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A Six-Month Experiment

Trek Travel guide Jordan Landolt is an athlete through and through. As if ‘professional hockey player’ wasn’t accomplishment enough, he can now add Canadian Provincial Champion to the list. In his own humble and humorous words, below he shares the story of how his newest title came to be.

“‘Dude, you’re not supposed to do that!’

I had just finished (and won) my first ever race. Okay, maybe not as glorious as it sounds, as it was only 50km in the “C” group consisting of Cat4 and beginner riders only. But I was definitely basking in my own little glory when the breathless voice from behind me continued: ‘You’re not supposed to ride at the front the whole race, lead out the sprint then WIN the sprint altogether!’

So the experiment began. The goal: to transform this ex-hockey pro turned bike tour guide into a competitive cyclist. I set out on this journey to challenge my physical and mental boundaries, test my limitations as an athlete and win a few bike races along the way.
Meet Trek Travel Copy Editor Jordan Sher
Just three months after my first ever race with the Cat4’s, I now stood at the start line of the Pro 1/2 BC Provincial Time Trial Championships. The hardest part of racing for me so far has undoubtedly been putting on my new skin suit. Starting with trying to squeeze my knees through the legs, defying the laws of physics and resulting in the red on my kit to seem light pink due to the amount it has to stretch. Getting the upper body all zipped up is no walk in the park either, and hearing the pins of my race number pop off like a button on your pants after a big meal, as I zip all the way up, is hardly comforting. So, with the hardest part of the race clearly over, I stood there at the start line with nothing to lose. I had the reigning Canadian National Time Trial Champion starting two minutes behind, and top contender on the Cyclocross Elite World circuit due to push off one minute after me. As they stood behind me in anticipation of the start, I could totally hear them thinking: ‘How the hell did he get into that skin suit!?’.

I don’t remember too much about the actual race other than trying to stay calm and repeatedly asking myself ‘does this hurt enough?’ By the time I hit the 10km to go mark, I had so much sweat and drool on my Garmin I had no idea how fast I was going or how much power I was pushing. I figured that was a good sign. And I suppose it was, as I upset the current National Time Trail champ by 25 seconds to take the Provincial Championship. With that accomplishment under my belt, I have begun a tough week and a half block of intense training, all ramping up towards the Canadian Nationals in Quebec, where I will look forward to competing against some of Canada’s finest elite cyclists.

I am very thankful towards everyone at Trek Travel who has helped keep my ‘tires pumped’ along the way! Many of the people I have met (both guides and guests) have helped give me the confidence to follow my dreams and demonstrated the work ethic it takes to succeed in whatever you wish to do in life!”

La Course: First Women’s Tour de France Race 27th July 2014

As the clock strikes noon on the final day of the Tour de France, July 27, 2014, twenty teams of six riders will race around the Champs-Elysees circuit a total of thirteen times to complete an iconic photo finish.

Silque_AR5Q6689AThe inaugural La Course female race is sure to be a day to remember as the event promises to bring together the crème de la crème of women’s cycling as the top ten women’s teams are invited along with the top five national teams and five invited wild-card teams.

The women’s peloton will race on a 90km course leading into a historic finish in Paris and where it is likely to end in a sprint finish. Prizes will include intermediate sprints for the best sprinter’s classification on each of the first eleven laps and a prize for the best young rider under 25-years-of-age in addition to the honor of standing on the podium as the first ever queens of the Tour to be crowned by male blackboard official and kissed by podium boys.

In addition to the 100 cyclists in the female peloton, policewomen from the Paris Police Prefecture will be responsible for watching over La Course, which will also have a 100% female jury. Tour de FranceThe winner of La Course will collect a prize of €22,500, the same sum awarded to the men’s Tour stage winners. For cyclists the world over, especially females, this day will be one for the record books.

Join Trek Travel with front row seats at an exclusive viewing of the finish of both La Course and Le Tour behind the security lines at the prestigious Automobile Club de France in Paris. In this elegant venue on the magnificent Place de la Concorde, guests will savor a celebratory glass of champagne and a lavish buffet while watching each race unfold. Enjoy the fanfare and excitement of the 1st La Course and the 101st edition of the Tour de France finish as well. Visit Trek Travel’s website for details.

