Sunday, November 1, 2009

Toone de Cullman 2009

. The results are in:
  1. Brian Toone
  2. Omar Fraser
  3. Scott Kuppersmith
  4. Sammy Flores
  5. Jacob Brewer
  6. Darryl Seelhorst
  7. Kevin White
  8. Greg McCreless
  9. Wes Douglas
  10. Robert Vachon

Women:

...1. Amy Gravlee
...2. Katherine Herring
...3. Katie Curtis


A beautiful day for a bike ride, the peleton cruising through Cullman County.

The 15th Tour de Cullman lived up to all its epic fun. Sixty riders headed out at high noon on Sunday. In a nice envelope Brett and Brady Barker lead the riders on Moto 1 and Moto 2 and bringing up the broom wagon was the Branham MotorSports team van. The pace was monitored for the first 20 miles by the motos until the nature break just before the Chamblees Mill bridge. The riders were lead out and the pace soon picked up with a definite selection being made at the top of the first climb. The above photo shows Toone, Fraser, Kuppersmith, Flores, Brewer, Seelhorst and White cresting the first climb. The hammer went down leaving the peleton shattered all over Skyball Mountain.

On the descent off the first climb the riders rode down to Joy road which is known as the "Meat Grinder" for its hand full of short steep climbs. Leading on to the final climb of four miles, Toone, Fraser and Kuppersmith separated themselves and it became evident that this was The Selection.

Brian Toone educated us all on cycling and dropped the very strong riders on the climb up for the KOM. He crossed the summit with Omar Fraser 1:00 back and Kuppersmith at 1:15. The Tria/Donohoo team pulled off the hat trick, they have ridden so strong over the past three years and capped it off with this epic victory.

Rehashing the race on the top of Skyball Mountain.

2009 Tour de Cullman King of the Mountain, Brian Toone.

Amy Gravlee dominated the women's division, proving why she is so successful in racing around the Southeast. Amy was in control from the first climb and rode solo up Skyball Mountain to another trophy as the women's KOM. She was followed by two newcomers to the ride Katherine Herring and Katie Curtis.

The Masters trophy went to Sammy Flores who finished fourth overall in the GC.

Most Aggressive went to the SmithLock Team who made a valiant effort and put Omar on the Podium. The team is lead by Alabama cycling icon James Hall.

Bill St. John took the Cullman trophy in a sprint up the final 200 meters of the climb.

Arthur Patrick won a trophy for being one of the original riders of the Tour de Cullman. Arthur raced around the Southeast and competed in The National Road Race in the 1980's. He also was winner of the Race Across Alabama and had a cult classic race with James Hall.

The 2009 Tour de Cullman was very successful and was composed of probably the best collection of riders in its history. I say collection and not fastest (it was) because its success is bringing all cyclists together for a day and riding together promoting cycling. The beauty is the diversity of having a very elite racer riding with an 18 year old exchange student from Germany.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Secret Training

My training this past weekend for the 2009 Tour de Cullman consisted of traveling to Nashville to attend the 30th Anniversary Reunion show for The White Animals.

Anyone who attended a college or university in the South during the 80's remembers the band. To me their music captures the feeling of those old daze. During most of the show I had flashbacks of Lee's Tomb and them playing to a packed house with a line outside waiting two blocks long.

I love the Don Henley lyric, something about a "Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac". There was a lot of grey hair in the crowd and nobody pounded those long neck beers quite like they did 20 years ago. The show was a way to go back in time for a night and relive a few thoughts. Several people brought their teenagers, including myself. Pretty cool to share something across a generation.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Course Primer

Most of this video has been previously released. Added new music and production. If you have done the Tour de Cullman you will recognize most of the footage and if not it will be a introduction to the course.


Saturday, October 3, 2009

Savouring The Tour: 15 Years of Glory

Like any good Italian red, the flavours of The Tour de Cullman linger long after the glass is sipped. It's not just a super day of bike racing, its role as the finale demands a savoured experience. As the sun sets on another season of bike racing...

We can reflect with a few photos of the very first Tours, as we head into number fifteen. Its always been a clash of the titans for the King of the Mountain, from the very first it was epic.

