I am so happy that Michael Rasmussen is back in the professional peloton riding for Christina Watches. They have taken over Bianchi M1's UCI licence.
I think back in 2007 he got a raw deal from the UCI, the Rabobank Cycling Team and a Dutch Bank wanting to keep out of public scrutiny. He was removed from the 2007 Tour and banished out of cycling. Why ? He missed doping tests prior to the Tour. Big whup??? Over the 7 straight wins, so did Lance ? The ever corrupt UCI continue to make ridicule of the great sport of cycling. Rasmussen wasn't found guilty of doping, he wasn't positive in any test during the tour. The UCI based all their findings on his whereabouts a month prior. Again, Lance missed tests during his wins, and there was no removal from the tour ? How is that fair ? When push came to shove, the team, the Bank sponsor simply turned their back on him. He had told both of his Director Sportif (DS's) his whereabouts. He was told to lie by his team DS's, Breukink and DeRooy. They organised his training schedule, but who took the fall ? Rasmussen and team Rabobank were simply not in the UCI's "preferred team" category as U.S. Postal was. Rabobank should have sent over $$ and all would have been covered up. The UCI's ruling is that the "top riders" have to report their exact location, 365 days a year. Any changes in their whereabouts had to be specified in advance.
The UCI really wanted to flex their muscle and make a mockery out of the Tour organization. For the life of me, I don't know why the Dutch Cycling Union announced to pull Rasmussen out of the tour while he was in the yellow jersey ??? Why even allow him to start the tour ? Rasmussen never tested positive for doping, but he lost everything, his victory in the Tour, his job, and possibly his career. However, if he had been riding for U.S. Postal, I am 100% positive, he would have enjoyed his first Tour victory.
I am one fan, that is certainly glad the chicken is back!
This is a photo of a member of the Leopard Trek team testing the new modified Trek Madone bikes over the cobbles in the Arenberg Forest. Gathering data no doubt.
Its what the forest looks like at this time of year. Wish I was there.
A saddle should do more than simply protect you from your seatpost. Like the rest of your gear you depend on, it should fit perfectly. There should be no compromises here. Aside from components and proper sizing I think the proper saddle fit is one of the most , if not thee most important fit to get right. There is nothing worse than developing soreness well into a ride. I have been there and its not fun.
Until now, saddle width had been determined by little more than an educated guess based on myriad opinions and a few calluses. But physiology makes it clear that different riders, even those with identical waist sizes and weights, can have different sit bone width measurements. Thinner saddles are not always best. There is one primary determinant of proper saddle width: the distance between the ischial tuberosities (a.k.a. “sit bones”):
Related to this is rider position: as a rider rolls forward into a more aggressive aero position, the sit bone placement tapers closer together. As a result, a more comfortable endurance position requires a slightly wider saddle than a faster, more aero position would require.
So without dimensions like waist measurement available as a reliable way to determine sit bone width, and because perceived comfort is a poor substitution for a measured fit, we developed the Body Geometry Saddle Fit System to provide an easy way to accurately measure your actual sit bone width. Once you’ve been measured, then its time to finalize the racing saddle design.
After 2-3 weeks, and your butt still hurts, I recommend changing your saddle immediately.
I have become a huge fan of CycleFilm as their DVD's are really "real life documentaries."
CycleFilm DVD series are in a league of their own. I eventually want to own them all of their L'Étape du Tour series. CYCLEFILM is a European based production company specializing in informative cycling documentaries, how-to ride and reconnaissance films as well as news gathering from cycling events and trade shows around the world. They will definitely help as a guide for our upcoming trip.
I have seen almost every cycling documentary ever made in the modern era. Some good, some bad. I think with this latest release, "Chasing Legends", it will be a very good one. It is a cycling documentary giving the audience an inside view of the 2009 Tour de france through the eyes of team HTC-Columbia. However, I"m basing my post only from the trailer. So we'll have to wait for my review in a few more weeks. It is the first cycling documentary filmed entirely in HD. I'm also told the cinematography is unlike anything we've seen in past cycling documentaries. It is one of the most anticipated films for myself in 2011. As always Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen are the voices behind the peloton, so I'm hoping its simply not a WCP modified film.