That’s A Wrap! The 2014 Cobbled Classics

With Liège-Bastogne-Liège in the books, the 2014 spring classics are now over. Although there is a lot of fun still to be had this season, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on the extraordinary racing that was witnessed during this year’s monuments. Katy, a Trek dealer at Corley Cycles, was gracious enough to share her experience from Paris Roubaix. With true British wit, her thoughts vividly illustrate why every cyclist should experience the pain and glory that are the Belgian cobbles.

Ok where to start…It’s the beginning of March, the phone rings. It’s Mark, our Trek account Manager, offering up an amazing opportunity to have an all-inclusive 5-star trip to Paris-Roubaix. A swishy hotel, tour guides, VIP tickets, the list of “wow’s” goes on. Trek had kindly offered Phil a place on this exciting trip.

Here is where it gets interesting.

Our resident king of the Jollies (Phil) happened to be on a “jolly” in South Africa participating in Cape Argus and being wined and dined by Cervelo.

Heard the phrase, you snooze you lose? Never so apt in this case.

It was left to myself and Nick to argue over who would go. This argument involved me telling Nick that he should go and Nick telling me that I should go. Seriously, what’s wrong with us?!

After some [not so deep] thought but mainly logistical workings out—the daughter, the dogs, the shop, and the husband…not necessarily in that order—I took the opportunity and accepted the invite.

Mrs. Excited from Milton Keynes!

Friday 11th April. All set for my trip, smooth Eurostar, great breakie, easy transfer to Kortrijk, time for some shopping, and all finished off with a nice spin on the Trek Domane 5.9 that Gabe from Trek Travel had set up for me.

Here is where the dilemma started (to be precise, 9pm just before dinner). Since the March phone call I was doing the 45-mile route, taking in 6 sections of cobbles including the infamous Carrefour d’labre. To be honest I always knew that 45 miles was a bit short for me but the jump to the 90-mile route was never going to happen. I can count on one hand the amount of times my bum has been on a saddle for that long, all of these rides have taken place in Majorca on smoother roads, in the sun, and in a whooshing peloton.

A quick decision: do I eat for 45 miles or go to town with the Chateaubriand and Dame Blanche. This is me and food we’re talking about…90 miles it was!

An early start, time for a power nap on the bus before myself and 22 other lucky Trek customers arrive in Roubaix. We arrive to thick fog and a temperature of 2 degrees. I’m not sure about women being indecisive, but as the only female with 22 men, I left them to worry about clothing choices, take jackets on and off, apply copious amounts of Chamoix cream and generally faff while I stuffed my back pockets full of food and wondered what would be ahead to me.

We rolled out from Roubaix, myself and Mark Jaggard had made a pact to keep a steady pace of around 16mph. This in theory should be achievable for 90 miles. No heroes, just get round. After all, our theory was “We’re on holiday, right?”

After 2 hours and 15 minutes we had averaged 19.5mph and we were getting close to the Arenberg Forest—the first section of Pave. Boys will be boys! In reality it did bank some easy flat miles very quickly.

We arrive at Arenberg. Gabe had positioned himself perfectly, we met him with a big smile, and he was chuffed to bits to see me here. I think deep down he expected me to head for the cut off point some 15 miles prior to the Arenberg.

We offloaded our gilets, topped up with extra fluid, took a big deep breath, and hit the cobbles. Nothing prepared me for it. Everything shook, the speed that I carried in to it from the slight descent soon declined, and here unlike later sections there was no easier line. With white rope fencing off any slightly smooth line, it was a case of sticking it in the 50-13 and holding on for dear life.

At no point was I going to feel smug about passing hoards of riders with puncture; karma will always bite you on the bum.

I got through the Arenburg Forest still smiling and enjoying “my holiday”. The rest of the day was spent looking at my top tube and working out how much relief I’d get on the roads before the next pave section. My sticker had 18 pave sections all with stars categorizing difficulty and also denoting the feed stations, or my name for them—waffle stations.

