It has been already six months since my last blog post. For someone who used to write an average of more than once a month that is an awful long time between posts. Don’t think for a second that it is because I gave up cycling. Don’t even think that I have not had interesting training camps, races or group rides to write about in the last six months. On the contrary, I have had a pretty good six months on the bike. I weigh as much as when I was in high school (I’m manorexic as we say in cycling lingo terms) and I can produce more power in an hour that I could for ten minutes four years ago. I guess I just haven’t had a chance to sit down and put on paper camp and race summaries, training updates and general thoughts on cycling and life as a time-crunched cyclist.
In the last year I co-founded two new businesses, became Chairman of a mining company and a US Pro Continental cycling team. Looking back on the last six months I just have not had any free time. A good example of this was last Tuesday when I left my office at 5:35 pm to go ride on the Mont-Royal (the little hill in the center of Montreal) from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm, got in my car and changed back into my business suit and tie while driving in order to get to a business dinner scheduled for 7:15 pm (I made it on time. I’m not sure what the drivers around me thought I was up to!). Since February I went on several business trips to Mexico and brought my bike there twice trying to stay on schedule. I have gotten up early on the week-end to ride and also rode after dinner.
As I finalize my training for the next big adventure I can’t help but reflect on the amazing support I get from my family. Most of my time spent on the bike is time I should otherwise spend with them. The irony of the whole thing is that all family members still living at home seem to have the same crazy lifestyle as dad. Little Gaby (12 years old) finished school at the end of June and immediately went to camp in New York State for five weeks. She perfected her water skiing skills, learned to wind surf and made a ton of friends. She came home for a week and she is already gone to Chile for over two weeks with some of her teammates from her ski racing club. When she comes back she is off to school (high school!) right away. Alex (14 years old) also finished a busy school year at the end of June. He completed his first year of boarding school with very good grades and a wonderful spirit. He is still at the camp and will be there until mid-August. As some of you already know, Alex broke his legs while training in January. He has a metal plate and eleven screws in his leg so no Chile and no skiing for him this summer. Being the passionate and positive young man that he is it didn’t take long for him to find a new sport to be passionate about and took up sailing at camp and decided to stay an extra three weeks to perfect his skills. Manue (22 years old) finished her first year of university, found a summer job, got a gigantic vegetable garden going at home and babysat whenever she had spare time. She even found time to time to do volunteer work in Lac-Megantic where a merchandise train derailment killed nearly fifty people in a small Quebec town. And then there’s mom. Not only is Mary Lou taking care of us all (when were around) but she also finds the time to go to the gym regularly and as a result keeps a girlish figure. In the past few weeks she has been to Barbados to visit Rebecca and Calgary to see James and Amanda and her two granddaughters. As I write these notes Mary Lou is off again, this time to Tucson, where she will meet Amanda and her two daughters.
So, what is my next big cycling adventure? It is called the Haute Route. The Haute Route is a seven day stage race from Geneva to Nice that takes place in August. Here’s a summary of the seven stages:
Stage 1, Sunday 18th August: Geneva to Megeve (149km, 3,300m of climbing)
Stage 2, Monday 19th August: Megeve to Val d’Isere (108km, 3,400m of climbing)
Stage 3, Tuesday 20th August: Val d’Isere to Serre Chevalier (164km, 3,400m of climbing)
Stage 4, Wednesday 21st August: Serre Chevalier to Pra Loup (118km, 3,000m of climbing)
Stage 5, Thursday 22nd August: Time trial – Cime de La Bonette (23km, 1,560m of climbing)
Stage 6, Friday 23rd August: Pra Loup to Auron (142km, 3,800m of climbing)
Stage 7, Saturday 24th August: Auron to Nice (162km, 2,900m of climbing)
Having twice completed the Tour of California and the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado once, I registered for the Haute Route with confidence. It is only recently that I realized that although the mileage of the Haute Route is similar to the mileage of the Tour of California and the USA Pro Cycling Challenge the climbing is about twice as much as in the North American races. And unlike California and Colorado where we rode as a cohesive group and all tried to help each other to get through it, the Haute Route is an actual race; “We take no prisoners”. Twice the climbing, twice the pressure, nowhere to hide. I wonder what I will look like when I get to Nice.
Stay tuned for daily updates from Europe. Hopefully I also find the time before I leave on August 14th to write about the preparation for the Haute Route, it has been a fascinating and challenging journey.