Could You Hang?

12.21.2005 | 5:54 pm

I’m convinced that any cyclist who watches the Tour de France has wondered what it would be like to actually ride in the Tour. No, I don’t mean ride the route in one of those tour packages. I mean to actually ride in the Tour de France.
I’ve narrowed that question a little: If, somehow, I were magically allowed to ride in the Tour de France, could I hang for just one day? If I got to pick a nice flat stage, and trained my heart out for that one day, could I stay with the peloton?
I like to imagine that I could, just for one day, ride with the pros — as long as I didn’t have to pull. But I’ve got to be honest: I think I’d cause a wreck, or I’d get spat out the back. And I’d dwell on my failure for the rest of my life, watching the video of me taking out half the field over and over and over.
And over.
I’ve asked other cyclists this same question. Racer says he thinks he could. I’ll bet Racer’s brother Chucky could, too. Most other cyclists are like me: they like to hope they could, but sort of doubt it.
The Fabulous Banjo Brothers Weekly Giveaway Question
So, today’s question is obvious: do you think — if you had all year to train for it — you could hang with the pro peloton in the TdF for one day? Why or why not?
The most interesting answer earns either a messenger bag, rack-top bag, or panniers — your choice.


  1. Comment by Donald | 12.21.2005 | 6:16 pm

    If i could find a way to get towed by the camera motercycles, maybe. Hmmmm, or i could just get everyone tangeled up at the start. Other than that, no way i could hang. Id get dropped faster than a hyperdemic needle in the Manhattan river.

  2. Comment by Unknown | 12.21.2005 | 6:37 pm

    if by year, you mean light year to train,maybe.if by day, you mean 30 kilometers, sure. why not.( i don’t mean the time trial)

  3. Comment by Unknown | 12.21.2005 | 6:51 pm

    Back when I was under 30, I’m sure I could have stayed in the pack, but now, I just to frig’in old. The mind is willing, but the body ain’t. But then maybe a pro-sized dose of EPO…..Boz

  4. Comment by Unknown | 12.21.2005 | 7:05 pm

    i could hang. cuz you know. cycling is 90 percent mental. the other half is physical.

  5. Comment by Unknown | 12.21.2005 | 7:05 pm

    There’s no way I could hang. Those guys are fast.

  6. Comment by Loes | 12.21.2005 | 7:06 pm

    Their average on a flat stage is higher than my maximum, I can’t ride in groups, I’m 16, I’m a girl. I would never be able to keep up with them for so long and I don’t think a year of training would change that, a few minutes would probably already be to much. But I would really want to try though.

  7. Comment by Unknown | 12.21.2005 | 7:08 pm

    One word – Prologue.

  8. Comment by Unknown | 12.21.2005 | 7:09 pm

    One word – Prologue.

  9. Comment by Unknown | 12.21.2005 | 7:18 pm

    Two days after climbing Mt. Ventoux (2 hrs 7 min – Iban Mayo’s record is safe for now…) I stood by the side of the road twenty miles into the days stage and watched Axel go for some third category points on the really minor Cote d’Alreyac followed immediately by the peloton, and no. Elbow to elbow, wheel to wheel those guys go faster up hill than I go on the flat. It was inhuman.We rode back down to where the car was parked, took a nap, poked around inthe town market before camping in front of the TV in a bar to see Lance take the stage at Villard de Lans. It felt like another day, but they were still riding.One day STPs notwithstanding, No. I couldn’t hang.

  10. Comment by Unknown | 12.21.2005 | 7:22 pm

    If I trained really hard, could I hang with the peleton on a nice flat stage – like Stage 2 of the 2005 Tour, Challans – Les Essarts, 181.5 km? I It finished in 4:08, or 4.13 hours. The route was about 113 miles. So the average speed was 113/4.13 = 27.3 MPH. That seems almost do-able, if riding was a full time job and Johann Bruyneel lived in my house and kept me out of the cookies. I sometimes ride on Kent Island MD (pancake flat, no traffic) with friends and we can average 23-24 MPH for 90 minutes or more with moderate strenuous effort (a 7/10ths perceived exertion) as long as it’s not windy and we keep in a disciplined paceline. But wind resistance increases with the square of velocity, and every little bit of speed increase over about 21 or 22 mph seems to make it *much* tougher. And you can only hang at the front for about 30 seconds to one minute before the effort starts to make your legs burn. The problem isn’t the average speed, it’s the speed the peleton applied to reel in a 4.5 minute breakaway between 100k and 6k, scrubbing off two minutes between 100 and 37k; then eliminating the breakaway by kilometer 6. How fast did the peleton go to eliminate the break? A paceline leaves Brugge traveling at 30 MPH. Dr. Ferrara leaves Den Hagge going 60. At what time does Heras get his EPO? The pack probably went 2-3 MPH faster than the average to reel in the breakaway. Or perhaps it hung steady and the breakaway faded, an indicator of how tought it is to maintain that pace. Regardless… So could I hang with this peleton with a lot of training? Probably not. If it shook out like this year’s Vuelta did, with a lot of relatively breakaway-free days, maybe I would have the slenderest of outside chances, but to quote my spiritual advisor, “Outlook Not So Good.” On a normal day at the Tour with a long breakaway and an extended effort to reel in the leaders, no freakin’ way, not a snowball’s chance.