Coming from an MTB background I’m pretty good at picking a line. On around 7 sections of Pave you could ride in the verge, half on the grass and half on the gritty, less cobbled edge of the road. We were ticking the secteurs off surprisingly quickly. Bunch riding was virtually impossible, on each road section you would just about create a group then before you knew it more pave and yet again you were on your own, left to fight your own personal battle.

I had one “moment” when the group of four we had created diminished to just myself and Mark (aka the cobble monster). We were in theory about 8k away from the next and last waffle station. Hunger, shakiness and my sense of humor started to wane.

I looked at Mark and stated that if the feed station wasn’t round this corner I’m stopping regardless, consuming whatever was left in my pockets, finding anything that was big enough to hide me for a much needed comfort break and giving my bum a much needed rest. To quote the cobble monster: “oh me arse”. Thankfully there it was; waffles, toilets, water and a rest from the saddle. 30k to go now and after a nice break I was feeling good. The sun was blazing the remaining secteurs were tough, long, and wearing on the whole body.

Mark and I ducked and dived in between groups and before we knew it we were on our way back into Roubaix. No major mechanicals, no punctures, no breakages in bikes or bodies, maybe sore some sore bottoms, but all in all a very successful jaunt. We may have developed a little bit of tourettes combined with a fit of giggles which was fun, but we did it, we really enjoyed it, and we were left feeling pretty proud of ourselves.

Neither Mark nor I had realised that we would actually finish in the Velodrome. This was pretty special, although I am bearing a grudge with Mr. Jaggard. After towing the cobble monster into Roubaix, he went and did me on the sprint for the line. Rude, plain rude.

We were handed our medals, posed for a few photos, then headed straight to a bar for frites and recovery drink (leffe). Here we re-grouped and the story telling of everyone’s ride began.

Back to the hotel for a quick shower then out for more food. Gabe from Trek did an absolutely sterling job of organising every little detail. I’m not quite over the fact that our Saturday night Brasserie was up two flights of stairs though…ouch!

Sunday and a 4.30am alarm clock; I thought I was on holiday? More sleep on the bus meant the ride down to Compiegne went quickly. We all sounded like OAP’s getting up but we made it off the bus without a stair lift. The early alarm was worth it. Up close and personal with the main men and their machines. A fantastic atmosphere and the excitement was building.

The pro’s set off and we headed to St. Python, or Corley corner as it was named on our trip last year. The peloton flew through and we were left eating their dust. The reality of how quickly they ride over the cobbles in relation to Joe Bloggs really hit me. The power and strength was phenomenal.

Our bus had a TV so we watched the race unfold, devoured our baguettes and headed in the direction of Roubaix. VIP entrance, trackside seats, beer and nibbles. Oh yes, yet again we were spoilt. My family arrived to watch with me; the race was really heating up and the day was perfect.

With 10k to go, Amelia and I got one of the best seats in the house and our tummies were full of nerves for the powerhouses that were about to hit the Velodrome.

Terpstra had attacked and at first we thought there was no way he would hold that gap, but the velodrome was nearing. He could actually do this…when he hit the track the stadium erupted. His wife was directly opposite us and the emotion was overwhelming.

Quick Step had done it. Not in the form of Tom Boonen, but Niki Terpstra had won the Hell of the North! Cancellara was in a small group just behind with Geraint Thomas, Peter Sagan, Brad Wiggins et al. A good sprint completed an awesome race…one not to be forgotten.

My holiday was fantastic, the Trek Domane I rode handled every cobble superbly, and the weather was on our side. I highly recommend a trip to see The Queen of the Classics; it is one event that every cycling fan should experience.

See you on a 2015 spring classics trip!

Colorado’s USA Pro Cycling Challenge, By Bob Joy

6a0147e09179b6970b0154349988f0970c-120wiI am suffering from a form of Seasonal Affective Disorder.  Specifically, I have Post-Tour-de-France-Withdrawal-Syndrome (PTdFWS).  Symptoms include staring at the blank television screen each evening and aimlessly wandering the house saying things like, “The elastic has snapped” and “He reached into his suitcase of pain and found that he forgot to pack.”