As a masseur for eight teams in 20 years, Willy Voet did much more than massage sore muscles. He lost his job as masseur for the powerful French-based Festina cycling team but then wrote an exposé on the cycling culture, Massacre á la Chaîne: Révélations sur 30 ans de trickeries (Chain Massacre: Revelations of 30 Years of Cheating), which became a bestseller in Europe after its publication in May.
After Voet was caught transporting recreational and performance-enhancing drugs into France, he eventually admitted that the latter were for use by Festina cyclists in the Tour de France, setting off a chair of events that has radically altered the public's perception of the cycling world. According to Voet, the overwhelming majority of the cyclists in the peloton (the lead group of riders) used illegal drugs. Those who didn't use them? "The back of the pack,"
Asked about such stars as five-time Tour de France champion Miguel Indurain of Spain (1991 through '95), and Americans Greg LeMond, a three-time Tour winner (1986, '89, '90), and Lance Armstrong, the '93 road race world champion, Voet chose his words carefully. "In my book I only wrote about things I saw with my own eyes," he said. "I never worked with LeMond or those other great champions, so I cannot say for certain they were doing that. But virtually all the good racers I worked with were taking drugs. And that was also true in the '80s." Of the estimated 500 cyclists he treated in his career, how many did not take drugs to enhance their performance? "I can count them on two hands, maybe two hands and two feet if I'm generous," Voet said.
In the '70s, according to Voet, the most widely used performance-enhancing drugs were amphetamines; in the '80s, anabolic steroids and cortisone; and in the '90s, growth hormones and EPO (erythropoietin), a drug that stimulates the body's production of oxygen-carrying red blood cells. If a doctor wasn't around, it was Voet who often injected the dosages. Once he leaned out the window of his car and gave a cyclist a shot in the middle of a race. Another time he used himself as a guinea pig to test how long a particular steroid, Clenbuterol,(which was found in blood of the 2010 Tour Winner, Alberto Contador) stayed in the system.
Voet knew any number of tricks to get his riders through doping control. In the '80s, for instance, he would often fill a condom with "clean" urine, then attach a rubber tube to it. He would plug the tube and glue small hairs onto it for camouflage. After a race, before heading to doping control, a cyclist would come to the team car and insert the condom of clean urine into his anus. The tube would be glued into his crotch, the fake hair blending into the real hair of his nether regions should a doctor be so bold as to inspect. When it came time for the sample, the rider would unplug the tube and fill his sample cup with warm, drug-free urine.
As drug testers became more sophisticated in the '90s, so did Voet and the cyclists. Voet learned how to use a handheld centrifuge to test a cyclist's blood for an elevated volume of red cells, a sign of EPO usage, and taught the cyclists how to use the centrifuge themselves. To avoid detection of EPO in the event of a surprise test during a race, Voet would prepare IV bags of saline solution, wrap them in towels and hide them under the cyclists' beds. If hit with an unexpected test, a cyclist had just enough time to suspend the IV bag from a bicycle spoke bent into the shape of an S and hooked over a door, attach a tube to the bag and put the IV needle into a vein in his arm. In 20 minutes the saline solution would bring his hematocrit value (the ratio of red blood cell volume to total blood volume) below the legal limit of 50%.
"A racer who gets caught by doping control is dumb as a mule," Voet said. Before the '98 Tour de France, only two of Voet's 500 charges had failed a drug test. In 1984 Sean Kelly was suspended for one month, but was quickly reinstated, by the International Cycling Union (UCI), the sport's governing body, after turning in a urine sample that he had secreted under his jersey during the Paris-Brussels Classic. According to Voet, Kelly assumed the sample was clean, but it had been contributed by an acquaintance who had been popping pills to stay awake during an all-night drive. The amphetamines showed up in the test.
During his 20-year career Voet developed a reputation as one of the best in the business at the variety of tasks he performed. On July 7, 1998, he left his Veynes apartment carrying two coolers containing 234 doses of EPO, 24 vials of growth hormones and testosterone, and 60 capsules of Asaflow, an aspirin-based product that thins the blood. All are substances banned by the UCI. According to Voet the drugs had been obtained by a team connection in Portugal, where they can be purchased over the counter. For a month before the Tour, Voet stored them in the vegetable drawer of his refrigerator at home, much to the annoyance of his wife, Sylvie. She was happy to see them go.