  11. Comment by Andrew | 12.21.2005 | 7:28 pm

    There’s no way I could hang, and I’m telling you why: my Schwinn has a banana seat, mine is broken, and they are harder than the dickens to replace.

  12. Comment by Unknown | 12.21.2005 | 7:41 pm

    I think I could hang with two caveats (as well as the year’s worth of training).1) I had a couple of million bucks2) I could convince Ullrich, for a couple million bucks, to attach a fishing line from his seat post to my tube. I’m pretty light. I think the Kaiser could pull me along at 30 MPH and not even notice.

  13. Comment by Unknown | 12.21.2005 | 7:42 pm

    I have always been a dreamer. Isn’t that a line from a song? Or maybe I am more like Zelig, the human chameleon, a character from a Woody Allen movie…….a delusional client of a psychotherapist who literally became whatever person or characters he was surrounded by.My budding tennis career began in junior high on the cement courts of the local park. I immersed myself in tennis culture. Short pleated skirts, socks with dingleballs at the ankle, swanky gear bags stuffed with more than one racquet. I wasn’t just a poser – Iwas actually a decent competitive player. As I whacked at tennis balls, I dreamt of playing on Centre Court at Wimbledon. OBVIOUSLY prone to an overactive imagination, I envisioned every detail: the throngs of adoring fans who greeted me at Heathrow, the polite children asking for my autograph as I drank high tea, and the pack of paparazzi following me through the food halls of Harrods. Oh yes, let’s not forget the outstanding play and the winner’s cup. I haven’t picked up a racquet in years, but I can still picture my name on the Centre Court wall of fame………I turned to running. As I slog through the streets of my central California home town, I dream of running on Boylston Street. I bob my head like Paula Radcliff, and even dream of dropping Meb Keflezghi (ahem, silver medalist at the Athens Olympics). I wear my hair in a bun, like Catherine (The Great) Ndereba, and dream of running in a pack of folks who run nearly twice as fast as I do. Sigh…..And as I ZOOM on the local bike trail, past the old ladies and gents out for their Sunday stroll, and the kids trying out a two-wheeler for the first time, all the while yelling “ON YOUR LEFT” to warn them that the first girl EVER allowed to ride in the Tour de France is about to cause the hairs on their neck to stand at attention due to my speed and form……….well, yes, Fatty, I do believe I could hang with the big boys for just one day. In my dreams…………..

  14. Comment by Yokota Fritz | 12.21.2005 | 7:43 pm

    Obviously, anybody posting because he needs a messenger bag, trunk, or pannier isn’t gonna hang with the peloton. But because it’s not about the bike and I’m such a perfect specimen of cyclist physique, I should be able to keep up fine with my 45 pound garage sale clunker. Right?

  15. Comment by Unknown | 12.21.2005 | 7:44 pm

    I could hang if they let me ride a tandem.

  16. Comment by Unknown | 12.21.2005 | 8:11 pm

    I couldn’t do it today, but when I was in racing shape back in 1978 I think I might have. In those days I could ride full speed in a racing pack and feel like I was just loafing. I once got into a breakaway with some guys from the U.S. National Team. You can see pictures here:

  17. Comment by Unknown | 12.21.2005 | 8:20 pm

    No way would I keep up. The distance and the speed are way too high. In my younger days, I rode occasionally with the Birkenhead North Road Club. A young Chris Boardman was often out on the club runs. The fast guys would do 100-120 miles into Wales. I could hang on til Two Mills Cafe, about 20 miles, then pick them up on the way back.When Chris Boardman joined the european pro peleton, the three things he commented on were the speed, the distances and the closeness everyone rode. I can ride close with a couple of guys I go out regularly with. I could not ride at the same spacing in a group of nearly 200.Tim

  18. Comment by Juliet | 12.21.2005 | 8:22 pm

    Fatty, dear,I don’t I could keep up with you. Does that answer your question?