Richard Prewitt was the King for the early Tours, his first victory was in '94. He came back and won it again. The above photo shows a battle between former champions of Alabama bicycle racing. Arthur Patrick raced with the best at nationals in the day, shown sprinting up the final 200m of the climb up Skyball. James Hall can be seen unsuccessfully trying to stay attached to the surge of "Big Daddy Big Gears" and "Smokey the Beast".

After the climb as every year the ride is replayed. Richard Prewitt won the tour several years then disappeared.

Shane Emplaincourt drops the hammer! He is shown above in one of the most dramatic Tours, playing the field like a master. Sucked in behind all the egos, he waited until it all fell into place and easily dropped the contenders on the final step of Skyball. Jacques Emplaincourt told me that this was one of Shane's greatest career victories. Shane went on to win many Tour de Cullmans with his streak only to be broken by none other than "Country Al" Mittlesdorf.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

SmithLock Confirms for the Tour

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Team SmithLock lead by Alabama cycling legend James Hall, has confirmed for the 15th Tour de Cullman, Sunday November 1st 2009. A much anticipated show down between the SL team and the Tria-Donohoo team who is attempting a Tour Hat Trick.

A 60 mile bike course traveling through Cullman and Blount Counties includes the 4 mile accent of the infamous Skyball Mountain. The mountain known not only for the Tour de Cullman's King of the Mountain Trophy but also the folklore of Bigfoot sightings.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Nizza!

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Nice or Nizza as they say in Italian is the hub of the Riviera. This is the second part of the previous post which is mostly a travel blog. I am a little off base but its hard to get to the preparations part without talking about getting there.

Finally on the plane my chartered flight headed out across the ocean. It was a non-stop from JFK to Charles de Gaulle in Paris. I booked it well in advance and in the day was the cheapest way to fly to Europe. I studied the Let’s Go travel books put out by Harvard Press. The books were designed for the student traveler who had no money. One of their books was how to travel to Europe on 25 dollars a day.

I was already a couple of days late on my original itinerary but if it all went well I could still make it to southern France with a day to spare before the race. I can remember people telling me that when traveling to Europe you wanted to depart from the USA so that you arrived abroad in the morning. This was to help with the jet lag and your own internal clock. Of course we didn’t leave like we were suppose to and would be arriving in Paris at midnight.

As we approached Paris the captain broadcast to look to our left and we would see the City of Lights then to our right Charles de Gaulle Airport. The next comment was we would not be landing at Charles de Gaulle because they would not let planes land after midnight therefore we would be landing at Orly. I really didn’t know anything about international travel and airports; I just wanted to be on the ground after eight hours. Everyone on the flight seemed a little upset about the news so I asked the guy next to me why the fuss and he said it was because Orly was now mainly a freight airport and at this hour there would be no buses or rail into the city.

I would never take a charter again after this experience, the flight was so inexpensive compared to the major airlines but you were really at their mercy with the delays and then not even flying into your destination. I had originally planned to be in Nice by now but instead I wasn’t even on the ground yet.

We landed safely and the fun was just beginning. We did the outside deplaning which took me by surprise, and ended up not that bad but the 200 yard walk across the runway to the terminal, that was a little strange. Once inside the airport it was a very cool terminal almost like something out of an old science fiction movie, the terminal was definitely dated. Everything inside was closed so no coffee food or anything. Customs was a breeze. Walking through a deserted ancient airport was my welcome to France and Europe.

Just like I had been informed on the plane there no buses and the gate to the city by metro was locked. The only way into the city was by taxi. Someone put a call in and the taxis started trickling in one by one. Most of the passengers from the flight were on a tour and their buses had rerouted and picked them up. The remaining 50 or so of us couldn’t get on those nice big luxurious buses so we just waited our turn to grab a taxi. My next dilemma was that most taxis would take no more luggage than what would fit into their trunks. I of course had my bike packed in a box which no way would fit into a European taxis trunk. Thru my terrible French language skills I negotiated with one for a ride into the city for an extra charge. We strapped the box on the trunk and he charged me for an extra person. What a deal.

I never had an attitude toward the French and what was supposed to be their attitude towards Americans. It did seem that all this was way too complicated. I had just landed in Europe and my budget of $25 for the first day was blown in 10mins.