Voet would later tell French authorities that his first stop was Paris, where he transferred the coolers from his car to Festina's team car. He drove that car to Ghent, Belgium, the home of Festina's doctor, Eric Rijckaert, who, according to Voet, had asked him to come by to pick up more doses of EPO and some bags of sterile water for intravenous drips. Then Voet continued to Brussels, where he would spend the night with a friend. By the time he arrived he had been on the road more than 12 hours.
It didn't take long for the officials to open the two coolers with the unidentified vials of EPO, growth hormones and testosterone. Asked about their contents, Voet said he didn't know what they were beyond recovery aids for the cyclists. The customs officers said they were going to send the vials to the lab to be tested. When Voet told the officers he had to catch a boat in Calais to make the start of the race, one of them replied, "You can forget about your boat."
Voet had been able to drop one of his Belgian cocktails into the grass without detection, but when he was strip-searched at the customs office in Neuville-en-Ferrain, the other was found in his underwear, and he was handcuffed. When the results of the lab tests on the vials in the coolers came back, Voet at first pretended he had no idea what EPO was. Later, trying to protect his cyclists, he said the drugs were for his personal use. "You take me for a jerk?" the customs official said. Voet was moved to the jail in the central customs office in Lille.
I thought of my family, my children. What if my 13-year-old son, Mathieu, grew up to be a cyclist, and his trainer asked him to take drugs? Would I let him? No way. That's when I decided to tell the truth."
The drugs, he told French magistrates, were for the nine Festina cyclists competing in the Tour de France, which had started three days earlier. On July 15, after Voet told the magistrates that Rijckaert oversaw the dosages, taking blood samples from the riders twice a day to test for hematocrit values, the Festina team doctor was arrested on charges of importing and illegal transport of poisonous substances. Voet told the magistrates that the purchase of the drugs was financed by Bruno Roussel, Festina's director, who also was arrested that day and charged with administering, aiding and abetting the using of doping substances and procedures during a sports competition. At the end of the season, the cost of the drugs was to be repaid out of the cyclists' year-end bonuses. The system had been in place for several years. The amount deducted from each cyclist's bonus check depended on which drugs he used and in what quantities. This is similar to how Jeff Novitzky is trying to bring down Lance Armstrong. Bring down those surrounding him.
Voet was in charge of keeping track, and he kept meticulously coded notebooks that recorded everyone's intake. After Voet was jailed, he said, Roussel contacted Sylvie and told her to destroy the notebooks. Instead, she turned them over to the authorities. Those notebooks were Voet's proof that the Festina doping program was systematic and not the work of a renegade masseur.
Two days after the arrests of Rijckaert and Roussel, the Festina team was thrown out of the ’98 Tour. Six of the nine Festina riders soon admitted taking drugs (none of them were charged with a crime), but team leader Virenque vehemently denied he had done so. The protestations of Virenque were particularly appalling to Voet. In a brief from a hearing before Judge Patrick Keil last May in Lille, Voet said that after the scandal broke he told Virenque, "If I had injected you with everything you had asked me to, you would be a dead man." (In March, Virenque was hit with four sets of drug charges, including ones similar to those leveled at Roussel and Rijckaert. In May, according to French media reports, after months of pleading his innocence, the 29-year-old Virenque, worn down by a 21-hour grilling by French police in a separate investigation, admitted he'd been lying. Virenque has denied the reports and has not been charged in the second probe, though he is still awaiting trial on the March charges. Meanwhile Tour de France director Jean-Marie Leblanc, intent on cleaning up his race's image, announced on June 16 that Virenque was "not welcome" at the '99 Tour because he "epitomizes, in his name, in his image, the doping phenomenon.")
The 1998 Tour drug scandal continued to escalate after Festina's departure. One team after another came under suspicion. In late July syringes with traces of EPO were found in a field in Brives, a town on the Tour route. On July 29 French police searched the hotel rooms of the Spanish team ONCE, confiscating a large supply of illegal drugs and drug paraphernalia but making no arrests. ONCE and a second Spanish team, Banesto, pulled out of the Tour. That same week the doctor and the director of the Dutch team TVM were brought in for questioning after the entire team failed a doping test, and TVM was subsequently banned from the 1999 race.