  19. Comment by Richard | 12.21.2005 | 8:25 pm

    Could you hang? First you have to know what it’s like out there. First, the average speed means nothing. A race could go out like a firecracker and the speed stays high all the way, and this is easy: just stay in the draft. Or, a race can poke along while a break races away and gets 15-minutes, then the bunch speeds up for the last two hours. Second, even the flat stages are pretty hilly, yes, small ring hilly. Third, there’s wind: a head wind would make it easy, a tail wind would make it excruciatingly hard, a cross wind…abandon all hope.Typically, for a sprinter’s stage the bunch ambles along easily for several hours, and then in the last hour or two, depending on what’s going on, the pace picks up dramatically, from 20mph to 35mph, the speed constantly dipping and surging. In the final couple of Kms, count on 35+mph, knuckle to knuckle on skinny, bumpy streets. Then you have to blindly follow the wheel in front of you as the bunch swerves around traffic circles and other obsticals. If you even imagine you’re up front, expect sprinters and other opportunists without lead-out trains to bounce off everyone in their way trying to get in position.There’s far more to it than just pedaling, you have to stay on the bike as well.

  20. Comment by Richard | 12.21.2005 | 8:26 pm

    Could you hang? First you have to know what it’s like out there. First, the average speed means nothing. A race could go out like a firecracker and the speed stays high all the way, and this is easy: just stay in the draft. Or, a race can poke along while a break races away and gets 15-minutes, then the bunch speeds up for the last two hours. Second, even the flat stages are pretty hilly, yes, small ring hilly. Third, there’s wind: a head wind would make it easy, a tail wind would make it excruciatingly hard, a cross wind…abandon all hope.Typically, for a sprinter’s stage the bunch ambles along easily for several hours, and then in the last hour or two, depending on what’s going on, the pace picks up dramatically, from 20mph to 35mph, the speed constantly dipping and surging. In the final couple of Kms, count on 35+mph, knuckle to knuckle on skinny, bumpy streets. Then you have to blindly follow the wheel in front of you as the bunch swerves around traffic circles and other obsticals. If you even imagine you’re up front, expect sprinters and other opportunists without lead-out trains to bounce off everyone in their way trying to get in position.There’s far more to it than just pedaling, you have to stay on the bike as well.

  21. Comment by Unknown | 12.21.2005 | 8:40 pm

    i can see the t-shirts now…..i’m joe scmoe and i rode a stage of the tour de france and all i got was this crazy messenger bag.

  22. Comment by JPSOCAL | 12.21.2005 | 8:51 pm

    Well the quick and honest answer has to be "hell no". Not just "no"……..but "hell no". Does anybody remember the 2003 tour where Tyler Hamilton won an epic victory on the stage from Pau to Bayonne. It was a stage of 197.5 KM with 12000 ft of climbing. In 2003 that was the stage used for L’Etape Du Tour. Tyler won the stage in 4:59.41. The last palced man in the tour finished +45.48 or at about 5:46. The first placed rider in L’Etape was in at 6:17 or more than 30 minutes behind the last placed guy in the actual tour. The worst rider in the tour is better then anybody most of us have ever ridden with in our lives. Enough said.

  23. Comment by Unknown | 12.21.2005 | 9:03 pm

    Let’s see here – one day at the Tour on a relatively flat stage . . . Hmmmmm. I’m 41 years old, just had my third spine surgery last January, I’m packing an extra ten pounds of flab, drink at least two beers a day, am completly under trained, and I rarely keep a consistant ride schedule.Therefore my answer is: Sure, I could absolutely hang in there for one day.Now if you’ll excuse me I must get back to searching for that rambunxious dragon that’s been pestering us here at the enchanted castle.

  24. Comment by Zed | 12.21.2005 | 9:05 pm

    If I had all day to train for months on end? Maybe. I know someone who is rich enough that he doesn’t have to work much. He received an invitation to do Lotoja with two months to train. He took his recently-purchased $3,000 bike everywhere he went, rode it for every spare second he could find, and paid the entrance fee to the race. When the time for preparation ended, he didn’t just finish the race, he beat out the person who invited him (who started an hour earlier and had been training all year for the race).Then again, I’ve read that Lance’s VO2 max was at 65 AFTER chemotherapy. My VO2 max was 66 at the highest it’s ever been. Maybe a carbon-fiber bike, all the training time in the world and endless traffic-less road wouldn’t get me up to pace with their natural talent. That knowledge isn’t going to keep me out of the local time trial circuit or my favorite hill climb, and it won’t change the fact that I once beat out a whole field of amateurs. I mean heck, the Tour includes 5 or so Americans, and there are only what? 6,000 cyclists in the whole country? That means the odds of beating out Levi Leipheimer aren’t too bad.

  25. Comment by Unknown | 12.21.2005 | 9:07 pm

    No. Spandex makes me chafe.

  26. Comment by Zed | 12.21.2005 | 9:11 pm

    Oops, I meant 6,148.

