09/03/02 - Tour de France
by Alex Fabbro
OK, so this is only about a month late - points off for lack of timeliness!
Just thought I'd send a couple of photos of this Velo Bella (and her Velo Fella) from the 2002 Tour, plus a shot of Lance getting mobbed by photogs on the "lap of honor" at the end of the last stage. We stayed behind the barriers as instructed, but the crowd overwhelmed the Gendarme Force, who gave up trying to shield Lance.
Overall, a fabulous trip! We were really happy with our budget tour
group (Graham Baxter Sporting Tours), which cost half what other tour operators were charging and still offered decent hotels, good breakfasts and dinners, and comfortable buses. No support for the rides, but that suited us fine: just give us our maps and we'll get to
Hooked up with some fun riders from San Diego, got some spectacular climbs in (we were ready to move to Alpe d'Huez, which has a very similar atmosphere to our home in Mammoth, but with even more recreational infrastructure (not any wilderness, though)). The crowds lining the climbs were incredibly vocal, cheering for any and all of us tourist shmoes doing the climbs. And the Alps were green, green, green, so unlike our water-challenged Western U.S. landscape. Thoroughly exciting, thoroughly enjoyable.
Velo Bella trip next year anyone?
11/14/02 - Addendum
Dave and I met Jim and Nicki Miller on our TDF trip last summer. Nicki
wrote this travel article for her paper, the Washington Post. Dave and I
actually got mentioned by name (as did Velo Bella), so I thought I'd
pass it on.
Washington Post Artictle - Lance, France & You
But now, we ski!
09/01/02 - Mt Bromont, Quebec, Canada
by Sami Fournier
I'm writing this on a fluffy white cloud--literal and emotional, as I fly home via American Eagle from spending a weekend in Bromont, Quebec, and spending today with royalty. Or my version of it - professional mountain biker women. And best of all, Velo Bella women.
That is, not just spending the day but riding. Long and with great relish all over the pretty little Canadian mountains at Bromont. We started out as 6, spinning from Le Menhir hotel, easy up the mountain to where the lift dropped off the DH’ers. We dilly dally at the overlook then start down in a flourish of girly glee, with Alan too, who declares his intent to enjoy the view from behind us with a loud, boyish peanut-butter burp. He’s yang to our yin today, (or is it the other way around?) and his low voice booms and laughs as Shelly tips over on the climb up. Ok, maybe that was me laughing, just a titter, she’s ok. We’re all tired from yesterday’s race, which saw them on the podium, and me not.
But today we are so happy, light, relieved, free, the sun comes and perfect temps prevail. We rage on the downhill, railing the berms, delightful swoopy rockiness. My descending is helped immensely by the new fork. Sabine admires its weird greenness. I’m in love with this day and all the people we’re riding with, including my new super-cool friend Erika from Tahoe, who departs early for a rendezvous with boys in Montreal. She managed to ride for over an hour with us, which is perfect, and I consider going back down the mountain with her, so as not to miss my flight, but if I pack my bike in a hurry and beam directly to the airport, I can ride for another few hours.
We spin easy, around and through and around the mountain, through ferny flats that look like VA, and rocky downs that liken West VA, MD, other trails I love. The lovely Petra says this is her new favorite place to mountain bike, in her luscious Austrian accent. We climb up some more, and the stinging nettles get me. Petra says they are “Brennelsen” and her lilting, rolling “rrrrr” way of saying it is so sweet, I suddenly find the plants beautiful, repeating that word in my head as we descend again, and some rocky sections throw me off, and I knock my head into a tree. I’m still on my bike, though, so it’s all good. Alan sketched on that section a little too – and pulled it out of course.
I have to abandon my friends after 4 hours, as my flight looms. Fastest way back – point the bike down the mountain face and roll it. With great effort, I flagged down a local. "Sil vous Plait! Je suis Perdu!" to help orient me, and ride some more little swoopers down to the Boul. Bromont, back to the car and swiftly and lovingly pack my bike. I use the zip ties Steve and Trudy so generously donated (you guys rule!) to pack it good and pad it in my soft case. No worries can dampen my mood today, not after that great ride.
I still have dirt on one leg (no time to shower) as I sit on the plane and reflect on glorious Bromont, her endless network of trails, her pleasures of friends to ride and laugh with—the grace of a mostly girl ride, the quiet of the woods when I’m dropped.
Thank you goddess pro girls, Sabine and Alan and Erika, for spending your recovery day with me, for letting me see your style, your moves, and letting me show you mine. By the end of the ride I was glowing from the compliment (made in jest of course) “Pretty good for a flat-lander,” and Petra was suggesting I stay longer, let myself get fired, maybe go pro. Tempting suggestion, especially now, when my fine end-of-season fitness could take me so many places!
So bad to have to go back and sit 40 hours per week in an office, when awesome 4-hour rides are out there, everywhere. I could couch surf everywhere from Tahoe to Flagstaff—and eventually settle in the West, where perhaps I belong. I dream, and float home on a cloud.
09/01/02 - Tour of Napa Valley (08/25/020
Ride commentary by Suenago
Another fuggy, cold start to the century&but then again, we are all getting used to that around here. The ride started at the Yountville Veterans Home with 2,500 riders taking off. Most of the riders do the metric century, so the century route was not packed. Vella Bella riders included Brenda Cranford and Sue Lovecchio. They were joined by their Velo Bella Fellas Skip and Gordon. The rest of the group was rounded out by Phil, Big Dave, Martin, Keith and Tim. Scott whimped out and just road the metric. Some excuse about RACING on Saturday?
I was under the illusion that we would ride at a "conversational" pace. Boy, that was blown right out of the water early! Gordon gets in a pace line and just takes off. We all charge just to keep from being dropped. Boy, this is going to be a LONG day.
The group spread out going up the first climb on Mt. Veeder Rd. The climb was long, but consistent. We were all greeted by blazing sunshine and the most spectacular views of Napa Valley. This was definitely a photo-op and Gordon and I stopped to take advantage of it. There were two volunteers playing their guitars that really added to the ambiance of the moment.
The descent was fast, curvy and cold. Everything I hate in a descent. I started off first since I take the longest to descend. Oh, did I forget to mention that I am a whimp of a descender? We all re-grouped and headed out across the valley floor to Pope Valley.
This began the fun part of the ride. Rolling hills, short climbs, warm sunshine and an unusually cool breeze. It was heaven. I let the mood of the moment wash over me, and I turned to Brenda and asked "Doesn't your heart just sing?" I got that, "What are you talking about& are you crazy" look. Well, my heart was singing.
After lunch, we climbed the famous Ink Grade. This climb usually separates the women from the girls. It is not long, per say, just steep in parts. The coolness of the day helped this Velo Bella fly up the climb. I just can't help it&I LOVE passing the opposite sex when I climb. The group then flew down the mountain toward the Silverado Trail. Brenda descends like she has wings on her bike. I feel like I have hooks attached to my a_ _. I propose we clone the climbing part of me and the descending part of Brenda, and we would have one Super Biker Chick.
The group formed a nice little pace line for the last 15 miles and gobbled up the riders as we passed them. Gordon was out front pulling, and I was right behind him keeping him in check with a consistent speed of 21 mph. Big Dave pops a Vivarin, comes around Gordon and cranks the pace line up to 25 mph. No more Vivarin for Big Dave. We all make it back to Yountville with no flats, no whining, no road rash and singing hearts!!