Years later, what amazes Voet is how little his sport has changed. One drug-related scandal after another continues to surface in cycling, invariably followed by Virenque-like denials and protestations of innocence. Der Spiegel, the German news magazine, published an article in mid-June alleging that the Telekom team, which is led by 1997 Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich, systematically used a doping program similar to Festina's that involved growth hormones, steroids and EPO. The magazine cited team documents and an unnamed former team aide as its sources. Ullrich vehemently denied the allegations.
On June 5 Italian star Marco Pantani, who won the Tour de France and the Giro D'Italia, saw his title defense of the latter come to an abrupt end when he was ejected from the race—while holding more than a five-minute lead on the field—for having a hematocrit value of 52%. A surprise drug test at dawn before a grueling mountainous stage led to the disqualification. The normal range of hematocrit values in the blood is 44% to 46%, but EPO injections can raise them to 52%, 54%, even 60%, at which point the oxygen-rich blood runs like sludge through the veins, a condition that can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
Despite the danger, many top cyclists continue to resist all attempts at more rigorous drug testing.
Voet wrote Chain Massacre in the hope that it would lead to some sort of lasting reform in the sport. But he's pessimistic. The doping culture is too ingrained, the urge to cheat too strong. Performance-enhancing drugs have long been part of cycling.
In 1956, 22-year-old Jacques Anquetil, who would go on to win the Tour de France five times, broke the world record for most miles pedaled in an hour. Afterward he baldly refused to go to antidoping control. Voet doubts it was a coincidence that Anquetil died of stomach cancer at 53.
In 1967 England's Tom Simpson died of asphyxiation during a mountain stage of the Tour de France when he literally pedaled until he could no longer breathe. An autopsy revealed high levels of amphetamines in his blood. "Simpson died taking dope, and it never stopped anything," says Voet, who remembers being given amphetamines before an amateur race in 1962. "Why should these revelations stop anything now? In this year's Tour de France there will be just as many people using dope as before."
And what of today’s situation ? We have the UCI who’s supposedly the sports governing body. But other than the IOC, its probably the most corrupt sporting body in world of sport. They have worked behind closed door deals with Lance Armstrong. Pat McQuaid head of the UCI, is damaging the sport for personal profit. They have conveniently received boat loads of money from his Lance's foundation to ensure his samples all turned out negative. The UCI uses 2 sets of rules for the riders. The preferred riders get early drug test notification and a buyout option on a positive test. The rest of the riders get public notification on any positive test and a 2 year ban.
So heading in 2011, this is the uphill battle that Jeff Novitzky , a U.S. investigator of the FDA is up against. He has a tremendous amount of circumstantial evidence but still no "hard evidence." The U.S. Postal Services funded a team that doped. Again, how difficult will this be able to prove ? Will Flloyd Landis' damaging testimony lead to anything ? Or will Lance become the next OJ and continue to laugh at the public ? Only time will tell.
For those who have been around the sport of cycling for a long time, know how difficult sponsorship is to attain. Cycling is sport that it witness to sponsorship in a "one hit wonder" basis. In other words, "here today gone tomorrow" type of mentality. There are very few companies outside of actual bicycle manufacturers, and component manufacturers, who have maintained long standing partnerships and affiliations with cycling teams around the globe. You have companies that are directly and indirectly linked to the sport of cycling, of which one of those is the global giant, HP (Hewlett-Packard). What ? HP involved in cycling ? Yes, I'll forgive you if your eyebrows are raised in astonishment. Many people are not even aware of HP's involvement in professional cycling. Furthermore, many people don't even know they have their own cycling club based out of Houston, Texas. But first I'd like to acknowledge this company for their involvement in pro cycling.
HP sponsor a UCI professional team in 2011, the Skil-Shimano Cycling Team based in the Netherlands. This team is not a professional outfit that will ride the big tours but they will travel the globe, compete in lesser known stage and local races around Europe and do travel as total professional outfit. HP will supply all of their computer infrastructure for the team. So kudos to HP Europe for helping out. You can check out their website Click Here .
On the other side of the pond, back in 2008-2009 HP sponsored an entire womens track team, HP Teschner Track Team . ) You can see from their jerseys that HP played a more direct role. Emerging out of this team, was the successful women cyclist Rochelle Gilmore who is the 2011 Commonwealth Games Gold Medalist in the women's road race. I'll forgive you if you think by the mere mention of her name that I am talking about a porn actress. Well that is not the case. Rochelle Gilmore is a serious professional womens cyclist now riding for another sponsored team.