  27. Comment by Meghan | 12.21.2005 | 9:29 pm

    Yes, of course, assuming I was born with a Y chromosome. Would it be insane to think that, with all the necessary training, approriate diet, support staff, team, etc, and of course motivation, that I could hang one stage with the peloton in the world’s greatest race? It would be my bet that Lance, Jan, Ivan, Greg, Tyler and the sorts were all asking themselves this same question. But for those that asked themselves that question and then got blown off the back in the first stage, well I would think that if that was me, well, darn, but to have been there and to have ridden with these amazingly gifted atheltes if for even a few minutes in the world’s greatest race, well that would be worth it. Not to mention the amazing countryside that one would get to enjoy……………at least when getting blown off the back and being able to enjoy the race from the sidelines. Just give me the chance.

  28. Comment by Unknown | 12.21.2005 | 9:34 pm

    Let’s say I had the luxury to take a full year off and devote myself entirely to putting my body in the kind of shape necessary to perform such a feat and I could some how pull together enough inner strength and discipline not to eat the foods I enjoy so much and I do become lean, trim, agile, and a great specimen of a cyclist would I have a chance to stay with the peloton???? Not even in my wildest of dreams and although the list of reasons would be astounding the most obvious reason would be because I ride a recumbent, enough said.

  29. Comment by Tom Stormcrowe | 12.21.2005 | 9:41 pm

    I don’t know if I could or not, but I’d give it one hell of a try! I’ve gone from a wheelchair to a mountain bike in just a few months! Today I rode 22 miles of varying terrain, with 37 miles thus far this week! With another solid year to train, just possibly (NOT!)! If determination would do it, then yes, but as I said, I’d give it a hell of a shot, and they’d at least remember I was there, and not for comic relief! Remember, proportionally, in terms of performance, I’ve made HUGE strides, and I do intend to race next year and win! Not the peloton, but I intend to be competitive! Actually, to keep up, I’d have to strap a GE turbofan on my back, and then I’d run into load and fuel issues::GRIN:: Wait, maybe I could use those cans of "Big Air" as a rocket booster!

  30. Comment by tayfuryagci | 12.21.2005 | 9:42 pm

    I couldn’t hang. I’m fat.

  31. Comment by James | 12.21.2005 | 9:45 pm

    Could I hang? Absolutely not. Not with a year to train, or ten years, even if I could go back in time to my teens to start. The Tour peloton isn’t just a bunch of pros, it’s the product of a brutally selective pipeline. Start with thousands of talented racers who (as Dan Coyle pointed out) often are as much motivated by what they’re riding away from as their thirst for recognition. Weed out the ones who can’t stand the relentless travel and family separation that professional racing requires, or who figured out that maybe working fast food or telemarketing isn’t as bad as risking skin and collarbones and pelvis every time you rake into a wet corner with another hundred guys who need the prime to pay the rent. Forget about the ones who weren’t in the right place at the right time to pick up the sponsorship needed to develop into a professional, or who were ground down by the years of suffering required to develop the skills and fitness needed to ride and recover fast enough to withstand over 2000 miles of racing packed into three weeks. You’re left with the tour peloton, and I know I don’t belong.Could I hang? I don’t want to. I’m perfectly content to continue earning my keep by my chosen profession, and remaining a fan of professional racing. Maybe someday I’ll make it across the pond to see the big boys up close. Until them I’ll be happy with watching their tremendous achievements (drugs or no drugs) on TV, seeing my family just about every night, and pursuing my own comparatively meager riding goals on the local roads.

  32. Comment by Unknown | 12.21.2005 | 10:21 pm

    Oh, I could most deffinitely hang all right. Given a year to train, on a flat/downhill stage, a slight tail wind, two IV bags filled with a little plasma and some spun out red blood cells, the use of a barometric chamber, a daily testosterone/insulin/HG/adrenaline cocktail (with and EPO chaser), some of those amphetamine tablets they use to give the fighter pilots, a six pack of Red Bull dehydrated down to powder then reconstituded with a concoction of honey, coffee and MT Dew to wash them down with, six feet of copper tubing, a platinum rod exactly 1.3 meters long, two rolls of duct tape, onerolls of masking tape, 9 feet of twine, 6 feet of lock wire, night vision goggles, a grappling hook and 50 feet of bungee cord and I’d be kicking some spandex encased tail all up and down them Alps.

  33. Comment by Curtis | 12.21.2005 | 10:33 pm

    I wonder this all the time. Then I look down at my speedometer and realize I am only doing 20mph (averaging 18.5) and working my ass off. Could I hang? No way. Not with any amount of training. The guys I ride with already haul 50 lbs less than me and I often fall off the back of that group. Which is usually after they have pushed me to the front so they can draft in my wake. Kind of like a bunch of speed boats drafting a barge. They joke that two of them can easily draft side-by-side behind me.So what I am saying? I’m fat (which why I read your BLOG). I am physics in practice. I work like a dog to get to the top of hills, only to find my buddy’s waiting for me so they can begin to draft behind me again.The only way I could hang in a TDF stage is if the stage was all downhill, with a tailwind and the rest of the peloton were riding mtn bikes. Even then there is not guarantee I don’t become a casualty of one of those nasty tar patches and skid off the road into oblivion.

