Thursday, July 10, 2008

European Cycling 2008 Tuesday June 10th-Friday June 13th

From Seattle to London, I had as good a flight as you can have in coach, having scored a bulkhead aisle seat on the big daddy of all planes, a British Airways 747-400. My connecting flight was held on the runway at Heathrow due to thunderstorms in Munich, but even that worked to my advantage. It allowed the next scheduled flight to play catch up and land only 35 minutes after my flight. This was fortunate since my bicycle made it onto that aircraft, but not the one I was sitting in. BA must be the last airline that treats passengers well, and they even gave me a 45 euro debit card for the inconvenience.

Flying to Munich to spend a few days at the new home of my Seattle friends Tim and Laura was a good way to kick off my Euro adventure. Tim is a patent attorney, and he and his wife Laura are spending 3-5 years in Germany. Tim works for one of his former clients that he advised while at his Seattle law firm. They live in Sauerlach, about 12 miles south of Munich, and right on the S5 rail line to downtown. Laura is not working at the present time, and she volunteered to drive their car in support of Tim and me as we cycled our way across the mountains of Italy and France. Perfect!!!

After assembling my bike the next morning, I embarked on a ride to lay down the first of 686 miles and 96134’ of climbing I would do while in Europe. I headed south through rolling hills, riding toward the true foothills of the Bavarian Alps hovering in the distance. Despite, or maybe because of, having the benefit of using Tim’s handlebar mounted GPS, I managed to turn a planned 35 mile ride into a 59 mile ride! When I spied the same mountain from the same exact angle, I became just a little suspicious, and struggled to orient myself and fight my way home through the fog of jet lag. Worth noting is that this is not the first, nor will it be the last, time I have been led astray by a supposedly infallible GPS unit. As with a lot of technology devices, there is still a lot of room for improvement…to reduce the chance of operator error!

I enjoyed superb, almost traffic free riding on little country roads. Tim and Laura do live in a cycling paradise.

On Friday the 12th, I took the train to downtown Munich for a little exploration and tour. The first price shock of the Tour hit home at Karstadt Sports. At 2 Euros a piece, Power Bars cost $3.15, and I walked away with 12 Power Bars and 3 jugs of Power Bar Sports Drink for a cool $144. From that point forward, I figured it was best just not to think about it, relax, and focus on the riding.

I had the "traditional" lunch of bratwurst on semmel bread at a market vaguely reminiscent of Pike Place Market in Seattle. The real obvious difference was that a lot of traditional Germans seem to prefer to drink beer for their lunch.

Our major goal for the trip was to ride as many of the classic hard climbs of Italy and France as possible. I'll list them as I do a day by day review, but we called the trip the "10k/Day" tour because our goal was an average of 10,000' of climbing for every day we spent in the high mountains. To do this would require riding just about every HC climb in the French Haute and Maritime Alps, as well as some incredible climbs in the Italian Alps and the Dolomites.

Shortly I’ll be posting photos here, as well as a link to many more.

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