The taxi ride into the city was longer than expected I kept wondering if we were taking the long way. I kept asking and the driver acted like he didn’t understand, something about he kept smiling made me nervous. I tried to explain my desire to find an inexpensive hotel, I was really nervous about staying in Paris. Like New York hotels can be very pricey. My original plan was to fly into Paris arriving in the morning and leave the same day by train to the Riviera. Hotel and the word inexpensive do not go together in Paris or New York. All my plans were a thing of the past, my objective was to make it to Southern France for the race.

The taxis finally stopped and he helped me unload all my gear which was a backpack and a bicycle packed in a box. I was amazed at how active the streets were around where we were for 200am, the hotel was pretty run down and I had no idea what part of Paris I was in. I went inside and got a room which of course was on the fifth floor and no elevator. There was a fairly attractive woman sitting in the lobby which surprised me at this hour. She spoke to me which I had no idea what she said but I thought was very nice. Later I learned that I was actually in the red light district and the woman was a prostitute that worked for the hotel.

I did not sleep well that night I kept thinking about how to get to the train station and making all the connections I needed to. I will never forget early in the morning lying in bed listening to the French garbage men shouting at each other. It all got me at that moment, all the sudden I felt like I was on another planet. I was in a place where people were speaking another language and how was I to communicate. Just one of those feelings where you feel lost and a little scared for a moment.

I got up early to get my bearings so I headed down to a café. Somehow the taxi driver did me right I was close to a train station and most importantly the Gare de Lyon. This was where I needed to be to head south to Nice. The train ride to the Riviera was a long one. Thirteen hours so my plan was to book a couchet so I could sleep on the train. The train left at eight pm so I would arrive in Nice around eleven am. The train went thru Lyon hence the name of the station; it made stops in Marseille and Toulouse.


Having to be out of my room by ten presented a problem. Traveling with a bicycle is hard to describe especially when it’s packed in a box. I couldn’t unpack anything because I was not at my destination and I had gear and equipment strategically placed in the box. It’s very awkward to carry around and taxis don’t want to deal with them. I walked thru busy Paris streets for what seemed like a mile or two with my backpack on carrying the bike box. I spent most of the day in the train station, waiting for my departure time of eight pm. The fantasy all day was just to get on that train to the Riviera, I felt like once on the train I could relax somewhat and hopefully get some sleep.

When it became time to depart I learned that I had to check my bike box in the baggage car. I tried to bring it into my cabin but at the point of being thrown off the train, I checked it. One of the warnings that I had read was when traveling in Europe always try to carry everything on with you and do not let them check your baggage. On trains that have many passengers or heavily traveled routes, the baggage is transported on a separate baggage train. Which means your baggage notoriously doesn’t arrive when you do.

I made it to my cabin which was shared with a French family. I got the top bunk and got under the blanket and closed the curtains. That was the best night sleep I had in days. When the train stopped in Marseille it woke me up and I looked out the window. It was so beautiful I had never seen anything quite like what I was seeing. The train was perched on a hillside overlooking Mediterranean the blue green waters were incredible. On the other side of the train were the Maritime Alps. The sun was out, now this was more like it.
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I will post more later from travel and racing, below are photos and notes.
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I always tell people if I had to imagine what Heaven is like it has to be like the French Riviera. Its absolutely breathtaking, something about the mountains, the Bay of Angels, the blue green ever so clear mediterraian, fruit trees, weather,architecture and of course the smell.


Nice is the hub of the Riviera and The Negresco is the center of the whole thing. It is one of the most famous hotels in the world and is know for its pink dome. I took the picture above with my twin reflex. I scanned it from a glossy copy so it has some distortion. The Promenade des Anglais runs in front of the Negresco, you can sit on a bench or in a cafe and watch the people while sipping campari or an espresso with a lemon peel.

I originally stayed at Les Cigales, which is a nice hotel two blocks off from the beach. On the Riviera prices are so steep along the promenade, you go in a few blocks inland and stay for $35 a night. Cigales was one of those and very convient to the race start and le plage.


In my later races I stayed at La Bagatelle, which is on Cap Ferat. It is about 10 miles from central Nice but is just incredible. The hotel is half way between Nice and Monte Carlo and inexpensive. It is owned by a German woman who has some interesting rules. One is a daily manditory cocktail hour for all guests. She likes for all guests to visit and it was fun. You have to attend if you stay at the hotel and she serves her homemade madarin orange wine. It was more like a liquer so it burnson the way down but is so good. The trees that she makes the wine from are on the property. I definitely got softer the last few years I did the race.