  34. Comment by Unknown | 12.21.2005 | 10:58 pm

    Yup. No doubt. I wouldn’t even have to train much in order to do it. My strategy? Why, I would merely choose the prologue, come in last, and hang with the peleton. I do not believe they eliminate anyone in the prologue, so I would be golden. Next day, I could hang with them until the edge of the town they started in, hop off, and call it good.

  35. Comment by rich | 12.22.2005 | 12:08 am

    Sure…and I could score on Shaq, hit off Roger Clemens, sprint with Tim Montgomery, and cover Jerry Rice like a glove. Its great living in the Matrix when you are the One.Most of us would love to make a living in the sporting world. So why do we pound keyboards instead? The gap between the genetic freaks and the rest of us is the Grand Canyon.Hershal Walker claimed he didn’t lift weights. He just did some push ups for training. How many of us could be as strong or as fast as Hershal even if we quit working and spent every moment at Golds Gym? Answer – none of us.On the bright side, however, I’m absolutely certain we are more intelligent than Mike Tyson.

  36. Comment by Quinn | 12.22.2005 | 12:32 am

    If I had a whole year to train I definately think I could…. I could hang for one whole day! I’d probably do quite well too… But then again…. I’d probably cheat! I know I know…. That’s not the way to do it or anything…. But hey, I could hang for one day that way!

  37. Comment by Jake | 12.22.2005 | 12:43 am

    Great question, I often wondered myself. Now I know. I rode the second half of the 2003 Tour de France with Bikestyle Tours, an Australian-based company specializing in the grand tours of Europe. We had 4 ex-TdF riders as guides: Neil Stevens, Alan Peiper, Patrick Jonker, and Michael Wilson ( The trip was well organized but best part was we could ride the course on the same day as the pros. Here are just two examples from that trip that answered my question: 1) The Col du Tourmalet. Stage 15 was one of biggest mountain stages in 2003. It was 160 km and featured the three famous climbs: Col d’ Aspin, Col du Tourmalet, and Luz-Ardiden. (The last climb was where the kid crashed Lance in front of Tyler, Jan, and Iban Mayo.) There was no time to ride all three in one day so we split the stage into two days. I had ridden the Col d’ Aspin the day before in searing 40 degree C heat. I had never sweated so heavily in my life and had severe cramps. They were so bad that I wasn’t sure I could ride the next day. Fortunately, my friend Martin Hooper was kind enough to lead me out on the Tourmalet. I really had no choice. I either rode it or stayed in bed and hate myself forever. The climb seemed endless, much steeper than it looked on TV and never flat spot to recover. I suffered and used my granny gear after about half way. I finally made it. After a long and very fast decent down the other side I hooked up with Patrick Jonker for lunch in a café along side the course. We were chatting over a sandwich he mentioned that his coaches would make the team train on the same climb using the big ring. (Oh my gosh!) After lunch, the Bikestyles owner asked Patrick to climb back up the Tourmalet to look for stragglers. No problem for Patrick, he didn’t even think twice about it.2) There’s fast, and then there’s really fast. I was in a paceline on the flats headed toward Pau. I believe it was Stage 17. I was riding hard and probably going about 40+ kph (~ 25 mph). I thought I was pretty tough. That’s when Alan Peiper pulled up along side of us. He looked us over in a causal manner. “How are you boys doing?”, he said. “Great” was the reply from the group, “we’re all having a good time, riding strong”. “Good” said Alan, “then let’s GO!” And then he took off at and rode out of site at about 55 kph. That was amazing. I’ve done Leadville, RAMROD, Teton Pass, and lot of other epic rides. You ask if I could ride with pros during a stage of the TdF. Nope, no way. And that is based on fact, not fiction.

  38. Comment by Nanget | 12.22.2005 | 12:55 am

    Those rest/transfer days are a perfect day for hanging with the peleton.

  39. Comment by Unknown | 12.22.2005 | 3:04 am

    Well, maybe not the TdF. But remember that stage in the Giro last year? The one where they averaged 30 kph for the first couple of hours? Yeah, I could hang in that peleton. Especially if everyone else on my team agreed to be my domestiques for the day.

  40. Comment by Ski87 | 12.22.2005 | 3:47 am

    I could be ready in 6 months, the whole thing is over sensationalized, the athletes are well conditioned professional athletes–yes, but also over inflated. Not overly impressed with the whole event, and yes I do have a background with both the USCF and NORBA.

  41. Comment by EricGu | 12.22.2005 | 3:51 am

    Only with a tow-rope.

