumbent, my butt should NOT hurt! Something about the seat position was either bothering my back or my butt, change the seat pan angle, the tilt of the back, up and down, back and forth, searching for that mythical sweet spot, never quite finding it. At one point, the seat was so mis-adjusted that after a 35 mile ride, it felt like I had been sitting on the edge of a 2x4. That made for a very miserable ride. Finally this week I decided to try and mimic the seat angles I've got on my Giro 700 recumbent.
Let me say, it worked! The difference was remarkable, no back pain, no butt pain, able to pedal efficiently, it was like a heavenly choir opened up. Now the question is, how much more can I lay the seat back and keep the comfort while getting even more aerodynamic, (at least as much as I can on a tandem recumbent).
Of course with both Vicky and I escaping the kids and dogs for the wilds of Paris we had to line up a sitter. Fortunately one of the girls from church is a glutton for punishment and willing to wrangle them for a day or so. Unfortunately we weren't expecting "lifeus interruptus". Friday evening as we were getting things ready for an 0530 departure the next morning I noticed the house was "warming up". Yep, Texas, July, and the AC was dying. So the kids and sitter got to enjoy a cool July day, (really it was cool, Thank God for the "polar vortex:) with no air conditioning.
Vicky and I were to busy riding and enjoying the day in Paris on Serenity to worry much about the AC however. I mean really, when do you get temperatures in the low 70's and next to no wind in Texas in July? The weather could not have been better out there.
We fumbled the ride start a bit due to grabbing breakfast at the pancake feed benefiting the local cheerleaders and my numerous trips to deal with my hamster bladder. Really, I swear I did NOT drink 12 gallons of coffee prior to starting the drive! I had one cup and a couple of sips of water. Where my bladder finds all that extra water prior to a ride I've no idea. I just wish it would leave it alone and let my blood and muscles use it.
By the time we hit the starting line, the ride was already rolling so we just slipped in and got to pedaling.
The Seavo, aka Serenity is a very fun bike to ride in events like this. It's so unusual that it's an attention magnet. Kids were waving and laughing, people were doing double takes as if to say just what was that? The locals were all waving and taking pictures as they had never seen a recumbent tandem either. And since the Seavo is just so rock solid stable, Vicky was able to manage the "social media" contacts from the back, she had a blast talking to everyone and waving to the locals as we went by.
Due to our late start we began at the back of the group, this did make it a bit of a challenge to maneuver the bike through traffic. Everyone behaved however and we didn't see any wrecks. There was one bit of excitement early on however. A rider's seat mount bottle cage was coming loose and she was about to drop her bottle into her rear wheel. As it was still relatively early everyone was still grouped up pretty tight and there wasn't a lot of maneuver room. As her bottle dropped onto her wheel, riders were hollering at her to pull over and stop. The guy behind her didn't hear this though, and as she hit the brakes, he clipped her rear wheel with his front. I had a great view of this as I was directly to his left and I just knew he was going to dump it right into Vicky and I and it was going to be messy. He managed an amazing bit of bike handling though and was able to recover without going down, I was very impressed. Wonder if he could be hired to teach that trick to the Tour de France riders next year? Maybe we could have a TDF without numerous broken bones and DNF'd riders.
Once the group opened up we were able to let Serenity roll and do what she does best. The downhill sections were a literal blast. We were rolling up the other riders and running at a pretty good average. Halfway through the ride, I checked our average speed and we were rolling around a 16.9 mph average speed. Unfortunately then the road turned up and we got into the long slow uphills, not steep by any means, just long and slow. This dropped our average down to 15.0 mph.
The ride SAGS were plentiful and extremely well stocked with lots of ice, water, gatoraid, the normal SAG food, and the two holy grails of a great SAG. Pickles and home made treats! Dill pickles will shut my cramping down hard, just like turning off a light switch. I've no idea how it works, but it does. And the home made stuff? Chocolate chip cookies, brownies and all sorts of other goodies, I'm sure they weren't exactly diabetic friendly however.
The route was very well controlled with the local police and sheriffs department controlling the major intersections. The minor intersections were well controlled by volunteers. We didn't see or hear of any issues with vehicles.
As always for the Tour de Paris, the route was very well marked with signs. Even if you managed to wander off course, there were signs to get you back on course, most of them had messages like, "You're going the wrong way! Turn around!" Vicky's comment about the signage was it was like the old " Burma Shave" signs.
While we didn't have any flats we did see lot's of riders on the side of the road fixing flats. We stopped to help one couple who was struggling to fix a flat and discovered that his tire was so dry rotted he was blowing the tube through the cords of the tire. Just the day before, I'd chopped up a tyvek envelope to make some tire boots, needless to say, they came in handy. I just hope that guy is at a local bike shop today buying some new tires cause he needs them. I think our choice of Schwalbe Marathon Racers in 26 x 1.5 have been a good choice. They're comfortable, reasonably fast, and so far have been pretty durable.
While we had initially been planning on 35 mile route due to time constraints and my seat issues we got to the decision point where the routes split and decided to roll down the road a few more miles so we could get our longest ride to date on the bike. Vicky was feeling good, I was feeling good and decided to go ahead and to run the 57 mile route since we were making such good time. As an added bonus, Vicky managed to get something she has been chasing since her last birthday... 50 miles ridden.
And here is our Strava data for the day.
Next year we'll be back. Maybe this time with the kids.