The view from my room at Bagatelle. A couple of miles down the road is Eze, the ancient mountain top village where the Paris-Nice time trial finishes. Also the Madone is close where Lance did his preparations every year for the Tour.

Who is this guy? I know every crack in the road on the Promenade des Anglais. A 20+ mile run in Heaven! The City shuts down for sporting events, citizens of Nice lined the road for the whole course.

Is that a pink De Rosa? On the descent from Gillette. The bike course has a 10 mile descent back thru a valley into Nice. It was spectacular but painful.

This has been some rambling filler for the blog now its time to start focusing on the Tour de Cullman 2009.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Tour Preparations



I love the Dakota Building...its architechture and history. I took this picture early in the morning with a twin reflex.

This is not about the Tour de Cullman other than the date will likely be the last weekend in October. I am a true believer in preparations, if you prepare properly you have nothing to complain about race day. Do your homework no matter how you finish you can say you did everything you could to prepare. I love the equation that's involved in any event that brings you success. To me its a combination of psychology and physiology. It’s all about confidence.

I was very fortunate a few years ago in my preparations for the World Triathlon Championships to spend significant time before the races in France to train on the actual routes and get acclimated to the climate and time changes. The first year I was not so fortunate. I had been racing successfully as an amateur and thought it was time to test myself internationally. Early in the sport of triathlons Europe began to offer the best races not only for prize money but also prestige. I think with their history of bike racing the sport there brought sponsorship and support that was not in the United States. The first true world championships took place in Nice, France, which quickly became the richest race and the most prestigious.

The race took place in early October and I had qualified during the summer. The plan was to travel over to France with a quick stop in New York. Some very creative promoters dreamed up a great race the weekend before in New York City. The swimming from the Statue of Liberty, cycling around Manhattan and running through central park. It was immediately sold to TV and became a big money race for the pros. The race ranks up there on the memories list, a huge race broadcast on NBC billed as The New York City Triathlon. I thought I had made the big time.

For the swim start we were ferried out to the Statue of Liberty and the course was to cross the Hudson River to Battery Park. It was two miles into the dark waters to our bikes, only a huge 25' red balloon to guide us to the landing. I will never forget passing through a "soft spot" in the water during the swim. Later a native who told me no one swims in the Hudson river said I really didn't want to know what that was, glad I was in the zone because I hit several spots during the swim. The swim went well and I came out of the water in the lead pack with a great 2 mile time.

On the bike we rode down the West Side Highway to the George Washington Bridge and made a loop through Manhattan. It was incredible to ride in the city with the traffic stopped for the race. We biked in to Central park and ran around the park for a 7 mile run. The race ended at Tavern on the Green. There were thousands there at the finish and although I had a total meltdown on the run I finished a respectable time and a place I won’t mention.

I was totally baked and beaten. All that was in the back of my mind was my flight to Europe the next day and the race one week away in the Maritime Alps. I hobbled over to the refreshment tent and unfortunately ran into a couple of female pros that I should have been hiding from. You make friends on the race circuit along the way, seeing each other at races and sharing the fun. I forgot I made a promise to these two that I would go out dancing with them after the NYC race.

I was known for my sleeping habits before and after races, I caught a lot of grief because I would be the first in bed the night before an event and then after a race I wanted to just go back to the hotel and lay in front of the air conditioner and recline.

I won’t name any names but the fun began at the post race party and we all had a great time. After several beers I was informed that I needed to shower because we were heading out on the town. I think my flight to Paris was leaving at 900am the next morning. What was that dance place called? The Odeon...they had done their research, it was a happening place and it didn't get really going till midnight. I felt like I had knives in my legs. Every time I mentioned that I really needed to turn in because I was leaving early in the morning another drink mysteriously showed up.

Somehow that night I made it back to my hotel. Race days were always long days, typically you got up at 400am the race started at 700am you raced all day maybe got a nap in and partied that night, it was a tough weekend. In the back of my mind I kept telling myself I could sleep on the plane that actually being tired would help me sleep for the 8 hour flight. I would like to say I got in bed early but I don't know I think I got 30mins sleep to get up and leave by 600am to make my flight.

