It's Only a Bike Race -

How Hard Can It Be?

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Winner of New Book Awards Prize!


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The Awards Judge Organization proudly announces the

Winners of the First Annual 2015-16


Los Angeles, CA—The Awards Judge Organization has announced the Winners of the First Annual NEW BOOK AWARDS.   The New Book Awards were created to boost recognition for outstanding literary achievement filtered out of a wide spectrum of America’s diverse literary community.  One purpose of the awards is to bring attention to independent and self-published works that might otherwise go unnoticed.  The New Book Award winners range from well-known and established writers to aspiring authors and first works. There are no quotas for diversity; the winners list simply reflects the quality chosen through a natural selection process.

The Awards Judge Organization (AJO) is a national independent product review & ratings commission.

The full text of the press release announcing the list of award winners including "It's Only A Bike Race" can be found at

Le Tour de France - A Vacation On Wheels?

Riding a bicycle around France during July sounds like an idyllic way to spend a few weeks during the summer. Visiting different regions of the country while on a leisurely ride through vineyards and sunflower fields seems like a fun pastime in which all French gentlemen should aspire to partake at least once during their lifetime. Just to add a little adventure and interest to the two-wheeled vacation, there would be a small prize for the first man to return to Paris. …. This was the ill-informed overall impression of the Tour de France that the author had gained during five years of studying French at high school on the other side of the world.

Some twenty years later when he was able to make his long-awaited first trip to France, he began to discover that his pre-conceived notions of the event were removed from reality by a large distance - over 3,000 kilometers to be exact. Having realized the extent of his original misperceptions about the Tour de France, the author was eager to discover whether it was still possible to enjoy the Tour de France in the way he had visualized it as a youngster. Substituting a campervan for a bicycle, he decided to follow the Tour de France for three weeks with the aim of enjoying the race while simultaneously taking in the sights, sounds and tastes of France. This book tells the story of his quest.

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Maybe It's Harder Than It Looks?

July 18, 2014

During the rest day of Le Tour, we moved further south to a lovely campground in the lower Alps in a picturesque setting overlooking a river and lake to the mountain beyond. Driving to and from the race for the next few days would involve driving along the edge of spectacular river gorges some 500 feet deep in places. Such drives would not help my wife’s nerves but at least the weather was now fine and warm.

Much to the disappointment of the home crowd, the French rider Tony Gallopin had been unable to retain the yellow jersey on Bastille Day and dropped back several places. The French press had expected fireworks on that day’s Stage and the front page of the sports newspaper L’Equipe managed to stretch the over-used metaphor one last time as it screamed with the giant headline “What Fireworks!” More details had emerged of the events surrounding the forced withdrawal from the race of leading contender Alberto Contador on the day of the fireworks. It seems that he fell on a turn in a downhill descent in the rain, gashed his right knee and had pain just below the knee. While his team-mates waited, the trainers strapped up his knee, gave him a new bike and he rode on. 18km later (12 miles) during yet another climb he found that the pain had become too much, so he reluctantly withdrew from the race. X-rays later showed that he had ridden those 12km with a fracture of the tibia just below the knee.

We decided to watch Stage 11 finish today in Oyonnax. We parked near the finish line and went to the closest McDonald’s (which happened to be 50 meters from the finish line), mainly because I wanted to use their WiFi access. Along the way we saw a sign for another intriguing alternative that offered fried chicken and burgers, but alas no mention of WiFi. We arrived at McDonald’s just before 10am and thought we might as well have breakfast while we were there. However there was no breakfast menu at all, and the restaurant was staffed by only one server who moved very slowly and seemed totally uninterested in her work and in serving customers. There was a total of 4 customers in the restaurant, including us, yet we waited more than five minutes for a cheeseburger and McWrap. We asked for creamer for our coffee but the server told us that coffee creamer is not among the range of available accompaniments.

At the finish line of the race, several semitrailers had been transformed into two story viewing and hospitality pavilions. Loud music was playing, people had brought chairs and were starting to line up along the route five hours before the riders were due to arrive. After a while we went back to McDonald’s for a cold drink, having become hot in the nice weather that is so different to what we have encountered for the past 10 days. There were more customers and staff than we had seen earlier but we soon found that a medium diet coke cost US$3.00, about twice the price of the same item in Texas. While savoring every sip of our drink, we heard some American accents nearby. On looking around we saw a group of about 10 American college students from Tufts University who are studying at a satellite campus near Annecy for several weeks. They were happily eating burgers and fries but I should have thought to tell them about Chicky World for their next meal.  At the very least it would have been a good story to tell their friends back home, or better still their parents who would surely be thrilled to think that their hard-earned funds were being sensibly spent.

We returned to our van to rest for a while and when we came back to the finish area at 2.30pm we found the crowd had grown to become 3-4 deep along the last 400 meters of the race route – with three hours still remaining before the riders were due to arrive. We settled in to watch the race on a big screen set up at 150 meters before the finish. The atmosphere was a park-like setting with trees and grass, groups and families sitting on rugs and folding chairs. Vendor booths were sprinkled in between, more densely closer to finish line.

A short while later we saw that the team leader from the Garmin team (American rider Andrew Talansky) had dropped behind the main bunch of riders and was progressively falling further behind. Finally with 55km (35 miles) remaining in the Stage he got off his bike and was guided by a trainer to walk over to a guard rail where he sat down, looking exhausted. There were two more mountains to climb but he looked spent and it was clear that he would have to drop out of the race. But a few minutes later to everyone’s surprise, he got back on his bike and rode on. He looked very emotional and it seemed that he would go on for a few more kilometers before giving in to the inevitable. At this point he was already nearly 20 minutes behind the leaders.  The TV cameras followed him on and off as he battled on.  

Meanwhile attention turned to the Frenchman Tony Gallopin who once again lived up to his name and galloped to the lead with some distance to go, eventually winning the stage to the delight of the crowd. While we were waiting to watch the presentations, a group of five local dignitaries lined up on each side of the official stage. The announcer introduced them all twice while we waited, just to make sure we didn’t forget just who was who. During the presentations for the winner of Stage 11, the Yellow, Green, White, Polka Dot jerseys and the award for the most combative rider of the day, some straggling groups of riders arrived. After the presentations were finally over, the announcer encouraged the crowd to wait for the American Andrew Talansky and cheer his courageous effort. A few minutes later he finally arrived, 30 minutes behind the winner, greeted by loud cheers from the crowd that appreciated the courage he had displayed. The press reported the next day that he hadn’t want to give up because of his team mates, his trainers and the Garmin supporters.  

After hearing and seeing the efforts made by Contador and Talansky, I’m starting to wonder if this whole bike race might be harder than it looks?

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