Amidst their billion dollar global platform, HP allowed their Houston office an employee cycling club. With all HP's negative press most recently, I'm here to give them some acknowledgment. What company do you know sponsors a "cycling club" in this day and age of difficult economic times. If you find one, send me an email please. It is hard enough to get sponsorship for the most minor of company teams, and this HP Houston office not only have their club, their own website , but an online shop where you can purchase good quality club jerseys and bib shorts ! wow ! Click Here . Kudos to the HP Houston office and again, I have to raise my glass to them for their effort in organizing such a site. I'm all about company cycling clubs. But this HP Houston office, have definitely raised bar, as they have one of the most organized company/employee cycling clubs I've ever seen. I was really surprised and taken back by the effort of this club. From their website, to having an online shop, proves to me, there are some dedicated HP employees out there. They have shown dedication to cycling and have shown excellent organization skills in creating such a club. If I ever make to Houston, I'll be sure to pack my bike and hopefully attend a club ride with them. I hope they keep up the good work. I am so impressed that I will make every effort to support them by wearing their cycling kit this spring/summer. Hats off to the HP Houston office and their commitment to cycling.
Wow! This is steep ! This has "Passo" or "Col de " , written all over it. I never understand why B.C. does not have a decent stage race utilizing these great mountain passes. It is for roads like this, I would easily relocate to B.C. Being able to tackle mountain rides like this every day or weekend would be great! This is would really prepare me for the passo's or cols in Europe.
A Good Year
No, not discussing one of my favourite movies, but in another sense, 2011 will be "A Good Year." My wife and I will be travelling to France to ride the cobbles and the cols come September. I will be fulfilling a long time dream of mine. We are currently training to tackle but also enjoy riding some of the greatest Tour de France stages in history. From Paris, we will head north to Roubaix, then back down to the Alps. We will ride, Mont Ventoux, L'Alpe D'Huez, and the Col du Galibier. From there, we finish up in Nice. It is truly going to be a mind blowing experience to me. Every day I wake up and imagine myself dancing on the pedals as I ride up a mountain pass or enjoy the tranquility and serenity of Northern France. I can't wait ! But in the mean time, its back to training and building our base miles.
For many many years the Giro (Tour of Italy) was considered the “easier tour” , the “warm up” race , always in the shadows of the Tour deFrance. The Giro always suffered from “being the bridesmaid , never the bride.” The Tour de France is still the biggest race in the world. But it is no longer the “hardest” nor the most difficult. In my opinion, I think the Giro D’Italia in the last decade is in fact the harder race. The Tour de France has become more commercial where the Italians have stayed true to their racing heritage and the organization has continued to do a better job amidst whatever the UCI claim in their bogus rankings and wildcards.
It has much more difficult days in the mountains with similar elevations and peaks like this one, reaching over 9000ft with this kind of steepness. Its unbelievably tough on the human body. This is why I don’t think we’ll ever see another double ever again. Double , meaning winning both the Giro and the Tour de france in the same year. The last time it was done , was back in 1987, Stephen Roche was the winner.
From these photos alone, showing part of a mountain stage, THE STELVIO PASS, one can tell how steep and difficult the mountain stages of Italy are. Wow! That is crazy gradient ! The GAVIA PASS is just as hard. You can see someone going down it in the first photo. From a town called Prato, the Stelvio has 48 punishing hairpin turns that really make it difficult for the riders. Cresting this summit riders really feel the lack of oxygen as the air is so thin and regularly face drastic weather conditions in few hairpins. One of the upcoming years, I’m looking forward to 2-3 hours of this kind of madness.
I finally found a photo that shows the steepness of Alpine stages in the Tour de France. Just click the photo to get an enlargement.
Most of the time, watching the Tour De France, the viewer does not get a sense of how steep these mountain climbs are ? Twenty to thirty kilometers of this kind of steepness is really something we the viewers cannot appreciate. Can you imagine riding the distance from the CN Toronto to Mississauga constantly uphill ? at this steepness ? with these hairpin bends ? with the typical Ventoux swirling winds pushing you back ??? Yes, that's the Giant of Provence and this is suffering on a bike. Day in and day out the Tour riders have to contend with this kind of punishment. This picture gives you the kind of steepness and grade these riders face. I’ve been trying to find a picture to really show it and this one does. On TV however, you see these guys in 39 x 25 or even 39 x 27’s and it seems they are barely moving. Well this is why. When the gradient is this steep, this is what you can expect. Oh I can’t wait !!!