  42. Comment by Unknown | 12.22.2005 | 4:12 am

    After competing in the Tour de L’Abitibi, (Tour de France for juniors) the longest junior stage race in the world, 55th overall out of 177 riders…I think I have a shot at hanging with the peloton… maybe…

  43. Comment by Ariane | 12.22.2005 | 5:10 am

    Haha. No. Absolutely not. See, the problem, besides my inherent wimpiness, is this: Even if I had a year to get my act together, I ride a lot only during the spring and summer breaks. By the end of the September, yes, I can pull over 100 miles in a day without suffering a thousand deaths and am down to a cool 120-ish place. However, I also consume herculean amounts of pasta and tofu-chiladas to maintain this amount of cycling. And when school starts the following month, I continue to consume herculean amounts of pasta and tofu-chiladas and… well… we can just say that the chance that, by July, I could possibly pull my ass over even the gentlest TDF hill after having already spun along for a couple hours is rather low.

  44. Comment by Unknown | 12.22.2005 | 5:17 am

    with a years worth of training, nutrition, coaching, support, um, no I don’t think so, no way, I mean in a Tuesday Night B Flite Crit, if I sneeze, I get dropped. The accelerations a pro peloton makes are impossible to keep up with for me. I may be able to beat several local pro 1’s and 2’s in hillclimbs, CX races and MTB races, but this is different, Chucky, I am sure he could do it, he is a freak of nature, I remember the look on his face after winning the 2004 Brian Head Epic in record time, it was scary.

  45. Comment by Unknown | 12.22.2005 | 5:47 am

    The question is….would you really want to ride one stage in the tour de france? Imagine, surrounded by guys in perfectly clean, matching uniforms. shaved legs, shoe covers. Team cars passing back and forth. Motorcycle cameras in your face. Fans yelling at you in some launguage you don’t understand. Having to pay attention so you don’t crash everyone out. And on top of it all wondering if your doctor has properly taken care of you for the drug test you might have to take after the stage. Ya, I think riding with fatty and Kenny sound better. Or Camping with dug.

  46. Comment by Unknown | 12.22.2005 | 6:43 am

    Scott Mercier, a member of the 1992 Olympic Team, lives here. He and I were co-workers a few years back. By his own admission he is in crappy shape, plus he is pushing 40 years old. I believe he was an alternate domestique back in the day–he was never the elite of the elite. You can Google him to get the particulars. He now rides once a week or so. His warm up pace is well beyond what a majority can do at race pace. I guess you have to see it to get it’s proper frame. There he is, idling along, chatting casually, whilst blood is spurting from your eyes and your legs fall off. Then he turns it on and hands you your lungs. And then he sprints. There is no way on the planet that 99+% of the cyclists on the planet could hang with those guys. This guy is astonishing, and he is a shadow of what he used to be. Remember–alternate domestique. Think about it–when was the last time anyone you know maintained a pace of 34 mph on flat road for any significant amount of time (more than 15 minutes), much less over a 200 kilometer span? Take a look at the link below–about 10 paragraphs down the article gives a rundown of the speeds for the TDF. Pipe dreams folks. Just pipe dreams.

  47. Comment by Unknown | 12.22.2005 | 7:56 am

    Not even on a good day in my dreams, and I knew that before reading Jake’s entry. I’ve seen enough of his butt from my bikes, never mind enough years on this planet, to know that even at my peak, which was more of a valley, that I couldn’t hang with the Cat 3’s! much less the big shot pros. Nope, I love riding my bikes, but I was a back-of-the-pack Cat 4 (and that’s only because they hadn’t invented Cat 5 yet) slogger.

  48. Comment by Jim | 12.22.2005 | 8:29 am

    Given a full year devoted solely to training, I would like to think I could hang. After all, I saw a young, local junior rider eventually make it into the Tour. Why couldn’t I do it? But, I know better. I’ve ridden the mountains in France enough to know it couldn’t be done on a mountain stage. My time at L’Etape this year was 2 1/2 hrs slower… than the LAST place finisher. Subtract maybe another half hour off my time for when I had to walk because of congested roads and for stopping at the feed zones. I would still have to improve by 2 hrs. One year of training will not change that.Maybe a flat stage would suit me. The peloton rode the flat Stage 2 (181km) at over 29mph for just under 4hrs. I have never ridden a 50 minute criterium at 29mph. These guys are so smooth they don’t look fast. Watch them race in person and you know that you have no chance of staying with them unless they let you hang on. Now excuse me while I take some EPO.