The real fun began on Sunday when I was supposed to leave via JFK and my flight was delayed. Nothing like the security today but on international flights you had to be early. I was on the plane and after sitting for what seemed all day we were informed that our flight was cancelled because of mechanical issues. The passengers were told that we would be deplaning and taken by bus back into the city and staying at the luxurious George Washington Hotel.

I don’t even remember where the hotel is or was but it was interesting to say the least. I was so exhausted and I remember checking in and falling asleep only to be awakened by the fire alarm. Monday morning I was standing on the sidewalk at 3:00 am wondering about my race and if I might actually make it to France.

To be continued...


I did make it to the race. Some illegal pacing going on behind me in Nice, France. This was my first World Championships. I learned so much on how to prepare.

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Badger and the Cannibal

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What does Eddy Merckx and Tom Oliver have in common? They both climbed Mount Ventoux...We write so much about Tom's son Austin who just happens to be racing at the Nationals this weekend for Juniors, what about his dad?

Tom wore his Cullman Cycling kit with honor as he crossed the summit of Mount Ventoux. He was in France part of the Trek Tour de France Experience, from what I understand the riders ride the stages before the actual Tour de France professional race. What a great concept and I am sure experience.
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Sometimes we forget about who's behind the scenes working hard making things work for someone else (Austin's dad) my hats off to Tom Oliver....Job well done!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

De Rosa Project

A few years ago when I first got into bicycle racing I began searching for the ultimate road racing frame set. My mentor Jacques told me that whenever in Europe I must go see the "House of De Rosa". Ugo De Rosa had hand built bicycles for Eddy Merckx and was considered the master and a true artist of hand built bicycles.

I was traveling on a cycling/camping trip in Europe soon after and I ventured to the House of De Rosa in outside Milan, Italy. What was interesting at the time, De Rosa was still working out of their original factory which was located at their farm outside Milan. As usual I was totally lost when I got to Milan and after a day of wrangling with Italian, English and French I found the proper road to their home and shop. The thing I will never forget was wandering through the country side and seeing pink roses beautifully painted on a mail box and post. That's when I knew I had reached my destination. The De Rosa family lived on a small farm north of Milan and their shop was actually in a converted barn behind the main house.

On another post I will get deeper in to DeRosa, but I was amazed how easy it was to just walk into their factory and home. Much of what Jacques educated me on started making sense about their passion of building bicycles. The whole family was involved in every aspect of the company. They lived, breathed, ate, drank, building the finest handbuilt bicycles. They were great hosts and welcomed me like I was the most important person to come visit them. Ugo's son Christano spoke good English and explained how they loved seeing cyclists and especially Americans, and rarely did they have visitors which amazed me.

Ugo did most of the talking with Christano translating. He educated me on the differences of their frames, never knocking a competitor but just stating why they did certain things. An example was the use of nickel versus brass on brazing. De Rosas are known for their smooth welds and perfect lines. Each bike is inspected by Ugo himself before it leaves the factory.

The whole experience was incredible and one of those things in life which cost nothing but you were educated and experienced something that you could not put a price tag on. Of course I left the factory with my wallet a little lighter. I was measured and had a custom De Rosa Professional built. With their building to such perfection they were of course six weeks behind on building frames, so my frame arrived in the USA two months after my visit.

Below are some before and after pictures of a De Rosa I am currently restoring. The bike originally was a green and white two tone which was common for the bikes, I decided to paint it Molteni orange like the Merckx frames. I am going to restore it with Campagnolo Super Record which would be the correct vintage for the age of the frame. We are fortunate to have a great painter here in town who did a fantastic job. I bought the decals and he did a great job of clear coating them after painting the frame.


The before shot showing the fading green and white, not bad considering the frame is 20 years old. The tubing is Columbus steel, but not SLX. Many of the bikes of that vintage were SL/SP combination which provided superior strength to weight ratio.

The after shot, sporting Molteni orange and vintage decals. The frame spaced 126mm which identifies the age and the fact it was built for probably 6 speed. Note the "Beefy T" fork a De Rosa design trademark.


I will try to post some pictures as the bike comes together. I am trying to keep it as vintage correct as possible.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Skyball (X3)

Memorial Day in the blistering humid heat, nine bikers set out for a triple assault on Skyball Mountain. There were several rides done locally but most of the local cycling scene decided to stay away from this ride.

