Again, It's Not About the Bike
? or how three amateur riders experienced the 2002 Tour de France
did the Aubisque in driving cold rain. He said it was difficult, but he thought the Dunk Rock Roadies could handle it. Then we saw a picture of the Aubisque in the June 2002 issue of Bicycling. The phones hummed on the evening the magazine was delivered. We all had our copies, but Bob said it for everyone, ? We?ve never done anything even close to this difficult, I don?t care what Peter says, we?re sunk.? Scared and motivated we went up to the ?quiet corner? of Connecticut to practice longer hills one weekend. Later, we went up to Vermont and did over 90 miles one day with lots of climbing in the Killington region. Clearly, we were improving, especially in our minds. We kept yelling at each other that we loved hills. Both Bob and Don confided to me that they weren?t so sure of their preparation. They needed more time in the saddle (TITS) Well, time was nearly gone. They?d have to get their TITS in Europe. But, I assured them we would stick together. I again reminded them what a good rider and good leader Peter was. We were going for a vacation, not a torture session. All for one and one for all, as earlier French musketeers used to say. Such as it was, the old guys were ready.
The successful ride over the Aubisque confirmed, if not our readiness, at least our dogged determination. We were not a group that would be put down easily, and certainly not quietly. The cry became, ?If we can do the Aubisque, why not the Tourmalet??
After a good night?s rest and an evening watching the Tour promotional booths being set up at a village square as we loaded up on more great French food and wine, we followed Peter?s lead the next morning to Trebons. We were seasoned now and saw this as just another standard issue, picturesque French village. It happened to be 20 kilometers from the base of the Tourmalet that made it the perfect launch site for our attack of the next stage. We all felt the effects from yesterday but got pumped as we retold stories of our stellar efforts. We were clearly all relieved that nobody had collapsed or embarrassed himself. Peter had calculated that the best vantage place for this key day of the race was going to be 4-6 km below the summit of La Mongie. As we slipped on our shoes and topped off air in our tires, Hervey had the only mechanical problem of our entire 8 days--he flatted right in the gravel parking lot. Ten minutes later, we were off in the gathering throng of riders headed up the valley. We stopped and grabbed some fresh baguettes and sweets in a local boulangerie. Today, we were so confident we even grabbed two bottles of wine and slipped them into our