  49. Comment by Unknown | 12.22.2005 | 9:44 am

    Yeah, I’d hang.First I’d have to go to the CSC "Commando Camp". Something mysterious happens there that makes guys go really fast and I’d need that.Next I’d move to Italy to train. I’d hire a model to motorpace me on her Vespa. Chasing tail around Italy for 5 hrs. a day should make me fast, though I’d have to explain that to the wife.Hopefully my team bike uses all the latest materials with the right mix of carbon fiber, titanium, and bamboo.When the big day arrives, I’d want to be conservative. So when it starts, I’d just be sitting in. Tyler Farrar rides by (yeah, he’ll be there) and we chat. "Hey I was on your team for a year when you raced in Seattle." "Cool." "So who do you think will win the Apple Cup?"At the feed zone, I grab my musette full of gels recommended by Fatty.With about 30k to go, the speed is picking up and I’m starting to falter, but I have my secret weapon, the weapon of all family guy-weekend warrior types: my 3 kids. Their cheering has gotten me through the toughest of the local races and crits and I’ve stationed them strategically from here to the finish. Every time I hear their little cheers, I kick it up a notch. At 5k to go, a small gap forms in front of me. I jump across, dropping the entire Bogus Telecom team. "That’s for what you Frenchies did to Lance!", I yell.At 3k to go, 3 Euskatel riders touch wheels and go down in front of me but with a quick move, I bunny-hop them.We’re going insanely fast. It’s all a blur. Then there’s the 1k banner and we’re all in the gutter as the sprint starts. I made it.

  50. Comment by Unknown | 12.22.2005 | 10:33 am

    ABSOLUTELY!Hey, cool flying pigs!

  51. Comment by BIg Mike In Oz | 12.22.2005 | 11:14 am

    Back when… back when… is there an echo in here? There are a dozen or more people who are in a mental zone where history meets denial meets dillusion.Now me on the other hand – I actually beat Robbie McEwen. Three times. Admittedly it was, dare I say, back when. 1989 in fact. In a head-to-head, nowhere to hide, exhibition race inside a shopping centre on rollers.But I’m realist. That was the ’80s, when I was 100 pounds lighter. I don’t think even a full year with Johan Bruyneel sitting on one shoulder and Dr Michele Ferrari sitting on the other could bring back the glory days.As for everyone else, you are all making this much harder than it needs to be. Don’t bother with the first week where they tour along at 25mph for 4 hours then go mental trying to shut down a breakaway at 30+mph. Don’t even consider the middle portion of the race where, if you don’t die going up the hills you are almost certain to die descending. Wait for the final stage. It’s invariably 30 miles shorter than most of the road stages. It’s also conducted at a more tolerable 20mph. But be ready for a world of speed and pain and more speed when the Eifel Tower comes into view.Rarely a day goes by that I don’t come here and go away thinking, I’ve gotta blog that story.

  52. Comment by Unknown | 12.22.2005 | 12:47 pm

    Only on a motorbike, and even then I’d have trouble on the downhills.

  53. Comment by Unknown | 12.22.2005 | 2:42 pm

    Absolutely – I could hang. Of course, I’d start by building a strong team around me – people strong, experienced, and frankly better than me. Man, I used to be in shape. I could average 40 kph for long (3 hour) stretches so I’m sure I could do it. No, seriously!Step 1 – start training seriously again (hey I have a year). I’d get Chris Carmichael as a coach (who seems to know very little from what we see on TV of him, but hey, he coached some other successful Tour rider – I’d have Dr. Ferrari’s cell # in my jersey pocket though). Step 2 – create new team that gets invited to the Tour. I’d get some heavy-hitters (French of course – better shot of getting in) to buy my team an invite. I’d use old pros – I’m currently thinking Big Mig, Bjarne Riis, Bernard Hinault, and Andy Hampsten as the headliners. Yes – I’d need money but this is my fantasy so I have it. Most of these guys seem to still be in better than average shape (Andy at least I’ve ridden with a couple years ago and he just finished top 20 in the Colorado state CX race). I might throw in Eddy Merckx as well. These guys would have to be dedicated and start training now. Why these guys? Who in the peloton is going to mess with this team, if for nothing else, out of respect???? Who in the peloton is going to crash these guys out? I’ll be hiding safe in the center of them behind Big Mig. Step 3 – Use the leadership powers of my team to force a "tempo" day. Put Hinault on the front. If any one goes he can chase them down as he did when he was in the yellow jersey (remember that – made Lance chasing Simeoni seem downright passe’ – I think that’s French for "lame"). Step 4 – Choose a stage. Well someone already picked the prologue and it would be sad to pay all this money and assemble my personal Dream Team to just do the prologue. So say I make the time cut. Say the second day is a moderate mountain stage. I’m a good climber – always have been. The team will pace me to the front and I’ll set Hinault out to prevent any attacks. I’ll put Big Mig front and left of me, Riis front and right of me, and Andy will be at my left hand side. If for some reason I start to fade or bonk, Andy will push me up the climb. (I know he will as he did this for me on a tour when I bonked HARD and he got me up the hill to lunch – hey it was over 40C and I couldn’t eat anything). Step 5 – Cross the finish, collapse, and rip my number off and give to my directeur sportif. I’m done.