The tempo from the go was a little fast thanks to Austin, who's in the middle of training block preparing for a stage race next weekend. James Hall and Chris Rossi fell right in with Austin so for the rest of us it was going to be a long day.


We rode down Highway 31, and turned on "Racehorse Johnson Parkway" one of the most beautiful roads to cycle on in Alabama. RJP heads toward Skyball Mountain and is the road used in the Tour de Cullman. The road unfortunately rolls up.

We turned off RJP and began the first climb up the mountain. The road just seems to go up into the sky and actually is one of the steeper grades on the mountain. We all survived that pretty well and of course Austin and James disappeared over the horizon.

Recovering from the first climb, the second part of the ascent which is about a mile straight up takes you over the mountain and down the back side into the town of Nectar. With one climb of Skyball done its time to do the second assault.

From Nectar we back tracked to Joy road and began the second ascent of Skyball using the now famous climb used in the Tour de Cullman. I think we all felt this climb and had some nice thigh busting action as we ascended over the twisting one lane road that gets harder as you get closer to the top. This version of the climb is the longest which is 4 miles.

Just when we were all about pop you somehow make it to the top for the completion of the second ascent. We then back tracked and reversed back down the mountain to begin the final climb, number 3. We reversed what we had just done and climbed back up the mountain on the back side.

This was the roughest part of the whole day and the climb went slowly. I was struggling but moving forward and for some nice motivation, could hear the rumble in the background of some violent weather on the way.We all made it to the top for the third time and regrouped for our ride back to Hanceville. I think for everyone it was a lot of fun but also some really brutal climbing and a great challenge.

The photo above shows Billy Faulk in the CCC kit, he was very generous and not only did the ride but provided support and refreshments on top of Skyball.

We reversed our ride out and returned on RJP and Highway 31. About the time we hit Garden City it started pouring down rain and lightning. The only thing close to enjoyable was the 40 mph tail wind we had as we hammered up 31. It got a little more fun with the bolts of lightning were hitting all around and you could see about 6 inches in front yourself.


Mr. Faulk showed his generosity again by providing us with some nice refreshments and a cookout at his house in town.


Some decals were made for the survivors of the epic ride. There will be a few more that attempt and survive the triple assault so we have a badge waiting for them.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Skyball Triple Assault: A Mans Ride

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Eddy wont be with us Monday but it will probably be a similar effort to chasing the King over 80K of mountain passes or bergs laden with pave.

We are riding from Wallace State (front parking lot) at 2:00. Hopefully we will have a few surprises and some refreshments on top when we finished. Going to be fun!

Eddy the phantom blogger could be there since no one knows who he is.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Club des Cingles du Mont-Skyball

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There have been many ascents of this fabled mountain as we now approach 15 Tours de Cullman. Never have we indulged in the personal suffering that precedes acceptance into the elite club of climbing Mt. Skyball three times in one day...until now. This Memorial Day we thought we’d better get some cyclists from the "team" into a rather exclusive club of climbers.

The Club for Crazies

Our new club will be modeled similar to the one of Mont Ventoux. There are many similarities between the two mountains such as the three approaches to the summit. Great races have been won and lost on the slopes of the Skyball just like Ventoux.

The Club des Cinglés du Mont-Ventoux, to use its French title, was started in 1988 by Christian Pic and has over 2,100 members: just over half are French, followed by Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy and the US. Joining the club is simple: climb to the summit of Mont Ventoux three times in one day, once by each of its three access roads.

On paper the membership route looks tough. It’s not the 100 kilometres that’s the problem – it’s the fact that half of this is climbing. The classic route from Chamblees Mill is 21 kilometres at an average of 7.5%, from Nectar the same, and the third ascent is 26 kilometres at a merciful 4.7%. Skyball is 1,912 at its summit and the vertical distance for each route is 1,610, 1,570 and 1,220 respectively for a total of 4,400 of climbing over 68 kilometres. Cinglé in French means ‘crazy’ and has the synonym fou, ‘mad’. The Club des Cinglés du Mont-Skyball is literally a club for mad crazies.

2010? Next year we can take it to the next level of the club and do three plus a fourth ascent utilizing an unpaved logging road, and get a pin to wear on your jersey. Maybe we will do like Ventoux and some crazy can try to set a 24 hour record for attempts.