Fortunately, this year there is a cure.  Colorado’s USA Pro Cycling Challenge will be held August 22-28 and will be broadcast on Versus and NBC.  The Leopard Trek and Radio Shack teams will be there riding their state-of-the-art Madones.  The HTC Highroad team will also participate in what we now know is their final season.  Cadel Evans is expected to lead the BMC team and will be supported by former U.S. road racing champion, George Hincapie.  It is likely to be a high-altitude rematch between the Schleck brothers and this year’s winner of the Tour de France.  Let’s hope there are fewer crashes!

The race will begin on Monday, August 22nd with a fast, five mile Prologue that will begin in the magnificent Garden of the Gods, descend through Old Town and finish in downtown Colorado Springs.  Other than deciding who will wear the leader’s yellow jersey the next day, it will be too short to have much effect on the overall results.

But it won’t take long for the real fun to begin.  The first stage will include a climb over Monarch Pass that tops out at over 11,000 feet in elevation.  The finish will be on an uphill climb to Mt. Crested Butte.  Sprinters need not apply.

Wednesday’s route from Gunnison to Aspen is being called the Queen Stage because it will feature two demanding climbs over 12,000 feet.  The first will ascend a dirt road to Gunnison Pass and is sure to split the peloton.  Watch for Boulder, Colorado resident and former mountain biker Tom Danielson to emerge from the pack on the climb and use his descending skills to gain time on his rivals.  With his ninth-place finish in the Tour de France, the highest for any American, this is shaping up to be Tom’s breakout year.  He’s been training in these mountains since his return and has to be among the favorites.

The next day’s time trial will be twice as long as the Prologue and will be uphill all the way.  Riders will gain nearly 1,800 feet  over the ten mile course that will start in Vail Village and end at the top of Vail pass.  The route will favor all-around riders like Levi Leipheimer and Cadel Evans who can both time trial and climb.

Friday’s route will provide little respite for the riders.  The route from Avon to Steamboat Springs is only 86 miles long but will climb 5,000 vertical feet.  Saturday’s route will be like a rest day.  It will start in Steamboat Springs and finish 105 miles later in downtown Breckenridge.  This may be the only bunch sprint of the race but it won’t do much to sort out the overall leaders.

The race will end on Sunday with a 78-mile looping ride that will start in Golden, climb over Lookout Mountain, and conclude with six laps of a circuit course before finishing in front of the magnificent State Capitol Building in downtown Denver.  It should be an exciting finish to a great inaugural race.
And the best part is that we will be another month closer to June 30th when the 2012 Tour de France starts!

For more information about the race and full television listings:

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Level 1:

Road: 1-3 hours of riding. Up to 25 mi (40 km). Up to 1,000 ft (300 m).

Gravel: 1-3 hours of riding. Up to 20 mi (35 km). Up to 1,000 ft (300 m).

Hiking: 1-3 hours of hiking. Up to 5 mi (8 km). Up to 1,000 ft (300 m).

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Road: 2-4 hours of riding. 20-35 mi (35-60 km). Up to 2,500 ft (750 m).

Gravel: 2-4 hours of riding. 15-30 mi (25-45 km). Up to 2,000 ft (300 m).

Hiking: 2-4 hours of hiking. 4-8 mi (6-12 km). Up to 1,500 ft (450 m).

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Road: 3-5 hours of riding. 25-55 mi (40-85 km). Up to 4,500 ft (1,500 m).

Gravel: 3-5 hours of riding. 20-40 mi (35-60 km). Up to 3,000 ft (900 m).

Hiking: 3-5 hours of hiking. 6-10 mi (9-16 km). Up to 2,000 ft (600 m).

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Road: 4+ hours of riding. 40-70 mi (60-110 km). Up to 8,000 ft (2,400 m).

Gravel: 4+ hours of riding. 30-50 mi (45-80 km). Up to 4,000 ft (1,200 m).

Hiking: 4+ hours of hiking. 7-15 mi (11-24 km). Up to 4,000 ft (1,200 m).

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