  54. Comment by Unknown | 12.22.2005 | 2:53 pm

    Ah, how we love to dream! In 2001, I was living in Germany and bought a lovely book, "My Favorite Bike Tours," by noted author Jan Ullrich. I then headed off to the Black Forest and set off on Tour No. 1, "Decision on the Texas Pass." I rode through Merdingen, where Jan was living at the time (there was even a big sign), and began to get my rythm in the rolling hills. I could feel the hear rate begin to climb, O My Brothers. Then I saw a cyclist coming in the other direction. He was wearing a German National Champion’s jersey and I thought to myself how much I wanted to get one of those although I had never seen one in a store. The cyclist approached and waved to me. Then I saw the gold earring and realized that the reason he had the National Champion’s jersey was because he was the National Champion–Jan Ullrich himself. As I gawked, he passed me and I watched him closely. He looked completely relaxed as he went by but was turning the crank with such smoothness and power that at first I did not realize how fast he was going. He was spinning like a turbine and any dream I had of imagining I might ride once with the pros flew away down the road as he finished his 86 km, 4500 ft of climbing training ride at a pace higher than I was starting out on it. One year of training won’t do it, O My Brothers. You need strength, dedication, talent and some good genetic material. At least I could ride on the same roads as Jan, and eat the same cake. If the peloton is having a rest and taking the first half of a stage easy, you might stay with the group but once they put the hammer down, you’ll be looking for that cafe.

  55. Comment by Unknown | 12.22.2005 | 2:58 pm

    Could I hang? No effin way. I do, however, have a plan for 15 minutes of fame — a plan borrowed from many "runners" of the Boston Marathon, which I grew up watching every year. As the Peleton rolled out, I would ensure I was up near the front. I won’t be getting comfortable here though, because I’m leading the first break! Off the front I go, only 2 miles in. ALLEZ ALLEZ ALLEZ!I’d hang out there as long as I possibly could. I’m sure Basso, Ulrich, Liepheimer, et. al wouldn’t be too threatened by my break. I’d hope to hang on past the first climb, but either way, I’m not letting myself get caught — while upright anyway. As the peleton began to close in, I’d dump my bike in some spectacular fashion. Ideally this would be in a downhill descent – something brave and honorable.Would it hurt? You betcha! But I’d have my 15 minutes of fame as the stage leader and possibly even more. Maybe a book deal where I could discuss what it was like to be leading the stage and then have it all taken away by a horrific downhill crash at 60mph — a crash that ended my promising professional cycling career…

  56. Comment by Unknown | 12.22.2005 | 5:07 pm

    Easy. But unfortunately I won’t have time to prove it – I spend way too much time talking a big game on the subject of cycling* to fit any (potentially humiliating) cycling in.* and my name isn’t even Gilberto or Jan

  57. Comment by Unknown | 12.22.2005 | 6:00 pm

    Oh yeah, I could hang – but only in a "how the tortoise won the race" sort of way.

  58. Comment by Bill | 12.22.2005 | 6:51 pm

    Hang for a day…you better believe it! Maybe not up Alpe d’Huez or Col du Madeline or anything like that…but a nice flat stage? You betcha! You sit in the middle of the pack, and get sucked along in their wake. You’re practically sitting up and coasting. Ok, maybe not, but you’re not working as hard as some of them are. Besides…if you pick a nice flat stage mid-race…most of them are resting anyway…trying to take it easy…those would be the days to "hang". For a day, its not a problem. What makes these guys truely amazing is not what they do in a single day…its what they do day in and day out for 3 weeks! Anybody could ride a stage for a day…it’s the pro athletes who do it day after day after day. As "rookies", we just don’t know how to recover as fast as they do (and no…I’m not talking about EPO shots either!). But to give it your all for one day, yeah, I could do that. In fact…since I’m a nobody and the Yellow Jersey wouldn’t need to chase me down, you might even see me up front for a little while on one of those break aways. :) So what if the peleton catches me later on…at least for that little while all the cameras are on me. :)

  59. Comment by Bill | 12.22.2005 | 6:54 pm

    DEREK…YOU TOOK MY IDEA!! Well, not the fall down and get maimed idea…that’s all you buddy. Frankly, I’d like to keep as much of my original skin as God gave me. But it sounds like you and I are on the same page, at least for a little of the fame.

  60. Comment by William | 12.22.2005 | 8:21 pm

    Get serious and do some arithmetic my overweight brother. Take for example last year’s Stage Two: was 181.5 kilometers or about 112.77 miles.One hundred eighty nine cyclists finished the course with times ranging from 4 hours, 12 minutes and 27 seconds to 4 hours 17 minutes and 7 seconds.In other words, the slowest rider _averaged_ 26.3 miles an hour. I’d bet that many who read this blog don’t regularly ride that fast downhill.Nice dream, though.


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