More details soon.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Cullman Cycling

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Since the last post I thought I better get back to cycling. For some reason when you post a picture of a female and mix in cycling I have to delete a bunch of comments posted by readers. Its all fun, sometimes you wonder what the Blog is about anyway.

I selected a few pictures from the past week or two.


This picture is called "Pain Locker"...for obvious reasons. It was taken at the Cullman Spring Classic with Austin and Country Al laying down the law. I wondered if CA would really work for Austin or if it came down to it he would drop the hammer on his own team mate.

You know we like to poke at SuperDave but I have to admit hes been riding better than I have ever seen him. I would like to say he was sucking some wheel etc., but it more accurate to say he was hammering with two very strong riders. Even though they were dropped from the lead group they blew away what was left of the peleton. The white jersey is James Hall of Team Smith Lock who had a team mate in the break and in the CSC kit ubermaster Chris Rossi.

One of our road marshalls was none other than Bill St. John. Pretty sweet ride! Bill hosts the CSC and as always, a very premier event.

The pictures below are from a training ride we did this past week. This goes back to how you meet the most interesting people through cycling. We had a couple of guests so where do you take them? Skyball Mountain. Hopefully these guys will be back for the Tour de Cullman this fall. They got a little primer this week.

Warren St. John was in from New York for a tour with his new book (somehow he escaped without me getting a signed copy). Chris Ullrich was in from California for the upcoming AMA SuperBike races at Barbers Motorsports Park. Both these guys ride very strong.

On the foothills of the famous climb. They didn't get to see it all but climbed to the top of Skyball Mountain.

Almost to the top enjoying the nice weather and calling for the team car. I think we lost a rider along the way.

Monday, April 27, 2009

European Update Please!

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Leading up to and during the Cullman Spring Classic this year one of the more mysterious and famous Cullman Cycling Blog readers was in Europe. I remember during the Classic commenting to a fellow rider about getting a text message from Paris. I was getting text messages wanting an update on how the race was shaping up and my current position.

Modern technology is amazing sometimes. I remember back in the early 80's following Paris-Roubaix or the Tour de France and there were no live feeds or anything resembling that. We would read results in USA Today or the NY Times two weeks after the race if we were lucky.

Now there is such a huge controversy from the old pros about "Race Radio", which there was never in the day. The best review I read recently was from an old pro and whether they should allow them in pro cycling. He said the use of them was 50% yes and 50%no. Strategy with them doesn't always seem fair but it seems overwhelmingly important to use them now because of safety.


"Give me an update....please!" Runonce trying to be patient at a Paris train station.
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Definitely a mistake to discuss cycling with an Italian. Seems to be a disagreement over a triple versus a compact crank set.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

"Country Al" Bashes 'Em Again!

The inferno was lit early, actually Friday night.

Nashville's "Country Al" scorched the field in a very strong showing represented by Cullman Cycling Club, SmithLock, MedPlan and Team BikeWorks. More details coming soon but the brief results were:
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1. Country Al Mittlesdorf
2. David Darden
3. Austin Oliver

The early selection was made consisting Darden, Spence, Country Al, Oliver and Overton

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Friday, April 10, 2009

Spring Classic Preview: The Hard Part

A week out to the 2009 Cullman Spring Classic, and the roads around Cullman and Blount Counties have been busy with cyclists. The photo below was emailed to me with an unknown rider who was seen on a stealth ride previewing the very technical new course. His kit said something about "Road Racing World" and "Los Angeles".


If Austin is working for another rider from Colorado who is this guy working for or who is working for him next Saturday? Rumor is Country Al will have his California team mates with their mandatory prerace meeting Friday night, What about Goldweber? What colors is he flying? Rossi? Philip Thompson is rumored to be bringing double trouble. Smith Lock will be in force but is this their tactic to finally put a guy on the podium? Or maybe is someone going to keep them off the podium. Smith Lock might be marking this unidentified rider while Austin rides his captain to the the summit of a wicked new climb? Maybe a BikeWorks drone launching an attack in the confusion on one of the dirt gravel roads....I doubt it. Will someone finally find their legs and bring it home for the locals?

