The Ancient Historian

Ancient history, mountaineering, cycling and other outside adventures

Archive for the category “Cycling”

USA Procycling challenge

Long time no post,but really, I’ve been training and getting some work done before I leave for Africa, in two weeks now. I thought I would post up while I await Hurricane Irene, which is passing directly over my house in about 24 hours. There is a lot going on, including the first USA Procyling Challenge in Colorado, which ends tomorrow. This looks like a real success for year one. Good racing, great scenery, very knowledgeable crows like the Tour of California. Congratulations to the organizers on this one.


Ed Viesturs with great wisdom

I guess it is an Ed Viesturs theme night for me. I came across this video, and it contains such good advice I think, not just for Rainier but for any mountain. Like he says, “No shortcuts to the top.” It is awfully easy to to push too hard when you have enthusiasm for getting some mountains under your belt, and I love what he says here. Same goes with descents. Hard to find an analogy with cycling, but one comes to mind, and that’s when you are in a group ride and someone is pushing at the front. It is often easy to let your guard down and to follow mindlessly without realizing that the person can push you beyond where you should be going. I’ve seen a lot of crashes that way. Both sports, it seems to me, require great self control, and thinking.

Cycling, Mountaineering and Altitude

I’ve been interested for some time in the comparison between competitive cycling and mountaineering. I smiled, you can imagine, when I received my latest copy of Velo (formerly known as Velonews, I like the old name better) which is called the “Altitude Issue.” This is in anticipation of the first USA Procycling challenge, the stage race in Colorado coming up later this month.

Nice job Velo, lots of good reading in here. Plenty of comparisons, not made directly in the issue, which can be drawn. More anon.

Busy weekend, crashes, shaved legs and hoped-for summits

Well it has certainly been an eventful weekend. The Tour de France has had one of the more miserable weekends in my memory. Too many silly crashes leaving bodies strewn all over the road. It was the height of silliness to see Alberto Contador get knocked off his line and into the crowd by Vladimir Karpets. AC looked to have been  in a bad position, and had no teammates protecting him. Very very odd scene for a three-time winner and certainly a top pick this year. Can’t remember when a rider of that stature looked like that. I think the Tour is over for him–famous last words by me perhaps, but it ain’t looking good. Meanwhile, a driver in the Antenne 2/3 car, going way too fast on a narrow road, swerved to avoid a tree at the edge of the tarmac and drove into J A Flecha, taking out his front wheel, resulting in a heavy crash into the road, and forcing Johnny  Hoogerland, who had been going very well at the Tour so far, into a ditch and fence post and barbed wire. Are you kidding me? I’ve never seen such a bone head move at the tour. I don’t even think I’ve seen that kind of driving in Connecticut, and trust me if you don’t live here, the state has in my experience some of the worst driving I’ve ever seen. Hope the Antenne 2/3 driver gets banned for life-he deserves as much. Just a crazy weekend at the tour. By the way, the photo below is one of the best illustrations of why it is competitive cyclists shave their legs.

Meanwhile, Alan Arnette is getting poised to summit Denali (no crazy drivers there, at least as far as I know) tomorrow. Fingers crossed for him; if all goes well it’s 4/7 (or 8 really) of the 7 Summits to support Alzheimer’s research. Climb on Alan!

Chris Horner out of the Tour

Really sad news today about Chris Horner, as we head into a fantastic mountain weekend. My favorite two climbs in France are coming up on the 14th, Bastille Day as it turns out, The Tourmalet and Luz Ardiden. Gotta believe that Chris was ready to stomp. Looks like it was a really hard fall-now I know first hand how tough Chris is. But to go from a severe knock on the head, apparently passing out, and then declaring upon awakening “put me back on my bike” was incredible to read about. He’s a great historian of the sport, and perhaps deep in his brain he had embedded Tom Simpson’s famous declaration at the 1967 Tour, although apparently Simpson never said those words. Nevertheless, Chris did get on his bike and finished the stage before going off to the hospital. What a great competitor. Quick recovery Chris.

Climbing mountains

Tour de Suisse 2011Watching the Tour de Suisse this past week reminds me why I love mountains so much. The backdrop of the Alps as the mountain goats go screaming up hill is really spectacular. And the Alps really makes this race, as it does the Tour de France, although I have to confess that I love the Pyrenees more. The are not as high, but they are steeper climbs on average. Click HERE for a great site to have  to compare mountain cols in Europe,  While they are great to look at, mountains are a suffer fest, on local roads as well as watching the pros go through it. Funny enough, I am no climber. A power to weight ratio thing. It is very interesting to me how mountains play out differently in many ways on the bike as opposed to climbing them on foot, or on rope. Either way, I never get tired of the views. As usual, Graham Watson Photos ( like the above) are things of beauty.

Fitness training for altitude

This has become an interest of mine for several reasons. First, I need to get myself in tip top shape, which requires not only baseline stuff but also specific workouts, hiking long, hilly trails with a heavy pack for instance. I am also interested in comparing cycling and mountain climbing. There are lots of parallels but some quite different things as well. For instance, I am always amazed at the amount calories high altitude climbers burn up in a single day-it appears from everything that I have read that mountain climbers on the big peaks at least burn far more than a cyclist on a stage at the Tour de France for example. Pretty amazing.

I like the podcasts that RMI has on their site for training for big climbs. You can have a listen here.

Radio silence at the Tour de France

The Tour buzz is really getting going. There wil be several news things at this year’s tour. Among them, on two stages the use of radios connecting riders to team cars wil not be allowed. The explict reason is FRench rules of the road and safety. Kind of an odd reason you have to say. I am all for doing away with them since it does affect racing tactics. MHO.

Read the story at

Lance’s twitter feed today says that he think its’ crap, and goes back to prehistory. Well……it ain’t prehistory anyway 😉

Tour de France team start list just announced

Velonews this evening is reporting the team, start list for the 2009 Tour de France:


Armstrong wins Nevada City classic

You have got to be kidding me. Lance, racing in Livestrong kit, wins the race in a breakaway, on a course that ain’t so easy to do that, against a pretty darn good field of young guns. Got to say hats off to him. 


Velonews has a great report on one of America’s best damn races.



Photo © Will Matthews

Photo © Will Matthews

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