Kuota are an Italian frame builder and I'll forgive you if you haven't heard of them. They are not among the larger popular and classic Italian brands. But they have managed to sponsor the AG2R French team in the tour with great bicycles. I am really impressed with Kuota bikes. I like their approach to the design of the KOM (king of the mountains) frame and the Kebel. I like the lines and the colours. Pretty sharp looking bikes come from this little factory in Albiate Italy. Their frames have shown well in the spring classics, but more so in the Tour. In 2010, Christophe Riblon of AG2R won a mountain stage in the tour. I like their diversity as well in that they make a women's frame as well. Well worth the money.
Well the new year is upon us and I've done some more soul searching. My decision is almost made, but a Focus bike is heavily favoured over all others that I've mentioned in previous posts. It will take a significant turn of events to persuade me otherwise. There are just such compelling circumstances that are making my decision that much easier as the days go by. They make outstanding bicycles. Have un-equalled frame design. They are in the professional peloton (formerly with Team Milram, this year with Katusha). Focus have done cobblestone testing in the Arenberg Forest. They have shown their technology works internationally and in all stages of racing. They are not popular in North America like those big box brands. You wont' see many of them in the GTA. As well, they have aligned themselves with Rapha who are one of my favourite companies. The Rapha-Focus team is a cyclo-cross team and simply is an excellent amalgamation of two companies in my view. With all this, I'm just drawn to a Focus more than ever. So now there is a greater "focus" on things come spring 2011. :-)
This is the route I have been waiting to ride for quite some time. The Hamilton Mountain is known for its torturous climbs. Back in 2003, the men’s world road race took place right along the same route I have outlined. This route in Hamilton will surely be the final test as to mine and Anita's climbing readiness for the cols in France. We will face two difficult climbs with this route. Both of which are about 2km in length. There is one along Beckett Drive and the other one along James Mountain Road. I plan to do an out and back style route to ensure I climb both hills. I am hoping to have the assistance of my former training partners and best friends Dennis and Marshall come out with us on those days.
Back in the late 80’s I used to ride down to this Scarborough Bluffs area, and go and up and down this section multiple times. Its almost 2kms of pure torture as you climb it. Back in the day, I had to turn a slightly higher gear as I had a 42 chain ring. This year, I will be in a 39. So it will be much anticipated as to how I maintain a rhythm using the 39 x 20’s combo. The key is to try to get into a steady rhythm and maintain it for the climb, in and out of the saddle. Its also a great hill to test the change of gearing as there are some parts which are steeper than others. Now if this were only 15 times longer, then I’d be surely simulating a Col in France.. Oh I can’t wait to quote Eric Heiden....” the hills are reeeeaaaally steeeeep..”
My training will no longer consist of easy spins through High Park, or slight slopes along Ellis Avenue. I have adopted the Chris Carmichael "Time Crunched Cyclist" way of training and hopefully I can do some "tempo" riding in and around this little circuit that I have come up with. I came up with this Twnn River's circuit around the Scarborough Rouge Valley after reading about it through the Scarborough club who have been riding these roads for many years now. It’s a little short, but I am quite confident that the two vicious winding climbs along Twynn Rivers Drive, will test my climbing abilities.
Happy New Year!
As a decade closes, the year 2011 starts off with a big bang for me. 2011 is going to be one monumental year if not thee most memorable year of my entire life. My wife and I have formalized our goal to ride the cobbles (Roubaix) and cols (Tourmalet, Galibier, Ventoux,)in France in late August. Our training and strict diet has already begun. Of course there will be a few significant compromises along the way, but it will be worth it, when we are ascending these great mountain stages of the Tour de France. We will begin our training in the hills of Scarborough/Markham, the Bluffs and then continuing in the Hamilton mountain area. As well, I can finally see my new bike on the horizon. Will it be Specialized? or will it be Focus ? or will it be something else? In a few more months, my body type will dictate which frame I sit best on, and it will blogged right here. Its going to be a cycling filled 2011. I am filled with excitement and anticipation in the coming months. I am currently attaining as much base mileage as I can get. As the weeks unfold, hopefully I can get longer and longer rides in.