Many questions only to be answered Saturday afternoon. Only the finest after the dust has cleared when the peloton and tifosi break bread in celebration of another Spring Classic.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Tuscaloosa Roadside: The Oliver Report

The 2009 Tour de Tuscaloosa, again being part of the Lance Armstrong Race Series, featured 50 junior riders which is the largest in the races history.


Cullmans own Austin Oliver made a fine showing finishing 2nd in the criterium getting pipped at the line by a half wheel and finishing 2nd in the road race but getting some payback for the crit.

To quote Dr. Tom Oliver:

"Frazier boys out of GA showed up in force and tactically set their guy up for the win but when Austin attacked on the final hill, Frank said he maintained over 500 watts for over a minute and easily dropped everyone he was with except the cat 3 that won. I have no idea what that wattage means, but apparently it’s pretty good according to Frank."

Next for Austin is the Spain Park Crit, then Barber Motor Sports Race. Down the road rumor is that the Boy Wonder will be riding as a super domestic for his Boulder based coach at the Cullman Spring Classic April 18th.

Austin is on a mission for his goal of qualifying for Nationals in Bend, Oregon in July.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Milan-San Remo

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It is the eve of one of the greatest traditional classics and spring season opener, Milan-San Remo. I just read that Lance Armstrong will be riding in this the 100th version, traditionally he has not done well...always in his preparations for a Tour de France.

My cycling mentor Jacques Emplaincourt once explained the different strategic points in the race where it was won or lost. Turchino, La Manie, Cipressa and the infamous Poggio. Eddy Merckx on every one of his seven victories made the same attack on the La Manie. Each one of these points in the race are small climbs compared to the passes of the Grand Tours but are raced at speeds exceeding 40 km/hr. Survival is making it to the Poggio and the run to the finish after the screws have been tightened on all the tests.

I was San Remo a few years ago and fortunate to ride the last 50k of the race course, I had heard so much about he Poggio and actually was disappointed until I thought about hitting It after 292 km of racing.

Below are a few pictures from our week of training in Cullman. There were several flats this week and a little night riding.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Austin Oliver and Chandler Mountain

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Cullman's Austin Oliver competed this past weekend at Sumatanga Training Race #3. What makes this race special is the treat of climbing to the top of Chandler Mountain after a 45 mile road race. Its mountain top finish is a brutal climb of close to two miles which ranks among North Alabama toughest.

The weather was perfect so this years race had a strong field of 65 riders. Austin made the selection only to see 15 guys make an attack on the last lap. He reeled in all but eight on the climb up Chandler Mountain. Very impressive for a 16 year old. The next stop for Austin will be the Tour de Tuscaloosa, March 28th and 29th.

Team BikeWork's "SuperDave" trying to absorb some wattage in Austin's wake.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Spring Training

The weather was here over the past couple of days, perfect for cycling. With the time changing to Daylight Savings Time its time to be back in the saddle. I think everyones in the same mode its time to put up the rollers and hit the roads. I rode with a couple of Madones Sunday on the Hanceville loop.

The "Tunnel" near Hanceville, Alabama.

Cayce and Mandy sporting their new Trek Madones.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Spring Classics

This post probably belongs on another blog. This is how I have been spending my off season in preparation for the Spring Classics. As you can probably tell from the video my wattage may warrant a new powermeter. I am optomistic that I will gain some form over the next couple of months, March has been traditionally my month to turn the corner on fitness.

I have learned alot about guitars. They are kinda like bicycles. You can pay alot for a bike or guitar but its all about the motor. Whether its Eddie Van Halen or Eddy Merckx they can ride or play anything and its still on top.


Not bad for eighth graders!

Friday, January 2, 2009

New Years Day Ride

Cullman Cycling Club had a great New Years ride lead by Billy Faulk. It was a little nippy but the sun came out so it ended up being a nice ride. We met at East Elementary and headed south into the headwind, we knew the ride home would be nice with a tailwind. Originally we intended to ride the "Most Beautiful" loop but decided to ride the "Carolina" loop which was a little better at dissecting the wind. The group ended up with 40 miles which was more than I think all of us intended for our first ride of the year. What a way to kick off the new year.

The leader of Cullman Cycling Club....Mr. Faulk

Sonja Robertson took time out from her Mercedes Marathon training to go ride with us New Years. She will be riding a new Specialized in 2009.
 

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