The one positive recurring theme I heard during this year’s Tour de France was how stunningly beautiful Corsica is. It was as if the entire world of cycling collectively gasped and wondered aloud, “Who knew?” While the Tour de France has long served as France’s most powerful and enduring postcard to its pastoral beauty, it’s not as if everywhere the race goes is attractive enough to merit a Facebook selfie. And that is what makes the visual aspect of the race’s geography such a marvel. It unearths (ha ha) places that force us to tell the TV our dream travel plans. For those of us lucky enough to watch the event with our better halves, it sometimes affords us the chance to say something novel, something that might not get the rebuke a crazy cyclist richly deserves.
“Hey hon, what do you think about vacationing in Corsica?”
I mention this because I, like many of you, saw those mountain roads and cerulean sea and sat, slack-jawed, unable to finish a simple, “Wow!” I just slurred a “wah,” as I watched. Unlike some urges I have, though, I resolved to act on this one. I knew just what to do.
My friend Julie Gildred owns, runs and generally dreams up all that is RideStrong Bike Tours. She and I have been in a sort of dance for more than a year, trying to come up with the right opportunity to work together. Why not collaborate on a tour of Corsica? As it happens, Julie is the perfect person to work with on this as RideStrong ran a tour on Corsica some years back. The destination has been one she’d been thinking of returning to and after this year’s Tour, there seemed like the perfect occasion.
Julie and I have been talking over the itinerary, co-scheming to present a tour that will be as enjoyable off the bike as on. She’s put the itinerary up here.
Here’s the basic outline for the trip: it’ll be seven days and six nights, beginning May 24, 2014, and ending May 30. The trip will start and finish in Ajaccio so that we won’t have to move the bike cases. The price for the trip is $3979; the single supplement is an extra $700, which would alleviate you of the need to share a room with me. Which means, yes, I’ll be along on the trip as a special guest, which mostly means I’ll be sweeping the course and arriving late to water stops with spare gels for everyone. I hope you’ll consider joining us. We will be teasing out additional details of the trip in the coming weeks and months.
In addition to the Corsica tour, we have a couple of other things cooking.
For some time I’ve been wanting to hold a ride to meet and pedal with as many of you as possible. I’m in the preliminary stages of planning a ride, also for next spring, probably late April or early May. I should be nailing down the date in the next week or two. The ride will take place in Paso Robles, half way between Los Angeles and San Francisco. I can also say that it won’t be epic in length because we will be taking in some roads that lack any asphalt. And the first person to call it Paso Roubaix or a gravel grinder will be uninvited. I”m not sure what to call it, other than fun.
Finally, for all those of you who won’t be in a position to travel, there will be a couple of additions to our store soon. First up will be a T-shirt to commemorate a guy and a ride that were unimpeachably epic. I’d hoped to have the shirt ready way back in June, when it would have been more occasion appropriate, but sometimes this stuff just takes more time than you think it should. Shortly after the T-shirt begins to ship we will begin offering prints of it, as well as of the artwork from the Eddy ’72 T-shirt. As it happens, both pieces of art are by the same artist, Bill Cass. The prints, I’ve been assured, will be ready to ship in time for Christmas. The shirt will also mark the first effort on our part to contribute to the success of the National Interscholastic Cycling Association.
Thanks for reading and I hope I’ll get to cross paths with you this next year.
As Padraig prepares to board a flight for Fantasy Island, where Mr.Roarke and Tattoo will set him up on a dream bike and point him at the sorts of Alpen cols that spend most of their time being mailed around as postcards, the Group Ride turns its attention to the world’s great rides and wonders where YOU would most like to Tour.
To me, the Cairo to Cape Town ride documented in this film is awfully appealing. In my mind ‘adventure’ is usually found very near the intersection of fun and misery.
One of my neighbors is working on a project with his kids where they ride every inch of every street in our town, documenting it on a map as they go. They’ve been riding for four years and have about ten percent of it done. On the flip side, this fellow rode his bicycle from Sweden to Nepal, and then climbed Mt Everest without oxygen or Sherpa support.
Everyone has their own idea of adventure, and hardcore fans, such as ourselves (because let’s be honest, if you’re not a hardcore cycling fan, you’re probably not reading RKP), often dream of taking in the same climbs as our heroes, the Tourmalet, Aubisque, Zoncolan, Mortirolo, Ventoux, Galibier, Izoard, Marie Blanque, Blockhaus, Peyresourde, Alpe de Huez, Portet de Aspet, Superbagnéres, Stelvio, Gavia, and on and on and on. There is a not small industry of tour operators who cater to the desires of freaks, such as ourselves, who wish to spend their holidays slowly draining every last bit of energy they’ve got across an inert and oblivious mountain range.
So do tell us. Where do you dream of riding? Or, what tours have you taken that shifted your paradigm, blew your mind and rearranged your auntie’s quilt collection? Speak to us of hill and dale. Spin us yarns of legendary ascents and the drops on the other side, the ones that left you bowel-clenched and shaking, but ultimately satisfied that you’d done something special.
Putting aside the controversy du jour/semaine/mois/année, can we all just agree that this Giro d’Italia has not only been the best race of the 2010 season, but the best Grand Tour in recent memory? Can we? If not, there’s a comments section. Lodge your protest there.
For me, this race has been a huge breath of fresh O2. Between successful breakaways (enough that I’m questioning my stance on race radios) and unexpected results (Richie Porte anyone?) and strong men on steep hills, I am beginning to think that Angelo Zomegnan (race organizer) is something of a genius. And they haven’t even crested the Gavia yet!
This week’s Group Ride is sort of a compendium of questions. Where does this Giro stack up against other recent Grand Tours? Why do you think this one has been so good? If Ivan Basso wins the overall, how will you feel about that? Do you think someone else will take the GC? Are Italian podium girls prettier than French ones? Has the Tour of California hurt or helped the Giro? Does Andre Greipel deserve to ride the Tour de France? What happened to Team Sky and Bradley Wiggins? Does it matter? What did you think of the Dutch prologue? Too much road furniture? Has Carlos Sastre’s 21st Grand Tour been disappointing, or is Charlie just passed it now?
Let’s talk about it. Let the craic ensue.
Image: John Pierce, Photosport International